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PowKiddy A19: an upgraded D-pad make it better?

The neatly-designed Super Retro Game handheld aka the Pandora Games Mini released in November, 2019 has sure rippled some discussions. Being a relatively ideal arcade emulator that also supports many other systems, most find it weird and complain about the practicability of the d-pad. The manufacturer responds swiftly and presents a new version (re-branded as PowKiddy A19) with an improved d-pad in January, 2020. But why so fussy about a d-pad and how does the improvement do to your game experience?

Let’s get back to November. Negative comments on d-pad are spotted in most PowKiddy A19 reviews. Some says it’s “a strange looking circular d-pad” which is “awkward and unresponsive”. Some don’t even bother to blather about how it doesn’t work well but you can see in their video reviews that they only use d-pad out of absolute necessity. However, aside from its confusing d-pad, other components are satisfactory and remains unchanged in the new version (3.5’’ 640x 480 display, six buttons and a 5000 mAh battery. Supporting Bluetooth). It seems that d-pad is the only thing that bugs a majority of users which draw forth the launch of new PowKiddy A19. At the same time, hardware revisions keep updating.

The amendment to d-pad is identifiable, which not only presents on its appearance but also enhances users’ game performance. The original version of d-pad is a one-piece circular button  rises only a tiny bit from the shell, of which the directions are marked by four miniature dots. When you have to use d-pad for fighting games like Street Fighter, you will notice its inconspicuous bulge don’t always respond to your flat finger pulp. Its one-piece design weakens the sensitivity of responding points to perceive the pressure from your finger. Due to that, I feel like it takes ages to change my direction in games from left to right while I move my fingertip from the left dot to the right one. I get frustrated when I push on a dot and it triggers the other one. Thank god things change in the improved version of PowKiddy A19.

Compared to its previous version, it’s still a circular button, yet it has a cross-shaped part in the midst of the circle with its outer edge protrudes from the circle. This clearly let the pressure sensor does its job better than with just four little dots. Compared to traditional retro handheld’s d-pad, it gets thinner and has a sunken radian. Users find these improvements make the d-pad more handy and it’s “easier to pull off moves in fighting games” — which PowKiddy A19 retro console (Pandora Games Mini handheld) is born for. Personally speaking, I’m a clumsy player who certainly needs a responding d-pad to cover my shortage. The revised d-pad has fast button response, I can now change directions rapidly instead of being embarrassed by making unnecessary moves.

Many retro console fans have change their image of Chinese producer in this case. For a long time, users have an impression on Chinese handheld producers that they always act on their own, ignoring user experience and suggestions. D-pad on the first version of Super Retro Game handheld is of minimalist design that looks like a iPod Nano button, yet of minimal practical usage. This time they hear the users’ voices. They immediately respond to the feedback around d-pad and return with an improvement, which gains broadly recognition. Opinion matters, as for producers; detail matters, as for game experience. We are witnessing the gradual enhancement and looking forward to more coming products.