[Updated] Review: PocketGo S30 Retro Handheld

[Originally posted February 2021... Since this time,  I haven't had much luck with the S30. The cheap battery ended up leaking and damaging internal components rendering the device useless. The defective battery is not an isolated issue as numerous people have reported this issue.  For that reason, I'm dropping my score down to a 0/10 in 2022 especially since the manufacturer has abandoned the device. There's no reason to buy one in 2022 unless you are just into collecting...

Post Not Edited other than adding a 0/10 2020 Score...]

I was not impressed with the PocketGo S30 out of the box but with community support and development, this do change quickly in the retro emulation game... 

Score
Stock Out of the Box - 3/10
Using RGC Setup - 6.5/10
In 2022 -0/10

Originally I scored the console a 5/10 using the RGC setup but that setup has been updated and drastically improved. 

Is it worth $60? If you have small hands I'd say so. It does have some plug and play type appeal oncs set up and would make a decent gift. If you like to customize these types of handhelds, I'd avoid it.  You can pick up and RG350P for around $80. 

My main complaints are manufacturing quality (light leaks that you can even see from under the d-pad), total lack of customization, slow menu operation if there are a lot of files for a system and poor ergonomics. 

  • 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.  

Using the customization guide over at Retro Game Corps is absolutely crucial to the S30 experience. 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 suggest it without the RGC guide which fixes some of the problems including adding a safe shutdown option.  It boggles my mind that they put this console out there without a shutdown option. Using the power button to shutdown caused lost game saves and file corruption.  

Straight out of the box, the UI is simply pretty awful and the system has a grand total of 2 settings. The RGC files brings the menu options up to 3 and adds the safe shutdown as mentioned above.  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. 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. The ergonomics are also not the best for people with big hands. Using R1/R2/L1/L2 is cramped and awkward. 



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 triggers. 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. When I opened up the S30 it had a missing screw on one part of the board and the battery was glued on very crooked. Easy fixes with that but it shows potential quality control issues. 

Emulation Performance 

I Tested things out with the stock out of the box setup and also tested with Retro Gaming Corps files (Updated version from when I originally tested it). 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 emulation 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. 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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