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Home » Android, Retrogaming, Technology

Retron 5 powered by Android?

By: 14 June 2013 One Comment

Hyperkin Retron 5The lucky folks over at Engadget caught up with Hyperkin this week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and reported that the Retron 5 sounds even better than it did when we at First Arkansas News wrote about it a few weeks ago.

For those unaware of the Hyperkin Retron 5, here’s a summary. The retro console boasts five cartridge slots and will play cartridges made for nine different systems — Nintendo Game Boy Advance (GBA), Sega Genesis, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Nintendo Famicom (Japanese), Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game boy color (GBC), Super Famicom (SFC), Sega Mega Drive and original Game Boy. The system should cost less than $100, should be released by late summer and comes with a couple of programmable, wireless controllers that are rechargeable and connect through Bluetooth. If the controllers aren’t to your liking, the Retron 5 has ports for Genesis, NES and SNES controllers so you can use the original equipment for that “authentic” feel.

Want more? With the obvious exception of the self-contained Gameboy systems, one of the major problems with the consoles emulated by the Hyperkin is that they look terrible on HD television sets. Those systems look great on the tube televisions for which they were designed, but they produce images that are so pixelated on HD sets that they are downright ugly. The Retron 5 has an HDMI out port and upscales images so those classic games are rendered in high definition. Oh, and Hyperkin claims the Retron 5 will allow users to save “game states” at any time they’d like so that even games without a battery backup can be saved and resumed later. The Retron 5 will also speed up games if players so choose.

According to the Engadget report, the Retron 5 appears to be based on Google’s Android OS and, as such, has some things in common with emulators. That’s a different approach from the scads of retro clone consoles out there that generally achieve compatibility by squeezing an entire system on a chip. The “system on a chip” approach has worked out pretty well with past Hyperkin machines as well as consoles such as the Retro-Bit Retro Duo (NES and SNES) and the Yobo FC-16 Go (portable SNES). However, compatibility issues pop up with all of those clone systems and you can’t exactly update or tweak a system after it’s been lost if the whole thing is hardwired.

Hyperkin’s approach with the Retron 5 is novel in that software can be updated — if improvements are necessary, would it be possible for Hyperkin to allow owners to simply download updates? One should think so, and that means Hyperkin will potentially be able to send out updates as necessary.

Engadget also reports the Retron 5 has an SD slot on it, but Hyperkin officials were mum on what that mass storage slot is for. Of course, Hyperkin officials also refused to acknowledge the console is running on Android in spite of the fact that may well be the case. We’ll know more when the console is release, seemingly.

So, less than $100, nine consoles emulated, an HDTV upscaler, a console potentially powered by the most popular mobile OS on the planet and a release date that has not been announced but appears to be in late July or August. Here’s the only question — does Hyperkin want my money now or does the company want to wait until the console is actually released? If Hyperkin delivers the goods with the Retron 5, this may be the console we retro gaming fans have been waiting on for a long time.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

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