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Dingoo A320 Micro Game Station review

Is this a brave new dawn for Chinese consoles?

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As a sub £70 MP4 player, the Dingoo punches way above its weight, hiding some delights behind occasionally impenetrable instructions.

Spend time with the complex features of the A320 and your patience to be rewarded. The console makes light work of DVD rips and other commonly-used online video formats, with the bundled TV-out cable making it a viable source of entertainment on the road, and delivered performance comparable to any budget media player on a hotel TV.

Dingoo digital a320

WORM: one of the less-than-inspiring legal games that comes with the Dingoo

On the audio side, you'll find some surprises, with APE and FLAC lossless audio codecs rubbing shoulders with the usual formats. Dingoo also promises to support additional codecs with forthcoming firmware updates.

Gaming

Dingoo's wish to make a viable Chinese gaming format are questionable, as the bundled software is risible. Graphically uninspiring racing title Ultimate Drift would reduce any gamer into tears of laughter as their rally car leaps to 1000mph. Michael Schumacher would be proud of the car's ability to perform a full 360 degree spin without loss of speed.

With the A320's stated 3D power, the first-party software seldom raises the console beyond JAVA mobile standard. Top-rated Chinese games won't be high of the list of gamers in the western world who purchase the Dingoo for its emulation and open-source nature.

Legalities already discussed, the A320 emulates a wealth of long-dead gaming hardware, including Nintendo's NES, Gameboy Advance and Super Nintendo, as well as Sega's Megadrive. Surprisingly, you'll also get support for several arcade formats, the Neo Geo and Capcom's CPS1 and CPS2, home to legendary coin-ops like Final Fight, Metal Slug and Street Fighter II.

The A320 ships with first generation versions of their in-house coded emulators, and this shows. Whilst gamers report NES and Gameboy Advance emulation as perfect, mixed results are found on other platforms. Dingoo promises further updates to the emulation software.

Open Sesame

If a commendable set of built-in emulators and Dingoo's promise of continued support and improvements doesn't tempt you, the fast-growing Dingoo community should.

The budget alternative to other open-source consoles like Korea's GP2X Wiz, Dingoo development has been opened up with huge possibilities, with a vibrant online community already investigating the quirky abilities of its silicon – successfully porting popular emulators and applications.

Development of the dual booting Dingux allows the A320 to switch between its stock firmware and a fully-fledged version of Linux. Early days of development have already seen a Dingux version of MAME4ALL running on the console. Offering support for over 2000 arcade roms it silences many of the complaints raised by users over the console's built-in emulators.