Yinlips YDPG16 Review


Android handhelds are being churned out of busy Chinese factories at an alarming rate. At times it seems like a new model is being announced every week, keeping up with the latest and greatest would be a cripplingly expensive hobby. So before we all jump on the capacitive screen and Android 4.0 bandwagon let us stop, take a step back and have a proper look at one of the more interesting current models.

The Yinlips YDPG16 was released about a month ago and the nice folks over at willgoo* have provided me with a sample in order to test it, review it, and post my findings here. Before I start, I’d like to be clear about the nature of the review. Though this device runs Android, I am not intending to review the Android OS in its entirety. Most of us interested enough in the Android platform probably have a phone or tablet already running the OS. I’ll be reviewing the device for what it is, a gaming handheld. If you’re looking to buy one of these things for web browsing or taking photos on, you’re looking at the wrong thing.

*(I have embedded my referral number into the willgoo links on this page, if you make a purchase using the links I’ve provided I will get 3% to put towards more gadgets that I don’t really need – it won’t cost you anything. If you’d rather not encourage my frivolous spending habit then just remove the referral from the end.)

Shipping, Packaging And Contents

The parcel arrived at my house on the 2nd of April, just 10 days after it was posted from Hong Kong via standard Airmail. The unit was packed well inside a tight cardboard box which was then completely wrapped in strong waterproof tape. It required a knife to get into, which was both reassuring and infuriating in equal measure.

The device itself comes in a red and white cardboard box with some useful accessories such as earphones, U.S. mains charger and a USB cable. Also is an instruction booklet in Chinese and a warranty card in Chinese.

First Impressions And A Quick Tour

Whenever I open some new electronics for the first time my first impression is almost always “WOW, this looks WAY nicer than it does in the pics!” Things are no different here, first glance at the gadget and I’m really impressed with the way it looks and feels. First of all, the build quality is excellent – way better than my PSP E1000. It feels tight, it doesn’t creak and it weighs the perfect amount. The screen is flush to the casing and it’s covered in protective film. If I was to pick fault it’d be that the buttons rattle when you shake the unit… but it’s obvious they’re going nowhere so I’m not worried.

After peeling the protective film from the back and from the screen it’s obvious this thing is never going to look as nice as it did right out the box. Anyone who’s ever bought a shiny plastic toy will know the bane of fingerprints. A quick look around each side of the device reveals 2 headphone outputs, which is a nice feature if you’re sharing a movie with somebody – though putting them on the bottom possibly wasn’t the greatest decision if you’re using it for this purpose. Also on the bottom is a mini USB OTG port, a reset button, a micro SD slot and a mains cable port. On the top there is HDMI output, a tiny mic and 6 buttons – power, home, menu, escape and of course 2 shoulder buttons.

I’m also loving the fact it’s not based on a knock off PSP or PS Vita shell. Unique casings add something that copies cannot!

Screen

We already know that the screen in here is far from groundbreaking. It’s a 480×272 4.3” resistive touchscreen. Its closest relative in the mainstream handheld world would be the PSP screen I guess. Same size, same resolution, same touch technology.

Flicking around the menu my impressions are that for touch response this is one of the best resistive screens I’ve ever used. It’s way better than the screen on my old Nokia 5800 and I’d say it probably responds as well as the capacitive screen on my Window N50 too. More than usable, I don’t think the screen is going to pose a problem here at all. As far as colours go, well you can tell it’s a cheap screen. All colours are slightly washed out and sometimes the blacks look sort of silvery, hard to explain. But I’m being hard on it, overall the screen is fine and exactly the kind of screen I expected on a device that costs about £55 shipped.

Buttons

This is where I have to give the G16 a bit of a hard time. Let’s get the good stuff out of the way first. Shoulder buttons, well these are fine – great, even. They’re clicky similar to the dingoo shoulder buttons but way easier to press down and positioned much better as well. I can’t really complain about these at all. Same with most of the face buttons too. Start, select and Fn are tiny little silver buttons on the front. They’re easy to reach and positioned well. It’s the same for the ESC and Menu buttons on the top edge, they are easily reachable from your right shoulder button finger and seem solid. The A/B/X/OK buttons are a little mushy and could do with spacing apart a little more but they’re OK too.

The first tale of woe comes courtesy of the d-pad. Well you can’t really call it a d-pad because it’s 4 seperate buttons. Pretty much like the A/B/X/OK buttons on the opposite side of the screen. You’ve probably all used a d-pad like this at some point in the past and you know how it is. For turn based or racing games that use digital then it’s not really too much of an issue. For fighting games or anything that requires fast combinations of presses it’s infuriating. There is no pivot, so rolling your thumb around the buttons is hard work. This is the first thing that I would change if I could.

The second tale of woe comes from the analog stick. I wasn’t surprised to find out (in fact I was expecting it) that the analog stick is not an analog stick – it’s just a digital slider and is mapped to the same actions as the d-pad. It’s the same story for every Chinese Android handheld released to date, including all of Yinlips’ efforts, so I had no expectation that they’d fixed it. It’s not very useful in its current state. This is number 2 on the list of things I’d change.

Android Build

I always tread cautiously around these things with a half-wince on my face to begin with, because you can never be sure how the Android build is going to be until you start digging. However, save for a few gripes like the camera application force closing immediately on opening – not that I care about that but I thought I’d mention it,  and the screen resolution being less than ideal for Android to run on, it’s not bad. Navigation is actually really nippy and scrolling the menus with the resistive screen is surprisingly fluid. The browser works and is pretty fast too, but as I said before – if browsing the web on a screen 480 pixels across is your idea of fun then you’re probably demented. Engadget loads in about 5-7 seconds, we’ll leave it at that. The market place is installed but it’s the old version which doesn’t seem to want to update itself. I noticed that most of the pre-installed emulators don’t actually show up in the market place so updating will have to be done another way.

Overall the Android build is better than I expected, it has a few issues but no deal breakers.

Emulators and Emulation

All your ROMs are shown and launched from an application preinstalled called GameManager. I don’t know if this is something programmed by Yinlips but I suspect it might be because it’s a right old mess. The idea is great, one front end to load all of your ROMs from. The file extension determines which emulator is launched when you select a ROM. I’m new to emulation on Android, my tablet and phone have no physical buttons which always put me off. But upon launching the N64 emulator I noticed that barely any games ran properly and I wondered why it might be. Googling for latest N64oid version numbers revealed that the N64 emulator that came preinstalled was a very, very old version (v1.2 or something like that). Simple then, install a new version. Or not.

The GameManager and all the emulators are installed as system applications, so you cannot remove them or update them without rooting. First I tried unlock root but it could not see my device. Second I tried GingerBreak, which did work. A word of advice for anyone planning to use the same tool. While the app is attempting to root, touch the screen every now and again because if the screen times out GingerBreak will crash. GingerBreak will most probably crash anyway in the end, but if you reboot and install SuperUser manually you’ll find that it did actually work. Use your application of choice to uninstall N64oid and then you can finally install the latest version. Hooray. I took this time to remove all the Chinese only applications that also came preinstalled too.

So when I fired up N64oid again and tried the same games I could barely believe my eyes. I watched in awe as F-Zero X launched with both perfect graphics and sound. How can this be possible on something so small and so cheap? There are only a few N64 games out of the handful I tried that don’t run well, Goldeneye and Quake are good examples. It’s not that they don’t run but more that there aren’t enough controls to map correctly for these games.

The installed version of FPse was relatively new already (v0.10 I think) so I left it alone. You’ll be happy to know though that PS1 emulation is great, even with the older version. It boggles my mind that something so small and cheap is capable of running these games. It was only 15 and 18 years ago respectively that the N64 and PS1 were current, bleeding edge hardware… and now we have palm sized hardware powerful enough to emulate those systems almost perfectly. I cannot imagine where we’ll be in another twenty years.

For Arcade games, TigerMame is installed. Since making this review I’ve heard that it’s possibly not the best choice for MAME on Android. However, I ran through a few ROMs and noticed no problems at all. To see a wider selection of my own games being tested on this device, there is a video at the end of the review.

So, everything’s hunky dorey? Well not quite. There are some flaws, but they’re not with the emulators. Firstly the lack of a real analog pad makes some N64 games incredibly difficult to play. Difficult to the point that I’d rather just not play them. Games such as Mario Kart 64 and F Zero X really rely on the analog stick for subtle turning. With the pad set up as it is you get all or nothing – no degrees of left or right, just full on left or right. There is some speculation that the analog stick is actually a real analog and it’s just been configured incorrectly. I believe some people on the dingoonity forums are looking into it, so you never know we might get a fix for this in the future.

The next problem is a more annoying one. If you’re holding a certain button down, it renders some other buttons unusable. For example, with the default button config in F Zero X it is not possible to drift left whilst accelerating. I also noticed some problems in Tony Hawks 2 with more complicated tricks. For the most part you can make an acceptable configuration by remapping buttons for different games, but it’s far from ideal. From what I’ve read this is a problem with the hardware itself, and I know from the reviews of other consoles by JXD and Yinlips that it is a common problem affecting most if not all of the Android handhelds currently available. This would be number three on the list of things I’d have changed.

Lastly, you may notice that there is a very slight delay in the sound coming from some emulators. To be honest I mightn’t have noticed it if I wasn’t looking out for it, but it’s a common problem with emulators running on any Android device – as demonstrated by qbertaddict1 in this video.

HDMI

I grabbed a mini HDMI to HDMI adaptor and plugged the G16 into my TV. There is nothing to configure for this, it simply mirrors what you have on the screen onto the TV. The output is limited to something like 800×480 which makes for a very strange looking desktop. Everything is far too large. I fired up the browser out of curiousity, but even though 800px wide should be enough to browse the internet on, the text is so stretched it’s very hard to read unless you zoom in. Just use a proper computer instead.

As you’ve probably guessed though, gaming on the TV is absolutely fine. None of these games have a resolution greater than 800×480 anyway – mostly way lower than that. So blowing them up on the TV looks just as good as if you plugged in the real console and did the same. You’ll be pleased to know that there is no delay between the console and the TV, it’s a really nice experience.

Other bits

I chucked a few videos onto the MicroSD and can happily report that they play just fine. There is little point loading any HD content because there is no way to view it in its native resolution, however I did throw on a 720p episode of Game Of Thrones out of curiousity and it plays just fine. This isn’t something I’d use the gadget for though to be honest. You’re better off with a tablet or netbook for that task I reckon.

Whilst writing this review, the folks over at Willgoo have made a cool discovery. The USB port on the front is OTG, and they have managed to get a real wireless external controller working with the G16. It also works with a bunch of other consoles too! They are currently testing more controllers, including ones with real analog sticks, which might prove interesting. You can check the product on their page here.

It is also possible to plug in a wireless keyboard and mouse, though it is not something I have gotten around to. In case you’re interested, Ruffnuts from the dingoonity boards has tested this and made a video demoing how it works.

So, to summarise.

Pros

  • Remarkably cheap
  • Very well built
  • Good touchscreen performance despite resistive tech
  • Great emulator performance, even for more demanding machines like N64
  • Android build is pretty quick and mostly stable
  • Nice amount of buttons for properly navigating around Android
  • 2 headphone outputs is great for sharing music or a film

Cons

  • Could really use a real analog pad, 2 would be even better
  • Button combo issues are something that should have been fixed before it went to market
  • 480×272 isn’t ideal for Android
  • 1080p TV output would have been good for watching movies and web browsing

Overall this is an excellent handheld. Emulation of N64 and PS1 is better than on previous devices (S601, YDPG18 etc) and at this price you’d be daft to choose any of those over this. You can’t expect perfection in a piece of hardware that’s developed in such a short time and sold for so cheap, and in this case the button combo and analog issues could have used some serious work before the device went to market. But bear in mind that up until a few months ago the main alternative was to use a detestable button overlay on the screen. Despite the button’s flaws, they’re way ahead of on-screen buttons in terms of comfort and playability. The beauty of Android means that there will always be emulator  improvements being made in the future, whether Yinlips decide to support the device or not. I have heard on the grapevine that there is an interesting software update due from Yinlips in the near future though, who knows what it’ll be but I’m looking forward to finding out. What’s the chances of it being a release of the kernel source? Slim to nil I reckon ;-)

If you’re interested to see some PS1, N64, MAME and GBA performance on the G16, check the video below.

Thanks again to the dudes at willgoo for supplying the device. If you’re interested in picking one up, you can grab one from this page.

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Posted on May 10, 2012, in Android, Yinlips and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Great review, thanks!

  2. I think those wireless controllers are actually repurposed Famiclone controllers: http://www.gohappy.com.tw/tpl/images/fu/Image/201107/_DSC0683-500-1.jpg

    On Willgoo’s page you can see “TA” and “TB” buttons, which are presumably Turbo A and Turbo B as per the Famiclone norm, and there are no visible shoulder buttons, so you’d actually only get 2 fire buttons plus start and select.

    So, only really useful for NES games, maybe Mega Drive at a push (but the C button would have to map to select). Though the fact that they have any USB controllers working at all is still a good sign, I suppose.

  3. Hey, thanks for the review!

    I’m trying to get my first open console and wow, I never thought there were so many or that they were so powerful, the thought of running Dosbox seemed a fantasy to me, my mind is actively being blown!

    Since you seems so knowledgeable about the topic, which console would you recommend for someone looking to play shmups, old 486/Amiga games and perhaps some OutRun? So far it seems the Caanoo is a bit short and the Pandora, while great, seems a bit too expensive for what I would do with it.

    What do you think? Thanks!

    • Want to buy my JXD S5110 when it comes in $90 shipped

    • Caanoo! for real, i have the Yinlips and a few others and the Caanoo by FAR is the best. Trust me- if the community isnt behind a device, it WILL suck.

      • Caanoo and all those true open handhelds are great for most older console emulation but if you want ps1 and n64 it’s got to be one of these Android machines.

      • I just got a Caanoo on the cheap and I think it’s a disaster compared to previous attempts by GPH. Here’s the run down. The emulators are a lot slower than the WIZ, just compare cd games with the temper and picodrive emulators. There are rom compatibility issues so you can forget playing you fav NeoGeo games. The analog stick is horrible. The bazel blocks part of the screen. The speakers are on the back so my fingers are always covering them. Non of the emu or games are compatible even though the specs are just about the same as on the WIZ. If they weren’t going to make anything backward compatible they coild have at least upgraded the console. All in all the Caanoo is pretty much a design disaster and it’s easy to see why it failed and GPH got out of the hardware biz.

    • Hi

      For dosbox you really want a screen of 640×480 or higher, so one of the higher res screens definitely. I’d hang fire for a hit and wait to see how the ydpg18a is. It seems that the boxchip socs yinlips are using are a fair bit more powerful than the amlogic that jxd mostly do. Alternatively, Pandora is the perfect machine for this kind of stuff because of its keyboard, but yeah it’s expensive.

  4. DO they make a simple standalone little android unit I can plug into my TV? I don’t really need the screen or anything like that. It’d be cool to have a micro sized game box that could play all this stuff.

    • There are loads of Android TV boxes out there, I’m not sure how well they support gamepads though. They usually have a few USB ports anyway, might be worth looking into them.

  5. “The next problem is a more annoying one. If you’re holding a certain button down, it renders some other buttons unusable. ”

    I recall this happening when playing zx spectrum’s target renegade with two players lol. Also in some emulators, if two players played in keyboard, the same happened. After we got a gamepad the problem was over. (I used to press some two keys in neo-geo’s double dragon to block my friends and take advantage of it lol)

  6. I Bought mine on pre-order… extremely pleased with several factors of both Willgoo and the device itself:

    Firstly Willgoo kept me informed of exactly what was happening at all times with my order from the point of pre-order to the point of delivery.

    They informed me of the delay from the factory, also added a free fig Micro SD card for the minor delay. They gave me a tracking number once despatched and helped me when I could not locate the item. (My fault I should add)

    The device I have to agree is supurb for the money…
    The likes of angry birds plays well, and so do some PS1 games. I have a Blade ZTE so I am familer with android :)

    I flashed a custom rom to the device and and that was really simple to do. I then flashed the rom back to the updated rom from the offical site…

    I hope a dev makes Clockwork Recovery Mod at some point and several roms get created:)

    I Live in the UK and managed to break my charger when I stood on it (I was drunk) so if anyone knows a replacment I could use that is 3 pin please advise.

    FINAL NOTE: I would use Willgoo again for other purchases as the customer service was awesome !

    • Hey man, glad you like the G16!
      I just thought I’d let you know that you can charge the unit via USB! I’m quite happy to do this with mine (in fact I haven’t used the wall charger at all yet) so if you really need a wall charger you can have mine with pleasure. Let me know :-)

  7. Update to the snakeman rom and you will not need gamemanager anymore and you can remove and update the stock apps. As for using unlock root use my pack it has the correct drivers so it will work

  8. Hmmm,

    I didn’t think to try that…. If i can charge the unit via USB then that will be fine…

    I really appreciate the offer, thank you very much indeed :)

    ace

  9. Ugh. Just got my YDPG16 two days ago. Loved it!

    Now today it says connect to the charger and wont’ charge on the adapter or through USB. Any ideas other than return to Willgoo? :-(

  1. Pingback: BlogdoBlopa » Novo console: Yinlips YDPG16

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