An Ongoing Review from Day 1


Still Fresh
Nov 5, 2012
Let me explain that I am more or less a total noob to the OP in how it works (as in I know what it is but have no experience using it - I am a heavy Windows, android and iOS user). I don't use linux either. The idea being I start learning from hands on experience! I also used to work in QA

Well when I first heard about the Open Pandora I was excited, I had seen my friends Wiz and was thinking about something similar for sometime. My brother had brought a Dingoo and it too was pretty sweet but not quite perfect.

By the time I preordered I was pretty late in. Pretty sure it was a late second batch. As I was finally in a secure job, I thought what the hell? Now or never...

A few years later my optimistic behaviour was not paying off. I lurked the forums sprodically. Could never read it and join - mainly because at work the firewall blocked the forum, though I could still read the Stalker and see the replies from the OPT. THe forum unblocked itself recently so I caught up on news. Not entirely sure what on earth is going on anymore tbh.

Finally I was given the option to "upgrade" - if it had been the rebirth model there was no way. But the 1 ghz version was at least significant enough that I again decided what the hell and with the promise of shipment before Christmas I took a leap of faith.

The order went through and queued a tense waiting period as I wondered where it was. I got a Tracking code which eventually said it had been delivered!

Well opening the box I noted the wrapped newspaper and the normal OP box. The unit itself looked good I opened it to reveal the actual OP. Now I own several other handhelds by far bigger companies so I cant exactly critique the slightly rough casing - with the plastic seams here and there from the moulding. There was nothing sharp or catching in the hand that I could see so thats fine.

I double checked the L and R which were good - I had read that the early models had some issues with these.

Now the battery was in a nice matching case but this proved rather annoying to open - it did open but rather suddenly. Slotting it in I noticed the battery was less secure than it could be. It was fine with the lid on but seemed to move about when inserting it.

Another thing I noticed was that the OP turned itself on, again this was a surprise and while not detrimental just seemed a bit odd.

Using the buttons during setup I found the buttons pretty good but could certainly have a little less give to them for something handheld I don't really need that much give to be honest, but I was quickly used to how it worked. Certainly I found as a left hander that the spacebar on the right wasn't too bad and accidental pressing was hard.

I setup the system fairly quickly, though I noticed the system would not allow my username - probably because it shared the first initial with my second name. Odd but not a major issue. However once I had finished I was given 3 options to further tweak the system - ie calibrate the screen and other bits. During this it got stuck on a blank screen. I believe I clicked on the cancel/cross and rather than load anything it just left me on the background - I could see the cursor but none of the buttons worked - I couldn't even switch off -

I eventually had to perform a battery pull. :(

On restart it noted I had not shutdown properly which was a bonus and seemed perfectly fine after this.

I soon was trying out the different GUIs available. Being quite techy the minimenu was pretty easy to get my head round though the way it works is quite inconsistent - sometimes things didn't start when tapped or things were not quite clear as to what it was. The little box on the right of the screen would have been helpful in this regard - it already displays the name - a single line as to have it does would have been helpful (such as Web Browser etc)

It seemed a little odd to me that all the apps were on the first tab and then it split into different categories. I suppose it is a matter of preference (and being a noob) but it could be slightly easier to use. The settings tab had multiple items in it but these I am sure would be better off combined into a more intergrated method as a one stop shop rather than going in to change them one at a time. The same with the calibration. Network seemed a bit odd as the Wifi toggle was not in there.

On switching over to the full gui it was a bit more like a windows experience with a desktop and a "start" menu of sorts. Here I started setting up the wifi and fending through the different options which seemed to be sorted out fairly well.

I encountered a problem in sorting out the memory card I brought. A 64gb SDXC card. I had to download the community codec pack to another card to install before it worked as an NTFS card. I was reading the Wiki and probably the easiest option would be to point this out - Install the CCP immediately! Format the card as NTFS (easily done in Windows 7) and create the folder system. And then its done.

I have to say the OP repo is really nice and convenient - it might be worth updating the Wiki with software updates and version history for each of them so each has its own page? - then the end user has a nice convenient online wiki manual explaining each bit of software (without having to mess around asking on the forum repeatedly or trawling through what could be many pages of replies) and any quirks. Though this is a major bit of work to do so.

I proceeded to start sorting out and trying a few emulators which had been one of my primary reasons for buying. Most worked great though the GBA one seemed like it needed some bios which I will have to look into.

I ran into some trouble with the Mupen64 though. I was changing the button layout - or trying to - but for some reason I had trouble changing the C buttons to the ABXY buttons and changing O and P to be A and B. (So it reflects the actual real N64 controller layout better) so will have to look into this.

I was also slightly annoyed at the fact my PSP charger has gone kaput. Then finding the default inlcuded charger didn't fit but recalled ED had mailed about the missing cable. Luckily it charges via Mini USB.

Well that was my first nights exp. Will look into updating in the next week and during Xmas when I have some time off to spend more time on it!
Last edited by a moderator:
Nice review, keep them coming :)

If you have questions, just ask.

Did you read the manual on the desktop?

And finally, if you have a hard lockup, just hold the Pandorabutton and flip the powerswitch. No need to pull the battery ;)
A further update after a few days.

(Thanks mcobit for the hard reset option! - came in handy)

Having spent a little more time on this now I can add the following:

Having used the screen for a while I can note that on the lower part of the screen - it seems like theres a tiny gap bulging out between the case and the screen - potential dirt/dust trap? I am also more inclined to use my finger for quick taps - fine for most actions save tapping the corners. A potential fix in the next pandora would be to have a flatter screen? I am thinking more like the top screen of the DS which is a screen and a cover which maintains a fully flat area. This should still work with a similar screen type like the pandora (which is resistive) and be perfect for swiping etc

There is a slight mark near the middle of rhe screen but I can't make it out properly but will look into this.

Other than that its fine for the most part as I have not had any issues with it so far. It might not have the pops of a amoled or a IPS screen but it does the job well.

I have spent a little more time gaming with it. Its mostly good save mainly for some slight sound issues! I sorted out all the roms into folders to make it easier on myself which posed no problems

PSX: I was able to run the Symphony of the Night on the PSX emulator no issues - with the use of flash mem there was very little slowdown for loading which makes a huge difference! I will try some other games to test how much 3d effects the performance. The slight oddity is that there were 2 bin files for SOTN so not sure what the second one does.

Game Gear: The game gear emulator ran nicely too - I forgot how hard some games were! Shinobi brought back some cool memories!

Snes: Runs great - Shadowrun ran perfectly and exactly how I remembered. My only criticism is there is no cheat mode, which was really handy for certain games like Area 88 and Mystical Ninja (both of which ran well too - there was a little slow down in Area 88 but that happened in the real game too)

Mame: This ran pretty well. However I noted that it did not seem to find all the games in the folder - I had located some more recent Street Fighters (3rd Strike which I have on the Dreamcast but were the arcade versions) but the emulator did not see them oddly enough. I read somewhere about an old romlist or something

GBA: Resolved the GBA issue by grabbing the bios via a google search, which now works fine. Though only wanted to really play a single game (Ninja Cop!) which runs really well but had no sound for some odd reason

N64: Finally worked out I could move the windows while holding L but no luck on changing the keys by altering the config file - Gave up on this for time being until I get the time but have started to look into the forums for solutions.

This is the QA in me speaking so don't take it the wrong way but my biggest issue with the games emulation is consistency with the way some of them work. I am not dissing the fact that time has been spent porting these over because I certainly appreciate the fact it has been done. But some of them sorely need an update/makeover (I know there is value in retro but theres also some bordering on hard to use)

Perhaps by default on all of them should have space bring up a menu (some of them already do so thats fine) - in the menu the user can do the following:

*Save states (again done in some emus already so no issue there)

*Configure Controls by selecting a control and pressing the button on the pandora that the user wants to associate with the control (like the Mame emulator already allows) thus fixing everyones control issues. (ie Configure the analogue stick by doing a full rotation, or if as a button swipe in a direction (perhaps even have that as a shortcut for weapons selection) - by default if a control conflicts it should auto inform or swap the control over)

*Cheats entry on this area would be handy as well.

*The user could also be able to load/save config files for selected games (N64 L or Z option for example) so all previous cheats, control options etc can be reloaded.

Having spent some more time with the controls I am mostly pleased with how good they are. It is generally responsive and good - the nubs are a little odd as they slide less than I expect - but then I have been using the PSP and 3DS which slide more. If anything it would be nicer it to make the feel harder/springier so they don't feel so loose. I still feel the keyboard "give" is still a bit much - something like the Desire Z or the O2 XDA Exec (which had a great keyboard) would be better suited for faster typing - and (I believe) taking less room.

Replicating the layout of the Snes Joypad is a good option as it was instantly at home for games emulation. The only change in the future I would make would be to use more of a 6 button layout on the face (ala Megadrive/N64) to properly accomodate more games consoles properly (clickable analogue sticks on the PS for example)

But that is nitpicking on the fact I am having difficulty changing the button layout on the Mupen really

Next stop hopefully look into productivity/creativity apps and seeing how much "work" I can do on it.
Always great to read that another soul has joined our community. :)

Just one bit of advice that I'd give to any new Pandora user : Give PNDManager a try, it is awesome!