Pandora - last chance to preorder

The much anticipated new open-sources handhelp, Pandora, is nearly out, and preorders are only available until sunday (Oct 5th). So if anyone is wanting one you better preorder quickly, or wait until the next batch in 2009.

If you haven’t heard about the Pandora, it’s a spiritual successor to the GP32 and GP2X, which means it’s basically a completely open platform, and unlike those previous machines, this one was completely designed by the community, which means it really is made by gamers for gamers.

The premise was to make the perfect gaming handheld, so it’s feature list is really impressive. It has a DS lite design with a single 800*480 touchscreen, dual analogue controls, a full keyboard, 600+Mhz CPU with 128Meg of ram, dual SDHC card slots, Wi-Fi, BlueTooth, TV out, and just about everything you can imagine being in there.

Even before it’s released there are tons of full speed emulators, including PS1, Amiga, and I believe the only perfect handheld SNES emulator.

There’s more info and videos here:

I’ve been following the creation of this machine for the best part of a year, and just got my preorder in today. Can’t wait for it to arrive.

“Its,” you viral marketer! I’m totally buying a DSi instead of this! The DSi has everything I need - it plays music! It plays the huge existing library of DS games! It has a camera! No assembly required!

The feature list is indeed impressive, probably too impressive because $329.99 is way too much for a handheld no matter how cool it is.


Besides running some emulators, this would be my problem with the platform…

I’m sure there will be tons of games for it eventually, like ports of Doom, Quake, etc all the usual open source engine suspects… ten thousand tetris clones, etc. Don’t expect to see any real commercial releases though, game companies aren’t going to support a non-closed unit that the vast majority of users are buying to use mostly to play pirated emulation ROMs.

That’s too bad (if understandable). Interesting little device, but no games == no sale. Then again, maybe Dosbox would run on it? Probably not enough cycles to run effectively, though.

If it can play Diablo II or Fallout, it could be really cool way to catch up on my 2D PC backlog.

EDIT: wow, it’s all potential coolness right now. we probably won’t see anything interesting until 09 anyway.

If the specs are accurate it would probably run DOSBOX pretty well for games actually from the DOS era.

I wouldn’t count on it running Diablo II, though, considering anything x86 based that doesn’t have open source code is going to have to be emulated on the ARM in this thing. Also IIRC Diablo II was 800x600 fixed resolution, wasn’t it? This thing has a high res screen for a handheld but it is still only 800x480. You could always scale it down to 640x480 and have black bars on the side but it would probably look really assy.

You’re probably right about the commercial games, the GP2X had only about a dozen of those, but anything with the source code released could be ported, and almost anything that runs on Linux. For example, I hear Quake 3 will work. Also ScummVM will be ported in no time, I think a version of Dosbox already works on the GP2X so that should be easy, also early versions of Mame. Sadly I dont think Diablo2 or Fallout will appear on this system, which is a shame cause I’m playing them both at the moment.

It’s kinda sad actually that with all that power the thing I’m most looking forward to is playing Manic Miner on an Amstrad emulator… though maybe the first Silent Hill too.

(p.s. Thanks for correcting my grammar Moggraider)

The idea of it is awesome and Id pay good money for the ability to play Earthbound and Mother 3 on the go (english patch is nearly done), but $329 is too good considering I bought a DS this year already.

Yeah the price is the killer. For < $200 I’d be sorely tempted to buy one if only to play around with writing code for it. $329 is simply too much. I understand why it costs that much since the specs are impressive and it can’t fall back on the razor blade model, but it still falls well on the wrong side of my price barrier and presumably I should fall squarely in the target market for this.

Here’s the thing - a simple hack of the PSP, and you have a machine that can do all sorts of emulation on the go, for quite a bit less, plus PSP games. All the console/handheld games I want to emulate, for sure.

I’m sure the design goals of the Pandora would make it a better experience for that sort of use, but at that price point I’d say a hacked PSP is a significantly better value.

I hear hacked PSP’s are good. I think the sticking point is that the Pandora is made (and priced) in the UK, and games/consoles always cost a lot more over here. How much is a PSP in the US at the moment? In the UK the Pandora is the same price as a PSP and two games.

I’m curious though can you hack a PSP and still play commercial games? I thought you had to choose one or the other. (I’m still thinking of getting a PSP to play all the exclusive Metal Gear games)

The advantage the Pandora has over the PSP, other than the raw horsepower, is the highres (and better quality) screen, touchscreen (which is ideal for things like Scumm games), masses of cheap memory potential (upto 64Gig in SDHC cards), dual analogue sticks, and the full keyboad (which will make web browsing a lot easier). Also the programming community going into the Pandora is a lot bigger than the PSP scene (which I was surprised about as I thought there were lots of coders working on hacked PSP’s, but apparently the GP2X scene is considerably larger).

Hope it doesn’t sound like I’m a ‘viral marketer’, it’s just I used to only pick up mainstream consoles, until I took a chance a while ago on the GP2X and was just amazed by the whole different side of gaming I wasn’t aware of before. Since then I’ve tried my best to tell other people how cool these open source devices are.

So far as I know, you do have to choose one or the other. But PSPs in the US are $170 – the Pandora is $330, almost twice the price.

One or the other? Absolutely not. Once you’ve hacked the PSP, you just update with hacked firmware releases. They typically come out within a week or two of the official release (if not sooner), and official games don’t ever require new firmware that quickly. These days, they even update over the WiFi network exactly the way you’d update the regular firmware.

A PSP is about $170 brand spanking new from the usual retailers, substantially less ($130 or below) for a first-gen PSP off eBay, which is what you should be going with to hack it anyway - the 2nd iteration’s improvements are negligible, and it’s a lot tougher to hack. (by which I mean, so far as I know, it can only be hacked with the aid of a so-called “Pandora’s Battery”, which can be created at home pretty easily, but only if you already have access to a hacked PSP. Catch 22ish, for the new PSP buyer.)

That puts it at about half to a third the price of the Pandora. Like I say, I don’t question the Pandora’s chops. I’m sure that if you can afford to fork out the cash it’s a better overall device for most purposes. I’m just saying you can get the vast majority of the emulation functionality, along with PSP original software and various media functions, for a lot less. As my budget is tight, and I already have a hacked PSP, the Pandora’s not especially tempting.

I sit corrected.

That’s pretty interesting about the PSP hacks, thanks. I was looking forward to the next PSP release, as I played a little on a 1st gen machine and didn’t like the screen ghosting, but it’s a trickier choice now if the 1st gen has more functunality.

The Slim isn’t too difficult to hack, you just have to be willing to sacrifice the stock battery. Luckily, the higher capacity battery that you can buy separately is far better. It still took me a few hours to do it the first time, but now that I know how, hacking another Slim wouldn’t take me nearly as long.

Fair enough. The Slim wasn’t a factor when I bought my PSP, and the minor upgrades didn’t convince me it was worth trading up, so I never fiddled with hacking one.