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.
The GPD Gamebox, at least in its first iteration, will contain the RK3188 and 1GB RAM. Kelvin has stated that their will be a RK3288 variant of the machine too.
The Gamebox will access the Google Play store rather than its own closed ecosystem, which means there will be some work needed to ensure high compatibility. Thankfully GPD have thus far proved themselves to be fairly competent regarding updates and bug fixes. Skelton has worked closely alongside them to make the software ports on their previous machines work at a very high standard, so as long as he is on board this time around we can be pretty sure that the Android port will be excellent.
The controller will come in 2 variants; 2.4Ghz wireless and bluetooth.
Kelvin posted a rather nice render (I think it’s a render anyway) of the proposed unit which looks to incorporate the beautiful analogs of the G5A and G7 as well as a slew of other buttons for navigating around Android fluently.
We have no decent pictures of the final unit in all it’s glory yet, but this shot of the back at least provides you with some idea of the size and the IO ports available. From left to right, composite video, stereo audio, USB, USB, ethernet, HDMI, power supply, power switch and a WIFI antenna sticking up on the far right.
It also looks like they’ve developed their own front end for the device, a bright rainbow coloured tile system that appears to lend itself quite well to navigation via control pad. The video below gives you a look around the UI. I guess his comment that “There will be several models, this is just one” refers to the RK3288 variant that is also due to be released.
Overall I think the device looks promising. The $99 price tag is right too, but we’ll have to wait until August for mass production to find out if this one hits the spot.