My initial impressioms of the DevTerm A06

I received my DevTerm (A06 model) two days ago. Here are my initial impressions (written on and posted from the DevTerm):

Hardware:

  • This is a beautiful device! Love the TRS-80 Model 100 vibes.
  • Overall assembly of the DevTerm was a joy, save for three issues:
    • It would have been nice if the kit included a small screw driver for mounting the core module.
    • I accidentally pulled out the clasp for the screen connector from the mainboard, not realising it flips up rather than pulls out.
    • The provided manual didn’t cover the optional cooling kit, which I realised only after finishing assembly. Fortunately disassembly and reassembly was easy. Unfortunately the instructions for the cooling kit is lacking.
  • It’s a lovely design of the chassis, it’s such a beautiful device, but the DeTterm is way too small to be useful for extended periods.
  • I’m not a fan of the Fn key placement, but I’ll cope. Otherwise the keyboard layout is very nice.
  • I wish the keyboard was backlit.
  • The D-pad buttons are garbage. Utter trash. Sliding between buttons my thumb tip catches on the edges, making it difficult to use.

Software:

  • The shipped OS image is already EOL/EOS upstream. Unsure about EOS dates for Armbian.
  • Software update from the GUI kept crashing, had to do it from the CLI
  • After updating the OS the battery level is at 100% the status icon shows an X image, as though the proper icon is missing
  • Shipped OS image should offer default user creation wizard, rather than a default login of cpi/cpi. I do appreciate that sshd is disabled b y default and there’s a warning at first login to change the password.
  • The fan/cooler only kicks off at 66C (150F), way too high of a default setting. At 50C it is uncomfortable to hold.
  • I feel the included, pre-imaged SD card should have shipped with Firefox set as the default browser, including some tuning to help with performance/usability (e.g. what pmOS does)
  • Trackball performance out of the box is abysmal, but modestly improved with foriequal0’s firmware (I used guu’s script to install it)
  • Just for fun, I recorded a video of the devterm playing a youtube video, copied it over to the DevTerm via scp, then resized it from 4K HEVC to 720P x264 using ffmpeg. It ran at 0.6 FPS, taking 8.25 minutes to finish. VLC struggles to play the output file.

My next steps will be to build my own OS image and getting my kids to hack away at it.

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And I just noticed the typo in the post title. :slight_smile:

I’ll leave it since writing this post on the DevTerm was part of testing things.

I disagree a bit with your criticisms of the keyboard and gamepad. Different experience for me, but we all have different preferences so, meh.

The YouTube thing. I am able to play youtube videos on the a04 streaming from chrome, or having used youtube-dl to play entire playlists in Celluloid. Not sure what exactly you were doing with your videos to have such a hard time.

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Playing youtube is fine. To clarify:

  • Video playback from youtube works, generally speaking
  • I recorded a video using my phone of the playback. I intended on attaching it here to show that it works, but was unable to
  • Instead I copied that video over to the DevTerm A06 and tried to play it. It’s a 4k HEVC (x265) video, so VLC only played a few frames of it
  • I then used ffmpeg to convert that 4k x265 video to 720 x264. That took 8 and 1/4th minutes to complete.
  • The playback of the 720p video in VLC was stuttery, but did manage to play

However, the above testing was affected by the fact that cores 5 & 6 (the high performance cores) were disabled.

I’ve since enabled those cores.

  • Converting the 10-second 4K video to 720 took 2.5 minutes (down from 8.25) to complete
  • Playback of the 720p video in VLC works great now
  • Oddly enough playback of the 4K video in VLC is worse after enabling the high performance cores.

It seems that ffmpeg/VLC on this system doesn’t utilise the GPU for video playback? Is this the case?