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Open Source Gaming Handheld Project Wants Your Money

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the proof-is-in-the-pudding dept.

Emulation (Games) 203

YokimaSun writes to point out a Kickstarter project that may warm the cockles of your heart: "Fans of emulation and homebrew have not had much to cheer about over the years; the recent generation of consoles has pretty much killed off any hacking by constant firmware updates. The days of PSP homebrew have died a death and consoles like the Caanoo, GP2x and even the mighty Openpandora never really lived up to the massive expectation. There is a glimmer of hope from a team of homebrew developers who have developed a new console called the GCW-Zero, a new open source handheld system which uses the OpenDingux Linux OS. The specs are impressive, with a Ingenic JZ4770 1 GHz MIPS processor, Vivante GC860, capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, 3.5 inch LCD with 320x240 pixels; 4:3 aspect ratio, 512 MB DDR2 and 16GB of internal memory which can via external memory card be extended by another 32GB. N64 and PS1 emulation and everything below should be at full speed in time."

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wtf (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615747)

Whats so impressive about the spec? Sounds like something from quite a few yeaars back.

Re:wtf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615841)

Its a MIPS instead of ARM so itll emulate PSP at decent speed. Apart from that its pretty crappy.

Re:wtf (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616391)

Its a MIPS instead of ARM so itll emulate PSP at decent speed.

Don't forget that the PSP has two MIPS CPUs, each with its own floating point processor.
And a 480x272 resolution, which it will be kind of hard to emulate on a 320x240 display.

The list of failed handheld gaming consoles is long. The list of successful open source one is empty. There's no way you're going to build a momentum, unless you are way ahead of the market leaders. And without a momentum, it'll die before it takes off.

Donate money to this, and you'll either get nothing, or another box that goes in the closet/basement/attic. Perhaps you'll get your money back after 20 years if you keep it in mint condition.

Re:wtf (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616847)

No shit, some people never seem to realize that just because it's open source, that doesn't make it magically delicious.

Re:wtf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615843)

Indeed. $60 usd chinese android tablets mop the floor with this thing.

I'm wondering where they got the 320x240 screens. Maybe they shop in the same place the TI calculators team shop.

Re:wtf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615903)

Nothing, it's completely shit.

Re:wtf (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615947)

It will run Atari 2600 emulation at full speed.

Re:wtf (2)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616549)

It's the best specced product in its class. Yes, it might be less powerful than an android tablet from 2 years ago. But that android tablet doesn't have gaming controls. This is for people who liked the Dingoo A320, but want something better. This is for people who wanted a Pandora, but couldn't afford one. This is for people who would rather replay Master of Magic on the go than whatever Nintendo or Sony are hyping today.

Re:wtf (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616629)

There are tablets now with gaming controls.

A 320x240 screen is pathetic.

Impressive specs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615769)

3.5 inch LCD with 320x240 pixels

Seriously ?

And also 512 MB RAM isn't that much these days...

Why worry about all of that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615773)

Just build your emulator to run on Android.

Gamepad compatibility (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615883)

With Android, you have to make sure the device where you run emulators supports physical buttons. Android 4.2 broke Bluetooth gamepads on my Nexus 7, and very few Android devices have an internal gamepad: pretty much the Xperia Play phone, the JXD S5100 [liliputing.com] and S5110 pocket tablets, and the forthcoming Archos GamePad tablet. On-screen gamepads have their own problems [pineight.com] , as any player of fast action games in DroidEmuLite will tell you. This sort of limits the game genres that are viable on Android.

Verdict: Figure out how to import more JXD S5100 tablets.

Re:Gamepad compatibility (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616659)

They changed the bluetooth stack in 4.2. Apps will have to be updated. The SIXAXIS one should work fine for you. Likely all controllers will be working again shortly.

Either way a 320x240 screen is pathetic.

Re:Gamepad compatibility (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616805)

They changed the bluetooth stack in 4.2. Apps will have to be updated. The SIXAXIS one should work fine for you.

Which is inconvenient for people who have to buy a different brand of controller (I don't own any PS3 controllers) and buy a different driver app every time Google changes the Bluetooth stack.

Likely all controllers will be working again shortly.

By which time I have no guarantee that 4.3 or 5.0 won't break things again.

Re:Gamepad compatibility (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616985)

The driver apps will likely be updated.

Hopefully 5 will bring controller support to the OS natively. The old android bluetooth stack had to be changed it had real shortcomings. If that broke some stuff temporarily that seems well worth it.

Re:Gamepad compatibility (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616819)

Cry more Mr. Early Adopter. I'm curious what you needed so badly in 4.2 that you upgraded to break your other devices?

Upgrade nag (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616991)

I'm curious what you needed so badly in 4.2 that you upgraded to break your other devices?

For the "A new system update is available" notification to go away.

When somebody wants money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615775)

Just post news on slashdot.

YAOSGC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615805)

Yay, yet another open-source game console. I always thought we needed more. The spin on this one is it can run emulators. And the others can't?

Someone wants my money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615807)

Now there is something new and different.

Not impressive (4, Insightful)

Fackamato (913248) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615815)

The specs are impressive, with a Ingenic JZ4770 1 GHz MIPS processor, Vivante GC860, capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, 3.5 inch LCD with 320x240 pixels; 4:3 aspect ratio, 512 MB DDR2 and 16GB of internal memory which can via external memory card be extended by another 32GB. N64 and PS1 emulation and everything below should be at full speed in time."

No, that is not impressive. Super lo-res screen, slower than any phone that is available today. But it's open source, so I suppose that's good.

But what is the point? Learning? Because the thing won't sell, like the previous models didn't do. You can have the best hardware, but if you don't have games for the device it doesn't matter.

I, for one, would rather game on my phone which is faster and has a much higher resolution display, with a bluetooth connected game controller of my choice.

Re:Not impressive (2)

L1mewater (557442) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615857)

I'm confused. So, when you want to play your N64 emulator while out and about you carry a separate controller around with you?

Re:Not impressive (1)

Fackamato (913248) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615959)

Sure.

Re:Not impressive (1)

ameen.ross (2498000) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616319)

Some game do fine with the on-screen controls.

Re:Not impressive (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616685)

Well that or carry your phone and this device.

Either way you are carrying two objects of similar size.

Re:Not impressive (1)

second_coming (2014346) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615859)

...and it's already in your pocket and most likely more powerful than the specs above. Who wants to carry another device around with them all the time?

Re:Not impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615861)

Took the words from my mouth. I'd say "Come back when you've got a bigger screen, better resolution, PS2 capability, and reliable battery life data and then we'll talk".

Re:Not impressive (1)

Megane (129182) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616501)

PS2 capability

Aside from this thing already using a MIPS, that's kind of a tall order. The PS2's graphics chips are a pain in the butt to emulate. PCSX2 wants 512M RAM minimum (1-2GB preferred), SSE2, a decent GPU, and a dual-core CPU of at least 2.8 GHz. Sure, some of that is getting the PC to emulate MIPS, but most of it is about emulating the EE/GS.

tl;dr: you're not getting PS2 emulation in a portable without either 1) an ASIC clone of EE/GS or 2) a super fast battery eater of a CPU.

Re:Not impressive (2)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615867)

My guess is that they are going after people who want to run emulators for old game systems. I'd pay good money for a hand held SNES emulator. I know there are Android apps to do it, but I can't imagine how you would handle the controls.

Re:Not impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615973)

Get a 3DS and a SuperCard DSTwo. Problem solved.

Re:Not impressive (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616091)

And move to a country where the SuperCard DSTwo isn't banned. A Dutch friend tells me it's illegal to buy one in the Netherlands.

Re:Not impressive (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615991)

The Xpreia Play is basically a slightly-out-of-date Android phone with a SNES controller attached.

Re:Not impressive (1)

Farmer Pete (1350093) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616953)

Yeah, and if I wanted an out of date phone, I'd get it. :-) I use my phone to much for non-gaming to get a gaming phone. I want something that does well at both. I'd even pay for a separate controller for my phone, but it would have to be compatible without rooting.

Re:Not impressive (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615879)

I, for one, would rather game on my phone which is faster and has a much higher resolution display, with a bluetooth connected game controller of my choice.

Hmm! I didn't know this was possible. How many games support it? Being limited to only touch screen kind of boxes you.

4.2 breaks Bluetooth gamepads (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615993)

I, for one, would rather game on my phone

My phone is a flip phone. An Android phone would involve a much higher recurring fee. For example, Virgin Mobile USA won't activate an Android phone on a $80 per year dumbphone plan; it requires a $420 per year smartphone plan. I imagine a lot of children and teens are in the same situation: parents are willing to pay for a low-end plan to call home in an urgency but not more than that.

with a bluetooth connected game controller of my choice.

Provided that Android system updates don't cause your Bluetooth controller driver to fail with "No route to host", as they did when I tried using my Wii Remote after upgrading to 4.2 [ccpcreations.com] .

Re:4.2 breaks Bluetooth gamepads (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616713)

Just because you carrier sucks does not make that true universally.

You can get a smartphone and pop in a T-mobile SIM for voice only. Pretty much any GSM carrier you would give you a sim without a device is going to do that.

I already addressed your gamepad issue in an earlier comment.

Re:4.2 breaks Bluetooth gamepads (1)

Pale Dot (2813911) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616903)

I, for one, would rather game on my phone

My phone is a flip phone. An Android phone would involve a much higher recurring fee. For example, Virgin Mobile USA won't activate an Android phone on a $80 per year dumbphone plan; it requires a $420 per year smartphone plan. I imagine a lot of children and teens are in the same situation: parents are willing to pay for a low-end plan to call home in an urgency but not more than that.

This is not true everywhere. In Southeast Asia, where I live, there's practically no difference in usage fees between Android phones and ordinary phones if you browse and download only in wifi mode. Not everybody knows this when they first buy the phone but they find out as soon as they run out of their prepaid credits.

Retro gaming (4, Interesting)

MtHuurne (602934) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616093)

I'm one of the people working on this console. The point of it is retro gaming: emulation, classic PC games and homebrew and indie games in retro style. Touch screens and physical controls are completely types of input: you cannot play a game designed for physical input well with a touch screen or vice versa.

We've got a light embedded Linux distro on it and with C/C++ applications writing directly into the framebuffer (set up via SDL, usually) you can get very decent performance from these specs. For example, my prototype has 256 MB of memory and 240 MB of that is available for applications. Similarly, the OS footprint on the internal storage is less than 100 MB.

Re:Retro gaming (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616139)

I'm one of the people working on this console.

What do you see as the device's unique selling point over pocket gaming tablets such as the JXD 5100 and 5110 [liliputing.com] ? They have the advantage that any Android application is easily ported.

Re:Retro gaming (4, Interesting)

MtHuurne (602934) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616321)

Not running Android has its advantages too: porting existing C/C++ applications to Android is quite a hassle, while porting to the Zero is often a cross compile followed by customizing the key mapping. Also we have fewer layers between the application and the hardware, resulting in lower latency. Maybe it's technically possible to get low latency on Android, but in practice a lot of devices suffer from input or audio latency.

Re:Retro gaming (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616645)

Has anyone gotten GNU ported to android, so you can run a handheld with GNU and Android apps concurrently in the same userland.

java android apps, and run "real linux" GNU apps.

Re:Retro gaming (1)

Annirak (181684) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616787)

You can't. Android has a re-implementation of libc, which is missing some things you'd expect. Like any of the normal IPC mechanisms. If you want to port GNU to Andoird, you have to bring your own libc with you.

Re:Retro gaming (1)

pipatron (966506) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616187)

So you want to emulate the SNES and chose a screen with an even lower resolution than this 20 years old console. You wouldn't even be able to play Amiga PAL games on this, or show border sprites on the C64 emulation without ugly scaling. I mean, wtf? Who is this for?

Re:Retro gaming (2)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616631)

Almost everything on the SNES runs at 256 × 224. N64 runs mostly at 256x224 and 320x240.

Re:Retro gaming (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42617013)

Why is the screen so pathetic?

Even old games were better at 640x480.

Re:Not impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616101)

No, that is not impressive. Super lo-res screen, slower than any phone that is available today

Anything at the time of PS1, N64 and before ran on low-res tv's. This is why you don't need a supercharged i7 to run games on them in that resolution. Now, try running the same level of emulation on your phone in HD-res, then you will understand.

There's no need for a crazy CPU/GPU-combo for this handheld, because it wont add anything toward its intended purpose. Yeah, maybe you can run some newfangled shaders or overlays on top of it, but some people would see that as negative if you strive for good ol' retrogaming.

Re:Not impressive (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42617031)

Those low res TVs were about twice the resolution of this hand held device.

Re:Not impressive (5, Informative)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616131)

It's super-low res because it's supposed to run legacy games. Your PS1 / N64 output at 320x240 typically, with capability of 640x480 "high resolution" at a push. Furthermore, your phone does more than play games, yet plays games well; The processor isn't dedicated to gameplay on your phone, so a dedicated game console doesn't need as much horsepower. Thirdly, the games are already available; IT RUNS EMULATOR ROMS.

17 USC 117(a)(1) (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616195)

Thirdly, the games are already available; IT RUNS EMULATOR ROMS.

If something is advertised as running ROMs, what will the console makers say? I'm not a lawyer, but I see potential for a lawsuit on grounds of "inducing infringement" (MGM v. Grokster) unless the manufacturer makes a point of advertising it for use with the Retrode [retrode.org] or similar copier, which opens up a defense under 17 USC 117(a)(1):

It is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner.

Re:17 USC 117(a)(1) (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616369)

Obviously this isn't meant to play unlicensed copies of games for other consoles. I'm simply stating, as the stub does, that the specifications of the hardware are in line with those of two generations of console for which emulators are available, and those emulators will run at full speed (WRT to the console) on this hardware. There's nothing wrong with that!

>_>
<_<
>_>

Re:Not impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616329)

What do you mean? Sounds like the perfect hardware to run Master of Orion without emulation. Oh, yeah, so, it's a little dated, by 20 years or so, what's your point?

Re:Not impressive (1)

Megane (129182) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616409)

My initial impression upon reading the specs in TFS is that 320x240 is really a bit too low-res. I work with an embedded platform that uses a cheap 320x240 2.75" screen, and it's pretty limiting, but at 2-3 feet you can barely read 8x8 text with that size screen anyhow. (I use a 16x24 font on it for readability.) But it's cheap, like $8 in quantity. I would much rather see 640x480 on the larger 3.5" screen.

But what is the point? Learning? Because the thing won't sell, like the previous models didn't do. You can have the best hardware, but if you don't have games for the device it doesn't matter.

And that's the real reason I won't bother with it. If it's just to write code for fun, I've already got two hacked PSP-1000s, and a 16GB memory card for one of them. I also have a Wii that hasn't even been turned on since before they patched the Twilight Hack, waiting for me to get around to jailbreak it.

Smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615827)

Homebrew has moved to Smartphones. Apple and Google provide excellent platforms for homebrew developers to deliver their applications and games for free to just about anyone. Smartphones are also capable of emulating N64 and PS1.

Is the price competetive or what is the rational behind this device compared to what Google already offers?

Re:Smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615917)

Did you miss the word "emulation" in the submission? Need I remind you that trying to replicate the controls of a gamepad on a touchscreen is akin to trying to get a blowjob through a keyhole? Nevermind, that's probably something you're capable of enjoying.

Re:Smartphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615989)

http://gadgetsin.com/photojoy-play-game-conteoller-for-android-ios-and-pc.htm
There is plenty of these casings out there. Tactile buttons are hardly reason enough to buy another device

Portable gaming handhelds are so '90's (1)

ickleberry (864871) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615855)

People who do gaming have widescreen TV's and monitors now. The days of teenagers gaming on tiny screens are over now. If they are looking at tiny screens its because they're busy cyberbullying their peers,not gaming. Too little too late.

Re:Portable gaming handhelds are so '90's (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615925)

People who do gaming have widescreen TV's and monitors now. The days of teenagers gaming on tiny screens are over now.

Teenagers can't drive. So what do they use for gaming on road trips? Are you trying to imply that they use a laptop? Phones and pocket tablets work, but some genres really need physical buttons.

Re:Portable gaming handhelds are so '90's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616001)

Nice troll. I love the way you ignore the death of console gaming and imply that the death of portable gaming consoles means the death of portable gaming, despite that they were both killed by people gaming on the tiny screens of their phones.

Re:Portable gaming handhelds are so '90's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616425)

the death of portable gaming consoles

When did this happen?

The 3DS has been doing acceptably, and is about to get a massive boost in hardware sales. Bitches apparently don't know 'bout the next generation of Pokemon requiring a 3DS.

Nintendo's survived Sega, Sony and a few other also-rans of no importance. They'll do fine against phones, because despite portability, the targeted customers are rather different demographics.

Re:Portable gaming handhelds are so '90's (1)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616771)

The death of console gaming? Wasnt the new COD the highest grossing media ever? Seems like its doing ok to me.

Re:Portable gaming handhelds are so '90's (1)

sidthegeek (626567) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616011)

So you've never herad of Angry Birds...?

Re:Portable gaming handhelds are so '90's (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616665)

What about the under-served market of bathroom gaming? This is why I have a 3DS.

Handhelds are hard (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615863)

The big challenge for the developers will be creating a device that's small, runs well, runs for a long time, and is cheap. The current handheld console companies - who set people's expectations of the technology - use economies of scale to push cost down, and often rely on hacker-unfriendly industrial design to cram components into the smallest possible space. They'll have to find a way to get around those limitations. And that's before you consider smartphones, which have set a ludicrously short life cycle for devices (heading towards 6 months) that's making it hard for even the big console manufacturers to keep up with performance expectations.

Maybe the answer it to simply embrace the smartphone. Do what Ooya did, use a commoditised smartphone platform, but keep the screen and throw in some thumbsticks and buttons.

I bought GCW-Zero SE but had to get refund (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615871)

I bought a GCW-Zero SE but due to delay after delay with bad information on the reasons, website that had no been updated in 4 months, I had to pursue getting a refund.

Software is the hard part (1)

macwhizkid (864124) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615885)

The problem with a home-brew or emulation-only game system is that the hardware is now easier than the software. We're now well into the age of mobile devices. The hardware here is basically a smartphone with a lower-resolution screen and slightly different processor. (Although the screen choice seems like a bad idea: 320x240 is just too low.)

The hard part is getting developers to write native games for it. Good luck with that in this day and age unless you're Sony or Microsoft and can spend millions on wooing developers with dev tools and conferences.

The emulation aspect is an interesting idea, but as someone who has fooled around with Playstation and N64 emulation, I can tell you that with most games, you'll find yourself wishing for a native controller pad if you play for more than a couple minutes. And why not? That's what the games were originally designed for and tested with. But even without accounting for the ergonomics, how are you going to play PS games when the device has fewer control buttons than the PS controller did?

Simple DirectMedia Layer (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616077)

The hard part is getting developers to write native games for it.

Games for GP2X and the like are already written for SDL, Allegro, and the like. Porting them to use a particular platform's screen size, audio output frequency, and button layout is likely a couple days' work at most.

Re:Software is the hard part (2)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616779)

As someone who doesn't want his retro gaming graphics stretched or blurred, I would prefer my 256x224 SNES games showing up matted on a 320x240 screen so there's a 1:1 pixel representation. 640x480 offers nothing for even Playstation, which maxes out around 320x240.

OpenPandora never lived up to the expectations? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615907)

Yes, it was hugely delayed, but I own one and I do think it certainly meets my expectations. Sure, it's not cheap, but it has much better specs than the GCW-Zero: 800x480 screen, two full SD slots, full keyboard, massive battery life. It has great emulators for all those consoles mentioned (the PS1 emulation is actually better than the original, it does double resolution rendering without glitches), and more emulators are developped as we speak: NDS and PSP for instance. Also the Pandora community is very much alive and kicking.

So I would say OpenPandora never lived up to the expectations, it just took a few more years than originally planned to get production going as well as it is now.

Re:OpenPandora never lived up to the expectations? (1)

wertigon (1204486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616055)

Yeah, it only took five freaking years to get all classic preorders filled. :)

The OpenPandora is unfortunately too little too late - it was interesting when it came out, but now? Now I can use my Android for everything I wanted to use my Pandora for...

we have phones... (1)

oic0 (1864384) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615909)

Seriously, what's the point in making new hardware when so many own android phones. They should be doing something like making cases for popular models with joystick and buttons built in.

OpenDingux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615935)

Seriously, where do they come up with these names?

Re:OpenDingux? (2)

MtHuurne (602934) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616265)

Short version: Dingux is Dingoo Linux and OpenDingux is a reimplementation of Dingux.

The project originates from the scene formed around the Dingoo A320 [wikipedia.org] . Ignacio García Pérez (aka booboo) ported Linux to this device and called that Dingux. Dingux worked great, but it was a one-man project and Ignacio didn't have time to keep supporting it. The code was based on the Linux kernel released by Ingenic (the manufacturer of the JZ4740 SoC), who often invent their own kernel interfaces instead of sticking with the standard ones. Also, the Dingux kernel was quite old (2.6.24) and difficult to update because also internally it took some shortcuts instead of using established interfaces.

There was a different device, the Ben NanoNote [wikipedia.org] , that used a very similar SoC and had a much cleaner kernel (thanks to in particular Lars-Peter Clausen); many of their drivers are even integrated into the mainline kernel now. So we (mainly Paul Cercueil and me) started OpenDingux to merge Dingux and the NanoNote drivers into a modern kernel that uses standard interfaces.

When Justin Barwick started the GCW Zero project, he contacted Paul and me to port OpenDingux to the new device. The code is currently a mix of Ingenic's drivers and our own and while it still needs a lot of cleanup before it's ready for mainline submission, it is at least keeping up with mainline kernel releases (Linux 3.5 when we started, 3.7 now).

We just kept the name; many people who follow Linux handhelds news are already familiar with the OpenDingux name and we didn't have any great ideas for a different name either. I know I've probably answered a rhetorical question but I thought it was nice to present a little history nevertheless.

Re:OpenDingux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616343)

Sounds too much like Dingus, part of the male anatomy. Maybe that was the joke.

Re:OpenDingux? (1)

L1mewater (557442) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616317)

I believe this name comes from the Dingoo A320, which is a similar device that was popular a few years ago. The Linux port is called "Dingux."

The resolution isn't bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42615937)

Remember, everything from ps1 and N64 (and below) were made to run on a tv.

An HD-screen wouldn't make a difference here, other than slow down emulation because the system would have to paint that many more pixels. If you're into (real) retro-games and MAME, this is quite a spiffy setup that fills the niche like a baws.

Re:The resolution isn't bad (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year and a half ago | (#42615975)

I really wish that the open-source hardware movement would target a broader subsection of homebrew gaming than "emulators". Someone needs to buy games to keep Jeff Minter in wooly coats and sheep dip.

Re:The resolution isn't bad (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616641)

I would love to buy Jeff Minter games, but he doesn't publish them on any acceptable platform. Paying the Apple tax for a device I don't fully control is a complete deal breaker. If Yak wants my money, he can publish on a decent platform. Say, the C64.

Re:The resolution isn't bad (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616693)

Jeff Minter is one of the few people I buy the games of whether I intend to play them or not. He can do more in kilobytes than most of today's programmers can do in megabytes, and is a rather nice guy too.

240p vs. 480i (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616049)

Remember, everything from ps1 and N64 (and below) were made to run on a tv.

True, most PlayStation and Nintendo 64 games run at 240p (LDTV). But there are some that run at 480i (SDTV), such as Tobal No. 1 and Ehrgeiz. There are even a couple Genesis games that run at 480i, namely the multiplayer of Sonic 2. The Super NES was capable of 480i, but I don't know if any games used it.

An HD-screen wouldn't make a difference here

But a full SD screen will.

If you're into (real) retro-games and MAME

What MAME calls a "standard resolution" monitor is essentially an SDTV with component in. Most games run at 240p, but several run at 480i. I seem to remember the menus of Dance Dance Revolution Extreme being 480i.

Re:240p vs. 480i (1)

Yosho (135835) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616183)

The Super NES was capable of 480i, but I don't know if any games used it.

Off the top of my head, Seiken Densetsu 3 used the SNES's high-res 512x384 mode. In fact, the game is effectively unplayable at lower resolutions; it used the high resolution to render complex kanji that were unreadable at lower resolutions.

Oh come on guys! (2)

pecosdave (536896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616013)

Mini-USB is theoretically deprecated in favor of Micro-USB. [wikipedia.org] You could have saved someone carrying an extra wire around, and it's not like the ports or cables cost much different when it comes to production.

Re:Oh come on guys! (1)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616199)

But Micro-USB cabled still aren't anywhere near as reliable, we need to switch back.

Well (1)

ledow (319597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616243)

I posted a question on their kickstarter, asking what they would do to avoid being another OpenPandora fiasco (four years later, first-day pre-orderers are still without hardware and being asked to stump up again for the device to be delivered and refund requests ignored), what sort of experience they have in the area, what sort of business acumen and supplier management they have in the project, etc.

i.e. I trust you can BUILD the device, how are you going to buy the parts, pay someone to put it together, distribute it, sell it, etc. I also inquired about the status of SDL libraries, hardware acceleration in those libraries, etc.

The reply I got is below, in its entirety:

"I have a bussiness degree and have former game studio president for consulting with, I also have a tech school willing to assist with flashing and QA of the console in the works. Yes there are sdl libs in our os if you look in the updates we have released our source for the kernel. Any other questions please consult with MTH our lead developer on irc.freenode.net the channel is #GCW"

Geeks make good hardware, they don't get it into people's hands well enough, though - and I avoided OpenPandora, despite coming from the GP2X community onto it, precisely because of the non-existent customer support and the fact that they could just never deliver what they promised.

I didn't bother to follow up, or put money into the kickstarter. You may feel differently, though. I though the device was really pretty cool though, and would probably have paid for one outright if the answers had been different (or even answered most of my real queries, rather than a brush-off by telling me that someone has a "bussiness degree" - I can name lots of people with those. Most of them have never run a business in their lives).

Re:Well (3, Informative)

MtHuurne (602934) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616687)

I'm "mth" and I'll answer as many of your questions as I can.

The devices are built in China by a factory who have done this sort of thing before. I don't know all the details, but while the yield of the first batch wasn't great, it also wasn't worse than what one would expect from a first production run. Justin has been a reseller of devices like the Dingoo A320 for several years, so he has practical experience in distribution.

Regarding the software, we build the root file system using buildroot [buildroot.org] with as few customizations as needed. Our SDL is using the Linux framebuffer for graphics and ALSA for audio, no acceleration is implemented but it's not necessary either: pushing pixels at 320x240 or synthesizing stereo audio at 44.1 or 48 kHz can easily be done by the CPU.

We do want to add acceleration for OpenGL ES. We're working to get the proprietary driver from Vivante up and running in our system (this wasn't trivial because we're using uClibc instead of glibc). We're also looking at the open source etna_viv [github.com] project, but that's in an early stage of development, so it will be a while before it is usable as a full driver replacement. Note that the GPU renders from memory to memory; the framebuffer is handled by the LCD controller and that part is already fully open source, so if you want a fully open kernel you can run SDL applications just fine today.

All sources can be found on github [github.com] . This includes the kernel, buildroot, the boot loader, the image generation tools and more.

Re:Well (1)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616859)

Why answer now on slashdot and not before on the actual kickstarter?

Better and less expensive: JXD 7300 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616255)

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/hot-sale-JXD-7300-dual-core-hd-game-pad-3G-WIFI-camera-dual-speaker-7-inch/735987517.html

Android, big library of android emulators and games!

Open Dingoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616273)

Whats great about this? I'll tell you. There were lots of Chinese manufacturers popping out these retro gaming handhelds - one of the most noteable is the Dingo A3XX series. The Dingoo got Linux based fan buit OS, OpenDingux and the community tried to get the Chinese MFG's to listen to them about bugs and features - they didnt.

This console is the result of several devlopers from the Dingoo/OpenDingux community striking out and making a console by the community for the community. As far as I can tell - the specs reflect the Dingo A330 almost directly. Most of these handhelds use the Ingenic CPU and I can see why they chose to keep it, along with the screen (for software compatabilty purposes).

I think its a great project. The kickstarter is ... a smidge steep IMO. for $135 you ought to get a console for sure - not "a shot" at a console. Not sure if this is just poor wording or what.

I am a little confused as to how this is different from getting an A3X0 and putting open dingux on it though.

Re:Open Dingoo (1)

ledow (319597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616345)

Do you not know what the OpenPandora was? Same thing, but stemming from the GP2X, really, and even the Dingoo in part.

The units exists but in terms of actually delivering, I doubt they qualify as having done that well. First day pre-orderers from four years ago still have no units (well, they can get one, if they pay hundreds of dollars again to someone else now). The software available is all pretty much OS stuff recompiled. In four years, they never really got to the sort of stability and popularity of even the GP2X they meant to replace.

And it was supposed to be an "open" project, by the community, etc. etc. etc. Go ask the community how that worked out (you can't, really, because the ones who still linger there are the ones who didn't just pull out after years of waiting and years of excuses, and most of the original community left before they could do anything useful).

I see no reason that this can't be the same. "The community" doing something doesn't mean they'll do it any better than the big-guns. Take community wifi as one example - sure, there are outstanding projects out there that have been running for years and made money - but they are the exception rather than the rule.

P.S. I have ported software to the GP2X (I own two of the original F100's without touchscreen), some people then subsequently ported my work to the A320 and other devices (even the PSP at one point), I frequented the OpenPandora site for years hoping for the magic turning point where I could buy one with confidence. I'm hardly an outsider or an automatic nay-sayer. And this project looks set to follow the same route, I have to say.

Re:Open Dingoo (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616703)

I think its a great project. The kickstarter is ... a smidge steep IMO. for $135 you ought to get a console for sure - not "a shot" at a console. Not sure if this is just poor wording or what.

It's how kickstarter works. You don't get anything if they don't meet their goal. You don't give anything either.

Do not want (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616313)

>LinSUX!
>Games

pick one

PAL emulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616403)

At least this device could potentially do something that smart phones don't do:

I don't know the exact specs of the screen but some lcd displays can do variable refresh rates. Support for native 50Hz for PAL emulation would be something totally different since running PAL emulation on 60Hz does jitter quite badly.

OpenPandora was worth the wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616465)

For what it's worth, i got my pandora a year ago and it was worth the wait. It's a really nice gadget that certainly delivered what it promised to me. Software could be more polished, but so far everything works fine.

Also, production of new units is now working as planned, so to everyone playing with the idea of buying an open handheld I just say go for a pandora!

Just get a PSP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616479)

The PSP does all that right now and costs $10 on ebay. I doubt this thing will run PSX games either. Don't waste your time and money on this crap.

Why MIPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42616499)

Why MIPS and not a multi-core ARM?

Low Res (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616587)

3.5 inch LCD with 320x240 pixels

1999 called and wants their resolution back. not acceptable in 2013 on a 3.5 inch handheld. especially not with a ghz class CPU, MIPS no less.(equiv or around 2ghz x86?)

wvga
800&#195;--480 or better, is the bare min.

Re:Low Res (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616971)

1999 called and wants their resolution back.

Funny, I thought this console was supposed to emulate consoles from 1980 up to 1999, I thought the 320x240 display was a perfect match. I do wonder if it's powerful enough to run Neo Geo games at full speed, however.

Re:Low Res (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616983)

The device is geared toward emulation. By definition, that requires a much stronger CPU even if the graphics and sound load are fairly low.

We don't need another portable console. (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616663)

The only reason this might be interesting is if its very cheap, I don't see a price listed anywhere. Why do people insist on re-inventing the wheel when it comes to portable consoles. I keep hearing of some ARM/MIPS-Linux hand held that turns out to be vaporware or bombs. Who is going to carry a 1ghz, 512MB 320x240 Linux console when their phone already has a quad-core ARM, 1-2GB RAM, gigabytes of storage and a high rez screen? Just because its open source doesn't mean much at all unless it can compete with iOS and Android phones on a hardware level AND make calls. You need to either replace their already powerful computer-phone or add to its capabilities. Not make yet another gadget for them to lug around.

You want to kickstart a mobile open source game emulation platform? Don't waste time re-inventing the wheel. Design a compact, portable, near-universal phone cradle that gives you a D-pad, analog stick, buttons and connects via USB or Bluetooth. Bonus points if the entire design can be available to download and be 3D printable. Then write an open source emulator for the app store (not available on iOS but that is not a concern). If you want, create your own open-source app store which allows users to browse the OSS game repository. The user simply has to allow "unknown sources". And if you want to go the extra mile, provide a frame work or game engine for novices to create games (like Flixel does). Now you have a portable open-source virtual console that is an addition to their existing device.

If you want to game on the go, this guy has the right idea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oM7BWFlZikw [youtube.com] He should kick-start his idea and make a simple clip that attaches a phone to an off the shelf controller. SIMPLE.

That or something like this is also pretty damn cool, iPhone only though :-( http://www.ionaudio.com/products/details/icademobile [ionaudio.com] . That is what someone should kickstart.

Not Android? (1)

miroku000 (2791465) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616691)

It was a major design flaw to not have this run Android. By running Android, you make your device have access to a lot of apps right from the start. Without a bunch of apps, this thing will be lame.

Why all the fuss? (1)

randomErr (172078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42616897)

I can get something like this [dx.com] for a few dollars more and still run my Android apps. Also the link above has a touch screen. I just don't see why anyone is getting excited.
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