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The GCW-Zero: A new open source handheld console (Kickstarter)

wololo

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126 Responses

  1. bsanehi says:

    The screen is way too small, needs more ram & second analog nub. Also they should make a deal with Nvidia, and through in tegra 4.

  2. hgoel0974 says:

    In these times, such specs are WAY TOO basic.
    Smartphones do an average 1.5 GHz and around 1.5 GB RAM or as in the case of the Vita, a good graphics card/chip with a reasonable amount of dedicated vram.

    To me, this seems just like another children’s console, like the Nintendo DS,3DS- Very basic specs=only attractive to someone with no knowledge of hardware=kids ;)

    • JY says:

      Just wanted to point out:

      The fact that you can’t appreciate games because of the lack of next gen graphics makes you look like a kid.

      • Jonny says:

        JY your entire comment makes you look like a kid

      • hgoel0974 says:

        Where have I said that I can’t appreciate games because of lack of next-gen graphics?
        I am talking about specs, they don’t have too much to do with graphics.

        GBA Emulator on the PSV’s screen doesn’t make the games look Next-gen all of a sudden. A good graphics card just makes some things easier, if this is an emulator device, it should have these decent specs to be able to do some good emulation.

  3. Hello. I’m responsible for the Duke Nukem 3D port to GCW Zero. I have to disagree with you in “GCW-Zero is in only for old games and emulators, and will not try to fix broken implementations of some FPS games”. First, we focus on playability of the FPS titles and good input mapping is our top priority. Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Quake I&II, Hexen II, Descent 1&2 – they all play really well with just one analog. Here is how my port of Duke Nukem 3D utilizes the GCW button layout:
    Analog nub: look up/down and turn left/right
    Front buttons (A/B/X/Y): move forward/backward and strafe left/right
    Right shoulder: shoot
    Left shoulder: jump
    D-PAD left/right: change weapon
    D-PAD down: use/open
    D-PAD up: toggle crouching
    SELECT + D-PAD left/right: change selected item
    SELECT + D-PAD down: use item
    SELECT + Right shoulder: mighty boot

    All the buttons are naturally re-mappable if needed.

    I put a lot of effort into this button mapping and you have to believe me it plays really well. Here’s a video of Duke Nukem 3D in action where you can see me using the mentioned button layout: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpUSf5EmeY4

    The other FPS games use similar button mapping, customized to the game needs.

    • wololo says:

      Thanks Artur. I am more concerned about more recent FPS games that really benefit from a second nub. I’ve played Duke3D on a keyboard without a mouse, and that wasn’t a problem in those days, so I can definitely see how it will be extremely playable on the Zero.

      The videos of Descent I’ve seen running on the GCW-Zero made quite good use of the G sensor and that looked nice too.

      I am myself not a big FPS player, besides the old ones you mention, but I *know* that the lack of a second nub was the top 1 criticism for the PSP, and it was one of the most welcomed features on the Vita. Again, I am not saying the lack of a second nub kills the idea, but that it limits its scope.

      Edit: our community is focused on the Vita, a device which for $250 has specifications that completely kill the GCW Zero. Of course this is not the same world, Sony sells their devices at a loss because they get the money back on software sales, and can mass-produce it, but from the “end user” perspective of people visiting this site, the price of the Zero compared to its specs will definitely feel like a “let down”. This is also why I mentioned the Open Pandora. The Open Pandora was incredibly expensive, *but* it had awesome specs that gave us a nerdgasm. The CFW-Zero does not have those. It will get the job done, and I am convinced the games ports will be extremely polished, but as a device in itself it is not very exciting.

      • joevar says:

        From a technical prespective, your criticisms are completely valid. But from a business prespective, a company like Sony has much more than a gaming device with better specs. They are also backed up by reputation through established devices and communities and funding from previous projects. Sony mass produce devices knowing that they’ll likely sell on that alone. Unfortunately, this places a high barrier to entry if newcomers like GCW wants to compete with Sony. I can’t imagine that GCW could ever produce a Vita competitior anywhere near $250. $400 is a probably more realistic price, but hardly anyone will buy that when they can safely choose the Vita. I think the Open Pandora is good case-study here. A device with great specs supported by a small, unsustainable community because of its high barrier to entry ($$$ + risk) for joining that community. Creating a lower-end device as a first product makes more sense. Fortunately, this isn’t a unique situation here. It’s a fairly common theme for startups. I’m willing to bet (literally) that next time around they’ll mass produce a cheaper “Open Pandora.” Because they’ll already have communities, funding, and software to support it.

        • wololo says:

          I guess one of my points is that I’d pay $400 now for some open source device with the specs of the Vita (while I wouldn’t pay $135 for a device with the specs of the Zero). I would have been an OpenPandora owner if they hadn’t blown their schedule by several years, and I think Kickstarter would help a project like the OpenPandora today to 1) meet its deadlines and 2) help lower (a bit) the prices with actual mass production.

    • BrendanBeckmann says:

      Descent, huh? Man that brings back memories. I might have to get one of these if I can play Descent on it. I wanted to play it back on the PSP but the only builds seemed to be built for pre-2.0 OFW so it seemed like compatibility would’ve been awful.

      I hope one day the Vita will have it, that would be nice.

  4. praed0r says:

    IMO this proposed new machine lacks a real “killer” reason to buy one, it looks very much like a poor copy of a PSP that probably won’t be able to play PSP/PSX games.

    So for those that cannot afford a Vita, a second hand PSP would be a much better option – it has a vast library of quality games, great homebrew and emulation support and is readily available right now.

    I would be very surprised if it met it’s donation target.

    Just my opinion, I have been known to be wrong before lol.

  5. Jd8531 says:

    Looks cheap, one nub, small screen and weak specs. If it was sporting a Tegra 3 or 4 I might be more inclined. Id recommend just getting a Vita or pspgo.

  6. Raziel says:

    *shivers* the thing would have been amazing..like 10 years ago. now those specs are pretty pathetic and you have waaaaay better choices if you want to play *Retro Games*

  7. Dovlek says:

    With the Project Shield from Envidia we will se something new

  8. z0_0d says:

    this is a low end game console, not compete with PSP.

    some internal photo can be found here
    http://www.consolando.es/otras-consolas/nuevas-imagenes-de-la-consola-portatil-gcw-zero/

    very bad casing and construction design

    price range should under US50

  9. Al Kowholich says:

    Do we really need a Tegra 4 and 512 MB of RAM for SNES. And some of us out there could care less about Playstation or newer. Just saying

  10. deejay says:

    120 for this is too expensive in my opinion

  11. KUROKO says:

    Is that the new ps 1 ?

  12. KUROKO says:

    Neo-Geo Gold X looks better than this

    • Jose says:

      Neo Geo X is a laughing stock in the community.

      This outperforms the Neo Geo X in so many levels. If you made any amount of research you would find this runs Neo Geo BETTER than the Neo Geo X.

      • sabin1981 says:

        I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there. This? The GCW Zero? Same SoC as the Neo Geo X, so please.. tell me how this “outperforms the Neo Geo X on so many levels” — I’ll wait ;)

        I’m sorry, I respect the developers and their accomplishments – such as the Dingoo – but this is just a horrible machine. It’s overpriced and underpowered. I would much rather get one of those cheap Android machines, such as the ones from YinLips or JXD. At least those are backed by some oomph and have full access to the Android catalogue as well as proven, constantly updated, emulators.

        • The problem with NeoGeoX is they violate several licenses. First, I haven’t heard of them releasing the source code for their Linux port – that’s a violation of GPL. Second, FBA – the emulator they used to play Neo Geo games – only allows for a non-commercial usage. So they broke a license of FBA as well.
          This is perhaps not a biggie for some people who only care about games they can play. It is however a repellant for homebrew developers and hackers – if the company violated software licenses already, how can they be sure the company won’t try to steal the software they developed as well.

          Additional problem that comes from the lack of Linux sources is the unability to improve the OS. With no drivers or documentation for the device released – anybody who wants to improve the OS will need to first reverse engineer the hardware, then write the drivers to LCD, button input, usb host, hdmi, etc. all from scratch.

          This is not the case with GCW Zero where the full source code is available on the github account.

        • Well check out my videos of it running all the neogeo games that the neogeo x plus more using the same emulator at the correct resolution and at 0 frameskip. If you read the neogeo forums you will see that the game files are all use the fba extension and the emulator is actually a .dge file which is what the dingoo used. heck there is even a psx bios on the internal sd card. Oh and here is the link to the viloation of the fba license
          http://www.barryharris.me.uk/fba_license.php

          but the major point of it are:

          You may not sell, lease, rent or otherwise seek to gain monetary profit from FB Alpha;
          You must make public any changes you make to the source code;
          You must include, verbatim, the full text of this license;
          You may not distribute binaries which support games with copyright dates less then three years old;

  13. KUROKO says:

    I’m only trying to have a good time thats three for me woohoo

  14. jutley says:

    I have one of thease as i was one of the first 40 to order one early all i can say it a amazing device pictures alone don’t do this device justice in reality it something else i have had all the retro handhelds and nothing compares to this if you need more info pm me.

  15. Yukon says:

    I’ll buy it for $50.

  16. ironchefion says:

    I hate the small screens in alot of these handhelds. i am so used to the Vita’s 5in that if these upcoming handhelds comes out, they must also match the screen size of that of the vita nothing less.

  17. ironchefion says:

    And the specs, maybe good years ago, but come on, gotta be better than that nowadays

  18. wl says:

    even old PSP looks better, (but without linux)

  19. Lorz says:

    Screen too small and lack of a full set of controls I agree with, but I think it has plenty of horsepower for the purpose… they wanted to maintain compatibility with Dingux and the Dingoo, so that they would already have an installed base of software, this means their hardware choices were a bit limited….. The Dingoo family handhelds use Ingenic CPUs, so the makers of the GCW Zero chose the most powerful chip in the Ingenic line…. which also happens to be the same chip powering the Neo Geo X Gold.

    “We are committed to working with the open source and homebrew communities.”

    In my opinion, that promise alone already makes this a million times better than the PS Vita, and any homebrew developer tired of constantly fighting with greedy dirtbag market fatcats like Sony just might agree.

  20. huz says:

    hi, i have xperia play r800i n64 snes gba gbc megasega neogeo with retro classic controller wireless work! .i have pspgo 6.20 pro-b1 deadalus64 fail frezee.
    not buy fake hard button psp android china

  21. XDarkMario says:

    shut up and take my money!!!

  22. GamingClassicist says:

    Something like this used to exist years ago, back when the PSP was new.

    It was called the gp32x.

    • Lorz says:

      Open handhelds aren’t a new Idea… GP32x, GP2x, GP2x Wiz, GP2x Caanoo, Open Pandora, Dingoo a320, Dingoo a330, Dingoo a320e, Dingoo a380, Gemel a330… just to name a few… the GCW is a continuation of that heritage….. and if you ask me, it’s alot to be proud of, because they all represent gamer and developer freedom, no greedy corporate scumbags pulling the strings.

  23. foxtrot says:

    Wololos concern about specs is pretty convincing, but Jose’s helpful insight really opened my eyes.

  24. hgoel0974 says:

    Illumiscreen is more attractive than this, although I support neither, because Illumiscreen sounds like a gimmick, The same effects could be achieved easily with a projector and a camera, with the camera telling software where the Television is, sending that portion of the video to the television and the rest on to the projector, the camera would send the software an image of the environment, the software modifies it for the pulsing effects, projector projects them.

    So, it is not too complicated to implement.

  25. SteveBass says:

    Before being critical of the “low specs” please educte yourself about what this system does and how it does it. It is about emulating consoles up to PS1/N64 level and playing ports (Duke Nukem, Doom, Cave Story etc).

    It will most likely not benefit for any more ram, 256mb is more than enough, the processor is a capable one and the screen size and resolution is well suited to it’s purpose (playing old games on hi-res screens is not beneficial).
    Battery life is also reported as being exceptional.

    Android needs lots of ram, this doesn’t, it’s called efficient coding.

    There are already production units out there, the OS (Opendingux) has a wealth of software and is looking very professional. It blows a modded PSP out of the water any day of the week and you don’t need to charge it every 2 hours.

    • wololo says:

      About efficient coding, and the devs behind this being good at what they do and optimizing the performance, I have absolutely no doubt about that. But how about the army of newcomer devs who would like to lend a hand, maybe port this or that emulator/homebrew to the system? With lowend specs like this, they might get discouraged fairly easily. Not everyone has a Master’s degree in embedded devices.

      The screen size and resolution are too low for at least one game: Wagic. It sucks because I think we’ve proven we’re willing to take that game to as many devices as possible. The screen size and resolution was already a problem on the dingoo, and this doesn’t change.

      This blog entry is my personal opinion, and I believe I am pretty well “educated” on what the device will do, what it’s purpose is. I have also bought lots of gadgets in my life, and I believe $135 for such specs is not a competitive price, especially for backers who are actually the ones taking the financial risk with the first batch. I’m just saying it might have a hard time finding its audience given the price and that pretty much every android device out there offers the same emulators support and better screens. The Zero only has its dedicated controls for it, and even that, with the missing additional nub, is kind of a letdown.

      About it being better than a modded PSP. The PSP came out 7 years ago, so that should be a given. Even though, I’m pretty sure the PSP’s controls will be better (simply because it’s difficult to be better than Sony at that), and the PSP’s screen is definitely better than this. CPU and GPU, sure, but again, 7 years later, that was kind of expected.

      Again, just my personal opinion. Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice project, I just don’t understand what the audience is for that kind of product. Count me in for twice that price with a similar concept, but up-to-date hardware specs.

      • “But how about the army of newcomer devs who would like to lend a hand, maybe port this or that emulator/homebrew to the system? With lowend specs like this, they might get discouraged fairly easily. Not everyone has a Master’s degree in embedded devices.”

        The fact it runs Linux and supports common libraries like SDL, makes it easy to develop for, even if you have never coded for an embedded device before. You can compile your application for Windows/OSX/Linux PC and it will look exactly the same on the GCW. So you can start coding your software without even having a unit. Naturally speed and performance optimizations are a different thing and you can’t really test them without having the actual device, but 1GHz MIPS processor is a lot and definitely does not fall into the category of low-end handhelds that require coding magic to run games at decent framerate. As a bonus we have a Floating-point unit (FPU), so games heavy in floating point arithmetic run just fine on the GCW (this was a major issue for other handhelds, as calculating floating point on just a CPU costs a lot of computing power).

        Overall I have to agree with some comments that GCW Zero is not made for running modern games, but that’s exactly the point – it was never designed to run them. We will be more than happy to see modern big titles being ported over, but realistically speaking – I would not have much hope for it. GCW Zero is a device to run classic games and retro stylized homebrew. If you are interested only in the newest 3D games breaking the limits in polygon count – you’re better with a Vita :)

        GCW Zero is for people who have interest in the homebrew scene – the system being up-to-date Linux and the entire platform open source – no jailbreaking is required and nobody is going to ban/sue you for attempting to run unsigned software. We originate from a strong homebrew community and have a lot of talented people willing to develop for this platform. GCW Zero is our next step into fully open and free (as both beer and freedom) homebrew scene. If there are any developers reading this news post, they might be interested in checking out our source code repository: https://github.com/gcwnow?tab=repositories

        • Deagle275 says:

          Well , it’s a nice console, easy to port stuff, simple specs , nice screen and small .The only problem i see is : Not many people are interested in it . I don’t have any problem with the spec , if it emulates ps1 at 30 fps it’s nice . Would we be able to overlock it , i mean , you encourage us to modifie it .

          • We don’t have overclock working yet, however the JZ series of processors were able to be easily overclocked (ie. JZ4740 which was 336MHz could be overclocked to 430MHz in most units), so my guess is – in the future we will be able to overclock the GCW Zero. Currently however you are limited to 1GHz.
            Naturally – the source code to the kernel is out there, so if anybody is interested, they can start hacking it and adding overclock support right now.

  26. Aneudi says:

    It comes in black!?! It looks like a cool handheld but i never used linux before. I wish someone would make a handheld that runs dreamcast, ps2, and/or gamecube games, but I doubt that.

    • It runs a GUI frontend, so you never have to deal with the raw Linux side of the device (unless you want to). This is like Android phones, which are also running on a Linux kernel, yet nobody has issues operating them. You can see our GUI frontend on the pictures on our website http://www.gcw-zero.com (plus some more homebrew not featured in the KS video)

      We have developed a package format (opk), which works like this:
      1) you drop the package on the internal memory/external SD card
      2) the game icon appears in the menu, you’re ready to play*

      *) Games that require 3rd party data files (ie. Duke Nukem 3D) need an extra step of copying the missing files. But that goes without saying.

  27. cojoo says:

    and! “it also comes in black” lmao

  28. Zonic says:

    It’s like the GBA and PSP had a baby O_o

  29. abobo says:

    maybe 7 years ago this handheld would’ve been relevant today it looks more like a joke

  30. wolframio says:

    Looks bad because is a mix of psp and ds

  31. timdim says:

    Initially I was disappointed at the specs, however having looked closer I have accepted it as effectively a dingoo a390 or whatever model number would be next and have backed it at $135.
    The resolution probably is the right choice for retro. I am a little worried with the low dpi of the screen though and that it will be extremely pixelated, similar to what happens with DSi/3DS XL.
    If it’s made in the USA then furry muff but +$20 for the rest of the world is a bit of a joke, but that’s maybe a kickstarter issue as I see it on others.
    Also as a comparison, I paid €140 for my Vita with LittleBigPlanet!

  32. svenn says:

    To expensive; Rpi does better and is allot cheaper. 256 is really to low, 512 is barely a difference in price but a better start point.

    • SteveBass says:

      Haha, I see my comments are being deleted when I correct the author on the gaps in his knowledge, brilliant.

      The Rpi definitely does NOT do anything better than the GCW0, plus the Rpi is not a handheld console, you have to build it. How many people can do that and make it the same standard as the GCW0?
      The only other open handheld that offers similar levels of performance and emulation is the Pandora which is 4x more expensive, will take an age to arrive (if you get it at all) and is of dubious build quality.

      Again, without wanting to sound like a stuck record, this is NOT underspecced. 256mb ram is more than enough for doing what this console is meant to do. If the Rpi needs more to acheive the same result then unlucky, you’ve got some poor coding going on right there.

      Also the screen is pefectly suited to retro emulation. Ever seen 16 bit on a big stretched PSP widescreen? It looks horrible.

      Name me a single handheld which has close to perfect emulation and exceptional build quality with a cheaper price. Just one will do…..

      • wololo says:

        To clarify something: Comments are *never* and have *never been* deleted on this blog, with the following exceptions:
        – comments that simply say “first”
        – comments that use the words “nazi” or “Hitler” for no good reason
        – comments that contain racism, pornography, warez, and illegal stuff in general
        – comments that are a basic insult towards a specific individual
        – comments that reveal personal information about members of our site without their consent
        – comments that were obvious attempts at revealing secret information regarding our Ninja releases

        In your case, your comments are not deleted. Some of them might have gone in the spam folder (we use Akismet, this is automated and I don’t check the spam folder), but most likely this is an artifact of caching on your browser. Just ctrl+f5 and you should see your comment. If you’ve been on this blog for a while, you know that I have a deep respect for freedom of speech, including (especially!) for people who disagree with me in a constructive way.

        Edit: ever seen Picodrive on the Vita’s OLED with bilinear filtering on? It looks awesome.

  33. SteveBass says:

    Yeah again, to people saying it’s too expensive and “X” is better (Rasberry PI? ***! Definitely NOT better than the Zero), keep in mind that this is for close to perfect retro emulation. For emulation of this standard your only other option is the Pandora which is 4x the price.

    If you think 256mb ram is too small then you might want to take it up with the devs behind OpenDingux who wholeheartedly disagree. Remember what the A320 could do with a tiny 32mb?

    Comparing it to a Vita or whatever is just trolling, if you want to play modern games get a modern console (and pay a fortune for it’s proprietary memory cards), if you want a retro console that supports open software then get this.

    Far too many people just look at numbers and judge without even knowing what it is they are looking at. Thin is NOT underspecced, if it was the Opendingux team wouldn’t be so dedicated to it.

    As it stands the article comes across as badly researched and uninformedwith a possible negative affect on the kickstarter project. Unfortunate but I guess people like making uninformed opinions to suit their preconceptions.

    • wololo says:

      I’ve been a gamer for the past 20 years, I’ve owned many gaming devices, and I’m a strong supporter of open source, indie games, and homebrews; so I don’t feel like I’m uninformed.

      I stand by what I wrote: In absolute, this device is too expensive for what it has to offer, and the project is unambitious, as it is the direct continuity of the previous devices (Dingoo, etc…), and will not manage to convince a broader audience than its ancestors. The fact that it is driven by a group of passionate people does not mean that other people should blindly throw money at the project without thinking about it twice.

      256MB is too low when even the cheapest phones these days have 512MB. It doesn’t even matter if the device actually uses the extra Ram, given the price of Ram these days it is mostly a matter of image. Whatever you say, people *will* compare it to other mobile devices.

      Comparing it to the Vita is absolutely not trolling. How many people do you think will have the money and the passion to own *two* gaming dedicated handheld devices? There is real competition here, this device is in direct competition with smartphones and other dedicated handhelds.

      About the negative impact that this article might have on the project… I’m honored but I doubt my blog has that much impact on a $100’000 project. If anything, my stats say I’ve sent about 250 people to the kickstarter page. Even though I am not backing the project, I am still raising awareness about it. I could instead have ignored it, but I am glad I didn’t, this has triggered interesting discussions so far :)

      • SteveBass says:

        Again why are you comparing it to phones? It has more than enough memory to acheive it’s goals, why do you think this is a problem? I can guarantee that memory will not be a problem, would you feel better if there was 1gb in there not getting used? Judge products on their performance, not the numbers on the side of the box.

        I suggest you find someone who has one of these (an initial run has been sold out already) and experience it for yourself, then compare it to other open handhelds (if you have experience of any).

        Also it is not in any way in competition with the Vita, they are 2 completely different demographics and do totally different things. It’s like saying a 2 seater sports car is in direct competition with a family saloon because they are both cars.
        People who want to play modern games will buy a Vita, people who want to play retro games buy this, a Dingoo or an Android console. It really is that simple.

        A lot of work has gone into this to ensure the user experience is like nothing else previously released, it is a great product and well worth the money. All the more disheartening to read such uninformed opinions based on absolutely no knowledge or experience of the GCW0 or Opendingux and the software that runs on it. There is one of the main devs explaining it (zear) and still people persist with the “but it’s underspecced” babble.

        • wololo says:

          @SteveBass, you focus on the performance, I also mentioned the lack of a second nub (will make new fps impossible), the small screen size (will make homebrew games such as my own, Wagic, impossible to port), the useless HDMI port (do you have a 10meters cable, or do you play 50cm away from your screen?), etc… Can you address those? Can somebody involved in the project explain how one reaches $135 with such specifications? etc…

          Technically, this device will allow to run emulators fine, but how about homebrews and indie games that were developed after 1998, and expect a decent resolution for textures, or a decent screen size to play more than simple arcade games?
          Maybe I’m not the right demographic for this device, but again I don’t see the point in paying for a dedicated “homebrew” console that doesn’t take into account actual indie games, but only emulators, especially when all these emulators run perfectly fine on most smartphones, which everybody owns today.

          Again, I am not questioning the actual specs of the device for its purpose, I am questioning the purpose itself, as well as the price given the limited purpose and specs. If one can get a raspberry Pi for $35, I’m sure the Zero could go down to $70

          • SteveBass says:

            It’s a retro console, designed for emulating retro systems and playing open source ports. Higher resolution isn’t needed. A second analog nub would be appreciated but isn’t necessary, thgere are ways around it for some fps games as described earlier. Dreamcast didn’t have one and I remember Unreal being quite popular, same with N64 Goldeneye. The single analog will be great for racing games on PS1 and analog control for N64).

            Regarding the resolution, pretty much everything so far has been ported across fine, obviously more modern games won’t be but this is a RETRO console. Cave Story runs fine as does Quake 3 and Duke Nukem. Have never heard of Wagic, just Googled it and I don’t thing the Dingux community are gonna miss it…

            Regarding the HDMI, almost every retro emulation console out now has TV out, this is the same thing only it can output in much higher resolution. I have a long HDMI lead which I use to hook my netbook up to my TV to play Fallout 3, don’t really understand what the issue is. Plug your console into your TV, play classic games on your TV – the retro handheld community has been doing this for years.

            Also you said the Zero could get down to $70. Do you actually understand the process of R&D? Do you know how much it costs to design and fabricate a mould for the case and buttons? Again you make a judgement without the required knowledge. It costs a lot more to make than you would think, especially for the initial batches. This is a very small operation, but then isn’t that what Kickstarter is all about?

            There’s a reason the cheap Android handhelds use a PSP case and there’s a reason the GCW0 has a great design with incredible build quality. The first units were actually sold at a loss (I think around $120) after all the problems were worked out (screen bezels, faulty card readers) however they waited until quality was up to standard before sending them out.

            That’s what you get with the Zero – quality and performance.

            Well worth the money.

          • wololo says:

            @SteveBass

            About the price:
            I’d be interested to see the price of the components, R&D, etc… that were involved in this project. I am sure this data cannot be shared, but I am still convinced the price is too big for the components. Alternatively, how expensive would a 640×480 screen have been, how expensive would it have been to make it bigger, how expensive would it have been to ramp up to 1GB of ram just for “image” reasons, how expensive would have a second nub been? Has the team considered removing the HDMI? etc… were all these things considered, or did they just take the Dingoo, ramped up the CPU, and called it a day?

            About HDMI: the issue is that you have a 1meter HDMI cable plugged in to your TV and your gamepad. How do you sit on your couch to play? How do you not cause damage to either the console or the TV if you’re playing some action game? When you hook a computer to your TV, you are not constantly holding your computer and hitting buttons all around it when you play.

            About Wagic: you come to my blog, insult my judgement, pretend that the console was made for the “homebrew community”, then dismiss my own homebrew as something the community “won”t miss” when I spent 5 years of my life working on it. I understand that you are not the voice of the GCW-Zero project, but if they read this, I hope they’ll understand that insulting an open source game is not the best way to pretend this is a console that was created hand-in-hand with homebrew developers.

            (apologies for the lack of a reply button at this point, a blog does not accomodate well for long discussions like this)

  34. kor0ro.k3yz says:

    i want this! at a lower price and a internet browser :)

  35. andrej says:

    For a $50 (with free shipping) it would be a blast. But $135-150 plus $20 shipping? That’s insane.
    I really hope the funds won’t be raised for this project.

  36. I do understand that people who were not into homebrew consoles and it’s history (GP32, GP2X, Dingoo A320, Wiz/Caanoo, Pandora fail and then Chinese heck) would wondered what’s the fuzz about this.

    For me, it’s a continuation of the homebrew handheld fun, emulator gaming, porting, homebrew coding from the community. Most of the scene stayd in Dingoo and later Wiz/Caanoo. Caanoo for me was the one that did it best so far. Pandora would be cool but it failed to deliver and now it’s too expensive for most. So, the community needed the next step in evolution, and GCW Zero was a great candidate.
    (I know, someone will say but there is JXD, Yinlips,. yes but many models were released, lot’s of problems, not a single one device that people would produce and support, it’s not steady, just random companies producing obscure handhelds, we know nothing).

    So, if you compare it with PS Vita, 3DS, Android Devices or Iphone,. no it’s not to be compared. But if you follow the homebrew scene it makes sense to you. You don’t need a new locked commercial device (I have my PSP and still locked, I could unlock but with great effort and additional hardware I have to buy, if my BIOS is not late, so *** it!), you need new homebrew console from the community.

    As for 256MB they seemed more than enough for me. Most of the old homebrews had only 64MB(!), Caanoo had 128MB but I never found a piece of software that makes use of them. Most homebrew devs are not professionals and they never claimed 64MB were too few for them, they even use ready made script engine called Phoenix, still games like Streets of Rage Remake in Phoenix, with tons of backgrounds and sprites, run well enough in Wiz with 64MB. Yes,. if the homebrew dev made an AAA title similar to PS3, then things would be harder. But who does that on those handhelds? It’s for fun deving and emus and retro 2d stuff (although I believe it has the power for good 3d, just no big teams to develop)

    Thus support, only if you get it, if you understand why this is not a PS Vita rival, but an evolution on proper homebrew handhelds.

    • wololo says:

      Hacking any PSP today doesn’t require any hardware, is free, takes 5 minutes, and is less risky than upgrading the PSP firmware with an official Sony update. The rest of your argument is valid, but at least your opinion on how hard it is to run emulators on a PSP is inaccurate.

      • Well, then maybe they found a way after years since I’ve last checked. I wish there is an easier way and it’s independent whether my BIOS is updated from the latest commercial games.

        Needless to say, it’s still not inspiring enough for homebrew (that could be the reason why the homebrew community is not developed enough in PSP) when things are locked by default.

        • wololo says:

          I don’t know where you see that the homebrew community is not developed enough on the PSP. Sure, it’s not as huge as it was a few years ago, but the device literally has thousands of homebrew applications, and our forum alone has more than 25’000 members.

          Either way, my point was not to make this a *** contest, I am not saying the PSP is a better alternative than the GCW Zero

  37. Hi-Ban says:

    Tell me which other handhelds actually emulate SNES at full speed with frameskip 0 and without any sound lag, and have good hardware controls which actually work without any problems.

    • wololo says:

      Basically any android device tied to a bluetooth gamepad

      • Hi-Ban says:

        Android devices have all sound lag in emulation, and using a bluetooth controller only adds input lag, which if you have ever tried, is not good.
        Btw, my dual-core Tegra2 android phone does not emulate SNES at full speed, which the GCW Zero does.

      • SteveBass says:

        That’s not a handheld, unless you have 4 hands. Also my 1ghz 512mb ram Android console doesn’t run Starfox or more demanding Snes games at full speed with no audio bugs and a smooth frame rate. GCW0 does.

      • Lorz says:

        wololo…. this device really is about the best thing since sliced bread for emulators…. the sound lag in android emulators is really hard to notice unless you’re really paying attention, I’d like to direct you to this video comparison of a few android devices running a megadrive emulator, then being compared to the GCW Zero…. this video is by qbertaddict, the lead tester and a mod on dingoonity forums…. the GCW Zero he’s using is from a very early batch.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzXRyFQM3Ts

        If you ask me, it’s a pretty impressive little handheld, even if many do feel it’s underpowered.

  38. swit says:

    Dual analogs and 640×480 screen or no buy. Simple as that.

  39. Erik says:

    Why don’t people talk about the Archos Gamepad? It is an awesome android device that has a d pad, two analog sticks etc. All old school emulation (including up to N64) works great. The specs on it blow this away and it is available in Europe right now for 150 Euro and is planned for the US for around 150 bucks…It also is an android device so you have access to android market and all of its games, plus hdmi, video playback, websurfing, touchscreen, etc.

    • Wasabi says:

      Sorry to burst your bubble slightly, Erik, but there have been several reports regarding the Archos Gamepad’s d-pad (especially on “Obscure Handhelds”) as being fake. It doesn’t have the traditional feel of how a d-pad functions on controllers/gamepads and handhelds; it’s basically buttons, like the square/triangle/x/circle on Playstation pads or Y/X/B/A.

      However, the analog nubs are said to be true analog, so I guess it depends on what you want out of the Archos Gamepad.

  40. Warbarn says:

    Here is a demo that will show the value of the GCW Zero over a psp…

    • Lorz says:

      An excellent comparison, Anyone still think the PSP is just as good for emulators?

      The Android port of SNES9X runs FX chip games pretty well, but it still gets beaten by the GCW Zero…. so specs obviously aren’t everything, when a little 1ghz single core device can beat a 1.6ghz quad core device, lol

  41. Warbarn says:

    You guys keep talking specs specs specs. But specs only tell one side of the story look at what it actually does and compare you will see it outperforms the psp in most cases.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/qbertaddict1?feature=watch

  42. Here is a video one of the developers recorded that compares a modded PSP and GCW Zero in terms of SNES emulation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZfwtGSZA1I

  43. 2bit says:

    Actually the Open Pandora is still around and arguably just now reaching its prime . I have one I bought 4,5 months ago new . I know what I’m talking about .

  44. Lorz says:

    wololo, I think this device deserves a second look….. if you’ve seen the comparison videos, there’s no way that you can’t give it a second look…. the specs may look meager on paper, but watch the videos, the performance speaks for itself!

    This is a humble little non boastful device, it doesn’t bring a bunch of fancy gee-gaws and bells and whistles, or “killer features” as it were, nothing really that screams “buy me! buy me NOW!!!”, but when it comes up to bat, it just quietly steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the park….. how can you not love that?

    Maybe there’s not enough exciting about it for you to consider buying….. I’m with you on that, but it at least deserves a fair shake, and people deserve to see all of the info before you just dismiss this as “not worth it”

    • wololo says:

      I do not feel like I completely dismissed it. I called out a few design choices that I think are a mistake in this day and age. People who support this project have contacted me a lot since I wrote this article, but I still stand behind what I said. There are choices in the components that do not make sense to today’s standards. I’d be interested to see how many people need the HDMI output, when they don’t need more than a 320×240 screen.

      I’d be interested to see who decided to call this a device “by gamers for gamers”, when most gamers I know have been criticizing the lack of a second nub on all handhelds for the past 7 years, and when this device will clearly NOT run any indie game created recently. This is not about “commercial games VS homebrew” here, it’s about “let’s run emulators and not care about the indie scene at all, then pretend we are the right choice for people who value homebrews and indie games” <– I am over-exagerating this here to make my point, I am not saying anybody behind the GCW-Zero project ever said or thought something like this. There is a world in indie gaming beyond emulators from the nineties, and this project ignores it, which is a choice, but which is what I called a “lack of ambition” in my article.

      I also think that for pure branding reasons, 512MB or 1GB of Ram would have been better. It does not matter that this Ram is used or not, what matters is that the current specs of the device will get many people to simply dismiss it. At the price of Ram these days, I’m sure it wouldn’t have made a difference.

      Again, I am sure it’s a nice little machine, I just don’t see reasons for me to back it, and hopefully people will understand that I speak only for myself.

      • Lorz says:

        I disagree that they are leaving indie developers out, I think you far underestimate the specs of this machine, it does have a 3D OpenGL capable GPU, it can do games at the very least on par with a PSP if someone wants to develop it, even the dingoo was able to pull that rabbit out of its hat with a few simple 3D games rendered entirely in software… as to lack of the second analog nub, yeah another would be nice, but I don’t see it as a neccessity, I’ve played plenty of 3D games where the face buttons were mapped for movement and the shoulder buttons mapped to shoot or other actions….. it may not be ideal, but it does work…. so yeah, there will have to be some thought put into control layout, but I see no reason why any indie game couldn’t be brought over to this platform without any great difficulty.

        Why would they say “by gamers for gamers”, because everyone involved with this project is involved with the community on a personal level, they are gamers and enthusiasts, you can chat directly with many of them on the dingoonity forums if you like, there is no misrepresentation there.

        As for emulators, from what i’ve seen with my own eyes comparing to my own hacked PSP, and my own android devices, and even my PC…. this little device by far outshines them all, from what i’ve seen of Open Pandora in youtube videos, it even manages to outperform that in emulation…. though I think that’s largely because the Pandora community just isn’t large enough to get the bugs properly worked out of the emulators.

        • wololo says:

          @Lorz: fair enough. I still think 320×240 is a joke for a screen today, but it seems it’s just a personal opinion. As somebody else said above, 640×480 would have downscaled perfectly for 320×240, while allowing more flexibility in terms of multimedia and modern games. Am I the only one who enjoyed VGA and SVGA games in the nineties?

          • Lorz says:

            Not at all, I am in total agreement about the screen, I wish they’d have went with something higher res.

  45. TMSTER370 says:

    Open Pandora never closed you can buy one. http://www.openpandora.org/

    • wololo says:

      Yes, sadly it is too expensive nowadays :( . The price hasn’t changed since it was announced 4 years ago… which is understandable from a pure practical point of view, but…
      I was on the fence of buying one instead of a psp 3000 back in the days. Sadly they got massively delayed :(

  46. SteveBass says:

    I think there is a genuine misconception about the aims of this device. It actually was designed with the community in mind, head over to Dingoonity and check out the early threads there. In fact the community had a huge input into the specs based on what they needed from it, not to make it look good on paper.

    Once again, it is for retro emulation and playing retro ports, if you want to play modern indie games then please buy a console more suited to that at the magic $70 price tag you think the Zero should retail for – you’ll have to design and build one because it doesn’t exist, but whatever…. If you want substandard emulation buy a used PSP, but don’t pretend that there are better devices suited to this puropse than the Zero.

    And @wololo I didn’t realise that Wagic was your game, I had never heard of it so sorry if me dismissing it offended you. In all my years playing retro and handheld games on various platforms and visiting forums I have never heard anybody talking about it so my comment still stands, I don’t think it will be missed on the Zero. Sorry about that but such is life.

    I just can understand people not wanting to buy a device but being critical because it doesn’t do what you want it to even though it’s aims are completely different? Seems a bit silly to me.

    If you want a high resolution device that plays modern games, has all the buttons and analog sticks of a modern controller, sends output to the TV without cables, has a dual core processor and 2gb ram all whilst keeping the price down then you’ll have to make one. That’s exactly how the GCW0 came into existence and is exactly why the initial batches sold out long before kickstarter and long before the first one was even made.

    The community likes this device a lot more than naysayers here think……

    • wololo says:

      In the end I think we are saying the same thing.
      The GCW zero is “only” targeting oldies arcade games and emulators. I am ok with this, but this is not exactly how the Kickstarter project introduces it. Instead, emphasis is put in the presentation on “indie developers” and “homebrews”, but this is not really what the device is about. Fine, but the presentation of the project on Kickstarter should have been clearer.

      Please note that I didn’t say that my dream homebrew console would be available for $70, I said that the GCW Zero should be available for $70 given its specs. I personally, am ready to pay somewhere between $300 and $400 for a homebrew handheld with up to date specs. Something like what the Pandora was 4 years ago, but with slightly updated hardware, and better control of the schedule :P

      I know that Wagic is not a mainstream game, I just find it strange that someone who pretends to be backing a project “by gamers, for gamers” has by default so few respect for indie game projects (and that is independent of the game’s quality or who created it).

      It is fine to create a console that aims at running emulators only. But let’s not have ambiguous statements in the project description saying that the console is all about homebrew and indie developers, when clearly it is not.

    • Lorz says:

      Wagic is an awesome game, you should try it, and I completely disagree about it “not being missed”…. we in the PSP homebrew crowd love it and would greatly miss it.

  47. Hi-Ban says:

    wololo, the reason of a 320×240 is clearly stated in the FAQ.
    If you did some research in the dingoonity forums, it was long ago asked to the community when the device was still in the design process. The majority agreed that 320×240 was the best choice.
    It does not require rescaling, it saves precious CPU cycles, it does not catapult the final price, and it requires less battery power so the console will have a greater battery life.

    Just because your homebrew game doesn’t support 320×240 does not mean that other people won’t develop for it. Zear, for example, is already developing a homebrew game for the GCW Zero.

    • wololo says:

      The reason for choosing 320×240 was NOT stated in the FAQ when I wrote this article, and I do not check the bottom of the Kickstarter every 5 minutes to see if it has been updated. I can see that now it is there (when I wrote the article, the FAQ only had one question I think, which was “are games in the video closed source?”
      It is good that they added this.

      If the dingoonity forums are the place to go to understand the design decisions behind the project, then shouldn’t that be stated clearly on the kickstarter page?

  48. SteveBass says:

    What resolution do all other retro (open or not) handhelds have? Oh yeah, it’s the same as this!
    Trust me, along with the case design it was one of the biggest discussions on the forums and most people (not to mention the OD developers) thought this was the best bet. The other big issue was the case – putting it in a cheap plastic PSP case would have drastically cut the price and production time, however the community wanted quality and good original design, which is what they got.

    There is already lots of homebrew for this resolution, look at Dingoo A320, Caanoo, GP2X Wiz….. Not a problem for them at all. People are developing for it all the time.

    Before development on OpenDingux was really ramped up (and those guys work hard for free) look at the names of the people who were developing for Dingoo, then have a look at the list of names on the GCW Kickstarter page. Sound familiar? They know what they’re doing.

    One last remark about the price – take a look at the Neo Geo X. This is a very similar (lower) spec handheld to the GCW0, underclocked and running a bastardised Dingux with the FBA port (no sources and violates GPL). It’s cheaply made and does a fraction of what the GCW0 does (poorly I might add) yet sells for twice the price and people lap it up, cheap plastic controller and all.
    Maybe GCW should have bought a license, violated GPL and closed the system off?

    • wololo says:

      I don’t know where you are coming from with the NeoGeoX. Do you see me praising the quality of that console? No, and for a good reason.

      Side question: where can I find a list of homebrews for the dingoo family? In particular, homebrews that are not emulators or ports of commercial games.

      • I don’t think there is a complete list anywhere, but right now the following homebrew games were ported with the approval of their authors:
        * Sqrxz 3
        * Unnamed Monkey Game (my own game)
        * Puzzletube
        * Worship Vector
        * Flare
        * Samegoo
        * Astrolander

        There is more homebrew already ported, but we never contacted the authors (usually because there is no need to – they’re GPL):
        * Blockrage
        * Heroes
        * Spout
        * Liero (I have talked with the original author once, it wasn’t exactly about GCW but rather Dingoo and Dreamcast ports, yet he was very happy someone is porting his old game)

        There’s also a ton of the old commercial game engines ported, so that you don’t think it’s all we have.

        And yes, GCW originates from the Dingoo scene, so we have quite a repository of games we have ported to the Dingoo in the past, which we are slowly polishing and porting to GCW one by one.
        Some of these that will be ported in the future and belong to the homebrew category:
        * Powder
        * Meritous
        * ASCII Portal
        * Biniax 1/2
        * Freedroid
        * GNU Robbo
        * Powermanga
        * Wizznic!
        * Nethack
        * Super Transball 2

        That’s just from the top of my head. That list will be MUCH longer in the future :)

        Also, thanks for giving us a chance and preordering a unit. If you want to join our community, we’re available at #gcw irc channel on freenode.org

      • SteveBass says:

        I used it as an example of a similar spec console that people lap up which is nowhere near the quality of the Zero yet costs much more (twice the price over here), which “borrows” code from the community.
        People have “hacked” it to run OD but you can get the real deal for much less.

        For Dingux software check out the Dingoonity Wiki and openhandhelds:
        http://dl.openhandhelds.org/cgi-bin/dingoo.cgi
        http://wiki.dingoonity.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

        Some of that will be for the A320 Native OS and some will be legacy Dingux and will not work on OD at the moment (due to coding habits, not OD).

        Oh and regarding the Vita for emulation, a 32gb memory card will set me back nearly £60 so make sure you take that into account.

  49. Deagle275 says:

    Seriously , the point is :
    Would you rather have CGW-ZERO or a jailbroken vita with Ark.
    I would choose a CGW-ZERO .

    • wololo says:

      But then you give up on the great screen, vita and psp games, youtube, web browsing, the touch pad, the dual nub… Sure, the vita is almost twice the price… if emulators are the only thing you are looking for, I guess yes…

      • Deagle275 says:

        Yes they are most of what i’m looking for .

      • Deagle275 says:

        Also , i haven’t said the vita is worse . But for homebrew and emulation CGW-Zero is nicer . At least now.

      • Lorz says:

        Personally wololo, I really want to like the Vita, but I can’t, not because of the hardware or the price, because I find all of that great, if not amazing…. but the company behind it has continually and arrogantly sc*** gamers and homebrew enthusiasts over and over and over and over and over……. I cannot support that, my conscience simply will not allow me, it may seem harsh, but i really hope Sony either changes, or simply leaves the consumer media industry all together, it may sound childish to wish for the demise of a company like this, but they have done far more damage than good to an industry that is supposed to be all about having fun.

        • wololo says:

          I’m with you on this. The only reason I got a Vita is to blog about the hacking side of it, and my personal hopes is that things like the Ouya, or the recent moves on Steam are going to disrupt the market in a way that will either kill Sony on the Western market, or make them change their ways dramatically. Sounds far fetched, but one can hope :)

          Edit: as a device though, the Vita is simply awesome. But I agree that it hurts me more and more to give money to a company like Sony.

          • Lorz says:

            I agree, it’s an amazing device, I love my PSP, but the Vita is what the PSP should have been in the first place, I’d really love to have one, but only if it’s made by someone(anyone) than Sony, lol.

            I’ve recently been playing with cheap android handhelds…. JXD S5110, it’s alot like the Droid X360 you reviewed, except arguably improved in some areas, and worse in some other areas…and though it hasn’t been perfect, I’m pretty pleased so far.

            Oh, btw wololo, there is an upcoming Android based handheld which I think you might find interesting, it is retailing for $150 US, and is set to compete with the Archos gamepad, its features are a 7 inch screen(which is a little too big for a handheld imo), Amlogic MX dual core 1.5ghz CPU with mali 400 GPU, dual analogs(and they are supposed to be actual analogs….. but we are wating for confirmation from a distributor who has offered to test it and report the results)…. It’s the JXD S7300, and if interested, you can find out more about it at dingoonity in the android section, or at willgoo.com… a distributor for dingoos and android handhelds, who also happens to be active on the dingoonity forums.

  50. Deagle275 says:

    Sincerely , ” I would prefer a psp” . I would prefer a GCW Zero . You pay additional 35 dollars for :
    Three times the processor
    Open Source
    No jailbreaking
    You can play Starfox on the SNES Emulator.Try it on the psp emulator.
    G-Sensor .
    4 times the ram .
    Sincerely , if you like emulation , but you prefer to buy a psp , you’re drunk brother .

  51. HIMFan says:

    I agree with your original opinion 100% wololo. I’m rather disappointed. And the fact that Android has officially become a non-open source OS means that things like this have no future without being expensive. So we’re going to pay a lot for something that a good Android phone and a MOGA gamepad couldn’t already give us…and in better quality.

    So if they decide to take the route of using an older Android OS, then people will also lose out because most apps other than emulators will cease working. This thing is basically an NES controller with 1 nub and designed to play emulators. I’d welcome it with arms wide open in 2009. I would’ve called it a marvel of technology in 2005. But in 2013, everyone already has this device already in their house.

    • joevar says:

      This doesn’t run on Andriod. It runs on a customized linux called OpenDingux, or OD for short. OD was originally created for the Dingoo A320. (Note: There was a previous Linux distro for the Dingoo A320 was called Dingux which commonly used to replace the default Symbian based OS. All Linux distros on the A320 were always unofficial.) At some point the OD maintainers, brewers, and supporters decided that they could create a better device. Since they already had working software, they designed and build newer hardware around it. The GCW-Zero is this device.

  52. SatanClause says:

    Perfect device for homebrew. I would prefer a screen featuring 16:9 aspect ration, but I suppose that can either be emulated or a screen replacement shouldn’t be a problem. I would actually go ahead and move all the hardware into a PSP casing.

    Are these available for order now? I would like to present one of these to my class and see if we can maybe do an independent project, programming a few apps and games for this platform rather than the others. I’m sure my professors wouldn’t mind at all.

  53. andrej says:

    I know it’s all about emulation, but why everyone keeps forgeting about native PSP games?
    I don’t see anyone making high profilr games for GCW such as God of War, Lumines, Crisis Core, Patapon, Wipeout and so on…

  54. Vita_User says:

    Built for gamers by gamers yet it has no second analogue stick?

    The single analogue stick it has doesn’t look very good either.

    • Aero says:

      This rubs me to no end, you have no idea. The only thing I can take away from this is that only a couple of PS1 games require two sticks (Ape Escape and R/C Stunt Copter by my recollection)

      Also…this thing can’t emulate a dreamcast, and that’s almost literally all I want at this juncture. A portable N64 sounds grand as well…but not $130 grand.

  55. Hiroyasu says:

    Id like to give this project the benefit of the doubt but by only building it with 1 analog such as the psp, you might as well just get a psp. Bye for any chances of having any sort of f2p styles of games on it or any other 3d 3 person view games.

  56. Jose says:

    The guys behind this device are geniuses, they sure know how to make a handheld device.

    The fact that they finally made a real analog is in itself a good thing, for years others have made fake analog controls. They said enough, and fixed everything from previous failed attempts others made.

  57. wololo says:

    @Deagle275 : I choose depending on my mood for the comments containing the word “nazi”. It’s just a personal itch, there seems to be a trend of people calling each others “nazis” on the internet, when they clearly have no idea what the word means, and should go back to history book :)

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