There have been many attempts to create tablets running Linux, and even a few ones with ARM processors, like the Pine64 PineTab. However, another company is now giving it a shot, with an ARM Linux tablet that looks remarkably like an Apple iPad. It’s called the ‘JingPad,’ and at least on the surface, it seems like it could be a great device for anyone interested in Linux on a tablet.
The JingPad is currently available for pre-order at Indiegogo, but don’t let its status as a crowdfunding project scare you away — the manufacturer has already sent out pre-production units to a few tech reviewers and news outlets. Early videos show off the tablet working as advertised, though there are a few software issues still being worked out.
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This tablet is powered by the Unisoc Tiger T7510, which is certainly no flagship Snapdragon chip, but is still apparently capable of good performance and battery life. Jingling Tech, maker of the JingPad, claims the finished tablet will last 8-10 hours on battery power before it will need to be recharged. That chipset is also capable of LTE and 5G support (it was used in the Hisense F50 5G last year), but it seems that Jingling isn’t including the required modem, presumably to keep costs down.
The rest of the specifications are impressive, given the estimated retail price of $700 for the tablet and pencil together (though Indiegogo pricing is $549). You get a 2368×1729 AMOLED screen, Type-C connectivity, 8GB RAM, 256GB internal storage (plus a microSD card slot), a fingerprint sensor, and an 8,000mAh battery with 18W wired charging.
Jingling Tech has its own Linux distribution for the tablet, called JingOS, which is also available to use on normal PCs. The operating system is based on Ubuntu 20.04 and the KDE desktop, according to its GitHub repository, with several custom applications on top. Jingling has created its own window manager, application launcher, video player, audio recorder, clock, and other applications. There’s also a JingOS-specific app store in development, but you can also install software from Ubuntu’s ARM software repositories.
The main catch here is that JingOS doesn’t use a mainline Linux kernel — the SoC requires proprietary drivers. That also means other ARM Linux distributions won’t work on the tablet without modifications.
Perhaps the most interesting software functionality is Android app support, which we’re told is currently powered by an old build of WayDroid. Android apps don’t have internet access yet, and notifications don’t come through, but that is still being worked on. The above video shows off WPS Office, Fruit Ninja, and other apps running in the Android environment.
The JingPad could end up as a great tablet for anyone mainly interested in Linux, but only time will tell how the final product holds up. Jingling plans to start mass production next month, and the estimated shipping date for Indiegogo backers is currently set for October.