Nope I’m not dead yet, I just got a bit bored with the stagnating pool of mediocre Android powered handhelds from China. Maybe I should be digging deeper to find the interesting stuff, but honestly I haven’t really had the inclination to do so recently. It’s a mixture of guilt for neglecting this place, and news of something that is at at the very least quite interesting that brings me back here to share some info on the Pascali from a company called Rose Colored Gaming.
I’d never heard of this company before, which is just as well ‘cos a few years ago I probably would have happily emptied my bank account into theirs for some of their beautiful custom GBA cases and backlight mods. Just have a look in their gallery and commence drooling! The fact that most of their stuff is out of stock is a blessing and a curse to be honest!
It was a reader named Louis that brought my attention to a handheld they’re working on called the Pascali (thanks Louis!). Essentially it’s a Raspberry Pi (version 1 for now) powered machine housed inside a laser cut acrylic case, loosely based on the original Game Boy aesthetic. It’s bloody gorgeous, chunky and colourful and when it’s available it’ll cost somewhere around the $300 mark. That’s a lot of money, but my impression is that this is probably a very small team who are hand making these, and it’s taking them a lot of time and money to pull it off.
Here’s what the makers say about it:
Raspberry-pi based. Plays over 10+ systems at full speed including:
MAME (Various Arcade)
Turbo/PC – Engine
Sega Master System
The unit also uses a common ground PCB (No Tact switches) and features 6 buttons with two back buttons function as shoulder buttons (not shown in this revision)
Finally the unit can be plugged into a TV via HDMI and used as a console with controller support coming from USB. This unit has a mirror finish with graphic design done by Wig. Case is laser cut/laser etched. Personalized etching options for the front MIGHT be an option.
Hope everyone likes it!
As far as I can find, there are no photos of the latest case which will have shoulder buttons mounted on the back, but for now you can ogle the pics below and have a look around their Facebook page to see what they’re getting up to.
Bye for now!
It looks as though one of the first octacore handhelds to arrive is going to be courtesy of iReadyGO. Although it’s not officially released until the 20th of August, it seems to have had a limited release to the Chinese market already courtesy of snail.com. The Mediatek MTK6952 octacore processor is powering this phone, and has been bundled with a 720p IPS display, 2GB RAM and 16GB on board memory.
Unfortunately Deen0X has uncovered some disappointing information about the device, namely its rumoured price of 250 Euros. It also seems there is no joystick driver for the sliders so they will be replicating inputs from the dpad, and the screen is locked at 52hz which will probably mean strange tearing effects in many games.
Of course it is possible the manufacturers will change these things before release, but don’t hold your breath.
Thanks to Victor for sending this in.
Willgoo has 2 new bluetooth controllers in stock, modelled after both the Famicon and NES and apparently made to celebrate 30 years since the Famicom debut. The NES variant hides away a fold out clip that can accommodate your phone, and whilst the Famicom doesn’t appear to have the same, it does come with something called an Xtander. According to the official website, “Stand up your touch screen devices and play with ease. FC style, best fit with FC30 GamePad, I will become a X Mech Warrior.”
So now you know.
Both models have been retrofitted with shoulder buttons to make them compatible with some newer systems too. They also both work with PC, Android, iOS and OSX.
The NES30 and FC30 controllers are available for $33.99 and $32.99 respectively, which does seem a bit steep, but they appear to be around this price everywhere. If you’re looking for something for a desktop PC, perhaps consider this wired $5 snes controller instead.
Whether it be because of poor sales or a bad design decision, we may never know. Reports suggest that the first Shield sold well to begin with but sales slumped pretty soon after. Whatever the cause, Nvidia have obviously decided that a repeat of Shield 1 with a faster processor and resigned shell was not a route they wanted to go down. I’m sure everybody is aware by now that the upcoming Shield 2 (or just Shield, according to their website) will be an eight inch tablet with a separate controller.
So is there a future in portable Android gaming? Chinese factories have certainly slowed their onslaught of incrementally upgraded handhelds recently. A couple of years ago it seemed like a new product was being released every couple of months from JXD or Yinlips. Newcomers GPD have shown some promise with their machines, but the frenzy of activity and general buzz of new products has definitely waned since 2012.
But does this spell the end, or is it merely a lull, a hiccup in an ongoing quest for portable gaming perfection. I can’t answer that, I hope it’s not the end but I would be very happy to see a move away from Android as an OS on these things. I wish Gamepark Holdings would come back.
The Shield Tablet launched in the USA on the 29th of July, and it’s 5 days until it makes its UK debut. I think it’ll fail, but I’m a pessimist. Is anyone else buying one? I suspect not.
Past attempts at the Android home console have mostly missed the mark, some coming closer than others. The biggest decision a manufacturer has to make is whether to lock the system into their own closed app store or not. The benefit of doing so is that you can be sure every game will work properly with the device, but it means that you have to purchase your favourite games AGAIN. This can make a lot of people understandably reluctant to indulge. The benefit of access to Google Play is obvious but it can mean that certain titles don’t work, either due to the need for a controller or just incompatibilities due to the nature of the unconventional hardware used.
GPD have a short but reasonably successful history in the handheld market, their late 2013 G5A and G7 surpassing every single one of JXDs attempts in terms of build quality and software support. It’s with some optimism then that we take a look at their upcoming home console.
A little favour for our friends at Willgoo. They have recently decided to broaden their horizons a little, and have opened a new website specialising in cameras. Diggcams sells a mixture of dashcams, sports cameras and camcorders, but they also stock night vision cameras, microscopes and some waterproof housings too. If this sort of thing tickles your fancy, feel free to go and have a look around.
Click the image below to visit the store.
…and it looks like the clear winner in this case will be GPD. Both consoles are very similar in terms of specs, but the Q88+ just nudges past the S7300C with some better features. The easiest way to explain is probably with the following table…
As you can see, the Q88+ runs a later (and almost certainly more stable) version of Android, has an IPS screen and contains a larger battery. I can’t find a definite battery size for the JXD but everywhere I’ve seen it listed states either 3600 or 4000mah. You might recognise the shell from the JXD, they’ve kept the same casing from the previous S7300 models, which I have to say I found a little too fragile. I could have easily twisted the device into two pieces if I wanted and sometimes I must admit I felt like I wanted to, such was the condition of the stock firmware.
On the other hand, GPD seem to have taken a step backwards too in terms of the analog sticks. Gone are the gorgeous Xbox 360 style sticks found on the G5A and G7, and in their place are 2 pathetic little PSP style sliders. The expression ‘One Step Forward, 2 Steps Back’ springs to mind.
I didn’t include the prices in the comparison table because they are likely to fluctuate, however currently the GPD beats out the JXD again by a whole $19. Both machines can be had at the usual places including Willgoo. Click here for the GPD Q88+ and click here for the JXD S7300C.
On a side note, it feels as though this market is slowing down and stagnating somewhat. We need some innovation to keep things alive and I don’t feel as though our Chinese friends are delivering on this front at the moment. Maybe the Shield 2 will reignite some flames, we’ll have to wait and see.
This unusual looking handheld is currently live on Indiegogo, looking to raise $400,000 to fund the mass production. Looking at the renders it’s an onorthodox design, having gone for a smaller 3.5″ screen and a portrait style layout. Although the console runs on Android, a custom developed UI sits on top and unlike other similar products it is not designed for the Google ecosystem. You will be able to do some of the things that an Android ROM allows such as watching youtube and messaging but the primary focus of this machine is to play games developed specifically for the device, which is why the team are also looking for some talented developers to help give the console a good start in life.
The guts of this machine include the General Plus GP33003, which is coupled with an PowerVR SGX531 GPU. There are just over 30 days on this project, so if you fancy supporting the effort then head over to the page and make a pledge.
A short summary and promotional video for the device below.
Well here’s a nice little update for any Revo K101 owners out there, MaxZhou88 has finally fixed the firmware bug that meant some .sav files were wiped when the console shut down. The Revo K101 is a hardware clone of the Nintendo GBA and it was released around 18 months in China. The clones boasts many features that the original GBA did not have, including a high resolution LCD, back lighting and TV Output.
Although it’s taken a very long time, it’s great to see continued support for this machine. With the .sav fix in place, it is by far the most comprehensive clone out there. In MaxZhou88′s own words:
Thanks to David Knight for sending this in.
Not entirely fitting perhaps, but I found this article fascinating and thought I’d share it. These 2 chaps have set about attempting to deconstruct the CPU inside the 3DS. The blog article takes you from the process of physically removing the CPU from the board all the way to using sulfuric acid to remove the packaging materials to expose the layers of silicon underneath. There are some accompanying shots of the highly magnified layers underneath, for your viewing pleasure.
Who knows if this will ever lead to anything for the 3DS homebrew hopers, but it’s probably a step in the right direction and makes for a very interesting read to boot.