HardKernel is a South Korean hardware manufacturer founded in around 2008, although best known for their RPi style Single Board Computers one of their first devices was an Android handheld bearing a passing resemblance to the Bandai Wonderswan. Since then, to the best of my knowledge we haven’t seen another handheld from them until now. To mark the 10th anniversary of the company they’ve released the Odroid-Go, which is sold as a game kit. The parts are sold as a bundle and the buyer assembles the device themselves.
Mine arrived on Saturday and I put it together yesterday. Unless you’ve never taken anything apart and re-assembled it before you won’t learn much from the assembly experience, it is very straight forward and it only took my fat fingered self about 20 minutes. There are instructions on the Odroid Wiki page but even they’re not really necessary. Everything clicks in to place and there’s no soldering required, the only bit you have to be careful with is putting in the screen (it’s a tight fit) and making sure there’s no dust trapped between the LCD and the lens. I can totally see how it would be a great learning experience for a young child, if only to understand what makes a device like this tick.
The device is powered by a custom ESP32-Wrover, which is low cost development board with 16MiB of on board flash memory. It’s compatible with the Arduino SDK which means there’s an opportunity to develop for the platform if you wish. The HardKernel site currently has some basic coding guides available, as well as instructions to turn the device in to a portable weather station and ultrasonic distance measuring app (both with additional hardware). The board has an expansion port at the top, and comes with a 10 pin header to allow you to add additional modules.
The stock firmware contains emulators for Game Gear, NES, Game Boy Color, Game Boy and Master System. It looks like there’s been a firmware update since the version in my photos, but I am yet to find out whether this improves the emulation at all. Currently emulation is a bit rough around the edges with maybe games running too slowly and some refusing to load at all.
The LCD is a 320×240 panel which is fine straight on, but outside and at other angles it quickly becomes a bit washed out. Having said that, it’s all perfectly acceptable when you see that the price is a mere $32. Granted shipping is extra, but it’s still cheap enough for what you get. The controls are great and overall the unit is very solid.
You will need a microSD card to load the OS and ROMs on to, and given the emulators it currently runs I think you can put the entire library for each console on to a 4GB card.