Powkiddy recently announced the release of the new RK2023, and we were both very surprised and a bit disappointed.
We were surprised because we had heard absolutely nothing about the device before it was available to purchase, and we hear lots of rumors!
And the disappointment came from the looks of the device and its internal specs. It’s not the prettiest handheld to come in 2023, and the RK3566 chipset is a year or so late to the scene.
I’ll just be honest, I had no interest in picking this one up. I actually made fun of my friend for his love of “Mickey-D’s handhelds” when he picked one up.
Well, I did eventually get my hands on the Powkiddy RK2023 and I have to admit that it’s way better than you think!
Powkiddy RK2023 Details
The Powkiddy RK2023 is a new horizontal game handheld that features a 3.5 inch 3:4 format screen. And it does have micro HDMI out, which is a feature I love.
It has the same RK3566 chipset that was in a lot of handhelds in 2022 like the Anbernic RG353M. So the RK2023 should be able to play pretty much everything that device would.
Powkiddy keeps things very simple with a single boot Linux OS, which is how I like it. I don’t really want or need Android on a budget handheld.
This device runs Jelos and ArkOS, which are very easy to setup and customize.
And Powkiddy has worked directly with the community to get these operating systems for the device. Something we wish other handheld makers would do.
The RK2023 does not have WIFI, but you won’t really miss it all that much unless you are somebody who likes to use Retroachievements.
It would be a bit missed for scraping game artwork. So I guess it is a slight bummer there.
Design and Build Quality
I joked about the cheap appearance of the device. But admittedly, it’s not so bad once you hold it.
In fact, this is one of the more comfortable devices to hold in your hands. Which surprised me a lot. It has a really ergonomic fit with those curved sides.
The RK2023 feels a lot like a Game Boy Advance in the hands, or like the new Anbernic RG405M.
It does have a chunky look. And the plastic looks a bit cheap.
The plain back, the graphic on the screen bezel, and even the shape of the buttons remind you that this is a budget device. Which it is, so the RK2023 is not trying to be anything it’s not.
Besides some less aesthetic design choices, the device feels solid and has a really good build quality. “Solid” is a really good way to describe it.
The larger ABXY action buttons make for a really interesting feel in the hands. They are just a bit larger than other devices and that makes them just a bit more comfortable.
Those action buttons and the dpad use a rubber membrane, so they will feel a lot like classic Nintendo buttons. Perfect for retro gaming.
It’s also got dual analogue joysticks and the four shoulder buttons that will pair well with the higher level of emulation that the device can handle (N64, PS1, PSP).
The dpad doesn’t look great and you’d expect that it might slice your fingers up with those sharp edges. But it’s totally fine once you’re actually playing games.
The magic of the Powkiddy RK2023 all starts to reveal itself once you power the handheld on.
The 3.5 inch laminated display used in the RK2023 is super crisp and insanely bright. It makes for a really great device to play outdoors.
Other devices set to 100% would probably be around 50-66% for the RK2023.
I would dare to say that it is one of the best screens on any handheld I’ve ever seen.
This screen is absolutely one of the strongest features of the handheld, and could be a big selling point. It’s that good.
Anybody who has a lot of experience with current handheld emulation devices will not be impressed by what the Powkiddy RK2023 has to offer. The scene is starting to move on from that RK3566 chipset.
But if you are in the market for a device that can play 8-64 bit era consoles quite well, this might be the perfect device for you.
The Powkiddy RK2023 can very comfortably play consoles like Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Playstation 1, Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, and PSP.
And like its main competition, the Anbernic RG353M, it will probably load a few smaller Game Cube titles, but don’t expect to get much there.
You’ll get roughly six hours of game play from the 3500mAH battery.
And because the console feels so nice in your hands and the screen looks so good, you’ll probably actually want to play it for that long.
So let’s review: The Powkiddy RK2023 is a device that feels great in your hands, has really good buttons, one of the best screens on the market, and plays 8-64 bit games nearly perfect.
It all sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Powkiddy seems to be carving out their own niche within the handheld scene: budget workhorse devices.
They are handhelds that are super solid, play games exactly as you’d hope, and are surprisingly comfortable. But they do not really push the boundaries in almost any way.
They won’t be the most beautiful choices on the market and they aren’t gonna hit the highest level of emulation. But they are handhelds you can count on to get the job done.
Fans of early 8-64 bit era games will be very happy with a Powkiddy RK2023.
In fact, this would make for a perfect handheld to give to a first time user of emulation handhelds, or even younger children.
For $79.99usd, it’s not a bad option for affordable emulation that just is easy, comfortable, dependable.
I would absolutely recommend the RK2023 to pretty much anybody looking for a workhorse emulation device.
I hate to admit how much I liked the Powkiddy RK2023 once I got it in my hands, but it’s really not too bad if you can get past the look of it.
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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.