Instagram… Square. Minecraft… Cube. Pico 8… Square. Rubiks… Cube. RGB30… Square. Yeah… the RGB30 is definitely a square alright. At least square in the screen. That’s right, the RGB30 is the topic of today’s article if you couldn’t tell by the Thumbnail, or the title, or the URL, or the tweet you probably saw before clicking on the article (thanks for clicking). So let’s talk about it.
I’ll admit that I am not the biggest fan of Powkiddy handhelds. The V90 was nice for what it is. The A20 felt fine in the hands, but that Software drags it down hard. So far my favorite device from PK is their A12; a Desktop Arcade Machine, and that is far from portable. But when I saw the RGB30 launch, I was absolutely enamored by that square screen. Something we’ve only really seen on the Retro Pixel Pocket (Check out Rocketman’s Review here) and I wanted to give it a show. So here we are, with the RGB30. You’re going to get my first impressions out of the box followed by a rundown of my awful opinions on the rest of the device. Hopefully you enjoy it, and it helps you decide on whether you need four square meals in a day.
Oh by the way. This handheld was purchased by me, from Powkiddy’s website. There’s no exchange being made and all of these thoughts and (probably) bad opinions are mine and mine alone.
As a brief “first impressions” section. Taking it out of the box, my first thought looking at the RGB30 was “Dang, this thing is boxy”. Maybe that’s a good thing? Maybe it’s bad. Regardless, not only does it have a square screen, but it feels like a square device. Though we’ll talk more about feel later on. Button’s feel nice, a bit mushy and light, but I don’t mind it. You’re not stuffing your fingers in mashed potatoes, but it’s not hard, like the desk at that job you wish you could escape… Anyways – the shoulders feel like they’re within reach and should be nice overall, particularly with the long L/R1 buttons being pressable all the down the sides. Oh- and in case you don’t notice in the size comparison portion of the review. I did in fact get a unit that features TWO A buttons. Why? The answer is really just the Ace up my sleeve.
Sizing Up the Competition
Let’s get a big ole handheld size comparison underway.
First up in the comparison is Powkiddy’s big RK3566 of the year- the X55. The RGB30 is quite a bit smaller than the x55. In fact, it’s almost the size of the X55 screen, albeit its height pushes it just outside those dimensions. Wider, Taller, Thicker, the X55 beats the RGB30 in every way. HOWEVER, The RGB30 has the advantage of having Shoulder buttons that don’t feel and sound like I’m hitting a drum.
Next in the comparison is the RG503, my personal favorite widescreen 3566. The RGB30 isn’t as wide, but it is slightly taller. Again it wins by being thinner, though not by much this time around. And its shoulder buttons, while similar looking to the 503’s are slightly louder, but slightly more pleasant to use. One thing I notice right away is how much taller the square screen is than the 16:9 4.95-inch screen on the 503. Though at this point, height is something to expect from a device like this.
The 353M, on the other hand, is a shorter device that’s just about as wide as the RGB30. However, this is where you can really tell the difference between a 4:3 3.5 inch display, and a 1:1 4 inch display. The RGB30 is quite sizable in comparison, and it can definitely be felt in hand.
After that is the 353PS. Wider, Shorter, Thicker. It’s a comfortable device for sure- but man it feels like a 3.5 inch beast next to the RGB30. Buttons overall are quieter but that’s helped by the stacked shoulder buttons the 353PS can have thanks to its thickness (with 2 C’s).
Finally, a device not housing an RK3566 is the Retro Pixel Pocket. This is a big comparison, as it’s the only other device I can think of right now that has a Square, 720p display. In comparison, the RGB30 is wider than the RPP is tall. Height wise, the RGB30 comes up to half-way on the RPP screen. One thing worth looking at is the size difference. The Retro Pixel Pocket and its 3-inch screen simply feels outclassed by the RGB30. This is in both Size and Quality.
Finally – since we’re talking about size comparisons. Here’s their weights ordered from lightest to heaviest.
Retro Pixel Pocket – 169 Grams
Powkiddy RGB30 – 207 Grams
Anbernic RG353M – 232 Grams
Anbernic RG503 – 236 Grams
Powkiddy X55 – 293 Grams
For anyone who’s been paying attention to retro handhelds for the last year, you’re probably gonna be familiar with the specs. But for everyone else? Let’s talk. The RGB30 is powered by the venerable Rockchip RK3566, features 1gb of Ram, and has a 4100 mAh battery. Which admittedly is quite impressive for the 3566 devices. Controls are made up of the standard Nintendo Switch style sticks on the bottom that click in for L3 and R3, buttons that feel fine and don’t want to cut me above it, and Inline Shoulder buttons for R/L 1 and 2 that ended up being nice to reach. As for I/O, the RGB30 has it a lot on the bottom, 2 USB-C ports (One for Charging one for OTG), 2 Micro SD Slots (1 for OS, and 1 for Legally Obtained Roms), and a 3.5mm jack right in the center. On the top is the Mini-HDMI for connecting to the screen as well as volume, reset, and power buttons.
But the star of the show is that 4-inch, 1:1 aspect ratio (square) screen with a resolution of 720 x 720. The screen itself gets pretty bright all things considered, and is one that I would say does its job well. For just about everything except 16:9 content you find in PSP and Portmaster. If you were looking for a device with a niche, square, 720p screen, I’d say this is the screen to beat. I would pick this over the 3” screen on the Retro Pixel Pocket any day of the week.
Out of the box, the RGB30 comes stock with a copy of JelOS. This is a pretty common OS in use at Powkiddy by now, and it’s a completely fine experience to use. Though, as some people have mentioned, mine has a “long boot time” issues that others have seen on devices such as the X55. To fix this, you can easily just reflash the microSD card with the newest JelOS firmware on their website. Or, if you like options – you can do what I did as well, and go download ArkOS for the RGB30. While visually similar, both OS options work a little differently from one another setup wise, and can easily meet your needs. And my favorite part about both, is that with their Wi-Fi support, you can also use the official Pico-8 launcher to find, download and play your games. Though remember, you do need to own Pico-8 (it’s like $15, and if you bought an itch bundle you probably have it already). Overall, the software is pretty solid on its own right out the gate, albeit a bit slow on boot.
Coming back to this, my initial concerns about the boxy feeling were put to rest quickly by the curves off of the left and right sides of the device. Overall, the buttons didn’t give me any complaints, were responsive in use, and didn’t leave me needing bandaids. What was a really nice experience is the fact the buttons are actually a little bit larger than those on many Anbernic devices. Bigger size, nice experience, the face buttons were done well. I’m no fighting game expert, so I can’t tell you how Shoryukenable or Hadukenable the d-pad is specifically, but in my experience it was another good experience. Responsive, but a bit loose and has a hint of “could do better in contra movement.” Again: these face buttons are surprisingly nice.
My biggest complaint is probably going to be the strange texture they added into the plastic of the bottom left and right corners of the device. It doesn’t do much for me comfort wise, but instead makes me wonder how much gunk is going to form in these hard plastic bevels over the next year or so of me using this device.
Also, this device will not fit in my mouth, so I cannot give it the Stubbs Certified Mouth-Feel test.
Pocket testing on the other hand is feasible, and for me the RGB30 fits nicely in the pocket of my Jeans, Khakis, and of course in a Sling Bag (sorry Fanny Pack lovers). Overall, though, with my history of handhelds I’d likely want to stuff it in a case and leave it in my bag if it’s going with. I’m just-not personally a “pocket player”.
Knowing the RK3566, the gaming experience performance wise is gonna be exactly what you should know to expect. 8-bit, 16-bit, and everything up to the Playstation is going to play pretty much perfectly (Minus those fringe games that need a 4069Ti to power them). Once you’re past that, you can absolutely get a playable experience from systems such as the Dreamcast, N64, or PSP. I wouldn’t buy this device for those, but for what you can get out of them that’s good, is a worthwhile experience. And of course, Fantasy consoles like Tic-80, Pico-8, as well as Portmaster games work wonders here.
But what really affects the gaming experience are the things you get out of the screen. 4:3 systems run about the same size as a 3.5 inch display, albeit with huge ole top and bottom bezels. 3:2 is about the same, though with even larger bezels. And personally, I wouldn’t recommend 16:9 on here unless you’re a monster who wants to stretch widescreen things.
But what’s really good is 1:1 content (duh). Pico-8, Watara Supervision, and Stretched NES (I know. Stretch bad). But these are examples that look really good on the RGB30, and it’s not even funny. As well as that, vertical shooters work shockingly well on this device. It really gives you a lot of options for systems you might not play on other devices because of what screen they use. The gaming experience for a device with a screen this nice feels truly full-featured when you’re filling it up from top to bottom.
Before I give my thoughts, let’s talk about price and options. At $90 on Powkiddy’s website ($85 with the always present POWKIDDY code) you’ve got a lot of competition either way. A majority of RK3566 handhelds sit around this price. X55 ($90), RG353PS ($90), RG353VS ($90), RK2023 ($70-$85). All of which I think are good options, but man someone needs to do a tier list for them or something. For a little more ($115) you could get some more power like the Powkiddy RGB10 Max 3 Pro… plus… mega power… or whatever. But that one has more software issues than I can shake a stick at.
The real comparison in my eyes is the recently released Retroid Pocket RP2S. Starting at $99 it’s close in price, but hits hard in performance. Full Dreamcast, N64, and an operating system so common you’ve probably seen it in a Car, Fridge, or Smart Dog. Seems like a no-brainer? Until you add in $15 for shipping (4PX to the USA), or you decide you want the extra gig of ram and 128 gb of internal storage. Now it’s $120 and shipping. The RGB30 has free shipping. So, similar to the RGB10 Max 3 Pro, you’re looking at $90 vs $115 minimum. Is the extra $25 worth it to you? That’s only for you to choose. I’m just here to tell you what I think of this device. Which, speaking of that…
Alright let’s get to the personal part of the review: My Final Opinions. The RGB30 is a seriously good handheld. It’s got a nice screen, buttons that are nice to use- even if I’ve got two A buttons, and even the speakers in it sound good. However, I don’t think it’s a handheld for everyone.
If you specifically want 4:3 content don’t bother here- there’s a myriad of devices that can help. Want a compact device? I think the shape of this device, while pocketable, makes it a bit of an awkward square to carry it around. A smaller device with this same chip would (again) make a lot more sense if the performance is what you need.
Also I have a couple personal gripes of mine including the odd changes to JelOS I experienced, and the hard plastic grips that’ll likely build something up over time. Oh and of course. There’s the classic Powkiddy QC that won’t prevent you from getting 4 X buttons, or a pair of L2s in your device. This is a really good device; if you fill its niche. Buy it if you like Square gameplay and want a device with wi-fi. Or buy it if you think it will be more comfortable. This gets a genuine recommendation from me as long as you know what you want to play on it and are fine with the downside of large bezels, or tweaking to stretch your gameplay to fill the screen up. Good on you Powkiddy- please do more of this?
If you’d like to see more talk and chat on the RGB30, you can check out the Live Review of the RGB30 over on the Retro Handhelds Youtube Channel.
Purchase the RGB30 from the Powkiddy Official Store.
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