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The POWKIDDY Q36 Mini is a handheld console for retro emulation so small that it falls into the sub-category of a keychain console ; but don’t let its size fool anyone, it’s well equipped and can run games from all the platforms for which the manufacturer advertises it and it’s not just another Chinese console.
It’s an ideal laptop for quick doses of 8-bit and 16-bit gaming that may appeal to kids and retro gamers alike, but it’s clearly not geared to satisfy the most demanding gamers in this space. On the other hand, the POWKIDDY A20 is a higher category alternative being able to emulate PSP, Nintendo64 and DreamCast titles.
A portable keychain console
It is important to make it clear that this is not a console that we can recommend to anyone, the premise is that it fits in your pocket and you can literally attach it to your keychain using the included pendant. Those with large hands won’t enjoy the 94mm diameter and 43mm width this device exhibits, but for those who are interested, a handheld inspired by SEGA’s GameGear awaits, albeit with four buttons (B, Y, X, A) and shoulder triggers .
At first glance it looks like a children’s toy, sporting a yellow or red body, although that does not mean that it has a good finish and ergonomic design within what it fits. The body features a tiny 1.54-inch IPS display with 240 x 240-pixel resolution , and the same size considerations apply here again.
That said, we can adjust the aspect ratio between zoom, stretch, or fit to find the best visual balance, but regardless of which option is chosen, it’s a terrible display for games where reading text is vital to the experience, such as RPG titles, since we will have to strain our eyes.
What can this console do?
The POWKIDDY Q36 Mini is intended for the emulation of the following platforms: PS/GBA/GB/GBC/MS/NES/SFC/GG/NGP/WSC .
When it comes to GameBoy Advance/Color, Neo Geo, Game Gear, Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo games the emulation is excellent and free of performance issues, but it’s when we move to PlayStation 1 that we realize its limitations.
In this sense, it becomes a case-by-case analysis to judge its performance, since games like Crash Bandicoot move wonderfully, but in heavier games like Tekken 3 you can notice performance drops. Titles like Bloody Roar II are barely playable, featuring dropped frames and distorted audio, and this is something we can directly attribute to the limited hardware it carries and not the emulator.
Speaking of emulators, the POWKIDDY Q36 Mini ships with a Linux-based operating system called FunKey OS , which is specially optimized for emulation on pocket-sized devices like this one, or rather, keychains. Everything is ready to start playing as soon as we put the Micro-SD in its place and the launcher simplifies the selection of games.
Autonomy and connectivity
To our surprise, the 1,000mAh battery on board this little device is capable of providing 5 hours of continuous gaming , not bad for the price or size.
When it comes to ports, we only find an SD card slot and a USB type C interface for charging and data transfer to said card.