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.

gaasedelen blog article

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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In Depth GPD G5A Review Courtesy Of Spyro Le Dragon (French)

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It might not be ever so useful to most of us because it’s in French, but you do get a good look at a whole load of games in action – and I’d surmise from the excitable tone of voice that he’s pretty pleased with the device as a whole. I couldn’t see any visual demonstration of whether the left analog stick is linked to the dpad or not. Maybe a French speaker can comment on whether or not he talks about the analogs at all?

The inside of the device looks quite well put together, although I suspect he took it apart to demonstrate the lack of vibration motors despite them being listed as a feature on the box. It’s good to see that the analogs are at least screwed into a housing rather than left to push against the back of the case a la JXD.

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 If you want one, it can be had for $120 at Willgoo.

iPega Come Good With Their Quad Core 7 Incher

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It was at IFA back in September that iPega showed off a few prototype handhelds of theirs, and 4 months later their quad core 7 incher is ready to roll. It’s an expensive beast at $220, but it sure looks pretty. I don’t know whether it’s the precise machining of the port connectors, the beautiful translucent red action buttons or the sparkling grey finish that does it, but there is something about the way this thing looks that sets it apart from the rest of the crowd. If they wanted to give the impression of a premium device, they managed it in my opinion. There is nothing too exciting underneath that suave exterior though, a perfectly adequate quad core RK3188 and 2GB of RAM drive a 1280×800 IPS screen, and there’s 8GB on board as well as a micro SD slot for further expansion.

Some pics courtesy of china8tech (French site).

 

 

It’s a little too rich for my blood else I’d be all over this thing, but if your pockets are heavy and you’re brave enough to be first, you can pre-order now from Willgoo.

And last but not least, here’s a short video demonstration from Vincent Wong.

JXD S5800 Protoype Arrives At Willgoo HQ

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Willgoo have acquired a prototype of JXD’s new MTK6582 smartphone-come-handheld, and will shortly be putting it through its paces. The machine sports a 5 inch 960×540 display, runs on Android 4.2 and contains a 3000mah battery as well as dual analog sticks and 4 shoulder buttons. This is the 6582′s first outing in a gaming handheld, so we’ll have to wait and see how it stacks up against its rivals. But for now, you can ogle a few pictures courtesy of Vincent at Willgoo.

If you fancy a piece of the action, you can head to the product page and reserve yours for $169 shipped.

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GPD’s G5A Is Shipping

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It’s here. The worlds first 5 inch RK3188 Android handheld has arrived. I bought one, I don’t know why – I expect it to suffer all of the same problems as JXD’s machines, and possibly more. I like to imagine that GPD have been quietly watching from the sidelines for all this time, noting the faults and foibles of yesterday’s handhelds and taking the time to perfect their very own portable bundle of joy. But let’s be realistic, it’s probably not going to be that way. The deciding factor for me was Skelton’s announcement that this device was a probable candidate for one of his magical Skelroms, but even if he doesn’t get around to it I’ll be sure to take far too many pictures and write far too many words describing its every nook and cranny in gory detail once it gets here.

If you’re interested, you can grab one from Willgoo for $126 shipped. Get in quick though, Chinese New Year is creeping up and the country’s factories, distributors, web stores and mail services will soon pull the plug to take some well deserved time off. Click the pic for the product page.

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Round Up Of Current Android Home Consoles

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Before you say it, I know. They’re not handhelds, what you gona do? :)

Aside from the Ouya which hardly needs an introduction, having been available for almost a year now, there are a few alternatives that are either currently available or just over the horizon. With the news of Huawei’s new Android console popping up on the tech sites, I thought it might be a good time to summarise the machines available in this category. There aren’t many, and some may argue there are even fewer reasons to buy one, but they do exist so here they are.

Ouya

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Arguably the first “mainstream” home Android console, the Ouya presented itself to a very mixed crowd. The Tegra 3 processor was already getting a little long in the tooth by the time the console arrived, but it didn’t matter much since the games library at release was scant to say the least. The problem with Android is that most of the games are not designed to work with a controller, which presents a difficult choice to manufacturers. Allow the console to access Google Play and risk a heft of games either not being compatible with the machine or the controller, or create your own app store with game ports tailored to the system. The latter may seem the obvious choice, but who wants to pay for a game twice? And (sideloading aside) who wants a library of games that’s only a fraction of the size of the Google Play store? These factors coupled with the controller criticisms created a vicious divide in opinion, with raging nerds on both sides of the camp hammering at keyboards to make themselves heard. The console is still available for about $100 / £100 but rumour has it that the team are hoping to release an Ouya 2 this year with updated hardware, so it’s perhaps not the best time to buy one.

Mad Catz MOJO

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So Madcatz took the other approach to Android gaming – they released a console late last year that does not depend upon it’s own ecosystem for games. All of those games you already paid for can be re-downloaded directly from Google Play and Tegra Zone and played on your giant HD television screen, with a controller! Well that’s how it was supposed to work but unfortunately it seems Mad Catz have some work to do. Many games including GTA, Shadowgun, Sine Mora, DOA2 and others are reported to be incompatible with with the device, either not showing the dreaded “not compatible with your device” error, not working properly with the controller or simply crashing at launch. One would hope that these problems require nothing more than some software fixes from Mad Catz, but whether we’ll see them or not is anyone’s guess. Life has just begun for this Tegra 4 powered device, so probably best to hold out for a while. You may need to start saving some cash anyway, because at $250 it surely isn’t cheap.

Playjam Gamestick

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Based on the same Amlogic 8726-MX SoC found in the JXD S7300, the Gamestick is a cheaper alternative to the Ouya. Released a few months ago, the Gamestick hardware is housed inside a HDMI stick which sits neatly inside a cavity in the controller when not in use. Playjam went the same route as the Ouya by creating their own app store, and are suffering a similar backlash from buyers who are either required to pay again for games they already bought from Google or cannot buy the Android game they want because it is not available. Last I read, side loading was not possible either, but things may have changed since then.

Generic RK3188 HDMI Stick (UG007B etc)

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If you’re willing to use your own controllers and are happy to do some tinkering if need be, one of these might do the trick. Probably the cheapest option of the lot, a decent RK3188 HDMI stick can be had for less than $70. You might need to choose wisely if you intend on flashing a new ROM to the device, but with access to Google Play it’s not a bad option. Just bear in mind that there is zero official support for these things.

Huawei Tron

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Only days after China lifted its ban on gaming consoles, Huawei have announced their attempt at cracking the market at this year’s CES. Rumoured to house either the Tegra 4 or Nvidia’s newly announced Kepler based K1 SoC, the Tron is due to be released in China soon. Relying on its own closed app store, and possibly not getting a global release it’s hard to say if this machine will right any of the wrongs of the previous machines. Chances are it probably won’t, which is a shame I think.

As is the case in the handheld world where the majority of Android machines suffer from some kind of mildly debilitating fault, the same can be said for the Android console world. The problem lies I guess in Android itself, it was never meant as a platform for gaming on and any attempt to mould it into one so far falls a little short. Are we doomed to only enjoy Android gaming on mobile touchscreen devices? Or will things change as time goes on? Answers on a postcard. Oh yeah, happy new year :)

P.S. If I forgot any, please let me know.

 

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