GCW Zero Unboxing And Close Ups


Yep you read it right, today my GCW Zero SE arrived. I could scarcely believe my eyes when my brother emailed to say I’d received a parcel from America, but it’s here. Believe it.

It’s been just over a year since I made the first payment towards this little bundle of joy, and about 8-9 months since it was supposed to have been delivered. As with so many amateur run projects like this, the device was plagued by delays, missed deadlines and poor communication. But the saga is coming to an end for almost everyone now, and today Justin can tick one more eager pre-orderer from his list as my GCW Zero has safely landed in my hands.

Whilst I haven’t had nearly enough time to do a review, I thought some of you might be interested to see some close up pics and maybe even read some first impression opinions. So without further ado, let’s have a look.

The parcel arrived in a bubble wrap envelope. One end was soft and I wondered if the promised t-shirt might be stuffed into one end. The package was quite weighty and I wondered whether those laser etched tumblers could be in there as well.



No tumblers, but I was right about the shirt. The shirt is a Gildan Heavy Cotton, and though I’ll perhaps never wear it it’s nice to see that they chose a high quality fabric. Size XL for the “larger gentleman” 😛



The other end of the envelope of course contained the boxed up Zero. They used some heavy duty cardboard for this thing, very rigid and more than suitable to protect the contents. Unfortunately the printing on it is not great. It’s supposed to be black I guess, but it’s more like a very washed out grey colour. The image of the console barely stands out from the background, but of course I’m nit picking here.



The back of the box contains a nice little introduction to the machine, and on the left side you’ll find a list of specifications.



Once the lid is popped the first thing you see is the console itself, safely wrapped inside a plastic bag.


Underneath the white card tray are all of the accessories that come with the SE version. I’m not sure if the same bits and pieces will come with the Kickstarter editions or not, but the SE customers are certainly taken care of here.


The unit comes with two layers of screen protection. We’re told that the plastic underneath is very scratch resistant, and I plan on taking great care of it anyway- so off they come.


The unit itself leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand it weighs perfectly in the hands, it has a very reassuring weight to it. It’s obviously been put together very well too, there’s very little creaking or flex when gripped and twisted and that blue print on the buttons looks very nice with the orange in the logo.


But the quality of the plastic moulding is not great. There is a noticeable and irregular lip along the edges where the casing meets the buttons. It’s possible that the lip was done on purpose, but it’s just not quite done well enough to warrant the almost premium price tag. There is also a strange granular texture to the plastic. It’s not quite matte and not quite gloss, it’s somewhere in between and it looks cheap. Some of the buttons don’t quite sit flush to the case either, but this may even itself out with time.



Compared to its Father, the Dingoo A320, the GCW Zero is quite a bit bigger. This will suit most people as the A320 was far too small for most adult hands. Of course, the shoulder buttons are way better on the Zero as well. They’re similar to those of the Gemei A330 but not nearly as mushy. The screen resolutions are the same on both machines, but the Dingoo screen was 2.8 inches whilst the Zero’s screen is a perfect 3.5. If only it were 640×480, ho hum.




Some people have mentioned a problem with the dpad down. I can confirm that the problem exists on my unit as well, sometimes requiring 2 or 3 presses before it registers. I am told that with some use this will probably sort itself out, I’ll have to wait and see.

OpenDingux looks pretty much the same as it did on the Dingoo A320 at the moment. Obviously it’s in beta stage and will likely remain that way for most of its life, but it will be constantly updated and fixed by the developers as time goes on. At the moment it’s functional but it doesn’t look pretty and does crash once in a while.


The buttons in general feel good. The analog stick is smooth and easy to grip, the shoulder buttons are an improvement over the ones used in the Gemei A330 (a device with a very similar case mould to this) and the ABXY buttons have a very pronounced click as you depress them. Aside from the dpad down issue it does feel OK, though I would prefer a higher pivot so that there is more travel when pushed in each direction.



The device itself looks decidedly 90s to me, I prefer the clean lines of the Dingoo A320 by a long way – but it’s just a personal preference and I’ll bet most people would disagree there.




There are some games pre-installed, including a preview of Unnamed Monkey Game by zear and Harteex.

DSCN5590 DSCN5591

The GCW Zero is a long way off reaching its full potential. Currently there are many features not working, including (but not limited to) HDMI output, GPU acceleration and WIFI (WIFI was my mistake, I was configuring it incorrectly – it works), but the device has only just been born. Part of the fun will be watching it evolve and grow as developers figure out ways to push the device to its limits. This isn’t going to be a toy for someone that wants instant gratification, it’ll be something that improves slowly with age. Despite the fact I’m not overly impressed with the fit and finish of the product – I’m very excited to see what lies ahead for it.

Has anyone else received theirs yet, and if so what are your first impressions?


17 thoughts on “GCW Zero Unboxing And Close Ups”

  1. I got mine weeks ago. I have dpad being stuck issue. They said it was the rubber contact getting wedged or something but it looks more like the plastic dpad is too large. I had to send it back to get it fixed. Communication was subpar.

    At least the screen doesn’t have ghosting issues like pandora. I’m happy about that. That and a input test screen to understand the dpads limits(for fighting games). Not happy about available emulators.

    Also, they won’t tell me how to open up the gcw as I want to experiment with other dpad parts for fighting games. Can’t wait for step by step teardown.

  2. Do we know what the price of the Zero is going to be when it’s released to the public? How much was the Kickstarter donation? The open-source nature of this type of unit intrigues me, however I just don’t see a big enough incentive to invest in a device that has such huge limitations. A device with a 3.5 inch screen, lack of graphics acceleration, and no second analog stick just doesn’t seem like much of an improvement over my three year old GP2X WiZ! Honestly, a hacked PSP is far more effective for most of my needs as a retro gamer. And with new, more powerful Android portables that are also affordable and open-source such as the Nvidia Shield and Wikipad coming on the market, I just don’t see much of a need for these little handhelds anymore. And if your heart’s desire is to have a system that can fit in your pocket but can emulate just about any vintage game, jailbreak an iPod Touch or iPhone, and get a nice Bluetooth controller like the iCade Mobile from ION for $30 or so.

  3. Hey.

    First, thanks for reviewing the GCW Zero.
    I have two questions about it though:
    1) You mentioned the system crashes once in a while. Can you report when does it happen? OD is very stable and we never had any crashes during the developement, so it would help us if we could localize your issues.
    Unless you mean some games crashing. Then it’s enough to press power + select to kill a currently running game and get back to the menu. But naturally that has nothing to do with OpenDingux.

    2) You mentioned that WIFI isn’t working, while this is not true. WIFI is fully functional, if it doesn’t connect to your access-point then most likely you messed up the network settings. Feel free to join us on our irc (details on gcw-zero.com) if you need any help regarding WIFI configuration or any other help with your GCW Zero.

    PS. Thanks for the UMG shout-out 🙂
    PPS. Once you get your WIFI sorted out, we invite you for an online match of Descent 2 (or maybe also some other titles, if you think you can handle a little bit of terminal magic with the non-finished ports) 🙂

    • It’s crashed once or twice quitting back to the OS from game (can’t remember which game I’m afraid). The screen goes black and all I could do was reset. If it happens again I’ll make a note of what I was doing at the time.

      Apologies for the mis-diagnosis with the WIFI. Now I’m using managed mode and it works just fine.

      UMG is brilliant, easily the best thing pre-loaded. Can’t wait ’til it’s available 🙂

  4. I should have mine in a few days. I’m not really thrilled with what I’m seeing so far. I think the only thing that will make me happy will be to order the Nvidia Shield

  5. I received mine today, and also have very mixed feelings. After gleefully unboxing it and removing both screen protectors, I found some adhesive sticking out from under the bezel and over the screen. I also have a fair bit of dust trapped underneath. Feedback on the forums has been to open it up and do some surgery, but I’m a bit reluctant to do so (I’m not that confident that I won’t break something).

    Also, I too am having the D-pad issue, which is pretty annoying.

    Right now I’m going back and forth with Justin over PM to see if I can exchange the unit, and honestly am a bit bummed that after waiting this long to get the system (given all of the delays), so hopefully I can get a replacement free of issues and get back to gaming.

  6. Nice! Thanks for the hands on. Can’t wait for the full review.

    I’m hoping that my Kickstarter Zero arrives soon. Considering that I’m upgrading from a GP2X F-100, I’m pretty stoked about it. It’s got to be a huge improvement over what I’ve grown accustomed to.

    By the way, it appears that we don’t have to log in any longer.

    • I’m afraid the full review is probably not going to be with this unit. The dpad issue is a deal breaker at the moment, and my sticky A button is a mild annoyance as well.

      It looks as though I’m either going to have to send this unit back, or attempt a fix myself. I’d be more comfortable attempting a fix from someone elses instructions, since it will obviously invalidate my warranty. And here I was thinking the saga was over. Jeeeez.

      • I’m going to do an instructional video where I open up my SE and show how to fix the d-pad and buttons. Should be up in a week or so, I’ll post the link here and on the dingoonity forum.

        • Excellent. Justin is going to send me a new dpad but I’m still gona need help opening it up safely I think, as are many others.


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