I received my Pine64 2 gigabyte version just this week (slightly late, Pine64 team) and am really pleased with it.
When opening the box the Pine came in, I was surprised how big it was compared to the Raspberry Pi, this is not a bad thing, I was just surprised. The dimensions are 5″ x 3.125″ or 127mm x 79mm. You could just about fit two Raspberry Pi’s into the same space as a Pine. Apart from the Pine board, the box comes with nothing else. SD cards, power supply, HDMI and Ethernet cables have to be provided yourself, although, if you already have a PC and an Android device you probably have most of these things anyway.
Setting up the SD card is relatively easy. If you have ever created an SD card for the Pi, the process is the same, choose your OS, download the .iso file, write it to the SD, and plug it into Pine/Pi. Some users have reported Android not working unless it is written to the SD card using Phoenix Card, which I couldn’t get to work. Instead I just went down the usual route of using Win32DiskImager, which didn’t cause me one problem. I installed RemixOS and booted up the Pine.
The Pine will boot automatically when a properly formatted operating system is found on the SD card, and can output video at 4K through the HDMI port. The Kickstarter backer gift, of a power button, is not necessary for the basic operation of the Pine, so if you have a problem with booting your mini computer, it doesn’t lie with that button.
The version I received, the 2GB model, is incredibly quick and runs RemixOS at only 36% CPU usage when idle. Even when watching YouTube videos on it, the usage never touched half way. I have yet to test Linux OS’s, but if Ubuntu is half as quick as Android, I will have no complaints.
The one draw back of Ubuntu and RemixOS, is that if you are using an 8GB SD card, then only about 3.5GB is left to install apps, download music or store anything else for that matter. This is not the fault of the Pine, but I would recommend buying a 64GB card, to give you the space needed to store your selfies that you can take with the camera module.
I think that the Pine has a long way to go in terms of development and customer support, but nothing that can’t be achieved. Take the Pi for example, now on the third reiteration and a massive community, this is what I think the Pine can become, with some work of course. For only $15 or £10.56 (at the current exchange rate) the Pine is definitely worth every penny.