Another Exclusive In-Depth Hardware Review by Maxconsole
Alot of different solutions are out there that try to bring 'console like controller' gaming to your mobile Android, and inside we take a up-close look at their latest entry the JXD-S7300 Gamepad2
Most recently many android hardware manufacturers have attempted to bring the vast library of android games to those that prefer physical controls, with rampant speculation of Sony Ericson's Xperia Play unit to the Android Home Console OUYA, gamers have shown quite an interest in bringing android games off of their touch only phones and onto devices that will allow them to play these games in a more traditional manner. JXD has aimed to bring android gaming fans a strong yet affordable gaming tablet for the masses; Enter the JXD-S7300 Gamepad2.
JXD was gracious enough to send us a JXD-S7300 Gamepad2 for review. The unit is packed with a 7" 1024 x 600 screen, dual analog controls, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, dual core ARM Cortex A9 processor clocked at 1.5GHz and Mali-400 MP2 dual core GPU. Last but not least, all of this comes visually packed in what looks like a WiiU controller. The box contains all of your essentials, the device, charger, usb cable, usb OTG cable, earphones and manual.
As with most android devices, there really isn't much in terms of an initial setup. you are greeted to the home screen with a number of news aggregation apps. One glaring widget on the home screen is for JXD's Game X cloud service which actually allows you to download various games and key mappings onto your device. The is also packed with Google's Play store and other licensed apps such as gmail, youtube and more. The icing on the cake for Android power users is that the device comes pre-rooted; Giving you complete control of the android environment on your device.
At the core of the device is of course the android OS which opens a gateway to tons of android games. Luckily the Google Play store is available on the device giving you a vast array of gaming options. I did test a number of the most popular native android games. One obvious glaring unique feature of the S7300 is the physical buttons. All of the buttons, including the D pad are quite sturdy and responsive, the dual trigger buttons are reminicent of the PSVita. S7300 also has start and select buttons nicely tucked away on the right hand side. It takes some getting used to their positions but the design idea holds well and keeps the amount of physical buttons in front of the user away. Unfortunately, the analog control nubs feel a bit grainy and somewhat difficult to manage; Especially when playing FPS games and you want that coveted headshot. It takes some getting used to but you can overcome this with a bit of practice.
Obviously the most glaring limitation of the vast majority of android games is the lack of physical controls, the S7300 does have an ingenious trick up its sleeve to counteract this limitation. The S7300 uses a virtual mapping technology to map touch screen virtual buttons to their physical counterparts on the S7300. The addition works really well and the visually focused menu makes it dead simple to use. Configuring buttons at any time is as easy as clicking the controller icon at the bottom of the tablet's status bar icon. Once the menu appears all you need to do is drag the physical button icons over the virtual menu buttons on the screen. It can even be used to map buttons not just no games but also on the Android OS itself.
While those are the good features about the button mapping unfortunately I did encounter some bad. I wound up having to repeat my button configurations over and over again each time i ran the same app i just configured controls for. I also found JXD's Game X Cloud Service to have very few controller configurations for the most popular games.I hope they will add more in the immediate future or even add a feature to allow owners to upload their own key maps.
I did come across some compatability issues with the S7300. I tested a number of newer android titles on the device Includnig Street Fighter IV, Grand Theft Auto III anniversary, Modern Combat 4, Samurai II, Tom Clancy's Hawx, Subway Surf, Temple Run, Dead Trigger, Raging Thunder and a few others. All ran perfectly with no issues. Unfortunately there were some games that did not run well including GTA Vice City which gave me the dreaded XAPK error, Jet Set Radio, King of fighters Android were noteable games that didnt work. With that said, those are just a handful of titles out of thousands available for android. While i can't possibly sit here and test every available game, the percentage of compatible games against the incompatible ones was great. Here's hoping they can continue this high percentage rate.
The S7300 also comes bundled with an interesting JXD branded cloud service called Game X. Game X allows you to download various android games, emulator roms and even key mappings. We can debate all day and night about the legality of distributing roms. The fact of the matter is, they are offered here. I did find the key mappings section very slim on game support. I only hope they continue to add mappings for the most popular games in the immediate future.
Retro gaming emulation fans are also in for a real treat with the S7300. The unit comes with a number of most common retro gaming emulators pre-installed. The emulators are mostly repackaged and somewhat dumbed-down version open source emulators commonly found on the net for the android platform. They do however, get the job done for the average retro gaming fan that just wants their games to run without the setup fuss. the S7300 comes bundled with emulators for NES, Sega Genesis/Megadrive, Gameboy Advance, Playstation one and Mame Arcade emulator. The beauty of the S7300 is that if you don't like a particular emulator, you are more than welcome to download another one from the market.
The JXD also has a number of bells and whistle features such as a front facing camera to allow for simple video conferencing and HDMI out put to allow you to play your vast collection of games and videos directly from your tablet and onto your television. HDMI out worked without a hitch and to offer yet another interesting feature, the tablet comes packed with an hdmi out utitlity that will allow you to vary the resolution between 480, 720 and 1080 resolutions.
The unit also supports a number of usb controllers and joysticks via the supplied USB OTG cable. Compatibility on this feature tends to favor simple usb HID controllers and joysticks.
While the device isn't 100% perfect (what product is), The S7300 is a powerful tablet at a budget price while still offering solid game-play for those that simply refuse to play games without physical controls. Full root control of the device, HDMI out, front facing camera and other smaller features do also tack on some additional value.
You have to give JXD credit. JXD knows their demographic and aren't ashamed to cater to them in any way possible. Packing emulators and offering a cloud rom service is a bold move. If there's one thing you can't call JXD that would be "hypocrites". Emulator downloads on android have just as strong download stats as mainstream games on the platform. It's clear that people want to use their device to play classic games and even publishers such as Sega and Capcom have released their classic lineup on the android and IOS platform mostly via emulation. If you are not an emulation fan, there is plenty here for the average gamer that wants to play android games without having to comprimise physical controls.
MORE INFO: JXD-S7300 Gamepad2