A summary…

Browsing the forums it seems some people are rightfully a bit confused about all these new toys and their ability for running different software. So if you’re already clued up, quit reading now (or read it and correct me for being wrong). If you’re not, feel free to check my summary.

Dingoo A320 – Available for about 18 months or more, this is pretty much the holy grail of cheap Chinese handhelds. Ingenic have released the schematics for the JZ4750 and therefore it’s able to run Dingux, which means there is a vast library of games, emulators and other software being ported by the community all the time. Rumoured to be out of production so grab one while you can. Check out the A320 blog to stay up to date on everything new in the A320 world.

Dingoo A380 – The newcomer, still not officially released. Has an upgraded version of the CPU in the A320 (Ingenic JZ4755) so will probably run Dingux eventually and run existing software marginally better than the A320 can. Other differences from the A320 include a 400×240 screen (as opposed to a 320×240 in the A320) and multiplayer via a wireless chip.

Gamebox – A home console running the same CPU as the A380. Currently pretty useless as you cannot install your own ROMs but this may change thanks to the enthusiasm for porting Dingux over to it by the Spanish GP2x community. Has 4 ports for controllers, though these need to be bought separately from Gamebox because normal USB controllers don’t work.

Gemei A330 – The manufacturers behind Dingoo products released their own machine a couple of months back. It has an ARM CPU making software incompatible with the Dingoo. Way better shoulder buttons, honeycomb aligned 320×240 screen (love it or hate it) and a processor marginally more powerful than the A320. Also supports multiplayer like the A380. Booboo (the man behind Dingux) is currently working on porting Dingux over with help from ChinaChip (the CPU manufacturers). Info on the SoC is not available to the public. The stock emulators are not bad, especially GBA.

JXD 3000 – A handheld for playing PS1 games only. Houses a chip from Actions Semiconducters and is unlikely to have any community development thanks to the manufacturers inability to realise that the skilled coding community are the ones who make or break these devices. All info on the chip and schematics is under lock and key by JXD and Actions Semiconductors. Plays 2D games well, semi 3D games are touch and go and full 3D games like Gran Turismo etc do not run very well.

JXD M1000 – A home console version of the above. Supports PS1 / PS2 pads for playing PS1 images only. Same applies.

Letcool N350JP – Based around the ARM Sunplus SPMP8000 processor, this is another closed source device capable of running all the usual emulators. There have been a couple of firmware updates from the developers and a custom firmware or 2 released by lsd_blottr on the dingoonity forums. It comes with 2 controllers and a TV cable so you can play your favourites with a friend on the big screen. It’s been out a year or so and never gathered any momentum in the community due to its closed source nature and therefore the fiendish task of  writing drivers for an undocumented SoC from scratch. It looks like the bottom half of a DS lite and has a nice 320×240 3.5″ screen on it.

Writing this has made me quite frustrated. The Chinese are able to produce a cheap but powerful gaming machine and all development efforts would probably be shouldered by the general public as long as they divulged the information needed to let this happen. There are enough machines that play GBA / SNES and Mega Drive games, we need quality PS1 and Dreamcast emulation in a well made, cheap device. Come on China, sort your shit out!

3 thoughts on “A summary…”

  1. I got given a letcool, and had a bit (not even that) of fun. I used to use almost all the time, and then the screen stops working (i havent cracked it). then i found out its something to do with the lcd itself. It wasnt bad for a little bit of mario, but it now doesnt work.

  2. Sunplus hate giving out info. Ingenic have a clue though – their bsp is available on their site.

    The gamebox should be fairly straightforward to do stuff on – you can boot linux, and compiling mame plus a simple ui isn’t hard, given that they have 2.6.

    i haven’t checked at what the framebuffer or windowing options are though, and i’m sure its tight on flash. It can be set to boot off of SD though, so not too hard to make a larger firmware etc etc.

    Maybe if / when I see one locally in Shanghai I’ll take a peek.

    Don’t feel like ordering one out of guanzhou from taobao till i’ve seen one in person anyway..

  3. Seriously. What a mess.

    Anyone want to buy my Gamebox for $40, shipped? It’s not bad for what it is, a GBA player with a bunch of Capcom and Neo Geo arcade ROMs.


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