Is the GameIn Thunder worth the MRP?
30 September, 2013
Mitashi isn't exactly known for the high quality of its gaming-related products. However, when I heard that the company would be launching its own Android-based handheld, my ears perked up. A few days of use and sadly enough, the GameIn Thunder Bolt isn't going to do Mitashi's reputation any favours.
The device has an all-plastic body, not exactly exuding a premium feel. However, considering the very low cost of the handheld device, this comes as no surprise. Visually, one would be hard-pressed to find much of a difference between this and a PlayStation Vita from afar. However, getting closer reveals all the blatant as well as nuanced differences between the two.
Thanks to its plastic body, the Thunder Bolt is really light, especially when you get used to the rather hefty PSP, Vita or the 3DS. On the front, it has ten buttons, an analogue nub and a 4.3-inch touch screen. The buttons are the standard controls you'd expect on a handheld—four directional buttons, four face buttons. The other two are the standard Android Back and Menu buttons.
The top of the device has five more buttons—two triggers, Start, Select and the Power button. Interestingly for an Android device, the Thunder Bolt lacks a Home button, which makes getting out of apps or games quite troublesome. The only option available is to keep hitting back till you get back to the Home screen.
The buttons themselves aren't of the highest calibre either. The buttons on the front of the device, while stuff, do produce a rather satisfactory “click” when you press them. However, the less I say about the buttons on the top, the better. The triggers are too stiff and take quite an effort to actually press. The Start, Select and Power buttons are small and easy to miss, and take the same amount of force as the triggers to push.
The screen itself is hardly of the best quality I've seen. It has terrible viewing angles, with all but the most direct angles showing warped colours. Even when looking at it directly, the colours are very washed out, kind of like what you'd find in a classic GameBoy Colour, except with more colours this time. The resolution of the display is really low, and that's very apparent. Letters have aliasing and app icons are really low quality.
Speaking of apps, there's only one way to get any on the device. Since it lacks the Google Play store, and by extension, any of Google's Play services including Google Accounts, Google Talk and Gmail, the only way out to actually install any apps in the Thunder Bolt are by downloading the APKs yourself and side-loading them through USB. That's not to say that it's devoid of apps, though. It comes with quite a few pre-installed apps, namely, Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, a file manager and a few games such as Plants vs Zombies and Angry Birds.
If you find yourself getting bored of these quickly, Mitashi has seen it fit to include some nifty emulators. However, I am rather confused about the legality of these emulators, since by definition, the only legal way to have a ROM for an emulator is if you own the original copy of the game. However, there are a few emulators installed, namely, one for the PlayStation, a Nintendo 64 emulator, a Sega Mega Drive emulator and an NES emulator. There are even some ROMs for them, which, again, I highly suspect the legality of.
The Thunder Bolt runs on Android 4.0, so finding APKs of apps shouldn't be more difficult than just googling for them. However, the hardware, being quite underpowered, doesn't seem to be able to handle some of the most basic operations. Just swiping through the interface makes the device lag quite a bit, and unlocking it from the lockscreen takes a few seconds—quite a bit longer than it actually should. This is probably because of the 1GHz processor and the 512MB of RAM.
There's also a camera, albeit not a very good one. Pictures are blurry and even the most well-lit shots look like they were taken in a low-light setting. The front camera manages to be even worse with most pictures looking like they were taken with a phone camera from the 90s. I don't think you'll want to even touch the front-facing camera at all, while the rear camera could turn out to be of some use.
It can handle most other Android-related things competently. It lets you browse the web, play video and even listen to music. Despite the rather low 4GB of internal memory, you should be fine if you stick in a memory card. The 1GHz processor does seem to struggle while executing even simple tasks, though, so we'd recommend against any ideas you might have of watching HD videos on it.
Battery life is pretty average. Constantly playing games on it, I noticed the battery beginning to die at around the three-hour mark, which while decent, won’t really serve you well if you plan on gaming while travelling. It couldn’t last me a whole day with a bit of gaming and an hour or so of music-listening. Then again, that’s pretty much expected with the 1000 mAh battery.
In the end, the question remains: Is the GameIn Thunder Bolt worth the MRP of Rs 6,799? The short answer is that unless you really want something to play emulated classic games on, give this a miss. Not only does it have a terrible display, but the build quality is bad and pressing the buttons to kill enemies or pull off a combo in a fighting game never feels as cathartic as it should.
The fact that it doesn't even have the Google Play store is another big negative point against it. This essentially stops most people from installing any kind of new app on it, and you're essentially left at the mercy of webapps and the pre-installed ones. And once again, our biggest concern is the legality of the device itself, considering its design that's been clearly ripped off a PlayStation handheld along with the (illegal) emulators with its (illegal) ROMs of games from the NES, Sega Mega Drive, Nintendo 64 and even the Neo Geo.
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