GP2X Personal Entertainment Player

I ordered one of these a while back from the UK in fact (I have since found a US distributor). It arrived in the office yesterday, so I thought I would provide some first impressions:

Opening the box, the first thing you see is that they don’t bother to finish the manufacturing process. The LCD still has a protective sheet across it and the plastic screen protector that is meant to be fitted (and can be seen in the photos) is in the box with its protective sheets over it still. So, task number one is to get the film off the display, and then, without letting dust get into it, affix the screen protector to the front of the device. Why this could not be done at the factory is beyond me.

Once that is in place, and the two AA batteries supplied are inserted, the device powers up. The screen looks bright and the unit feels reasonably good. The little joystick is perhaps a little cheap, but the remainder looks and feels good. The batteries are at the base of the unit too, so the weight feels right when you’re holding it.

On the software front things are very different though… It boots up OK and presents the shell shown in the photo. It had trouble recognising my SD card (a Kingston card). While I can get it to read music, photos and software from the card, I cannot get it to update the kernel from the card (at least I don’t think it does). The irony here is that the fix for the SD card problems is to update to the new kernel, which is only possible using an SD card. It won’t recognise my older MMC card at all either.

The USB connection is also non-operational. I can get my Windows and MacOS X boxes to see the device, but nothing more. Again, this is supposed to be fixed in the new kernel.

The music player works well (and even has an option to turn off the screen to save batteries which is nice). The sound is not too bad even over the built in speakers either. I have not yet found a movie that the movie player will play (including the one that was on the included CD-ROM, although my Windows box refused to play that AVI as well so I am not surprised).

As for the games, I have not managed to get any to work yet. I did discover that some need an additional library (downloadable from here), but even with that most do not run at all, or die very soon after they start.

If you are looking for a platform you can develop on I would say this one is interesting, but it is a long way from being ready for general consumer use. Sony and Nintendo have very little to fear from this one.

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