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GCW Zero - new retrogaming open source handheld!

Vitacat

Member
-------------------------WELCOME TO THE GCW ZERO-------------------------
The GCW Zero is a powerful handheld console built for open source software and indie gaming. Tired of hacking mainstream handhelds just to play your favorite old games or homebrew? The GCW Zero is the solution, with a CPU that is several times more powerful than a PSP, the Zero runs a Linux based OS and is fully open for anyone to develop on. Plus, with its built-in WiFi, USB, HDMI and video-out ports, the Zero can also be (once the drivers are complete) attached to a TV, gamepads, keyboards etc. to be used as a retro/indie gaming console and/or mini-computer.

Whether you're interested in playing indie games, retro games, emulators, or developing your own software, the GCW Zero has much to offer.

The GCW Zero was successfully funded via Kickstarter on 1/28/2013, and Kickstarter units are estimated to begin shipping March, 2013.

***Please keep in mind I am NOT personally involved with GCW. I am just a gamer and fan of this sort of device.***

-------------------------MAIN LINKS-------------------------
Kickstarter: (now over) http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gcw/gcw-zero-open-source-gaming-handheld
GCW Homepage: http://www.gcw-zero.com
GCW Forum: http://boards.dingoonity.org/index.php#c10
GCW on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/GCW-Zero/518785154808241
Join #GCW on freenode IRC



-------------------------BUYING A GCW ZERO-------------------------
Unfortunately you can't easily buy a GCW Zero yet. Most people pledged on the GCW Kickstarter to obtain one, but online sales will also become an option, albeit not until May, 2013 (estimated; see quote below).

CONGRATULATIONS GCW TEAM AND ALL KICKSTARTER BACKERS! The final total was $238,498 -- exactly $108,498 more than the original goal!



Watch the last minute of the GCW Kickstarter as it happened! (Courtesy of SnakeSlashRO AKA KoKuTanLuFi): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5LQWe1vbCA

Assuming there are no production and shipping delays, GCW plans to ship systems in March, 2013. Some weeks before that, GCW will contact each backer to ask about console color choice (black or white), as well as other details. KEEP IN MIND: delays can happen, so don't take the March shipping date as gospel. It is an estimated date, which hopefully can be met. Thanks to four stretch goals being reached, all Kickstarter Zeros will include the following bonus items: USB OTG adapter, Mini HDMI cable, GCW Pouch, screen protector.

Want to buy a GCW Zero but missed the Kickstarter? No worries! GCW plans to produce extra stock to be sold online eventually, but of course the Kickstarter units will come first. UPDATE: via GCW on Facebook (price has not yet been mentioned)
"May 2013 is the estimated date when it will be available to the general public. The device will be sold at gcw-zero.com, with dragonbox.de and ithic.com as official resellers."

-------------------------ABOUT THE GCW ZERO-------------------------
In 2011/2012 a Dingoo reseller named Justin Barwick in the USA decided to design his own retrogaming handheld with the help of the hobbyist community, addressing all the issues of the Dingoo. The result is the GCW Zero. GCW stands for Game Consoles Worldwide, and the Zero is their first product. Keep in mind this device is NOT intended to be a pocket computer like the Pandora - it is completely geared to one purpose and doing it well - gaming. Therefore it has a 4:3 screen, a dpad, analog (TRUE analog) nub, and a set of standard gaming buttons. It is NOT Android based, and that is by design, since Android is prone to sound lag in emulators due to the way it handles processes. Instead, the GCW Zero runs Dingux, a version of Linux made for Dingoo handhelds, which also means the Zero inherits a massive existing library of emulators, games and apps ready to be ported.

Perhaps the best aspect of the GCW Zero is that it has already gone way past prototyping, and a first batch of 40 units have already started shipping to people who participated in an earlier pre-order. By all accounts (watch some of the early user reviews on Youtube) the device has lived up to expectations, with excellent hardware and software. Also note it has WiFi, USB, AV out, HDMI out, and memory card slot. So the Zero will also potentially work as a mini retro/indie console as well as a handheld!

It is also very affordable IMO (i.e. $135 pledge on Kickstarter). If something like this strikes your retrogaming / indie gaming fancy, check the following links to learn more:

-------------------------VIDEO LINKS-------------------------
Click here for list of all GCW Youtube Videos
Many emulators already running well on GCW Zero:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3t0aR4W3KRQ
SOTN running decently on GCW Zero prototype (NOTE: very old video, totally unoptimized PSX emulator port):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=6cN2wZM28Gw#t=502s
Various open source indie/freeware games:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aQJD07FzWY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_tr02kZGMU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlQQsWThsh0
GCW Zero Youtube channel (by qbertaddict, one of the GCW team members):
https://www.youtube.com/user/qbertaddict1
Various GCW Zero demo videos on Youtube:
Quake 2 ONLINE multiplayer: http://youtu.be/6T6_M0zKM3M
Quakeforge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAyB-3Wvb0U
MSX emulator (8bit computer): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=em3ufZnlSJo
Atari 7800 emulator: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUP_rt7dwGI
Rise of the Triad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xHaKQinO_I
GCW Zero vs. PSP for SNES emulation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZfwtGSZA1I

-------------------------AUDIO LINKS-------------------------

Podcast Interview with Justin Barwick about the GCW Zero:
http://geekswithwives.com/2013/01/gww-podcast-episode-67/

-------------------------INFORMATION ABOUT THE GCW ZERO-------------------------
During the Kickstarter GCW decided to improve the original console specifications as follows:


Specifications:

CPU: Ingenic JZ4770 1 GHz MIPS processor
GPU: Vivante GC860, capable of OpenGL ES 2.0
Display: 3.5 inch LCD with 320x240 pixels; 4:3 aspect ratio is ideal for retro gaming
Memory: 512 MB DDR2 (updated from 256MB)
Internal storage: 16 GB, most of which is available for applications and data (updated from 8GB)
External storage: micro SDHC up to 32 GB or micro SDXC of 64 GB (SDXC cards must be reformatted before use)
Mini USB 2.0 OTG
Mini HDMI 1.3 out
3.5 mm (mini jack) A/V port for earphone and analog TV-out
Stereo speakers, mono microphone
Accelerometer (g-sensor) and vibration motors
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4 GHz, can connect to access point or direct device-to-device
Dimensions: 143 * 70 * 18 mm
Weight: 8 oz / 225 g
Battery: 2800 mAh (estimated at 7-10 hours per charge, depending on usage)

Size/Weight Comparisons: (Basically the GCW Zero is about the size of the bottom half of a DS Lite.)
GCW Zero: 143 x 70 x 18 mm, 225 g
PSP 1000: 170 x 74 x 23 mm, 280 g
PS Vita: 182 x 83.55 x 18.6 mm, 260 g (279 3G version)
Nintendo 3DS: 130 x 74 x 20 mm, 230 g
Nintendo DS Lite: 133 x 73.9 x 21.87 mm, 218 g
Gamepark GP2X: 143.6 x 82.9 x 27 mm, 161 g (w/o battery)
Dingoo a320: 125 × 55.5 × 14 mm, 110 g (note this has a much smaller 2.8" screen)

Various photos of the GCW Zero: (note there will also be a white version; see last photo)

 

brainpann

Member
Thanks for the heads-up. If it gets supported, March is gonna be crazy for my Kickstarter deliveries. (Occulus Rift, Ouya, GCW Zero)
 
This looks really interesting and I was considering pledging. To the people asking "another one?" could you point me to these others you're referring to? I'd like to compare and see if I'm missing something here.

I've never pledged a kickstarter.

EDIT: To clarify, I was thinking of pledging the $135 to get the system in March.
 
It is also very affordable. Basically $135 on Kickstarter (includes shipping in the USA).

Also those buttons are from other devices so they can't say how good they'll be finally.
I feel Kickstarter is becoming a way to pay your own wages :/
Which isn't really the point beyond niche products.

Why do they need $130,000? Thats a lot of money...
 

Atolm

Member
I've been following this for a while now, but I didn't know they were taking the Kickstarter route.

This handheld promises faithful (no frameskips and bullshit) GBA and Snes emulation for the first time, and that alone makes it very worthwhile imo, along the 320x240 4:3 screen, which means almost no upscaling.

I'd gladly buy one but I also want an Ouya and can't afford one for now. Maybe in a few months.
 

Vitacat

Member
My thoughts entirely. The market seems way too saturated at the moment for this kind of thing to succeed.

Except it's NOT merely "another one."

This is not just another Android based game system. As I wrote before, this will not suffer from the inherent sound lag issues of Android with emulation. That is a big plus for people who really care about retro emus. For example, see this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzXRyFQM3Ts
 

Vitacat

Member
Added a few details and link to Youtube videos about the GCW Zero.

Please don't dismiss this device until you read more about it and watch some videos. If you love handheld gaming, retro emulation and indie gaming, this is worth your time. It's very different than Ouya, Gamestick etc.

Kickstarter is over $7 thousand so far! =) Not too bad for being up half a day.
 

R1CHO

Member
Added a few details and link to Youtube videos about the GCW Zero.

Please don't dismiss this device until you read more about it and watch some videos. If you love handheld gaming, retro emulation and indie gaming, this is worth your time. It's very different than Ouya, Gamestick etc.

Kickstarter is over $7 thousand so far! =) Not too bad for being up half a day.

Man, i don't see the photos on the first post, that links are not ready to be displayed on this forum.

I like the device, but maybe they should have wait a little more for the kickstarters, at least until the software is in a more mature state, so the most powerful consoles emulators; that opengl driver they are mentioning on the kickstarter web.

This device has in theory some advantages versus all the other handhelds on the market... on the opensource linux side, this one is the newest and more powerfull... and the android side is not really ready from the exigent gaming point of view, devices are too big, with 16:9 screens not that useful for a retro gamer, with bad controls etc.

For a true portable retro gaming machine looks good. I am not very optimistic with the kickstarter goal though, people prefer to throw money to dumb stuff like that gamestick.
 

krae_man

Member
320x240? Shouldn't it at least be 640x480?

Specs and price aren't very good and there's already a ton of players in this market.
 

Orayn

Member
320x240? Shouldn't it at least be 640x480?

Specs and price aren't very good and there's already a ton of players in this market.

320x240 is the native resolution of the vast majority of games of the systems it's targeted to emulate, even N64 and PSX.

Personally, I would have preferred a wider display with a vertical resolution of 480 for perfect 3x scaling of GBA (240x160) games and perfect 2x scaling of 320x240 games, but I understand that the 4:3 systems take precedence.
 

Tempy

don't ask me for codes
I...really want this. I have tried JXD devices, the Hyperkin Supaboy, and various other retro game devices, but they all suffer from being janky some way or the other. I really hope this hits all its promises.
 
No second stick sucks for PS1 emulation, who knows if it can actually handle PS1 though.

Someone convince me how this is better than getting a used PSP for $50 and putting homebrew on it.

I know the PSP isnt the fastest emulator machine, specially with SNES games, but with a few settings its manageable, and the PSP plays almost every PS1 game.
 

krae_man

Member
320x240 is the native resolution of the vast majority of games of the systems it's targeted to emulate, even N64 and PSX.

Personally, I would have preferred 800x480 or 720x480, since that would allow for perfect 3x scaling of GBA (240x160) games and perfect 2x scaling of 320x240 games.

Yeah but if that is all it was ment to do, they could have went with lower specs. With a $150 price tag, and the 1ghz processor, wifi, HDMI out etc this thing should have a higher res screen then 320x240 for web browsing, video playback, image viewing and everything else this thing will be doing besides NES roms.
 

Orayn

Member
No second stick sucks for PS1 emulation, who knows if it can actually handle PS1 though.

Someone convince me how this is better than getting a used PSP for $50 and putting homebrew on it.

I know the PSP isnt the fastest emulator machine, specially with SNES games, but with a few settings its manageable, and the PSP plays almost every PS1 game.

How many PS1 games really needed the second stick on DualShock, though? Of those that needed it, how many had no other options, and how many of those are portable-friendly?

Yeah but if that is all it was ment to do, they could have went with lower specs. With a $150 price tag, and the 1ghz processor, wifi, HDMI out etc this thing should have a higher res screen then 320x240 for web browsing, video playback, image viewing and everything else this thing will be doing besides NES roms.

320x240 at 3.5" isn't that bad in terms of dot pitch, but first and foremost, it's not primarily meant for those things. It could output video at a higher resolution over HDMI, but the point is to give it a good screen for its main task.
 

Atolm

Member
Yeah but if that is all it was ment to do, they could have went with lower specs. With a price tag, and the 1ghz processor, wifi, HDMI out etc this thing should have a higher res screen then 320x240 for web browsing, video playback, image viewing and everything else this thing will be doing besides NES roms.

Everyone has a tablet for that...I guess?

I want this handheld just for emulation purposes, mostly GBA and SNes full speed without horrid hacks and frameskips, and above else, a proper 4:3 screen. Anything else is a bonus for me. I see the GCW Zero way ahead of any other Android device regarding emulation thanks to the screen, and things will get better. Imo, if you want to play GBA, aside from buying a GB Micro, this will be the best choice in the near future.
 
How many PS1 games really needed the second stick on DualShock, though? Of those that needed it, how many had no other options, and how many of those are portable-friendly?

Right now im playing Tony Hawk 3 for PSX on my PSP and the only reason I miss the second stick is to look around the map, something that isnt really super important.

About portable friendly though.... havent really had a problem with that with any game, the PSP sleep function is awesome.

Everyone has a tablet for that...I guess?

I want the device just for emulation purposes, mostly GBA and SNes full speed without horrid hacks, anything else is a bonus for me.

Video doesnt show any SNES games running, if they ALL actually run 100% full speed without sound issues I might be interested. Thought not sure if worth the $135 pledge.
 

krae_man

Member
Everyone has a tablet for that...I guess?

I want this handheld just for emulation purposes, mostly GBA and SNes full speed without horrid hacks and frameskips, and above else, a proper 4:3 screen. Anything else is a bonus for me. I see the GCW Zero way ahead of any other Android device regarding emulation thanks to the screen, and things will get better. Imo, if you want to play GBA, aside from buying a GB Micro, this will be the best choice in the near future.

Yeah, pretty much, or phone, or handheld.

There really isn't a market for open source consoles dedicated for emulation gaming. Everyone wants to run Emulation on the mainstream consoles and handhelds they already own. Or if they have to buy a new device, they want that device to be able to play new games as well.
 

Drek

Member
Can't you run all those emulators on psp with CFW ?

Not particularly well. SNES and GBA in particular are kinda messy with frame skips and sound gimping.

I'm quite happy with my Vita and if it gets hacked (not just the PSP layer) I'm sure it'll be more than up to the task of running the various emulators I'd want, but I'll definitely keep an eye out for this. If they hit their goals and can give something very close to 1:1 Genny, SNES, and GBA emulation I'll definitely pick one up.

Love it if they gave some kind of confirm on other systems though. N64 as a real possibility would probably get me to jump on a Kickstarter pre-order.
 

Orayn

Member
Yeah, pretty much, or phone, or handheld.

There really isn't a market for open source consoles dedicated for emulation gaming. Everyone wants to run Emulation on the mainstream consoles and handhelds they already own. Or if they have to buy a new device, they want that device to be able to play new games as well.

Existing consoles and devices are not particularly good at emulation. Decent enough to play Pokemon on your phone and post a screenshot on Reddit, sure, but developing something from the ground up to be great at emulation is different. There's also a niche market of people who buy devices like this and the Dingoo just because they're neat little toys to tinker around with.

In fact, that's exactly what this is - A better documented version of the Dingoo, JXD, and Gemei handhelds you can buy on DealExtreme or wherever.
 

Atolm

Member
Yeah, pretty much, or phone, or handheld.

There really isn't a market for open source consoles dedicated for emulation gaming. Everyone wants to run Emulation on the mainstream consoles and handhelds they already own. Or if they have to buy a new device, they want that device to be able to play new games as well.

With the Vita you have the same problem the PSP has: no 4:3 screen and in Vita's case, a huge upscaling. That's a deal-breaker for me and other people.

Those handhelds are niche. They're using Kickstarter for a reason. For most people cheap Android devices and emulators for smartphones are more than enough, but as always, there's also a more dedicated fanbase that wants a better and more accurate experience.

In my case, I own a PSP and a Vita, and even if the Vita gets hacked, I'd take this over the Vita any day, for emulation purposes.
 

Alchemy

Member
I would be more interested if it had a second analog nub. I also would have immediately dropped $135 on this if it came in colors instead of black and white.
 

Camp Lo

Banned
Wouldn't it be cheaper to get an old PSP for emulation?

Never mind. I read PSP sucks for what I would want it for.

Now I'm interested
 

redlemon

Member
320x240? Shouldn't it at least be 640x480?

Specs and price aren't very good and there's already a ton of players in this market.

Apparently it's actually quite expensive to get panels in that size.
I doubt I'll back the kickstarter since I don't have the money at the moment but I wouldn't mind picking one up later on. The one thing I don't like about it is that it's mips based. It makes sense since it's supposed to be a non-crappy successor to the dingoo but it's going to miss out on those arm optimised psx and n64 emulators developed for the pandora.
 

Camp Lo

Banned
CFW is always kludgy, and the screen is less than ideal if you're a real emulation enthusiast. Which is, y'know, the people they're selling this to.

Yeah. I think I'm gonna make a buy this weekend. I want all old Nintendo emulation in my hands
 

redlemon

Member
Yeah, pretty much, or phone, or handheld.

There really isn't a market for open source consoles dedicated for emulation gaming. Everyone wants to run Emulation on the mainstream consoles and handhelds they already own. Or if they have to buy a new device, they want that device to be able to play new games as well.

There's very much a market. But getting that device out to the market is the tricky part. Look at all the trouble the pandora's had. This dudes looking for 130,000 just to do a proper production run, the legwork's already been done. You see someone try and attempt it every few years, If this ones successful it might be the first not to have any major hiccups.
 

Vitacat

Member
320x240? Shouldn't it at least be 640x480?

Specs and price aren't very good and there's already a ton of players in this market.

Scaling images from typical retro resolutions up to 640x480 costs valuable processing time. Using a 320x240 display is simply intelligent design for a device created specifically for retro emulation and indies.

As for the specs, they are quite good for the purposes of this device. 1Ghz CPU & 256MB RAM goes a long way for retro emulation and indie games. And that 320x240 display makes them go even further.

As for "players in this market" -- none IMO have gotten the formula right. GCW Zero comes the closest. I also wonder what "players" you're thinking about, because there are not very many with similar internal and external designs like the GCW.
 

krae_man

Member
There's very much a market. But getting that device out to the market is the tricky part. Look at all the trouble the pandora's had. This dudes looking for 130,000 just to do a proper production run, the legwork's already been done. You see someone try and attempt it every few years, If this ones successful it might be the first not to have any major hiccups.

You can really do a proper production run of only 1000 units?

I don't think the market is as big as you think. If it was, the Caanoo would have been more successful. There's a reason why the PSP was the most popular emulation handheld of the past few years and Gamepark got out of the market entirely.

"Good enough" on a device you will buy for other reasons is winning. Dedicated Music players are going completely extinct and cellphone camers are taking over the point and shoot camera market. Granted I don't think cellphones will take over the camera market entirely, but dedicated emulation devices are more likely to go the dedicated music player route(completely dead) then the camera route(still a market for people who want quality). Especially considering the dedicated emulation device was barely a market to begin with.
 

redlemon

Member
Scaling images from typical retro resolutions up to 640x480 costs valuable processing time. Using a 320x240 display is simply intelligent design for a device created specifically for retro emulation and indies.

As for the specs, they are quite good for the purposes of this device. 1Ghz CPU & 256MB RAM goes a long way for retro emulation and indie games. And that 320x240 display makes them go even further.

As for "players in this market" -- none IMO have gotten the formula right. GCW Zero comes the closest. I also wonder what "players" you're thinking about, because there are not very many with similar internal and external designs like the GCW.

I serously doubt scaling would have that much of an impact. I'd scale snes and Gba games on my caanoo and it made no to little difference. I'd agree that this seems closer to getting it right than other attempts. The caanoo had no dpad and a bevel that covered up pixels on the screen and the pandora is too technically complex which ended up biting them in the arse. I really don't get why they didn't go with an arm processor though.
 

R1CHO

Member
I really don't get why they didn't go with an arm processor though.

I guess they decided to go with the same cpu architecture the Dingoo is using, a Ingenic with MIPS; just a much faster version; for easier compatibility with opendingux.
 

redlemon

Member
You can really do a proper production run of only 1000 units?

I don't think the market is as big as you think. If it was, the Caanoo would have been more successful. There's a reason why the PSP was the most popular emulation handheld of the past few years and Gamepark got out of the market entirely.

"Good enough" on a device you will buy for other reasons is winning. Dedicated Music players are going completely extinct and cellphone camers are taking over the point and shoot camera market. Granted I don't think cellphones will take over the camera market entirely, but dedicated emulation devices are more likely to go the dedicated music player route(completely dead) then the camera route(still a market for people who want quality).

Except there is and probably always will be a market for both dedicated mp3 players and camera's. What you mean is that there's no mainstream market for dedicated open source/emulation devices which is true but that's no reason why a niche market for them is created. We just haven't seen an attempt that hasn't screwed up in some way yet.
 

Vitacat

Member
I guess they decided to go with the same cpu architecture the Dingoo is using, a Ingenic with MIPS; just a much faster version; for easier compatibility with opendingux.

Exactly! That's why they have so many emulators and indie apps already running so quickly, with more to come.
 

Tempy

don't ask me for codes
It's correct that Dingoo, Gemei, Caanoo (GP Wiz etc), Blaze Game Gadget, Neo Geo X, JXD/Yinglips, Pandora, etc kind of devices try to appeal to retro fans (there is a market, look at the number of these devices!), but have had some or more issues. It is very important for the GCW Zero to not commit the same mistakes. It's hard for me to say at this moment if they're capable of succeeding, but I'll try following progress.

Here's at least one forum discussing it - http://boards.dingoonity.org/gcw-zero/

At first glance I do wish the analogue nub was concave instead of convex.
 

Vitacat

Member
It's correct that Dingoo, Gemei, Caanoo (GP Wiz etc), Blaze Game Gadget, Neo Geo X, JXD/Yinglips, Pandora, etc kind of devices try to appeal to retro fans (there is a market, look at the number of these devices!), but have had some or more issues. It is very important for the GCW Zero to not commit the same mistakes. It's hard for me to say at this moment if they're capable of succeeding, but I'll try following progress.

Here's at least one forum discussing it - http://boards.dingoonity.org/gcw-zero/

At first glance I do wish the analogue nub was concave instead of convex.

Already linked the forum in OP.

Kickstarter is about to cross the $10,000 mark! :)
 
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