R4i Gold Hands-on Impressions

Discussion in 'GBAtemp & Scene News' started by Another World, Dec 12, 2010.

Dec 12, 2010
  1. Another World
    OP

    Former Staff Another World Emulate the Planet!

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    [​IMG] R4i Gold Hands-on Impressions
    Official GBATemp Review!
    [​IMG]

    Originally I was days away from finishing up a full review of the R4i Gold when GBATemp suffered a minor database crash. My work was being saved in sections, and when each section was complete it was posted to the site for formatting. We were unable to recover anything more than my first paragraph, I lost nearly 6 days worth of work and was forced to move on to other projects.

    During the review process I came to really admire the R4i Gold Team. They really seemed to have something good going for them and it did not seem right that users were so quick to write them off as another group of "cloners."

    Thanks to a kind offer from the R4i Gold Team, GBATemp has 30 R4i Gold Flash Kits to give away as Tempmas 2010 prizes. I have been following the comments and it seems that users, once again, are quick to judge this Flash Kit and paint it in a negative light. While I had wanted to just write the review, with the holiday season upon us, I've run out of time. Instead of a full review I have compiled a short hands-on impressions. I hope that my impressions of the kit will make our commuinty think twice before making another negative R4i Gold post.



    [​IMG] R4i Gold Hands-on Impressions
     


  2. Another World
    OP

    Former Staff Another World Emulate the Planet!

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    The original R4 had a great run as arguably one of the best first generation Slot-1 Flash Kits ever developed. Bringing together a well constructed design, PassME, a recognizable brand name, and high compatibility, its no wonder that only unforeseen developments limited its life span. These developments were the release of SDHC microSD cards and the addition of a new official Anti-Piracy method (something other Flash Kit hardware can circumvent on-the-fly).

    Until the very end, the R4 team released frequent updates which offered ROM loader fixes for a minimalistic G.U.I. that was easy to use and simple to navigate. No matter how you view the history of this hobby one thing is true, the R4 worked and it worked well.

    Following a lawsuit from big-N, R4 was forced to close its doors as a company. Rumors circulated that original members of the R4 team had moved on to other projects. While these rumors were never substantiated the “other projects” became a very real problem. The R4 brand, package, logo, and even the look and feel of the software, were “cloned”, copied, and “faked.” While being copied can be said to be a form of flattery, in the case of the R4 is has resulted in a generic collection of cheap unsupported knock-offs designed to cash in on the “R4” popularity.

    Where the other teams and cloners got it wrong the R4i Gold team has done everything right. Starting with a split from undesirable team members, those who wish to better the scene have moved on to the <a href="http://www.r4ids.cn" target="_blank">.CN Web site</a>. The remaining members and new members have released an “R4” branded card that has little if nothing else than a name in common with the original.

    <div align="center"><img src="http://gbatemp.net/news/05_r4igoldreview_flashkit_front-small.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /> <img src="http://gbatemp.net/news/06_r4igoldreview_flashkit_back-small.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /> <img src="http://gbatemp.net/news/07_r4igoldreview_flashkit_pcb_front-small.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /> <img src="http://gbatemp.net/news/08_r4igoldreview_flashkit_pcb_back-small.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div>
    <b>R4i Gold Official Features List</b> (reorganized and fixed-up):<ul><li>2nd generation storage device boots from Slot-1</li><li>Flush fitting and well constructed</li><li>Compatible with all DS systems</li><li>Support for SDHC up to 32GB</li><li>Support for Fat16 and Fat32</li><li>Support for any microSD card speed, no in-game lag</li><li>Supports clean ROM drag/drop (works with any O/S)</li><li>Built in NoPass/PassME</li><li>Automatically detects save type (no save database required)</li><li>Save directly to microSD card (no on-board chips required)</li><li>Supports Moonshell and other Homebrew</li><li>User friendly skinnable interface</li><li>Changes to interface background supported</li><li>Skin DIY through font colors, images, main menu, and game menu</li><li>Touch-screen and d-pad/button interface navigation</li><li>Supports WIFI functionality</li><li>Supports DS Rumble packs</li><li>Supports DS Web browser RAM booting</li><li>Supports G.U.I. controlled 4 level brightness adjustment (DS Lite only)</li><li>Soft-reset (commercial ROMs only)</li><li>Action Replay Cheats</li><li>Moonshell software reset functionality</li><li>DLDI auto-patching</li></ul>The R4i Gold ships in a small wax coated cardboard box. The Flash Kit comes packed in a protective plastic case, exactly like the original R4. Additionally, a similar microSD reader and light blue wrist strap are included. The Flash Kit's case and microSD reader “snap” into the plastic insert making this choice of packaging materials perfect for world wide shipments.

    <div align="center"><img src="http://gbatemp.net/news/04_r4igoldreview_contents-small.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div>
    The R4i Gold is a 2nd generation Flash Kit, which is what most of the current user base is familiar with. These kits boot from Slot-1 and do not require any hacks or extra hardware. The kit is well constructed in a shell which is nearly identical to the original R4. The case is held shut by 8 plastic tabs that press into holes on the opposite side. The kit feels sturdy and very solid; there is no movement between the shell and the PCB when pressure is applied. The shell has two guide teeth just like the original R4, enough to control insertion and aid connectivity.

    The R4i Gold supports SDHC and non-SDHC microSD cards. The microSD slot is non-spring loaded, something we like to see, which further adds to the original R4 feel. Due to a successful merging of hardware and software, ROMs should not suffer from any slow-down. Unlike the original R4, the R4i Gold does indeed support the DSi (XL) and is fully flashable [updatable] in the event of DSi firmware update.

    <div align="center"><img src="http://gbatemp.net/news/09_r4igoldreview_flashkit_menu1.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /> <img src="http://gbatemp.net/news/09_r4igoldreview_flashkit_menu2.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div>
    The R4i Gold team supports their Flash Kit with a very simple G.U.I. that offers a rather high ROM and Homebrew compatibility. The R4i Gold's kernel is based off of Moonshell v2.02 and adds commercial ROM support.

    After booting the Flash Kit, the user is first presented with options to load NDS files, multimedia, or Slot-2 via 3 centered icons. This set-up is similar to the original R4 menu, however, in this case all slot-2 options have been removed by the team due to a lack of testable hardware. The multimedia button will load a modified version of Moonshell v2.02, 2.10 was also tested and confirmed working. Booting into the NDS mode will populate both screens with different information. The top screen is for navigation via an icon/file name sorted list. The bottom screen displays various options available to the user. Cheats can be enabled or disabled, download play can be enabled or disabled, and soft-reset (L+R+A+B+X+Y) can also be enabled or disabled. At the bottom of the screen are 5 buttons titled “Game Mode Setup.” These buttons increase compatibility by changing methods by which the files are patched or accessed. Pressing “B” will navigate back 1 menu at a time until the top most menu has been loaded.

    <div align="center"><img src="http://gbatemp.net/news/wood_firmeware_gbatemp.net_2010.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div>
    Thanks to a deal brokered between Yellow Wood Goblin and the R4iDSN Team (which includes the R4i Gold .CN Team), the R4i Gold Team has permission to release official ports of the Wood R4 Firmware. YWG is working closely with the team to make sure that each update is represented correctly and that only minor changes are made to allow the firmware to boot on the R4i Gold hardware. The R4i Gold firmware performs very well, and it is a wonderful relief to find an “R4” team who supports their product, however, the Wood Firmware offers many options, tweaks, and items that users desire in a modern Flash Kit. Thanks to this deal the R4i Gold has become much more appealing to the average user looking for a budget priced kit with high compatibility, options, and good support.

    <div align="center"><img src="http://gbatemp.net/news/r4igoldwoodshot2010.jpg" border="0" class="linked-image" /></div>
    The Wood R4 Firmware is already well documented and discussing it would quickly turn this hands-on impression into something a bit lengthy. What users need to understand is that Wood R4 is the firmware R4 users wanted. Wood R4 made the R4 worth owning again for the first time in almost 2 years. Wood R4 made those who purchased clones with little to no support buy Flash Kits like the R4i Gold.

    Wood R4 adds features like AK2/2i/RPG skin backwards compatibility, file list view options (.nds, .sav, etc), scroll speed options, multiple file listing options, the ability to display hidden files, ROM trimming, Slot-2 GBA options (universal sleep, backing-up saves, NOR/PSRAM flashing), a favorites system, GBA linking, automatic RAM booting, and Rumble support. With these features comes an active development cycle resulting in an extremely high ROM and Homebrew compatibility.

    <b>Conclusion</b>:
    The R4i Gold is not a clone, a knock-off, or a reverse engineered Flash Kit. Users would be wise to keep this in mind while making negative comments about this kit and its team. The R4i Gold appears to be based off of the OEM design sold by Acekard over 2 years ago. This is the reason that Wood R4, which is heavily based on the Wood RPG sources, was able to be so easily ported. The R4i Gold has similarities to the original R4, which obviously were intentional to help boost sales. Where other groups have targeted the misinformed, the R4i Team has taken steps to rise to the top of “R4” kits by providing a tested design, securing the services of Yellow Wood Goblin, and offering their solution at an affordable price point.

    Before Wood R4 was ported this team had something very positive going for it, and the card could have easily been recommended by comparison to other kits in its price range. Since the official support of Wood R4 I find it very difficult to not recommend this Flash Kit. This kit will appeal to DSi users and fans of the Wood R4 firmware. Users who will most likely not purchase this kit are looking for the next generation of Slot-1 solutions (mainly CPU enhanced in-game menus and emulation functionality).

    The only complaint I have about this kit is the lack of R4i Gold firmware skin support. While the package proudly boasts the ability to skin, the firmware uses a .DAT system for which the team has not yet released a skinning tool. However, this is a very minor complaint as most users who purchase this kit will have done so for Wood R4 support. Skinning of the Wood R4 firmware is not only well documented but hundreds (if not thousands) of skins already exist.

    You could do far worse when picking a DSi/SDHC compatible Flash Kit. Compatibility wise you really can not do much better than the efforts of Yellow Wood Goblin. This Flash Kit is worth its cost, works very well, and does what a Flash Kit should do; it plays ROMs and Homebrew without issue.

    <img src="http://gbatemp.net/style_images/1/folder_post_icons/icon11.gif" border="0" class="linked-image" /> <a href="http://www.r4ids.cn/index.htm" target="_blank">R4i Gold Homepage</a>
    <img src="http://gbatemp.net/style_images/1/folder_post_icons/icon11.gif" border="0" class="linked-image" /> <a href="http://www.r4ids.cn/kernel/WOODV1.19/WOODV1.19_R4ids_gold.rar" target="_blank">Wood R4 v1.19 for R4i Gold</a>
    <img src="http://gbatemp.net/style_images/1/folder_post_icons/icon11.gif" border="0" class="linked-image" /> <a href="http://www.r4ids.cn/kernel/V1.41/R4idsgold_upgrade_V141.rar" target="_blank">R4i Gold DSi v1.4.1 Update</a>
     
  3. Rydian

    Member Rydian Resident Furvert™

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    Why do gazelles run away from lions? Because they've learned that lions want to kill and eat them.

    If there's a friendly lion it's going to take more than "Aw guys comeonnnnnn, I'm cool!" to get gbatemp to trust it, that's why the majority of us were waiting on your word.

    Since it seems this cart you're doing the review on has your approval (and you specifically stated they want to provide good support), the last hurdle is the clones. If there's a couple sites to get this specific cart from with minimal risk of clones (such as a US site or two, a few chinese sites, and of course AU/UK and other countries) then I won't mind suggesting this as an alternative to the 2i (people seem fond of wood), I'll update my copy-paste chart after I gather some more info, in fact.
     
  4. Another World
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    Former Staff Another World Emulate the Planet!

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    sadly that is really the unfortunate side effect of losing shoptemp. the r4i gold is still manufactured by the team who stayed behind at the .COM website. they also make the r4i gold v2 (which is the r4 ultra, acekard made kit) rebranded. the r4i.cn team has mentioned that the older card is the same and users who purchase the .com card will be able to run their firmware. however, there is no guarantee that the wood firmware will work on it, and i do not have the .com card to test if the r4i gold.cn wood port will boot.

    so as you said, rydian, it comes down to who is actually stocking the real r4i gold card from the .cn web team.

    the r4i gold team is really easy to get in contact with. (sales@r4ids.cn, support@r4ids.cn). perhaps they could offer more information as to who is placing orders with them and if they are even involved in shipping out the product.

    -another world
     
  5. Sop

    Banned Sop groovy dude lmao

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    Looks pretty good, I might get one.

    Lol, on their website it says you can order from Shoptemp.net
     
  6. Frederica Bernkastel

    Member Frederica Bernkastel WebPerf and PWA advocate; @antoligy on Twitter

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    bad analogy.
    but my main issue with your post is, are you implying that you don't trust the GBAtemp team to offer quality prizes?
    Would you really expect a team, who already cater for your lack of social life provide a place for you to contribute your insights into virtually everything, to offer up a trashy piece of junk for a prize for one of their major events?
     
  7. Lassik

    Newcomer Lassik Advanced Member

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  8. Kit_

    Newcomer Kit_ Member

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    I have 1 from shoptemp and 1 from lightake on the way in the mail. As soon as wood was announced for this flashcart I had to have 1. Glad it gets your approval.
     
  9. Schizoanalysis

    Member Schizoanalysis From somewhere inside the rabbit hole...

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    Isn't this an oxymoron?

    If it in some way replicates Acekard hardware, wouldn't it then be something of a clone?
     
  10. Another World
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    Former Staff Another World Emulate the Planet!

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    in my mind a clone is when a team makes an unauthorized duplicate of a design and then manufactures it. acekard sold the design of their actel chipped 2i to a few trustworthy “teams” who in turn sold it to a 3rd party. Some ran off cards that exactly matched the design (fake ak2i cards, etc) where others used the design to make their own card (in this case the r4i gold). i don't consider the r4i gold a clone.

    it comes down to how you define it and how the community views the definition in regards to flash kits.

    -another world
     
  11. mercluke

    Member mercluke ‮҉

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    it's not a clone if they paid acekard for permission to use the designs
     
  12. Schizoanalysis

    Member Schizoanalysis From somewhere inside the rabbit hole...

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    Nor is it an "original" cart...
     
  13. Another World
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    Former Staff Another World Emulate the Planet!

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    as i said its all in how you define what a flash kit "clone" is. if you want to start a debate post in the r4 section. =)

    -another world
     
  14. Another World
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    Former Staff Another World Emulate the Planet!

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    so your saying my words are misleading? i am in direct contact with the team. they informed me that the software should work on the old r4i gold card which the .com site continues to produce, which i said in the comment you quoted (how is that a misconception?). i do not know if this is true because i have not tested it, as i said in the comment you quoted (how is that a misconception?). i know for a fact that the r4i gold v2 is the r4 ultra rebranded with a different sticker [i have the e-mails to back it up] (how is that a misconception?). i know for a fact the r4i gold v2 is not a "clone" of the r4i gold v1, it is actually the r4 ultra which was designed, manufactured, and supported by acekard (how is that a misconception?).

    any comments in the review about the r4i gold team are strictly related to the .cn team, as the review points out. if you were making a point that they didn't support the product before they split, i never said anything in regards to the .com team in the review. i'm not really sure where you are going with your "support" comment. its a moot point at this stage as it no longer has anything to do with the .cn team or the r4i gold they support. clearly the right people formed the new group (as i said in the review).

    i would appreciate it if you didn't call me out on what i write. if its related to one of my reviews i have the proof to back it up.

    welcome to the forum by the way, as that was your first post. you might like to know that we do not allow advertising, which is what your post and sig are doing =P. that sir, is not a misconception.

    -another world
     
  15. Ron

    Member Ron somehow a weeb now.

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    Wow, just because AW praised an "R4" cart, he's gettin' trashed on. Sad to see ...
     
  16. mercluke

    Member mercluke ‮҉

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    better than the time science reviewed the n5 [​IMG]

    but, OT: great (Semi) review as always, AW and if i were still buying up random cards just for the sake of having them then i'd definitely grab one of these [​IMG]
     
  17. Schizoanalysis

    Member Schizoanalysis From somewhere inside the rabbit hole...

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    Why sad to see?

    Just following the reasoning.

    If it is neither original nor clone, it becomes a rather curious cart.

    It takes the name from R4.
    It takes the hardware from Acekard.
    It takes the kernel from Wood Goblin.

    Hybridity par excellence. In all seriousness, it reeks of postmodernism...
     
  18. ShadowSoldier

    Member ShadowSoldier GBAtemp Guru

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    I like that interface though, that's easy on the eyes.

    But here's the thing, I have an Acekard 2i in my DSi XL... as far as I can see, there's no real reason to go out and buy an R4i Gold if I have an Acekard 2i, is there?
     
  19. Schlupi

    Member Schlupi Gbatemp's Official Earthbound Maniac™

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    He? I thought Another World is a "She" lol.

    And yeah, I agree with you. why is there so much hate?

    I hope the R4i Gold will continue to support Wood. It it a great option for people who want a cheap DSi cart now. I had respect for the R4i Gold Team when they released Wood and followed the steps to make it official with YWG. Still do.
     
  20. TwinRetro

    Global Moderator TwinRetro Don't start nothin', Won't be nothin'

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    Because a small review thrown into an endless sea of hate for anything R4 isn't going to do much to patch the relations between the flash cart community and the R4 name.

    It's like trying to throw a band-aid onto a gaping, maggot infested flesh wound.
     

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