Hardware Review: JXD S7300B Retro Gaming Android Handheld

JXD-S7300BOver the last few years we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of Android based tablets made available, many of which are now coming equipped with gamepad controls. One of the more recent devices to surface in China is JXD’s S7300B - a 7” Android tablet built for gaming, and one promising a lot for retro gamers.

Since the Android operating system burst onto the scene nearly five years ago, developers around the world have been enjoying the advantages of an open-source platform. During this time, gaming enthusiasts around the world have begun porting and redeveloping emulators of retro gaming hardware for this cross-platform operating system. To name but a few, applications such as Marvin, MD.Emu and FPSe have been providing Android owners with fantastic emulation of ZX Spectrum, Mega Drive and PlayStation classics respectively, on the go, wherever they please.

As time went on, it was only natural for the Android - and retro gaming - community to begin asking for a device that would make the most of these applications. As JXD already had experience in the field (several low-key releases which attempted to de-throne Gamepark’s once prolific GP32 and GP2X handhelds) the China based manufacturer turned to the Android operating system in 2011 and never looked back. Since then the company has risen to become one of the leading Android gaming tablet manufacturers, producing several different devices a year, catering to the many different needs out there. Fast forward to today and their latest model, the S7300B, has been creating waves in emulation circles - and quite rightly so.

Introducing the JXD S7300B

To give a little background to this review, I personally have been hunting for the perfect portable emulation device for nearly ten years now - something which first started back in 2004 with the GP32. This Korean based handheld held a lot of promise back then, however, like the many devices which soon succeeded it, there was just something about it that wasn't quite there. These niggles were never representative of the developers creating emulators for these devices, but more an issue with the hardware itself. Whether it was sticky buttons, lacking power under the hood, unergonomic control layouts, lacklustre displays, or buttons replacing d-pads, there was always at least one issue prevalent with these handhelds.

This, however, was a decade ago and you’d like to think that the companies behind these devices and ideas have made considerable progress - after all, how hard can it be creating hardware to run decade old video games? Whilst we’d love to say its an easy task, the last ten years have suggested otherwise. JXD, however, have just come the closest to a perfect dive into the world of emulation. At just over £100 after postage and packaging, the JXD S7300B was one I was feeling confident about investing in, and one I have been pleasantly surprised with.

JXD S7300 Specifications

Chip: Amlogic MX (Cortex A9 CPU, ARM mali400 GPU), Dual core, 1.5GHz
DDR: 1GB DDR3
OS: Android 4.1
Internal Storage: 8GB
Games support: Millions of Android games, 9 kinds of Simulator games, Game cloud
Games control: 5 point capacitive touch, Perfect button controls (Android buttons mapping, Visual control of 360 degree, Double LR buttons, Two sticks), G-sensor control
Color: Black, White
Screen: 7.0-inch (diagonal) LCD, 1024*600 pixel
Touch System: 5 point Capacitive Touch Screen
Size: Length: 9.50inches, Width: 4.77inches, Depth: 0.56inch
Network: 3 ways: Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), External connection to Ethernet and 3G
Sensor: 3 Axis Gravity Sensor
Buttons: Direction key, ABXY, Double LR buttons, Two sticks, Select, Start, Volumn, Reset, Power
Camera: 0.3M Front Camera
Speaker: Stereo Double Speaker
Video: Support RMVB, AVI, MPEG-4, ASP, DIVX, WMV, F4V, FLV etc. (Support extension of the third-party applications)
Audio: Support MP3, WMA, FLAC, OGG etc. (Support extension of the third-party applications)
E-book: Support PDF, TXT, CHM, UMD, HTML etc. (Support extension of the third-party applications)
Pictures: Support JPG, BMP, PNG etc., browsing and slide show
Battery: Built-in rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
Charging via 5V 2A DC power adapter or USB to computer system
USB2.0 High Speed
OTG Connector (External connection to bluetooth keyboard mouse, USB flash disk and hard disk)
3.5-mm stereo headphone mini jack
Micro TF Card Slot, Max 32GB
TV-out: HDMI Dual-screen display, Up to 1080P
Languages: Multilanguage support
Operate Environment: Windows 98SE/ME; Windows2000; Windows XP or above
In the box: Device S7300 , User's Manual, USB cable, OTG cable, power charger

JXD S7300 Review

Arriving in what can only be described as a thin replica of the Wii-U Gamepad’s housing, the outside of the JXD S7300B features everything you’d expect from a device of this decade. Dual analog sticks, a large d-pad, ten buttons and a touch screen. Elsewhere on the exterior are two front facing stereo speakers, and course, a massively generous 7-inch display.

When compared with the Sony PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS, the JXD S7300 aesthetically packs a larger punch with its more impressive exterior - despite feeling a little cheaper - however, as we all know, what matters is on the inside...

Luckily enough for retro gamers, the device’s dual core processor means that the majority of emulators available will casually cruise through our favourite titles with ease - something that generally rings true, at least until the later Nintendo 64 releases are put to the test. While the likes of Majora’s Mask, Conker’s Bad Fur Day and other intensive 3D titles put a little strain on the system, as of speaking just about every older title tested was incredibly, albeit surprisingly, smooth for an emulation device. Classics such as Super Mario Bros, Sonic The Hedgehog and Crash Bandicoot run as if they were designed for the handheld, allowing you to indulge in a huge library of classics on one system.

That said, the only area the games could do with a little improvement is through the handheld’s display. When the JXD S7300B is compared to the likes of an iPhone or Samsung tablet’s screen, this Android tablet feels somewhat dimmer than it should be - even at the maximum brightness. Then again, this did raise an interesting question - have we been spoilt with how bright today’s screens can go? Think back to how dim the original Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS screens were.

Having said that though, the handheld’s screen can be extended onto an external display via its HDMI port. Using this I was able to use various emulators on a HDTV in high definition with surprisingly crisp visuals, however, there was one slight snag. Throughout testing we noticed an ever so slight performance hit when using the HDMI port - something that becomes more noticeable during emulation of more advanced games. The device may begin to stutter during and generate some considerable heat during. While this might be a dealbreaker for some, if anything it is acceptable given how cheap the device is and how well it works when self-contained.

This low cost as well is worth mentioning. With 8GB of internal storage up for grabs and a MicroSD slot ready for business, there really is no limit to the amount of games you can cram onto this handheld. During tests and initial setup, I managed to fit on the device complete ROM sets for several classic consoles including the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo, whilst also having a generous collection of Mega CD and Sony PlayStation ISOs at the ready.

While filling up this storage might be an easy task, getting the device to perform correctly is a more difficult challenge, which is sadly the main downside to this handheld. Unfortunately the stock operating software on the JXD S7300B (at the time of writing) left many feeling frustrated due to issues such as delayed response time from the analog sticks. Many of these troubles have since been addressed, however, it wouldn’t be JXD who solved them first. Like many Android devices, custom firmware has been made available for the S7300B which not only ironed out several of the factory-made problems, but also introduced new features which cater especially for the gamers using this device.

Although these fixes may address all that was wrong with the device, installing them is not the easiest task, especially for those hoping for an out of the box emulation powerhouse. Further complications arrive too from the way the Android based filesystem works. To further explain this point, navigating to folders containing your game ROMs isn’t as simple as we’d like, as occasionally emulators will place you in the root directory, expecting you to navigate blindly through system folders you’re unfamiliar with.

Nevertheless these are issues that are soon quashed once you become familiar with device and more importantly, ones you shouldn’t let yourself be put off by. With a few hours research into custom firmware and a moment spared to understand where your game ROMs are stored, a lot can be had from the JXD S7300B.

JXD S7300B Gameplay Videos

JXD S7300B Conclusion

After several months testing this device, the most surprising aspect was how little I was let down by the hardware. Having experienced countless similar devices beforehand, I was awaiting errors, glitches and bugs galore, only to find quite the opposite. While it does have its flaws, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better emulation device on the market today for such a low cost.

Pros: Fantastic price, generously sized screen, emulators at the ready
Cons: Fiddly setup, requires custom firmware to get the most of

Link: Buy JXD S7300B at Willgoo


Last Updated ( 01 July 2013 )  

Cauterize

Better known as Adam offline, Cauterize is one of RetroCollect's final bosses with an unhealthy addiction to pixels. When he's not out searching the web for the latest retro gaming news or creating content for RetroCollect, he'll will most likely be found working on his Sensible Soccer skills.

Other recent articles:

Comments 

(Link to this comment) JokerJur 2013-07-02 11:26
I had one of these for a while but the battery inside got WAY too hot for my taste. The backside where your left hand is got so hot that it was uncomfortable to hold the device. Sold it off with the knowledge someone will get it all right at some point in the future.
(Link to this comment) chocklo 2013-07-11 15:31
I've just got one of these. Generally (as a package), I'm very impressed with it. Mine came preloaded with XSample 3.5...whatever that is......so I didn't experience the glitches that a lot of people mention from the factory firmware.

Pros -

-The price (paid £80 delivered)
-Screen resolution not great (compared to my my Samsung Note 2) but perfect for emulation - HD can be 'too' good sometimes.
-The controls, nice buttons, nice positions.
-Games run really well - sufficient processing power to run games which used to slow down on my xperia play
-People say it feels cheap, but I disagree. For a JXD effort, feels solid and nice weight too.
-perfect size IMO. Just right for lounging on the sofa with.
(Link to this comment) chocklo 2013-07-11 15:32
Cons -

-Takes ages to charge (about 5-6 hours to get it to 100%)
-Keyboard and controls get a bit glitchy if using the device while charging.
-Batteries last about 2+ hours, less than what I was expecting, though from reading up on the net, there is variance across devices. Add this to the glitches while charging and the fact it takes ages to charge, can be inconvenient.
-Can't seem to get the analogue properties working in the sticks. They seem to just mirror the d-pad controls therefore anologue sticks but digital controls.
-Screen not great. Contrast seems to alter too much if you tilt it slightly. Could be cos I've been spoilt by my Samsung phone.
-As Jur says, the left hand gets a little tooo warm after prolonged play.
-Don't like the start and select buttons being on the side.
(Link to this comment) chocklo 2013-07-11 15:33
Overall -

Definitely recommend a purchase. I know I've listed more cons than pros above but I'm just being picky. Perfect for a bedtime blast of...whatever you want a blast of. Possibly the best of this type of stuff that I have. Not a great screen (a bit dim and altering contrast when tilting) but the size is excellent. I was surprised by how well games run on it - glitch free. Biggest letdown for me is the power - time to charge vs strange control glitches if you play while charging (so you basically can't play while charging) vs how long the battery lasts.
Banner
Banner

Retro Game Database Search

Retro Gaming Podcast

Join the RetroCollect Squad as they discuss our gaming past in the all new RetroCollect FM - Retro Gaming Podcast.


Retro Games on eBay now



About RetroCollect

RetroCollect is your one stop for everything retro games and retro gaming. Featuring the latest classic gaming news around, informative reviews and an ever active forum, you'll feel right at home with other retro gamers.

RetroCollect FM - Retro Gaming Podcast

Join the RetroCollect Squad as they talk their way through the wonderful world of retro gaming.

Listen to RetroCollect FM - Retro Gaming Podcast

Join RetroCollect on the web