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12 agosto 2014

[REVIEW] Tronsmart Mars G01 (Gamepad)

[REVIEW] Tronsmart Mars G01 (Gamepad)





Acknowledgments


To Geekbuying store for send me a sample of their product Tronsmart Mars G01 to test it and write this review.


Usage of this article


Author give permission to use this review, part of this or by a link reference, to anybody wants to use it, with only one condition that you must keep the author of this article, and the original source, that is on my blog.

For any update for the content of this article, i suggest to visit the link avobe.



Introduction

I have big expectations about this device, because what the manufacturer offers is different than other similar products that we can summarize in a 3 in one gamepad (3 different gamepad behaviors in one single physical gamepad), with an very easy interace for change this.

What the difference i'm talking about?


We need to understand some things from android gaming world for understand this device.

First of all (the first problem), some Android games have proper implemented  gampeads for control. Most of games have on screen (touch) virtual controls, that bring some basic and uncomfortable gameplay for users.

Considering these games with gamepad support, there are some distinct kind of support based on specific gamepad brands/models. Moga is one of the most supported gamepad/brand on android games, but the main problem with this is that users must buy a Moga controller for play their games with a control. Whtat mean this? if you have a non Moga controller (any standard usb, etc), and want to play some of those games with specific Moga support, you simply can´t play it with your controller.

The same case is for other brand/models of gamepads. There are some games with support for Dualshock or Sixaxis, other only enable their gamepad support for specific devices such OUYA, and currently other devices will be released, but with some agreements with software developers to bring specific support for their brand/device.

For mentioning some samples, even in games of the same developer you can find distinct kind of supports. Taking as example Gameloft games, we can find these kind of supported gamepads:

Logitech Power Shell (iOS) *


  • Asphalt 8: Airborne
  • Dungeon Hunter 4
  • Gangstar Vegas



MOGA ACE (iOS) *


  • Dungeon Hunter 4
  • Gangstar Vegas


MOGA PRO and Samsung Gamepad (Android)


  • Asphalt 7
  • Asphalt 8
  • Dungeon Hunter 3
  • Gangstar Rio
  • GT Racing 2
  • Modern Combat 4
  • N.O.V.A.3
  • Six Guns
  • Wild Blood
  • Gangstar Vegas
  • Tank Battles
  • Blitz Brigade


* Note: I put iOS examples to show that in the same platform, we can find distinct kind of support of controllers for distinct games.


In current state of Android gaming evolve, Gamepad support is becoming into a merchandising mechanism/claim for users select one or other device to buy, and this generate a more segmented market of apps, because these apps don´t have a common/universal support for gamepads.

What we can do?


For now, there are some software on the market that help to users on emulating some of these gamepad brand/models and, using a standard gamepad you can enable gamepad support in some games with this specific support. In fact, these apps are a layer that help a lot to users to enjoy their games, because they don´t need to worry about the kind of gamepad they have. Simply put this software layer that emulate the needed specific gamepad and play, But these kind of solutions don´t have a 100% of success. In fact, there are many games with specific gamepad support that can be played with emulated gamepads, ,but almost a big portion of games can be played without major problems.

Tronsmart take this situation and generate a new hardware based alternative called Mars G01.

What is Mars G01?


Basically is 3 different gamepads in one single solution. The user can change the device behavior by selecting it with a button, and use the best that fit their needs.

The modes you can use this gamepad are:
X - In simple words, work as a X360 gamepad.
D - Work as normal HID standard gamepad.
A - Called Android Mode, really works as Gamepad with C and X buttons in their layer (but there is no physical buttons for this). This mode really is very similar to D, but Select and Start are moved to other positions in the logic assigment in the layer.

There is a good point to mention is that controller act as normal USB controller, and you can operate in any device that recognize gamepads, including windows. In fact, one of the best features of this device is using as X360 controller (XInput supported). With this controller you can play directly with any windows game with XInput support, without installing X360 emulators, interface drivers, etc. (forgive to use xce360, pJoy, etc)

Windows recognize the controller as X360 wired controller, and work like a charm.

In Android, using the software of the controller you can play games with moga support directly (please read conclusion about this point).

Well, i will try to generate a documented review for this device, and hope you found useful.



Product showcase

(Checking of the external view of the package)



Product come in a box printed with information about the product. In the images of the box you can see references to 3 systems, Android, PC and PS3. The device is compatible with all these systems (and we can figure that X360 too).


In the left side we can see a summary of the main features, where we can see 2.4GHz RF, Vibration functions, 600mAh battery.


The right side come with a summary of the contents of the box.


Inside the box, we found the controller well protected with a plastic case, that avoid the controller and most important their analog sticks get broken with transport.



Package contents

(Unboxing y full description of the package contents)


When the package is opened, we found the following elements thats, i understand, are part of any standard shippment for this product.



  • Tronsmart Mars G01
  • Wireless 2.4GHz receiver USB
  • USB OTG Cable (for use with Android devices)
  • Operation Manual
  • MicroUSB cable (for charging)



Product description

(Enumerate of components that conform the product)


In the following section i will explain briefly each component that comform the device, listing each component existing in their structure and doing comments about these elements when i consider.

In this section i will list only the device parts that may contain elements interesting to comment.

I will consider the front side where most buttons/controls are located.

Note: These faces of the device that don´t containt any element i will omit.

Front view




  • Left analog stick
  • (X) mode operation led
  • (D) mode operation led
  • (A) mode operation led
  • [SELECT] button
  • Tronsmart "T" button (for change operation mode)
  • [START] button
  • D-PAD
  • Right analog stick
  • [X] Button
  • [Y] Button
  • [A] Button
  • [B] Button




Rear view





  • [RESET] Hole/Button



Top view




  • [RB] Button
  • [RT] Trigger
  • MicroUSB for Battery charge
  • [LB] Button
  • [LT] Trigger


Internal View


(Image from ncx-software.com)


We can recognize some parts

  • Vibration motors
  • Battery (blue)
  • Trigger mechanism (analog triggers, with progressive input)



First Impression

(What i feel in my first impression with the device)


The controller is robust, well constructed and materials are good.

Feel in hands is comfortable. The controller have good size, similar to X360 controller, but with some differences.



Shape form is something in midway between Sixaxis and X360 controller (most near to this). Grips feeling are near to Sixaxis and buttons/controls layout are similar to X360.



I must say that my prefer gaming controller is Dualshock/Sixaxis (most because my favorite games are fighting games, and X360 don´t have a good DPAD for these kind of games), but this controller have a good feeling DPAD.




This DPAD is a really big improvement from the original X360 controller, and enough reason for replacing the original controller from X360 to play in proper way fighting games.

The rest of controls are the same feeling as X360 controller.

The side slots on the grips are so comfortable for avoiding getting hand perspiration in long sessions of gaming.

The general feeling and first impression is very good, in general speaking.


Product information




According with the manufacturer, or searching info on web pages, we can found many sources of information about the device and sometimes these information may be not consistent (may be different from one web page to other), and this may cause some confusion for anybody that wants to get info about this product.

On this section i will post the info i get from the manufacturer (or is not possible, the web page that i consider more reliable), listing only the relevant points for a tech analysis of the product, and omit these points that don´t get any relevant info about the device (as many time we found on many pages, things such video capabilities, mail capabilities, etc, that really are software based features that we can install on the device, and not a real feature of the device itself)

  • Connecting Tech: 2.4Ghz Wireless 
  • Cover Range: Up to 10M (30 Feet) 
  • Frequency Range: 2400MHZ - 2483MHZ
  • Channels Bandwidth: 1MHZ
  • Maximum Transmitter Power: ODBM
  • Battery Capacity: 600mAH
  • Working Current: 11-20mA
  • Standby Current: 33µA
  • Charging Current: 300mA
  • Interface: USB 1.0/2.0/3.0
  • Plug-and-Play: Yes
  • Vibration: Dual-Motor Vibration
  • Compatible System: PC/PS3/Android



Official software




There are some software and/or drivers you may need, depends on where you´re using the device, that you can found in the download section of Tronsmart webpage.

For Windows Vista/7/8 and up, Drivers will be automatically installed in the system when you plug the receiver.

For Windows XP, you need specific driver:




For Android, you need your device rooted, and will need few apks for proper running this device:




Both applications (apk) must be installed on Android device.

For more details on installing and running these applications, you can check this installation guide (pdf).



Game Response




In the following lines i will show some games and emulators running on some devices, and some comments with relevant info about the Gamepad in Windows, and Android scenarios.



Android Games




As i mention in the introduction of this article, there are many games with specific gamepad support (most of them are Moga supported) and i will try to test some of these games and show some gameplay.

After doing many testing, trying with different configurations, tricks, etc, etc. i can´t get the device to be usable using X mode and Tronsmart software (Device Manager and Gamepad Center).

I received reports of other users that can get the controller running with this software, in games such Modern Combat 4 or Nova 3, but in my case i get few times to work, but i can´t repeat the steps again (currently, i can´t get these games or any other game to work with Tronsmart software)

Due of this, i finally uninstall all the Tronsmart software and use MCHelper (Mobile Controller Helper). With this app, i can emulate a moga controller in a easy way (just pressing a button), and can use any standard gamepad. Not all software/games recognize a moga emulation, but most of them do this without problems.

Nova 3


Mode "A" with MCHelper

Mode "X" and MCHelper

The gameplay is rude and with slowdowns, but is not important for this test (in fact, i´m loading this game via CIFS, on a 100MB wired lan, and using a NAS where i have the data of the game).

Both modes works with no major problems, but there are few points to mention:
- Select button, have a dual behavior, if you keep pressed (as games teach to you to do), the game must change to the next weapon, but with this solution (Tronsmart + MCHelper) the game change weapon and open in game menu.

Note: I get this same behavior with other controllers.

To continue playing, simply press again select or start for closing this menu.

- I don´t know if really is a problem of the gamepad, or MCHelper, or the device itself, but sometimes when using X mode, the game get stucked in some directions.

I assume is a problem of the device where i´m running, because using in other devices i don´t get this problem again.

Playing in GPD-G7 i don´t get major problems with this game.


Modern Combat 4




Using Mode "A" and MCHelper, the game recognize without problems the gamepad and run fine, with full support for playing.


Modern Combat 5




I tried in many ways, with Tronsmart software, with 3th party software, in all gamepad modes (X, D, A), etc, but i can´t get this game to work with Tronsmart Mars G01.

When loading the game, the first screen i can press the "A" button to continue (at this moment, the game recognize the gamepad in any mode), but after unpacking and loading game data, the game don´t recognize anymore the gamepad (no buttons, no sticks, etc)


The Bard´s Tale




This is a so weird behavior of all the games i tested with this controller.

The first time i opened the game, i used "X" mode without tronsmart software and the game recognize the controller as Playstation controller. Was easy to identify because i get the typical icons for controls on screen: Triangle, Circle, Square, Cross (the game show to you the buttons you can press for some actions)

Second test i do was using Tronsmart software, and the game recognize the gamepad as Moga (or generic) gamepad, because button icos changed to A, B, X, Y

But from the 3th try, the game don´t recognize the gamepad in any way. I tested changing many configs, installing, uninstalling software, using 3rd party software, etc, etc... but the game don´t recognize the gamepad anymore.


Emulation (Playing emulated games)





In the same way as Android Games, i will check the game controller with some emulators and do some gameplay.

This section is particularly interesting due the main focus in DPAD that old system use.

I will not use so much different emulators or games for testing, because i prefer to focus on using DPAD on games that i know how to use and play.


PPSSPP (Playstation Portable PSP)




The only PSP emulator for Android. This app can run many games in a playable way, and get so many updates to improve their emulation and new features.


Tekken Dark Resurrection




Avoiding the slowdowns/frameskips of the gameplay, i configured the practice stage for showing controller input on screen, and you can see what the controller is doing.

I get usual playing Tekken series and know how to do specific moves such electric uppercuts and similar moves, that input is so strict (is not the same { f, *, d, df, f+2 }, { f, d~df+2 }, { f, d, df+2 } etc. Each of these moves generate a distinct effect, depending on the character we are using.

For the test i prefer to use Heiachi, because is a character that have strict and different moves for similar (but not equal) inputs.

in the gameplay I'm trying to do uppercuts, electric uppercuts, tornado kicks, flying kicks, flying kick (down), etc... but is so hard to do with the DPAD. As you can see in the top of the screen, the gamepad generate extra inputs that don´t correspond with the commands i want to do.

Maybe with more practice i finally master this DPAD, but in first instance, is not better than other that i tested, where i can do these kind of moves with easy.

For testing, i played a round with Heiachi in ultra-hard mode (i usually play in this mode, because i must use in serious way the DPAD), and i can´t get comfortable for doing moves in general speaking.



Again, maybe if i practice more with this gamepad, eventually i can master their DPAD, but for me is a little bit better than original X360 DPAD, but not better than other i tested.


DJ Max Portable 2





Trying another kind of game that i use for testing input timing (lag) and where i feel if the buttons/controls get stucked in the structure. In this case, all the controls responds ok. There is no stucks, button pressing have a very good feeling, DPAD respond ok (there is no intense diagonals such fighting games), and in general speaking the device respond very well.




Burnout Legends


Avoiding the gameplay is not smooth (i´m loading this game via CIFS, using Wifi), The game respond ok for stick moves.

Really there is no to commment about.


Gamestreaming




With this section i want to test devices for gamestreaming, focused in control usage and wifi (strenght, stability, heating)

My tests are based on the article i wrote for gamestreaming "From PC to our Android Gaming Console" (in spanish, but you can use english translator of the blog), and this may help to bring examples of another kind of usages of the device.

Usually, i test with the same games, for comparing devices. You can visit my youtube channel for more gameplays on many devices, and compare with this.

Of course, the image quality of these gameplays are poor than original image on PC, but are enought (most of time) for normal gameplays. There are a little lag too, and for this reason i use games that can play correctly, even with this lag in sound, image and/or controls. For more info, i suggest to visit the link of the article i mentioned previously.

If you want to see these videos, i suggest to see on your device (mobile/android gaming device). These videos will looks well in small size screens. If you see them in your PC or similar, in full screen, of course you will see a low resolution image quiality, but for devices are enough for playing.



KAINY





This app allow to stream from PC (Windows and Linux) to many kind of devices, including:

  • Android (Smartphones, Tablets, Set top Box, etc)
  • IOs (iPhones, iPads, etc)
  • Chrome browser (chrome plugin)
  • PC to PC (using Chrome version, or native windows client)
  • Allow to connect via 3G/4G


Support up to 4 gampeads (4 concurrent connections to a server), Direct XInput implementation on gamepad and more other features.

Kainy support directly the gamepad in D/A mode, and handle without problems for playing in streaming.

If you´re playing in local lan, you can plug the Gamepad receiver directly on your PC to get a better response, because avoid the lag of the input translated from Gamepad to Android device to Kainy (client) to Router to Kainy (server) and finally to be translated to XInput device. Really there are a minimal lag on this way, but if you plug the receiver in the computer, you will notice a better response in the movements (and free some lan resources in kainy)

Of course, most probably you will not have your computer and client streaming device in the same room (if yes, most probably you will prefer to play in your PC directly) and best test is using receiver on your Android device.

The goal of these testing is to show an easy way to become your android portable gaming device into a desktop console, using gamestreaming and Tronsmart Mars G01 as wireless controller.



Batman Arkham City Backgate (using 3G connectivity)




This is only a connectivity test and checking Kainy response with Tronsmart Mars G01.

On the video you can see few times where Batman keep's walking when i released the gamepad, but is not problem of the Gamepad controller or Kainy. Simply, my 3G signal is not so strong where i do these testings, and most proably generate some lag or lost of data in the connection (my PC did not receive the "stop" signal, and keeps moving to Batman)

There are some lag, but is normal in this kind of connection (3G)


Devil May Cry (using 3G connectivity)



This is just another test of 3G connectivity for playing this title, that requires a biggest internet bandwith.

For this example i need to you to understand what i´m doing. I have my computer with the game running and Kainy opened to internet.

Now imagine i´m in another house (not in the local network) and put my GPD-G7 gaming console plugged to a TV, and connect a Tronsmart Mars G01 game controller.

With this configuration, and any internet connection (this case, 3G) i connected to my computer in my house, and can play this game, but using my GPD-G7 as Desktop Gaming Console, playing normally using a wireless controller... in the same way i would do in my home.

Is a very similar effect than playing using OnLive or similar services, but served by myself.


Insane 2 (Local wired lan)




Just another testing using the controller for playing in local gamestreaming.


Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Local gamestreaming)




The game respond ok, but the delay on the image (there are so much slowdowns) make the aim non precise to play, but all controls responds without problems with Kainy interface.


About Battery




First charge run about 30 hours, without using vibration functions. This duration may vary (and reduce) with time, and i estimate may be about 20 hours of continuous gaming.

I did not feel the device warm when using.

The device cannot be used while charging.


Pros, cons and improvements.




As in every product, there are pros and cons points that are good to mention in a clear way. These points will help to us to decide if the device features are enough for what the user are looking for in a device of this kind.

Pros are based on features that highlight, comparing the device with another similars, or these features improve the experience of the user.

In the another hand, the cons are these points that worse the experience, or the feature is not enough for fulfill what we expect from the device.

Finally, the improvements pints are some features or specs that i think must be improved in a supposed new version of the device, and will generate a better experience in my opinion.


Pros




  • Robust manufacture
  • Good quality materials
  • Good weight. Not so light but not heavy
  • Rechargable battery
  • Good design, based on X360 controller but with some improvements
  • Triggers are analog
  • Good feel of buttons and controls in general.
  • Use of MicroUSB for charging (is the universal charger from now for new smartphones)
  • Vibration motors
  • Small size USB Receiver
  • Good D-PAD (better than X360 controller)
  • Multi-System. Can be used in Android, PC, PS3 and X360
  • Price: Cheaper  than X360/Sixaxis original controller
  • Easy to use. Simply press a button for change modes.
  • I will consider as good point that most of the problems i found with the device, most probably can be solved via software updates (DeviceManager and/or GamepadCenter)
  • Work as standard USB gamepad, but with the advantage of wireless usage.
  • Their X mode work perfect in windows. Is a very good alternative for those who want to buy a gamepad for both, Windows and Android, and want something similar to X360 controller, but without spending money on extra USB receiver for X360 original wireless controller
  • Both Triggers are analog, this mean, in Windows you get real analog triggers for gaming (as X360 controller have)
  • Included rechargable battery (fortunately, this is a improvement over X360 original controller, and their sad Charge & Play pack, that is so uncomfortable for normal usage, in my opinion).
  • Decent battery duration
  • 2 vibrator motors included.




Cons




  • Can't be used while charging
  • Can't be used as wired controller.
  • Official software (DeviceController and GamepadCenter)is not working as expected
  • Following the instructions for X mode, is so difficult to get working. The easy way is using a 3rd sofware such MCHelper for getting to work as Moga controller.
  • When user finally get the software working, sticks are not usable in android interface and only can be used in game. (for those games that recognize it)



Improvements




  • USB receiver may include a microUSB connector. (both connectors, in the same way that some new pendrives come with both)
  • Allow to use when charging
  • Allow to use as wired controller (via USB)
  • Add C and Z buttons (3x2 buttons panel)
  • Change 2.4GHz RF connectivity for Bluetooth in both, controller and receiver. With this, when using the controller with recevier will act as normal USB controller (for devices without bluetooth), but you can use as Bluetooth Controllers too (if you have a bluetooth enabled device)
  • Improvement in the software. Add Touch mapping interface.



Conclusion




The device is not working as expected. I figured that only pressing the Mode button, i will get this to work in the way i want. (X for X360/Moga, D for Direct HID Input, A for standard gamepad)

After doing a lot of testings with this gamepad, with many different devices, my general opinion is that the device is worth, even without counting with their software. The most remarkable points that i can comment are (extracted from pro section):


  • Comfortable X360 style gamepad
  • Work as standard USB gamepad, but with the advantage of wireless usage.
  • Their X mode work perfect in windows. Is a very good alternative for those who want to buy a gamepad for both, Windows and Android, and want something similar to X360 controller, but without spending money on extra USB receiver for X360 original wireless controller
  • Both Triggers are analog, this mean, in Windows you get real analog triggers for gaming (as X360 controller have)
  • Included rechargable battery (fortunately, this is a improvement over X360 original controller, and their sad Charge & Play pack, that is so uncomfortable for normal usage, in my opinion).
  • The design of this gamepad is a improvement version of original X360 controller.



The bad point is their DPAD is not so good. Note is not so bad as X360 controller, but there are other gamepads and gaming devices with better DPAD (and also worse)

Considering the price of this gamepad, i think is a good alternative to consider, counting with their X360 mode for Windows that give a lot of value, in addition to Android usage (and other systems that can use one of their 3 modes)



Final words





This little device take a lot of my time on testing, because i get some problems at beggining, but after testing it, my opinion about this change from negative (after of my frustrated attempos to get their software to work) to positive, because i see potential on it, and for this reason i work for write this article, and with this, make known for those that are looking something similar to this.

Hope this article be useful, and sorry for my rude and basic english. I do my best on writing this directly for express myself in the best way... better than a google translator (i think)

Any correction or improvement on this article, will be welcome.


Zalu2!

Deen0X

6 comentarios:

Rurouni dijo...

Can you tell me if the analog stick have dead zone or not in Windows? You can do that by going to devices and printers, right click on gamepad, game controller settings. Right now I have a gamepad that has a big enough dead zone, so if I move the analog stick a bit, it doesn't respond. What I'm looking for is for the analog stick to have no dead zone, meaning the slightest movement on the analog stick would produce a response.

Deen0X dijo...

ups!, sorry! i didn´t realize on your message!.
this have a very little dead zone. the stick is so responsive in general speaking.

consider that all gamepads need some sort of deadzone. maybe there are some software that help to you to calibrate this deadzone on windows, for allowing playing without problem
in the case of this device, i feel there is no noticeable zone that windows don´t register a movement.

Reuf Jahić dijo...

Can you tell me is there any way to run games like fifa that need touch support at first screen

Nahuel dijo...

Does anybody know how to activate the vibration?
I have played games like Need for Speed Most Wanted, and the joystick didn't vibrate.

Deen0X dijo...

Hi Nahuel.

vibration is ok, but i only get working on windows (in X360 mode)

i don´t know if you can get this to work in android. the application of tronsmart is not working well for emulating moga device, and i don´t know if moga really bring vibration support on android games.

Nahuel dijo...

Tanks for the quick answer.
Well, you're right.
Actually, yesterday I'd been trying some games and conformed that vibration works.
PCSX2 recognized the vibration function as well as Dead Space, in X mode.
So yeah, it pretty much depends on the game/emulator support.

 

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