Friday, March 19, 2010

Dingoo A-320: The Best Pocket Game Emulator

This post is not about a brand new or upcoming device. It's actually about a portable gaming device that I've owned since March of 2009 but was reluctant to post about since it wasn't easily available to everyone here in the US. I didn't want to rant about something that no one out there could go out and buy to enjoy for themselves. That would just be cruel and evil of me. Now, that I've seen this device at ThinkGeek.com, I thought I could now share it with all of you.

Although, it resembles the Game Boy Micro, the Dingoo A-320 is much more robust gaming device. It supports 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit games in 3D, CPS2, CPS1, GBA, MVS, NEOGEO, NES, SFC, SMD formats. Aside from that, it is also a capable radio, music player (MP3,WMA APE, FLAC audio formats), video player ( AVI, WMV, FLV, MPEG, DAT, MP4, AS, RMVB, RM), a sound recorder (MP3/WAV), an image viewer (JPG, BMP GIF, PNG), and crappy eBook (TXT) reader. If you want to know more about the full technical specs of the device, click here for the Wikipedia entry for Dingoo A-320.

The A-320 has a built-in 4GB flash memory storage, and can be expanded using the mini-SD memory card slot (up to 8GB SDHC) with a total of 12GB of maximum storage. There is a Micro USB port that will allows you to connects the device to your PC using the appropriate cable. A standard 3.5mm stereo jack is present as well as a video out port so you can connect it to TV using the provided A/V cable.

From my experience, game performance was great with NES and Sega Genesis games. Not all of my GBA games would work and is most likely caused by the game's dependency to specific GBA chipset/hardware that is not emulated in the A-320. SNES games tend to be slow with the stock firmware, but other users have reported much better game performance when they used unofficial community-developed firmwares at the cost of some system stability. CPS1/CPS2 arcade games and NEOGEO games required a bit of tinkering to get things to work.

Audio quality from the built-in speakers wass not great but that is to be expected with a handheld device. Using a pair of decent headphones easily fixes this issue.

The eBook reader can only read TXT files and the Text-to-Speech feature only has one voice that has a very noticeable Chinese accent.

Despite some minor performance issues, the Dingoo A-320 is a great portable video game emulator and media player. All in all, it's versatility overcomes it's flaws. If you're into playing old video games and have a library of ROMS that you want to play on the go, then I'd definitely recommend this game system.

As for me, this device is one that I always take with me especially when I anticipate that there will be a lot of waiting happening, like at the doctor's office or at the DMV.

If you're interested in getting one, check out ThinkGeek.com (http://www.thinkgeek.com/electronics/retro-gaming/bd6f/)

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