Classicamiga Forum Retro Edition
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Thread: Retro Handhelds
Harrison 01:51 30th December 2020
Has anyone bought and played around with any of the recently released retro gaming handhelds?

There have been loads coming out of China in the last couple of years and this year we have finally been seeing some really nice, good quality products at great prices.

Retroid Pocket 2 - I grabbed this one on preorder and finally received it in November. Very nice build quailty and screen. Big battery and great hardware spec. It even has HDMI out, wifi, and bluetooth so you could pair controllers, connect it to your TV and use it as a full console. And unlike many other this runs full blown Android, so you have access to all Android emulation.

Brilliant system if you don't mind putting a bit of work in to get the most from it. It can emulate right up to N64, PSX and even Dreamcast and PSP.

The best part. It's only $80 and available in loads of colour combinations based on retro colour schemes. Best ordered directly from Retroid, but expect a wait to arrive.

Anbernic RG351P - Anbernic have built a reputation for brilliant build quality, surpassing all others, and very near to something from Nintendo. Anbernic offer great support and also have a great community supporting they hardware and we have seen a lot of releases and ports.

Their RG350 released last year was their first truly great retro handheld, but being quite expensive and a bit limited in some regards it wasn't prefect. The new RG351P builds on it and is a really nice handheld.

Unlike the Retroid that is Android based, the RG351 runs on a Linux based OS (and is inspired by and as with many retro handheld releases this year often referred to as a Odroid-Go Advance clone). It uses the Emulation Station frontend and is really slick and easy to use. There are already 3 different firmwares available to download and use from SD card for the 351, these being EmuELEC, 351ELEC or ArkOS. All use the Emulation Station front end but offer different things. ArkOS f.ex. is based on Ubuntu, has a more up to date file system, 64bit support and a separate partition for roms.

The hardware is really nice. Similar spec to the Retroid. One thing to note is that it's resolution is far lower than the Retroid. That has a 640x480 display, whereas the 351 has a 480x320 display. The display is actually higher quailty with wider viewing angles and better colours than the Retroid, just lower resolution. But for retro gaming it's exactly 2x GBA resolution so those games look superb. And most earlier systems fit within that resolution fine. Including PSP. Only once you get to PSX will you see it starting to be scaled down, and for the newer systems I would recommend the Retroid Pocket 2 because of its resolution and ability to handle newer system emulation a bit better.

The 351 is also more limiting in ports. Unlike the Retroid it didn't have hdmi out so is purely handheld.

Price wise it's more expensive than the Retroid. Full price is about $100. But I just grabbed one from for 72 advertised as a Christmas sale, which I didn't think was a bad price at all.

Which to buy?

If you want great build quailty, good manufacturer and community support, and a handheld that runs a frontend out of the box setup that just works buy the Anbernic RG351P. You won't regret it.

If however you like a bit more freedom. The ability to run anything Android based, including Retroarch and the other bonus is all Android games too. In fact you can even run Steam Link and madly stream current PC games and play them on this little handheld. And don't forget the higher resolution display. Then you won't regret the more versatile and cheaper Retroid Pocket 2.

But whichever you choose you won't regret it as they are both great handhelds for retro gaming.
Demon Cleaner 12:08 5th January 2021
I bought is the RG350M from Anbernic (M stands for the metal version which also has a 640x480 screen). It has a great finish and feels great in your hands, definitely a fantastic handheld. Has a seperate SD slot for games only f.ex, so your ROMs are always safe. Only downside is that it doesn't have the power to run DC, PSP or N64 games, PSX run fine though.

I run SimpleMenu as frontend.

I recently also bought the PowKiddy RGB10, which I didn't set up yet, but wanted to have it, as it's more powerful than the RG350M and it WILL run DC, PSP and N64. The RGB10 is also a lot cheaper than the RG350M.

Harrison 02:16 6th January 2021
The RG351P I mentioned above is basically an updated 350, but without tge nice metal case m, with P = plastic. But build quality is superb. The other big difference is the lower screen resolution, but honestly you don't actually notice for most retro games as their native resolution is lower. Its also got a newer CPU and GPU then the 350 so can handle PSP, N64 and some DC games far better.

But the one thing that actually made me buy the 351 is community support. It's huge and far larger than any other handheld. And it's something else that's different from tge 350. That's got a pretty fixed firmware and OS, based on Emulation Station and retroarch. The 351 still uses both, but what's happening at the moment is really cool. There are multiple firmwares and OSs in active development for the 351. The 2 most interesting are Elec51 and ArcOS.

ELEC51 is based on the same frontend as the default bundled firmware, but running on Linux taking it to a whole level further. To the point they are porting Raspberry Pi emulators and other software over. And it can do live wifi os updates.

ArcOS goes another route too as it's running Ubuntu 19.10 with emulation Station and retroarc frontend on top the same. But adds a ton of features and abilities.

The 351 is looking to be really gaining community support, with each branch OS/firmare have discord accounts and github pages.

And the other I mentioned, the Retroid Pocket 2, has finally received its Android 8 firmware update. It makes the system a reported 25% faster, adds a nicer Android 8 interface with far more setup options. It's also compatible with far more Android software, plus it's own Retroid Pocket OS frontend now has far more options and settings. The downfall of the Retroid Pocket 2 is conpared to the Anbernic systems it feels more pkasticy and the buttons and controls not quite as nice. But it does have the 640x480 IPS screen, compared to the 480x320 screen of the 351P. But each screen lends itself prefecture to different systems, so I will use each for different systems abd setups.

Still so much more to explore on both systems, it will take me months. Plus with one of the 351 firmwares now starting to see Raspberry Pi software crossover, I also have my new RPi4 to play around with and test things across both systems.

Retro is really getting cool and exciting again.

You will have to let me kbow what you think of the PowKiddy RGB10. I read a bit about it but not much. Probably somewhere bwtween the Anbernic devices and tge Retroid in terms of performance. I personally like having the 2 analogue sticks. I also like that tge 351 even has R3 buttons and rumble too, which is now starting to be supported in more emulators.
Demon Cleaner 12:52 6th January 2021
The Odroid Go Super is also coming out of January, looks very promising and has a 5" IPS screen. The very sad downside of it, it still uses the same CPU and 1GB of RAM, same like the older Odroid Go Advance. I like the form factor of the device, but until they don't upgrade the CPU, I won't be getting one, seems redundant.
Harrison 12:58 10th January 2021
Anbernic is now releasing the RG351M.

It's identical to the 351P internally, but with a nice metal case similar to the 350M. However they have managed to fix the wifi issue and it's included internally again. With the P they had to remove it because the antenna was causing audio interference. And instead bundle an external USB wifi dongle.

Bit annoying as I only just got the 351P. I'm not bothered by the metal case so much as the plastic case is still good quality, but the built in wifi would have been good. Not too much of an issue though. The wifi is only really to update things like the artwork and I'm not likely to use netplay.

The RF351M is quite a big upgrade from the RG350M though. It has a 1.5GHz quad core cpu vs a 1GHz dual core CPU, and also has 1GB ram vs 512MB. Plus Linux based rather than OpenDingux means you have more firmware/OS options with ever growing community support and Raspberry Pi OS/Emulation/frontend cross platform development and porting.
Demon Cleaner 12:37 11th January 2021
I'm tempted, if I manage to sell my RG350M. As the specs upgrade is quite significant, and I want to run those N64, PSP and DC games from it. The only thing that bothers me is that it's still running in this older RK3326 chip, which might not be able to run ALL of the PSP or N64 games.
Harrison 23:40 14th January 2021
No current handhelds can run all N64 or PSP games. But the 351 can run much better then the 350. But for these the best is currently the Retroid Pocket 2, but although I really like the system it's design and build quailty and button/thumbstick layout isn't as good as Anbernic's. That's why I own both. Play the lower systems on the 351, and the newer systems on the RP2. The perfect solution would be to combine the RP2 inside an Anbernic case design.

If you want the best handheld for PSP, then a hacked Vita is the best solution by a huge amount. It's the only handheld other than the actual PSP that can run God of War perfectly f.ex. in fact a hacked Vita is the best solution as a handheld Sony systems setup as it runs PS1, PSP and Vita perfectly.
Demon Cleaner 03:15 15th January 2021
Yeah I know about the Vita, unfortunately I sold mine some time ago, almost like new.

But I wanna have one single handheld that can play everything, if I go on holiday, I don't wanna take 3 different handhelds with me. That's the whole point.

I just have to wait a bit for the next gen handhelds with upgraded chips, or one with an integrated Pi4, like the N+:

The new GPD Win 3 kickstarter campaign starts today, looks great, saw a review from Linus, looks promising, but here we're probably talking about the 1000$ mark, so not really calling it "handheld" anymore.
Harrison 13:03 15th January 2021
There are definitely more powerful budget CPUs and hardware starting to appear that hopefully we will see in the next generation of handhelds. These provide the next level of performance needed to run N64, Dreamcast, PSP, PS1 etc really well.

Take a look at this video of a Chinese budget 10.1" tablet review, called the M40. It's only 126 but can handle emulation of PSP at full speed, including God of War. It seems to handle N64 fine too. The big surprise for this price is near prefect Gamecube emulation and even able to handle some PS2 and Wii. Imagine in another year we might see something from Anbernic able to run nearly everything up to the PS2 and Wii. That would be very nice indeed. Would never be able to decide what to play!
Demon Cleaner 17:29 15th January 2021
The tablet looks nice, but then again, do I want to carry around another tablet? I like the form factor of handhelds. even my 7" screen JXD was fine, everything bigger I wouldn't want.

We have ace CPUs in every Chinese mobile phone, if they would put something powerful like that, it would be fine, but I guess they want to keep them lowest cost possible.

We will probably see in one year or so.

Btw, GPD Win 3 campaign started over at Indiegogo, I was quite right, price is 949$ for the top model.
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