Edit: This is the slightly edited version by Kyosis. He helped with phrases I couldn't get my head around.
The article is here with some pictures of the pandora prototype.
Developers find a way to overcome these hurdles, though: Whether with custom firmware on the PSP, a modchip installed in the ps2, buying a flashcart for the DS or with the help of bugs on the Wii - in the end you can run your own programs. It is cumbersome, often throwing the warrantee into the air and especially with modchips and flashcards the threshold of piracy is low.
But there is another way: There are now a few handhelds that are aimed at and depend on the hobby developers. The GP32 from the small korean company Gamepark made the first step in 2001. It was originally designed as a competitor to the GBA, but didn't inspire professional game developers enough. The success came when GP started allowing everyone to develop for it without limits. As a result, a big international community of developers was built. Its successor, the GP2X was released in 2005 , developed by Gamepark Holdings also from Korea. It too relied completely on hobby developers, but there were also problems with communications to Korea, as the absrupt halt in production clearly showed. The GP2X scene therefore decided to develop their own handheld. A few skilled handymen have come together and developed the Pandora.
Its specs sound like a wet dream of every technology freak: 600MHz CPU, 128MB RAM, in-built Wi-Fi, bluetooth, a touchscreen with a resolution of 800x480 pixels, two analog sticks, a full QWERTY keyboard and - of course - Linux.
At the "Games Convention" we had the opportunity to be one of the first to take this new handheld under the microscope, and to have a chat with Michael Mrozek aka Evil Dragon, owner of GP2X.de and the german distributor of the Pandora, about his mark on the scene as a scene leader.
We were able to see the Pandora with the final Mainboard, but with unfinished housing. Since this was still a prototype and very rattley,we didn't have a chance to really play on the device. To start the pandora, it even had to be taken apart. A first impression was possible, though.
The display made a very good impression. It is large and razor sharp thanks to the 800x480 resolution. It is also very colourful from the side and it is very easy to recognize everything. In the GP2X forums after pictures were released, people expressed their concerns, that the controls would be hard to reach. When you hold the Pandora in your own hands these concerns quickly disappear. It sits well in your hands and there is no problem reaching the two analog sticks. The other buttons are easy to reach as well. The keyboard in our test model was still not assembled. How well this will turn out in the end is hard to say. Otherwise the buttons aren't too small and easy to reach.
Michael Mrozek showed us the emulator "Final Burn", which was comforting as it played old arcade at full speed. What the device can do shows a fully unoptimised version of Quake 2 that ran almost without lags. Also another fact is impressive, up to 5 Super Nintendo Emulators will run side by side (Yes that's just to show off, no one actually wants to do that...). Therefore there should be sufficient power available for more sophisticated Homebrew games. DOSBox is expected to reach new regions and there's also enough juice for emulators.
For creators and modders it's also interesting that the contacts are the mainboard are deliberately left quite large for those who want to add additional hardware, so that you can add hardware through normal means without the need for an education in electronics. It is also worth noting that all contacts are properly labeled.
The pre-orders for the pandora begin on the 30th of September 2008 and will be delivered on 13th November 2008.
Edited by chris_r, 22 August 2008 - 07:59 AM.