When I got the PowKiddy RGB20, I expected it to be a better version of the Anbernic RG280V and Miyoo Mini that I quite like. The hard truth is I don’t enjoy the handheld as much as other ‘mini’ vertical handhelds, mostly because of its design. But to be fair, I need you to read the whole PowKiddy RGB20 review to see whether to buy one at the moment.
PowKiddy did exactly what I thought of current retro handheld gaming market: swapping design between vertical and horizontal forms simultaneously. However, is making a strange design as the PowKiddy RGB20 a right thing to do? We will find out.
PowKiddy RGB20 Review: Price
- Commonly found at: $80
- Costs 1.19 times the RG35XX
The PowKiddy RGB20 is a vertical retro handheld emulator which is supposed to be cheaper than the original PowKiddy RGB10, because it’s smaller in size that it doesn’t need that many materials. As a result, we can expect PowKiddy to lower the cost.
Sadly, the PowKiddy RGB20 is already 3 years old, and the handheld is commonly found at $80, which is similar to the PowKiddy RGB10. It is not a viable option at that price anymore, because PowKiddy quickly released the RK2023 and PowKiddy RGB30 with newer and better processor at the same price point. Buying anything using the RockChip RK3326 chipset in the PowKiddy RGB20 isn’t recommended anymore, especially at $80.
While I understand that the difference of $10 is negligible, I still want my reviews to reflect the actual value of a retro handheld emulator. In terms of value per price, the PowKiddy RGB20 costs 20% more than the baseline RG35XX, but it does a mediocre job at handling demanding systems. I advise you to wait for the price of these devices goes down a little bit more.
If you consider the PowKiddy RGB20 among other RK3326 variants, the RG351V seems to be a better device in terms of design and build quality. I also think the D007 (an retro handheld using RK3326 that I found on AliExpress) has a better design than the RGB20. The successor of the PowKiddy RGB20 is the PowKiddy RGB20S, with dual analog sticks and commonly cheaper price, so it would be a better deal.
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PowKiddy RGB20 Review: Design and Build Quality
|Dimensions||93 mm x 108 mm x 20 mm|
|Screen||3.5 inch IPS, 480 x 320, 164.83 PPI, 3:2 aspect ratio|
|Colors||Famicom Gold/Orange, NES Gray/Black|
|Speaker placement||Front facing|
|Audio output||3.5mm headphone jack|
- Smaller and lighter than the RG351V, definitely pocketable
- Screen is only suitable for GBA system
- Build quality is one step behind the Anbernic
- Center speaker placement resembles the GBA SP
The PowKiddy RGB20 is a low-key vertical handheld that not many people are talking about. After all, it’s difficult to keep track tons of budget handhelds available on the market. The PowKiddy RGB20 is designed to be the vertical PowKiddy RGB10, and it gives me a feeling of the Anbernic RG280V that was released in the same month. They are both short vertical handheld, which is also similar to the later Miyoo Mini.
The design effectively makes the PowKiddy RGB20’s screen a bit larger, though it is only optical illusion. It’s the same 3.5-inch screen with 3:2 aspect ratio from the original, a screen which came OEM from the same source as the Odroid Go Advance. The screen is pixel-perfect for playing Game Boy Advance, and it seems PowKiddy really wants to pursuit a square-screen handheld, as we can see from the current PowKiddy RGB30. However, being a device with more powerful internal hardware than necessary for GBA system.
What helps you differentiate the PowKiddy RGB20 with other vertical retro handhelds is the back of the device. Instead of laying all shoulder buttons like the Anbernic RG351V, PowKiddy shrinks the L2/R2 buttons. I have trouble in using these shoulder buttons, one culprit is ceiling that blocks my fingers. However, we should remember the PowKiddy RGB20 is a very early model in portrait form factor, so there must be design faults.
It still feels like a cheap toy, which is not okay for a handheld that costs more than the Miyoo Mini Plus. If I want such a mini handheld with better build quality, the RG280V is still better than the PowKiddy RGB20. Not to mention the Famicom color option of the handheld, which is… not really the case of the original NES system. It’s more like the orange color of the PowKiddy V90 that looks cheap, and not my style.
One thing that PowKiddy did good for the RGB20 is its overall control panel’s design, which tries to capture the actual controller design of the original Famicom system. I actually want PowKiddy to make a cheaper device that looks like that, to play only NES and GBA systems with two AB buttons.
I also like the front facing speaker of the PowKiddy RGB20, which quite resembles the Game Boy Advance SP, a legendary handheld that is still better than most current retro handheld emulators. It only employs mono speaker, so if you target retro home consoles you will be a little bit disappointed.
PowKiddy RGB20 Review: Gaming Experience
|CPU||RockChip RK3326 (Cortex-A35), 4 cores 4 threads @ 1.5 GHz|
|GPU||Mali-G31 MP2 @ 650 MHz|
|Memory||1 GB DDR3|
- Targeted system emulator: GBA
- SNES and PS1 work flawlessly, albeit different aspect ratio
- Can play some PSP games well
- Targeted game genres: all game genres
- Lower battery life than the RG351V
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The RockChip RK3326 proves to a very efficient chipset that it has been used in 6 different models of PowKiddy, and 4 different models of Anbernic. It is a processor that is capable of emulating everything up to GBA, SNES and PSX easily. If you target these systems or lower (NES, GB, GBC and Genesis), the PowKiddy RGB20 will have more than enough juice.
The RK3326 is a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, and the PowKiddy RGB20 employs 1 GB of RAM. Plenty for emulating non-demanding systems that require simple dual-core processing and 256 MB of RAM. However, the PowKiddy RGB20 is definitely not enough for N64 and Dreamcast. The reason is mostly because of Mupen64 cores under RetroArch, which asks minimum 2 GB of RAM, so the PowKiddy RGB20 is a bit behind.
I recommend you to read 351elec RG351’s N64 compatibility list to know which N64 games to play. Dreamcast is actually a bit easier to play, but I don’t really into this system to make a decent compatibility list. If you’re lazy, I recommend you find another handheld to play these demanding systems, at least the RG353PS or RK2023.
PlayStation Portable is also a popular system that people are looking for an enhanced graphics gameplay, but PPSSPP core in RetroArch requires the same minimum requirements as Dreamcast. As a result, you can’t play too many titles with your PowKiddy RGB20, but I still recommend you to try the RG351’s PSP compatibility list, that is a very thoughtful guide telling you which games and settings you can try.
For Nintendo DS, the PowKiddy RGB20 can run easier than these demanding systems. I remember that even my old PC with a low-end processor (Celeron if I recalled correctly) and 256-GB RAM can emulate some NDS titles like Bleach fighting game, so there is no reason the PowKiddy RGB20 with much better specs can’t fully emulate this system.
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I am the person who enjoys vertical retro handheld emulators because of its portability, and I only use them for short gaming sessions. The PowKiddy RGB20 is a good handheld to put in your pocket, and its weight doesn’t drag your hands down like the RG351V.
However, real-world use of the PowKiddy RGB20 isn’t nearly as good as the Anbernic RK3326 counterpart, because it is so small that it’s hard to play action games. Shoulder buttons are not easily accessible, because of small L2/R2 buttons and physical blocks on top.
It is quite easy to accidentally trigger the analog stick when using D-Pad buttons, again the culprit is the small size of the handheld that tries to resemble the NES controller. Perhaps the PowKiddy RGB20 is a better handheld for children, though I must admit that I can’t persuade my daughters to play video games. So it’s just my wild guess.
And the screen is not really good for anything related retro home consoles. For me alone, playing consoles on-the-go is the only reason to buy retro handheld emulators, as I prefer using native handhelds for their own systems. So my targeted emulations are NES, SNES, PSX and N64, and they all use 4:3 retro-purist screen.
While the PowKiddy RGB20 can emulate the Nintendo DS system, I don’t recommend you to try. Emulating dual-screen side-by-side is really terrible, especially on a 3.5-inch screen. Also, there is no touchscreen, so you will miss a lot by trying to emulate the NDS system.
But hey, there is a built-in Wi-Fi feature, something that you should consider getting PowKiddy handheld instead of Anbernic. Wi-Fi capability can help update the system firmware, upload retro achievement and enable multiplayer, which is brilliant.
The PowKiddy RGB20 has a reasonable battery capacity of 3000 mAh. It isn’t something to boast off, even in retro handhelds world, but at least the battery life can go up for 3 to 4 hours. For a device that’s meant for short gaming sessions, it’s not that bad.
You can use the normal USB-C cable for the PowKiddy RGB20, and it needs 3 hours to be fully charged. Fast charging can speed up the charging process, but it will degrade your battery.
Again, I don’t recommend to get the PowKiddy RGB20 at the moment, unless you: 1, like the NES controller’s design concept or 2, find it at cheaper than asked price. At its current asked price, the PowKiddy RGB20 doesn’t offer too much while costs more than a Miyoo Mini Plus, not to say that the display is subpar to the Miyoo. I’m willing to pay more, but only when the device can at least meet my demands for Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast, which aren’t strengths of the PowKiddy RGB20, as well as other RK3326 variants using 1 GB of RAM.
- It is cheaper than asked price
- You really like the NES controller’s design concept