With many of us wanting to play games, watch movies and listen to music on the move the number of portable devices available on the market is rapidly increasing and interestingly they are all very different. With traditional Gameboy style handhelds to gaming tablets and streaming devices the choice is endless. All of the available devices have different features, operating systems and applications to choose from. At HMP we have taken a total of 14 of the very latest portable devices for review. For this post we are specifically looking at those portable handhelds designed for gaming as games are now a big part of our media needs but we are also reviewing each device on its ability to play other media. Of course we are also factoring in the cost of each device and will therefore add marks for value. Below is our list of top handheld games consoles.
Top Handheld Games Consoles
Our Ipega Android gaming tablet review put it into our top handheld games consoles due to its great value for money. They call it a tablet due to its touchscreen functionality but it looks similar to the Sony PSP. It maybe lacks some of the quality of the four devices above it in our list but you get a good gaming device at a great price. Under the hood the Ipega Andoid Gaming Tablet Specs provide a Quad Cortex-A9 1.6GHz processor, a Quad mali-400 GPU and 2GB DDR3 memory. You get a basic front camera, microphone and Wifi. You can add MicroSD cards for additional storage up to a maximum of 64GB.
One of the nice points of the Ipega 7-inch Quad Core HD Android Gaming Tablet is the front facing speakers. Most handheld games consoles mount the speakers on the top or bottom to save space. You can really hear the difference when the sound is played directly at you. It is let down slightly by the screen. It doesn’t feel as sharp as many of the other android devices and it is certainly not as bright.
The Ipega 7-inch Quad Core HD Android Gaming Tablet comes preloaded with Android v4.2.2 Jelly Bean. It also has the Happy Chick application installed. Happy chick will allow you to search and download games straight onto your device including popular games consoles roms for N64, Sony PS1, Dreamcast, Genesis and SNES. Being effectively an Android Tablet the Ipega will meet your media needs but don’t expect perfect picture quality on this screen.
As stated the Ipega Android gaming tablet could be improved but at its price is the best value for money devices in our top handheld games consoles list.
The Archos Gamepad 2 is similar to the Ipega but improves the sharpness of the screen and the brightness. The device specs are similar with the Quad Cortex-A9 1.6GHz processor, a Quad mali-400 GPU and 2GB DDR3 memory. In terms of the product our Archos Game Pad 2 review did trump the Ipega but comes at a significantly higher cost (almost double). If you want value for money then take the Ipega.
The Archos Gamepad 2 has a nice look to it. They have vastly improved on the original Gamepad with a slicker design and nice matt finish. Archos market the Gamepad 2 as both a gaming device and a tablet in one and you can expect all of the features that come with a standard Android tablet. The gaming experience is good. The controls are well positioned and some of the more demanding games run without issue. The Archos sits at number 4 on our list of top handheld games consoles and despite the rather high price tag you get a decent multipurpose device.
3. Samsung Razor Edge Tablet
In at number 3 on our list of top handheld games consoles is the Samsung Razor Edge. This Razor Edge is one of the first tablets designed for Windows / PC gaming. Unlike the previous two portable gaming devices in our top 5 the Samsung Razor Edge comes as a standalone tablet with the ability to attach a keyboard or side mounting controllers. This device packs quite a punch! The Samsung Razor Edge Specs crush those of the other devices in this list. Out of the box you get an Intel i5 1.7GHz processor, 4GB DDR 3 memory, an NVIDIA GT 640MLE 1GB DDR3 GPU all sat behind a huge 10.1” screen. You get the full Windows 8 Operating system sat on a 64GB solid state hard drive. In addition to the solid hardware the device comes with 3x USB ports and a decent 2mp front mounted camera.
The Samsung Razor Edge is for the hard-core gamers amongst you as it is effectively a full blown PC. During the Samsung Razor Edge Tablet review we were blown away by what this device can do. You can play any PC game that will run on the Windows 8 Operating system. This includes games from Steam and Origin. Like all other portable gaming devices in this list the Samsung Razor Edge will play your retro games console emulators. With this tablet however you can play some of the newer more demanding console games such as Wii and Playstation 2! Having a Windows Operating system opens up so many possibilities. You can install Kodi / XBMC onto the Samsung Razor Edge and a whole host of plugins or an emulator frontend such as Big Box / Hyperspin to manage your games.
Try the Launchbox / Big Box emulator frontend on the Samsung Razor Edge. [Read: Launchbox & Big Box Emulator Frontend Review]
Samsung Razor Edge Controllers
With the Samsung Razor edge you can use it as a tablet, link controllers to the sides or connect it to your TV and use [easyazon_link identifier=”B003VD56KC” locale=”UK” tag=”racirhyt-21"]XBOX 360 controllers[/[/easyazon_link]In our opinion the only thing that lets it down is the look and feel of the device when the controllers are connected. The tablet is quite heavy and certainly not as portable as some of the other gaming systems in this guide. You would feel a bit of an idiot using it on a train!
But that said if you are a hardened gamer and want a portable device that can be used as a complete media centre then this is for you. This device falls short of our top two based on its price. With the Samsung Razor Edge hardware you can expect a higher price tag. You can run top emulators on the Samsung Razor Edge. Why not try some Wii games? [Read: Dolphin – The Nintendo Gamecube / Wii Emulator]p>
The NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1 is an incredibly versatile portable gaming device and makes number 2 on our list of top handheld games consoles. With this purchase you get an 8” Android tablet device and the Nvidia Shield controller. The set is small enough to carry around in a small case but is designed for table top gaming. The tablet itself is a neat piece of hardware. As for the NVIDIA Shield specs you get a 2.2GHz quad core CPU and the NVIDIA Kelper 192 Core GPU.
As you would expect from a company like NVIDIA both the tablet and the controller have exceptional build quality. They both look and feel great. With the Shield products NVIDIA have created a gaming concept rather than just a device. Accompanying this product you get Geforce Now which is a cloud based gaming platform. It is also setup to stream games directly from your PC so you can enjoy some of the top PC titles on a handheld. The controller feels good in the hand and is very similar to that of the XBOX 360.
NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1 as a HTPC Media Centre
Not only is the NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1 a fantastic portable gaming device but it makes a superb media centre. It sits nicely on a table top and It’s screen is 4K Ultra HD Ready. With it’s slightly more generous MicroSD expansion port at 128GB you have more space to store your movies and music collections. You can connect the device to a TV using the HDMI port provided or stream to NVIDIA Shield Android TV.
The NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1 is a fantastic device! If you want a tablet, portable games console and a media centre then this device really ticks all boxes. For that reason our NVIDIA Shield review puts the device at number 2 on our list.
1. JXD S7800B
And the winner is!….. The JXD S7800B is number 1 in our list of top handheld games consoles. In our opinion the S7800B is a top system on quality, price and performance! Similar to the previously mentioned Android handhelds the S7800B specs include a RockChip 3188 Quad Core 1.6GHz Cortex A9 CPU and an ARM Mali 400 GPU. You get 2GB DDR3 memory and 16GB of internal storage and there is both a front and rear camera and USB port connectivity.
The first thing that strikes you with the JXD S7800B is how good it looks and feels. Many of you will not have heard of JXD as a brand. The device looks like an expensive piece of kit and when you hold it you can really feel the build quality. You get a 7” screen which is a decent size for gaming and the thin edge around the display it is not too bulky to carry around with you. The JXD S7800B case is a nice matt finish and is a vast improvement on previous versions of this device.
On top of the JXD S7800B firmware comes Android 4.2.2 Jelly bean preloaded. You can run all of the top Android games and this device was clearly built with Retro gaming in mind. Download emulators from the Google Play store and away you go. The JXD S7800B emulators include: N64, Dreamcast, Playstation 1, Genesis, SNES, Amiga and many more. We tested a range on N64 titles on this device and they look fantastic and play at a great speed. The JXD S7800B happy chick application will give you access to all of the retro content and games console ROMs you will ever need. The display is fully touch screen enabled so if you prefer puzzle type games then the S7800B is a great platform.
JXD S7800B Features
To make our list of top handheld games consoles the device has to support a varied list of media types. You can use the S7800B as a fully-fledged HTPC media centre! The device will already handle your games but download the Android version of Kodi and you can have the full media centre experience including movies, tv shows, catchup TV and music. The JXD S7800B comes with a HDMI port so you can take your media everywhere with you and hook it up to a TV.
We found no issues with using the JXD S7800B. There was no lag with any of the applications and no glitches in the game play. The device will play all of the latest games on the Play Store and the JXD S7800B games list is endless! Best of all with this device is it’s price. You can pick up a JXD S7800B for around the £100 mark. With this device you really get quality, performance and value for money.
The JXD S7800B is currently one of our top handheld games consoles. JXD have recently released the JXD Singularity 192. As this is difficult to get hold of in the UK we are yet to test it. If they improve upon the formula they used for the S7800B then it will be one to watch. We will be doing a full JXD S7800B review shortly and will showcase its features.