[REVIEW] GPD-G7 (Quad-Core, 7″)
Note: I tried to write this directly in english, but most probably i will make many mistakes. Hope you understand main information of this article, that most of it is technical info, and forgive these mistakes.
Any correction i will be glad on doing to this article.
About this article
This is only a summarized version of the original article located in my blog. For more info and updates, i suggest to visit it.
To GPD manufacturer for send me a sample of their product GPD-G7 to test it and write this review.
Usage of this article
Author give permission to use this review, part of this or by a link reference, to anybody wants to use it, with only one condition that you must keep the author of this article, and the original source, that is on my blog.
For any update for the content of this article, i suggest to visit the link avobe.
After releasing their previous model GPD-G5A, the manufacturer relesaes their 7″ version called GPD-G7.
This product is focussed on users that wants something in big screen, but offering a good experience of usage, based on the ergonomic design of the device. In fact, in my opinion is the most comfortable 7″ device i used until now (there may be other comfortable devices in the market, but i didn´t tested yet)
GPD is taking so serious all the feedback that they are receiving, and is developing and improving their devices based on these information. The final product is a device with a very good relationship between features/specs/price, and if keep doing their job in this way, most probably will become in a reference to other android gaming devices manufacturers. (if they are not now)
I see some users that get their device have some problems with DPAD. As i know, first units may have this problem. Mine device is from these first batches, but i don´t get big problems with the DPAD, but i want to mention this before you read this artile, to take in consideration why others users giving bad comments about this point (manufacturer told to me that will improve their next bathces with better DPAD, with all these problems fixed)
I will comment this device based in my experience of usage (without DPAD big problems), and hope all the info i post here will be useful for who is looking information about this device.
The device come in a box with very simple prints on their faces. Basically, there is a device’s photo, with few icons with some features, and with texts in spanish and portuguese (there is so curious there is no english texts on the device)
The contents of the box is designed for sure transportation of the device, avoiding most bumps, and the device and all their accessories fits perfectly on it.
(Unboxing y full description of the package contents)
When the package is opened, we found the following elements thats, i understand, are part of any standard shippment for this product.
- GPD-G7 device
- Wall Charger, with specific plug for the device
- MicroUSB cable (Data only)
(Enumerate of components that conform the product)
In the following section i will explain briefly each component that comform the device, listing each component existing in their structure and doing comments about these elements when i consider.
In this section i will list only the device parts that may contain elements interesting to comment.
These faces of the device that don´t containt any element i will omit.
- Left analog stick
- Left Speaker
- Front camera 2MPx
- 7″ Screen
- Buttons [SELECT], [START], [POWER], [VOL+], [VOL-]
- Operation led
- Right analog stick
- Buttons , , [B], [A], , 
- Right speaker
- Left ergonomic grip
- Right ergonomic grip
- Right Grip
- Left Grip
- Button 
- Button 
- MicroSD Slot
- MiniHDMI port
- MicroUSB Port (only Data)
- Charger port (5V)
- Button 
- Button 
- Headphones port
About face buttons
The device come with a non common button layout, based on suggestions made to the manufacturer for their device on adding a 6 button layout.
The original idea is good, but the final result is not so practical. i mean, always is good to get more buttons for assign in games, but the selected layout is not the best for fighting games, in special those with Street Fighter layout buttons (3 x 2 matrix), where games with mechanics like Marvel vs Capcom or similar, where most of juggles starts with Low puch or Low kick, and then High kick or High punch for juggle start, is hard to do with the current layout, because low kick is away from high punch.
With images, current button layout:
As you can see, in Street Fighter Layout, for juggle sample y mention you must do “4″ (low kick) and “3″ (high punch) for most of characters, and is a little hard to do with this layout.
Following the same example, this game (Marvel vs Capcom) and other with similar game mechanic, for common combo do the rule of beat always from lowest to higest button. This way, most common combo is:
Juggle: 4, d+3 | 4,1,5,2,6 or | 1,4,2,5,3 or any other combination (1|4, 2|5, 3 or 6)
Playing with the thumb for pressing these combinations are a little bit hard, and need so much practice to do successfully.
I think (and this really is part of the improvmentes of the device) is better layout something like the following:
This layout let the user define in a more comfortable way a 6 buttons layout (street fighter style) in this way:
In my opinion, is a better way to configure the controller for play games like Street Fighter or similar.
In another way, this layout let to configure in a most comfortable way other layouts, such Nintendo 64:
This way is more near to original controller layout. Currently most mappings suggestions are based on right stick to assign C-Buttons on Nintendo 64 emulators, but this mapping don´t allow to do things such press C-Left and C-Right, C-Up and C-Down, 3 buttons or 4 buttons at the same time, because the stick only let to press one or two buttons at the same time, and buttons that are not opposite.
Assigning this way, you can use these buttons in the same way as original Nintendo 64 controller, and there is “A” and “B” buttons for normal “A” and “B” from original controller.
The design is based on a single piece with a Cross with a concave center. At first usage may be a little weird, but after using it, become so comfortable and easy to usage.
Comparing with a X360 controller, definely this device have a better D-PAD design (personally, i hate the D-PAD from X360 Controller. is one of the worst D-PAD i ever used)
I take my time on testing the device, because i read some bad feedback about this on forums.
Most of these problems are related to diagonals. The D-PAD only let to do rect moves (horizontal or vertical) in many devices.
After doing many testings, i can say that my sample don´t have this kind of problem, but researching a little more, i can confirm that this “problem” can be solved with a very simple modding, similar to this or this.
This is not a hardware design problem, and with a little of skills is easily solved.
In my case, for testing D-PAD i use always games that i know to play and get a good feeling about how the controller respond. For this case, i used Tekken 3 (PSX) and to some specific moves for testing.
In this quick gameplay i captured, i was do many moves that need a correct and precise D-PAD input for correct movement. Electric wind hook fist move requires a diagonal in right timing for execution. I´m not an expert doing this move, but i can execute without major problems. (fow who´s don´t know about this move, is when Jin´s do the move and there is electric on their punch/arm)
About Analog Sticks
This device mount a very good analog sticks, similar in design and feel of X360 controller.
The shape, size and texture are similar in both controllers, and feel so good when playing. Definley is the best part of the controls of this device.
Comparing with other devices
I usually avoid on doing comparissons within the device´s review, but this case i will post few samples to help to understand the real size of the device.
The most direct and obvious device that we can use for comparisson, is the JXDS7800B device.
As you can see, total size of G7 is not so biggest than JXD device (in the image i put both devices at the same top level)
Of course, GPD-G7 is more deep (double than JXDS7800B), but this size is basically by their grips. Device itself (the Tablet part) is the same as JXD7800B
And now, comparing with GPD-G5A device (the 5″ variant of this device)
There is a notorious difference between these two sizes.
(What i feel in my first impression with the device)
Based on my previous experience with GPD-G5A, i know what to expect aprox with this device, and i´m right. Materials are good, construction appears to be solid. First ontact is good and feels good.
The device weight is bigger than GPD-G5A (of course), and so similar to other 7″ gaming devices i tested, but thanks to their ergonomic shape, it feel better, more comfortable than other solutions.
The screen appear to be better viewing angle and i feel better in quality (better vision angle?) than G5A.
Sound from speakers i feel that is than a canc. Is enough for playing and watching a movie, but don´t expect a very good quality.
Based on GPD-G5A device (the 5″ version of this GPD family), this GPD-G7 feature the following changes:
- Battery, now come with 5000mAh capacity
- Screen, now is 7″
- Buttons, now with 2 extra buttons (“C” and “Z”)
The rest of the device following the same as their 5″ version in general speaking, including materials, controls, ergonomic design, etc.
At first impression, before get the device, is that difference between 5″ and 7″ size will not important, but before getting the device in my hands i feel that really there are big differences.
When i´m writting this article, Skelton released their firmware for this device, and i do most of testing based on this firmware that, i must to say, runs so smooth and fine.
According with the manufacturer, or searching info on web pages, we can found many sources of information about the device and sometimes these information may be not consistent (may be different from one web page to other), and this may cause some confusion for anybody that wants to get info about this product.
On this section i will post the info i get from the manufacturer (or is not possible, the web page that i consider more reliable), listing only the relevant points for a tech analysis of the product, and omit these points that don´t get any relevant info about the device (as many time we found on many pages, things such video capabilities, mail capabilities, etc, that really are software based features that we can install on the device, and not a real feature of the device itself)
- Procesador Rockchip RK3188 Quad-core, Cortex A9 1.6GHz *
- GPU Mali-400
- 1Gb RAM
- 8Gb de memoria interna
- Android 4.2 (actualizable a 4.4 KitKat)
- Slot para tarjetas MicroSD hasta 32Gb
- Pantalla 7” 1024×600 TFT
- Mapeador de teclas **
- Batería de 5000mAh ***
In first place, to get a reliable source of info about the system, i take some screenshots from the same device showing android system info (thata usually is insufficient), and from another software that can give us more detailed information about the system, and with this info we can get a general idea about the capabilities of the device.
For people that don´t know about these programs, i can tell (in short words) that a benchmark is a program or normalized test that runs on a device. These tests give points (usually, averaging many results) the performance of a device, in the way that the final total point may be useful to compare, in a simple and direct way, the general performance between many devices.
There are so many benchmarks on Google Play Store, but in my test usually i use the most populars.
For the running of these benchmarks, the initial conditions of the device are:
- CPU Frequency: 1.6 GHz
- CPU Governor: Performance
- Screen Resolution: 10204×600 pixels
This benchmark have two parts, the first “normal” called “Ice Storm”, and the second with high resolution graphics called “Ice Storm Extreme”
The final total is the averaging of all the test of the benchmark (in each of this parts)
- Total Score: 3428
Ice Storm Extreme
- Total Score: 2498
Ice Storm Unlimited
- Total Score: 3661
This is a version special anti-fraud.
- RAM Operation: 2052
- RAM Speed: 1095
- CPU integer: 2623
- CPU float-point: 1838
- 2D graphics: [600x976] 1390
- 3D graphics: [600x976] 4246
- Storage I/O: 1364
- Database I/O: 665
- CPU frequency: 1608 MHz (x4)
- Multitask: 3829
- Dalvik: 1433
- Total: 20535
The main goal of this benchmark is basically to calculate PI with a fixed decimals, and based on the time taked to calculate this.
- Pi calculated in: 19.41 seconds
This benchmark suite is specific designed to test performance of multi-core devices, and get 3 general values (totals): Native Score, Java Score and Overall Score.
- Native Score: 30535
- Java Score: 8371
- Overall Score: 17236
This benchmark generate an intensive GPU usage, using the Unreal Engine 3 and get as a final result the average framerate that the device can show the test.
Based on the kind of the devices and their features/capabilities, the benchmark can offer two or three kind of benchamark types: High Performance, High Quality and Ultra Hight Quality (This test only will be available for devices ables to run this benchmark).
This benchmark is designed to test OpenGL|ES2.0, and will show graphics with a variety of effects such reflex, dyamic shadows, lights, etc. This version was designed for medium-low devices, but i run as a standard in any device thata i write a review.
- Total score: 60.1 fps
In the same way as the previous version, this benchmark is designed to test OpenGL|ES2.0, but in medium-hight devices. In the same way, this benchmark show graphics but with Hight Resolution, and apply effects such reflex, dynamic shadows, light, etc.
- Total score: 60.1 fps
This benchmark is one of the first dedicated software for testing devices, and become a reference, but currently i use as a informative way, because this app don´t have multi-core support, then their results don´t get a reliable source of information, beause the performance of 1 core running on the device is not the same if the device can run with 2 or more cores, where distribute proccessing and run more relaxed in genearl, giving a better score to the system.
- CPU: 14993
- Mem: 4167
- I/O: 6384
- 2D: 1000
- 3D: 2465
- Total: 5802
Windmill is a technology demonstration that showcases gaming engines from Allegorithmic and Unity. Windmill includes a benchmark mode that pushes your mobile platform to the limit by exercising multiple CPU and GPU cores with complex geometry and interesting texture and shader effects.
The dynamic change of season and visual style (cartoon, spring, summer, winter) is made possible by the Substance technology.
- Average Frame Rate: 10.12 FPS (1024.600)
This becnhmark is a testing suite, that basically are routines for HTML5 and CPU specific (Metal) testings.
- HTML5 score: 2238
- Metal score: 524
For these cases, is good to get a way to recover the device, and one of these ways is getting the official firmware (and the steps to flash it)
This device is the first Android Gaming Console that support Android 4.4 KitKat.
You can find all firmwares download links in the official page from the manufacturer:
About KitKat. This firmware come non rooted if first versions, but manufacturer will pre-rooted this in next releases.
Last Official KitKat release (4.4.2) come with CIFS support!
For more info about how to install these firmwares, go to previous link.
I will not include the steps on installing these firmwares, because are the same as Custom Firmware and i will comment in their section.
One of the best things that take advantage on Android, is precisely get the device rooted and the superuser privileges enabled for our needs.
There are so much users that have scared about the methods to get root on their devices, and for this they don´t get encourage to root it, limiting their experience because there are so much apps that uses this feature. Applications such Titanium Backup or Tincore Keymapper (for mention few) requires root acces to work property.
Depending on the firmware may come rooted or not, but the manufacturer always try to bring rooted firmwares.
Last KitKat firmware version (at the momento of writing this article) come rooted from manufacturer, then there is no need to do nothing for completing this task.
The JellyBean versions (4.2.x) come rooted, but lack of some apps. For solving this, simply run
ClockWorkMod/ Recovery (Custom Recovery)
Android have a special mode called Recovery, that is used many times to recover the device if this have problems to run properly, but there exist an alternative Custom Recovery that add a lot of new functionality and tools, and one of the most popular is one called ClockWorkMod Recovery.
There is a full functional version of this recovery that run on this device.
One of the most important features of this custom recovery, is the NANDROID generation, a way to generate a full backup of the nand (where the operating system resides) to a directory, and can be used as a recovery point for the device in case of semi-brick, or simply if you want to get a clean firmware on it.
Take note that this backup (nandroid) is a image of the NAND, this means, there will be stored all your configs, users, passwords, accounts, etc. Is a good idea to get a clean firmware insatlled on the device, and install and configure all your base programs (file admins, cloud services, google account, etc) and then get a nandroid for your personal use. When you get back to this image/backup, you will get a clean and configured system, saving lot of time on basic configurations and installing basic software.
The method of installing ClockworkMod for this device is the same as GPD-G5A, and i will copy here.
For installing this custom recovery, i used the files located in the “CWM-based Recovery images for RK3188 devices”
Installing this is so simple. Download the file, and execute these commands from command prompt:
adb remountadb push flash_image /dev/adb push recovery.img /dev/adb shellsuchmod 755 /dev/flash_image/dev/flash_image recovery /dev/recovery.img
If all is ok, with this method you get CWM installed on your device.
for testing, you can execute this command:
or simply turn off completely your device, and then press and keep [VOL+] button, and power on (without releasing buttons). The device will enter in recovery mode.
A custom firmware usually is a firmware stock with some moddings, via tweaks or compiled directly from source code (if this exist), and generating an optimized version of the original system.
Beside the above, the custom firmwares can add new functionality to the device, that originally don´t get in the firmware stock such bluetooth usb dongle support, gamepad support, fixing framework, updating modules, CIFS, etc.
At the moment of writing this article, there is a Custom Firmware released for this device.
LegacyROM 1.0 for GPD-G7
I will copy and paste the general guidelines of installation of this firmware. For complete info, i suggest to visit the previous link.
In order to install the firmware you need RK Batch Tool in your PC included in the rar package.
- Open Batch tool and select the Legacy_XX image file (.img).
- With GPD power off, just connect it via USB Cable to PC. Wait until battery charging animation dissappears. Then just press and Hold Volume + button and Press Power. RK Batch Tool will detect device, and you’ll see the number 1 with a green box. If you see with a pink box, just select Switch Button until you see it in green. If the system ask you for some drivers, then just use the one included in the Batch Tool (or using driverInstaller package to install rockchip USB drivers).
- Once device is detected with a green BOX, just select Restore and wait patiently while firmware is written.
- Device will auto reboot to recovery and format your partitions. Just wait patiently until all process is done, since it’s a long process and first boot can take several minutes, so just wait until it finishes and you see the home Android launcher.
The device come with a 5000mAh battery capacity, that is very good capacity.
I really don´t know real lifetime with a normal usage of this, but i can reach easily 4 hours of usage, with a minimal clock set to 816MHz, governor = ondemand. (playing basically PPSSPP)
Manufacturer default stock rom come caped to 1.4GHz, but with a custom firmware the cpu can be unlocked to reach 1.6GHz. The best part is that the system is so stable at 1.6GHz (almost the sample i get). I get few reboots of the system, but most probably because i´m doing some testing and the system hangs/reboots.
For general usage, i suggest to downclock the cpu to 1.2GHz, because the system run very well with this speed, and you can save battery.
Pros, cons and improvements.
Pros are based on features that highlight, comparing the device with another similars, or these features improve the experience of the user.In the another hand, the cons are these points that worse the experience, or the feature is not enough for fulfill what we expect from the device.Finally, the improvements points are some features or specs that i think must be improved in a supposed new version of the device, and will generate a better experience in my opinion.
- Comfort is the most important feature of this device. Even with their size, the device feels good and bring an experience similar to using a game controller on the hands.
- Analog Sticks are so good. They are so similar to X360 controller, and provide a good experience of usage.
- This is the first device with full set of buttons, including C and Z buttons (part of the 6 button layout of the device).
- DPAD is good and, in the case of the sample tested, accurate. Good for fighting games.
- Main 4 Buttons are comfotable to use.
- Shoulder buttons are so comfortables.
- Touch Screen is responsive and appears to be good, considering is TFT.
- Stock Firmware (official firmwares) run very smooth and are clean in general speaking.
- Official firmware come with Joystick Driver for controls.
- Official keymapper (stock firmware) include all controls of the device, this include C, Z, L3, R3, Select and Start
- There exist a Custom Firmware based on Source Code of the device.
- Speakers are located on front of the device.
- There is a specific port charge for battery charging
- HDMI output has no lag in general.
- Materials are correct/good. Better than i expected for this device, considering the price.
- The device come with a single camera and is located in front for videocalling, and i consider a good point this, because most of these kind of devices come with a low res camera (2MPx) located in back, and i don´t consider this camera as a serious camera for taking photos (resolution is not enough) but for videochat is ok.
- System buttons and Select & Start buttons are in front of the device (not in bottom side, as GPD-G5A)
- Not my case, but i see some cases where DPAD cannot do diagonals. As i know, this is a general issue of the firsts production batches, but the manufacturer will fix this in next batches.
- There is no Bluetooth. In my opinion, is a must on these kind of devices. (headphones, controllers for desktop console mode, etc)
- Based on G5A, main buttons are displaced some milimeters down, and sometimes is hard to press a button, when using right stick. I feel most comfortable using G5A device for this point.
- Design is not easy to transport in a backpack or pocket. There is necessary to find a proper bag for keep and transport (and protect sticks!)
- Is a very good point that manufacturer include 6 buttons in the layout, but the final layout is not comfortable as another layout.
- Manufacturer tell to me that will fix the DPAD problem, but i will pust this as an improvement for the current version of the device.
- Add bluetooth module. Is a must have for this kind of device (in my opinion)
- Is not necessary but adding IPS panel may be fine.
- Add a wist strap hole in the design.
- Add real analogs to L2 and R2
- KEEP the 6 button feature, but change the layout for something as i suggested, or other similar to 3×2 classic layout.
- Add a USB HUB included on the same device (almost, one or two extra normal USB-OTG ports)
For who is looking for a comfortable and good specs device, must check this one. In my opinion, this is the most comfortable 7″ device i´ve tested until now. Ergonomics is the main feature of this device.
Controls, specially analog sticks are so comfortables. Nova 3 and similar games are not my favorites really, but I have enjoyed playing these games in this device.
The device itself does not go unnoticed. I used this on subway, train, etc, and people get their attention on it.
First impression of many friends is negative, because all of them think this is a monster device, but after testing and playing something, most of them get impressed with the comfort and change their perception of the device, get interested on it.
For now is one of the most interesting devices, taking their relationshipt between specs/quality/price, and is a serious alternative for 7″ gaming device.