If you’ve been spending a lot of time on TikTok lately, you might have come across the Powkiddy line of laptops over the past few months. The small form factor emulation machine has garnered a lot of attention on social media for coming pre-installed with notable titles from many retro systems, but is the Powkiddy legit?
The Powkiddy is a family of Android-based handheld consoles that utilize the open source nature of the mobile operating system and allow it to run popular emulation programs. There are many different styles available at the time of writing, with the most requested variants being the RGB20S, RBG10 Max 2 and A20.
These portable consoles are heavily inspired by manufacturers’ existing hardware. For example, the hugely popular RGB20S bears a striking resemblance to the Game Boy Color, with very similar color schemes. The main distinction that separates the two, aside from the obvious digital innovations, is the button layout. The Gameboy uses the standard D-pad and two-button setup, while the Powkiddy adds two thumbsticks and a pair of triggers to the back, which undoubtedly makes 3D games easier to play.
There are also Powkiddy models based on models such as the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite, such as the X12p and RGB10Pro, respectively. What has made this line of portable consoles so in demand, however, is the fact that many variations of the hardware offer the ability to play retro titles.
Are Powkiddy handheld consoles legal?
There is always a gray area with budget devices like this. Powkiddy handheld consoles are available at established retailers such as Amazon (opens in a new tab) and walmart (opens in a new tab) in the US, so you don’t have to buy them from the company or from specialty outlets. In terms of legal legitimacy, however, it comes down to understanding intellectual property rights.
You see, the consoles themselves don’t come with any games pre-installed if purchased as standard – but they do have a MicroSD card slot, so it’s entirely possible to load ROMs of games you own. The process varies from system to system, especially if you are changing from proprietary cartridges to a CD. Depending on the hardware inside the Powkiddy system, they can emulate everything from NES to PSP.
TechRadar does not condone or encourage the downloading of illegal ROMS. If you get your hands on a Powkiddy handheld to play your existing physical game library, it could be a good way to relive older games for that nostalgic kick we all crave. Chances are, if you’ve kept old consoles, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of different titles you can translate from your home setup to the Powkiddy handheld.
Some best microSD cards are also supported by Powkiddy handheld consoles. Capacities seem to go up to 128GB and 256GB depending on the model, which is more than enough to store many of your games. When it comes to retro game size, your average NES ROM typically runs under 1MB, with PSP ISOs up to 1.8GB, as that’s the ceiling for UMDs.
How powerful are Powkiddy handheld consoles?
The power of different Powkiddy consoles varies largely with their price, as prices can range from $40 to $150. The cheaper models were marketed on their ability to play the least demanding games, with the more expensive iterations able to handle more advanced 3D systems.
It seems that emulation quality varies depending on the specific model you have. That means a mid-range system like the RGB20S (around $100 / £135 / AU$199) might be the more cost-effective choice.
If you’re looking to spend a bit more on a premium third-party gaming handheld, you should check out the Ayn Odin. It can be configured with Xbox Game Pass and GeForce Now, allowing you to stream a huge library of games to the device.