I bought myself a new laptop as a graduation gift. (Did I tell you I graduated? I have a Master’s degree now).
It is a Toshiba Satellite L305-S5885 that I purchased on sale at Circuit City.
It came with Vista, and I haven’t really used Vista much so I left it on there for now. The Circuit City salesman told me removing Vista would void the warranty…I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it would be silly.
I also installed Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron), which installed amazingly smoothly. There was some minor kajiggering (dual-screen quirks and Opera Flash plugin were the two main ones), but the rest of the installation was as smooth as a Windows install, and about 50 times faster. I was expecting a battle over poorly supported hardware, but I was very pleasantly surprised.
The laptop was slightly more than I wanted to pay and doesn’t have discrete video memory, but I’m okay with the tradeoff: I get a dual core with 250gb HDD and 3gb RAM. It seems to be performing very well, even before I cleaned off all the junkware. I did have an odd problem with the CD/DVD drive, but I think it was probably due to me installing some non-Vista friendly software (Virtual CloneDrive).
That’s like 5 cents a day for unlimited calls to and from anyone you want. You can even take the MagicJack to other countries and makes calls just like you were in the U.S. You get voicemail, caller ID, and call waiting.
How awesome is that? That’s a rhetorical question, because the answer is obviously: totally awesome.
Certainly there are drawbacks: you need a computer, you need the computer to be on, you need broadband internet service, you need a phone, you need Windows. But…c’mon…who doesn’t have that stuff already? And it’s TWENTY BUCKS A YEAR FOR SERVICE. Even if they go out of business, you are out twenty lousy bucks. Just order water instead of soda 10 times in a year.
IDEO is a design consulting firm. They have designed many of the things you use today. Probably some of the things you are using right now.
They’ve designed the first Apple mouse, the Palm V, and the Oral-B toothbrush gripper. They also designed a revolutionary shopping cart in 5 days…
They are no doubt the best design firm in the world, receiving more Industrial Design Excellence Awards than any other firm.
They are also total hippies:
- Idealized egalitarian meritocratic work environment? Check.
- Sticking it to “corporate America”? Check.
- “The basket is tyranny”? Check (19:15).
- Patrons of Whole Foods? Check.
- Can you naturally concatenate every sentence with “maaaaan”? Check.
Also, what’s the deal with Ted Koppel? His face looks like a hastily assembled Mr. Potatohead.
Here is an update on the Game King-II.
Thanks to many loyal mgroves.com readers, there’s a lot of new information for this enigmatic device.
First, I’d like to list all the previous Game King-II posts, in order of oldest to newest:
- PMP Game King II
- Game King-II: First thoughts
- Game King-II: A full review
- Game King-II: Emulation
- Game King-II battery mod
So, if you haven’t read all of those, go back and review them. Your question might have already been answered! Also, check out the Game King-II Wikipedia page and also the Game King-II Wikispaces page (created by TKF15H, one of the very helpful mgroves.com readers).
Note that most of this information comes from commenters on this site.
- The Game King-II does not work with a Mac. To get around this, you can
use an SD Card and then copy data from the SD Card to the internal storage.
- If you have lost or didn’t get the disc that came with the Game King-II, you can
download the movie converter software here. Please note that while
I have been using this program for some time now that I do not promise that the
software will work and I do not promise that it won’t turn your computer into a
smoldering heap. You have been warned.
- Someone posted an “unboxing” video of the Game King-II on YouTube.
It’s very entertaining and informative. Thank you kinglager, whoever you are.
- There are at least two models of this specific Game King-II: the black and the white one. SkyFire2001
somehow managed to find the manufacturer: Fujiyama.
Bizarrely enough (is anything not bizarre with the Game King-II), there’s a whole different fake screenshot
in their stock photo, and it’s the black model.
- There’s a whole website dedicated to “MP4″ players: MyMxPlayer.org.
- Besides posting the above link, MNintGamer posted a list of SNES ROMs that (according to him) play okay
on the Game King-II. For the full list, check out his comment.
- jnjy posted some great pictures of the insides of the Game King-II.
His pictures were the impetus for me to do the battery mod.
- According to DJ, a 4-gig SD card will work (albeit a bit slow).
- NGF makes an exciting claim that the Game King-II can connect to your TV. Basically,
he claims that you just stick a standard Y-adapter (picture below) into the headphone jack of the Game King.
Then, just use RCA cables to connect “red” on the Y-adapter to “yellow” on the TV and “white” on the Y-adapter
to “white” on your TV. I haven’t tried this yet, so do so at your own risk.
- There are all kinds of sound bugs with the emulator. For instance, to get sound to work on a GBC game,
open an NES game, increase the volume, then load the GBC game (TKF15H).
- Some Game Kings apparently have some games that ship with them. I wasn’t able to play these
games for some reason, but Luke was kind enough to post some of
these “32-bit Sunmedia” games if you want to give it a try.
- To access the firmware, plug the USB cord into the Game King while it is off. Hold
down “esc” while turning on the device. Now you should have access to the firmware. If you are going to
do this and mess with the firmware, MAKE A BACKUP. Also, if you have a version other than “SDK-1.56″, there
are a lot of interested people who would like a copy of your firmware. You can upload it here
or email it to me at email@example.com.
- TKF15H wrote a program that allows you to change the start-up screen on your Game King
once you have access to the firmware. The speed at which he wrote it worries me, and I think maybe he needs
to get out more. (Just kidding, dude!) You can get his C++ source
code for the program at the Wikispace he created.
Phew! I think that’s everything. Feel free to add omissions or new information to the comments below.
As you can see, there’s a scrappy, but thriving community of Game King-II enthusiasts. Maybe it’s time for you
to join our ranks!
I’m writing this post via my new toy, the Mogul 6800 cell phone.
It’s a little cumbersome to write HTML, but not too bad. I’ve been lusting after this phone ever since Joe got one and let me drool over it.
This phone is incredible and has an impressive set of features including:
- Windows Mobile 6
- 2.0 megapixel camera, photo (with flash) or video
- MicroSD slot (comes with 512meg card)
- Mini-USB port
- Slide-out keyboard
- 320×240 screen
- 802.11b/g WiFi
So yeah, pretty good.
I already installed an emulator on it, PocketSNES, which runs fine, but I haven’t determined the optimal button configuration yet.
I also installed Opera (of course), which is again superior to the built-in IE in almost every way.
When jonjay posted some pictures of the inside of his Game King-II, I realized that even though
the instruction manual indicated a 1100mAh battery, that there was actually a 750mAh battery in there.
Such dishonesty from a random Chinese company!
But nevermind, why not just put a 1100mAh battery in it for great justice?
So first, I cracked open the Game King-II myself, to see about the physical size of the battery, and if
I could actually fit a different battery in there. Then, I went on to eBay to see what I could find.
The Game King-II uses a 3.7volt battery, which luckily for me, is pretty much the predominant battery used in cell phones. Next, I did a quick search for batteries in the 1000-1500mAh range. I found an LG 3.7volt 1100mAh battery which, by complete random luck, is the exact same size battery used in my cell phone. Perfect! Even if the mod doesn’t work, I can at least upgrade my phone. Not to mention I couldn’t really find any other batteries that would fit any higher than 1100mAh.
The next trick was taking out the old battery. It’s a ridiculously cheap looking battery. Imagine a tiny static bag filled with acid. The connections were soldered, and there were also some components connected to the battery on a small circuit board. I had to carefully removed the battery using a soldering iron.
Next, I had to figure out a way to connect the new battery. It’s made to fit in a cell phone, not to be soldered, so I had to get creative. I carefully dropped some molten solder on to the terminals. Please be very careful if you do this! There is plastic, heat, and battery acid, not things you want to mess with. I would only recommend this if you have precision experience using a soldering iron. Don’t apply heat directly to the battery.
I cut a couple of short jumpers, heated up the solder on the battery, and carefully attached them to the battery. I then wrapped it up with some electrical tape, but not too much, otherwise the battery wouldn’t have fit back in.
Fortunately, the board indicated where to connect the positive and negative, so I then made another couple of precision solders to the battery board. I tried to cover everything up with a small amount of electrical tape as best I could.
When putting the battery back in, I used some of the sticky strip that held the previous battery in place on the new battery. These batteries are almost identical in size. I closed the Game King-II back up after a quick power-on to test.
Voila! Upgraded Game King-II with longer battery life! It should last about 46% longer. All in all, it cost me less than $5 and only took about an hour.
Although it’s certainly easier these days than it used to be, it’s something of a challenge to download a video from somewhere in some format and be able to quickly watch it on your TV.
Sure you can watch it on your monitor or laptop, but that really isn’t the same.
I think the Mvix Multimedia hard drive does a lot to help out.
This thing is meant to be a component of your entertainment center, like a DVD player or a cable box. You stick a hard drive in the thing, copy files to it via USB 2.0, and then you can use a remote controls to view pictures, play music, and watch videos in a fine variety of codecs.
What’s even better is the outputs: RCA L/R, Coaxial, Optical(5.1ch), RCA Y, Pr, Pb, S-Video, IR-Ext, and an FM Transmitter. You should have no problem finding a free input somewhere for this thing. And what’s this? Y, Pr, and Pb?
That’s right, it can output upscaled 1920×1080 (1080i) or 1280×720 (720p) for your HDTV. Nice!
The codecs it recognizes are just what you’d want them to be: MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, DivX3.11, 4x, 5x, XviD, and even DVD(IFO, VOB). Music can be AC3, MP2, MP3, WMA, OGG, and JPEG for photos.
The thing comes with a remote, which I think is key. A wireless keyboard just isn’t as convenient as the good old remote control. Also, there’s a nice 128×64 LCD display on it.
It’s $200, which seems like a lot, especially since it doesn’t come with a hard drive. However, I couldn’t build a comparable system for less, and certainly not with the same form factor. It would be cool if it had WiFi or even a regular wired network jack on it to set up some sort of torrent video feed deal or something. Maybe in the next version?
Anyway, I totally want this thing.
The Game King-II claims to support NES and GB/GBC games, but also supports SNES games as well, though that is not advertised. After playing some SNES games on it, I can understand why…
Here are the type of games that the Game King-II will emulate:
- Gameboy Color
Here are the other systems that I’ve tried, but the Game King-II does not emulate:
- Atari 2600/5200/7800
- Sega Master System
- Game Gear
- Neo Geo
- Turbo Grafx-16
If you are used to emulators of exception quality (as I am), then the Game King-II is somewhat of a disappointment. I’m guessing that the Game King-II uses some sort of ARM CPU, so I would think that porting an open source emulator would be fairly easy to do. However, it appears as if these emulators are custom programmed (or they are ports of emulators I’ve never seen).
First off, I was not able to play a good portion of the ROMs that I tried. Kid Icarus (NES), Boxxle (GB), Deja Vu I & II (GBC) did not work or had serious problems making them unplayable. A more determined person could probably make a list of what mappers seem to be supported and what don’t, but I don’t have that kind of time.
The NES emulation is the best of the trio on this thing. Except for around 20% of the ROMs I tried, all the games worked okay. You might notice some weirdness with the pixels due to the video being scaled to 320×240, but it’s not that bad. There’s save states, volume control, and battery save files–standard emulator fare. Button X is assigned to A and Button A to B, so it can be a little confusing (especially with Punch-Out!).
The Gameboy emulation is somewhat lacking. Many of the games I played worked, but without sound. Some early generation games (like Boxxle) didn’t work. Still, it’s not bad: there’s save states, volume control, and battery saves.
The SNES emulation is pretty bad. It reminds me of the earlier years of DreamSNES, except I couldn’t find a single game that ran at 100% speed. I even tried using PAL ROMs instead of NTSC, with only a barely noticeable improvement. Pretty much everything is unplayable with the exception of games with little or no animation–like Jeopardy. The SNES emulator has save states and all the normal features. But oddly enough, it also has a “screen capture” option, which saves a BMP file to your Game King. Pretty cool, too bad the emulation is slow. Even if the SNES ran at a decent speed, there’s still the issue of button mapping. The B button is used to bring up the emulator options menu, which leaves only 3 buttons for gameplay. Street Fighter II would be out of the question.
In summary, if you want a portable emulation device, this is not the gadget for you. However, I’m quite happy with the nice selection of games that I loaded on there.
Herein lies the very first (as far as I know) ever review of the elusive Game King-II personal media player game system gadget thingy.
I’ll step through the feature list as it appeared on Geeks.com (and exactly how it appeared on any other site selling this thing), and then I’ll list some things that I didn’t know before buying. Finally, I’ll weight in with the verdict: should you buy this?
1 GB memory – SD Card slot: supports up to 2 GB SD Card. True. There is 1 gig built-in and 1 SD slot that I tested with a 2gb card. You can switch “modes” between Flash and SD Card and there’s an “explorer” mode too, so using the expansion space is not difficult.
Game: supports 16-bit GB/GBC (Game Boy) games, 8-bit NES games. Kinda true. Saying “16-bit GB/GBC” is wrong, because the Gameboy is 8-bit. However, the Game King-II is also able to emulate SNES ROMs, which is not mentioned anywhere on Geeks.com or in the hilarious instruction manual (more on that later). I could probably write a whole post on the emulation features alone, so I will. The only other information I know at this time is that it does not emulate Sega Genesis or Game Gear games.
Built-in camera. True. It can take pictures at 320×240, 640×480, 1280×960, and 2560×1920. So, around 4.9 megapixels. However, don’t get too excited, it’s not a great camera. The 2560×1920 mode might actually be some sort of software enhanced 2x version of the 1280×960, which means that it’s actually a 1.2 megapixel camera. Also, there’s no flash.
USB Interface. True, but not all that exciting. It functions as a perfectly usuable flash drive, which I guess not all MP3 players do, even today.
2.3-inch color TFT screen (320 x 240). I don’t know what TFT mean (beyond the acronym–Thin Film Transistor), but it’s a very nice looking screen. There’s a nice picture of seashells as a default wallpaper on loading, and it really impressed me right off the bat.
Video Format: AVI. True! It comes with a CD that has a “VideoConversion” program which will convert your video files to whatever codec this thing uses at the appropriate resolution. The program is very nifty, so far it’s worked on WMV, MPG, and even FLV files right off of YouTube and Google Video. The video plays nicely.
Audio Support: MP3, WMA, WAV, ADPCM, AMR. I haven’t tried anything except MP3, but I don’t really care about those other formats. I know it also plays WAV files, because that’s the format it records sound in.
Picture Support: JPEG, BMP, GIF. Does not play animated GIFs. Not even the first frame. Just sends you right back to the file listing.
FM Radio. Doesn’t support AM radio, which is kinda weak. Does support “Japan band”, which is 76.0 to 90.0 FM. It can do seek and presets. I think it uses the headphones for an antenna, and also sounds like it downsamples the output for whatever reason, but otherwise functions adequately.
E-Book: support TXT format files. Yep. Pretty much.
Built-in microphone for recording (stored as WAV file). Records at 32kbps. I didn’t see any way to increase the quality.
There were also some things that I think are pretty important that are left out of the description.
Battery. Yes, it has a battery. This might seem obvious, but it is conspicuous by its absence in the Geeks.com description. According to the instruction manual, it is an “1100mAh Build-in Lion Battery”. I don’t see anyway to easily replace it, and good luck finding a replacement anyway. Take good care of the battery, is my advice to you.
Speaker(s). It has at least one speaker built-in to the thing. I say “at least one” because I think the other “speaker hole” is where the microphone is. So, having a speaker is kinda a double-edged sword. You can share the audio easily with others. But be careful when fiddling around with it if you are in an environment where a sudden burst of sound would cause embarrasment.
Size. This thing is really quit tiny. According to the book, it’s 4.6in x 2.5in x 0.66in (119mm x 64mm x 17mm), but it’s rounded on the ends. By comparison, a standard iPod is 4.1in x 2.4in x 0.43in. So, very comparable in size, and would probably fit in an iPod sized MP3 case okay (though I wouldn’t recommend it).
Weight. It’s not heavy at all. According to the book, it’s about 2.88oz (80g), compared to an iPod Nano at 1.41oz (a standard iPod weighs a bit more, but also has 40-80 times the storage capacity).
Hilarious Engrish user’s manual. I really get a kick out of these types of things, so it’s a bonus gift in my book. I can certainly imagine that the casual user would be extremely upset with the obtuse and downright nonsensical language in this book, but I find it a delight. I will probably post about it later, but here are some gems from the “Precautions” section early in book which certainly set the tone:
- A. Do not use the device in extremely thermal, cold, dusty and watery circumstance
- C. Prevent the device from colliding with hard objects
- D. Turn the power off before push in or pull out the SD card
- L. Turn the power off before inserting or pulling out the SD card ( game card)
Yes, there are actually two almost identical precautionary points.
Anyway, here’s the verdict: buy! This is a very qualified “buy” rating, because the Game King-II certainly isn’t for everyone. If you have a deep love of obscure gadgets, emulation, fiddling around, and you are budget-minded, this is the perfect MP3 player (and then some) for you. If you need a practical, fashionable, reliably supported device, this is not for you.
My coworker told me that the only reason I bought this thing was to make blog posts about it, and I think he’s on to something. I’ve already mentioned two future posts that I could write about this thing. So, stay tuned for future information about the Game King-II. Or, as the Game King-II itself would say, “please waiting…”