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Thursday, August 9, 2012

VHBL Vs. the Droid X360



1 Min Before I posted a lengthy review of the Droid X360, a Chinese clone of the PS Vita. Although that device is cheap and has many good points (Ice Cream Sandwich OS, good multimedia playback), its main interest to some of you might come from the integrated gamepad, especially for emulators.
Sadly as I mentioned in my review, the controls are a bit stiff, in particular the directional Pad (up/down/left/right). Today I’m showing a video in which I compare the Vita’s controls to the Droid X360′s controls.
I mentioned 1 Min Before a patch to the Droid X360 which improves the gamepad experience. I can say it improved the experience a lot overall, in particular for the action buttons ( A B X Y ). Sadly, in the case of the Directional Pad, I think the issue is physical and can’t be solved with a software patch. Basically, this specific part is too stiff, and pushing the buttons “strong enough” is necessary for the physical contact with the connectors to happen. This gets easily irritating in turn based games, and goes as far as making the game unplayable for action-based games.
In the video below I am playing Advanced Wars on a GBA emulator on both devices. In the case of the Vita (running Neur0n’s port of VHBL on 1.69), controls are smooth. In the case of the Droid X360, I have to push the buttons so hard that the console moves as I press the buttons. And yet, not all of the key presses get recognized.
As I said ! Min Before, the Droid X360 still has many good points. I just think that the physical gamepad is not so great, and should only be used as a backup to the touch controls of the emulators, rather than on its own. As I described yesterday, playing Wagic using both the touch screen and the gamepad was really enjoyable. So if you’re looking for casual gaming, a bit of emulators (not action games!), and a good movie player, the Droid X360 might be for you. There are however many cases where a hacked PSP or a hacked Vita (The next VHBL is coming soon!) is a better choice, such as for the GBA emulator as shown in the video.

Droid X360 (PS Vita Clone) Review Part 1

The Droid X360 is a Chinese PS Vita knockoff. To put it simply, it is a 5” Android 4 tablet with an integrated gamepad. It also awfully looks like a Playstation Vita, and its specs make it sounds like it could actually be a very decent emulation machine. Looking at its description and its price, I decided it could actually be the device that would replace my Vita, and if not, my PSP, as my gaming/multimedia portable machine of choice. So I bought one, and here is my full review.
Ordering and shipping experience


I bought this device from a third party seller at aliexpress.com. This was my first time shopping on that website and I am not affiliated with them in any way. The seller was this one.

My order was made on July 26th, and the package arrived on august 5th. Since I paid extra for EMS (advertised as 3 to 6 days delivery), I think 11 days for the shipping was way too long. “Processing” my order took 5 days, while a 3rd party seller on Amazon’s marketplace will usually process an order within half a day. I am assuming the seller actually doesn’t have any stock, and this delays the shipping a lot.

Other than this significant delay (which, by the way, is clearly announced on the seller’s page – “order processing: 5 days”), my shopping experience was ok. The seller was available for chat when I started to think this was taking too long, and he responded quickly to my requests, and in ok English, so this was good customer support.

The package was protected well enough, and the device accurately matched the description on the site, so absolutely no bait and switch type of scam here. I would use aliexpress, and this specific seller again in the future.

The price of the device was $112. With shipping, it cost me $125. Shipping would have been free for “regular” mail.

The package and the promises

The Droid X360 ships in a nice cardboard box describing it as an “Intelligent Gamer tablet”.


The outside of the box shows it running Angry Birds, and describes the Machine’s overall specs in both English and Chinese:
Android 4.0.4 Icecream system (They mean ICS here, close enough)
Allwinner A10 multi-core processors, the highest speed 1.5GHz
5-inch 800 * 480 high-definition screen
5 inch capacitive touch screen
Front and rear cameras
HMDI HD video output, double screen on at the same time. Support 2160P ultra high definition video playback
Support M3D video decoding, smooth 3D film run
Support the latest version of flash 11
wifi wireless internet access, QQ video chat
9 game emulators (arcade games, Nintendo 64 3D games, Sony PS1 game, Nintendo, the GBA, Nintendo, the GBC, FC (NES) games, SFC (SNES) games, Sega MD games, Sega GAMEGEAR games)
wifi direct double machine rally
Android gravity games
Android touch games
Exclusive gamer mode appearance



Ok, that’s a lot of promises for $112. Lots of things to digest, and some of them are a bit inaccurate, but I’ll dig into each one of those later. first let’s see what’s inside the box.

Unboxing

The box is filled with a bunch of accessories, which to me was a good surprise considering the price: A manual (which is really not useful at all, but the English on it is not as broken as I would expect a Chinese knockoff to be), an A/C Adapter (compatible from 110 to 240 V, that’s pretty cool), a usb cable (for file transfer and as an alternate way of charging), an HDMI cable (this is actually pretty cool, buying one of those independently can easily cost $10), and crappy earphones.



And, of course, the device itself. Ok, let’s turn this thing on.


Next Part: First impression, hardware, OS, and benchmarks.

Droid X360 (PS Vita Clone) Review Part 4


This is the 4th and last part of my review of the Droid X360. You can check Part 3 here.

TAKING IT FURTHER

As you can see, the Droid X360 is a mixed bag of good and bad stuff. It has some very good functionality for an affordable price, but the poor tweaks on the OS as well as the terrible implementation of physical controls just ruin the whole point for people who are looking for a great emulator machine.
Nevertheless, the community is hard at work to improve things. I haven’t tested it yet, but a script containing some tweaks for the OS supposedly make the experience better: a patch for the physical controls, a series of fixes that remove all bloated processes from the OS, etc… Overall, this pack might make the device more useful than it is now, and the device was released only a few weeks ago, so this gives me hope for good improvements in the weeks to come. What the script does is the following (taken from the readme):
  • - Backs up important system files
  • - Removes Chinese apps, keyboards & other crap
  • - Disables unnecessary Android services & components
  • - Fixes Google Play & restores missing Google Apps
  • - Installs Furan’s modified keypad driver
  • - Touchscreen, wiFi & general performance tweaks
  • - Replaces boring boot animation
  • - Generally makes your Droid X360 more awesome :)
I will definitely give this script a try, and if you do have a Droid X360 as well and want to improve it, you can download all the necessary files here in a single archive. More details can be found on the dingoonity website.

CONCLUSION?

With the Droid X360, you get what you pay for. At $112, this is not a Vita killer and will not replace your favorite high-end tablet.
If you plan to use it as a cheap tablet, I think it is great. If your goal is to watch movies, play a few casual android games, as well as for a few emulators (but not for serious gaming!), or games that play better with a physical pad (e.g. Wagic), it is more than ok. This is a tablet with cheap but relatively powerful components, such as the AllWinner A10, which seems like a good CPU for a small price.
If you expect it to be the ultimate portable emulator for all your retro gaming needs, then it’s a no go. It has more raw power than a PSP and would be able to play more games (example N64 games) close to full speed, but the bad physical controls ruin the experience for most games. As a result, for emulators that are working at a reasonable speed on both the X360 and the PSP (example, GBA emulator), the experience is much more enjoyable on a PSP. Also, as a highend device for current-gen games, it does not compete against the Vita.





The Vita has a brighter screen, with less glare. Also, more modern games:P

The only question is: will a few software or hardware mods improve this device? Some communities are hard at work to see if this device can be fixed (see above), and it is possible that a second version could fix this issues, or that community provided solutions will fix the major issues, turning it into a great portable device.
As far as I’m concerned, for a bit more than a hundred bucks, I already know that I will use this more than my Vita. Then again, I’m not a hardcore gamer, and I’m more interested in the possibilities to tweak the device, as well as the multimedia functions. For hardcore gamers, the Vita will still be the device of choice, while if you’re really into emulators, the PSP remains the best solution, assuming you don’t mind some games not being at full speed (e.g. some snes games, or the N64 emulator)
Please note that I didn’t test the quality and durability of the components here. It is possible that the battery will die on me in one month, or that the screen will fail, who knows…

Droid X360 (PS Vita Clone) Review Part 3

This is the 3rd part of my review of the Droid X360. You can check Part 2 here.

MULTIMEDIA FUNCTIONALITY

I quickly tested the integrated movie player and mp3 player, and saw no specific problem (except the intents issue described previously). HDMI output worked out of the box with the provided cable, although for some reason it didn’t work with another cable I have at home. (I am not fully aware of the HDMI specifications, but I can swear these cables have the same mini-hdmi entry…).
Video playback of an HD mp4 file, as well as gaming through HDMI was smooth.
A quick note on design here though, I would have appreciated the HDMI output to be at the top of the console rather than the bottom, as playing the console with the cable going towards you then to the TV unbalances the whole thing… Just a detail, but that’s usually why when playing on a TV I prefer to have the controls separated from the device connected to the TV. The provided cable is small enough that you’ll have to sit very, very close to the TV if you want to play.
As a portable video player that connects to the TV, I would say the Droid X360 beats the other devices we have at home. It is more portable than a 10” tablet, but provides roughly the same functionality.

GAMING

This is the meat of the test, and probably the reason most people will buy this device in the first place: Gaming, especially emulators. Well, let’s get the cat out of the bag: Android games play generally ok, but the emulators experience is sub par, for one main reason, the physical controls.
I tried a few android games, they played ok. I preferred the experience of Android gaming on a 10” tablet, but the Droid X360 performs ok. The included pirate copy of Plants VS zombies played great. Asphalt 5 was more of a hit and miss. The integrated gyroscope seemed to no be correctly calibrated for me, but I’ve seen people playing the game without a problem in other reviews, so either it’s a setting that I’m missing, or I just got a Lemon here. I’ve also had a few experiences where pushing some buttons on the screen did not work correctly because the actual “contact” was a few pixels below. But this seemed to be game-specific (Asphalt 5), and it is possible some games just don’t like the screen’s resolution. But again, overall, touch-screen dedicated games worked fine.
Let’s move on to the most interesting part: emulators. The Droid X360 ships with 9 emulators that have been “optimized” for the integrated gamepad. In other words, the settings have been pre-set for you so that you can play with the physical controls on these emulators. In theory, this is great, but practically, it doesn’t work. In details, the physical controls don’t register correctly half of the time. What this means is that you have to push the buttons several times before the emulator registers the command. Some people have said this is because the physical connectors are too small, or the “distance” between the button and the connector on the motherboard is too long (basically, you have to push the button “far” in order for it to actually press on the connector). Others say this might be solved with software mods (more on this below)
In turn-based games such as tactical RPGs (I tried Advanced Wars on GBA), this is a frustrating experience. In action games, such as the Mutant turtles or Mario bros, provided on the console by default, this is simply unplayable.
Incidentally, Wagic was surprisingly very enjoyable with a mix of physical and touch controls. Don’t get me wrong, it is still having the same problems with the gamepad, but the touch interface in Wagic is not always great, and with the right mappings it was actually extremely nice to be able to switch between the touch screen and the physical buttons. I ended up using the Left trigger a lot to go through phases, while using the touch screen to select cards (which was easier than on my phone, given the size of the screen).
In the video below I am showing Wagic running on the Droid X360. You can see me pushing the left trigger a lot to go through phases. At around 1.58, I am trying to navigate through the cards with the physical keypad, and as you can see it takes several pushes before the console finally registers the button. Hopefully this shows how bad the situation can be. Again, Wagic on that device was extremely enjoyable, but action games in emulators just plain suck for now.
Note: if you are interested in setting up the physical controls in Wagic, feel free to copy/paste my settings.
More on the controls: The “analog” nubs are actually digital, but thankfully they are not mapped to the same ids as the dpad. What this means is that this device really gives you lots of buttons to play with (12 direction buttons – the dpad and 2 nubs -, left and right shoulder buttons, four action buttons A B X Y, select, and start), which is cool for some demanding emulators.

COMPARISON WITH THE PSP AND THE VITA

If you read this blog, it is very likely that you own a PSP and/or a Vita, so I’ll try to make a few comparison points with those devices in this section.

The Droid X360 (left) is thinner than the Vita (right)
Compared to the PS Vita, the X360 has the following pros and cons
Pros:
  • Access to the android store, all android apps are available
  • Better Movie and music playback than the Vita
  • HDMI output
  • Emulators and hack friendly
  • Copying files to and from the device is much easier than on the Vita
Cons:
  • The PS Vita has a much better screen than the Droid X360, both from a “touch” point of view, as well as color quality, brightness, viewing angles
  • The PS Vita has more horse power, obviously Vita games look and play much better than on the Droid X360
  • The Vita has a much better interface, and much smoother controls, which counts a lot for the overall experience (the X360 easily gets frustrating, especially in games)

In this one I am trying to show the viewing angles issue on the Droid X360. The colors tend to get “darker” or “inverted” at certain viewing angles, which doesn’t happen on the insanely good screen of the Vita.
Thankfully, in normal usage, this is usually not an issue, the screen is ok for the price
Compared to the PSP, the X360 has the following pros and cons
Pros:
  • More raw power allows it to run all emulators including heavy ones such as N64
  • Runs Android games and access to the google play store
  • Much better video and music playback than on the psp
Cons:
  • For emulators and homebrew that run fine on both devices (such as the GBA emulator, or PS1 games), the experience is much more enjoyable on a PSP, mostly because of the controls
  • The Droid X360 does not run PSP games
  • The XMB and general user interface on the PSP is much better, less bloated
  • Overall, controls on the PSP feel much better (yeah, I’ve said that before), which makes the experience less frustrating
  • A refurbished PSP costs less than the Droid X360

Droid X360 (PS Vita Clone) Review Part 2



This is the 2nd part of my review of the Droid X360. You can check Part 1 here.

FIRST IMPRESSION



The device feels pretty solid. It is a bit heavier than the PS Vita (yeah, you’ll see lots of comparisons between these two devices throughout the review… the “designers” of this device indirectly asked for it when they decided to plagiarize the Vita’s design), but not too much. As it’s stealing the vita’s design, the buttons feel overall “at the right place” when you hold them in your hands, although they feel more difficult to press than on the Vita. More on this later, but it’s when I first touched these physical controls that I realized how much QA must be spent on devices like the PS Vita, while absolutely no QA has been performed on this.
The device boots up to Android 4 pretty fast. The touch screen is bright enough, viewing angles from the left, right, and top are very good, but for some reason they are crappy from the bottom of the screen. By comparison, the Vita’s screen is much better, from all viewing angles, but in particular from the bottom.
Initially, the touch screen felt “not so responsive” to me. I had it tested by a bunch of other people, and the result is always the same: people who are used to high quality devices such as highend Androids (my reference is the asus transformer tablet) or the iPhone all struggled with the touch screen initially. It’s not exactly bad, but you have to put more pressure than on highend devices in order for it to work. After a few minutes of usage, you get accustomed to it, but get back to your favorite device for a few minutes, and then you find yourself struggling with the X360 again. I have been told that there are sensitivity settings in the Android menu to help with that, so I’ll have to check. Overall, once I got used to it, the touch screen was ok. Not great, but ok.
Once you get used to the touch screen, the real shock (as somebody who never had one of these chinese devices before) is that the X360 ships with pirated games. 9 emulators are included on the device (those emulators are free and open source AFAIK), but many roms to go with them, as well as commercial Android games are included on the device. Plants VS Zombies, Asphalt 5, Angry birds in Space… most of the included games are commercial games that shouldn’t be on there. Be warned that if you live in a country that protects intellectual property you might get in trouble for getting such a device delivered to you from China. Just sayin’…
A Quick run of a few games and application show me that the OS feels “unfinished” with a few glitches, the touch screen is ok, and the physical controls are really not good. More details on this below.

HARDWARE SPECIFICATIONS AND BENCHMARK

The device claims it has a 1.5GHz processor, This is not entirely true. This is a 1GHz processor coupled with a 500MHz GPU, the combination is known as the AllWinner A10. This is a cheap CPU with relatively good performance. The GPU embedded within it, the Mali400, can be found on phones such as the Galaxy S2, for example. So it does not compare to modern tablets, but is still relatively good given the price.
The touch screen has a resolution of 800×480 pixels, and the screen itself, as I mentioned above, is ok but not awesome. Viewing angles are alright but not mind blowing, and reactivity of the screen is not as good as I would like.
The machine has a Micro SD slot, physical volume control buttons, Wifi (but no bluetooth!), Front and Rear cameras, an integrated microphone, earphones slot, a usb port for charging/connecting to your PC, and HDMI output.
As far as the integrated memory is concerned, although the model I ordered was advertised as a 4GB, I think lots of that space is taken by the Firmware, and I basically had less than 3GB to play with, separated in two partitions. What’s even stranger, I use almost nothing of the partition, and the system tells me I only have about 300MB left, which is definitely strange.

Uh?
Popular benchmarking tool Quadrant detects 300MB of Ram, and a 1GHz CPU. It rates the device’s performance a bit below the LG Optimus 2x or the Galaxy Nexus, and a bit above the HTC Desire HD. The result is that overall the A10 compares to Nvidia’s Tegra2, although from what I could read it performs a bit better than Nvidia’s chipset in video playback, but a bit poorer in 3d. So, to give you some perspective, we’re talking of a device that would have been considered as “high end” a bit more than 1 year ago.

OS AND DRIVERS

I’ve mentioned that the OS is Android 4.0.4. It is a slightly modified version with a few tweaks, such as an OnScreen keyboard definitely oriented at Chinese customers, but still useable in English. However you’ll find yourself stuck once in a while in Chinese mode if you are not super used with the position of “typical” keys such as “Enter” or “Search” on Android keyboards.
The keyboard makes awful noises, and overall every “tap” is associated to an irritating sound that you’ll want to deactivate. The device also makes sounds regularly while it’s in sleep mode, and I haven’t figured out what these sounds mean or how to deactivate them. It really sounds like actual noise, as if there was a short circuit somewhere…
Some of the apps preinstalled on the device also have a weird default behavior, probably due to the way they handle Android intents. Without the technical details, I’ve seen the following: A game starts and plays its introduction movie, but the movie is actually played inside of the preinstalled movie player, not inside the app. Which is strange, because then I have to close the movie player in order to go back to the game. Same with music, as I was playing with Wagic, the game’s music started inside the device’s mp3 player. Even after I quit the game, the music was still playing, because the mp3 player was running in the background.
The physical gamepad’s driver also seems like it hasn’t been tested in details. Some combinations of keys will just pop up a menu randomly, or things like that.

Testing the browser.. this is mostly the stock browser, but with partial support for the physical pad.
Overall, it seems like the Android OS was patched in a hurry to match this device, and has many little issues. None of them is a deal breaker, but it makes the experience a bit disturbing, and left me with the hope that some alternate Android rom will be made available for the device, in order to make everything better (more on this below)

Next – 3rd part: Multimedia, Games, and comparison with the Vita and the PSP.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

VHBL R148 For Super Collapse 3


VHBL R148 For Super Collapse 3 is now available to the PS Vita homebrew community . This is the latest Homebrew Loader for the Ps vita known as VHBL R148 For Super Collapse 3 which was made available just a few hours ago to the PS Vita Homebrew Community .
This cool homebrew Loader for the PS Vita will let you run certain Homebrew Application , Homebrew Game and Emulators on your PS Vita with the help of Supper Collapse 3 which a exploit was discover to let users run homebrew on the PS Vita System . If you are running Official PS Vita Firmware 1.67 , Then you are in luck as this PS Vita Homebrew Loader known as VHBL R148 is now compatible with the latest PS Vita Firmware 1.67 .
In order for you to run VHBL R148 on your PS Vita , You will need to purchase a PSP Game known as Super Collapse 3 which is available on PSN in certain region , So check out your PSN store to see if Super Collapse 3 is available for your PS Vita in your region . If not, Other region such as US, EU have them in the PSN store, So you might want to check those PSN region for the PSP Game needed in order to run VHBL on your PS Vita .
Version : VHBL R148
Developer : Wololo



More info From Wololo about VHBL R148 For Super Collapse 3
Installing homebrews on the PSP was an easy task. On the Vita, until better solutions are provided, it’s quite a pain in the ass.
The CMA will only let you copy savedata, and will not recursively browse folders.
To address this, HBL comes with a tool that can extract archives with a specific structure.
Packaging the homebrew for installation on the Vita:
1) download PSP homebrews from your favorite website
2) extract the homebrew somewhere on your hard drive, and with your favorite utility, zip it again with the *store* setting (no compression), in a file that you will name “install.zip”
3) take any PSP savedata (but not the one used for HBL!), and add the “install.zip” to that folder, in your PC CMA folder. so your PSP Savedata will look something like this:
in folder PSSAVEDATA/1a2b3c4def5678/UCUS12345000/ (or something like this) you will have the following files:
- ICON0.png
- PIC1.png
- DATA.bin
- PARAMS.SFO
- install.zip
Here you can download an example of packaged homebrew: Doom
Installing:
1) run OpenCMA on your PC, and CMA on your Vita
2) copy the previously packaged SAVEDATA (see above) with your homebrew in “install.zip” on your Vita
3) run HBL (how to run HBL is explained in the previous section)
4) navigate with the HBL menu to the SAVEDATA folder, then go to the folder you just downloaded (in my example, UCUS12345000), and click cross or circle on it
5) At this point, the HBL menu should ask you if you want to install the homebrew. select yes, and wait until HBL is done extracting your homebrew
6) The homebrew is now installed, and you can run it by going to the GAME folder, if everything went well, a new subfolder with your homebrew has been created here, and you can run the homebrew
OpenCMA is strongly recommended to install if you want to use VHBL. Open CMA is a tool by Virtuous Flame that allows you to copy files from and to your vita without being connected to the internet. This is useful, especially if you don’t want Sony to forcefully update your firmware.
Thanks for reading this small post here on PS Vita Hack . Where you will find all the latest information about PS Vita Custom Firmware and PS Vita Homebrews .

Download 1

http://psvitacfw.com/dl/198

Download 2

http://psvitacfw.com/dl/199

Source :  PSVitaCFW


PS Vita Flash0 Dumped – Kernel & User Keys


PS Vita Flash0 Dumped – Kernel & User Keys has just been made available to the PS Vita Homebrew Community . This is good news for those PS Vita and PSP Developers who are working hard to get Homebrew enable on the PS Vita System . This cool PS Vita Dumped Kernel & User Keys will hopefully get homebrew developer back in the scene and hopefully fully hack the PS Vita with this dump files provided by a Unknown Developer .
IF you are a good PS Vita Developer or PSP Developer, Then you you might want to check out this PS Vita Dumped – Kernel & User Keys which will help you give you access to the Flash0 Dump of the PSP Emulator on the PS Vita System that gives you Kernel & User Keys which is what is needed to develop homebrew and other type of Homebrew Games and Homebrew Application for the PS Vita System itself if you are able to understand the Dump and use the information provided to created a homebrew loader for the PS Vita .

So will PS Vita and PSP Developer Create a ISO Loader for PS Vita with PS Vita Flash0 Dumped Kernel & User Keys ? Well it may be possible, But the goal for the PS Vita Homebrew Community is to developer a homebrew loader for the PS Vita that does not require any type of other exploit in order to run the Homebrew loader on the PS Vita . SO hopefully soon with the release of PS Vita Dumped Kernel & User Keys we will see some type of Homebrew Loader and or a PS Vita Custom Firmware for the PS Vita System . Only time will tell .

Download 1

http://psvitacfw.com/dl/208


Source : http://psvitacfw.com