PocketGo S30 First Look Review (Retro Handheld Game Console)

Score
Stock Out of the Box - 3/10
Using RGC Setup - 5/10



This was a tough console to review. If there becomes a way to flash a drastically better Firmware in the future, it could be drastically improved. I plan to keep messing around with it in the future. There is potential here if something could be done with the OS and front end. 

  • Screen: 3.5 inch 480x320 IPS
  • CPU: Quad Core 1.2GHZ All Winner A33 CPU
  • GPU: Mali400 MP2
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Storage: External MicroSD
  • Battery: 2600

The PocketGo S30 is 8BitDo/SNES aesthetic knockoff consoles out of China. I feel like at first glance the shell of the system is a lot higher quality of a build than the PocketGo and PocketGo v2 are but you are also paying more. Of all the systems I felt running Gameboy Advance looked and felt the best. Just between the awful speaker, light leak issues out of the box, a terrible front-end, I just can't highly suggest it. It sounds a lot better using headphones though. 

Straight out of the box, the UI is simply not nice at all and the system has a grand total of 2 settings. The OS and firmware are flashed physically onto the console. There's no altering the OS at the moment. 

The Screen itself looks pretty good.  Straight out of the box some things look a little blurry. You absolutely have to switch out some of the emulators. (Check out the Guide on Retro Game Corps on setting up the S30. It saves the system a little). Maybe I was unlucky but I have light leaks in 3 spots from the start on it. The screen is nice and bright but I found that I have to turn the backlight to the lowest setting to get a nicer and crisper view.  There is no sleep function or Screensaver on it. With minimal options set up, customized with some wallpapers and loaded with games it wouldn't be bad for a kid or someone new to retro emulation consoles. 


When images of the S30 started hitting the blog scene a while, several sites insinuated that there was evidence 8bitDo was involved in the design process. I believe there was no real evidence of that and it was used by someone to generate extra hype for the system.

The housing (shell) is pretty good quality. The Nintendo Switch style thimbstick is great. The d-pad is "good" and the face buttons are responsive and pretty good although not really the most comfortable size for this design. They aren't terrible. The most exciting thing about this handheld was the stacked L/L2 and R/R2 triggere. Some people complained about those in other reviews but they are built just fine.  The overall issue I have is that engineering just wasn't great with this. Its an awkward feel using L and R and the console doesn't really fit well in the hands.  It might work better with someone so has tiny hands.  If you are expecting 8bitDo type engineering you will not meet your expectations. It just looks like a 8BitDo controller from a glance. 

Emulation Performance 

I testing things out with the stock out of the box setup and also tested with Retro Gaming Corps files. The RGC setup does make things much better. This console just has a really bad front-end and there's not enough customization in it. 

I found that emulated looked and performed good to great (with bad sound mostly) with NES, SNES, Gameboy Advance (looks and the best of all of them), Game & Watch, Master System, Genesis, Game Gear, Sega CD, 32X, TG16, TG16CD, NeoGeo, NGP, Wonderswan, MAME 2003 and PSX.

I never found Gameboy and Gameboy Color setups that were satisfying. They are ok though. FinalBurn Neo runs good with some games and just ok with others. 

It will run and load PSP and Dreamcast but not very well at all. Don't bother with it. 

Sound

The speaker is really loud but also really terrible. It flat out sounds harsh. 

*Price Paid: $59.99 including shipping from Retromimi.com. I paid for this out of my own pocket as a game hobbyist and my opinions in this review were not influenced by anyone. I placed the order on December 16, 2020 and received it on January 7,  2021.  Not particularly impressive shipping time but still within the real of typical with console orders from China. I feel "meh" with paying $59.99. It was almost worth that price. If I was putting a value on it, I'd have to say $40-$60 barring some big firmware changes. 

Virtually all the distributors indicate that the S30 intro price of $59.99 will soon be increased to anywhere between $69.99 and $89.99. I find that to simply be way too high. Of you are in the $50-$80 market you'd better off just getting an RG350 or RG350P. 


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