A bit about emulation devices

Since getting a PSP in 2008 I’ve been really interested in portable emulation. I thought I’d write up a bit about various devices and their pros and cons!

 

Sony PSP

http://www.kitguru.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Sony-PSP-1000-Body.jpg

Probably the cheapest device on offer these days. Each model of PSP is well built and each has their own benefit. The original PSP-1000 is a beast in weight and toughness, but only offers 32mb ram which does impact on some emulators. The PSP-2000 (my original favourite) is lighter and has 64mb. The PSP-3000 is a step up from the 2000 and offers a much nicer display, though they can be tougher to mod. The PSP-Go is super small, lets you save game states, and is easy to get 32gb storage, but can be similarly difficult to mod like the 3000. For this article I’m not going to go into each device, the previous summary is good enough if you’re considering getting one of these since it really does come down to personal preference.

All these devices can support 32gb storage. It might be possible to get more but there are mixed results, and I don’t feel like investing any money into it to test it out! The main PSP line requires an adapter to get more storage – the Photofast CR-5400, a neat little Memory Stick Pro Duo sized card that can house dual MicroSDs.

So let’s move on! Older emulators run great on the PSP. It runs NES, SNES, Mega Drive, Master System, Gameboy, Gamegear, PS1 with ease. Some SNES games remain unplayable due to the PSP’s 333mhz CPU, and even fewer GBA games have some (admittedly tiny) troubles with performance.

Battery life depends on which model of PSP you choose. When running at full 333mhz mode, which you’ll be doing for most of these emulators, you should expect 3-6 hours battery life.

Overall: It’s my favourite system for the emulators I want to run. The buttons are responsive, the emulators follow consistent rules (ie Power switch takes you to sleep mode, support for Resume on the PSP Go, home button takes you home), the screen is great, battery life is good, weight is good. Plus you can also play PSP, PS1 and PS Minis! Considering some of those games include the wonderful LocoRoco, Monster Hunter, PeaceWalker it’s a versatile system with a lot still going for it.

 

GCW Zero

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This is a miniature system designed purely for homebrew and emulation. I was really excited for this system, the low res screen and ease of emulation installation were big sellers for me. In reality the display is awful with a small viewing-angle range that reminds me of the original 3DS (MUST… KEEP… HEAD… CENTRED). The buttons are equally dire, they’re squishy and frequently get stuck after being pressed. Which is depressing. It feels like the manufacturers have abandoned it too, there are hardware features that aren’t supported yet such as HDMI out that haven’t been enabled yet.

Software wise it does do a lot. It runs everything the PSP does, but also adds a DOS emulator and Amiga (though this is fairly hit and miss). Actually no let’s go into that. I love the Amiga, I got this device solely for Amiga emulation. Speed is all over the place, there’s no “100%” option and you must try to balance out the CPU speed and frameskip to get something workable. You don’t get perfect emulation with this instead you get a close attempt with audio frequencies jumping all over the place.

Overall: I really want to like it. I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to improve the buttons… maybe with some WD40. But it’s pretty barebones. It does run other Linux-based homebrew apps including nice Doom ports. But most included games have that early 2000’s, soul-less LINUX style to them (YOU KNOW THE TYPE). Hardware rules are all over the place too, sometimes you need to press the power button to return to the main menu, other times it takes you to the emulators menu. There is no sleep mode!

 

JXD S7800b

http://www.willgoo.com/images/JXD-S7800-1_02.jpg

Now this is one hell of a machine! Or it should be. Like the GCW it feels like a prototype device. The buttons are oddly shaped, the analogue sticks spin around, the touchscreen isn’t very responsive. This is also my first Android device, also it’s an Android device. All the main emulators come preinstalled, though they’re all shoddily made with weird options. You will definitely get better results from using alternative emulators.

But software wise. Well you’ve got whatever is available on the Android store, you’ve got apps you can “sideload”. It’s pretty neat. Aside from all those mentioned on the other devices this one also runs Dreamcast, PS2, N64 and even PSP games without a hitch. Well okay PS2 and PSP do have hitches like some slowdown on the more intensive games. But it’s still quite impressive. The large hardware does seem overkill for more retro systems. The effort is certainly in this, but both hardware and software feel flimsy. And it does support sleep mode at least!

Amiga plays great! It works for all the games I’ve tried, but a shame there isn’t a 1:1 ratio control option for using the touchscreen as a mouse. Still, it’s Android, it can be updated!

Overall: It’s a good contender but not the all-in-one emulation device we’re after. Battery life is too short which takes some serious marks off, you’ll be lucky to get 3 hours out of this. But it does feel like the next attempt from these guys will be a good one.

 

PC

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Well of course. It can do anything.

Overall: 10/10 but you can’t play Superfrog on a flight. Unless it’s a laptop.

 

Not included: phones! A jailbroken iPhone will run lots of emulators but I’m not interested in touchscreen controls so you’re on your own there!

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