Even as the gaming industry scales new heights with virtual reality products like the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus, there is still a huge market for handheld gaming consoles.
Indian consumer device manufacturer Mitashi has been active in making low-end handheld gaming devices for quite many years. Last year, it stepped into the Android-based gaming consoles market with its PSP style handheld device Thunderbolt (Android 4.0.4). A year on it has launched an upgraded the GAME In series with ThunderBolt 2, based on Android 4.2.2 and with some noticeable hardware changes. We played with it for a few days. Here are the results:
The device weighs just 250 gms but its glossy plastic body means it certainly lacks a premium feel. But considering the low cost of the device, this was not hard to digest. It comes in two colour combinations and the review unit we got was white and pink (yes, pink).
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The device has rounded corners for better ergonomics. Buttons on front are conveniently positioned with the joystick and direction keys on left and four face buttons, one return and one menu button on the right. The top of the device houses five more buttons—two transparent trigger buttons on corners, Start, Select and power buttons which are too small, too stiff and easy to miss.
A 3.5 mm jack is placed just next to the charging jack, which might create issues if you want to charge and plug in your headphones at the same time. An HDMI slot is also provided. I have to say its predecessor, the Thunderbolt unicolor black variant was more visually appealing than this year’s upgrade.
The Thunderbolt 2 features a large 5″ TFT LCD display with a 800x482p resolution. The 5-point multi-touch capacitive input screen offers a pixel density of 182 dpi which fails to meet the demands of a good visual experience. The screen’s viewing angles at some point make you recall yesteryears Nintendo’s Gameboy. Playing NFS Shift on the poor quality display was a disappointment as the only option of controlling the vehicle’s movement is by tilting the device which is a pain with the acute viewing angles. Though we were not expecting a HD screen at this price, a better performance was certainly achievable.
Software and Gaming performance
The device runs on Android 4.2.2 and comes integrated with Google Play store that gives you quick access to games available in the Android market. The pure android interface with no additional layers felt snappier as I did not encounter any such lags while shifting from one app to another or while browsing.
But this is a gaming device and not a tablet. On gaming, I will give this device a 6.5 out of 10. I played a variety of games to test the graphics with games like Angry Birds Rio, Fruit Ninja, Toy Story, Cricket T20 Fever, Super Mario (through emulator) which worked quite well with no such lags. However, the colours seemed washed out due to the poor quality of the screen.
To push it to its limits, I tried some graphic heavy games and was pleasantly surprised that there was no stutter while playing Need For Speed Shift. However, Fast and Furious 6 lagged a bit and took a lot of time to load.
I had a hard time playing emulator based Super Mario, which is just impossible to play with hardware controls. The Joystick is not all that great and the directional buttons are not all that responsive. Often, as a last resort, I had to resort to the onscreen controls.
The device has some good preloaded games like Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds Rio and Space, Candy Crush, Cricket Fever, Smash it, Racing Moto, Skater Boy and NFS Shift. Besides Android games, some preloaded emulators were also present on the device that takes you to the days of 8, 16 and 32-bit games. The preloaded emulators included the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, NES, SNES, Game Boy emulator (GBA) and Sega Mega Drive emulators.
The package includes a regular Android phone charger (don’t expect a high quality one) and a pair of headphones. The buggy headphone jack did not let me listen to both the earpieces at the same time. I also tried Apple’s headphones but to no avail, which could be a device specific problem.
The console offers an average battery backup of 3 hours of continuous gaming. I was expecting at least 6-7 hours from 2300 mAH battery, but it couldn’t last a whole day with a bit of gaming and an hour or so of music-listening.
Storage and Camera
The unit comes with 8 GB on device storage which is expandable to 32 GB with a microSD card. The 2 Megapixel rear camera worked just fine.
After a few days of gaming on the latest Game In Thunderbolt 2, I will not suggest this Mitashi console for hard-core gamers. One can easily get a decent Android phone (minus dedicated hardware controls) with a much better screen and similar hardware configuration to satiate ones gaming needs. This one in only for Android junkies or children.
Android openness (Preloaded apps and games)
Google Play integration
Hardware controls (though they work only for limited games and sometimes unresponsive)
Unimpressive display with poor viewing angles
Weak battery backup
Poor build quality
SPECS: 5-inch screen with 8,16,32 Bit classic games; Dual Core 1 Gb/ 8 Gb storage; Accelerometer and Gravity Sensor; Android Jelly Bean; Rear camera