Mobile technology should not be about cramming the office into your pocket but a way to enjoy your everyday life.

Anbernic RG 351P handheld retro device


This is a ARM/Linux based handheld device designed for playing retro games.

"Does it play Nintendo 64" is the community's equivalent to "are we there yet" and there are lots and lots of blogs and Youtube videos dedicated to the question.

I'm too old to think of the N64 as retro and life is too short to tinker with setting up devices like this so my question is: does it work out of the box or do you have to spend days researching blogposts and installing firmware to get it to work?

It works out of the box. It's "pick up and play". It's nice.

It's like "frustration free packaging" for retro gaming.

The device is powered by a Rockchip RK3326 quad core ARM CPU with a Mali-G31 GPU and has 1GB of RAM. The operating system is Linux but you don't see it. On top of Linux comes RetroArch preinstalled - a collection of emulators that follows a standard of sorts for keyboard configurations and so on allowing you to configure buttons once and not for each emulator separately. And these configurations are done by the manufacturer. On top of RetroArch there is Emulation Station - a nice looking visual user interface allowing you to browse your game collection and select which one to start. As a normal user the only user interface you will see is Emulation Station.

Everything is pre-installed and pre-setup and everything I threw at it worked out of the box except Daphne and Amiga - but these are two of the most complicated to configure systems. Even C64 worked out-of-the-box and that is not always the case.

The screen is a 3.5 inch 480x320 pixel LCD. Most old games have native resolutions below or equal to this but having to upscale the resolution "just a bit" does not look that good. A 640x480 screen would have made a big difference and improved the Emulation Station user interface where the text is difficult to read with such a low resolution screen.

Anbernic does have a model with a 640x480 screen - The RG350M - but it has a MIPS based CPU (not ARM) and an operating system / user interface that requires a lot more work to function.

The screen does not seem to be of particularly good quality anyway - my own broke after a week. Suddenly I started seeing burnt in images of previous graphics and the screen became darker than usual. Letting the device be switched of over the night helped but the problem returned as soon as I had used it for a few minutes. Fortunately I was able to return this defective unit.

Generally speaking though this is a device with good build quality and it feels solid and well built in your hand. I especially like the fact that they use a modern USB-C connector for the charging port.