If you grew up in the late 80’s, early 90’s and you’ve loved gaming as much as i have, then the legendary consoles of ages gone by are no stranger to you. Im talking about the 8 bit and 16 bit era’s of video games. Iconic video game mascots such as Mario and Sonic were created in these ages and what better way to play them nowadays, than to buy a retro console to play them on with the help of emulation. Of course emulation and ROM’s are a bit of a grey area as far as the law goes but its perfectly legal to download the games if you own the original cartridge. Now that that’s out of the way i can talk about the feature product. Now i own a Super Nintendo and a Sega Megadrive along with the Super Mario games and the Sonic the Hedgehog games, not necessarily in good nick and it takes a few blows on the circuitry before things are up and running therefore this console was a must own for me. I’m talking about the A330 retro handheld console manufactured by Dingoo. The only place i could find where you can buy one of these is from the guys at Funstock.co.uk.
The A330 is the successor to the A320 with a better design and easier user interface and a few upgrades. It looks like a miniature version of the Sony PlayStation Portable taking on its color, shell design and button placements and considering its surprisingly small size, it was comfortable to hold and all of the face buttons were easy to reach. On the front you have your A, B, X and Y buttons and your start and select buttons, on the top is the L and R shoulder buttons and on the right of the device there is the power slider button. The A330 does have an AUX jack for headphones and an AV OUT port to connect it to a television via the AV cable provided in the box. Also in the box you get a mini USB cable to connect it to a computer or a charging plug which is included too, you also get a set of headphones. On the left side of the unit is a microphone and a reset hole in case of any bricking emergencies although these are rare and hasn’t happened to me yet thankfully. Overall the A330 is a nicely manufactured piece of kit considering its size although i would have liked some sort of a carry case or sleeve to hold it in as the screen and the back of the unit can be easily marked. It comes with 4 gigabytes of on-board memory but a mini-SD slot situated on the bottom of the unit is present for up to 16 gigabytes of storage if needed.
The A330 is capable of playing video files however they don’t look too great on its 2.8 inch TFT screen, E books can be read on its built in E reader however on its screen, reading can incur nasty eye strain. You can view pictures or photos on it, record audio clips, listen to music via any file format, listen to radio with its built in radio app and of course, play old games. All of this is viewed in the form of a simplified version of Sony’s Cross Media Bar so navigation is extremely easy especially if you’re a Sony’s veteran, you will be right at home here. All that is good and well but i hear your cries, what about the games?! Well, the Dingoo A330 can impressively play Super Nintendo, Sega Megadrive, Neo Geo, Gameboy Advance, NES and CPS 1 and 2 games which are Capcom arcade game files, all of which have their own emulator built into the A330 with an astounding library of compatible games.
Now i tried out the Sonic games, Mario games and a few Game boy Advance games and i was impressed with the visual quality. The screen is bright and vivid and shows all the colors perfectly, the frame skipping however was a big problem for me. Even though it was fully changeable via each emulators built in menu, i could never have a fully smooth game play experience although when set on Auto it did provide increased playability. The major problem for the A330 was its sound that comes out of one sole speaker. On the highest volume level, the A330’s sound was terrible and still quiet and the music sampling is drowned out by the sound effects. This was nothing short of a devastating blow to the A330 as Sonic and Mario games were renowned for their awesome music and not being able to hear it clearly was upsetting. There was also some graphical glitches here and there but it didn’t hinder the game play experience much although the Game boy Advance emulation was by far the best of them all due to its high quality of visuals and a slightly better sound. Sticking some headphones in does eliminate the issue with the sound however as the sound is crystal clear so be sure to carry some with you if your taking this thing on the go.
The successor to the A320 is a good one overall with some nice features and compatibility all packed into a small unit that’s nicely crafted. Videos, music, photos, radio, recordings and of course good old retro gaming all for £90 is a great buy for any retro fans who like gaming on the go.
Usability - 3/5
Comfort - 4/5
Value for money - 3/5
Overall - 3/5