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GP2X: Linux Based Portable Gaming Device (And more!)

What is it? Well http://gp2x.co.uk sums it up pretty well: “It can play games. It can play your Movies. It can play your music. It can view photos. It can read Ebooks. It runs on just 2 AA batteries – And it can do all this in the palm of your hand or on your TV screen.

Yes that’s right, this handheld can connect to the TV, console style. Watch your DivX movies on the TV. Play emulated classics on the TV. Try big screen Quake. Or just play them all on the GP2X’s large 320*240 backlit screen. You get the best of both worlds.

It runs the free Linux operating system. This means a whole world of Games, Utilities and Emulators are at your disposal. Quake, Doom, SNES, Megadrive, MAME, Media players and Applications to name just a few.

It’s powerful – Two 200mhz CPU’s with 64meg of RAM, custom graphics hardware and decoding chips. Takes SD cards and has 64M of NAND memory. Plenty to play with. One of the most powerful and advanced handhelds today.

That means it can play movies without any re-encoding. Just put them onto an SD card. Any size. Any resolution. No messing about. The GP2X scaling chip will resize to fit the screen. No other handheld can do that.

It’s open. You want to develop your own games for the GP2X? Go right ahead. The SDK is included with the system free. Not since the days of the Amiga has a system been so easy to develop for, commercially and for fun.

The GP2X isn’t just another wannabe Gameboy. Its a whole different design. A whole new idea for a handheld games system.”

My Review:

Pros:
Well made, good finish
Nice and light
Bright, rich colored screen
TV-Out works well
Installing games is easy

Cons:
Speakers were out of phase, easily fixed (below)
Joystick takes some getting used to

What it looks like:


The unit is made of a durable black plastic with a matt finish. It measures about 5-3/4″ by 3-1/4″. Weight is about 1 pound with batteries. It can take a 4gb SD memory card but you’ll need a reader capable of accessing it on your desktop, such as this one for $3 SHIPPED:

http://ledshoppe.com/Product/com/CA2018.htm

The screen is amazing. No pixel blur as you might expect from a LCD. The actual game buttons are a little small, but for its size they couldn’t be much larger. The jotstick takes a little getting used to because you’re probably used to a D-pad, or + shaped joypad, instead of a smooth joystick type. I’ll probably mod mine a bit and add bumps to make it easier to determine which direction you’re pushing it.

Speaker Phase:
I noticed as soon as I booted it the first time that the speakers were out of phase…the fix was simple enough, and involved opening it and flipping the wires to one of the speakers in the little white connector.

I made some test tones here:

InPhase.ogg
OutofPhase.ogg

The tones start at the left, center, then right.

Now listen to both of them on your desktop. You’ll notice that the inphase center sounds like it is coming from in front of you. The out of phase center sounds like it is “inside your head”, and may seem to have less volume. Also, when you move your head side to side, the out of phase one will sound like it’s shifting around in space.

Now play the in phase tone on your GP2X and see if it sounds in phase or out of phase.

After I reversed one of the speakers wires the volume was noticeably louder too, since inverted speakers cancel each other out.

To fix the problem, follow these steps:
1. Take batteries out and remove 4 screws from back
2. Carefully lift off back cover. No need to remove motherboard or anything else
3. You’ll see white connectors, bottom left and bottom right.
4. Doesn’t matter which one you modify, pull one out carefully.
5. Use a pointy object to lift the plastic pegs so the wires slip out
6. Put them back in, reversed
7. Put it all back together and you’re done.

Update 11-30-2007: I sold my GP2X….and bought the new version!! They got rid of that pesky joystick, and added a touchscreen!! Here’s a pic of my new toy:

gp2x F200