Disclaimer: I do not work for Gamepark Holdings or any other company that may profit from this, I just really like the console

The GPX2 (marketed as the GP2X, GPX2 is the development name and, in my opinion, sounds better) is a handheld game/audio/video/whatever device that runs Linux. It is the successor to the GamePark GP32 that was open source but used a proprietary operating system. It is aimed squarely at the homebrew scene (unlike other handheld game systems such as the PSP and Nintendo DS) although there is at least one commercial game in development at the moment. The current price for the GPX2 is £124.99 (roughly $220) from the main supplier, gbax.com. There are other suppliers that the GPX2 can be ordered from but gbax has always been good with orders and delivery. A development SDL is available and the development community is very helpful if any help is needed.

The GPX2 has a dual core ARM processor with 64 MB of SDRAM. Storage is provided by Secure Digital cards. It has a 3.5" TFT screen capable of 320 * 240 resolution (QVGA). The power supply is 2AA batteries and, uncommonly for handheld devices, can operate for several hours without needing the batteries recharged. It can provide six hours of video playback or 10 hours of audio playback on just one pair of 2850mAh batteries.

The GPX2 can be connected directly to virtually any personal computer through the use of either a usb or serial cable and shows on most systems as a USB Storage device. However, to get at the onboard NAND memory you need to use the serial cable. You can also use a standard SD card reader to move files to and from the device.

Of course the most important thing for such a device is the range of games, the GPX2 already has a range of titles available and more are being released on quite a regular basis. The game library at the moment consists mostly of ports from other platforms and emulators. That is not to say that the GPX2 has no original titles, there are many that have been released and that are in development. However, the main draw for this console is the emulation, emulators for a many platforms have been released and many more are in the process of being developed.

Lots of video and audio formats are supported by the GPX2 including DivX, WMV, AC3, MP3, WMA and OGG and the video quality is excellent for such a small screen size.

The spec:

  • CPU: ARM920T, ARM940T
  • RAM: 64MB SDRAM
  • Onboard memory: 64MB NAND
  • Connection type: USB 2.0 High Speed
  • O/S: Linux
  • Display: 3.5" TFT LCD (Resolution: 320*240)
  • Storage: SD Card

The main reason for anyone to choose the GPX2 over other portable games consoles is the homebrew applications. Anybody is free to develop for the system and the majority of the software is free to download although, as I have said, there are some commercial games in development.

I own one of these things myself and it works brilliantly, the video and audio playback (provided with a port of mplayer) is superb and the games that have been released so far are fun to play and very addictive (it even has pong!). The battery life is good and it has no complaints with rechargeable batteries which means that you don't spend the usual large amounts of money on batteries. The control system lends itself well emulating other systems and the buttons are perfectly placed for ergonomics. All in all, it's a very nice system and I would recomend it for any fan of homebrew game development, old game systems or just someone who wants a good portable media player.

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