Can GPD Crack The Android Console Once and For All?

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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.

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Obscure Cameras

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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.

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JXD and GPD Battle It Out In 7″ RK3188 Territory…

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…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…

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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.

 

 

Fusion Go: A Crowd Funded Handheld

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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.

Out Of The Blue: REVO K101 Gets A Fix For Save Bug

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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.

The handheld is still available here, and you can find the firmware update along with instructions to upgrade here.

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:

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Thanks to David Knight for sending this in.

Decapping the Nintendo 3DS CPU

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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.

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GPD News: New ROMs, New Machines And An Interview with Kelvin Zhang.

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First things first, if you’ve recently bagged yourself a G5A or a G7 and have yet to replace the firmware then now is the time to do it. Skelton and Tincore have been hard at work creating their own custom ROMs for these new generation machines and they’re available now for you to use. For the G5A there are 2 options, one based on 4.2.2 and one on 4.4.2. You might think it’s a no brainer, but currently 4.2.2 is perhaps the best choice currently as the kernel is in slightly better shape. Never the less, it’s your choice and whatever you go with will be an improvement over the stock firmware.

For info on the KitKat ROM, visit this link. For info on the Jelly Bean ROM, click here.

For your G7, currently only 4.2.2 is available and you can read all about it here.

Links for everything you need are included in the first post.

If you’re holding out for something newer, there is rumour of an IPS screened variant of the G5A coming soon with 2GB RAM. The G5A+ will supposedly be released in “limited quantities” and may even contain the new RockChip RK3288 but don’t hold your breath as there is no release date yet.

If you’re still hungry for GPD news, Drem from a320.emulate.su conducted an interview with GPD director of sales Kelvin Zhang and has kindly translated it from his native Russian into English and posted it on the dingoonity boards. Click here to read Drem and Mr. Zhang’s discussion about the future of GPD.

 

As always, if you’d like to grab yourself one of these new machines then they’re available at Willgoo. Click here for the G5A and over here for the G7.

Willgoo Spring Clearout

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Willgoo are having a clearout and have reduced the price of both the JXD S5110 and the JXD S7300. For $79.99 and $110.99 respectively, you can grab yourself one of last year’s flagship Android handhelds for a pretty decent price. They’ve also reduced the price of some of the S7300 bundles too, which you can find here. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

EvilDragon Announces A Pandora Successor, The Pyra

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Michael Mrozek was one of the main guys behind the original Pandora concept in 2009, and at FOSDEM (Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting) yesterday he announced his own successor to the ageing machine – the Pyra. In the videos below, Michael (otherwise known as EvilDragon on the OpenPandora boards) outlines his goals for the new machine, discussing his decision for choosing another Texas Instruments SoC and playfully boasting of the OMAP5432 capabilities. The development board in the video below is running Battle Of Wesnoth at the same time as 2x PS1 emulators all whilst doing some image manipulation in The Gimp.

The full spec for the Pyra can be found on the official website, but to summarise it’ll be a dual core 1.7Ghz OMAP5432 with 2GB Ram and a 5 inch 1080p display. It’ll retain the keyboard and gaming controls that the Pandora had as well as the dual SDXC slots and the same 4200mah battery, but it’ll carry some extras such as a 3G and/or bluetooth modules as well as a HDMI output port.

Michael is keen to emphasise that Craig(ix) is not a part of the team working on the Pyra, which will come as a great relief to anybody interested in both paying for one and also receiving it. For a nice breakdown of the Pyra, as well as a list of the people involved in the project, check this post on the OpenPandora forums.

You can view Michael’s entire hour long speech from FOSDEM below. The first 15 minutes are mostly about the Pandora, and after that it’s all talk of the Pyra.

There is no release date given for Pyra, Michael states that he is understandably reluctant to commit to a timeframe, however he does say that the project is already funded up to prototype the stage and financial backing will only be needed once mass production is ready. You can follow progress of this project on the official blog.

Many thanks to Victor for sending this in.

A Look At The GPD G5A Hardware

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The GPD G5A is my third Android handheld after a Yinlips YDPG16, and a JXD S7300 that I bought for my brother. I’ve always fancied a 5 inch machine but until the G5A they have all been stunted in some way, usually with a less powerful processor than their 7 inch brothers. I ordered my G5A from Willgoo on the 10th of January, it showed up on the Singapore Post tracking site 3 days later, and 10 days later it arrived at my house. Since then I’ve had a bit of time to play around with it, and if you’d like to hear some opinions on the device then read on… :)

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