Shenzhen-based GamePad Digital has announced the palmtop "GPD Win 2" portable gaming system, set to cost $699 and release sometime in 2018. The portable handheld promises vast improvements over the original, which was released in October 2016. We'll have more on the specs in a bit, but as part of the promotional material, GPD has released a number of videos show power of the Win 2. Grand Theft Auto V, Bayonetta, and Need for Speed: Rivals are all shown on the Win 2, with more videos to come. The hardware breakdown and much of the improvements made over the original can be found in a post on the "GPD掌机官方论坛," or GPD Handheld Official Forum.
How much of the information that's true in the post is hard to verify. The operating system is listed as "Sudden Strike 4," which was an RTS that released back in August, not an operating system. The release date is also listed as "08/2018," though multiple sources suggest an April retail release. Considering the crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo is set to kick off mid-January, it would be surprising to see the Win 2 on store shelves so soon after the campaign. A Reddit post does corroborate the reported April release for IndieGoGo backers but says nothing of the retail release.
The Reddit post also reveals the Win 2's price tag: $599 during crowdfunding, and $699 after. Fans and owners of the Win 1 are upset by this news, as the final retail price for the Win 1 was $330. To be fair, the estimated retail price during the Win 1's crowdfunding was $499, but expecting a similar price drop may be foolhardy.
Despite the outcry, the improved hardware specs does supply a reason for the increased price tag. A better processor, more RAM, better storage support and a better onboard graphics chip do not come cheap, to be sure. It's hard to say just how widely adopted the Win 2 will be. Many comments across Reddit, the official forums, and news posts heralding the announcement all focused squarely on the high price tag of the Win 2. For a supposed budget handheld, even with the better components, the community seems wary of adopting the new hardware.
The GPD Win turned out to be an underground hit for GamePad Digital. GPD had first produced the GPD XD, a handheld meant for emulation through the sixth generation of consoles (Gamecube, Dreamcast, PS2) that looked similar to a Nintendo DS. Then came the Win, which even saw developers attempt to port games like Trails of Cold Steel for the pocket PC. It may not have taken the world by storm like first-generation smartphones did, but reviewers were enamored with the small size of the Win, yet the power it packed. While no concrete sales numbers exist or are available to the public, at least 2100 people crowdfunded the Win, with likely many more picking one up off of store shelves.
The Win, for all its underground success, did not come without issues. Complaints were levied at the poor quality of the speakers, the brittle nature of the trigger buttons, and the lackluster customer support. This even after securing seven times its original $100,000 IndieGoGo goal, and effectively cementing GPD as a purveyor of handheld PCs. Even so, the Win did offer a way for emulation aficionados, in particular, to relive classic games, while still acting as a full-fledged PC.
If the posts on Reddit are to be believed, GPD is looking to use IndieGoGo to gauge interest in the Win 2 before shipping it to market. With major success in two campaigns so far, it's hard to see the Win 2 failing, especially with showing off Grand Theft Auto V and videos to come of Nier: Automata and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. With the IndieGoGo fundraiser starting sometime in January, with a wider release of the Win 2 to follow, emulation fans and pocket PC purveyors have much to look forward to next year.