One of the recent discussions around the handheld community has been the fact that it seems companies are releasing just too many handhelds. “Anbernic is on their once-a-month cycle” this and “Ayaneo released how many x86 devices this year?” that. I’m not going to sit here and disagree with that. There are definitely a lot of handhelds and it feels like we’re going to end up with way too many at this point. However, it also feels like this constant stream of releases has resulted in a second problem not many people talk about. 

How quickly some handhelds get forgotten, despite being really good. So in this brief “talking head” piece, I kind of want to cover a couple of handhelds that got lost in the fray, and see, is there anything we can really do about this problem now.

Fun-damentally Flawed? The RG Arc

This was a bit of an odd one. A solid RK3566 handheld with 6 face buttons and a surprisingly good dish D-Pad. A lot of talk about this handheld was positive, and throughout the beginning of this year, it was one of my regular pickups. So what happened?

People took a good handheld but focused on the part that made it a bit of a disappointment. As a number of people have said, the RG Arc isn’t powerful enough to play Saturn. The 3566 doesn’t have quite enough oomph for that and makes this form factor just that little bit more disappointing. While I don’t agree, others commented that the Arc should’ve had a stick as well as the D-Pad. Just small things that made people move on when the next set of 3566 handhelds came out.

In the case of the Arc, it was a good handheld forgotten by people for a few of its flaws. Yeah, it has some custom firmware, but nothing compared to some of the handhelds that were released just before or just after. Even the M17 has a good bit of CFW built around it. On a $30 handheld.

Lost in The Sauce: Retroid Pocket 2S

I know everyone says it’s a good handheld, but how often do you really hear people talking about the Retroid Pocket 2S? Basically an upgrade in every way over the 2+ yet, it essentially shows up in “Best Android Handheld Under” lists and not much else. To me, it’s because of that issue mentioned earlier. The constant stream of handheld releases.

Some devices got picked up, and some got completely ignored. Despite being less powerful and almost as pricy, the RGB30 was released a month after the Retroid Pocket 2S, and just about everyone picked up on and loved that thing. Was it poor timing for Retroid? Or was it just, that in a sea of small 4:3 handhelds, everyone gravitated towards the one that was different?

As I said, the RP2S is far from a bad handheld, but it’s one people don’t talk about much compared to the competition. On the Retroid Handhelds website, there are 5 articles specifically about the RGB30 and 2 about the Retroid Pocket 2S. Doesn’t make one device better than another.

It just means the Retroid Pocket 2S got lost in the sauce, and the community picked the RGB30 Meatball. 

Forgotten at the Factory: FunnyPlaying Retro Pixel Pocket

While not completely forgotten, this was a bit of an oddball device. 720p 1:1 vertical running non-touchscreen Android. This was going to be a fundamentally flawed device out of the gate, and despite that Funnyplaying made it worse.

Buttons were a major issue for people and the recommendation was to just “break them in”. It worked for some, but not others. And despite promises from funnyplaying for new shell colors, buttons, and more, after their first batch they simply quietly removed the handheld from their website. And everyone seemed to have forgotten.

This was likely for the best as it wasn’t the best, but at the same time, we were getting some pretty noisy stinkers in the handheld scene from the D007 to the X28, X55, and the Pimax Portal. In this case, moving on too quickly was good, and we ended up with the FPGBC, arguably one of the best FPGA-based handhelds, and my personal favorite Game Boy-styled handheld.

What Does This Mean?

There may be only one victor

Well, while I wish this could be the case. The best way to remember these handhelds and maintain their relevance in the market would be to slow down the amount of releases. Focus on making what we’ve got already better. Yeah the RG35XX H after the RG35XX+ was a nice release, but everybody has already forgotten about the plus, and the only development it gets seemingly comes from just H700 compatibility.

The XU10 was left behind in favor of the cheaper R36S or the TrimUI Smart Pro, which while a smart choice in hindsight still felt like rapid handheld abandonment. 

I don’t help with my unending collection of handhelds, but I think we can agree that building a community around a handheld or its chip can help provide the best firmware experience for both new users and users on their 17th device.

All else fails though, I’ll let everyone keep forgetting about the Powkiddy A20. That one wasn’t good.

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