The GCW Zero open source handheld gets a spec upgrade

I mentioned the GCW-Zero (a Kickstarter project for an open source handheld console) a few days ago, and my doubts regarding some of the hardware choices behind the device. I was since then contacted by a few people who are backing the project, either here on this blog, or by email, basically explaining me where the project is coming from, and why I shouldn’t dismiss it too fast.

Most of my criticism was about the specs of the device, which are relatively sub-par compared to modern expectations. 256MB Ram, a small screen with a small resolution (320×240), lack of a second analog nub… well, I won’t do it again, if you want to see my concerns just read my previous article.

Nevertheless, I ended up backing the project, because people convinced me that the device does what it does very well, and I don’t want people to believe I’d criticize a project without even trying it. And what the hell, I might actually enjoy to play doom again on yet another device :)

Today the people behind the GCW-Zero posted a nice update, announcing that the device will get 512MB of Ram instead of 256MB, and 16GB of internal storage instead of 8G. This is a great update, although I would have preferred they revised their decision on the screen size and resolution (but that one seems to be pretty final in particular for battery life concerns. The device is announced with 7 to 10h of battery life, which is not bad at all).

My pet project Wagic will not run on a 320×240 screen, that would require to completely rethink the interface to fit on such a thing. To be honest, I would love to take this as a challenge (is there a way to fit Wagic on a 4:3 320×240 interface?) but sadly these days I don’t have much time to spare on coding. Of course, if somebody’s up to the task, that would be great, if only to see what that could look like :)

the site Kicktraq shows that the GCW-Zero project is still not sure to be funded. At the current rate, it could miss its target by a few thousand dollars. But trends are just trends, so we’ll see how it goes.

More details on the project (and how to help funding it): Kickstarter

  1. Poop’s avatar

    If it had at least a gig of ram and a dual core processor id be all over it.old school emulation prolly runs better on my vita haaha

    Reply

    1. Jose’s avatar

      Not with VHBL it won’t.

      Remember you’re running homebrew basically exactly how the PSP ran it, we currently aren’t using the Vita’s full potential, not even close to it.

      Until the Vita itself gets cracked open, then you can say the Vita runs it better, since it has spectacular specs.

      Reply

      1. Deagle275’s avatar

        With vhbl you can only use 32 mb of ram while emulating the psp . And emulating inside an emulator isn’t nice.

        Reply

    2. pleaseclap’s avatar

      try the Samsung galaxy player 5.0

      Reply

  2. Bombshell93’s avatar

    I’m still not sold, the analogue stick and start and select buttons would do better to switch places, that way the analogue stick can be used for dual-stick gaming albeit the left stick will actually be a D-pad, but I could live with that very easily.

    Reply

    1. Artur

      This pretty much eliminates the idea of an analog. As you can’t use analog and front buttons at the same time. And right now you can still play the dual-analog games just fine with the left analog + front buttons as the right analog.

      Reply

  3. elveda’s avatar

    let see in 1-2 years
    Vita – ps2 emulator GC Emulator N64 Emulator Fullspeed

    Reply

    1. ricardo’s avatar

      not sure about 1-2 years and the ps2 emulator.
      but in 3 years i think we will have N64 FullSpeed and GC with good speed

      Reply

      1. DeadPixel99’s avatar

        You both are dreaming, if the Vita gets cracked….IF and thats at least a few years away, then the devs will have to learn this new hardware probably have to re-wright the emulators from the ground up so 5-10 years for a really good n64 emu and as for gamecube probably never.

        Reply

      2. Deagle275’s avatar

        Don’t think so . The ps vita’s proccessor is around 1 gigahertz . It also has 512 mb of ram . And isn’t Gamecube emulation harder than PS2 ?

        Reply

        1. Kyu’s avatar

          Dunno
          BUT
          Dolphin was running full speed GC games earlier than pcsx2.

          Reply

          1. Deagle275’s avatar

            Really ?Well , Re4 runs with better graphics on the gamecube than on the PS2

  4. zoraktorok’s avatar

    I jump on alot of things because I feel that they will work better in atleast one area as opposed to the other offerings on the market… or they just strike me as something I want because having a device no one has ever heard of makes me feel special when my own individuality dosn’t seem to be cutting it. I can’t say that I’m excited in the least on this one…. What would excite me would be an android device with physical buttons that would operate off of — insert generic cell sim card here —. Worldwide cell provider coverage is NOT my thing, but in the states net10 is about 45 a month for unlimited everything, so… Please fill in the blanks :->

    Reply

  5. Steve’s avatar

    Hi Wololo,

    I always enjoy reading your articles and keep up to date with your ninja release. Here’s a bit of speculation regarding the increased hardware specs you’ve blogged about. This backer claims that GCW devs have told him that all games are being developed/ported for the 256MB versions of the game consoles.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu0Azzhu0yI

    Regards,

    Superevensteven

    Reply

    1. Artur

      That’s not how it works. Nothing in the system “locks” applications to only use 256MB. It’s just that so far there are no applications that can realistically benefit from extended ram (most of the stuff we have at the moment don’t even reach 64MB of ram usage). But it’s not a system limitation, just efficient coding and memory management.

      Reply

  6. LTTP’s avatar

    I still want a 2nd joy :\

    Reply

    1. Deagle275’s avatar

      1 word :
      G-Sensor .

      Reply

      1. Corey96’s avatar

        A G-Sensor doesn’t do the job of a second joystick. I’m not saying bash the GCW because they don’t have one, it will still be a great project, hell, the 3DS doesn’t even have a second joy. Still, a G-Sensor just isn’t the same as a 2nd joy for camera control.

        Reply

  7. darksmile’s avatar

    4:3- Ok i can live with that… but 320×240? Sorry but these isn’t for me. What is the point in focusing in the processor/gpu if the screen is not enough big to show details? Even worse- games seems ugly with so much edges. With it’s shit spec psp handle alot games and even homebrews, I know that most people dont have time to make their code optimized like big studios but what is the point then? Lets everyone buy i7+gtx690 and use it for 800×600 games writen on java- sound ridiculous, right?

    For even lower price you can get phones like HTC Exolorer and they are alot better than this device (my personal opinion). If you want just a game device- PSP seems to be better choice with at least poor media support and better screen + llllarge game and homebrew library.

    I use my vita mainly for youtube and web browsing, so I may be wrong, but that is how I see it.

    Reply

    1. Noel Abercrombie’s avatar

      The SNES and other 16/8 bit consoles output video at 320×240, so it’s perfect as an emulator thingy. Also, at such a size, it’s not like you can actually see the pixels anyway.

      Reply

      1. Deagle275’s avatar

        Agreed.

        Reply

  8. Link’s avatar

    Looks like Junk honestly. I mean you can get used PSPS for under 40 bucks now a days that are stronger than this device. Why would someone pay 135 for this hunk a junk?

    Reply

    1. Lorz’s avatar

      Calling it “junk” is your opinion…… it’s absolutely wrong, but your opinion non-the-less.

      Saying that a PSP is “stronger” than this is just completely wrong, and it goes beyond opinion and enters the realm of misinformation, a PSP does not have a 1ghz cpu and 512mb of Ram, and I’ve seen what this system can do, for emulation, it just completely blows a PSP away, for emulation, it’s even beating more powerfull android devices, and in some cases PCs.

      It’s also got an OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenVG 1.1 complaint GPU that can match or exceeed the PSPs GPU….. so if someone wants to program 3D games for this thing, there’s nothing stopping them from doing so.

      Reply

  9. chacal’s avatar

    JXD S7300 Dual Core Game Tablet PC 7 Inch Android 4.1 1GB RAM 8GB Camera White is best emulation! and android games!

    Reply

    1. Lorz’s avatar

      I’m very much looking forward to the JXD S7300, probably more than any other handheld, it’s more powerfull, but from the comparisons I’ve seen, the GCW Zero is beating pretty much ANY android device when it comes to emulation.

      Android just isn’t optimized for gaming, and emulators are no exception, yeah, they will work and work pretty well, most people will have no complaints at all, but they don’t work perfectly, you can’t seem to get rid of the “android lag” no matter how powerful the device you’re running it on……the GCW Zero has NO lag in emulators.

      Reply

    1. Lorz’s avatar

      Willgoo is selling the JXD S7300 for $149, and they are working both with JXD and the community on dingoonity forums to improve anything that needs improving……

      After the initial reviews, that’s who i’ll be ordering mine from….. and yeah, I can’t wait for this, it’s going to be awesome.

      Reply

    1. eighthdayregret’s avatar

      How come the analog stick usage doesn’t match up with the game footage in this vid?
      This looks fake.

      Reply

  10. jutley’s avatar

    I knew you had it in you woolo

    Reply

  11. tom’s avatar

    Why would anybody buy this ugly looking device?

    PSP Go
    Nintendo DS with Flashcard
    Android phone with gameklip and sixaxis controller
    Tablet with sixaxis controller
    Xperia Play
    JXD S7100
    Dingoo
    Open Pandora, expensive but the best of them all

    do not support this shit when there are so many better options.

    Reply

    1. Lorz’s avatar

      *sigh* I hate uneducated opinions, do some research before making such stupid assumptions.

      This device is far more powerfull than a PSP, a DS or a DIngoo…. and it KILLS all of them in emulation, period.

      The Android options, while being more powerful than this device, still cannot match it for emulation, why? Android lag….. doesn’t matter how powerful the device, you cannot completely escape it.

      Open Pandora you might think is “best of them all”, but many videos I’ve seen show some pretty disappointing performance in many emulators, And as cool a system as it is, it’s still just very buggy….. watch some videos of the GCW Zero running emulators, I think you’ll see the difference……. if you’re really into emulation, from what I’ve seen, I honestly do not think you can find a better “retro device” than the GCW Zero.

      Reply

      1. Lorz’s avatar

        And btw, No I’m not at all involved with this project, in-fact I’m not even planning on buying one, I’m just not in the market for something like this right now…..I just know what I’ve seen with my own eyes…. and for anyone interested in retro gaming that wants their emulators to run absolutely perfect, this thing is just going to rock…… and it does what it does, probably better than any other option to date.

        Reply

      2. Mb’s avatar

        Wouldn’t it be technically feasible to port linux to such a device thus remedying any lag issues?

        Reply

        1. Lorz’s avatar

          Sure it would, in-fact there are already a few linux distros that can run on certain Arm based chipsets that will work with some Android devices….. The procedure for installing them isn’t without risks though, since you have to flash a multi-boot loader, and only a few devices have a ready to go linux rom available.

          I’ve also seen people running Linux distros on Android through vnc server….. but it’s less than ideal, since it’s actually running within Android, in a “virtualbox” environment of sorts.

          If there’s enough interest for a focused effort to seriously port Linux to android devices, a distro that will install on and support a wide variety of devices….. then it would be awesome, but afaik, no one’s doing anything like that yet.

          Reply

    2. Veritas’s avatar

      If you don’t like it fine, but don’t come on here and spout your ignorant hate.

      Reply

  12. Frogboy’s avatar

    I know it’s been mentioned already but the 320×240 screen resolution is perfect for emulation. All of the older game consoles natively output as such which mean no re-scaling and more grunt to make it run faster. I also prefer a vibrant, quality display over a larger, higher resolution display that’s lower quality like the Android handhelds usually have. Also, a great d-pad and responsive buttons are very critical for a good gaming experience and shouldn’t be dismissed.

    I eagerly backed this project after checking out a bunch of YouTube videos that demoed it. Very excited to get my hands on one of these.

    Reply

  13. eighthdayregret’s avatar

    Did anyone else notice that he’s using that emu on a PSP-1000?
    Not a fair comparison, in my opinion.

    Reply

    1. Lorz’s avatar

      It doesn’t matter, I can duplicate his results on my PSP-3000, the 3000s extra ram gains you absolutely no extra performance in star fox.

      Reply

  14. passerby’s avatar

    when Yu Gi Oh does quite well in the game boy era, i am sure there is a way wagic could work but might as well be a totally different MTG game…

    Reply

  15. svenn’s avatar

    8GB to 16 GB is just a waste of money, its emulator specced, back in the days 4,3 mb disk where standard. Better put a stronger screen in it (IPS tablets go as low as 100$ these days…). (honestly 8-10h gaming time is OP)

    Reply

  16. Jdubs’s avatar

    Any chance this device will be able to emulate the N64?

    Reply

    1. Deagle275’s avatar

      The psp can , so it probably also can .Right?

      Reply

  17. megaman781’s avatar

    i dont know man, there a lot of chinese devices that do the same thing, they are not really bringing something new to the plate

    Reply

    1. Thorwak’s avatar

      They are actively building a community around it. Complete toolchain and firmware tools will be readily available to anyone interested. Great developers that actually care about the code they write, and an active scene in general, makes a huge difference for something like this.

      I backed this device on Kickstarter for the great emulation capabilities demonstrated alone. If it turns out to be such a success that it attracts indie developers and new original games gets created like they hope – even better.

      I want one of these. Badly :)

      Reply

    2. Lorz’s avatar

      Well, there are plenty of interesing android based consoles coming out of china right now, and they did give us the dingoo series, but the dingoo is past its prime, they’re not really updating the line any more…….. think of the GCW Zero as a continuation of the Dingoo series, it’s really the next iteration of the Dingoo, that’s good isn’t it? The Dingoo was a good system, wouldn’t you want to see it live on in some form? This is pretty much it, it uses the same family of hardware, has a familiar look and layout, runs the same software, and is pretty much made in the same spirit.

      Reply

  18. kagaelus’s avatar

    I wil be backing this project. looks freekin’ awesome.

    Reply

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