The Dingoo A-330?
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on what seems like the perfect retro-gaming device, with emulators pre-loaded and ready to go and recently I got the chance to have one and to review it courtesy of Fun Stock Games, who can be found at www.funstock.co.uk
The Dingoo A-330 is a small handheld console with a focus purely on Retro Gaming. The system comes pre-loaded with the Dingoo Operating System but many gamers who receive their Dingoo will go on to customise it using “Dingux” Operating System which is free to download.
This review will largely focus solely on the “Out of the Box” experience but I have included a few comments on Dingux also.
If you want to skip the full review then feel free as I summarise my thoughts at the end of the article for those of you who can’t wait!
The Dingoo A-300 packages consists of the following items:
The Dingoo A-330 handheld
The unit itself is styled in a similar fashion to the PSP handheld console and there is no denying there is a certain amount of cloning going on in that respect. It certainly looks nice, but the size is considerably smaller than a PSP, I was actually quite surprised at how compact it actually is.
The size can be a plus or minus, at first it did feel a little small for my “man hands”, but after using it for a few hours I soon got used to it, and it’s certainly very portable and light enough for pro-longed use.
The unit contains all the usual controls. D-Pad for movement, buttons X, Y, A, B, two shoulder buttons and Start/Select, so no surprises there. In terms of build it feels solid and the buttons are nice and responsive. The fire buttons are fairly quiet and so won’t annoy those around you, the shoulder buttons are a little louder giving a reassuring click on being pressed, same for the SELECT/START buttons, it will be purely dependent on the emulator you are using as to whether you will be using the shoulder buttons a lot.
The D-Pad on the handheld takes a little getting used to and has been a tiny bit “squeaky” to begin with, but as this is brand new I’m sure it just working in and will loosen off after a while.
USB cable & power outlet adapter
The USB cable that comes with the device appears to be the Mini-A type. Now, I prefer Micro-USB myself, so that I can use my phone charger if required, having said that, this isn’t a great issue, so long as you have the cable with you then you can charge the unit.
Unfortunately the power outlet adapter isn’t a UK plug, so you would need a travel adapter/converter to use it, as is the case with most Chinese import items, luckily I had one handy from a tablet we had previously purchased and the device does charge much quicker from an outlet.
AV Cable for TV Connection
Included is a video cable to connect the device to your TV. Unfortunately I haven’t had any success with the cable yet. I have tried three TV sets, the first being Sony Trinitron which was clearly trying to show a picture but is was wavy and moving around a lot, and the second was an LG plasma TV, but this didn’t work at all and just emitted a loud buzzing sound and the third was an LCD panel which again didn’t give any picture.
There aren’t many options to change the TV Type in the setting unfortunately, only an option that seems to switch PAL/NTSC and the aspect ratio.
Should successfully get this to work I will update this document as it would be really nice to use it on a television screen.
The manual is in Chinese only, you better Google or play with the menus, but whatever you don’t don’t choose “Set Default” in the settings menu, or you will have to learn to read Chinese 🙂
Loading & Playing Games
The system comes with roughly 4gb of available storage built in which is quite nice and gives plenty of space for your favourite games.
You can expand this storage with the addition of a Mini-SD card. Shame it isn’t standard SD or Micro SD as these are more readily available and most people will have these, however you can get them fairly cheaply on Amazon’s website.
I tried connecting the Dingoo to my machine using Ubuntu and Windows, unfortunately it didn’t show up for me under Ubuntu, but Windows showed the device straight away and allowed me to copy files over with no issues.
I haven’t been able to test every emulator on the device, but I’m sure you will want to know how the device performs for each system I have tried, so here are my findings:
NES Emulation on the Dingoo A-330 has been brilliant, the handheld has had no trouble running anything I’ve chosen to play and this is definitely one of its strongest emulators available on the default machine.
If you are an NES lover then I’m sure this will be a dream device for you!
Megadrive lovers, you are also in for a treat! I tried many games on this device and have to say that I was impressed with the performance, its clear that the default emulator included with the Dingoo is up to the job.
Along with the NES, this has been where I have spent most of my time playing and without a doubt I’d recommend it to Megadrive fans.
Argh! Here’s where I hit a small snag.
Out of the box this is was the least impressive part of the default Dingoo setup. Unfortunately the SNES emulator that is installed by default really isn’t up to the job and most of the games I tried suffered terrible lag to the point where many were not enjoyable to play.
However… fear not! There is an easy fix for this even if you don’t want to completely replace the default Dingoo OS on the device.
Search for Hot PocketSNES which is available on a Google code website, download the native Dingoo install and simply copy it to the device.
To launch it you then need to use the “3D” menu item on the dingoo menu and choose the PocketSNES program to launch.
This instantly gives you a brilliant experience and 60fps on many games, its such a shame that this emulator wasn’t the default, but its a small change to make and you only need to do it once, so “no biggy”. Obviously as with most emulators any games requiring SuperFX will not work, which is expected to be the case.
CPS1 & CPS 2
Capcom Play System 1 files can be copied straight to the system. The games I tried all ran impressively well and I’ll definitely put this down as a high point of the system if you love your Capcom games I couldn’t fault the emulation here.
Unfortunately Capcom Play System 2 games need to be converted before using them. You can downloadable tool that will create a CP2 file to be copied to the “CPS2” folder on the machine. This isn’t difficult but obviously an extra step for you to perform and of 3 games I tried only 1 ran for me and with some minor graphical glitches so I didn’t linger on the CPS2 and moved on.
There didn’t seem to be a Mame emulator installed by default but I may have been being daft and just missed it, anyway, I found a Mame4All download and installed it, this was amazingly simple to do by obtaining the zip file, decompressing and copying to the device and again choosing “3D” from the main menu, and launching the Mame4All executable brought up a familiar Mame front-end.
The Dingoo runs early 80’s games no problem at all, which was brilliant for me as I love all the early 80’s arcade games! Moving on to the 90’s and it did noticeably slow on some popular games which was a shame. You can over-clock in the menu options which helps on some games and is a trade off between performance and battery life.
Mame emulation gets even better if you do decide to replace the default Dingoo OS with Dingux, however even then one popular game I had to try, favoured by our one and only Swainy, still suffered lag.
So for Mame, early 80’s arcade game lovers will be in for a treat, sorry Swainy you will have to stick to the Megadrive or other alternative for your favourite game.
The Dingoo A-330 is a great little device despite some failings in the default OS that is installed on it, for someone who does not have time to spend tweaking and updating it I would recommend it for the NES and Megadrive emulation alone as these have been faultless in most respects.
If you have a bit of time to spend on tweaking you could find you have an almost perfect retro-gaming device.
I highly suggest you do as most people suggested to me, initially at least update to Hot-PocketSNES to rectify the SNES emulation issues, and in the long run look at installing Dingux and emulators using the Open Handhelds website and checking out Dingoonity forums.
- Well built, compact and lightweight device
- Amazing NES emulation
- … and amazing Megadrive emulation out of the box
- Good experience on most earlier 80’s Mame games
- CPS 1 games tested ran very well
- Easy to load games onto
- Good battery life
- Later Mame games suffered slow-down, especially so in default Dingoo OS.
- Poor SNES emulation by default (easily solved with Hot-PocketSNES)
- TV-Out wouldn’t work for me.
Don’t forget that you can purchase the Dingoo A-330 from www.funstock.co.uk with 10% discount using checkout code “asylum”