Hardware Review: JXD S7800b Android Gaming Tablet

Hardware-Review-JXD-S7800BAs technology has progressed, the ability to emulate our favourite games from decades ago has become a simple task for the more powerful platforms of today. One of the more recent offerings, the JXD S7800b, is a quad core Android tablet built for nothing but gaming. Although intended to be the ultimate mobile gaming device, this Chinese made handheld is more of a retro gamers dream.

Coming equipped with dual analog sticks, a D-Pad, fourteen buttons and a generously sized screen, anyone taking a quick glance could be easily forgiven for assuming the JXD S7800b is a rival to Sony’s PS Vita. While bearing some similarities on the outside, this Android gaming handheld isn’t built to take on the mainstream market, but instead to provide a fantastic platform for playing games from Google’s Play Store.

To give a bit of background, over the last five years we’ve all seen a rise in mobile gaming from Angry Birds to Flappy Bird. This new playing field in everyone’s pocket has brought non-gamers out of the woodwork, resulting in a massive boom known as casual gaming. In between these mind-numbing challenges though is the occasional decent title which makes for great gaming on the go. The likes of Sega’s Sonic CD mobile port and Super Hexagon have justified the use of touchscreen enable devices, but as retro gamers, we’ve all felt that these modern titles could do with more tactile controls - and this, is where the JXD S7800b steps in.

Not only are the physical controls on the JXD S7800b compatible with a wide range of apps, but the handheld also provides a solution for the touchscreen only titles. Using the handheld’s key-mapper tool, commands can be dragged and positioned over existing touchscreen controls and then mapped to the physical controls - allowing your actions on the D-Pad and the like to be translated into touch, leaving you to take full control of your game of choice.

As great as this is for modern gamers who enjoy touchscreen affairs, the JXD S7800b has a far greater potential to be tapped into. With a wealth of game emulators around on the Google Play Store, retro gamers should take note that this handheld could easily become their system of choice over all the originals. From ZX Spectrum to Sega Dreamcast, this under-appreciated handheld can handle them all, and with style.

JXD S7800b Technical Specifications

  • Screen: 7 inch IPS LCD, Resolution: 1280x800
  • Touch: 5 point Capacitive Screen(G+G )
  • Chip: RockChip 3188, Quad Core, 1.6GHz (cortex A9 CPU, ARM mali400 mp4 GPU)
  • DDR: 2GB DDR3
  • Storage: 16GB
  • OS: Android 4.2.2
  • Control: 3 ways to control the games: 5-point capacitive touch screen, Buttons(L+R button, Dual joystick), G-sensor
  • Buttons: Direction buttons, ABXY, LR, Dual joysticks, Select, Start, Vol+/-, Reset, POWER, Home, Back, Menu, Mode switch button
  • Network: Wi-Fi(802.11 b/g/n), External Ethernet,3G Dongle compatible
  • G-Sensor: 3 Axis Gravity Sensor
  • Camera: Front 0.3 MP, Back 2MP camera
  • Speaker: Double Speaker
  • Video: RMVB, VI, MPEG-4, WMV, F4V, FLV(Support the 3-rd party apps)
  • Audio: MP3, WMA etc. (Support the 3-rd party apps)
  • Battery: Built-in 5000mA rechargable Li-polymer battery
  • Charge: with 5V 2A DC adaptor
  • I/O: USB2.0 High Speed
  • OTG: Connect Keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, 3G dongle, U disk and Hard disk
  • 3.5mm Stereo earphone mini jack
  • Micro TF card slot, max 32GB
  • HDMI: HDMI dual screen output,up to 1080P
  • Language: Multi-languages
  • Size: Length: 245 mm Width:120.5 mm Height:16.5mm Weight:500g
  • In the box: S7800, User’s Manual, USB,OTG, Charger

JXD-S7800b-Emulators

Retro Gaming on the Go!

For those of you more familiar with Apple’s iOS and the App Store, you’ll be surprised how open and unrestricted the Android equivalent is. While this lack of moderation (to an extent) does open the floodgates to low quality apps, it does, however, introduce a much richer range for gamers feeling nostalgic. With many emulators out there providing open-source code and details on their inner-workings, Android developers have been slowly but surely porting over a large selection of emulators to the mobile platform.

To give you an example of what’s been going on, the hugely popular Super Nintendo emulator SNES9X has been condensed down into app form, along with many others such as GenPlus providing near perfect Mega Drive emulation on the go. This trend has seen just about every other console you can imagine before the year 2000 receiving a portable emulator of some sort, with several experimental ones for more recent platforms (and of course the overly complicated Sega Saturn). This includes everything from the Game Boy to PlayStation Portable, and Nintendo NES to Nintendo 64. Furthermore, many home computers have become playable on the platform - including the Commodore Amiga and Amstrad CPC - each coming with touchscreen keyboard support for those fiddly titles.

Having reviewed another handheld from JXD’s range last year, we’re pleased to say that not only has progress been made in terms of the hardware side of things, but also the software too. While JXD has no responsibility in terms of what emulators are available for the device, the active development scene has seen many of the aforementioned emulators receiving vast improvements in performance, all for the taking.

Unleashing the handheld’s power

Before we head into the finer details on how the likes of Majora’s Mask and Crazy Taxi are handled, there’s one more point worth discussing. Out of the box the JXD S7800b provides just about everything you could possibly need, however, there is much more untapped power under the hood. Various Android developers have compiled alternative firmware for the device, along with additional upgrades and adjustments available. Many of these, such as Webclaw’s popular firmware provide fixes for issues such as frame dropping issues (vSync) and battery life, along other cosmetic tweaks to the operating system.

These upgrades, hacks, and modifications, whilst providing more power are only recommended to those comfortable and knowledgeable with what they’re doing. Not only will installation of one of these void your warranty, but a slight mishap could render your device useless. Proceed with caution.

To review the device at its best, our review will cover the handheld’s performance running WebClaw’s custom firmware. But enough talk, what exactly can this handheld play and how does it hold up to the original games and systems?

Gaming on the JXD S7800b

Starting out with some of the earlier consoles, such as the Nintendo NES and Sega Master System, we found that the JXD S7800b didn’t even break a sweat whilst emulating these 8-bit platforms. Using NES.emu and MD.emu (with its Master System compatibility), classics such as Super Mario Bros, Alex Kidd in Miracle World, and Donkey Kong all ran as if they were originally intended for the handheld. The framerate remained at a constant high throughout all of our tests, and the games themselves looked incredible stretched out at a native aspect ratio to match the large display. No matter what titles we threw at the handheld, it would appear that 8-bit emulation doesn’t get any better than this.

Moving on to the 16-bit platforms, our tests again remained flawless. In an attempt to derail the system and make it struggle, we threw plenty of Super Nintendo titles at Snes9x EX+ which relied on custom chips such as the DSP-1 and SuperFX. From Super Mario Kart’s Mode 7, to StarFox’s primitive 3D, to Final Fantasy VI’s iconic snow scene, nothing appeared to trip up the console. Tests on the Mega Drive also yielded similar results, with more CPU intensive titles such as Panorama Cotton, Alien Soldier, and Adventures of Batman and Robin all proving too easy for the handheld. In the end, we just gave up and settled with Sonic The Hedgehog 2 for some timeless fun.

JXD-S7800b-Mega-Drive-Emulator

The 32-bit and beyond tests, however, are where things started to get more interesting. As many games of this generation use cameras and polygons, emulation has the power to make things look even better. From smoothing out models and allowing some games to display in widescreen (despite being of 4:3 ratios), there is a huge amount of potential here to give old games new life. Having said that though, 32-bit and upwards emulation can be very complicated and provide varying results - often leaving you having to tweak various settings to get the desired results. Nevertheless, don’t be put off as many favourites can be run at near perfect framerates.

Starting out with the Sony PlayStation using ePSXe, our tests with the handheld far exceed our expectations. Crash Bandicoot 2 was the first game run through the emulator, looking absolutely incredible with its original models and textures smoothed out via the OpenGL plugin. The game itself appeared to maintain a constant 60fps throughout, showcasing how much power is really within the JXD S7800b. Moving on we chose a fan favourite, Final Fantasy VII. After the initial introduction, we were thrown right into the opening scenes in Midgar, but the arrival of a battle reared its ugly head. The swirl cut-scene to throw you into combat proved too difficult for the OpenGL plugin, however, once all the enhancements were turned off and hardware rendering was chosen instead, we were back in action with Cloud and the gang at a constant 60fps.

This slight adjustment and removal of shine soon paved the way for many more classics running near perfectly on the device. The other issues we faced with with Tekken 3’s high polygonal models, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’s speedy action, and Metal Gear Solid’s atmospheric locations were all removed, with the emulator displaying the games in their more familiar pixelated views. Furthermore, more recent titles such as Final Fantasy IX also appeared to run as smooth as ever leaving us questioning what this Android gaming tablet would actually struggle with.

As one final test for the PlayStation, we booted up Gran Turismo 2 - a title known for its detailed car models and tracks. While proving a little too intensive for the OpenGL plugin, hardware rendering allowed the game to run at full speed with absolutely no slowdown whatsoever. This subsequently left us with no other choice but to step up to the 64-bit realm to trip this handheld up.

Using the Nintendo 64 emulator Mupen64 Plus AE, the showdown with the JXD S7800b had begun. Could we finally best the handheld?

JXD-S7800B-Nintendo-64-Emulator

Using fairly standard settings, we soon found ourselves in a similar situation to that of Final Fantasy VII’s battle sequence. While the device can most definitely cope with rendering N64 games at the highest possible resolution, there was a slight drop in performance - especially with titles such as Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Opting to render games at a smaller resolution to be upscaled fixed most titles, however, there were still a select few problems. Mario Tennis for example had a varying framerate from 11fps to 30fps, as did some of Pokemon Stadium 2’s menu screens, whilst Resident Evil 2 presented a black screen upon booting. Despite this, fan favourites such as Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64, F-Zero X and GoldenEye 007 again looked fantastic and handled perfectly.

And last but not least, the true test to determine how powerful the JXD S7800b really is - the Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable. Before we go into the details, it’s worth noting that both the Android emulators created for Dreamcast, DS and PSP emulation are fairly new. Like many early additions into the emulation world, they’re anything but perfect. Regardless, both of these apps provide impressive results for emulation fans and retro gamers alike.

Beginning with the Dreamcast (using r6 of Reicast), our preliminary tests were with Crazy Taxi. Given that we’d experienced a few issues with later Nintendo 64 games, we were expecting Dreamcast titles to struggle on the device - something which wasn’t exactly the case. To our surprise we were soon driving around blasting out The Offspring from our stereos and picking up passengers. Crazy Taxi was being emulated on the JXD S7800b at a framerate of 30fps and showing little signs of slowing down. What made this even better was that we were making use of the built in feature to render video output in widescreen format. Through this setting, the emulator casts away the limitations of a 4:3 display and provides a viewport never seen before with Sega’s console. Before we even had chance to drop off our first passenger, we were blown away by the ability to see even more detail than ever before - something only emulation can bring.

Our next test was the all important one - Shenmue. To be able to play the memorable adventure on the go would be nothing short of incredible. Unfortunately though, our expectations were a little high. While the game appeared to chug along with little slowdown, it was running at rather depressing 13fps with frameskip enabled. Returning to more suitable tests, we were pleased to see a constant 30fps gameplay flowing through titles such as Fighting Vipers 2, Guilty Gear X and Sonic Adventure.

JXD-S7800B-PSP-Emulation

Moving onto the PlayStation Portable, we found rather inconsistent results using the emulator PPSSPP Gold, varying with each and every game we tested. Starting out with the most basic title we could think of, Puzzle Bobble Pocket, we were able to enjoy Taito’s gem-em-up at full speed with absolutely no issues whatsoever. Using the recommended settings for PPSSPP, we were also able to enjoy the likes of Sega Rally and Need For Speed Underground Rivals at a reasonable pace, however, both of which presented various graphical glitches throughout. The most surprising result of all was Gradius Collection. Despite being a fairly standard retro compilation, Konami’s shooter performed horribly on the app with a framerate lower than that of more complex 3D games.

Whilst there is definitely potential in PPSSPP (as shown with other Android devices), the JXD S7800b is anything but ready to handle the majority PSP emulation at this point in time. Nintendo DS on the otherhand…

Despite having only a single screen on-board, the JXD S7800b proved to be a viable alternative to the Nintendo DS. With emulators such as DraStic, our testing soon had us enjoying titles such as Mario Kart DS and Pokemon Pearl on the handheld. With built in functionality to reposition, resize and arrange the dual screens, we’d soon forgotten about the concept behind the Nintendo DS. Further testing suggested that the majority of early DS releases work fine on the device, while more recent releases required more power than the JXD S7800b had available.

Elsewhere our tests found us running various Arcade, Game Boy Advance, MSX, Neo Geo, PC Engine, Commodore 64, and Atari 2600 games - all presenting no issues whatsoever. Simply put, the compatibility was phenomenal and everything you’d expect from such a device.

Taking control of the JXD S7800b

Whilst its all well and good knowing that the JXD S7800b has more than enough power within to emulate just about every system before the 128-bit generation, its no good if you can’t take control of the games you’re playing. So how does this all-in-one solution hold up whilst gaming?

Starting with the most important aspect of all, the control pad and buttons. Having used many of these devices in the past - ranging from the GP32, GP2X, Ouya, JXD S7300b, and Archos Gamepad - we’re confident in stating that the JXD S7800b’s controls aren’t perfect, but they’re not awful either. With any device costing so little and not being manufactured by the likes of Nintendo or Sony, you almost come to expect some sort of compromise on the device.

The dual analog sticks on the JXD S7800b are where the first issue lies. Although responsive (and potentially the first of its kind to truly work on an Android gaming tablet), the analog sticks can become rather slippery during use. This is mainly due to the fact that the stick itself can be twisted a full 360 without having a fixed arrangement. This in turn will occasionally result in losing grip on diagonal movements, as the lack of friction below allows the stick to rotate away to a more natural position.

Directly below the left analog stick is the all important D-Pad. If anything this traditional control method found on the JXD S7800b can likened to that of the Microsoft 360’s control pad. With a rather spongy feel, its safe to say that those hoping to play fast paced fighters may struggle. Nevertheless there have been far worse D-Pads in the past, and for your standard platformers and RPGs, the JXD S7800b presents no worries at all.

The face buttons on the otherhand are surprisingly responsive. Although needing a little more pressure than anything you’d find on a Nintendo system, they’re pretty much on par with the Microsoft 360 pad’s equivalent. The shoulder buttons though, don’t feel as natural as they could do. Having opted to provide a slimline design, the JXD S7800b’s four shoulder buttons are along the spine of the system - with the first pair of buttons resting under your finger’s end and the second curving underneath the remainder of your finger. Although very few games will make use of both shoulder buttons on one side at once, it’s not the most ideal setup. Nevertheless, Super Nintendo games and others just using a single pair of shoulder buttons will present no problems whatsoever.

Display, HDMI Out, but no Bluetooth?

Another advantage to using the JXD S7800b is that its portable power can also be output onto the big screen. Using the Mini-HDMI out port, the screen’s contents can be mirrored on a monitor of your choice. In the past, features like this on many other devices have introduced a hit on performance, often leaving the action to lag behind. Luckily enough for us, JXD appear to have remedied this issue and have somehow managed to make the video output run without any latency at all.

Having said that though, the JXD S7800b’s screen is absolutely fantastic for the price of the device. With a fairly generous range in brightness and a massive 7 inch display weighing in at 1280 x 800, there’s more than enough screen real-estate on offer for even the most complex games.

One downside to the handheld, however, is its lack of bluetooth functionality. This sadly means that the only controls you’ll be able to use on the device are those present. Given that the handheld caters for just about every early system going with two controller ports or more, the JXD S7800b remains a single player system, with no ability to connect external bluetooth control pads.

JXD-S7800b-Running-Gamesome

The Advantages of Android Emulation

As one of our final points, we wanted to touch upon the advantages of emulating classic games on such a device. While most of this review has focused on the games and running them, there are several other perks of using an Android gaming tablet.

First and foremost is the internet connectivity. Not only will you be able to browse the web like any other internet enabled device, but it will serve well as a gaming assistant. Should you be stuck on your favourite RPG, simply load up your browser of choice and Google for solutions. Feel like sharing your progress? Take an in-game screenshot and upload it to Facebook or Twitter. Want more information on the game you’re playing, boot up Wikipedia. What we’re trying to communicate here is that there’s a lot more potential in the handheld than being just a gaming handheld.

On top of that, several apps have begun appearing to streamline Android gaming emulation. The one worth mentioning here is the new addition Gamesome. Once configured and given the location of both your emulators and ROMs, Gamesome acts as an emulation frontend to jump right into the action. With an expansive menu displaying cover art and various other tidbits, the previously dull ROM selection menus can be brought to life - allowing you to just click on the game cover of your choice.

Elsewhere, it’s worth noting that the majority of emulators available on the Play Store are compatible with save files from PC emulators. So should you be halfway through a quest elsewhere, continuing that adventure on the JXD S7800b is as easy as copying your progress to the memory card (and vice versa).

JXD S7800b Gameplay Videos

 

Conclusion

At just £129.99 from Funstock, the JXD S7800b is without a doubt a perfect purchase for any retro gamer. Whilst the handheld may struggle a little with more recent titles (Later Dreamcast and PSP titles), its near perfect compatibility with thousands upon thousands of pre-128-bit classics makes it worth the investment alone. As Android emulators are growing in both force and strength, there’s never been a better time to invest in such a device - something made better knowing that there’s nothing else that comes close with the JXD S7800b in terms of power, form-factor, and price.

Get your JXD S7800B

Link: Buy a JXD S7800B Android Gaming Tablet from Funstock


Last Updated ( 09 November 2014 )  

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) ollie809 2014-11-09 20:45
Very good review mate. Thanks I'm surprised that there is no lag when playing via hdmi on the big screen! That was the main reason why I didn't want one of these, that I thought it would lag a lot. Looks like I may have found a new retro gaming device on the go!
(Link to this comment) Fatnan69 2014-11-09 21:20
Fantastic review. I was considering something like this until I bought my Note 3 and purchased the Ipega 9025 gamepad to use with it. Like you said in your review the android platform is fantastic for emulation and all 8bit and 16bit emulators work perfectly. I've found that the two ps1 emulators Epsxe and Fpse from the play store are fantastic and are always updated.
(Link to this comment) Junkmale 2014-11-10 00:53
Good,fair review.
The only thing i can add is that you can get one MUCH cheaper by ordering direct from China.
(Link to this comment) owlcity 2014-11-10 07:16
Great review. JXD S7800b is an excellent handheld game console, playing retro games are very good.
(Link to this comment) Anduin 2014-11-10 15:23
Good review.
(Link to this comment) LaundroMat 2014-11-11 09:08
I've been looking for portable emulation for a while now, and the lag free HDMI sounds promising. However, I'd like to be able to attach USB devices too (such as an arcade stick). Is this impossible on this device?
(Link to this comment) HankTzar 2014-11-17 13:09
Quoting LaundroMat:
I've been looking for portable emulation for a while now, and the lag free HDMI sounds promising. However, I'd like to be able to attach USB devices too (such as an arcade stick). Is this impossible on this device?

Yes you can. I use an Xbox controller but I think you can use most USB controllers. I didn't even have to remap the keys, it just worked!
(Link to this comment) DoubleK 2014-12-26 12:48
Looks great shame no multi player option!! No way round this??
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