A New Wave Of Pocketable Android PMPs Is About To Break…

Not strictly on topic, this, but as it fits the criteria of being both obscure and handheld and capable of playing games (if you can stand the lack of physical controls) then I’m going to crow bar it into this blog anyway. So there.

Chinese Android tablets are nothing new, but a Chinese Android ‘tablet’ that fits in your pocket with ease and is able to comfortably run the demands of Android 2.3 is thus far unheard of. Step in RockChip. Their RK2918 SoC is based on a Cortex A8 CPU running at 1.0 – 1.2 Ghz (This might be another marketing fib whereby the clock speed is added to the GPU clock speed, but who knows right?). It’s been implemented, coupled with up to 512MB of DDR3 RAM in a few 7″+ tablets in the past month or so and looks to be the first RockChip that can really run Android at an acceptable pace. RockChip have always had a decent implementation of Android available for their SoCs but  lacklustre processors were always a bit of a hindrance. Until now…

Manufacturers Window and Cube have both released (or will do very shortly) highly pocketable 5 inch ‘Smart PMPs’ utilising this new SoC, and the offerings look good. “But I have a smart phone” I hear you cry. Well yeah, so do I. “Why would I need something like this?” You don’t. I don’t either, but since when was this about things that you need? 🙂

First up is the Window N50. This one is already available to order at JTShoponline and boasts the following spec:

Processor	ARM Cortex A8 RK2918 @ 1.2 Ghz.
GPU		Vivante GC800.
RAM		512MB DDR3.
Memory		8GB, with Micro SD card expansion to 32GB .
Screen		5 inch capacitive LCD @ 800x480. Supports 4 point multitouch.
Camera		0.3MPx front cam.
Wireless	802.11b/g/n module. Supports external 3G dongle.
OS	 	Android 2.3.
Audio		Speaker, Mic, 3.5mm (stereo) headset jack.
Video		1080P, AVI / MOV / MP4 / RMVB / FLV / MKV.
Battery		3200mah (4-6 hours)
Size		90x137x13mm

Have some videos courtesy of JTShop. Levels of awesomeness increase tenfold thanks to the AC/DC soundtrack.


Asphalt 5.

Modern Combat 2 Black Pegasus.

Web browsing.

Boot time.

The second is the Cube U15GT, which as yet hasn’t made its way to any English language stores. There are plenty on Taobao, could be pre-orders though. From the limited spec available currently, it looks like it might just be identical to the Window N50 with a different shell.

Here’s the Quadrant benchmark for the N50, I’m assuming that’s Chinese for “Your Device” at the top. I wonder if the results are skewed somehow because it seems to leave everything else for dead.

I kind of want one quite a lot. Anyone want to tell me why I’d be an idiot to buy one?

22 Replies to “A New Wave Of Pocketable Android PMPs Is About To Break…”

  1. hello again sir
    first allow me to thank you again.i was finally able to “flash” my n50dt and its doing great right now. i used the firmware by kaze. anyhoo,
    i have a pal who recently ordered the GT version, and he wants to flash it as well,unfortunately those firmwares were uploaded to the now defunct megaupload.com. any chance you know where i could get them?
    advance thanks and happy hearts day:-D

    1. Unfortunately I don’t have the images. It really sucks that so many legitimate and useful files have just disappeared from the net.
      Someone else is asking for them to be uploaded in the thread on mp4nation, hopefully kaze can re-upload them somewhere else.
      Keep your eyes on this thread: http://mp4nation.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=74&t=23077&start=555

      1. sopa sucks! but thats another story,hehe.anyhow, thanks so much sir. will be on the lookout indeed:-)
        cheers

  2. strange. do you have a win7 machine you can try it on? afaik someone on mp4nation had a similar problem but it got sorted. you might want to read or post in that thread and see if you can get help there, i’m out of ideas.

    1. will head on there now sir.again,thanks for all the help.cheers to the new year:-D

  3. hello again sir,im really sorry to bother you with this.anyhow, i tried your suggestion but to no avail.windows tried to look for the driver in the rockchip folder (english updater) but couldnt find it. i tried in the drivers (xp) folder,nada.also tried kaze’s suggestion to just rename the image file copy it to the sd card,but when mounted there’s was no prompt.tried it a coupla times but nada. by the way,i have the DT version, 2k29sdk-eng 2.3.1 gingerbread eng.root.20111103.155223 test keys and i thought this version is already rooted and in english?!? this is really frustrating,whew!
    does rockchip have an official site where we could download drivers directly? anyways,for now i guess i have to learn mandarin,hehe.tsk tsk

    1. Are you sure you buried into the RockUSB folder and found the right directory for your operating system?

      1. well,i tried different variations.first i let windows device driver search in the rockchip folder (it cant find it),then i pointed it to the xp folder buried in the rockchip folder (also nada).also,tried letting it look in the driver folder inside which is another xp folder.apparently all failed sir.btw, i also tried just minutes ago in my netbook running windows xp sp 3,still the same sad results.
        also tried it, while the tablet is both on and off.
        like i mentioned,this is really frustrating me,hehe.
        on a happy note though, i really appreciate your help,perhaps
        anytime soon, there’s gonna be a solution to this.

  4. thanks so much for your generousity sir.i will keep you posted as to how it went.cheers:-D

  5. hello sir,
    thanks for your review,its because of it that i actually decided to purchase one.anyhoo,i just got mine from the mail and i have a problem getting rid of the chinese characters in the keyboard also the pre-installed chinese apps (im not being a racist, im like 1/8 chinese myself,hehe). do you have any idea how to do this? also, how would i now if i got the DT version with the latest firmware? the seller assured me its already updated,but of course i wanna make sure. hope you could shed some info here.
    thanks so much and here’s wishin you a bountiful 2012 and beyond:-D

    1. Hi,

      You can tell which version you have in the ‘About Phone’ menu in settings. It’ll either say N50DT or N50GT (the GT is another new model – it just has one component different, not sure which). Either way, you want to flash a custom firmware asap. It’ll sort out the keyboard, remove all the Chinese apps and all in all make it a more enjoyable machine to use.

      Check this thread for links to the custom ROMs developed by Kaze. Make sure you select the appropriate firmware depending on whether you have the DT or GT model. If I were you I’d read the last few pages of the thread too to get an idea about what’s what. FLashing is really easy, it’s just a couple of clicks and a sit back and wait. Any questions you can either ask me or post in thread, they’re a helpful bunch over there!

      Cheers and merry christmas

      1. thank you so much sir. one more thing though,i tried hooking it up to my old pc (windows xp sp2), and it cannot recognize it?!? it looked for the appropriate software over the net but to no avail:-(
        hope you could help me out with this one too.
        thanks again and cheers to you:-)

      2. You need to download the driver from that thread I pointed to. It’s bundled inside the N50 English Updater download.
        Choose to install manually, point it to the RockUSB folder and let it do its work. After that it’s recognised by Windows and you can follow the instructions for 2.1 at the bottom of the page to flash the new firmware.

        Cheers

        edit// so firstly download this —>
        N50 English Updater:
        http://www.mediafire.com/?cxt6e37n2d3kv1i

        And then the firmware you require —>
        EITHER:
        N50DT SDK 2.1 Kaze Mod 111221 NO CELL STANDBY (based of official 1201)
        http://www.megaupload.com/?d=TJ17U29C

        OR

        N50GT SDK2.1 NO CELL STANDBY TEST ROM:
        Same stuff but with Cell standby diasbled (not working with 3G dongle)
        http://www.megaupload.com/?d=KEGZ98Y5

        depending on whether you have the DT or GT model.

        Then follow the instructions for flashing —>
        Unpack updater
        Turn off N50
        Keep “+” button pushed while you plug USB in
        Install drivers located in RockUSB folder
        Launch updater.exe
        Load firmware in updater
        Push restore button

  6. The only good reason to put android in a PMP is to save the cost of building or licensing your own firmware. These days chip manufacturers are all providing android processor support packages for their chips, mostly intended for the MID market. So imagine you’re a PMP manufacturer: sure, with a specialized firmware you probably don’t really need the horsepower of the latest CPU, but what if you can transfer the cost of licensing the firmware to the CPU and have fancy “cortex” and “1GHz” on the retail box?.

    Today a PMP offers no advantages over an android phone except price. A MID device has a larger screen and a primary use different of that of a phone. A handheld console also does. Just put DECENT gaming controls (which are inevitably bulky) and you have something that does something a phone can’t do (and for the price of a PMP).

    1. I agree that a specialised firmware would be better for these devices, but the problem is I’ve never seen a proprietary Chinese made firmware that wasn’t severely flawed in one area or another. And then you’re screwed, because the manufacturers are already working on their next device and can’t be arsed to fix it. At least with Android you have the programming skill of the Google team behind it, and even if the implementation from the Chip manufacturer isn’t great the chances are high (higher, at least) that you’ll find a community tweaked ROM that works properly.

      I disagree on your second point though. Current smart phone batteries are small, ~1400mah at most. Using your phone for music/video/games/internet all day means carrying around a charger and praying to find a wall socket somewhere on your travels. At least with a micro tablet (a description that I think better describes these things than PMP) you can offload some of those luxuries to a device with a battery more than double the size of your phone battery.
      And as for sticking the game controls on it, great idea – so long as you’re either 1) using hardware that people can code for, because once again the manufacturers seem incapable or unwilling to do it properly themselves or 2) running Android/Linux on it so that community developed emulators can be used.

      While you’re here, I might as well add that what you did for the Dingoo A320 was incredibly impressive and for that I am very grateful.

  7. From the videos it looks like a pretty tempting piece of hardware for he price.I’m seriously considering one. I’d love it if they shrank one of these a little and added game controls. I’m kind of expecting the next big Chinese handheld to be specked out like this and run android.

  8. Trust no number in China… The numbers are usually fake, if not always. There’re lots of similar solution out there ranging from 5″, 7″ to 10.1″ and also 4.3″. Yeah, believe it or not, 4.3″ Android “super PMP” looked like a PSP form factor.

    1. It’s not just China, you can still find PCs on ebay advertised as 12Ghz (4x 3Ghz cores added together!) but I know what you’re saying. Thankfully, numbers are largely unimportant anyway… software implementation is really what matters and RockChip usually have a fairly firm grasp on that side of things.
      The videos show that it runs fairly smoothly, and according to Window this isn’t even the final build of the OS (final build due to release in late Sep).

  9. for me the 5″ winodw n50 is a real winner. More of those cortex a8 5 inchers!

    1. Hey, I’m not alone then. I agree, I’d like to see more of these. I never saw the use of 7 inch and above. If it doesn’t fit in your pocket then you might as well get a netbook. 5 inch is a great size (for a PMP, I hasten to add ;-))

  10. I’d prefer the Archos 43. It can be had for a little more but it’s much nicer if you want a handheld running android. Personally I want something that runs the latest Android but I find the 43 very temping.

    1. Yeah I’ve looked at it before. There were too many drawbacks for me though… The Android implementation isn’t great, there’s no GPU, it’s too expensive and there are a LOT of complaints over the response of the resistive LCD. That’s a deal breaker for me. My Nokia 5800 had a resistive screen and how I managed to keep it for 18 months without smashing the bloody thing to pieces I’ll never know.

      Also it looks like a phone, which I don’t like. I prefer the Media Player look, though I suppose that’s unimportant to most.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.