RetroStone

Discussion in 'Everything else' started by pmprog, Feb 28, 2018.

  1. SNESFAN

    SNESFAN Retro game fanatic

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    What channel was this information obtained or was this a private conversation?

    I like to follow stuff like that.
     
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  2. ZXDunny

    ZXDunny Deep avatar

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  3. bluedeer

    bluedeer Member

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    Is that a function of the video chip they use to drive the display?
     
  4. ZXDunny

    ZXDunny Deep avatar

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    No, it's a function of the physical properties of the screen.
     
  5. bluedeer

    bluedeer Member

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    The screen itself does the downscaling? I didn't know that was how it worked. I thought the driver chip was what was responsible for formatting the signal for the screen.
     
  6. ZXDunny

    ZXDunny Deep avatar

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    Not quite - the screen has literally only 320 by 240 pixels. The display has to be downscaled or it simply won't fit. As far as I can tell the screen's controller board does the downscaling.
     
  7. bluedeer

    bluedeer Member

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    That's what I thought. So my question was if the screen's controller board could be forced to output a higher resolution signal or if it's hardcoded to only output 320x240. The LCD shouldn't matter in that regard, it would just be a matter of whether or not the controller could output a higher resolution signal, in which case simply finding a suitable resolution LCD with the right pinout would be a relatively simple solution. From what I've read, it apparently doesn't, but I don't know enough about the engineering specifications of the controller board on whether or not it could be forced to output a higher resolution mode or not.
     
  8. ZXDunny

    ZXDunny Deep avatar

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    Indeed. I guess we'll see what the successor kickstarter brings. I'm not hopeful, though.
     
  9. bluedeer

    bluedeer Member

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    So I have my Retrostone and let me tell you, I am super happy with this.

    The construction of it is fantastic. It feels good and solid, and the buttons do as well. The D-Pad takes a little getting used to, but nobody has ever been able to fully properly replicate Nintendo's success with a D-pad. It's a little weighty, but that's not a bad thing. I wish the L buttons were placed lower on the back of the console, but where they are, are still perfectly useable.

    There are, of course, a few nitpicks. The screen, for example, is far better than I had been lead to believe it would be, but not as good as it should be. Totally fine for most games, though if there is small text on the screen it just doesn't resolve. Same as if you were trying to read a 4 point font on a large screen. It's just too tiny to resolve properly. But this isn't a problem as long as the font size is large enough.

    Battery life has been great. I don't like the fact that the power switch is just instant off, it should have had a soft-shutoff like the Snes Mini does. I've been toying with the idea of adding an extra button that I can use with a script to tell it to power off without having to go through the menu options to do it. Something for a future project.

    I did the two extra buttons mod. I feel this was probably something that should have come already done by default, but not that hard to do if you've got a steady hand. My holes are drilled slightly off center but they're relatively easy to clean up with a sharp X-Acto knife. Had to modify the D-Pad a bit by drilling out the center pivot and installing a plastic bead from a pushpin to add about an extra millimeter, and then some layers of clear packing tape around the bottom of the D-Pad to make it more responsive. Since I did this, the D-pad seems to require less force to move in a direction. it's still a bit clicky, but that's because the rubber pad underneath is perhaps taller than it really should have been. The admin from the Retrostone Forum seems to have taken notice and is taking that into consideration to see if replacement Dpads may be made. I figure it needs around 1mm of extra height on the bottom pivot, and about the same amount underneath the D-Pad to make proper contact with the rubber pad. I kind of want to see if I can order a few loose D-Pads to experiment with.

    Not really concerned about the Analogue stick mod. It seems relatively straightforward, but that's more case modification that I'm not prepared to do.

    Wifi and Bluetooth do function provided you get dongles that are compatible, I have a Targus Bluetooth Dongle and a TP-Link Wifi Stick (2.4ghz but that's sufficient). I even have a Rii wireless keyboard and all three work perfectly fine with it. I've paired 8BitDo Bluetooth controllers (They also work with USB) and they function great. The speaker is sufficiently loud, but audio will go through HDMI if that is enabled.

    HDMI requires a software menu option to change it, which is a bit of a bummer but it's not unworkable. It displays at 1280x720 on HDMI. Downside with HDMI is that the internal screen doesn't shut off, it just goes white. It'd be nice to see if there would be a way to get the internal controller to display a black image on the internal screen when it is attached to HDMI, but that's a future project. The built-in screen is 320x240, and looks about as good as the PSOne Screen, with little ghosting that I've noticed. The color intensity seems a bit strong, even if you turn the actual colors down all the way to gray scale almost as if the contrast to brightness difference is affecting the display of an image. Contrast adjustments aren't as good as the Brightness, so your mileage will constantly vary depending on what you're playing. But it is by no means unusable. I don't even notice any dot crawl or artifacting you might see from an Analogue signal displayed on an LCD screen. It's really a very nice screen.

    If I try to display something with a higher resolution, it doesn't do any scaling. It just outputs the image, which means if you try doing 800x600, for example, you only get to see about a quarter of the screen. Interestingly, some games do run at higher resolution, for example Wolfenstein 3d runs at a peculiar 600x400 something resolution (Like 635x418 or something like that) in order to fit most of the image on the screen. If I do 320x240, it actually displays the image about the size of a postage stamp. This indicates there is SOME kind of screen scaling capable and going on, though how and when it decides to do it, I can't see. Noticed a similar issue with Quake 2.

    It runs about as well as an RPI 3, though because it is an Allwinner H3, apparently hardware acceleration for the video is not properly implemented, so some things run slower than they should, but not when it comes to gaming. Kodi does work with Kodi version 16, and I had to go through a bit of a rigamarole to get it to work, but it does work. Doesn't like HD videos, though, which is a problem with hardware acceleration for Kodi. You can use it in desktop mode, but honestly I wouldn't recommend it. Much easier to just plug it into your network to put your roms on as it shows up as a Samba share, and SSH works fine on it as well. Often times, I have it plugged into my network either through Wifi or Ethernet and I'm in it through SSH to fiddle with settings and files. The method of copying roms from a USB stick to the internal storage is doable, but seriously why bother when network connectivity is so much better!

    But all in all, for a portable, Gameboy-sized handheld game emulator that runs everything up to Playstation and some N64, at this price point it's definitely worth it! I haven't tried the Clockwork Gameshell but from what I've read, the Retrostone is a bit better in most ways even if it isn't as modular and still has a few quirks.

    Anyone who might be interested in getting one, I definitely recommend!
    --- Double Post Merged, Apr 25, 2019, Original Post Date: Apr 25, 2019 ---
    I managed to compile a better version of Wolf3d for it that actually lets you use the Wl6 files from Steam's version of Wolfenstein 3d so you can actually play the full version, as none of the Apogee versions of the Wl6's would work with the built-in version. It's a single executable, if I modify the Wolfenstein3d.sh and slap this executable in the same directory as the WL6's, it works perfectly fine, so I might stick this up later if anyone wants it.
     
  10. pmprog

    pmprog Advanced Member

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    So, this has just popped up in my emails
    Code:
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/583173617/retrostone-metal-edition-ultimate-retrogaming-cons
     
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  11. rygD

    rygD Nihilistic Mystic

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    Pyra needs a metal case.
     
  12. ible

    ible professional vim user

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    i'd be tempted if i hadn't already gotten a few other things (like gamebuino and future pyra)
     
  13. bluedeer

    bluedeer Member

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    I got the same email! It's on their Facebook, too. I'm giving it serious consideration. The downsides I have concerns with are some slightly sharp edges (there's a screw hole on the bottom left corner of the device that has a sharp point as part of the mold that I had to file down), as well as some possible problems with drilling holes for various things like extra buttons or whatnot. But it looks amazing. If they offered just the case for $50, I'd probably buy one!
     
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  14. ZXDunny

    ZXDunny Deep avatar

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    I'm gonna pass - I'm waiting to see what the RS2 is like. I have the first version and it's really nice - but needs some improvement.

    It's not as tall as the original Gameboy, and if it were a similar proportion then there would be room for a bigger battery. And of course the screen needs to be properly improved. Other than that, I'll be happy as long as the form factor remains GB, not GBA.
     
  15. pmprog

    pmprog Advanced Member

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    I thought you said the screen was great for gaming? It doesn't really strike me as a device for coding on etc.
     
  16. ZXDunny

    ZXDunny Deep avatar

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    It's great for gaming. It's not great for running retropie's UI nor is it great for terminal work which needs to be done from time to time.
     
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