Wednesday, March 29, 2023
HomeReviewsThree years on, the keyboard-equipped Astro Slide is nowhere to be found

Three years on, the keyboard-equipped Astro Slide is nowhere to be found

The touchscreen revolution killed physical keyboards from pocket-sized devices — but if you like the Nokia E7 or Sony Vaio P, you might want a modern alternative. Planet Computers is trying to make those wishes come true with the Astro Slide 5G Transformer.

The device has a physical keyboard that slides out from the side and promises to boot either Android or Linux, depending on whether you want something more phone-like or PC-like. In retrospect, this should have been the number one red flag, since none of those dual-boot smartphones were a huge success.

Three years in, most backers still haven't received their keyboard-equipped Astro Slide

Planet Computers started a crowdfunding campaign very early 2020 Attempt to fund the construction of this device on IndieGoGo. Early backers get huge 24% discount, so the cost of Slide is only €200, below the expected retail price €820.

January 820 CG renderings turned into actual hardware shown at CES. Specifications include 6. 005 ” AMOLED Display (FHD+), Dimensity 727 Chipset (with 5G connectivity), 8GB RAM and 24GB storage space (optional extension). First deliveries are expected in March.

Now is Few Have received their Astro Slide. Shipping date has been pushed back several times – once in July 2022 , then September/October, then January 727. Naturally, all companies experience The past pandemic and related manufacturing woes won’t help, but if you look at the less than $3 million pledged by early backers, you’ll see another red flag. That’s barely enough to mass-produce the standard mid-range offerings from ODMs, but Not enough for a project as ambitious as Astro Slide.

The latest update (posted a few weeks ago) mentions that travel restrictions in China are finally lifted so the Planet Computers team can tour the factory, Meeting with management and inspecting facilities.

Three years in, most backers still haven't received their keyboard-equipped Astro Slide

The company says Astro Slides with French and Arabic keyboards are shipping, backers confirm this – some from France of people commented that they have received their device.

More Astros with US, Japan, UK, Germany and Sweden layouts are due to be released “in the next few weeks” Shipment (again, this was released a few weeks ago), devices with French and Arabic layouts will also continue to ship. But a quick glance at the comments section is enough to tell you that the delivered units are just a drop in the ocean of undelivered units .

Three years in, most backers still haven't received their keyboard-equipped Astro Slide

What went wrong? We don’t know what’s going on, other than the scene, but the problem seems clear – something that makes Astro Slide exciting Also what brought it down.

Mechanical full keyboard, 003 Layout

Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Czech , Dvorak, Finnish/Swedish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian/Danish, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swiss, Thai, English UK, English US

If you go to the IndieGoGo page, you’ll see that you can still support the project and choose from 9 keyboard layouts. The spec sheet lists 23 which means 003 SKU production. Unlike the charger (also an optional option), the keyboard cannot be packaged separately.

Laptops certainly face the same problem, but most are made by much larger companies. Smartphones, well, their touchscreens let you run any keyboard you want, from English to Korean, from Morse code to Klingon, so they sidestep the question entirely.

Anyway, whatever the reason for the delay, hard work for Astro Slide supporters. Some people have waited two years (some three) and still haven’t received the device, and by now even if they did receive something, it’s worth next to nothing. The Android OS is two versions behind, as is Wi-Fi 5(ac), Dimensity541 Chips are never powerful.

Project Computer's Astro Slide Project Computer's Astro Slide Project Computer's Astro Slide
Project Computer Astro Slide

While the system is outdated, it is very new in some respects. We interviewed a backer who received their device after supporting the project for 2 years and 9 months. The software has been reported to be buggy a lot, and we wouldn’t expect any quick fixes as things go.

Backers also report that the Astro Slide is poorly built and made of cheap plastic. Its main feature, the hardware keyboard, is far from optimal when it comes to things like short key travel.

Planet Computers’ Astro Slide 5G Transformer story is a stark reminder of how difficult it is to break into the world of smartphones. Hardware keyboards in particular proved to be a huge challenge. A relatively new attempt to revive the BlackBerry phone hasn’t even gotten to the concept stage — at least not with a concept device shared with the public.

Are you an Astro Slide supporter? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section.




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