Android Gaming Handheld: Odroid


Enverex

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The better processor, larger inbuilt storage and HDMI out are great, but those are the only benefits over the Pandora. The controls look horrible to use (no real D-Pad either), Accelerometers are a joke (you never use them for anything other than gimmicks), the screen is low res and smaller than the Pandora and it has no keyboard.
 

Chip

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Actually, while the Samsung S5PC100 clocks the A8 core a bit higher, it loses out to the OMAP 3530 on other levels. The Samsung chip lacks the SGX graphics core, as well as the TMS320C64x+ DSP. It does have some sort of DSP for video decoding, but it's not very well (or at least not very obviously) documented. It's also worth noting that at 1300mAH, the battery on the odroid is less than 1/3 the capacity of the Pandora's battery. It's only marginally larger than the battery in my G1, which is barely capable of two hours worth of gaming or web browsing.
 

MWeston

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I've been playing with this ODROID for a few days now. It is an interesting device. It uses Android well and everything is fairly stable. WiFi works but BT does not. Selecting to turn on BT does nothing so they don't have a driver for it yet. The screen is nice and bright, has a decent contrast ratio and response time. It looks just like the Pandora LCD only at a lower resolution. It has one speaker which is plenty loud for its application. Headphone audio is pretty decent but not quite as good as other devices using the Wolfson Micro DAC. To me, this is where the good stuff ends.

The volume buttons (shoulder buttons) are capacitive pads under the surface and so touching the case over them is what activates them. There are blue LEDs inside the translucent case that turn on to let you know when they are activated. It is neat but you are turning the volume up and down all of the time, especially when going into portrait mode. This gets freaking annoying all of the time as the speaker lets out a loud beep corresponding to the volume level as you bump it up and down constantly. You can lock them out by pressing and holding until the system recognizes the lockout but then you have to repeat this process when you want to use them again. Volume control is also inconsistent between apps like the Wiz. In an app like the SNES emu that uses the shoulder buttons, you have no control over the volume anymore. You have to exit the app, change the volume and then come back in. The app stays running unless you explicitly close it so you won't lose your place in the game. It's just inconvenient.

The ABXY buttons are mapped to the keyboard ABXY buttons so most Android apps (other than emus) won't use them. This means that only the buttons on the left side of the device work which is awkward. The buttons themselves are a bit stiffer than I would like. They are at a level that we previously rejected with the Pandora keymat because it was a little tiring after a while. The buttons are separated like the PSP but they have a smaller diameter than the PSP and it doesn't work as well because your thumb wants to slip off and over them. I don't really like the PSP buttons but they work because they are so large and no matter where your thumb is, you will still make contact. The ODROID buttons are completely flat and press up and down as well as sideways and down. I can do Ryu's fireball move in Street Fighter II so they are functional.

The touchscreen response is very frustrating but that is just software. It is hard to scroll because it selects what is under your finger too quickly. It took me about 15 tries to set my time zone because of how far down the list I had to go. :) It is a capacitive touch screen but has no multi-touch capability as of yet.

The HDMI port is the mini type and even though the connector is physically different than the EXT/charging port, the charging cable will fit into either one!!! I made that mistake once and thought my device was screwed because I couldn't charge and the UART breakout board didn't work anymore. Thankfully the 5V charging input pin is reserved and unconnected on the HDMI port so the charging voltage went no where and everything was fine. The labels for the ports are just slightly depressed letters molded into the case so you have to twist it in the light to read them and I goofed.

My final complaint is that the battery seems to drain with the device completely powered off. I turned it off one night at about 70% remaining and the next day the battery was at 17%. The second night it was about the same level and the next day the indicator was in the yellow warning area. I turned it off at 90% last night and this afternoon it is now at 83% so I'm not really sure what happened. I may have to remove the battery when I'm not going to use the device for an extended amount of time. It seemed to drain less if the battery was closer to full before shutting off. I can see some possible speculation as to why that is based on the schematic, but nothing I will mention at this time.

The schematics were included with the device, but there is a nice big warranty sticker under the battery that gets destroyed when you disassemble the unit. ;)

So overall, it's a neat little light weight device but playing Android games is quite boring so I would still recommend a Wiz, Dingoo or Pandora over this (if gaming is your main interest). Only Pandora and the ODROID have Wifi and BT which is important to some people like myself. The ODROID is open hardware which none of the other devices are (Pandora will be a somewhat close second though) and it runs Linux so in the future any software could be ported to it. I think the community at GP32X is what makes that sort of thing happen and I don't know if there is enough to this device to jump ship to yet another platform.

I don't have a Dingoo but I can say that I like the Wiz controls better (except for the dpad's lack of pivot) and I definitely like the Pandora's controls more than all of these. :D Of course, I am biased towards Pandora so be aware of that.
 

Nintendo

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Thank you for that somewhat detailed preview, Michael.
Now that you've given us a good insight of the ODROID, we can only hope that the actual retail, non-developers version of the console is changed/has changed in many ways...
If not, then there's no way I'll bother getting an ODROID, particularly when the AWESOME hand-held console that is Pandora nears.
Thanks again, mate. :)

:pandora2ut4: = Flawless
 

second exodous

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That's too bad MWeston, I didn't like this device from the get go but deep down I hoped that it was just ugly and still functioned well.

Oh well, I hadn't planned on getting any other device when I get my Pandora. I still think that Android was a mistake but it looks like the design is just as bad. Since it's open maybe someone will fix it and a new version will come out.
 

omega5

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MWeston said:
My final complaint is that the battery seems to drain with the device completely powered off. I turned it off one night at about 70% remaining and the next day the battery was at 17%. The second night it was about the same level and the next day the indicator was in the yellow warning area. I turned it off at 90% last night and this afternoon it is now at 83% so I'm not really sure what happened. I may have to remove the battery when I'm not going to use the device for an extended amount of time. It seemed to drain less if the battery was closer to full before shutting off. I can see some possible speculation as to why that is based on the schematic, but nothing I will mention at this time.

I also had same problem of wrong battery level. For my case, it took several days to get more accurate battery sensing.
I think battery gauge IC needs some learning stages for the self calibration.

My major concern is battery running time.
I could play SNES games only about 4.5 hours even I turned off WiFi with mid-bright of LCD. How about your play time?
Is there any way to do under-clocking to reduce the power consumption? I think 833Mhz is too fast. It sucks the energy too much.

I also heard from their community they will launch the normal user version in end of January with price at $200~250 depends on flash memory capacity.
It also seems to be possible to install the original Android Market as Archos MID doing hacks now. Android Market has over 20,000 apps.
So we can have much better/more contents.
 
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Enverex

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Chip said:
Actually, while the Samsung S5PC100 clocks the A8 core a bit higher, it loses out to the OMAP 3530 on other levels. The Samsung chip lacks the SGX graphics core, as well as the TMS320C64x+ DSP. It does have some sort of DSP for video decoding, but it's not very well (or at least not very obviously) documented. It's also worth noting that at 1300mAH, the battery on the odroid is less than 1/3 the capacity of the Pandora's battery. It's only marginally larger than the battery in my G1, which is barely capable of two hours worth of gaming or web browsing.

It lacks the SGX graphics core, but what does it have in its place? I've seen the 3D games running on there and I doubt they were using software mode (were they?). I guess the same question applies to the iPhone 3GS as that also uses the Samsung core.
 
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Exophase

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Enverex said:
It lacks the SGX graphics core, but what does it have in its place? I've seen the 3D games running on there and I doubt they were using software mode (were they?). I guess the same question applies to the iPhone 3GS as that also uses the Samsung core.

S5PC100 does have an OpenGL ES 2.0 compliant 3D chip, with a non-unified shader architecture; iirc 2 fragment shaders and 1 vertex shader, each 4-way float capable. The listed throughput is around 7 million triangles per second.

iPhone 3GS does have an SGX 535 and therefore does not have a stock S5PC100. I'll be happy when people finally begin to realize this.
 
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Enverex

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Exophase said:
Enverex said:
It lacks the SGX graphics core, but what does it have in its place? I've seen the 3D games running on there and I doubt they were using software mode (were they?). I guess the same question applies to the iPhone 3GS as that also uses the Samsung core.

S5PC100 does have an OpenGL ES 2.0 compliant 3D chip, with a non-unified shader architecture; iirc 2 fragment shaders and 1 vertex shader, each 4-way float capable. The listed throughput is around 7 million triangles per second.

iPhone 3GS does have an SGX 535 and therefore does not have a stock S5PC100. I'll be happy when people finally begin to realize this.

Ahh. I hadn't heard confirmation about the iPhone, just that it "may" have the 535 in it.

So in essence: The Pandora's graphics chip is almost twice as powerful as the Odroid and the iPhone 3GS's graphics chip is almost twice as powerful as the Pandora. Quite a shame that the iPhone trumps it in that regard.
 
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Exophase

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Enverex said:
So in essence: The Pandora's graphics chip is almost twice as powerful as the Odroid and the iPhone 3GS's graphics chip is almost twice as powerful as the Pandora. Quite a shame that the iPhone trumps it in that regard.

If you look at polygons per second numbers as the measure of performance for a 3D accelerator. Of course, in the real world things are a bit more complex than that..

What can I say, Apple wins by having access to SoCs that normal companies don't. The SoC in the iPhone 3GS bears a decent resemblance to S5PC110 (note the 1 instead of 0) which was only announced a couple months ago, and does have an SGX. It's clear that the S5PC110 is even better in some ways though, for instance 2x the L2 cache. So the SoC Apple is using is sort of inbetween S5PC100 and S5PC110. One thing is clear, and that is that Samsung appears to be moving away from their inhouse 3D. Since both it and SGX should run roughly the same OpenGL ES 2 software (minus some IMG extensions that are probably not extremely compelling) I can only take this as a vote of poor faith in the performance of the hardware, ie that Samsung thinks SGX 535 is a better choice than what they used in S5PC100. That doesn't really bode especially well for Odroid.
 
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MWeston

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omega5 said:
I also had same problem of wrong battery level. For my case, it took several days to get more accurate battery sensing.
I think battery gauge IC needs some learning stages for the self calibration.

My major concern is battery running time.
I could play SNES games only about 4.5 hours even I turned off WiFi with mid-bright of LCD. How about your play time?
Is there any way to do under-clocking to reduce the power consumption? I think 833Mhz is too fast. It sucks the energy too much.

I also heard from their community they will launch the normal user version in end of January with price at $200~250 depends on flash memory capacity.
It also seems to be possible to install the original Android Market as Archos MID doing hacks now. Android Market has over 20,000 apps.
So we can have much better/more contents.
I think around 4 hours would be accurate. It drops to about 2 hours with constant WiFi use. I put an ammeter in series with the battery connection and wired up a Pandora battery for testing. Downloading a web page with lots of screen scrolling will pull over 700mA from the battery so WiFi is a battery killer as it is with any portable device.

It looks like changing the freq is still done at build time: http://dev.odroid.com/projects/uboot/wiki/ChangeCpuFrequency

I'm trying to explore the device but right now, my unit does a kernel panic every time the screen shuts off and idle mode starts.
 
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omega5

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MWeston said:
I think around 4 hours would be accurate. It drops to about 2 hours with constant WiFi use. I put an ammeter in series with the battery connection and wired up a Pandora battery for testing. Downloading a web page with lots of screen scrolling will pull over 700mA from the battery so WiFi is a battery killer as it is with any portable device.

It looks like changing the freq is still done at build time: http://dev.odroid.com/projects/uboot/wiki/ChangeCpuFrequency

I'm trying to explore the device but right now, my unit does a kernel panic every time the screen shuts off and idle mode starts.

I'm trying to build and replace the boot loader to change the frequency.
I'll get back to you after testing of running time.

BTW, you can recover the corrupted Micro-SD with below tool.
http://dev.odroid.com/projects/odroid/download/14?filename=Odroid_Image_v2.1.zip

Note, this utility is working with only WindowsXP. I couldn't find Linux one.
 
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SNESFAN

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i just went and bought one of these last week (3-4 day shipping to us from korea!), flashed their "pre release android 2.1 (enclair)" and messing with it now. Put cacheing version of slacker on there and rocking out ;)

actually pretty stable compared to their "stable" 1.5 that comes with it. I'm in the process of figureing out how to put the "google bits" on it market etc etc etc.

Seems really really nice so far, if you can get past the form factor. It's a great buisness model they got going. Everything about it from putting uboot, kernel, and system image on it.. they walk you through step by step. I am very excited to really dig into this. Pandora doesn't seem to be as evolved in this regard, hopefully this will change after release

http://dev.odroid.com/projects/odroid/

haven't really been home too much this weekend to really "break into it" but from previous android devices to access adb shell to talk to the linux isn't quite working correctly, and wifi is spotty. Very promising. I'll write up a review (see not unboxing... i'll breifly go over that in my review)

be back soon ;)
 

SNESFAN

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SONY said:
Which deal did you go with, the $199 deal (which I'll be ordering soon)?
Anyway, awesome! Thanks for that, jb0yx. Looking forward to your review. B)
review is up, yea the 199 deal
http://www.gp32x.de/board/index.php?/topic/52270-first-impressions-odroid/
 
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