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Thread: RetroN5: Hands on first look

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    Key (Level 9) Satoshi_Matrix's Avatar
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    For those who missed it, OP basically stated that he's mostly unhappy with the fact that an android based emulation machine.....is an android based emulation machine. Brilliant.

    pretty much everything he said can be attributed to beta firmware and could/will be fixed down the road, but the basic beats that I picked up on: (I'll delete this if necessary, but c'mon, it was already publically released, and I didn't sign any non-disclosure for this)

    -The Retron5 dumps roms, doesn't read from them. So it creates a rom file of your game cart and loads that, and thats how it does savestates and such. OP claims NES and SNES games dump quickly, but GBA games can take several minutes. I asked if this reoccurs, but never got a response. If I had to hazard a guess, I bet this is like the loading of Call of Cthulhu for Xbox, where the first time you do it the load times are lengthy, but on repeated plays the loadtimes are shortened. That's my guess.

    Dumping carts to roms rather than reading directly from them is what I was suspecting, and its not necessarily a bad thing. That would mean that games with dead batteries are savable through a digital storage medium (probably a small amount of onboard storage?) or savestates. yay for that.

    However, OP did also mention that because the rom dumps are checked against a database, reproduction carts probably won't work. Based on that, I suspect Flashcarts like the Everdrives and Powerpaks probably won't work on the RetroN5 either. Take that, everyone who planned on buying this solely for use with Flashcarts.

    -Only one game can be inserted into one of the five slots at a time. This ties into that it dumps the roms. If you put in more than one cart into the slots, it will confuse the system.

    -HDMI only. According to OP, there is no composite video outputs like Hyperkin showed off at PAX last year.

    -OP claims the wireless controller is garbage, with "mouse like" buttons. He didn't explain his position much, just that he didn't care for it. I'm still not going to judge the thing for myself until I have it in my own hands and use it myself. Maybe it's awful, maybe not. We'll just have to see.

    -OP claims there were slight audio issues, but didn't explain.

    -OP played NES games then switched to SNES and then used an OEM Nintendo NES controller to play Super Mario World, but didn't like that the NES controller didn't magically have all the buttons needed to do every action in SMW. Read my first reply comment for more info.


    That was pretty much it. Just that he felt that the RetroN5 needs tweaking, and that's somehow surprising given that its an Android based emulation machine in beta. I was hoping to get specific useful info, but alas, all we know right now is that the beta system is in beta. shocking.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    However, OP did also mention that because the rom dumps are checked against a database, reproduction carts probably won't work. Based on that, I suspect Flashcarts like the Everdrives and Powerpaks probably won't work on the RetroN5 either. Take that, everyone who planned on buying this solely for use with Flashcarts.
    Controller thing surprised me a bit because I heard from people who played the system that the controller was nice. However I have yet to use it myself so I have no idea if its true.

    As for flash carts, I was not expecting them to work because I assume it dumped the carts. I mean KRIKzz might be able to program a work around where the cart mimics a pre-defined game, but it would kind of take the convenience out of the flash cart. For example if the in the Super EverDrive OS you could specify a game for it to mimic by either flagging a specific rom like putting a special character in front of its name or putting rom in specific directory. It would obviously need to be something that could be done through the file structure and not the OS, because it would defeat the purpose if you had to put it in an original system first to set the game you want it to mimic. However, that being said even if that could work it really kills the convenience of a flash cart to begin with. The only advantage would be for people who don't want to buy a bunch of games.
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    Quote Originally Posted by StoneAgeGamer View Post
    Controller thing surprised me a bit because I heard from people who played the system that the controller was nice. However I have yet to use it myself so I have no idea if its true.
    Right, that's why I'm taking the comment with a grain of salt. OP didn't really explain why he disliked the controller or go into any depth at all. When I get my review unit, I'll be doing an in-depth evaluation and review of the controller. I'm not going to be swayed by any opinion on it based solely on appearance.


    Quote Originally Posted by StoneAgeGamer View Post
    As for flash carts, I was not expecting them to work because I assume it dumped the carts. I mean KRIKzz might be able to program a work around where the cart mimics a pre-defined game, but it would kind of take the convenience out of the flash cart. For example if the in the Super EverDrive OS you could specify a game for it to mimic by either flagging a specific rom like putting a special character in front of its name or putting rom in specific directory. It would obviously need to be something that could be done through the file structure and not the OS, because it would defeat the purpose if you had to put it in an original system first to set the game you want it to mimic. However, that being said even if that could work it really kills the convenience of a flash cart to begin with. The only advantage would be for people who don't want to buy a bunch of games.
    My feeling on the matter is that people who plan on buying a RetroN5 solely to play flashcarts are better off with an Ouya - another $99 android based console that will do the same things as the RetroN5, and it would save them the cost of buying the flashcarts + SD/CF cards on top of that. One of the big reasons for the flashcarts over emulation is that you can play the games on the real hardware, but since the RetroN5 is emulation based anyway, the flashcarts advantages over emulators is negated.

    The Ouya runs everything the RetorN5 does perfectly (and if these reports are to be beleived, it does more, such as being able to run "repros"). Plus, it also runs other consoles too like PS1 and N64, as well as Android ported games and games specifically made for Ouya.

    But for everyone despairing about the RetorN5 due to this, keep in mind that it's possible Hyperkin could perhaps create a placeholder in their database for these flashcarts that would enable them to work on the RetroN5.

    The RetroN5 is for people who have a large collection of physical carts and don't want to go pure emulation. If all you're planning on doing is running flashcarts on it - and even if that does end up working flawlessly- you're better off buying an Ouya instead, and perhaps a USB to SNES controller adapter so you can use that SNES controller to play all your retro games with. that's what I do right now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    Right, that's why I'm taking the comment with a grain of salt. OP didn't really explain why he disliked the controller or go into any depth at all. When I get my review unit, I'll be doing an in-depth evaluation and review of the controller. I'm not going to be swayed by any opinion on it based solely on appearance.




    My feeling on the matter is that people who plan on buying a RetroN5 solely to play flashcarts are better off with an Ouya - another $99 android based console that will do the same things as the RetroN5, and it would save them the cost of buying the flashcarts + SD/CF cards on top of that. One of the big reasons for the flashcarts over emulation is that you can play the games on the real hardware, but since the RetroN5 is emulation based anyway, the flashcarts advantages over emulators is negated.

    The Ouya runs everything the RetorN5 does perfectly (and if these reports are to be beleived, it does more, such as being able to run "repros"). Plus, it also runs other consoles too like PS1 and N64, as well as Android ported games and games specifically made for Ouya.

    But for everyone despairing about the RetorN5 due to this, keep in mind that it's possible Hyperkin could perhaps create a placeholder in their database for these flashcarts that would enable them to work on the RetroN5.

    The RetroN5 is for people who have a large collection of physical carts and don't want to go pure emulation. If all you're planning on doing is running flashcarts on it - and even if that does end up working flawlessly- you're better off buying an Ouya instead, and perhaps a USB to SNES controller adapter so you can use that SNES controller to play all your retro games with. that's what I do right now.
    I agree at that point the flash cart is an unnecessary middleman. Flash carts are best used on original hardware.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    -HDMI only. According to OP, there is no composite video outputs like Hyperkin showed off at PAX last year.
    Ohhhhh... I'm sad to read that. For a few reasons-lag issues being foremost- I really prefer playing retro games on a CRT. Damn. This could be a deal breaker for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    For those who missed it, OP basically stated that he's mostly unhappy with the fact that an android based emulation machine.....is an android based emulation machine. Brilliant.
    He never said anything about Android though. He said something about an FPGA which puzzled me since they'd have to have pretty expensive hardware here for such technology to replicate these systems and I thought the driving force behind this was cost reduction by utilizing off the shelf hardware like the Android chipset.

    As far as I'm aware, we're still just assuming at this point that this is Android based.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    OP claims NES and SNES games dump quickly, but GBA games can take several minutes. I asked if this reoccurs, but never got a response.
    He actually did answer you. He said it doesn't reoccur if you leave the game in the system. But if you switch cartridges, that rom image is erased the next time you write a new game to the onboard memory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    I suspect Flashcarts like the Everdrives and Powerpaks probably won't work on the RetroN5 either. Take that, everyone who planned on buying this solely for use with Flashcarts.
    I'm glad someone is happy about this even if it's a bizarre stance to take.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    My feeling on the matter is that people who plan on buying a RetroN5 solely to play flashcarts are better off with an Ouya - another $99 android based console that will do the same things as the RetroN5, and it would save them the cost of buying the flashcarts + SD/CF cards on top of that. One of the big reasons for the flashcarts over emulation is that you can play the games on the real hardware, but since the RetroN5 is emulation based anyway, the flashcarts advantages over emulators is negated.
    I'm hoping this will be hacked. A $100 self contained emulation box able to load rom images and interface with original controllers out of the box would be nice. I want to play original cartridges with a nice picture on a HDTV, but the more useful functionality there is, the better as I see it.

    I never saw the need to so narrowly define the "purpose" of the Retron 5 as some have done. The more this does above and beyond what can be achieved with original hardware, like allowing me to use a Sega Genesis arcade stick with NES games and remap my buttons as I desire, the better.

    The reason I'm buying this is to accomplish what I can't with original hardware. If this didn't have things like HD output, frankly, I'd just have a passing interest since I have the original hardware here and already setup. It's those extra features that are the reason I'm here for. The less of those it has, the less my interest is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    But for everyone despairing about the RetorN5 due to this, keep in mind that it's possible Hyperkin could perhaps create a placeholder in their database for these flashcarts that would enable them to work on the RetroN5.
    A placeholder?

    If this dumps roms, the Retron 5 not having a database entry for something like the Super Everdrive is the least of its worries. And the best we could hope for, as I see it, would be having it work like StoneAgeGamer said with it serving as a pre-defined game.
    Last edited by Leo_A; 01-07-2014 at 08:47 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    For those who missed it, OP basically stated that he's mostly unhappy with the fact that an android based emulation machine.....is an android based emulation machine. Brilliant.

    pretty much everything he said can be attributed to beta firmware and could/will be fixed down the road, but the basic beats that I picked up on: (I'll delete this if necessary, but c'mon, it was already publically released, and I didn't sign any non-disclosure for this)

    -The Retron5 dumps roms, doesn't read from them. So it creates a rom file of your game cart and loads that, and thats how it does savestates and such. OP claims NES and SNES games dump quickly, but GBA games can take several minutes. I asked if this reoccurs, but never got a response. If I had to hazard a guess, I bet this is like the loading of Call of Cthulhu for Xbox, where the first time you do it the load times are lengthy, but on repeated plays the loadtimes are shortened. That's my guess.

    Dumping carts to roms rather than reading directly from them is what I was suspecting, and its not necessarily a bad thing. That would mean that games with dead batteries are savable through a digital storage medium (probably a small amount of onboard storage?) or savestates. yay for that.

    However, OP did also mention that because the rom dumps are checked against a database, reproduction carts probably won't work. Based on that, I suspect Flashcarts like the Everdrives and Powerpaks probably won't work on the RetroN5 either. Take that, everyone who planned on buying this solely for use with Flashcarts.

    -Only one game can be inserted into one of the five slots at a time. This ties into that it dumps the roms. If you put in more than one cart into the slots, it will confuse the system.

    -HDMI only. According to OP, there is no composite video outputs like Hyperkin showed off at PAX last year.

    -OP claims the wireless controller is garbage, with "mouse like" buttons. He didn't explain his position much, just that he didn't care for it. I'm still not going to judge the thing for myself until I have it in my own hands and use it myself. Maybe it's awful, maybe not. We'll just have to see.

    -OP claims there were slight audio issues, but didn't explain.

    -OP played NES games then switched to SNES and then used an OEM Nintendo NES controller to play Super Mario World, but didn't like that the NES controller didn't magically have all the buttons needed to do every action in SMW. Read my first reply comment for more info.


    That was pretty much it. Just that he felt that the RetroN5 needs tweaking, and that's somehow surprising given that its an Android based emulation machine in beta. I was hoping to get specific useful info, but alas, all we know right now is that the beta system is in beta. shocking.
    You can so often be the master of assumptions and selective memory.

    "Everything" he said, with regards to any issues with the console, weren't attributable to firmware issues. It was explained that firmware updates may be able to solve some of the cited problems.

    He explained that games would need to be re-dumped every time the console is turned off and gave ZERO indication that subsequent uses of that game would result in faster dump times.

    There was no information regarding the machine holding save files for individual games. Games with dead batteries may very well remain useless when it comes to saving. We just don't know.

    As far as repro carts go, again, you're making an assumption. You have no idea exactly how the machine checks against a database and what data it uses to verify the game is on the list.

    He explained exactly why he didn't like the controllers and it was because they use micro switches (just like mice do) instead of silicone springs with conductive contact pads.

    He said the audio sounded reminiscent of 90s emulators. I think that's enough of an explanation for most anyone here.

    His issue with hot swapping controllers had nothing to do with how it didn't "magically have all the buttons needed" and you know it.

    What more "useful" info do you want at this point?
    Last edited by wiggyx; 01-07-2014 at 08:38 PM.

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    He said it's erased when you power the system down? I could've swore he said it does that when you changed games. Either way, he definitely did address that after the question was asked.
    Last edited by Leo_A; 01-07-2014 at 08:46 PM.

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    I'll check my PC when I get home. I may still the tab open. If so, I'll double check.

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    Well....I somewhat question how credible the OP was with any of his claims, given that he didn't go into detail about anything any retracted everything he said. but even if everything he said was 100% honest, keep in mind he had access to a prototype, not the final unit. it might yet have composite input.

    on the other hand, it probably won't, given that no android device outputs composite natively.
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    ah, don't blame OP one bit for walking it all back, that sucks though.


    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    For those who missed it, OP basically stated that he's mostly unhappy with the fact that an android based emulation machine.....is an android based emulation machine. Brilliant.

    pretty much everything he said can be attributed to beta firmware and could/will be fixed down the road, but the basic beats that I picked up on: (I'll delete this if necessary, but c'mon, it was already publically released, and I didn't sign any non-disclosure for this)

    ...

    That was pretty much it. Just that he felt that the RetroN5 needs tweaking, and that's somehow surprising given that its an Android based emulation machine in beta. I was hoping to get specific useful info, but alas, all we know right now is that the beta system is in beta. shocking.
    i don't think you're paiting the same picture here, and the snark about beta/prototype stuff is unnecessary given that he clearly stated as much? nevermind that him taking it down just for you to (questionably) summarize kinda defeats the purpose; if he took heat for it here why would you do that to the guy & possibly bring more his way?

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    I feel like whatever "damage" he caused has already been done, and this thread would be pointless if all it contained was [removed] notes and then people responding to those before they were removed. No, if he was asked to remove the comments he left so be it, but he can't remove the memory from those who already saw the comments and my abridged version of what he said is justified because I'm the one who posting it and I didn't sign a non-disclosure about it. it was already shared publicly. its like pandora's box; once opened, it can't be contained again. and anyway, very little of this info is new. it's mostly what we already knew, or already suspected. nothing really specific was revealed.

    All the info posted really amounts to is that the RetroN5 is in beta and isn't quite ready for a public release...which given that it isn't out yet...is a pretty easy assumption to make.
    Last edited by Satoshi_Matrix; 01-08-2014 at 05:32 AM.
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    So, is there anyway for me to save a copy of the rom dumps this thing makes? I'd actually be tempted to buy one if I can use it to dump my own ROMs and then back those up to my computer.

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    I highly doubt that. In all likelihood the rom dumps will be stored either temporarily (meaning they are deleted when the power is turned off) or they are on an inaccessible storage area that you won't be able to access. I never did get a reply from the OP of this thread, but my hunch is that the rom data is dumped only temporarily and then deleted later.

    Also, Hyperkin has said zeltch about the RetroN having any sort of connectivity with pcs, so unless(until) the system gets hacked the possibility of that happening is nonexistant.

    If you want to dump your cartridge games to a pc, buy a Retrode. This isn't that and likely will never be.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    Also, Hyperkin has said zeltch about the RetroN having any sort of connectivity with pcs, so unless(until) the system gets hacked the possibility of that happening is nonexistant.
    Team guys at SacAnime stated that PC connectivity is something they'd like to eventually do, but it's not priority. Others are saying that other reps said the same at different shows over the same weekend.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    it might yet have composite input.
    OP is actually 100% correct on Retron 5 not having composite input. Hyperkin actually scrapped the composite, and made the console HDMI only.

    Either way, for everything else... With the ROM dumps apparently being temporarily, I only have one question: If you save the in game (not talking about save states), does it save to the cartridge? I'm honestly extremely confused on how this would work. I'm not even 100% sure on how emulation works itself. I was honestly considering getting the Retron 5, because it'd be an affordable option for me, as I'm wanting to get into collecting for these systems.

    If anyone could answer that I'd actually really appreciate it. I'm interested in getting the Retron 5. If it isn't actually a very good piece of hardware, I might skip over it and try and find the actual systems instead.

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    Wow... the whole ROM dumping and header database thing is absurd.

    If it doesn't interface directly with the cart then games with bank switching, SRAM checks, and other times weird copy protection schemes won't work unless the emulator has those routines patched into it on a case by case basis.

    If games require a valid header to be checked against a database then weird shit like unlicensed games and multi-game pirates won't load.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vidmusc View Post
    OP is actually 100% correct on Retron 5 not having composite input. Hyperkin actually scrapped the composite, and made the console HDMI only.

    Either way, for everything else... With the ROM dumps apparently being temporarily, I only have one question: If you save the in game (not talking about save states), does it save to the cartridge? I'm honestly extremely confused on how this would work. I'm not even 100% sure on how emulation works itself. I was honestly considering getting the Retron 5, because it'd be an affordable option for me, as I'm wanting to get into collecting for these systems.

    If anyone could answer that I'd actually really appreciate it. I'm interested in getting the Retron 5. If it isn't actually a very good piece of hardware, I might skip over it and try and find the actual systems instead.
    Well the Retrode, which works similar to this, can write to cart save file. However I think the Retrode only supports SNES/SFC games saves. Maybe Hyperkin went beyond that and allows saves to other carts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by StoneAgeGamer View Post
    Well the Retrode, which works similar to this, can write to cart save file. However I think the Retrode only supports SNES/SFC games saves. Maybe Hyperkin went beyond that and allows saves to other carts.
    Ah okay. Hopefully it works with all the carts then. I'll probably wait for an actual review before I make a firm decision on getting this or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vidmusc View Post
    OP is actually 100% correct on Retron 5 not having composite input. Hyperkin actually scrapped the composite, and made the console HDMI only.
    That makes sense, since the Ouya also is HDMI only and no Android device natively produces composite anyway, and composite inputs would mostly go unused for the majority of the people who buy it. Why use composite when you can have HDMI 1080p? Well, other than hardcore gamers who claim to notice input lag with the non-game mode HDTVs. Those in that group have my sympathies, but you guys are in a tiny minority compared to most who don't notice/don't care.

    I was hoping Hyperkin would have S-Video, but that wasnt even ever planned it seems.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vidmusc View Post
    With the ROM dumps apparently being temporarily, I only have one question: If you save the in game (not talking about save states), does it save to the cartridge?
    first, it's important to note that the following is speculation based on what's been revealed and how other Android devices work such as the Ouya. I may be mistaken about some of this, but I strongly suspect I'm not.

    Hyperkin has stated the RetroN5 will have some amount of built in storage capacity for savestates. It's extremely likely that will also be true of battery backed s-ram storage. Most emulators create a a dummy .sav file (or some other extension) to store battery-baced sram saves from cartridges. They are independent of savestates which are created manually.

    In all likelihood the RetroN5 will follow this as well. Game saves will not be dependent on the cartridge. Now, it's possible Hyperkin could add a manual feature to upload the cartridge s-ram to such a .sav file or even the reverse and put a generated .sav file back to the cart, but I highly doubt that it will actively use the cartridge for pretty much anything once its been dumped to rom.



    Quote Originally Posted by Az View Post
    Wow... the whole ROM dumping and header database thing is absurd.

    If it doesn't interface directly with the cart then games with bank switching, SRAM checks, and other times weird copy protection schemes won't work unless the emulator has those routines patched into it on a case by case basis.

    If games require a valid header to be checked against a database then weird shit like unlicensed games and multi-game pirates won't load.
    It's not absurd at all. This is how emulators run roms. Everything you mentioned - bank switching, s-ram checks, copyright protection schemes (like EarthBound has) are all dealt with in rom and run by the android based emulator. Just look at how PCs have been emulating cartridge games flawlessly for years. The only thing the RetroN5 is doing differently is requiring the cart as the source of a rom rather than the internet for the source of the rom.

    But you're right; it's very possible that some unlicnesned games, particularly multi carts and flash carts will not work. Giant questions loom about those things right now. They might boot anyway, with the RetroN5 saying "unknown game" or they could refuse to work. Only time will tell on those.

    Quote Originally Posted by StoneAgeGamer View Post
    Well the Retrode, which works similar to this, can write to cart save file. However I think the Retrode only supports SNES/SFC games saves. Maybe Hyperkin went beyond that and allows saves to other carts.
    The Retrode also does Genesis, and has adapters for other consoles too. It's possible Hyperkin will adopt uploading and downloading sram to and from the cart and RetroN5, but they have no compelling reason to.
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