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Retro Freak firmware update


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#1 Newsdee OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 23, 2015 4:21 AM

The Retro Freak can be switched to English (it's an option on first install) but the developer's website remains in Japanese, so it isn't obvious how to update the firmware. Here's how to do it:

 

1) you need an SD card in the system

 

2) in the menu go to system settings them select "write firmware update request to SD card"

 

3) shut off the console, remove the SD card and plug it in a PC

 

4) on the PC go to Cyber Gadget's website: 

http://www.cybergadg....jp/retrofreak/

 

5) the support page is the third line under the title image:

http://www.cybergadg...ort/retrofreak/

 

6) the first box (blue) is the update page:

http://www.cybergadg...rofreak/update/

 

7) now this is where it gets a bit tricky. The link for the update is buried in step three of the instructions, in a burgundy box with a backgound that says "update" in English. The link will have the date of the latest firmware ao it should stand out.

 

8 ) the next page will prompt you to uplade the update request .dat file that you dumped earlier. One button should say "choose file" in English (at least on my phone) and the other is the upload button

 

9) when you click upload, the website will send you a .bin, save this ti the SD card

 

10) safely eject the SD card then put it back on the Retro Freak

 

11) the console should recognize the .bin file on startup and update itself

 

That should be it. Retron5 owners will notice its exactly the same procedure. 


Edited by Newsdee, Wed Dec 23, 2015 4:25 AM.


#2 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 23, 2015 6:46 AM

Thanks for posting this. Now how about a review of the machine? It's semi-affordable and available for import, but I haven't seen any impressions. How is the accuracy of the onboard emulators? How is the build quality? What is the purpose of the pull-out module? Is the controller adapter worth it? Is the whole thing worth the spend?

#3 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 23, 2015 7:13 AM

Site navigation guide for dummies, now with pics. :dunce:

 

Write the update request to the SD card.

 

Click this link:

http://www.cybergadg...rofreak/update/

 

Click this button:

Update 1.png

 

Click Browse and upload the request file:

update-2.png

 

Download update. Copy to SD card. Enjoy.

 

 

Thanks for posting this. Now how about a review of the machine? It's semi-affordable and available for import, but I haven't seen any impressions. How is the accuracy of the onboard emulators? How is the build quality? What is the purpose of the pull-out module? Is the controller adapter worth it? Is the whole thing worth the spend?

I'll put something out. FedEx will be delivering the package this morning. Before 10:30am

 

But I'm still not opening it up 'till Xmas. :grin:



#4 philyso OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:08 PM

How is the accuracy of the onboard emulators?

Seems like they are using exact same software as Retron 5 (i guess both products are affiliated in some way) with the addition of Mednafen for PC-Engine.

http://www.cybergadg...t/software.html

They are apparently all GPL (except snes9x which stricly forbids commercial use ... hmm lol i guess) so you should be able to LEGALLY modify them or replace them with more accurate ones and build new firmware YOURSELF (and even distribute modified versions to anyone). You should all ask Hyperkin / Cybergadget for that to see if they really respect the license of the software they reused (I am not even sure this licensing stuff from their website is actually displayed on the console,which it should, according to GPL)

Edited by philyso, Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:13 PM.


#5 leods OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 23, 2015 1:02 PM

Seems like they are using exact same software as Retron 5 (i guess both products are affiliated in some way) with the addition of Mednafen for PC-Engine.

http://www.cybergadg...t/software.html

They are apparently all GPL (except snes9x which stricly forbids commercial use ... hmm lol i guess) so you should be able to LEGALLY modify them or replace them with more accurate ones and build new firmware YOURSELF (and even distribute modified versions to anyone). You should all ask Hyperkin / Cybergadget for that to see if they really respect the license of the software they reused (I am not even sure this licensing stuff from their website is actually displayed on the console,which it should, according to GPL)

It's all GLP, but you have to say you're using it, and as far as I know also distribute source code? And some other parts on the retron%, I think the frontend had stolen parts from other Projects that didin't allow commertial use.



#6 Newsdee OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:38 PM

It's all GLP, but you have to say you're using it, and as far as I know also distribute source code? And some other parts on the retron%, I think the frontend had stolen parts from other Projects that didin't allow commertial use.

 

I've ran that page through Google translate and they are very open about what they're using, provide a couple of download links for their forked versions, and ask to be contacted if anything is missing. 

 

Also, there's an easter egg displaying credits (won't spoil when it appears :) ) where they credit individual emulator authors.

 

So it seems to me these guys are doing it right.



#7 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 23, 2015 3:24 PM


I'll put something out. FedEx will be delivering the package this morning. Before 10:30am

 

But I'm still not opening it up 'till Xmas. :grin:

Got it! :grin:

 

RetroFreak4Xmas_Med.JPG

 

Expect an unboxing and quick review coming December 26 or so...



#8 Newsdee OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 23, 2015 4:40 PM

I have one since launch, so here's some impressions. For background I also own each of the original consoles, a Retron5, an RPi2, and a MiST FPGA. Summary: I like it quite a lot even if it has a few quirks and limitations.

Build quality is OK, better than the Retron but less than an AV famicom. The whole console is a very tiny box with an add-on "shell" whose only purpose is to dump carts and provide one more USB port. If you don't care about dumping carts (e.g. visiting a friend) you can just use the internal tiny box, and yes it accepts roms from the SD. Modders could make a USB joystick with a little hole to put this box to play at somebody else's house.

The usb adapter is a hub allowing to plug each controller independently (like a multitap). And it works with a regular PC as well, recognized as 5 independent usb controllers. Unless you already have all adapters, it's worth getting the Premium version to get one of these boxes. Only downside it doesn't work with NeoGeo controllers (the DB15 is wired to Famicom use).

The emulators are decent, I would say in par with the Retron5. The system is much more user friendly than the RPi and its frontends (and faster to boot), and emulations seems to be in par of it as well. I find it more interesting to compare it to the MiST FPGA for the NES and PC Engine. The MiST has _much_ less game compatibility but what works runs really well, almost as good as real hardare. The Retro Freak runs more games but if you compare side by side you notice it has less FPS. I notice some slowdown in Gameboy Advance and Gameboy emulation, and the sound is a little lagged in SNES emulation. NES/Famicom and PCE emulation run very nicely as long as you don't do side-by-side comparisons to real hardware. In essence it's perfectly fine for casual use but purists should be aware of this and not expect higan-level quality. 

The "extra" features are similar to the Retron and most emulators: save states, patches, cheats, speed up. It has some easter eggs which are nice (won't spoil them) but nothing mind blowing.

One flaw worth pointing out, but I'm really splitting hairs here: if you have a lot of ROMs on the SD (like 4000+) it will take a few minutes (2-3 maybe) to scan them on startup. Also I haven't found a way to "pagedown" on the game list; and you have to put all roms on the same folders separated by extension. If you curate your game list properly these aren't a problem.

 

Another flaw is that it has limited controller compatibility so it can be hit and miss. PS3 and PS4 pads work but not Xbox 360. iBuffallo pads seem to all work (at least the two I have) as well as my Royds joystick and a no-brand Chinese SNES clone pad, but my Retrobit NES controller replica do not work. This would be fixed by firmware upgrade. I haven't tried asking the company for support though.

 

One hidden/bonus feature is that it works out of the box with SMS/GG/MKIII roms, listed under the Genesis menu. Dumping them needs a separate adapter and I haven't tried any. The Retro Freak makers will sell their own in a month or two, and I suspect when that happens they might list them as a separate system in the main menu.

 

There are Youtube videos of a Retro Freak running other emulators but I haven't seen any instructions on how to hack the firmware, so can't confirm it works.

 

Bottom line... I like it better than the Retron5 and its more convenient/user friendly than the MiST and a custom Raspberry Pi 1/2. 


Edited by Newsdee, Wed Dec 23, 2015 5:08 PM.


#9 philyso OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 24, 2015 4:39 AM

 
Also, there's an easter egg displaying credits (won't spoil when it appears :) ) where they credit individual emulator authors.
 
So it seems to me these guys are doing it right.

snes9x license prohibits commercial use so they aren't doing it quite right, no.

For others emulators, the GPL license should be clearly mentionned in the product itself, not just in a downloadable zip burried deep down in their website (that page is not even linked on their frontpage, I found it linked in another forum). Also, people should be able to modify the emulators, recompile them, update the console firmware with them, distribute them, etc... which afaik is impossible to do since retron5/retrofreak are still closed systems. I am not sure what GPL says about this but it sure looks a lot like Tivoization to me and again does not look quite "right".

Putting developer credits in an easter egg might seems fun and i dunno how hard it is to make it appear (could you make a picture of that screen and share it ?) but to me it's still a lack of respect for people who provided 90% of their product software free of charge for the company and a lack of respect for the original software licenses. This should have been explicitely mentionned in the console menu (for example the first time it is started) to acknowledge they are using open-source emulators (and by doing this saved a lot of money from software development.)

I think they just did the minimum in order to convince careless people they were "doing things right" but knew very well that none of the emu developers had the will or financial mean to force them respecting the licenses and open source philosophy.

Edited by philyso, Thu Dec 24, 2015 5:00 AM.


#10 leods OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 24, 2015 4:58 AM

This whole Thing is complicated. I don't remember all licenses right now, and I don't know Retro Freak's implementation. I know the Retron 5 stuff is just atrocious, and the false advertisement should earn them a lawsuit. It's really serious.

 

This is on their Website. Front page:

 

"100% Compatibility: The RetroN 5 will play both PAL and NTSC cartridges. CIC lockout chips and FX chips are no longer going to be an issue, as we aim to achieve 100% compatibility with all cartridges. *Power Base Converter sold separately."

 

I still don't understand how can People cut them slack. These guys should be blacklisted for life.



#11 Newsdee OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:39 AM

I'm willing to give the Retro Freak guys the benefit of the doubt; especially compared to the Retron.

I don't think anybody managed to get it right unless they sell a box without any software like an RPi or the MiST, and those are flagged "hobbyist" systems needing some knowledge to setup.

The credits with emu authors appear automatically at some point during normal use of the Retro Freak. I don't have that unit with me right now but I'll check early January if it unlocks displaying the credits at any time (other easter eggs are unlocked and available after). It does credit them as "emulator authors" though.

The user agreement appears on first startup and talks about "emulation aoftware" retaining their copyrights. Its a bit vague but they acknowlede there is something running under the hood of their frontend.

#12 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 24, 2015 9:12 AM

I don't know what's inside the Freak, but it seems to me the GPL is pretty much unenforceable unless someone with legal muscle starts something. What came of RetroArch's complaints against the Retron5?

http://www.libretro....nse-violations/

We all know these things are used to play ROM files. Are we expecting "honor among thieves" or something?

#13 philyso OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 24, 2015 10:32 AM

I'm willing to give the Retro Freak guys the benefit of the doubt; especially compared to the Retron.

I am sure the software guys are the same behind the two products, likely a subcontracted company and Hyperkin/Cyber Gadget are just publishers: they both use exact same emulator code interface and same modified linux kernel.
Even their licensing pages are similar:
Retron 5
Retro Freak

I don't think anybody managed to get it right unless they sell a box without any software like an RPi or the MiST, and those are flagged "hobbyist" systems needing some knowledge to setup.

Well, they could also have spent the money they got from console publisher to develop their own emulators, subcontract the work to emulator authors or buy licensing rights for commercial use in case of snes9x. It seems open-source emulators are becoming the new free ressource for entrepreneurs willing to make business in retrogaming market and I have the feeling this will sooner or later kill open-source emulation projects development. People hyped by the "convenience" of these emulation boxes or not caring much about software origin should keep in mind that these things would probably not exist if there hadn't been people working during many years for free on emulators and sharing their source code as a gift to the community.

The credits with emu authors appear automatically at some point during normal use of the Retro Freak. I don't have that unit with me right now but I'll check early January if it unlocks displaying the credits at any time (other easter eggs are unlocked and available after). It does credit them as "emulator authors" though.
The user agreement appears on first startup and talks about "emulation aoftware" retaining their copyrights. Its a bit vague but they acknowlede there is something running under the hood of their frontend.

Well, I guess that's better than nothing. They did not do this for the Retron5 afaik.

Edited by philyso, Thu Dec 24, 2015 10:40 AM.


#14 Newsdee OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 24, 2015 2:46 PM

Until something better comes along the Retro Freak and Retron 5 hold the tiny niche of running carts with emulators.

 

If it's "easy" to package these emus then I'd expect to see copycat systems; which best case will create the need to build something better (if people are willing to pay for it), or at worst ruin everybody's margins so nobody gets to profit too much from it in the end. 

 

To me the only better thing right now is the MiST but it has limited compatibility for many consoles. It's so open that you can download schematics and parts list from their wiki to build your own if you are willing. And it supports much more old-school systems (including computers), albeit some with limited support/compatibility. It doesn't support carts, but a Retrode with a PC would enable you to dump your own ROMs (except NES so far). Obviously its not so "out of the box" as the emu boxes (and lack e.g. save states) but is closer to real hw and easier to setup (and faster to boot) than a Win/Linux box.


Edited by Newsdee, Thu Dec 24, 2015 2:54 PM.


#15 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 24, 2015 4:23 PM

I don't know what's inside the Freak, but it seems to me the GPL is pretty much unenforceable unless someone with legal muscle starts something. What came of RetroArch's complaints against the Retron5?

http://www.libretro....nse-violations/

We all know these things are used to play ROM files. Are we expecting "honor among thieves" or something?

The fact that Retron5 has been out since 2013 and nobody has stood up to them legally is writing on the wall. It is hard to file monetary damages for something normally released for free. It would be nice to see a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of the programmers, but how would you distribute the royalties? Can we really look up every Tom, Dick, and Jane who ever contributed two lines of code under an anonymous internet pseudonym? Another issue is that the Retro Freak is not marketed and sold in the United States as the Retron5 is, and copyright law is known to me more lax in Japan than in the US, so that may add an additional layer of legal protection to the Retro Freak, as well as hurdles to any US based legal team who attempts to pursue them.

 

Anyway I chose the Retro Freak over the Retron5 for Turbo/PCe inclusion in addition to highly superior build quality. Japanese don't half ass stuff the way some American companies do. :D


Edited by Primordial Stardust, Fri Dec 25, 2015 1:21 AM.


#16 goldenegg OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 24, 2015 10:32 PM

What's the lag situation on the Retro Freak like?  Is it improved over the Retron 5?



#17 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 25, 2015 1:22 AM

What's the lag situation on the Retro Freak like?  Is it improved over the Retron 5?

I have no idea. I'll find out very soon and hopefully have something to report back on the 26th.



#18 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 25, 2015 9:10 PM

Merry Christmas! santa-emoticon.gif

 

Okay so I got to test out the Retro Freak this morning. All the cart slots work good. This isn't a full review, just some notes.

 

For NES carts I used a Tototek Famicom adapter. The adapter works great in the Famicom slot, and like the Retron5, if you remove the game from the adapter while the system is running, you can continue playing. Removing the now empty pin adapter from the REtro Freak results in an error.

 

My Mr Gimmick repro with expansion audio was recognized and boots in the Retro Freak. No surprises here; it is an expansion audio reproduction from Flashback Entertainment utilizing the INL FME-7 PCB with onboard audio. To the Retro Freak, it is probably identical to an authentic Japanese Gimmick.

Gimmick Retro Freak.JPG

Game runs fine, although there is a slight emulation error where certain notes will hang for a second or two when Gimmick dies. This does not occur on real hardware.

 

Also recognized and working is my NES NTSC Earthbound proto. These are fairly common reproductions so it's likely the ROM was added to the database. None of my other NES homebrews or repros that I have tried worked. RetroUSB's NWC is a no go. No surprises there.

 

Genesis/SNES/GB slots all work with homebrew games:

 

Genesis: I have tested Fix It Felix Jr (Genesis) homebrew created by NA member Dra600n of now defunt Airwalk Studios. The game was unrecognized, but I run it anyway and it worked great. Sonic 2xL hack. A Gag ROM hack of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 where the golden rings are replaced by "Onion Rings" and by eating too many of them Sonic gets fat. The game was unrecognized, but I run it anyway and it worked great.

 

Sonic 2 + Knuckles lock on recognized and worked great, so lock on tech seems to work good.

 

SNES: I have tested some Piko Interactive homebrew. Classic Kong was unrecognized but works great. Noah's Ark 3D does not work at all. I do own but haven't tested the Piko 4-in-1 yet. This game was supposed to be made to work on the Retron5 so I'll need to test it on the Retro Freak. There's a strong likelyhood both systems are using the same software.

 

Game Boy and PCe. I didn't take a lot of time testing these. Shrek 1 and Shrek 2 full movie GBA video carts definitely do not work. Some massively large GBA video carts (full movies) used bank-switching to allow greater than 32 megabytes of data on a single cart. Any GBA cart that uses this bank-switching will not work. No real loss there. AV quality on these titles sucks donkey and HD will only make it worse. I did ren one Game Boy Color homebrew, Chunkout. The game was unrecognized, but I run it anyway and it worked great. I only tested one game in the PCe slot, US TurboGrafx Devil's Crush. Recognized and works great.

 

To do list: test my one Turbografx homebrew: Atlantean by Aetherbyte. Test the Turbo Everdrive v1.x without memory card inserted to see if the Retro Freak can successfully dump the flash ROM. Redundant since you can backdoor load ROMs, but cool nonetheless.

 

In summary, most vintage game carts that use standard mappers should play fine. Any NES hacks, homebrew, or repros are not likely to work unless they are well known and in the public ROM databases (Mr Gimmick or Earthbound NES protos for instance). Any homebrews utilizing custom flash mappers like RETROUSB or MEMBLERs will absolutely NOT work and probably never will.

 

Homebrews, hacks, or repros for other systems are likely to work as long as they don't do anything weird with the hardware. Flash carts are redundant because unlike Retron5, Retro Freak supports dumping as well as backdoor loading of ROMs through the Micro SD card.

 

In other thoughts, I let the Genesis emulator run for a while with attract mode and filters turned on, and the Retro Freak rebooted. Upon closer inspection, the brain was very hot. The module docks into a slot in the bottom. Docking blocks ventilation when plugged into the cartridge dock, so console may have overheating issues.

 

Lag: Currently I get slightly less lag with the Retro Freak hooked up to my 2006 Sanyo LCD than I do with original consoles through RF or composite connections. Further testing will need to be done on my low latency (~9ms) 1080p ASUS monitor before I can make an honest judgement.

 

==========

 

Pros: English menu option. Far superior build quality to Retron5. Dumps ROMs to SD. Allows backdoor loading of ROMs via SD. Brain unit can be undocked from the cart loader for portability.

 

Cons: Built in Manual is Japanese only. No wireless controller option. Needs pin adapter to play NES, SMS, and Mark III games. Custom NES/FC cartridges (hacks, homebrews), pirates, or vintage games with highly obscure mappers not likely to work. May overheat when plugged into cartridge dock. Controller multitap costs extra $$$.

 

Other thoughs: RetroUSB will be releasing the AVS (HD FPGA NES/FC console) sometime early in 2016. This will purportedly support all NES games, peripherals and accessories (sans Zapper) with 100% compatibility. The Retro Freak pretty much covers all the other popular systems, sans N64 and Atari. If you absolutely need NES homebrew and repro support with HD output, either the RetroUSB AVS or a Game Tech modded HDMI NES is currently the only way to fit those needs.



#19 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 25, 2015 10:17 PM

What an awesome write up, thank you for doing that. Any options for wireless controllers?

#20 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 26, 2015 12:29 AM

What an awesome write up, thank you for doing that. Any options for wireless controllers?

None as far as I know.

 

Although a wireless controller with a proprietary dongle that plugs into USB or retro console port should work. Just make sure it's not a Bluetooth controller bundled with a cheap USB Bluetooth dongle. The Bluetooth protocol would likely require additional drivers to work.



#21 Newsdee OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:37 AM

Merry xmas and thanks for the write-up, it's quite informative. A few comments:

 

- Overheating: I gave one Freak as a gift and we've been abusing Bomberman 94 (PCE) for hours without problems; maybe the Genesis emu is more CPU intensive or maybe using the cart slot causes more heat (maybe the cart blocks airflow); something to watch out for. 

 

- In my experience modern TVs handle much better HDMI than other inputs (RCA or RF)so to compare video more fairly you'd need to use an external upscaler. That said, the end result is that the Freak will have better image than the original for "normal" people (who won't seek to RGB mod their stable of machines :) ).

 

- Manual: there is an English online manual available from the main menu of the Freak (bottom right next to settings)


Edited by Newsdee, Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:42 AM.


#22 Atariboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 26, 2015 1:44 PM

Does this play SG-1000 roms with the stock emulators?

 

Thanks

 

Just make sure it's not a Bluetooth controller bundled with a cheap USB Bluetooth dongle. The Bluetooth protocol would likely require additional drivers to work.

 

As I recall from the NintendoLife review that I read a few weeks ago, this isn't correct. 


Edited by Atariboy, Sat Dec 26, 2015 1:49 PM.


#23 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:16 PM

Does this play SG-1000 roms with the stock emulators?
 
Thanks
 

 

As I recall from the NintendoLife review that I read a few weeks ago, this isn't correct.

I honestly don't know. Bluetooth controllers would need a Bluetooth USB adapter and some way to pair them. I actually don't use any Bluetooth devices outside of modern game consoles which kind of mask the fact the controllers use bluetooth.
 

Merry xmas and thanks for the write-up, it's quite informative. A few comments:
 
- Overheating: I gave one Freak as a gift and we've been abusing Bomberman 94 (PCE) for hours without problems; maybe the Genesis emu is more CPU intensive or maybe using the cart slot causes more heat (maybe the cart blocks airflow); something to watch out for. 
 
- In my experience modern TVs handle much better HDMI than other inputs (RCA or RF)so to compare video more fairly you'd need to use an external upscaler. That said, the end result is that the Freak will have better image than the original for "normal" people (who won't seek to RGB mod their stable of machines :) ).
 
- Manual: there is an English online manual available from the main menu of the Freak (bottom right next to settings)

Okay did not know that. I said this wasn't an official review. I just played with it for an hour or so and made some initial observations. I also haven't updated yet. I need to buy an micro SD card for it to install the update as well. The Retro Freak asks you to select a menu language upon initial boot, then you agree to a contract (also in English if you selected that). I accessed the built in manual and it was still Japanese. That doesn't bother me much since I am pretty good at figuring stuff out.



#24 Atariboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 26, 2015 6:10 PM

Rereading the review, perhaps you're right and it requires a specialized dongle that is then read as a regular USB controller. What it states wasn't as clear cut as I remembered. 



#25 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 26, 2015 6:36 PM

Rereading the review, perhaps you're right and it requires a specialized dongle that is then read as a regular USB controller. What it states wasn't as clear cut as I remembered. 

I did make some slight edits to my write up for clarity.

 

The thing is, a USB Bluetooth receiver is not a USB HID device. If someone bought a "wireless" controller with a proprietary USB receiver that functioned as an HID device, it should work. But if they bought a "bluetooth" controller that came with a cheap USB Bluetooth receiver to plug into the USB port on PCs, it would require a driver to work. Windows, OSX, Linux, probably come with standard Bluetooth drivers so a driver disc may not be necessary, but a proprietary device like the Retro Freak probably wouldn't work with Bluetooth unless it had support built in. I would love to be proved wrong on this but I don't see it happening.

 

I can't wait to hook my "Ultimate" Joystick up to this when I finish wiring it up. I imagine the Cthulhu USB will work just fine with Retro Freak (it can function as either a standard HID joystick or PS3 pad).






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