- Large display formatted for retro consoles
- Great day one Linux firmware
- A niche product that will inspire more deviation
- Cheap components
- Anything over 16-bit won't feel familiar
- The display is the only innovation
Today’s review is based on my own personal experience with what is probably my favorite handheld of 2023 – the Powkiddy RGB30.
What makes it particularly special is the unique 4 inch square format display. This display makes the RGB30 an absolutely perfect device for early retro handheld console emulation, especially anything 8-bit.
And by the end of this article, you will surely agree that going super niche is absolutely the way to go with handhelds in 2023.
Powkiddy RGB30 Details
The Powkiddy RGB30 is a new horizontal format emulation device that uses a CPU that we have seen many times in the past couple of years – the Rockchip RK3566.
Using this well tested chipset is ultimately a good thing, because there are going to be solid firmware solutions available on day one.
And these familiar components are so affordable now, handheld makers might as well stick with the chipset we have plenty of experience with and support for.
Game Play Experience
The RK3566 chip comfortably plays retro consoles up to 64-bits. Which means systems like Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, and PSP will run very well on this handheld.
It also plays Nintendo DS quite well, and the unique 720×720 display means you can play with the dual screens stacked vertically and it looks great.
The RGB30 also easily handles 16-bit and 32-bit consoles like SNES, NES, Sega Genesis, and Arcade.
But due to its very specialized screen format, those systems will not be the best use for this device. Or more specifically, you will see those consoles in a format you are not quite used to.
3.5 inch screens with a 4×3 format have been the most popular way to play retro video games on emulators for a couple of years now.
But you’d probably be surprised to know that 4×3 content on the RGB30’s 4 inch screen is actually a tiny bit larger than what it would be on a 3.5 inch screen.
We are not used to seeing our 4×3 games with black bars on the top and bottom, so it gives the impression that it is being displayed smaller than it actually is.
But where the RGB30 truly shines is in 8-bit era handheld consoles like Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and the Neo Geo Pocket. Because those consoles are able to take advantage of the square format screen the most.
The pixels on 8-bit consoles look huge on this beautiful screen, and you will have a minimal amount of black bars on the top and bottom of the content.
The clear winner for the best console to play on the Powkiddy RGB30 absolutely has to be the Pico-8 fantasy console.
Pico-8 is a square format system that runs very well on Linux based emulators. And there is a large library of free games available to play.
If you only bought the RGB30 for Pico-8, it would still be well worth the purchase.
And unlike the Powkiddy Max3 and the RK2023, the RGB30 comes with built-in WIFI for game box art downloading, retro achievements, and access to the Pico-8 “SPLORE” game browser.
I’ve heard many people refer to the RGB30 as the perfect Pico-8 machine, and I do not disagree with that assessment.
Design and Build Quality
The design of the Powkiddy RGB30 is not unlike previous Powkiddy or Anbernic horizontal emulation handhelds.
It looks like the little brother to the recent Powkiddy RGB10 Max3 Pro and a taller version of the Anbernic RG353M.
I would say that the RGB30 does suffer from some of the familiar Powkiddy shortcomings in build quality and components used.
The plastic of the shell is thin, and the joysticks feel particularly “budget”, especially since they are not the magnetic hall sensor type we’ve come to expect in 2023.
I kind of wish they skipped the analogue joysticks all together, since this niche design doesn’t really serve 64-bit games well anyways. But we’ve got ’em if we need ’em.
The Dpad, ABYX, and triggers all feel surprisingly good in comparison. And the start & select buttons are clicky and get the job done.
The RGB30 comes in three different color options: white with black buttons, dark blue with black buttons, and an all black model.
I’ve seen all three in person, and I’d say the white looks the most appealing, which is why it is the colorway I chose for myself.
Thankfully, there are no distracting logos or text on the screen bezel. But the rear of the device feels a bit bare with no logo or sticker present.
I’d actually prefer something back there and I intend on putting my own stickers all over it once I’m done photographing it for my review.
Powkiddy RGB30 Specifications
- CPU: Rockchip RK3566, ARM quad-core 1.8GHz
- Display: 4.0 inch OCA full fit (720×720)
- RAM: LPDDR4 1GB
- External storage: TF1-OS(Support 16GB-256GB), TF2-Game(Support 16GB-256GB)
- Battery: 4100mAh (Battery life: appx 8 hours, Charging time: appx 2 hours)
- Connectivity: Built-in WIFI 5G, Bluetooth
- Interface: USB-C fast charging, HDMI out, OTG-USB, 3.5MM headphone
- Size: 145mm x 86.5mm x 18mm
- Weight: 207g
In my early impressions article for the RGB30, I estimated that it would come in at around $125usd.
I came to this conclusion by comparing it to the bigger brother, the RGB10 Max3 Pro. The RGB30 has a less powerful chip, but also uses an unusual display that we have not seen before. So, for me, it was about even.
The community strongly disagreed with that estimate, and made it known that they had no intention of paying more than $100 for another RK3566 device.
Lucky for many of those prospective buyers, Powkiddy introduced the RGB30 at a retail price of $109.99usd with their usual arbitrary sale applied to it.
So you can pick up a Powkiddy RGB30 here for just $89.99usd total (+ shipping). This price is a win for both Powkiddy and the buyers.
If anything I have said about the RGB30 sounds appealing to you, I strongly suggest you add this one to your personal collection.
And any shortcomings I have mentioned are by far outweighed by the positives that this new device offers us.
I believe that these kind of niche machines are the future of handhelds, and Powkiddy is one of the first to take a risk and try something unique.
I expect to see more specialized devices come in the future thanks to Powkiddy’s courage.
And we should support this kind of innovation if this is something we want more of in the future.
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.