Dingoo A320 unofficial review

Discussion in 'GBAtemp Reviews & Guides' started by p1ngpong, Aug 31, 2009.

Aug 31, 2009

Dingoo A320 unofficial review by p1ngpong at 11:22 PM (20,497 Views / 0 Likes) 93 replies

  1. p1ngpong
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    Supervisor p1ngpong Legit Boss Harold

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    <div align="center"><img src="http://www.majhost.com/gallery/steelstel/rgr/dingoo4.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div>


    So I have noticed a few people around the forum asking about the Dingoo A320 hand held. But as yet nobody has written a review for it, so I thought I should write a quick unofficial review so maybe I can answer some question about it for you guys. This is going to be an "out of the box" review as such, even though I have had my Dingoo for a couple of months now. I am only going to focus on its native emulators and firmware, and I wont really be going into any detail regarding community developed emulators, custom firmware or linux.

    <div align="center"><u><b>OUT OF THE BOX</b></u></div>


    The Dingoo comes in a fairly nice box, with pretty much everything you need for it. Included in the package are a set of heaphones, a usb transfer cable, a TV out, a usb to two pin power point adapter, a set of instructions and the Dingoo console itself. The Dingoo comes with all the software firmware and emulators you will need to get going preloaded onto its internal 4gig memory, there are no ROMs included, but it does come with a few of its own custom games.

    Warning: Spoilers inside!


    <div align="center"><u><b>FIRST IMPRESSIONS</b></u></div>

    When you first get your hands on the Dingoo A320 the first thing that will strike you is just how small it is compared to a DS or PSP. And although it resembles a GBA Micro it is slightly bigger then one. Although very light the Dingoo feels very nice in your hands, and has a sturdy feel to it, its a nice looking hand held and doesn't really feel cheap or liable to break with general use.

    Warning: Spoilers inside!

    My Dingoo came half charged so I was able to turn it on and tinker with it right away. When you first turn it on two things will strike you. Firstly how quickly it actually boots up, to be able to browse the menu from the time you turn it on takes less then ten seconds. And secondly just how nice and crisp its 2.8" 320x240 LCD screen is. The screen is very bright and sharp, and the colours on it very vivid, everything is crisp on it and although small, everything is clear and easy to distinguish.

    However nobody buys a Dingoo just to browse its menu and play its not so great pre loaded games. You would want to load some ROMs on it and maybe a few videos and pictures. The Dingoo has a standard mini usb connector, the same as a PSP uses, so losing the supplied cable isn't an issue. When you plug your Dingoo into a computer the internal storage and any memory card you plug into it will auto play and show up as a removable disc. You do not need to pre-install any drivers to get it working. Plugged in the Dingoo goes into a charging mode, so unfortunately you cant play it which is a shame, but for me personally that's not a huge issue. The transfer rate of the Dingoo is fairly fast, and unlike a few Chinese products I have bought in the past the speed is "true" usb 2.0. Transferring ROMs and media is a fairly straight forward affair, the root of the Dingoo's storage is labelled clearly, and you dont need to store ROMs in a specific folder for them to work anyway, so its all very user friendly and idiot proof.


    <div align="center"><u><b>BUILD QUALITY, BUTTONS AND CONNECTIONS</b></u></div>

    Going slightly more in depth then I did earlier I want to talk about the Dingoo's build quality, buttons and connections right now. Firstly the buttons, and lets start off with the all important D-pad. The D-pad on the Dingoo is pretty decent really. Its small, roughly the size of a DS D-pad, only slightly bigger by a pinch. Its a little mushy as most D-pads seem to be these days, but certainly not the worst I have ever used, its fairly responsive and once you get used to it more then adequate for the job in hand. For fast paced beat em ups it can frustrate at times but overall its good and could have been far far worse.

    The Dingoo also has four face buttons labelled Y,B,X and A. These are fairly small but easy to access and a nice distance apart. They offer a nice level of resistance and are very responsive, there's nothing much to complain about with them. On the bottom half of the Dingoo under the D-pad and face buttons there are the start and select buttons. These are pretty tiny even by Dingoo standards and unlike the other face buttons they are clicky. But for their purpose again theres nothing to complain about, you only use them to pause and etc so they wont get in the way of any gaming. The only issue I have is with the select button. When pressed in it seem to effect the corner of the screen, like when you touch any LCD screen you get a sort of ripple effect. I get that with my Dingoo, but its not a huge issue, just something I think worth mentioning. The only buttons I don't like are the shoulder buttons. The L and R buttons on top of the Dingoo are not only tiny in proportion, but clicky also. It can be hard to get to them at times, they only protrude a millimetre or so out, and although responsive like all the Dingoo's buttons, they can frustrate in the heat of a game.

    The Dingoo has all the connections you could really need from it, on its left, right and bottom sides. On the left hand side next to the D-pad there are two holes. One is a mic and the other is a reset button. On a few very rare occasions the Dingoo will crash or hang, (mainly if you try and use an FX chip SNES game) and that is when you would need to reset it. On the under side you have the USB port, AV out, mini SD card slot and the stereo speakers. Although tiny and slightly puny the speakers work well enough, and although a bit tinny the sound is decent. The mini SD card slot is a nice feature, I heard talk that the Dingoo did not support SDHC cards, but I have and 8gig class 6 micro SDHC in a mini SD adapter in mine, and it recognises it with no problems. And on the right hand side you have the headphone input and the power/hold slide button. The only complaint I have is that when plugging in a set of headphones the Dingoo becomes slightly awkward to hold. It would have been a far better design choice to have the headphone jack on the bottom.

    Apart from a few little issues, overall the Dingoo is well put together, and fairly robust. I have used it fairly regularly for over two months now, and nothing has broken or failed on it. So I cant really fault the build quality of it overall.


    <div align="center"><u><b>NON GAMING FEATURES</b></u></div>

    The Dingoo is more then just a gaming machine. It is a fully fledged personal media player, and offers a ton of features that you wouldn't expect it to.

    The Dingoo is very impressive as a video player, capable of playing RM, MP4, 3GP, AVI, ASF, MOV, FLV and MPEG formats, pretty much any format you could want. The media player on the Dingoo is fairly simple but very functional and does everything you would want from it function wise. Video looks gorgeous on the Dingoo's screen, and thanks to the Dingoo being able to scale video you don't need to convert anything to specifically play on it.

    Music wise the Dingoo can play MP3, WMA, APE, FLAC and RA once again it handles these competently and there's nothing you can really complain about. The Dingoo also has an inbuilt FM tuner. The tuner works very well on it, and you don't need to have headphones plugged in to act as an aerial. The Dingoo can scan for FM channels automatically and save the available stations, or you can scan manually. The Dingoo also supports digital recording of voice and FM radio in MP3 and WMA formats.

    There is also a picture viewer, its basic but offers functions like zoom and pan and slideshows. And as always pictures look very nice scaled on the Dingoo's screen.

    The Dingoo also has a AV out built into it. This works well but unfortunately there is no up scaling of the native 320x240 resolution. So on a big screen the picture is not that great, I tested it out on a 40" LCD panel and to be honest I much prefer just using the Dingoo's in built screen. On the minus side there are a couple of flaws, firstly the AV out cable is very short, around 3 or so feet in length. And the cable seems slightly sensitive to movement, so if you mover around too much you will get a crackle in the picture and audio. And lastly when over-clocked TV mode does not work, I will go into over-clocking a little later but this is an essential feature you lose when playing on a TV.

    Lastly we have an "E-book" reader. Now unfortunately the Dingoo doesn't support PDF files, only .txt so its application is fairly limited, but it does have a couple of fairly nice features. Firstly you can listen to music and FM radio as you read, which is a nice touch. And secondly and more remarkably there is a text to speech feature. So the Dingoo can read out your .txt files to you. However there are a few flaws to this feature, firstly the female voice has a heavy Chinese accent, so sometimes it can be hard to make out what she is reading. And secondly and more hilariously any numbers that aren't spelled out will be read out to you in Chinese, not English.

    All of these features and the emulators are accessed by the A320's easy to navigate menu screen. Strikingly similar to the PSP's interface, everything is easy to navigate and easy to pick up. You wont have much need to refer to the instruction booklet (I know I didn't) to be able to enjoy your Dingoo.

    <div align="center"><u><b>GAMING AND EMULATION</b></u></div>

    Now this is what you all want to know about really at the end of the day. Like I said I am only focusing on the Dingoo's native emulators for this review. There is a fairly active community working on the Dingoo now, and they are producing their own firmwares, homebrew and emultors for it.

    But just before I go into its emulation capabilities let me make a brief note about it built in games. They are all pretty simple and not that great to be completely honest. Personally once you start tinkering with its emulators you wont touch any of these. And as for the much touted 7 Days salvation that comes with the Dingoo let me just give my view of it. Its a bad game, people say it looks like an early PSone game, well it really does not. Its not completely terrible by any means, but its a game that has a heavy narrative that is used to build up atmosphere. Unfortunately all the narrative is in poorly translated pigeon English, which sort of destroys the tension and atmosphere of the game and is in some cases unfortunately laughable.

    But anyway to the emulators, which I will discuss individually. But just before I do let me make a quick point about over clocking your Dingoo.

    The Dingoo CPU comes in at 360MHz, under-clocked from 430MHz. This was done to presumably extend the battery life of the Dingoo. Now for NES aside you will need to over-clock the Dingoo to get the best out of some games on it, especially if you want most later high end SNES games to work well and be playable. The over-clocking feature is not included natively on the Dingoo, it is a community made application, and one of the most essential. Without it you will enjoy your Dingoo substantially less then you would with it.

    <b>NES:</b> Ok so there's not much to say about the NES, as expected it runs it pretty flawlessly. And apart from the screen looking slightly stretched there's nothing negative to say about it, its pretty perfect overall.

    <b>Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: </b> Genesis emulation is pretty good overall, for the most part over-clocking is not necessary, but certain games, for example the Sonic games benefit greatly from it. There is a small issue with the native Genesis emulator that I have noticed, this being a sort of screen tearing/ blurring effect on some games. And even though this issue is not fatal in the least to your enjoyment, it can be somewhat distracting.

    <b>CPS1/CPS2:</b> CPS1+2 works pretty well on the Dingoo, lets say around 70% of the ROMs play perfectly well without the need to over-clock. But several of the later high end, fast paced beat em ups on it benefit greatly from running at 430MHz. Aside from that you get the occasional sound problem and graphical bug, but nothing really major.

    <b>NeoGeo: </b> NeoGeo on the Dingoo benefits massively from over-clocking, its pretty essential for it. Games like Metal Slug and the later beat em ups really need every ounce of speed the CPU can give them. Like the CPS emulator there are occasional sound and graphical issues, but again I haven't encountered anything that makes a game unplayable.

    <b>GBA:</b> Firstly for GBA emulation let me just dismiss some myths that are touted about it around the internet. I have read that the Dingoo has perfect GBA emulation several times from different sources, however this just is not true unfortunately. I would say around 90% of games work well roughly, but some are so slow and choppy they are unplayable. And there seems to be no apparent reason for this for some games. Almost all 2D games work fine, the Sonic games and Mario Kart work perfectly. But then 3D games like Doom and even Mario Tennis are unplayable. Now I dont play GBA that much, but it seems to be a very hit and miss affair overall. And unfortunately and inexplicably over-clocking seems to have little to no positive effect. So if you are buying a Dingoo mainly as a replacement for a GBA micro please bear this in mind.

    <b>SNES:</b> SNES of course requires over-clocking for many games. This is of course expected, but when over-clocked the Dingoo emulates SNES remarkably well. I would say well over 90% of SNES games run at a playable speed. This is quite impressive but sadly as usual the SuperFX chip games do not work at all, in most cases they will cause your Dingoo to hang and need a hard reset. And even when over-clocked mode 7 games like Mario Kart and Pilot Wings are not playable on it which is a shame. And as is the case for NeoGeo and CPS on occasion you will have sound issues and graphic issues for some games (mainly sound seems to be a problem for the SNES)

    Let me just make another quick note regarding emulation on the Dingoo. Even when over-clocked you will need to tweak the frameskip for each ROM individually to get the best out of it. The auto frameskip function does not work that well. Manually adjusting the frameskip and other settings is easy enough to do on all of the Dingoo's native emulators however. Holding select and start brings up a menu that lets you tweak the frameskip, and adjust other settings like sound volume, button configuration, and you can load and create save states for each individual ROM from there also.


    <div align="center"><u><b>FINAL THOUGHTS</b></u></div>

    The Dingoo overall is a very impressive little machine. It has a few issues, but at most they are nothing more then an annoyance. New tweaked native emulators from Dingoo and a natively produced over clocking application would be appreciated, but apart from a few firmware updates Dingoo themselves seem not to be supporting the A320 a great deal. However there is an active burgeoning community for the A320, who have already made good progress with new and improved emulators, custom firmwares, and even linux support. So like any system of this nature it should hopefully improve with time.

    But for this out of the box review, brushing any community created developments away to one side we must ask several questions. Is the Dingoo worth it? The answer to that is yes, for $80 I consider it a bargain. Does it do what its intended for? For the most part yes it does, emulation is more then acceptable on it, and as a personal media player it is quite frankly brilliant. I am very fond of my Dingoo A320, its good looking and feature packed, and can easily hold its ground against its more famous rivals.

    Overall its hard not to like a Dingoo if you have one, and this early in its life it has all the potential in the world. I would score it as an 8/10 right now, its very close to being great already, and given enough time it may very well become great.
     


  2. saxamo

    Member saxamo Spaaaaace!

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    That thing looks like a ghetto fabulous DSL. It's cute. To my eyes it can basically do everything a PSP can, but worse...? I dunno, the review and the overall product would interest me more if you gave even a slight overview of the community development around the device. Maybe a part 2 in the future? Props tho. :-)
     
  3. p1ngpong
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    Supervisor p1ngpong Legit Boss Harold

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    I am planning to do a follow up review focusing on the custom firmwares, linux and other community developments later on at some point. But for now I just wanted to write an out of the box review to answer the basic questions regarding the A320. As you can see on its own the review is pretty long anyway, and that's including things I had to cut out. If anyone has a Dingoo and wants to review these things, I wouldn't have a problem with that.
     
  4. Sharpz

    Member Sharpz GBAtemp Fan

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    Great review! [​IMG] I've wanted one for a while and this backs up how awesome the Dingoo is.
     
  5. NeSchn

    Member NeSchn GBAPimpdaddy.

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    I should be getting mine this Saturday for my birthday, it still has yet to come in the mail so I don't know.

    Do you mind if I ask you some questions when I get it?

    Like how to update the firmware, and how to put overclocking on it.
     
  6. iwakura

    Member iwakura HHNNNNNNGGGG

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    @p1ngpong

    great review, thought i'd throw out a link to mine as well for some differentiating opinions:
    Dingoo A320 Review

    I also had some differing results when testing emulators, but I guess we both probably didnt test enough roms.

    Battletoads for SNES cant even load pst the start screen without overclocking, and overclocking will only bring you a few seconds further. That influenced my review heavily...

    and GBA games seemed to work very well w/ overclocking, but I'll try out the 3d games.

    @neschn

    i'd recommend installing the custom firmware. Download this for all the tools you'll need to install custom firmware, unbrick (in case you screw up firmware flashing), and install the overclocking app (automatically installed with CFW)
     
  7. Overlord Nadrian

    Banned Overlord Nadrian Banned

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    Great review pingy!
     
  8. NeSchn

    Member NeSchn GBAPimpdaddy.

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    That sounds really confusing, but seeing as mine is used hopefully it already has the Custom Firmware on it. If not, I guess I will just figure out how to do it myself.
     
  9. iwakura

    Member iwakura HHNNNNNNGGGG

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    yeah it can actually be quite confusing.

    took me about 30 minutes cause i screwed up and bricked my dingoo. had to unbrick it with the tool.

    I'll see if I can write up an article/tutorial on installing the custom firmware [​IMG]
     
  10. p1ngpong
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    Supervisor p1ngpong Legit Boss Harold

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    Its pretty straight forward really NeSchn, the readme in the files that iwakura was kind enough to post are easy to follow, plus you have the unbricker tool available to you. The most important thing to remember is that if you want custom firmware use the a320-1.03TD-3.hxf HXF file in the root of your Dingoos storage.

    However if all you want to try for now is overclocking, you dont even need custom firmware you can use this http://www.mediafire.com/?adwnq5nmzaj on the official firmware to get the same effect. Just unpack the RAR and put the files in your GAME/3D Folder on the Dingoo. Then you can just go to 3D games, select the A320speed folder and from there you can select the desired speed of 200/336/370/400/430 MHz via the corresponding .app file.

    Its all easier then it sounds trust me. [​IMG]
     
  11. NeSchn

    Member NeSchn GBAPimpdaddy.

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    I do want the custom firmware, I'm sure once I set it up and such I will be able to figure what the fack I'm doing with it. XD

    One more question: With the custom firmware, can you change the theme for the Dingoo? I am not a fan of the whole PSP background copy [​IMG]
     
  12. Takeshi

    Member Takeshi GBAtemp Addict

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    Great review pingy! Every time I go to dealextreme I'm thinking about getting a Dingoo (... someday), and it's always nice to hear/read some impressions. I didn't know there was a whole community with tools to overclock it, tweaked emulators and even CFW versions behind this nice little gadget. I'm impressed!
     
  13. iwakura

    Member iwakura HHNNNNNNGGGG

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    yep, you can change the theme. though there arent many available...
     
  14. NeSchn

    Member NeSchn GBAPimpdaddy.

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    Schweetness! I hope they make more themes.
     
  15. Tozarian

    Member Tozarian GBAtemp Regular

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    Could someone give me a link to the dingoo community please?
     
  16. p1ngpong
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    Supervisor p1ngpong Legit Boss Harold

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  17. Sterling

    Member Sterling GBAtemp's Silver Hero

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    great review p1ngy I always thought the Dingoo was good, and now I am sold [​IMG] Although I will probably have to work for a few more weeks to get money for it [​IMG]
     
  18. deathking

    Member deathking GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    i just bought 1 but it will take a few weeks to get here
    the only sour point was a few snes games not working like terranigma and illusion of gaia
    but since its a pretty popular system and there is a lot of homebrew getting made i hope to see them work soon

    i cant wait to get it even if i own both a psp and ds i need something dedicated to classics [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  19. NeSchn

    Member NeSchn GBAPimpdaddy.

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    W00T, My dad finally let me open it XD

    I am trying to install the custom firmware now, wish me luck [​IMG]
     
  20. NeSchn

    Member NeSchn GBAPimpdaddy.

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    Ummm, I seem to be having a problem updating.

    I am using that Recovery Tool thing that Iwakua (sp?) posted on the first page, I am following everything in the ReadMe, but I am not getting a "Firmware Upgrade" screen at all. [​IMG]

    I don't know what I am doing wrong.
     

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