Imagine my surprise, when I grabbed my mail, only to find a rather conspicuous and unexpected package sitting in the mailbox. After spending 10 minutes trying to cut through the abundance of packaging tape, I was greeted with a skinny white box and what looked like a hard drive case. To my excitement, the new Anbernic RG28XX has arrived, and I’ve had some time to put together my initial thoughts and impressions.

Just as an FYI, others on the RH team, including Stubbs and Retro Tech Dad, have already gotten the Anbernic RG28XX and shared their impressions. Apparently, Zu has one too, and you’ll probably see an embedded video whenever it goes live. Right on cue, Zu’s delivered his own impressions on the new RG28XX.

The RG28XX will be available in a few different colors, but I got the “Beige White”. It definitely looks pretty good in person, but I have to admit that I’m a bit envious of the Creamsicle. Anbernic does a pretty good job with the contrast between the shell and buttons, so I can’t really complain.

Anbernic RG28XX closer device comparison

Until now, the only handheld with a screen under 3.5 inches that I’ve used is my Miyoo Mini. It mostly collects dust nowadays but I’ll occasionally pick it up just to mess around with it. Needless to say, going from the RG35XX 24 to the 28XX was still a bit of a shock to my aging eyes. I guess that’s kind of the point with these ultra-pocketable handhelds, but at least it doesn’t look awful.

The bigger problem I’ve had in the few hours since getting the 28XX is the obvious one. These buttons are just hilariously tiny for my meaty paws. I can cover all four buttons with my right thumb while doing the same for the D-Pad with my left thumb. I might be limited to playing games with just my fingertips, but it’s alright. However, I am a bit worried about how long I will last when it comes to longer gaming sessions.

Keeping with the button trend, I have no idea what Anbernic was thinking with these shoulders and triggers. L1 and R1 are practically flush to the shell, while L2 and R2 jut out further than you’d expect. Depending on what games you want to play, it’ll be fine, but you’ll likely change up the button layout in the settings.

Okay, so what about actually playing games? Well, stay far away from Anbernic’s “Game Rooms.” Every game I try to play ends up progressively slowing down to the point that I want to turn the RG28XX into a Batarang. Just stick with the “RA Game” lineup, and you’ll be happy.

Anbernic RG28XX Stock Firmware Main Screen

Anbernic RG28XX Stock Firmware Main Screen

Don’t ask me why, but I’ve been kind of addicted to playing Pokemon Pinball lately. Within less than a minute, it goes from being smooth to acting like the Game Boy Color is the most difficult console to emulate. This leads me to my next gripe, and that’s the lack of custom firmware.

Despite the RG28XX being powered by the same Allwinner H700 as the RG35XX Plus/H, and 2024, Anbernic’s hiding a secret. The 28XX uses a vertical display, and the various custom firmware options haven’t been optimized for this.

Anbernic RG28XX Angled view

You can’t use custom firmware on this device yet. You’ll have to make do with Anbernic’s stock offering. For the sake of posterity, I tried loading up both muOS and an alpha build of the upcoming Knulli firmware. But the RG28XX didn’t boot either firmware. But, if there’s one thing you can count on in this community, it’s that we probably won’t have to wait too long for something better.

Well, that’s it for my first impressions of Anbernic’s latest retro handheld. Admittedly, the RG28XX shows more promise than I expected, even with its tiny buttons and lack of custom firmware options. Even still, we’ll be back soon with our full review, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

In the meantime, you can finally order the RG28XX for yourself from either AliExpress or directly from Anbernic. It costs $47.99, but there’s a 48-hour sale that saves you $5, knocking the price down to $43.99. You’ll still have to pay for shipping, but hey, at least there’s some type of discount to help offset the cost.

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