A few months back I wrote about a new game-streaming service for Windows devices. Utomik, which is still in open beta, has a surprisingly strong model underneath the hood. Not only does it provide users with a slew of great games based on a monthly subscription fee, but it also saves storage space as you could play a game like Metro: Last Light and only occupy 1.25GB of disk space instead of the game’s required 7.5GB of space. If you’re a fan of game streaming and subscription services, consider if you could play games on a handheld, Nintendo DS-like device. Around your home or even out in the wild, you can play experience demanding PC games in HD on a 5.5″ screen. Enter the GPD Win. My second-job as a professor affords me some fun money every fall. My guilt-free purchase this year was GPD’s portable windows handheld that features a built-in XBOX-like controller. It’s dope! I’ve been enjoying locally-installed games from 2011-ish such as Dead Space 2. It’s also great in your home via Steam streaming, which mirrors your PC onto other Steam enabled devices. But what if you’re on the road and you can’t access your PC? Utomik is an excellent solution, with a few flaws that adds to the fun of the GPD Win. Fortunately, I am able to test how the Utomik service performs on my GPD Win with an external Internet bandwidth of 100 MBPS vs 200 Mpbs, as I am going through an upgrade this week. What I’ve learned is not all games work flawlessly. But when they do, it’s marvelous.
A little about the GPD Win
Small, portable, clamshell with a really impressive display, the GPD Win is an ultraportable PC with full Windows 10 installed. While it also supports Linux and Android, I am particularly interested in playing PC games on the go. I’ve played multiple titles from the Doom series (up to Doom 3), the old Heretic and Hexen games, Dead Space 2, Portal, and many more. With it’s built-in XBOX-like controller, the GPD Win is a comfortable way to play PC games from a couple of generations back. I picked up the aluminum shell version, which is a 10-15% premium that I recommend if you’re serious about having a long-term relationship with the GPD Win. The plastic shell chassis on the standard version feels cheaper than a Nintendo 3DS. Here are the specifications:
|Screen||5.5 inch, 1280×720 resolution, H-IPS touchscreen|
|Processor||Intel Atom x7-Z8750 quad core 1.6Ghz (2.4Ghz boost)|
|GPU||Integrated Intel HD 405 Graphics|
|RAM||4 GB LPDDR3 1600Mhz|
|Storage||64GB eMMC, microSD (up to 128GB)|
|Connectivity||Wireless AC, Intel Bluetooth 4.1|
|Ports||1x USB 3.0 Type-A, 2x USB 3.0 Type-C, 3.5mm earphone, HDMI Type C|
|Operating system||Windows 10 (Also supports Linux)|
|Size||6.1” (w) x 3.8” (d) x 0.79” (h)|
The Utomik Experience on the GPD Win
There are several games I played without any issues, including some I probably would never purchase or have even heard of:
- Bloody Night
- Gothic 3
- Saints Row 2 (didn’t run well)
- Red Faction: Armageddon
Not all of the games work perfectly.Older games that run on DOS, like Dark Forces, have a serious out of the box issue: only half of the GPD’s display is visible. The other half black. Even through Utomik this root issue is not resolved. I’ve read about a number of solutions that range from DLL file management to downloading wrappers for versions of OpenGL, DirectX and other graphics APIs. As much as I love to monkey around with DLL files, I found a wrapper that worked great for Hexen and Doom, but it did not work with Dark Forces because you need to execute the game from the wrapper, which is its own executable file. In other words, presently, you cannot properly play older DOS games on the GPD Win. While this is unfortunately, it simply deflects from another issue with DOS games and Windows-based games that do not have controller support: the keyboard on the GPD Win is excellent, but small. You can’t really a WASD or arrow-keys position while hammering ctrl and spacebar for combat.
Utomik and the GPD Win are an excellent alignment when you put your focus on more modern games with controller support. When these stars align, you absolutely find value and flexibility that is really only feasible when the GPD Win leverages Utomik. I’m a big fan of this combination as well as the other values they individually bring to bear. I don’t see myself as along-term subscriber to Utomik because I just don’t have time play all of the amazing games the service provides (600+ PC games). But I do recommend it as a cost-effective gaming service if you don’t have hundreds of games on Steam or GOG (which I do). The Utomik service starts at $5.99/month including a 14 day trial and a flexible cancellation policy. The GPD Win can be found from a variety of places somewhere between $300-$400.