Jump to content
  • entries
    39
  • comments
    621
  • views
    148,423

RetroN 77 - FAIL?


Thomas Jentzsch

4,778 views

I had a few hours to test the console and I must say, I am overall disappointed.

Positives first:

  1. Very good HDMI output (it even remembers the last 16:9 or 4:3 setting, which is a surprise)
  2. Convenient form factor and nice design (though I wonder why the woodgrain is orange?)
  3. Convenient to use IF it works
  4. Very little lag
  5. The CPU seems powerful enough for newer Stella versions
  6. PAL ROMs work well too (though the picture is somewhat small for PAL50)


Negatives:

  1. The software is a only stub! (at least there is hope for improvement here)
    1. Not only did they use a very outdated version of Stella (5.5 years old!), but that version is almost completely unaltered.
      E.g. it says "State 0 saved", which indicates that one can save more than one state (like with Stella). But you can't! So why didn't they at least remove that number? That's a one minute change! (Stephen took the time to fix it)
    2. Since the code is unaltered, Stella is writing its (of course unchanged) configuration files to the SD. If this process is interrupted, e.g. by using the cart slot or switching off the console, there is a high risk that the configuration gets corrupted. This can cause all kind of problems with Stella (e.g. not responding fire buttons) and can only be cured by manually restoring the configuration file. That's the opposite of plug and play. (fixed by Stephen Anthony)
    3. The menu is extremely simple and minimal. It has only 18 entries (hard coded!), no subdirectories, no paging and the game name gets mutilated to just 8 characters. (*)
    4. Initially, not even the license link was spelled correctly. Quality control???
    5. You can only select a new ROM by switching off and on the console. This takes a while and I wonder how long the power button will survive this (see below). There are so many buttons on the console which could be used here (e.g. press Load and Save together). (*)
    6. Finally I had a brief look at some of Hyperkin's software and I am not impressed. It looks like a cheap hack job. A far cry from the quality of Stella's code.

[*]The dumper might have been a good (marketing?) idea, but as it is now, it is pretty useless.

  1. It only works with very few bankswitching schemes (only Atari 8K and 16K, named F8 and F6, details here), so that bank switched games are prone to fail. (e.g. Parker, Tigervision, M-Network, CBS, Activision)
  2. Even some carts using a supported bankswitching scheme fail randomly.
  3. Modern homebrews (even those who don't use ARM hardware) also fail regularly.
  4. Even games <= 4K fail, sometimes an inserted cart is not even detected.
  5. If the dumper fails, there is not even an error message.
  6. The code for the dumper is not available (yet?), so there is nothing which can be done here.
  7. If the dumper code ever become available and can be improved, it is unclear if the average user can make use of that it cannot be updated.
  8. If a dump is successful, why does it not save the ROM to the SD cart? Then it would at least make some sense now.

[*]Even the emulation itself has severe flaws.

  1. The old Stella version does not support many modern homebrews and has problems with a few old games (e.g. Kool Aid Man, Meltdown)
  2. Emulator and TV are not synced, this causes massive tearing on horizontal scrolling games.
  3. For some people, Paddles are basically useless, since they react very erratically. For me they work OK.
  4. Many controllers which support extra buttons do not work, they often cause the console to crash.
  5. Keypad, trackballs, driving controllers etc. are not supported at all through the front ports. 
  6. AtariVox/SaveKey does not work too.

[*]The build quality seems flimsy.

  1. Many people reported easily broken joysticks
  2. The console buttons are not best quality too
  3. The power switch feels like it may break soon (fortunately it did not yet)
  4. The cartridge port is unprotected, so that dust may get into it. Also when plugging in a cart, the mechanic feels less sturdy than on an original console.
  5. NEW: Later consoles are frequently bugged with faulty RAM which will make the consoles crash after a while under heavy load.


(I will extend the list when I have more time for testing.)

So the basic roots are there for a good alternative to a console. But in its current state, I would not suggest to buy one. :thumbsdown:

(*) Look here for an improvement.

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

  • Like 9

30 Comments


Recommended Comments



On 8/22/2022 at 7:55 AM, tripled79 said:

I am interested in this as I would like my retron 77 to work but after updating to Stella 6.6 it seems my unit is less stable than it was before. It seems all games (ROMs or carts) crash the system. Sometimes within seconds or minutes. Not sure if anyone else has experienced this, but now I would like to revert back to the original software... At least then most of my cart games worked.

From where did you update? And what's your console?

 

We found out, that many newer R77 seem to use faulty RAM chips. And we are trying to spot a pattern or maybe find a fix.

Link to comment

Hello. Thank you for the response.

 

I think I updated the Stella software from the Stella site. My console is the clear orange model.

 

Would replacing the RAM chips be easy?

 

Link to comment

The orange (amber) models are definitely newer ones. From which we have heard more negative reports. 

 

Replacing the RAM seems close to impossible, sorry. Just have a look at the pictures here.

 

The best you can do now is it to revert to community edition 3.9.4. It is old, with worse emulation than 6.x and does not support some modern homebrews (e.g. all ARM based ones). But it is better than what came with the R77.

 

Or wait and run the memory tests we are preparing for 6.7. Maybe your RAM runs stable at a lower, still acceptable speed. A tiny heat sink might help, but I would not expect too much from it.

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch
Link to comment

Guest
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...