Sunday, 30 October 2011

Android Tablet Speccy ShootOut

THIS REPORT HAS NOW BEEN UPDATED.
See versions below.

Having just got myself a new Android tablet one of the first things I wanted to do was get a Spectrum emulator. Browsing the Android market I noticed five, all boasting good solid features, and no doubt all work well on Android phones. The problem is, I have a tablet, and as any tablet owner will tell you, what works on a phone may not work on a tablet.

Amongst the issues I expected were scaling problems and screen estate. Phones have small screens, typically three to four inches, but tablets on the whole double that. The manufacturers have provided functionality to scale or zoom applications, but again, this does not always have the desired effect.

I spent a few days testing each emulator and the results are available in a PDF document. I hope to add the full report here shortly, but for now, you can grab the PDF using the link below.

It is important to know that the comparison of emulators is based solely on their ability to work with tablets and how they respond to the different hardware and screen sizes than originally designed for. It is in no way aimed at the emulators use on phones, which I assume is fine based on market feedback.

Get the original full report here.
Updated report Nov 2011
Updated report Feb 2012

11 comments:

Andrey Dj said...

Hello.
Few words about Unreal Speccy Portable.
Use it with Portrait orientation.
You will see keyboard/joystick (toggle them by 'back' key).
Then go to Preferences, and switch view option to 'Fill Screen'.

Then Press some keys (Underlined) to enter to corresponding ROM (Basic/Tr-Dos etc).

Also RTFM:
http://code.google.com/p/unrealspeccyp/wiki/readme
http://code.google.com/p/unrealspeccyp/wiki/readme_android

Digital Grasp said...

The wiki mainly assumes the user has a phone and not a tablet, having said that, I did manage to get further after trail and error over a period of 30 minutes. Ease of use is vitally important, and either more precise docs are needed, or an easier and quicker user experience. I did manage to load a game but then the emulator crashed my tablet, requiring a hard boot. A different game did the same thing! I will do an update based on these findings. Unreal is a good emulator on other formats and the authors need to look at ease of use on tablets to improve things.

Andrey Dj said...

>but then the emulator crashed my tablet, requiring a hard boot

emulator reboots tablet???
wow, can you send bug report for this case?
also, please test it in portrait mode.
controls in landscape is not implemented.

for feedback welcome here:
http://code.google.com/p/unrealspeccyp/

Digital Grasp said...

Crash report sent.
Can't see how to contact you on wiki. Would like to help solve tablet problems as this could be a good emu.

Andrey Dj said...

Please try version from this issue (rev694)

http://code.google.com/p/unrealspeccyp/issues/detail?id=48

Digital Grasp said...

Great. This version is much better. No crashes so far. I sill do an updated review after a bit more testing and release.

Andrey Dj said...

also test latest version from market (i forgot android 2.1 compatibility in test version)

Digital Grasp said...

Version on market is great. No crashes. Tested with many games. Great job. Just hope for landscape mode soon.

Andrey Dj said...

One hint... Use TR-Dos disk images for quick load games, etc.
After resetting and opening file from VTRDOS tab, simple press ENTER on main emulator screen, then select program from list with Q/A keys, and launch it with ENTER key.

Andrey Dj said...

Hello! :-)
Try latest Unreal Speccy Portable.
Controls in landscape mode implemented.

Steve Bryce said...

The biggest problem that I found with most of these emulators (haven't yet tried them all) is that they completely ignore the physical keyboard on a Transformer Pad. I notice you reviewed using a TF101, but did not mention this. Some had the option to redefine keys, but often would not accept an input from the keyboard. Others sometimes did not even allow the option of defining certain essential keys, such as Symbol Shift (good luck loading a game in 48K mode!).

As Android becomes more common on a wider variety of devices it is important that programmers don't concentrate soley in reducing the controls so that they (barely) work on a touchscreen. Don't throw away good controls and configuration options from the desktop versions of the emulators - they may be very useful for those people with more capable Android devices.

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