The lovely people over at Indigo Pearl and Emtec were kind enough to send us over a GEMBOX console to review. So here is my review of the GEMBOX…
The first thing that I am going to mention in the review is the text inputting, mainly because it is the first thing you have to do when you turn the console on. The text input feels more like a game, each letter of the alphabet is listed in accordance to the 4 controller buttons, blue, red, green and yellow, there are several of these across the bottom of the screen, so basically I found myself shouting random colours at the screen while typing… to my wife’s amusement… however after playing around with the controller you do eventually get used to it.
Navigating the google play store is a whole other problem. As there is no mouse marker to move around, you have to use the right stick or the D pad on the controller to move around the links, which gets tedious as they don’t tend to go where you would like them too.
The system runs off the android operating system, which you can tell from the off with the similarities in the design to the menus. Which I though was a good thing as for those with an android phone it provides a welcome relief.
There are plenty of games to download on the system, from retro game emulators on the google play store to the game streaming service ‘Gamefly’. The Gembox does come with a one month free trial to the service so you can test streaming out and the games that it has to offer which is a wide variety. However, the game aren’t anything new and if you had a PS3 or Xbox 360 it is more than likely that you have already played these games, so for the £8 a month it costs, for me it isn’t worth the hassle.
When I downloaded a few emulators to try them, mainly an N64 one, I got a little confused with how to install the games onto the system, I had the emulator there, but didn’t know how to place the games onto it, which was kind of annoying. Luckily though I had google at hand to find the answer, however as most people will probably buy this system for there children and might not be as clued up as I am about this sort of thing, it could end up parents not knowing how to get games on the system for there children to play.
What I liked about the system was that there are pre loaded games on there for you play right out of the box. The Gembox comes with `Asphault 8’ and ‘GT Racing 2’, which was the disappointing thing about the pre loaded games. 2 Racing games on there with My Little Pony, now, nothing against My Little Pony but that isn’t a game for me and something that I’m not interested in playing. There is also another game which is preloaded and this is called ‘Wonder Zoo’ – More like Wonder Poo.
I said earlier about the inputting on the system being rather difficult and took some getting use too, well the controller to me feels very cheap, the triggers don’t feel very responsive and on the whole the system in itself did struggle at certain points on the main menus. The menus would load up and it would take a good 20-30 seconds for the menu to react to my button pressing, and sometimes take into account the other presses of the buttons. Which was really annoying, as I would suddenly find myself in what felt like the back and beyond of the system no where near where I wanted to be.
Would I buy this system for myself? Someone who has an Xbox One and PS4? Unfortunately, the answer is no, it’s good for retro items but beyond that it’s a console that plays last gen games that you have no doubt played at a cost which is rather steep in my estimation. Fair enough if you’re going to be getting use from the service, maybe it is for you, but for me, I wouldn’t use it.
I would see this as something you would buy your young children, something to get them into gaming, it has handy apps on it as well which you can download from the google play store such as Netflix etc but the console on a whole isn’t anything special I’m afraid.
One problem I did come across with the Google Play Store was that I did find hard to navigate it, even with the mouse mode activated on the controller. This is one of the main things that I like about the controller is that you can switch modes on the bottom of it from controller to mouse mode. However, there is a draw back to this, when in mouse mode, you can click to search things but then to type in what you need, you will have to switch back to controller mode which I found to be a bit of a ball ache. I do have to admit though that when the controller is in mouse mode it is a lot more reactive, sometimes it does get a bit sensitive but overly it does feel better to use mouse mode when navigating.
For hardcore gamers, this isn’t something I would recommend, it for me feels like it is more aimed at a younger generation of gamers, however in this day an age there are children around 10 years old playing Call of Duty. So who knows.
With the app side of things and the Google Play store, it is a nice little entertainment device to have in a spare room or again as mentioned before for the children, but gaming wise, it’s a bit of a let down.