Gp2x Or Ds With Homebrew


Still Fresh
Apr 26, 2006
So I have some money to burn, and have been thinking about either a GP2X or DS for a while now. I currently own:

Camera + laptop that use SD
No portable music player of any sort.

So I had been thinking of the GP2X as a all in one kind of a deal. Well let me say what I personally would like (in order of how much I want it):

To play NES, N64, GBA, SNES, GB games (in order I want to be able to play most).
Use SD
Long battery life.
Play music.
Play movies.
Play orginal games.
Other stuff (text, pics, etc)

So know let me say the pros and cons (in my opinion) of each the DS and GP2X for this stuff.
Can do NES, SNES, GB, possibly GBA in the future.
Uses SD.
Decent battery life, which should only get better (new firmwares + new recharable batteries techs)
No problem doing multimedia.
Made to be hacked, so you're not fighting the company.

No way it'll ever do N64, GBA probably won't ever be great.

Can do NES, SNES, GB, but since it is a GBA will do that nearly perfectly.
While it won't ever emulate N64 since Nintendo owns it they may (and have) release some of the classics for it.
Can use SD.
I like Nintendo.
Usally I have 0 interest in new games, but there are a number of games for DS I'd buy (Mario 64, New Mario, New Zelda to name a few).
Bettery battery life than GP2X, plus I like having the Li-ion built in.

Probably won't use for multimedia since I'll have to convert it all.
No TV out.
Since Nintendo isn't backing the homebrew there could be problems latter down the road.

So there it is both my sides in my head. At first I was leaning towards the GP2X, but now after reading about DS homebrew all night (and being rather impressed with how good it looks), I'm leaning more towards the DS.

I was actually going to go out and buy a DS Lite as right when they got released, but I was busy then and couldn't do it, but I still want one. I think I will end up buying a DS Lite and 3 or 4 games for about 300 bucks. Then I'll probably end up just getting a flash based 1 gig mp3 player (I don't care much about portable movies really, and I'd like to have just a nice small player with a long battery life).

Anyway, I think I may actually go out and buy the DS Lite this weekend (unless I can't find one). Then I'll probably go ahead and order the homebrew stuff I need.
I have both and use the gp2x a hell more.

homebrew on DS really isn't that great. Most of it is GBA homebrew which doesn't run fullscreen (240 x 160 on a 256 x 192 screen) with poorly mapped buttons (take the NES emulator for instance, it's not full screen, the image is compressed because of the lack of pixels, and controls are kind of "run with A, jump with B" which is counter-intuitive)

The hardware is far inferior (don't hope to play megadrive on it), and even if the emulators are ported on DS instead of using GBA emulation, the screen resolution is still lower than the native resolution of most other machine. (where the gp2x has no problem at all using a standard 320*240 resolution)

There is however one advantage of the DS over the gp2x, it has a true D-pad, where the gp2x has a 8-way not that enjoyable stick. But guys here are selling better stick and a "make your d-pad" kit is on his way (maybe already for sale ?)

Last thing you can compare is the price :

gp2x + replacement d-pad = 150+20 = $170 (~160€) (+ SD card)
DS + supercard + superpass = 150+60+30 = $240 (~220€) (+ SD card)

Supercard is just a SD card adapter for the GBA/DS, and superpass a tool to make the DS run homebrew. You could say that both are built in into the gp2x
Dale Swanson posted on May 2 2006 at 01:19 PM said:
So I have some money to burn, and have been thinking about either a GP2X or DS for a while now. I currently own:
If you have the money, I would suggest you get both! The DS has some nice features like the touch screen and 3D acceleration. I don't think you'd be seeing games like Nanostray or Ultimate Spider-Man running quite as fluidly on the GP2X.

The GP2X has the advantage that it has Linux as standard, so you get a good base to work from, whereas on the DS it seems to be pretty much roll your own drivers for everything. There are some people out there doing good work for the DS in terms of function libraries for filesystem access etc., though.

The GP2X also has TV-out, which is really nice if you want to use it for presentations.

On the DS, if you can get a loan of a SuperPass or PassMe, or have a WiFiMe-compatible wireless card, you can flash a new BIOS which will build PassMe functionality into the machine by default, allowing you to run homebrew without having to have a dongle plugged into the DS ROM socket.

As you say, there are some great games for the DS. In fact, the last time I can remember buying so many games is when I used to play games on my PlayStation!

They are both nice platforms, and are different enough that I think it's worth having both of them. At the moment I'm using the GP2X more for experimenting with dev stuff and Linux, and the DS is for games.

I'm sure there'll be a stage where I will want to start doing experiments with the DS, but as it has a lot less memory than the GP2X and the CPUs are clocked at about a third and one sixth of the speed of the GP2X's, I'm not sure I'll be doing anything too serious.
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The DS has a smaller screen at 3" vs 3.5" plus the DS screen resolution is only 256 x 192 which means cut off graphics or many missing pixels in alot of emulated systems. Not a great emu system, good for original stuff though.
*trots off to*

Hey, should I buy an Xbox 360 or a Playstation?

In all seriousness, the GP2x is more fit for homebrew, as the DS requires some expensive addons, or many weird methods, and has much weaker system specs, as a GP2x is buy the system, done.
I agree, I was only considering the homebrew part but the DS (which has NO 3D acceleration though, it's only good-use of the ARM9 processor and theorically you could do better than mario kart, graphically speaking, on the GP2X. It is of course very unlikely to happen, but still, it has the theorical power) has some very very great native games you'll never see on the gp2x (Phoenix Wright, Mario Kart, Tetris DS, Super Princess Peach, Under the knife, Mario 64x4 and so on... new super mario bros will probably kick ass too).

I have both and enjoy both, even if I have a preference for the gp2x I do not regret buying my DS.
I have both and I would not want to give up either. That said I don't use my 2X much because I can't stand the screen and the stick. I simply love the touchscreen on the DS, it's awesome for lots of things like drawing apps, PDA functions etc. However, the screens are much too small. They make for an awesome picture viewer but I'd prefer my GP2X for movies if I didn't have my Zodiac.
I can't say much about emulators since I don't use them much on either system. Original games ftw!
DS homebrew is amazing. So is GP2X homebrew. The two systems are very different so just get both. Get the DS now and get the GP2X when the screen and the stick are fixed.
For the DS I'd recommend the Datel Max Media Launcher and a Supercard. CF is a little better for some homebrew things I think but since you've got SD cards already you should probably get the SD version. Don't forget to install FlashMe ASAP.
Had a DS (sold it within the same week I bought it) and I think it isn't a bad handheld, but it isn't great either but if you want to play music, video's you should buy a GP2X. If you like homebrew and emulation you should by a GP2X and if you like the older games more then the newer ones (like me) you should buy a GP2X too.

Ow.. almost forgot... If you think a handheld should have a alarm clock, you should buy a DS :D
Clad posted on May 3 2006 at 12:58 AM said:
I agree, I was only considering the homebrew part but the DS (which has NO 3D acceleration though, it's only good-use of the ARM9 processor
Really?! You've surprised me there. I know anything is possible, but I wouldn't have imagined that the CPUs in the DS were anywhere near fast to enough to render some of the stuff I've seen. I was sure it had rasterising and geometry engines with texture mapping...
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I've had my GP2X since before Christmas now and I love it. I've been thinking of buying a DS, but I'm going to wait until it's cheaper. Here's why:

I want the DS for the original games. You've mentioned most of them. They are pretty sweet. I also love Nintendo, of course.

But merciful heavens the GP2X has OPTIONS.

Ninty's moving in the right direction, but the ability to play whatever someone comes up with - for free - is incredible. I have a load of classic games I've never played before (and many I have) available to me and running great. I've maybe touched a Genesis controller once in my life and now I consider it the best system for playing on the GP2X. Gunstar Heroes alone is almost reason enough for a $200 dollar investment (I have the GBA, and it isn't really the same).

I don't understand these woes about the screen. While I never thought I'd use the movie feature much, it turns out to be my most-used feature on the GP2X - I must of watched everything on it, ranging from Orson Welles films to Metropolis to Reservoir Dogs to anime, even that one Drak's got his latest annoying signature from (unless it's changed recently, saints preserve us). I'd say I've easily clocked in over one hundred hours of video watching alone. Using SD cards out of the box is a big plus, with 1GB cards down to $20 on NewEgg and elsewhere. That and TV-out help cause the reaction I've had phrased the same way from multiple people:

"It's like a PSP that doesn't suck."

With the new firmware, I don't think you can go wrong.

Now, against: keep in mind I'm a Linux geek, so anything I say comes with that basis (I even use Slackware, if that tells you anything). I am not a graphics whore in any way, shape, or form. I have aspirations of coding games and view the GP2X as a valuable test platform and great means of exposure. I was never bothered by the stick. I am also /deranged/.

Anyway, other considerations which should be particularly contemplated include batteries (GP2X will be shorter but replacable AAs - rechargeable only, for the love of God - as opposed to longer-lasting but non-switchable Li-ion), screens (GP2X is, in my experience, sharp and lovely, and is inarguably more detailed than the DS screens), niftyness (GP2X gets much geek cred), and future-proof expandability.

This last one is weird, and relates to such advanced features as break-out boxery. However, I will illustrate an example soon to be played out IN THE REAL WORLD featuring the august talents of myself and gim-crackery.

GP2X, standard issue
SD Cards, various sizes and manufactures
SD Card USB reader
Cowon iAudio X5L 30GB (cost: $300 via NewEgg)
(total cost currently: <$550)

I am on a lengthy flight somewhere, call it Thailand. I have a five-hour layover and sixteen hours airtime. I am incapable of sleeping during this time because I am /twitchy/. So I load about fifteen episodes of the Colbert Report, Dr. Who, or some Lang/Welles/generic noir features onto my SD card and hum a merry tune.

What's this!? Ten hours in I have exhausted four AA batteries and my supply of films, and am entirely too stupid to game!? Oh, woe is me, for I am distraught.

But no! Why, it's the miracle of USB-OTG! Using the miraculous USB-Host feature of the X5L (or, equally, the GP2X, though that is added cost) I attach an SD card reader and cleverly tranfer on further files I prepared earlier for watching! Perhaps Felix the Cat, Abbot and Costello, Bogart, Revolutionary Sailor Kenshin or whatever those durn'd Japee-neez shows them kids love these days are. A few minutes tranferring files - with no need for so much as a power outlet - and I am ready to go again, happily killing time on my way to a vacation exploiting the poor. Huzzah!

Truth to tell, you could do that easily well with a DS using SD cards. Except for the batteries bit - you'd be out of luck on that front. But then you could use the remarkable 30+ hour battery life of the X5L!

I feel like I just did a product spot... I need a deep, cleansing shower...

with lye...

Anyway, good luck to you in your quest, and remember that, if your vanity can be spared it, an original DS can be had for $80 today with a little hunting.
Clad posted on May 2 2006 at 07:58 PM said:
I agree, I was only considering the homebrew part but the DS (which has NO 3D acceleration though, it's only good-use of the ARM9 processor and theorically you could do better than mario kart


Quoted from Wikipedia:
"The [Nintendo DS] 3D hardware performs transform and lighting, texture-coordinate transformation, texture mapping, alpha blending, anti-aliasing, cel shading and z-buffering. However, it lacks any kind of texture filtering, leading to some titles having a blocky appearance. The system is theoretically capable of rendering 120,000 triangles per second at 30fps. Unlike most 3D hardware, it has a limit on the number of triangles it can render as part of a single scene; this limit is somewhere in the region of 4000 triangles. The 3D hardware is designed to render to a single screen at a time, so rendering 3D to both screens is difficult and decreases performance significantly.

The system has two 2D engines, one per screen. These are similar to (but more powerful than) the GBA's 2D engine."
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There's definitely some 3d acceleration there, I just got a DS lite a couple weeks ago and it's so fun, Mario DS runs great which I don't think it could without some sort of 3d acceleration at the speed of the DS.
OrR posted on May 3 2006 at 12:15 AM said:
GP2X when the screen and the stick are fixed.

Maybe you have a bad GP2X or a dodgy FW in it? I know on mine with 1.0.1 the screen is great. It has much better contrast and color saturation than the current DS. It has a hint of interlace if you move the unit while playing so just don't move it up and down and you are fine.

The fact that the DS can never do NeoGeo or Megadrive (NG,MD are 320 x 220, no can do on a 256 x 192 DS screen) among other things kind of kills it for emulation unless all you want is a speccy emu.
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