Before giving a low vote on the Play Store, notice that some crashes are not related to my application, but to the emulators. Some emus will have such bugs fixed in the upcoming updates (mostly RetroArch). Moreover, this release is still experimental.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Whoa – how did I miss this? This sports the same chip as the JXD S7800B, so head on over to a pretty extensive thread here if you’re keen for more: http://boards.dingoonity.org/android-devices/archos-gamepad-2-my-full-review/msg86044/#msg86044
Archos Gamepad 2 - Review
UPDATE: The stock firmware features an SD card write limitation solved by Archos' latest update
I’ll start by saying that I’m no Android expert: this is the first Android device that I actually own. Previously, I’ve only used Android casually – I’m more of an iOS user myself. So please bear with me if during this small review I’ll say something that may sound odd to expert Andorid gurus!
This is also a very early review as I’ve only been able to use the device for a day or so. I’ll update it on the following days in case I discover additional stuff of interest!
The CPU and GPU specs are very similar to its predecessor the Gamepad 1, which featured a dual-core Rockchip RK3066, which is basically the same as the RK3188 specs-wise being both based on a Cortex A9 implementation, just the RK3188 is quad-core. GPU is the same.
To make a long story short, I see this device's main upgrades not much in the performance area but rather in all the areas where the Gamepad 1 fell short: screen, controls, battery, RAM.
The box is pretty much what you’d expect from a mid-range priced device. Nothing too fancy, yet functional. Contents, besides the console itself: AC charger, USB cable and 3 plug adapters so you’re pretty much covered all around the world. Pretty good for those who travel, plus it simplifies production and international resale.
The box also contains manuals and a number of “quick start” guides, including one for the key mapper too.
The overall hardware and feel
The device, as expected from what I’ve read, feels good in your hands also thanks to its textured back plate.
On top of the device we have: USB (Micro-B), Mini-HDMI, standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack. Also on top we find the on/off button and the volume controls.
On the bottom: MicroSD.
One very good point about the Archos Gamepad 2 is that it can be charged via USB, both using the AC adapter or through a PC. I've read that some similar competing device (JXD S7800) can't charge through USB.
Ports and buttons placement is quite optimal since it does not interfere with the way you hold the device while in landscape mode, especially when using the physical controls: there’s no risk that you mistakenly press some volume buttons or that your fingers slip into against some screws. If we want to be picky, the SD port could have been placed in a more central position thou. Vertical usage obviously forces you to hold the device differently by placing your hand around it, but that’s not a real issue and let’s be frank, this device is meant to be hold in landscape mode.
Now for some less good news: I’ve ordered 2 devices and both had some kind of (minor) trouble. One has a dead pixel. The issue with the other is trickier: at first it wouldn’t turn on at all until I’d connected it to the AC, then it started working fine. Notice that the battery wasn’t low at all, it was actually fully charged. It simply wouldn’t turn on the first time unless connected, unlike the other one. Just a first-time thing. Anyway this same device also had an issue with WiFi: it wouldn’t turn on at all (actually it turned on, stayed on for a few seconds without discovering any networks and then switched off). I’ve reset it to factory settings but still nothing. Eventually I’ve power-cycled it yet again and now WiFi is working perfectly on it, I can switch it on and off an networks are detected just fine. Let’s keep fingers crossed
UPDATE: this faulty unit is unfortunately beyond fixing. Wifi issues persist and random reboots take place frequently. I will have to send it back, I'll keep you posted about Archos' customer service!
Resetting the device to factory settings will not reinstall the additional non-Archos apps that were bundled with the device, specifically:
UPDATE: luckily, the stock software can be downloaded from here: ftp://support.archos.com/GamePad%202/HDD.rar (2GB download).
The first-time setup is pretty much simple and straightforward: just set the language, timezone and WiFi. Some non-archos apps will be installed on first time setup, but as described above you will only be prompted to install them the first time. If you reset to factory settings, you won’t be prompted again. Most people probably won’t ever need to reset it to factory settings though. Don’t let this put you down as it’s a minor issue and this device has its qualities, please read on!
See the "Third-Party Applications" tab?
Before we continue, let's try to also list the built-in Archos apps (not the 3rd parties above). They are (sorry if I forgot some):
The screen looks real good to me, also considering that I’m used to pretty much high quality displays. Surely we shall factor in that this is a €179 device, but for that price I think this is probably the best you can get: contrast and brightness are very good, and viewing angle is excellent from all sides. A really good step forward from the Gamepad 1, I’m told J
The screen is also quite glossy and it’s not inset like for instance on the JXD S7300, meaning it will not collect dust at its corners. It’s also very responsive to touch controls, definitely feels good using it.
The flip of the coin is that the screen is also a bit of a fingerprints magnet.
One of the main selling points of this kind of devices is the physical controls of course. The Gamepad 2 is strong on this. It is a big step forward from its predecessor as it improves on just about everything, plus it carries on its excellent software implementations. Let’s see more in detail what this means!
First off, the D-Pad has been revolutionized and this one feels very good. I’m quite satisfied as it seems to be the right shape to perform consistently all kind of moves. Definitely a good job overall, even thou the right analog stick is a bit too close to it and you could end up interferring with it, mostly when going to the bottom-right diagonal direction. No huge concern overall but I'd rather have had a little more space there.
Concerning the buttons, we now have 4 triggers like with the JXD devices, and they work very nicely. Front buttons feel perfect too, definitely all is good with buttons! Start and Select front buttons are more flat which is a plus so you will avoid mistakenly pushing them.
The analog sticks (or sliders as you may call them) are also good: in my opinion they have the right amount of resistance. Sometimes they just feel a little bit like they’re scratching on some sand when you move them or tend to be not too fast at centering, but I’ve yet to find a portable device with 100% perfect sliders, including Nintendo ones. And of course they're REAL analog sticks (like the Gamepad 1) and can be used directly or mapped through the included keymapper (see below).
Reaching the top triggers while using the analog sticks is unfortunately a little hard. For the record, I guess I can say that I’ve got medium-sized hands. Anyway this will always be an issue with 7” devices, as using whatever controls that will be put on the lower part will make it hard to reach the triggers. Archos decided to put the analog sticks on the lower part and the D-Pad and buttons on the top part, other manufacturers have adopted different strategies but, I presume, with similar results!
Another big plus of the Gamepad 2 is that the physical controls are recognized by Android as a standard Joystick, which means that applications which directly recognize Android Joysticks will directly use them without the need for you to map on-screen controls. This also has the big advantage that in this case, you won’t need the physical controls overlays which usually take up much of the screen and are really just a hassle when using physical controls. Applications that directly recognize the Joystick usually disable the overlays.
Keep this in mind since most competing devices don’t do this through native firmware and your only option is to use the provided keymapper which won’t get you rid of the on-screen control overlays. JXD S7300 has this implemented with a custom firmware AFAIK.
Additionally, you can connect an external joystick with Bluetooth or USB, but I haven’t tried that yet.
For applications that don’t directly recognize Android joysticks, Archos has developed a very good and flexible key-mapping device for its original Gamepad and it has obviously made it to the Gamepad 2 as well.
The keymapper seems to be doing its job nicely: it's extremely responsive (no delays), autosaves and loads configurations and can even map just part of the controls. This is very useful since some apps seem to recognize only some controls. Take this beautiful game for instance:
It does directly recognize the D-Pad but not the buttons. I've mapped the buttons to screen touches and can now play it perfectly!
Software and Performance
The launcher is very snappy and responsive: definitely a very good first impression! No problems navigating through it, feels good under your fingers and does its job well.
I’m not sure how the built-in software on this device compares to others since, as stated before, I’m no Android expert, but I like what I see here: all the Google apps and Play stores are available and working fine and fast. You can actually use the Gamepad 2 as a proper tablet!
The firmware is also solid from what I can see and does perform all its functions as expected, until now at lease.
About games performance, once again it’s more or less as expected from what I’ve read around before buying: the built-in 3D games (I’ve actually only tried Asphalt 8 as they don’t interest me much) are not overwhelming in performance, actually Asphalt 8 is pretty much borderline here. The graphics quality is good but the framerate isn’t. Yet, it’s playable and directly uses the physical controls. Consider that Asphalt 8 is also sizing in at an almost 900MB download! (which you will have to go through if you want to play as the pre-installation on the device is only partial).
I have then proceeded to test some other apps, first off with Expendables Reloaded. I've chosen it because it uses directly the physical control and because it was tested on the Gamepad 1 by someone else (video here in case you're interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8xKf4U25us), so I could compare the improvements with the Gamepad 2. Quite (un)surprisingly the performance on the Gamepad 2 doesn't look any better than its predecessor: in the end the GPU is the same as with the Gamepad 1 and the CPU's clock as well. If the app isn't designed to make use of the 2 additional cores, similar performances can likely be expected. Maybe the game's framerate is locked too, I don't know.
Next I've tested Dead Trigger 1 and 2 and they ran running smoothly. Both games recognized the physical controls (i.e. no need to map onscreen buttons).
Concerning emulators, admittedly one of the main reasons why I've got the Gamepad 2, I've only really tested a few until now. I've got to choose from the admittedly wide range of offer available on Android, and since most of the commercial ones do seem to have an edge over their free counterparts, I've got to pick the right ones in order not to go bankrupt (yes, I do buy apps). Anyway here's what I've tested so far (I've tried to focus on the most popular platforms plus some personal favorite):
N64: mupen64plus (free) and N64oid (commercial). Both seem to run at roughly the same speed, maybe with a little edge on the latter one but it's hard to tell since only mupen64 displays framerate. On it games ranged between 20 and 30fps.
Both emulators natively upscaled the polygons to match the device's resolution, which resulted in very sharp image quality HD-style. Of course this technic highlights the contrast with low-resolution bitmapped game elements such as OSD, text and so on. But it's a drawback we must live with if we want higher difinition, right?
PC Engine: PCE.emu (commercial). No issues here, excellent emulator. I couldn't manage to run a CD game yet: it only supports cue+bin format (not ISO), and anyway seems that not all of them load up. Not cool but I'll manage to make it work, I'll fiddle further with it later.
SNES: SnesDroid (free). At first I was surprised that the emulator didn't run at a full frame rate. Eventually I've noticed that by default frameskip is set to 1. I've lowered it to 0 and everything went smooth as expected, including heavy mode7 games like F-Zero and Pilotwings (typically a hassle to emulate).
PSX: FPse(commercial) and RetroArch (free). FPse was very underwhelming as, despite my efforts of enabling 3D hardware acceleration and dynamic recompilation (the latter wouldn't turn on at all), framerates on Tekken 3 were always around 40. Retroarch, on the other hand, performed brilliantly at full frame rate!
Amiga: UAE4Droid (free). It's working great, if a bit picky on kickstart versions but eventually got it running. Fast and accurate. I used to code in ASM a lot on the Amiga so I really appreciate this one!
The only minor issue is a strange direction cancelling that happens when going down on the d-pad and firing. Doesn't happen with other emus so it's more likely a specific issue with this one. Probably can be solved by changing the mapping, anyway using the analog in spite of the D-Pad also solves the issue.
Atari 2600: RetroArch emulates the Atari 2600 really well using the popular Stella core, but the sound delay is crazy. 2600.emu (commercial) doeas a better job with sound. Neither seem able to run Supercharger games.
UPDATE: I had installed RetroArch from the F-Droid, very bad move since it somehow installed only the PSX core. I've reinstalled it from scratch downloading it from the official website and I can say that my experience with it beats all other emulators until now RetroArch really performs great on the Gamepad 2, plus it's free of course. I'll follow up on this!
Next I will probably focus on Mame, Sega systems, Gameboy/GBA, Spectrum, C64 and Atari systems.
I've obviously used this thread as a reference for choosing emulators: http://boards.dingoonity.org/android-devices/android-emulator-overview-share-your-preferred-setup/
I have ran Antutu Benchmark also, as it seems to be the de-facto benchmarking app on Andoid. The Gamepad 2 achieved an interesting score of 19.487: Above the S3 and Nexus 10, just below the Sony Xperia Z. See below for details:
The front-facing camera is shit. Sorry for the drop of style here, but that’s how it is: low resolution, low framerate, horrible quality. Better than nothing, sure, but crappy nonetheless. Of course the camera is not the main selling point for this device so some compromises here had to be expected.
The Gamepad 2 features two pretty loud speakers on the front, which is a good thing since those thin speakers featured on tablets tend to be very directional and putting them on the back of the device hinders the overall effect quite a bit. They’re no Bose quality of course, but I guess that they’re pretty much as good as they can get for this price range. No complaints, and you can still plug in standard earphones in case you’re not satisfied.
Volume control works fine across all applications with visual on-screen indicator.
It once happened to me that disconnecting the earphones didn't switch the sound back to the speakers. Connecting and disconnecting them again fixed the issue.
There’s a microphone, it works. What else to write here?
Battery life seems really good, but it's too early to tell for sure as I’m still on the first factory-charge. Anyway I was expecting a much higher drain. The 5000mAh battery definitely seems to be doing its job properly until now. I'll follow up on this after some additional usage.
Anyway, I can already tell that sleep mode properly saves battery as expected.
Other misc. features
There are quite some features I've yet to test: HDMI out,
The stock firmware used to have an SD card read-only issue, apparently solved by Archos' latest update.
As you can understand from my review, there are no serious downsides to this console and I can safely say that I am satisfied with it until now. Most of all, the firmware looks very stable and it doesn't seem to suffer from all the plenty of issues that other similar devices usually have due mostly to bad software. Choose it if you want a solid and stable gaming tablet with good build quality for a very reasonable price!
Of course this review is very early and I may run into some issues or interesting findings about the Archos Gamepad 2 over the next few days or weeks of usage. I'll try to keep this review up to date.
Been feeling a little like it’s been a slow lazy Sunday in Android land? The slow days getting you down? Well, turns out that the same is happening at Willgoo – and they need to clear their excess stock of both the JXD S5110B and S7300.
Here are the details:
JXD S5110B - $79.99 Shipping included!
JXD S7300 - $110.99 – Free shipping!
Aww, why the heck not? It’s almost April …
Thursday, January 16, 2014
We announced it a few days ago the imminent opening of a new contest on the forum. This is now done :)
Lot to gain is a console Android, the JXD 7800B, courtesy Esenka forum member.
To participate, nothing more simple, you just need to visit this page and follow the instructions: http://www.open-consoles.com/t6744-gagnez-une-jxd-s7800-grace-a- Esenka
Come and try your luck!
The Open Consoles team.
Monday, January 6, 2014
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
« on: December 14, 2013, 02:02:36 AM »
S7800B SUPERCHARGED v2.1 is out !!! This is a customized version of JXD's Stock Firmware v1.1.4 with several
« Last Edit: December 16, 2013, 09:03:37 PM by TANworks™ »
If you like my work or if I answered your question and wish to thank/support me...
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Sunday, December 1, 2013
New and final beta release of CyanogenMod 10.2 on the JXD S7300B:
New (and final beta release):
Saturday, November 30, 2013
« on: November 30, 2013, 11:52:57 AM »
S7800B SUPERCHARGED is here. This is a customized version of JXD's Stock Firmware v1.1.4 with several fixes, enhances, loads of useful applications, and an overclocked kernel.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2013, 12:04:55 PM by tansoftware »
Tansoftware’s custom firmware for the JXD S7800B has been updated – use with care!
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
You can find the review here: http://www.kustruki.com/jxd-s7800b-analisis-prueba-juegos/
Monday, November 18, 2013
Not a bad set of pics to work out how to disassemble the JXD S7800B. Source: http://4pda.ru/forum/index.php?showtopic=517824&st=20
Thursday, November 14, 2013
One issue with the JXD S7800B out of the box is an inability to download apps that should be compatible from the Google Play store. The Technical Wiki explains this issue, with a solution:
|Google Play compatibility||Many apps which should presumably be compatible with the S7800 are marked as incompatible, and thus can't be installed from Play. ||Many apps which should presumably be compatible with the S7800 are marked as incompatible, and thus can't be installed from Play. |
Try using the app "Market Helper" developed by "codekiem" (download link ). It seems to work for some users, but not everyone. Alternatively, use APTOIDE or F-Droid.
There is now a video tutorial for this solution:
And hopefully, this is the first off the mark of JXD S7800A custom firmware:
« on: Today at 01:54:44 AM »
It's finally here. This is a pure stock of v1.0.9 with an overclocked kernel. All other functionality is identical to original v1.0.9. Even broken root exists, which means you need to fix root upon installing firmware just like official v1.0.9.
I’m loving this device, hopefully more good stuff is just around the corner!
Monday, November 11, 2013
Since the introduction of the somewhat venerable Yinlips YDPG18, Android handheld gaming devices have been released pretty much continuously, by any number of Chinese manufacturers.
They’re not released with retrogaming in mind however. Dedicated Android handhelds with physical controls for the consumption of nostalgic childhood memories are simply not in great demand in China, and accordingly, these devices have never been well supported by their makers, as far as the multitude of little tweaks and twerks that the Western retrogamer demands in the quest for ultimate emulation fidelity are concerned. The view of China based manufacturers seems to be that the physical controls are an adjunct to the primary function of the device – hey, it’s an Android tablet, what else do you want? Foremost among such frustrations has been OASS: “ornamental analog stick syndrome”, which sadly afflicts many of the devices released to date. What use are any physical controls if they do not work with popular games and emulators?
Among manufacturers however, JXD has been rather more prolific and attentive to such concerns. JXD appears to at least try to listen to the Western retrogaming/Android gaming crowd who are natural buyers for this sort of niche device. This is not an easy task when you factor in the language and cultural barriers involved. Considering that it is a small manufacturer, making disposable devices in perhaps one of the most competitive, high churn, “gotta have the latest gear”, dog-eat-dog consumer tech markets in the world, let alone one where punters have no teary eyed attachment to the playing of old 8/16 bit games, and it’s a small miracle they are still making these things at all.
But nonetheless, here we are, and we should sing hymns of joy or at least a few Katy Perry songs, because they’re up to version three of this thing!
Announced in around August 2013, the JXD S7800 is the third iteration of JXD’s range of 7 inch Android gaming tablet console. Both the JXD S7100 and S7300 were successful, relatively speaking: they sold well enough to warrant an ongoing model range and, as evidenced by the existence of community third party developer support for customized firmware, found some favor with Western users. Both were impressive but flawed devices, with the main gripes of users being limited battery life, performance limitations, button location and design issues, and controller mapping flaws.
As a quick refresher, here are the S7800B’s predecessors – first the JXD S7100:
The JXD S7300:
And now, the S7800:
At a glance on the key specs you’re certainly getting more device per buck:
|S7100||800MHz Cortex A9 Single-core |
(MTK 6577 SOC)
|Mali 400 GPU||512MB DDR2||7 inch |
800 x 480
|3800 mAH||Android 2.2|
|S7300||1.3GHz Cortex A9 CPU, Dual core(Amlogic 8726 MX SOC)||Mali 400 GPU||1 GB DDR3||7 inch |
1024 x 600
|4000 mAH||Android 4.1|
|S7800A||1GHz Cortex A7 Quad Core GPU |
(All Winner A31s SOC)
|Power VR SGX 544||1 GB DDR 3 ||7 inch |
1200 x 800
|5000 maH||Android 4.2.2|
|S7800B||1.6GHz Cortex A9 Quad Core |
(RockChip 3188 SOC)
|Mali400||2 GB DDR3||7 inch |
1200 x 800
|5000 maH||Android 4.2.2|
The S7800 comes in A and B variants. The S7800A is powered by the Allwinner A31 system on chip (SOC), which is not on the basis of the SOC alone, necessarily an inferior product. While there seems to be an ongoing debate about the differences between both SOCS and what this actually means in real world use, the great Dingoonity hive mind seems to have concluded that the S7800B is the contender to watch, so much so that there has been little buzz around the S7800A, which was quietly released a few weeks ago. Its stablemate however, the S7800B, which is powered by a Rockchip 3188 SOC, has received most of the online anticipation.
Has the S7800B been worth the wait?
|JXD S7800B Specifications |
3. Design and Form FactorAnd here is my very own real life JXD S7300B, without makeup or decent lighting, but still resplendent IMHO, all Sandra Bullock in Gravity-like:
The JXD S7800B departs significantly from its predecessors’ rectangular lines, with rounded sides that make it look more gaming console, and less tablet. The new shape could be a less than subtle declaration that by the third iteration, JXD believes the gamer tablet niche is one to be taken seriously, a fact that is further reinforced by JXD’s inclusion of certain pieces of software in its stock firmware that is clearly meant to appeal only to the retrogaming market (see Section 9 below). More importantly, the rounded sides serve to make the main shoulder buttons on the S7800B more accessible, as they are now pressed at a less straining 45, instead of 90 degree angle. The curvature is also more palm friendly overall, and noticably so during extended gaming sessions.
Another design note of interest is that the S7800 is available in half as many colours as its older siblings – that is a choice of black, black or black. The black does allow the screen to dominate more visibly than before, with the overall impression presenting an illusion of a slim bezel along the top and bottom. These edges are also angled sharply, to further reduce the prominence of non-screen plastic when viewed straight on. Some thought has been put into this, and the whole effect, while not the epitome of sleekness, is pleasing, given that what is being attempted here is the fusion of a game controller to a tablet. The results from an aesthetic point of view, could have been much much worse (*cough*nvidiashield*cough).
There are two handstrap handles on the left and right sides, catering to the southpaws among us (or perhaps to hang it on your neck like an SLR). It’s another subtle feature, but one that reveals an unexpected attention to detail in a design sense. Admittedly, this may be driven by practical necessity as well: handstraps should come standard in the box (they don’t), for this is a big device, likely to fall hard should this unfortunately ever occur. JXD gets the handles right anyway – I’d encourage anyone who gets one of these to cannibalize a Wii remote or old digicam and install one before using it.
4. HandlingThe device feels solid and well built. Sure, it’s not cast from a single unibody block of ultra sexy aluminium, but for a budget device, there are no misaligned edges, or uncut flash residue, bucket grade plastic or poor finishing either.
The JXD S7800B is heavy, weighing in at 500 grams, 20% heavier than the S7300. That’s porker territory for a portable device, however you put it:
|Google Nexus 7||290g|
|Galaxy Tab 3||302g|
Ergonomically speaking, the JXD S7800B reminded me of handling one of these:
You’d not expect any 7 inch Android device to be pocketable, but its weighty heft makes it quite unsuitable for jeans pocket on the run gaming. Even pre-bedtime sessions of emulation goodness are not physically enjoyable without some sort of support as in addition to its weight, the S7800B is also too physically long for comfortable use while lying down.
So, this is strictly a sitting upright, comfy sofa device, and you’re going to be sorely disappointed (and more so around the wrist) if you buy this for extended portable handheld gaming on the bus in mind. Going on about the device’s weight is probably unfair, given its price range, the size of JXD’s design department compared with major manufacturers, and the fact that despite its relatively heavier weight, it is far from being so unacceptably heavy or bulky as to be unusable, and in fact, is quite the opposite. Still, if you’re on the weedy side arm wise, a trial run simulated with a heavy novel might be in order before fully committing.
On the positive side, the S7800B does feel heavily solid and well built.
There are 2 noticeable bumps on the underside of the device to assist with gripping it, and these do make the S7800B feel decent in hand, especially when finger scrambling during hyperactive action games.
As can be seen from the above, the central part of the back of the device is textured plastic, which provides friction to assist while holding the device. The plastic on the outer edges, by contrast, are smooth, which feels better against your palm. Once again, it is evident some thought has been put into this.
5. ControlsThe R and L analog sticks look like those on the Playstation Vita, and feel like them too:
The tops are textured plastic, providing thumbs with the grip needed for fine use. Critically, the self centering is firm and assured, with no sign of any looseness at home position. Their height from the base makes them graspable with your index finger and thumb, for when a game demands the tactile feel of a joystick, and while this is tiring unless you have strong fingers, it’s nice to be able to do this at all.
Most importantly, these are true analog sticks that actually work out of the box. Both MUPEN64 and PSPPP for example, recognized the left stick on launch with no need for any configuration. Sadly, the right stick did not seem to work with any current tested emulator, but it is indeed fully functional as showcased by the Android game Expendable Rearmed, which comes helpfully preinstalled. Hopefully, this will be remedied in short order by emulator or future firmware tweaks, and it is comforting to know that this is not a hardware issue per se.
The DPad is of the solid T piece type, and has low-moderate travel; think NDS XL. It’s a little too spongy to my touch, but perfectly usable. I prefer them firmer and mounted higher myself, but this is a matter of personal taste. There are no responsiveness issues, though if you’re fond of hadouken, you’ll be better served using the analog stick keymapped.
I’ve commented on the well placed R1 and L1 buttons above due to the rounded case design. R2 and L2 are conversely, harder to reach, and a fair bit of hand contortion is required if you have short fingers, like me. I found myself winding my index finger over the top of the screen, and pressing on the upper edge of R2/L2. This, surprisingly, doesn’t work too badly at all, but I can see it getting irritating if you have to press them a lot.
There’s not much to be said about the ABCD buttons; they work just fine.
Controls aside, the JXD S7800B comes with 6 function buttons. On the right, START and SELECT are self explanatory, and the welcome Android BACK and MENU buttons, while redundant, are never missed until they are not there. As they are largely mappable in various emulators as well, this wealth of hardware buttons provides considerable flexibility.
On the left is the self explanatory Android HOME button, and this:
The button formerly known as a messy omelet launches what appears to be JXD’s own game controller key mapping software (which is also available from the slide up Android screen menu). The function is always accessible whatever app you’re in. This is what the manual says about it:
The written instructions are actually quite clear, but the poor picture quality and their small size - made them difficult to decipher. Being somewhat slow in my dotage, it took me a while to figure the mapping out. Once I did however, mapping keys with this feature was a breeze, and particularly impressive because the function is only a keypress away to invoke and available in any app – provided the app running has overlaid virtual onscreen controls.
Simply drag an icon for the relevant hardware control or button you want mapped over the running app’s corresponding onscreen control, press SAVE/HIDE and you’re done. Remember to press SAVE/HIDE or it won’t work. Gratifyingly, the JXD S7300B also stores the unique key maps required of each app, so you’ll only have to do this once for each app that needs it.
The mapping feature is much more intuitive than using the inbuilt configuration menus of the various emulators, with the downside of course is that you’ll have to put up with onscreen controls being displayed when you play games. It also means that pretty much any Android game with onscreen controls is playable with the hardware controls. More impressively, the JXD S7800B also comes with an auto update app to provide access to updated and new keymaps for popular Android games:
This function is similar in spirit to Valve’s Steam Controller Configuration Library, which allows users to download the most popular keymap configurations for games for use on the new Steam Controller. If JXD follow through properly with this feature, it’ll be an impressive outcome, and a first for any budget Android device.
If you think all of the above approach to keymapping is a little too fussy, there are of course many Google Play alternatives. It is however incredibly refreshing to find a decent attempt already built into a budget device of this pedigree. Kudos to JXD.
6. Screen and battery lifeThe 7-inch, 1280x800 IPS touchscreen, has good contrast and brightness, updates well, and viewing angles are very good. It’s not quite the ultra high res of the 2013 Nexus 7 (1920 x 1200) or iPad mini (2048 x 1536), but is certainly a step up from the S7300’s 1024 x 600 screen. In any event, higher resolutions also consume more processing resources to maintain a smooth experience, and 1280 x 800 is a good match to the aspect ratios of many 8/16 bit game system resolutions.
JXD claims 8 hours of battery life out of the S7800’s 5000 mAH battery. Actual life will depend on your use profile of course, but I can confirm this is certainly not one of those ultra cheap devices that loses its charge within 60 minutes of light use. On standby, with no use, the battery dropped to 85% over 24 hours. With 2 to 3 hours use (casual web surfing and Android/emulator gaming) over a day, the battery was still at 55% at day’s end for me.
7. Android – GeneralHow well does the S7800B perform as an Android tablet? You can chuck stats, specs, hardware differences and benchmarks around, but the truth is that generic made in China Android tablets that are perfectly functional are everywhere, and they all work much better than the generic Android tablets of six months ago. The S7800B is blessedly, no exception.
Android tablets are clearly like the clone IBM PCs of the early 1980s, and as time goes on, are destined to become the white box equivalents of today’s desktops. This so, Android is the MS-DOS of this decade, and like its spiritual ancestor, while there will naturally be quirks and peculiarities between platforms, if all you’re doing is the things that you’d expect to be able to do on a stock Android tablet – surf, check emails, consume media, download Google Play apps and run apps - you’ll find that the S7800B hardware performs admirably, and never gets in the way.
Perhaps the highest compliment I can offer it then is that it was remarkably easy to forget that I wasn’t using using an Asus/Nexus, Samsung or other major brand device. The JXD S7800’s Android implementation is a smooth, lag and trouble free experience, and it did not crash once over days of use. It did slow once, becoming choppy when I had too many apps opened, but recovered after a few minutes and was fine again.
For the purists, here is the device making 19056 points of Antutu bragging rights:
Here it is, defiantly eking out 3777 marks in 3d Mark:
While its results are respectable, this is not a top of the range tablet as far as benchmark performance is concerned, placing around the Google Nexus/Galaxy Tab (2012 generation) performance levels in Antutu. For 3D Mark, the S7800B is clearly a weaker performer, coming in in the bottom third of devices, largely due to the reliable and highly compatible, but now relatively long in the tooth, Mali 400 GPU.
User experience aside, the device is not all roses or without technical issues. A list of emerging concerns from early users has already surfaced here. Some of these are notable and hardware related (such as the device not charging through the USB slot), while others are on the high end of irritating (such as the main partition containing only 1GB of space, imperfect rooting, and some Google Play download incompatibilities). Whether they affect your ultimate enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for imperfection, your thirst level for poking around under the hood of stuff, and, almost certainly, your philosophical attitude towards fast food. A firmware update, by the way, is already available from JXD, though it might be best to wait a little longer before installing it, as it’s not completely clear what the update does.
On the other hand I can honestly say that none of the numbers or flaws above manifested in any impaired normal user experience. This is a stable, very usable Android implementation that you can happily abuse out of the box.
8. Android GamingFor Android gaming use, the device is capable of running very playable instances of 3D games like Expendable Rearmed, Riptide GP2 (both of which come installed), ExZeus, Modern Combat 4 or Nova 3, Dead Trigger 2. See here, here, here, here, here, here for some other people’s videos:
My own experiences of these games running on the S7800B are similar to those shown in the videos: controls are fluid and responsive, and while framerates do suffer from time to time, I never once encountered unplayable stutter vision or crashing. This’ll be my Android gaming device of choice over anything without controls for now.
It’s however worth noting that the JXD S7300A has a theoretically better 3d GPU (although it has 1Gb less RAM) than the Mali 400 used in the S7800B. Bearing in mind that the S7800B is already perfectly playable running these games, if your focus is on squeezing the maximum possible framerates from your next Android gaming console, you might want to find out more about the S7300A before you commit to the B model.
9. RetrogamingFor retrogaming there is always a system threshold that reveals the upper limit of any device’s capabilities. With the S7800B, the threshold is the Dolphin Emulator which reputedly runs Gamecube and Wii games – but dissing the S7800B for this is a little unfair as no Android device at present can seems equal to the task of running Dolphin.
Pushing the envelope aside, the S7800B emulates newer systems like the Playstation 1, N64, PSP (though, check compatibility first) and NDS admirably. Most games work on playable framerates, some have choppy sound, and as is to be expected some don’t run at all. When things go swimmingly though, which is more often than not, the device fades into the background as any good tool of this nature should. I would have been left in awe of how far things have come since emulating this generation of consoles appeared to be an insurmountable hurdle for a handheld, except that I was too busy trying to remember old tactics, controller combos and just generally, how to play.
Once again, other people’s videos say it best:
The emulation of older systems has an even better success rate, nearing perfection, with practically all such platforms as supported, and performing as well as the best emulators that run on Android might be expected to. Whether it be SNES (which emulation passes the Starfox/Yoshi Island tests); MAME, NeoGeo, NES, Megadrive, PC Engine, SMS, GBA, GBC, GB, C64, Atari ST, MSX, Sinclair Spectrum, DOS - whatever your poison of choice, my experience was that you’ll pretty much be able to play any game for these systems with no issues.
Here are some other people’s vids, yet again:
(I do apologise for not inserting self-made videos on Android gaming/emulator performance above, but there are just not enough hours in the day, and there is very little they would really add to the surfeit of videos already out there. I do promise that what you’re seeing on Youtube is reflective of what I found the S7800B capable of.)
No discussion of the S7800’s retrogaming chops would be complete without mentioning that it comes installed with an app of shady predilections, a presence best put down to a discrepancy in cultural understanding over what is a quintessentially incompatible Western construct, the law of copyright. Or maybe they just don’t give a shit.
In any case, “GameX” or “Happy Chick” is another measure of JXD’s apparent commitment to serving the retrogaming market, albeit in this case one that is probably best characterized as way beyond the call of duty. Those ancient enough may recall the long extinct Happy Puppy game review website from the pre-Paleolithic internet era, from which the Happy Chick undoubtedly draws naming inspiration. Whatever its muse, the Happy Chick serves to deliver the ultimate in convenience, not unlike Steam for oldie gamers (another Valve inspired feature here!). It is best seen in action rather than described:
Ironically, this game is not available on it:
10. Is it for me?What’s the JXD S7800B for?
Let’s all agree what it is not. It’s not a Dingoo-type device. It’s too big and too heavy for pocketable retro goodness, its screen resolution is arguably too high for purists who like native screen res to match the systems emulated, and Android itself can get in the way when all one wants to do is launch immediately to emulators. So if you’re looking for something like a Dingoo, this isn’t it, even though it will emulate everything a Dingoo can, and then some. If you absolutely must have a dedicated retrogaming handheld akin to a 2013 version of the Dingoo A320 you’ll probably want to go to GCW Zero land (and be prepared to wait a bit for actual delivery).
What’s the JXD S7800B for? Any analysis would begin by asking what you need it to do for you. Here’s the thing though: the JXD S7800B isn’t about what you need. It’s entirely about what you want, and it is only successful when measured by that metric, because it will do what you want, straight out of the box, whether you need it to or not.
Without the physical controls, the device would be a rather cumbersome 2013 clone tablet. With them, the decent physical design, convenient in-built keymapping function, the Happy Chick, the generally solid Android performance, and critically, the playability of both Android and emulator games, the use case for the JXD 7800B becomes quite distinct. It excites the want want must have bright shiny thing part of one’s reptilian brain: it’s a Wii U Gamepad you can use without tethering; an Nvidia Shield that is functional as a tablet; a Razer Edge Pro mere mortals can afford; the Nintendo XL of generic 5 inch Android gaming tablets; a reason not to carry a separate bluetooth controller – it can be all this, but is also so much less if you’re seeking perfection, and so much more if you’re seeking value. The internal struggles that will presage this purchase decision are clear. No one needs a S7800B as their primary device. It’s a guilty luxury and an unnecessary unnecessity, a bit of cream on the cake of life.
For under $200 then, it is the perfect disposable Christmas gift this year, and with one considerable upside. While not without its flaws, its price is right and its modest winsome charms out of the box might see you using it well beyond both your reasonable expectations - and your better judgment.
11. The Low Down
|* Decent design |
* Good build quality, solid feeling and handling
* Controls that work largely as advertised, and largely universally
* In built keymapping function always accessible
* Puk, puk, puk, have you made me an egg today little Happy Chick?
* Technical specifications very decent for a 2013 Android clone tablet
* Good battery life – quoted 8 hours seems to be real
* Stable and reliable real life Android implementation
* Very playable Android 3d Gaming performance
* Good hit rate emulating newer systems; excellent hit rate on classic systems
* Runs Android, not closed walled garden OS
* Great value for sub $200 device of this type
|* Heavy |
* Be prepared for rough edges: http://wiki.dingoonity.org/index.php?title=Other_Devices:JXD_S7800B
* Emulation of newer systems not perfect
* Controls that work largely as advertised, and largely universally, but not 100% so
* Runs Android, not closed walled garden OS
* Happy Chick might cause moral outrage
* No choice of colour
* As always with non-mainstream devices of this nature, don’t expect much after sales service (so that if you do get any, you’ll be pleasantly surprised)
Want one? Where to buy a JXD S7800B
I bought mine from Willgoo.com for USD $199.95. It was not a free review device. If you think this is for you, and would like to get one, please consider using this link, or this link for the JXD S7800B SPECIAL SUPERPACK OFFER WITH FREE DHL SHIPPING (Only $209.99), and I’ll get a few bucks to help me out. You can get this cheaper from other places, but Willgoo.com has a good reputation, and besides, why wouldn’t you want to help l’il ol’ me?
(Or click to buy something else, I’m not proud).
Happy silly season all!