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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:33 pm 
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ThinkPadder
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Location: Meridian, ID & Oyer, Norway
So I finally have made it to the point where I want to share the project I have been working on for some months now. Between collecting parts and other projects in my life, the progress isn't that good. But it's after all a hobby. If I hurry, it feels too much like work, and not a hobby anymore.. If your attention span is short, you might want to skip this long story, but hopefully you guys can have some fun reading this story.

So, after some discussions in various threads here, and later the delay of the promised RetroThinkpad, I started working on my vision, which is a classic 4.3 Thinkpad with modern internals. I soon decided that the "frame" where I most likely would be able to fit custom components would be a 770. I also figured that the Raspberry Pi2 would be the best choice, as this has the most accessories available for it. To run the LCD, I would use a HDMI to VGA adapter board. And make no mistake; we're not looking into a computer with super specs here. The older Raspberry Pi was said to have the same processing power as a 300MHz PII CPU, while the Pi2 is supposed to be better. Still by no means on par with a modern laptop, but definitely able to do more than the standard 770.

So I purchased a non-functional but decent looking 770 from forum member Neil (Thanks Neil!) and ripped all the internals out. What I was left with was this:

Image

Then I cut and shaped a steel base plate for installing the components on:

Image

and securely attached it to the base with the original screws in the original screw holes:

Image

So far so good. Unfortunately I made a mistake when I purchased a 13.3" 770. My original plan was to install a T60 14.1" SXGA panel, which is easy to find and has a decent picture. But I found out that the 13.7" and 14.1" 770 units are different than the 13.3" ones. They have a bigger lid, hence the forward leaning front, and a 14.1 LCD could not be fitted in my unit without changing the whole case. To further complicate things, it turned out that no LCD adapter was available for the ancient type of LCD that the 770 had. So I had to purchase a 13.3" panel from a 600, which has different attachments than the original one. So I had to bring the hinges to work and do some drilling and TIG welding to make it work. Not the usual tools for your Thinkpad projects..

Image

The only part of this mod visible from the outside is two screws on the right hand side of the lid. Apart from that, it turned out to fit just perfect:

Image

So the time was finally there to do a full scale test of the components with the LCD panel installed. And it turned out to work, and Raspbian booted up and behaved just fine. I have later installed the LCD bezel, so it looks more complete than in the picture:

Image

Note that I use two DC converters; one 5V DC for the Raspberry and one 12V DC for the LCD adapter. To feed them, I use the standard IBM 16 volt adapter, and I have made a bracket so that the standard receptacle will be installed in it's correct location. I have also bought a main switch that hopefully can be used with the 770's sliding power switch, so it looks as standard as possible from the outside.

So the main task that's left is to position all the components on the base plate, and run cables between them. Components like the LCD adapter's button panel will probably go in the battery opening, while I'll probably just glue the CD-ROM faceplate in place. Speakers will be installed in their standard location. So some hours of work left still. Right now I'm in the US, so nothing much will be happening the next weeks, but hopefully it will be up and running sometime this (late) summer or fall. Maybe it'll even be finished before the official RetroThinkpad. :lol: I have actually started posting pictures on social media with the hashtag #HomemadeRetrothinkpad

'What about the keyboard?' you might ask. And here is the only thing I won't reveal quite yet. Thanks to member Ilakast, I got a spare keyboard with a bezel / palmrest unit, and I was able to make a working prototype of my idea for the full scale test. But the "production" version isn't ready yet, so that's for later.

Stay tuned!

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 4:09 am 
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ThinkPadder
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Location: Metro Manila, Philippines
Nice to see your project coming along!

Is the 770 base tall enough for the dual-stack USB ports on the RPi 2? (My 560E's chassis isn't)

My own RetroThinkpad build is currently on hold though; still playing around with my Rpi 2, distro-hopping till I find one that ships a version of mpv that can use the RPi's video decode hardware. Compiling from source is a pain in the #@%.

I don't have a spare 12.1 inch LCD to put in, unless I decide to cannibalize the Samsung PVA panel on the X61T that serves as my backup machine. :D

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 4:10 am 
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Nice work and I look forward to the finished article :thumbs-UP:

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:01 am 
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Cool! Nice work!
Yes TIG welding is one i haven't tried before ;)

Bad thing that LCD board eats more space than CPU (computer) board ;(
Good thing - LCD board should have stereo amplifier - so you can use it for free ;)

There are many SOC devices on the market even more powerfull than RPI2 (some can have SATA controller, some can be x86 based) but yes RPI is a gold middle to start experimentation.

PS
IMHO - ThinkPad must be battery powered and this is hard work to do.

Any way i wish you good luck with this RetroThinkPad!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 10:41 am 
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My hat's off to you.

I've done some fairly insane stuff in my days, but your "retro" is just...brave, shall we say... :thumbs-UP:

Have the thread boomarked for future updates and will be watching it closely.

The very best of luck with this most unusual "custom shop" as they would say in the guitar world.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 10:44 am 
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ThinkPadder
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Thanks for the feedback!

axur-delmeria wrote:
Is the 770 base tall enough for the dual-stack USB ports on the RPi 2? (My 560E's chassis isn't)

It is actually tall enough, but it's a close fit. The 770 base is much taller than the 560's though, so I can see how you would run into problems there. Make sure to keep us posted about your project as well.

FryPpy wrote:
There are many SOC devices on the market even more powerfull than RPI2 (some can have SATA controller, some can be x86 based) but yes RPI is a gold middle to start experimentation.

PS
IMHO - ThinkPad must be battery powered and this is hard work to do.

In the preliminary component layout I made, I have created as much space as possible around the Raspberry. I became aware of a x86 Atom based board, so I made sure that a board of that size will physically fit. The limiting factor could be ports pointing in totally wrong directions. But there is definitely a possibility for upgrades, and I think the SOC concept will only be taken further and further performance-wise as time passes by.

To implement a battery did at one point cross my mind, but I chose to skip it due to the complexity. A friend has some interesting Li-Ion battery applications for use in his RC planes, and they could theoretically fit inside the HDD bay, but I would at that point probably be looking into a separate plug and adapter for charging the battery and a manual switchover between battery and AC. I rarely use batteries anyway, as I usually have power available where ever I am. For extended use in non-power environments, I use the Tablet.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 7:54 pm 
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Awesome work!!!

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:40 pm 
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Excellent piece of work!!!
It was my dream to do something like that with 701C
Maybe some day... :)

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:28 pm 
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Is it going to be called the PiPad 770? :p

There is one way you could get a T6x keyboard working with the Pi, and that's using the special T6x to USB converter one guy made schematics for (although completed working PCBs have been discontinued). So it would be converting the ThinkPad keyboard and TrackPoint over USB communications. Although your method may differ from that, but that's the first thing that came to my mind.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:44 pm 
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I would call it Thinkberry 770 ;)

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:56 pm 
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ThinkPadder
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micrex22 wrote:
There is one way you could get a T6x keyboard working with the Pi, and that's using the special T6x to USB converter one guy made schematics for (although completed working PCBs have been discontinued). So it would be converting the ThinkPad keyboard and TrackPoint over USB communications. Although your method may differ from that, but that's the first thing that came to my mind.

You are very close here. :wink: The solution is already tested with the Raspberry and is working 100%, what's left is to get components physically installed.

Unfortunately for this project, the weather is still amazing in Norway, with closer to 80F. So enjoying the summer and getting outside tasks done has priority, and I suspect that the Retrothinkpad project will be on hold for the next weeks.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:50 pm 
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Love this. Please tell me you'll be selling it as a kit.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2015 7:16 am 
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Congrats! Very well made own Retro!

I've given the link and lend the picture of the complete machine to show it in the german forum....hope you will find this ok...

Because this should be shared....and i have given this link in my hardly attached thread...if you want to take a look...feel free to do...here you go: https://thinkpad-forum.de/threads/18025 ... eben-Ideen

Kindly,

PanDoRA

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2015 10:53 am 
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ThinkPadder
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Thanks! :) Feel free to share it. I can read German, so I can understand most of what's written there.

The present status is that a couple of parts were made and/or purchased over the summer. Amongst other parts needed to make it capable of wireless access. So I have to dig it back out one of these days and try to finish it, as it's taken a lot longer time than I planned for. Luckily my temporary layout has space enough set aside for a bigger board, so I can install a board with better computing capabilities should they come along in the future. So I'm not to worried about the Raspberry getting outdated before it's finished. :lol:

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:09 pm 
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No way.....

in the german forum....this modding is new......so take a brief look....https://thinkpad-forum.de/threads/21027 ... ost1947349

Sincerly,

PanDoRa

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My favorite Thinkpad:
T23 with 1,2 GHz PIII-M, CCFL SXGA+ (LG, 46L2495) (will now get LED Mod),
X200s, SL9400, 4GB Ram, WXGA+ (LTD121EQ3B)
R500 with ATI Graphics, P8400, 6GB Ram and WSXGA+ (LP164W02(TL)(10))[if it once will get WUXGA?!]
X230 with I7 and LP125WH2-SLT1 IPS


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:23 am 
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ThinkPadder
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Wow, that's amazing to see. Hats off for this one, indeed.. :eek: We have seen some of El-Sahef's impressive projects here earlier. I think he was involved in the T61 Quad-Core project, and I also think he did some 770Z mods back in the days. My initial plan was to base my project as well on a 600, as the 600X is my favorite Thinkpad. The 770 shell is bigger, though, so I opted for that.

His project is however a different league, as a different skillset is needed to pull that one off. As soon as desoldering ports and modifying a mobo comes up, I'm out. :arrow: I do however see that El-Sahef ran into the same issue as I did with the resolution. 13.3" basically limits you to XGA. I was for a while considering the same option as him; to use a 12.1" SXGA panel and put it in a custom frame to mask off the open areas that would be left around it. But I wanted to have the 770 look as standard as possible, so I went with a 13.3" XGA.

Anyway, seeing this gave me the kick to take the 770R back out this evening and see where I'm at. First I need to cut and weld some more metal pieces to make support structures for various plugs and ports in the back, so quite some detailing and fiddling is left.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:03 am 
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ThinkPadder
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Looking at the pics and the reading the Google-translated text, I'm very impressed.
The fact that he found a board that fits inside is amazing in itself, then all the modifications... :bow:

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 12:45 pm 
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ThinkPadder
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Ok, so thanks to motivation from El-Sahef, and the fact that it's now winter and snow outside here in Norway, I have put some work into the #HomemadeRetrothinkpad (Secret codename: 770R) over the last two weeks.

The first step was to determine the final component layout and drill holes in the base plate for small bolts to attach the component boards properly. I also had to extend the base plate to get room for the 12V adapter that was bigger than I thought. Now this part of the base plate also serves to hold the battery front plate in place. I prefer to not glue anything I don't really need to.

Image

Determining the layout was actually harder and more time consuming than it might seem, as I also had to make space for plugs and the cables that need to be run between the various components. Why something as compact as the PI is equipped with a full size HDMI plug is beyond me, but it worked out in the end. The inverter board also had to be lifted up in order to allow the USB cables running to the back of the machine to be routed underneath it. Note the open area above the PI. This was done in order to have room for a bigger and more powerful board mentioned above, but I see that it requires a specific port layout in order for a bigger board to be able to fit there.

Image

Another task was to attach the control panel for the LCD adapter to the back of the battery front plate, and I drilled holes to be able to see the LED and operate the buttons from the outside. Then the power cables were connected temporarily to the IBM adapter and the whole thing was powered on. I was very exited, as I was worried that EMI generated from cables and components this close to each other would cause distortions that would be visible on the LCD. During a previous test I noticed a slight rolling flicker when I moved the LCD cable too close to the 12V DC converter, but this time all worked fine.

Image

The PI booted just fine, and as you see, I also attached and configured a USB WiFi adapter and opened up the forum. The WiFi adapter picks up signals through a rather large antenna that I will probably need to install on the laptop each time I use it. Not too different from what Ray (rkawakami) did in order to get built in WiFi capability on his 600X back in the days.

So what's left now is to make permanent supports for the ports and the antenna in the back, a proper bracket for the power switch and to get the keyboard modified and installed. I'm starting to see that this thing can really work now, so I'm getting exited to see the result. Unfortunately work requires me to travel this and next week, so it has to wait a couple of weeks before I will be able to do any work on it again.. Stay tuned.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 4:19 pm 
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Congratulations on this fantastic project. To stir the waters just a bit, the newly released Raspberry Pi Zero costs five dara, and takes much less space: https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-zero/
perhaps you can consider:) (micro hdmi as well).
regards

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:18 am 
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ThinkPadder
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evening_hunger wrote:
Congratulations on this fantastic project. To stir the waters just a bit, the newly released Raspberry Pi Zero costs five dara
...
perhaps you can consider:)


The RPi Zero is a severe downgrade as it has only half the RAM and 1/4 the CPU cores compared to the RPi 2 that he's using.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:37 am 
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I agree. If I am ever to replace the PI2, achieving increased computing resources would be the main deciding factor. I have space set aside for a bigger board, but whether it will fit depends on its port layout. Plugs and cables steals a lot of space when you need to pack everything inside a case like this. I assume you could desolder ports and solder cables directly onto the board, but that's unfortunately not within my capabilities.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:02 am 
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No pbl, I didn't catch that cpu-speed is your priority. Okay then, I don't suppose we have anything stronger than the raspi at this price/size/without_soldering. And as you're already strongly into it, perhaps it is not a good time to propose any mini-pc that would totally turn the design on its head:)
So, waitin' for the keyboard to appear! :bow: Good luck!

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:59 pm 
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Something in the performance range of the Intel Compute Stick can be considered an upgrade right? :D

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RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2015 1:33 am 
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I haven't looked into it, so I don't know what any of the Intel based stuff can do. Does the Stick have equal or better resources than the Raspberry? I would eventually like to run Windows, and I know the Raspberry can run Win10, but I'm not sure how well.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2015 4:47 am 
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Norway Pad wrote:
I haven't looked into it, so I don't know what any of the Intel based stuff can do. Does the Stick have equal or better resources than the Raspberry? I would eventually like to run Windows, and I know the Raspberry can run Win10, but I'm not sure how well.


There are two models of the Intel Compute Stick, as noted in its product page, but both contain the following:
Atom Z3735F quad-core Bay Trail 1.33GHz CPU
1 USB 2.0 port, 1 micro SDXC slot
HDMI 1.4 output
Combo wifi and BT controller

The differences are in the amount of RAM (1 vs 2GB), OS (Ubuntu 14.04 vs Win 10) and eMMC capacity (8GB vs 32GB).

Gizmodo doesn't seem to like it,
though I'm not surprised-- I've seen a laptop with the Celeron N2930 (quad-core Bay Trail 1.83GHz) struggle at times with Win 8.1 due to having only 2GB RAM. Using a lightweight Linux install would improve things immensely.

The RPi2 cannot run the Windows 10 operating system. It can only run Win 10 IoT (Internet of Things). :o

~~
Well, since my own RetroThinkpad project has stalled (not liking the limitations of the RPi2 so far) I'm considering refocusing the project into a portable LCD monitor w/ keyboard+Trackpoint. Essentially it's just like yours minus the RPi itself.

The video input port/s (HDMI/DVI and/or VGA) and USB are on the outside, so you can connect it to a desktop. Being a computer repairman by trade, it allows me to bring a spare monitor and keyboard in a laptop-size form factor. :twisted:
It can even work as RetroThinkpad, though the RPi2 (or what single-board computer I end up getting) is mounted outside. :<

I still can't decide whether to use an 11.6" widescreen LCD or cannibalize the 12.1" XGA PVA screen from my X61T though.

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Daily driver: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M

In reserve: X61 Tablet C2D L7700 with broken hinge :(
In pieces: X60s CS U1300 [board only], X60 CD T2300 [board only]
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:29 am 
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ThinkPadder
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I was aware that it runs Win 10 IoT only, but I wasn't aware of what that really is. After looking at it, is seems like this is an OS that really can't be used for any personal computing tasks. :(

So it seems like Raspbian or some other Raspberry optimized Linux OS are the best bets so fat. I really haven't had any great success with Linux for my high pressure / high stakes daily drivers, as there is always something that needs that little extra configuring to work properly. And that has the tendency to happen in situations when I need it urgently. But the 770R will probably not be exposed to those conditions, so we'll see. I didn't manage to get it to play Youtube videos, though, so I have some challenges already.

The Intel stick is an interesting idea, though. On purpose I positioned the computing board next to the opening for the optical drive, so this area is accessible without needing to open up the laptop. So I can theoretically put something like a stick in there, or maybe have it hang halfway out of the opening. Don't know how the stick would deal with a 2 port USB hub, but I might not even need more than the one USB port for the keyboard. The stick is quite expensive compared to the Raspberry, though.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2015 7:20 am 
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Posts: 181
Location: Rouen, France
The Rpi (even version 1) will play fullHD videos provided you use proper software directed at GPU directly. For youtube, I used to use a small client written in Python (don't remember the name, probably 'yt' or sth...) that worked like so: displayed the videos list in text mode (terminal), where a search could be made for vids. Once a vid was chosen (by arrows) it fired up the playback, piping the video straight to omxplayer, the player that dances on GPU. Note that if you configured the program to use mplayer (your standard linux video player CPU based), the video was too jumpy everywhere above 360p.

So I wouldn't give up on Rpi in that aspect.

_________________
x220/i7-2620M/8GB/256gb.ssd/ips/debian (main driver)
x230/i5/8GB/500gb.hdd/tn/debian+win7 (better half)


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:32 am 
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Junior Member
Junior Member

Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:40 am
Posts: 449
Location: Copenhagen Denmark
A cheap 8" Windows tablet should also do the trick

Integrated battery, USB port, HDMI port QuadCore passive atom.

It will be faster than a low specced T61.

Just strip it from case/screen and use it :)

_________________
Thinkpad W500 (2.53 GHz P8700, 4 GB RAM, FireGL V5700, WUXGA)
Thinkpad T61F 14" (2.53 GHz QX9300, 6 GB RAM, Quadro FX570m 256 MB, SXGA). Advanced dock with AMD Radeon HD7750
Custom build ITX desktop (i5 4590, 8GB RAM, AMD R7 260X, custom watercooling)
Thinkpad 8, Fujitsu F-07C


FS: T61F


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:41 pm 
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ThinkPadder
ThinkPadder

Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 5:49 am
Posts: 1069
Location: Metro Manila, Philippines
My biggest gripe with the RPi2 is the lack of a decent media player that has the features I need. OMXplayer is usable, but it doesn't support styled subs (SSA), only SRT. The raspbian build for mpv was too old, and trying to build from source always ended in failure. Arch had a recent version, but the packaged binary lacked native RPi GPU decoding. :evil:

So for now it rests on my shelf, waiting for its opportunity to shine. :|

_________________
Daily driver: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M

In reserve: X61 Tablet C2D L7700 with broken hinge :(
In pieces: X60s CS U1300 [board only], X60 CD T2300 [board only]
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2016 12:11 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:33 pm
Posts: 265
Location: Arlington, VA
Amazing work, dear Norway Pad! Hats off to you! ;)
I wish I had time to do something similar with my spare 360PE (including touchscreen)...

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5140,L40SX(3),PS/NOTE 425(2),PS/2 NOTE,700T,730T,700,700C(3),720C,701C(3),701CS(3),360P,360PE,750P,380,385,PC110,TRANSNOTE, Z50,240,240X,600,600E,600X(2),A31P,750C,755C,770,X40,X60,X61S,X61T,R50,R51E,R61I,T20,T21,T30,T42(2),T43,T60,T61(4),T500(2),W520,HP95LX,100LX,200LX,300,PSION II,3,NEWTON130


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