As some of you will know, I took a quick look at the GPD Pocket 2. While I shared most of my thoughts in the video I posted on YouTube there are some additional words I wanted to put to the page.

While I’m likely not the target user for this device in the sense that the compromises it makes I worry about, I think there is a look of good going on from a design point of view and even more places to improve.

  1. Cooling. It was pretty easy to get the fan up to 50dB making it louder than the laptop it was sitting next to on the desk. With the intake fan trying to suck air from under the device I suspect leads it to work extra hard. There is a button to turn off the fan, likely included to “address” this but I further suspect that will lead to thermal throttling. Apparently, there were earlier versions of the Pocket 2 with stronger CPUs that had even greater thermal issues. They were supposedly swapped out as most people were using the device for standard tasks like documents and email. They wanted to prioritize battery life and the target audience.

    GPD Pocket 2 diagram as seen on their official site. Note placement and clearance of the intake for the fan on the bottom of the computer.
  2. The “Human Element” needs additional work. While it might seem like a nitpick, opening the device so far is not easy. There are magnets and a strong hinge holding it shut and with no perch to place your fingertips, it is hard to open without the small worry of dropping it. Granted the design is using every millimetre of space they have, they still need to take into account the ease of use.  If you are a person with little dexterity I think it would be a point of frustration. While there is a good chance it was made that rigid to stand up being used as a touch screen, I think there is still room for improvements to be made in this area.

    A short GIF showing the less-than-easy opening process.
  3. They are very close to “getting it.” GPD did a lot of things right with this, a lot. The screen is amazing, the touchscreen and Blackberry-like mouse control work well (although the buttons require a fair degree of force). The battery life is quite acceptable and overall the build quality, with a few minor issues that aren’t visible, is excellent. 

I look forward to what a Pocket 3 could look like and how they could make it easier to use. Even if it wasn’t 7″ and got slightly bigger, I think it would give them room to address things like keyboard layout, fan noise/thermals as well as general performance. Until then, I think it remains a battle of function versus size.