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Review: The GPD XD Portable Android Console
consumerism
review
android
software
hardware
hardware-review
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I’m back with another Android console out of China from GPD, the GPD XD. I've had the GPD XD for a couple of weeks now, and to be honest I've been unable to put it down! In short it's a great device for portable gaming, and it also handles my media needs with ease.

This device was generously provided by Geekbuying, so I'll provide more information about where to buy the GPD XD from the Geekbuying store at the end of this review.

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(For anybody with sharp eyes, yes I've got a new orange/red rug too!)

At first glance the device looks like a Nintendo 3DS XL, however that’s where the similarities end. So let’s take a look at the GPD XD hardware specs.

Hardware Specification

  • CPU: Rockchip RK3288 Quad-Core (ARM Cortex A-17)
  • GPU: ARM Mali-T764 (600MHz)
  • RAM: 2GB (DDR3-SDRAM)
  • GPU memory: Shared with RAM
  • WIFI: Supports 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz)
  • Bluetooth: Not supported
  • OS: Android 4.4.4
  • Storage: Built-in 16GB/32GB. Supports microSD up to 128GB
  • Screen: H-IPS 5.0” capacitive touch screen.
  • Resolution: 1280x720
  • Controller: Two control sticks, D-pad, Buttons (volume/power/start/select/back/home/menu/controller/A/B/X/Y/L3/R3), Triggers (L1/L2/R1/R2)
  • Battery: 6000mAh (3.8V, 22.8Wh)
  • Dimensions: 155x89x24mm
  • Weight: 300g

Besides these features, the GPD XD has a mini-HDMI port, a headphone jack and microphone, but no camera or Bluetooth.

A clamshell form-factor for an Android portable is a first for me, and to be honest it makes sense. I’ve experienced cracked screens or broken controller nubs on other consoles in the past, but with the clamshell I’m hoping this won’t be an issue.

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The 6000mAh battery is a very nice feature, with this I’ve seen over 8 hours of screen-on time, while playing native Android games, emulating various systems, and streaming video.

Here’s how it compares to some other devices that I’ve got at hand

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Software

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This is an Android device, it comes with Android 4.4.4 in a very similar setup to the other Android consoles from GPD. It features the full Google Play services, so you can legitimately purchase/install any games with your Google account, or you can use any of the alternate app stores that come bundled on the GPD XD to download and play emulated games:

  • Happy Chick
  • KO GameBox
  • BitGames Centre
  • Playable
  • Aptoide

The GPD XD uses a launcher in the “Metro” style of Windows 8, however alternate launchers can be installed if you want a bit more control over the layout and categorisation of your games and applications.

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I'm using Smart Launcher on my GPD XD, it provides a lot more control and looks a lot nicer!

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My GPD XD came with firmware version 2.4.0 (using GPD’s firmware numbering system), which had some issues such as not booting after a reboot. Since then, there have been a couple of newer firmwares released, bringing us to version 3.3.3 at the time of writing this review.

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Unfortunately, GPD do not provide a change log with their firmware releases, so it’s hard to see what has been changed in each release. Initially the firmware updates were hosted on the (incredibly slow to the West) Baidu Pan file host, but after some feedback from the community, they’re starting to put them up on other more accessible file hosts.

You can find a list of firmware versions, and their download links over at the "GPD XD Firmware Updates" thread on Dingoonity.

And you can find my instructions for unpacking the firmware files and working out what has changed manually over at this thread on Dingoonity.

Games

I’ve spent the past week trying lots of games, both native and emulated. The GPD XD handles emulation very well, with older systems (SNES, Sega, PS1, Mame, GBA) running very smoothly.

Through Mupen64 it can handle N64 very nicely too, with Mario Kart 64 being very smooth and playable, even over HDMI to a TV.

PSP emulation using PPSSPP generally works well, but it can be a bit slow. I’ve had some success running Tekken 6 and Little Big Planet smoothly enough.

Nintendo DS emulation worked really well, with Mario Kart DS playing very smoothly.

Dreamcast emulation is a bit hit and miss, but Soul Calibur played very nicely, if just a little laggy during cutscenes.

As of writing, the Sega Saturn emulator “uoYabause” is quite unplayable, but I think/hope this will improve in time.

HDMI-out

As the GPD XD features a mini-HDMI port, I've played games and vidoes through my TV a lot. This combined with a wired Xbox 360 controller, and the experience is no different to a regular console.

GPD XD Gamepad

As I mentioned in the specs above, the GPD XD features a full gamepad built in the device. In the software this can be configured to be recognised as either a PS3 sixaxis controller, or an Xbox 360 controller -- to maximise the compatibility across all games and emulators.

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The gamepad hardware is nice, with joystick “nubs” similar to those on the 3DS and PSPgo. The joysticks have a rubber texture to them, preventing your thumbs from slipping.

The d-pad is quite spongy, which might make it hard when playing combo-heavy games such as Street Fighter or Tekken.

The shoulder buttons are very clicky, and the position of the L2/R2 buttons is quite uncomfortable as they’ve been positioned to the side of the L1/R1 buttons, rather than below them.

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As the GPD XD is running Android, and features a capacitive touch screen, you can always switch to using touch-based controls where they’re supported, or you could use the built-in gamepad settings (accessible from a hardware key) to configure the control bindings.

The GPD XD comes with an instructional video for using the built-in emulators, and key binding application. I've uploaded this to YouTube here:

{% assign iframe_url = "https://www.youtube.com/embed/KKK4-dd1N9s" %} {% include iframe_embed.html %}

Closing thoughts

With each new Android device that comes from China, there seems to be improvements in some ways, but shortcomings in others. The GPD XD has great controls, and performs really well with the CPU set to 1.4-1.8ghz. The GPD XD hasn't got Bluetooth, which might be a deal breaker for some people -- but the built-in gamepad is good enough, and the support for gamepads via USB OTG is great.

You can find lots of video reviews of the GPD XD over in the "GPD XD Videos" thread on Dingoonity.

You can buy the GPD XD from Geekbuying's online store here: http://www.geekbuying.com/item/GPD-XD-5-Inch-Android4-4-Gamepad-2GB-16GB-RK3288-Quad-Core-1-8GHz-Handled-Game-Console-H-IPS-1280-768-Game-Tablet-PC---Black-347650.html

And use the following codes for discounts from Geekbuying:

  • $10 off GPD XD 16GB: FYHPAGWL
  • $10 off GPD XD 32GB: YGCJEULD