Cre­o­qode 2048

PC Pro - - November 2017 Issue 277 -

If you’re in the mar­ket for a pocket-size hand­held con­sole, the Cre­o­qode 2048 should drop right off your list. At al­most 30cm wide and weigh­ing 538g, the 2048 is an ab­so­lute beast of a ma­chine thanks pri­mar­ily to a large full-colour LED ma­trix dis­play that dom­i­nates the front of the de­vice.

Orig­i­nally de­signed for dig­i­tal sig­nage, the LED ma­trix is low res­o­lu­tion – just 64 pix­els wide by 32 pix­els tall – but ex­tremely bright. The Cre­o­qode 2048’s dis­play, thank­fully, comes pre­assem­bled; the kit as a whole can be as­sem­bled al­most with­out touch­ing a sol­der­ing iron us­ing only the bun­dled tools and a cross-head screw­driver. That “al­most” is im­por­tant, though. While the 2048 is in­deed de­signed to go to­gether us­ing lit­tle more than the sim­ple tools in­cluded in the im­pos­ing pack­ag­ing, the wires in­cluded with the 18650 lithium ion bat­tery holder are too thin to sup­port the power draw of that im­pres­sive dis­play. As a re­sult, un­less you sol­der thicker wires in their place us­ing the guide pro­vided on Cre­o­qode’s web­site, you’ll find the de­vice re­boot­ing when too many pix­els are lit.

It’s an over­sight that casts a shadow over what could oth­er­wise have been an ex­tremely im­pres­sive de­vice. Cou­pled with the lack of a gam­ing frame­work for pro­gram­ming your own ti­tles and weak ex­am­ples, plus the use of phys­i­cally im­pres­sive but awk­ward to push anti-van­dal style switches for the but­tons, the Cre­o­qode 2048 is likely to prove a source of as much pain as plea­sure.

The bat­tery glitch aside, assem­bly is straight­for­ward. The whole process takes any­where be­tween one and three hours de­pend­ing on ex­pe­ri­ence and how of­ten you drop the small M2 nuts, slowed through pin-by-pin wiring of the dis­play and in­struc­tional im­ages that rely on the pre­cise ori­en­ta­tion of hard-to-see pieces of trans­par­ent acrylic.

If you’re will­ing to over­look some of th­ese short­com­ings, the 2048 is by far the most pow­er­ful de­vice on test. Based on an At­mel ATmega2560 mi­cro­con­troller, the de­vel­op­ment board that pow­ers the 2048 has plenty of spare pins for ex­pan­sion - which makes it dou­bly con­fus­ing that Cre­o­qode opted to leave out any means for the 2048 to pro­duce sound.

It’s the price, though, that does for the 2048. When de­vices such as the Game­buino of­fer a more es­tab­lished ecosys­tem and more fea­tures – al­beit with­out that eye-catch­ing LED dis­play – for a quar­ter of the price, the 2048 is a hard de­vice to rec­om­mend.

KEY SPECS 16MHz At­mel ATmega2560 256KB pro­gram mem­ory 64 x 32 RGB LED ma­trix dis­play six but­tons five-hour bat­tery sin­gle-game in­ter­nal stor­age 293 x 33 x 108mm (WDH) 538g

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