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Thursday, August 9, 2012

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

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