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Next week: Watch Hulu on your toaster.
September 5, 2012 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Until last week, the Nook Simple Touch e-reader lacked an indispensable feature: a functional PlayStation emulator.
posted by griphus (61 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. That's neat. I'll have to give it a try.
posted by yeoz at 10:18 AM on September 5, 2012


We need to find a word to use that answers the question "Why do this?" that means "Because we can, damn it, and if you don't understand how the improvements in processing power over my lifetime make this a neat thing, then this obviously isn't the thing for you, but wow, you really have to admit the now-future neat, don't you?"

Because, really, wow.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:29 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow, that's great. I've been working on a PS1 emulator for the iPod shuffle. This gives me hope!
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 10:35 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, I had no idea that e-ink displays were capable of frame rates like that.
posted by zsazsa at 10:37 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


That is quite a thing.
posted by Artw at 10:40 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So someone could for example play Final Fantasy Tactics on said device? Hrmm intriguing and quite potentially damaging to future productivity.
posted by vuron at 10:43 AM on September 5, 2012


Wow, I had no idea that e-ink displays were capable of frame rates like that.

I was under the impression they needed to flash to black on each update to prevent ghosting - I guess that's less of a problem than i'd thought.
posted by Artw at 10:44 AM on September 5, 2012


I don't want to watch Hulu on my toaster, it's a toaster oven so it'd be sideways. How about the crock pot?

That aside, FINAL FANTASY TACTICS, YES!
posted by tilde at 10:44 AM on September 5, 2012


Apparently part of getting the emulator to run is disabling the full-screen refresh that causes the "flash" effect. The ghosting from an un-refreshed screen change in general is pretty minor, and from the videos I've seen of PS games running it doesn't seem to get much worse with a high frame rate.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:48 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I though ghosting would be a problem, but whatever method they're using to refresh the screen (the emulator disables the black flash) seems to have solved that.

Also, the crock pot only gets Netflix and Amazon Instant right now. I think you can get Hulu on a pressure cooker, though.
posted by griphus at 10:49 AM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Jinx
posted by griphus at 10:49 AM on September 5, 2012


> We need to find a word to use that answers the question "Why do this?"

I suggest mallory, after George Mallory's supposed response to the question, "Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?": "Because it's there"
posted by scruss at 10:56 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you have an andriod phone you can also install the emulator via the play store.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:58 AM on September 5, 2012


I don't want to watch Hulu on my toaster, it's a toaster oven so it'd be sideways. How about the crock pot?

Con: When you click on an episode of The Wire, it takes 6 to 8 hours to buffer.

Pro: Every subsequent time you watched that episode would be better than the last.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:09 AM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Plus, if you turn the crock pot on before sundown, you can watch it on Friday night or Saturday.
posted by griphus at 11:13 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Am I right in thinking the System 7 bit in the original article is irrelevant? On first read it seemed like this was a Playstation emulator, running in a classic Mac emulator, running on Android on a Nook. But the comments suggest not.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:44 AM on September 5, 2012


A Playstation emulator on a
classic Mac emulator on
Android on a
Nook

So the Nook is the elephant in this equation, and the emulators / code are turtles?
posted by tilde at 11:47 AM on September 5, 2012



So the Nook is the elephant in this equation, and the emulators / code are turtles?


No... I like trying an animal analogy, but it's more a game of Tier Auf Tier gone horribly, horribly wrong.
posted by parliboy at 11:53 AM on September 5, 2012


So, with those awesome refresh rates, why the heck does the nook have such a crappy page turn? Shouldn't it be almost instantaneous?
posted by leotrotsky at 12:11 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, so they essentially made a Game Boy.
posted by FJT at 12:38 PM on September 5, 2012


It's weird to think that in about a decade, I'll be able to play COD: BLOPS on my cyborg kittie's butthole using only the tail as a controller. Or that in 20 years something as simple as your self-knotting shoes will be able to run Ubuntu.

And why!
posted by dubusadus at 12:44 PM on September 5, 2012


Yay. I remember playing simple games on a Canon point-and-shoot and Doom on an iPod Nano.
posted by floatboth at 1:02 PM on September 5, 2012


Okay, so they essentially made a Game Boy.

Well, the display hardware was definitely never meant to display video, and the processing hardware is not simply running a game, but it's doing it in an emulator, which has a whole bunch of overhead before you even get to the actual requirements of the hardware.
posted by griphus at 1:04 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of the emulated hardware that is.
posted by griphus at 1:04 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, so they essentially made a Game Boy.

Out of a book. Moore's Law has reached the point where a device built to display letters and static images has enough processing power to do full software emulation of a modern-ish game console, including realtime 3D rendering. It is an awesome time to be a hacker.

Or what griphus said.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:07 PM on September 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm flummoxed that the screen does anything like that at all...

But seriously, I'm like this close to buying a simple touch just to fuck around with...Is there an easy way I could beam something from my iPad to the Touch over wifi? For $80 I might be tempted to buy it just as some sort of sunlight readable auxillary display for my iPad.
posted by Chekhovian at 1:20 PM on September 5, 2012


If you watch the Daily Deal sites (or FatWallet or whatever) you can get a refurbed one for closer to $60.
posted by griphus at 1:25 PM on September 5, 2012


Sorry, hit the button too fast. A hacked Simple Touch is just an Android tablet with a weird screen, so you can use something like DropBox to get documents across.
posted by griphus at 1:31 PM on September 5, 2012


Wow. So I assume if we're already at the "emulate a PS1 on a Tamagotchi" kind of phase, then PS1 emulators have been out in full force across all the full-color powerful Android devices - Kindle Fire? I may have to steal my mother's to play some FF7 on the go.
posted by naju at 1:47 PM on September 5, 2012


I'd get the Nexus to give yourself something beefier. Or wait till tommorow to see what the KF replacement is.
posted by Artw at 1:50 PM on September 5, 2012


So the Nook is the elephant in this equation, and the emulators / code are turtles?

Turtles all the way down...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:01 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


i didnt want to read books anyway
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:57 PM on September 5, 2012


Well, the frame rate is poor, there's no sound, and it's possible that discarding color information made some drastic optimizations possible that wouldn't be on a full tablet. Sure it's one of those amazing-talking-dog things, but I can't think of many games that would be playable on this.

I think the disabling of the screen refresh system is aided by the choice of game, which sometimes bathes the screen in black and thus helps to avoid ghost images.
posted by JHarris at 3:27 PM on September 5, 2012


I can't think of many games that would be playable on this.

Robotron would be awesome. In fact, this is making me want to give that a shot on my android phone.
posted by odinsdream at 5:02 PM on September 5, 2012


But Robotron isn't a Playstation game. I have to wonder how the Nook Simple Touch's screen would hold up to the pixel explosion effects in it, but in terms of processor strength it should be easily up to the task.
posted by JHarris at 5:09 PM on September 5, 2012


We need Jeff Minter on this.
posted by Artw at 5:12 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's plenty of VNC viewers for Android, so you could use a Simple Touch to read output from Linux/Mac/PC. I'm not sure if there's VNC output possible from an iDevice, but if there is, then you could indeed use the Nook as a eInk external monitor for your iPad.

There's also Splashtop and RDP clients for Android, so there's a couple of more options.

I assume the Nook is rooted, so you could run Ubuntu, or a Linux variant of your choice, in a chroot on the ereader. I'm sure Unity would look quite lovely on an eInk screen.
posted by honestcoyote at 5:14 PM on September 5, 2012


I'm actually suprised to learn the non-LCD nooks are Android based - no reason why they shouldn't be, I guess. Were all of them Android or is this a new development?
posted by Artw at 5:20 PM on September 5, 2012


Relatively new development, AFAIK, but I only keep up with Nooks and Kindles so not sure what the Kobo's and others are doing. Eink Kindle's don't run Android (currently) but they do run Linux.

With Android being free to use (fees are only charged for the inclusion of Google apps), it's a logical choice.
posted by honestcoyote at 5:27 PM on September 5, 2012


Nook Simple Touch Now Has the Ability to Use an External Keyboard.
posted by honestcoyote at 5:29 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


But Robotron isn't a Playstation game.

Oh but it is, my friend. It is.
posted by odinsdream at 5:30 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


honestcoyote !!!! I have a little USB dongle I can plug in and use my wireless keyboard maybe!!!!
posted by tilde at 5:44 PM on September 5, 2012


USB bluetooth that is.
posted by tilde at 5:45 PM on September 5, 2012


Wow, that keyboard hack is pretty cool. I actually rooted my Simple Touch ages ago, but I've found so little use for a rooted Simple Touch -- I have a smartphone and a tablet -- that I (well, my girlfriend) uses it as if it was never rooted.
posted by griphus at 5:50 PM on September 5, 2012


The best use for a rooted Simple Touch is if you have both BN and Amazon ebooks, and if you don't want to remove the DRM from those ebooks, then you can read both. Or, if you're fully invested in Amazon for your ebooks but you want the ability to read epubs without converting them first, since conversion sometimes ruins the formatting.

But the keyboard / USB host mode hack is making it really tempting. There are Linux drivers for those generic bluetooth usb adapters, so this could make a rooted Nook into a great tool for writing. Distraction-free writing on an eInk screen with a battery that lasts much longer than the standard tablet or laptop. Would be kinda nice.
posted by honestcoyote at 6:24 PM on September 5, 2012


That is not Robotron. It is a sequel and an homage, but it is not the original. This is. It runs on a 6809 chip with a blitter, it wouldn't nearly require the horsepower needed to emulate a Playstation.
posted by JHarris at 6:51 PM on September 5, 2012


And this is Robotron on Playstation 1.

The "Williams Arcade Classics" release for Playstation used a 6809 emulator. Digital Eclipse had this working way before MAME did.

So, in summary, you have the Nook running Android emulating a Mac emulating a PS1 emulating a 1 Mhz 6809. It's turtles all the way down....but I'd still love to see a video of this running.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:35 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Definitely neat.
posted by safetyfork at 7:51 PM on September 5, 2012


So, with those awesome refresh rates, why the heck does the nook have such a crappy page turn? Shouldn't it be almost instantaneous?

Normally, the advantage of an e-ink reading device is that it only draws power on page turns/screen refreshes, since it can display a static image indefinitely without additional energy. This is great for basic print reading, because it doesn't drain the battery as quickly. You could have a much higher refresh rate as seen with the PS1 emulation, but I'd be surprised if they're getting more than a few minutes of unplugged playtime.

The reason that you don't normally see video or high-frame-rate animation on e-ink devices is because you'd need a much larger/heavier battery to handle it, without much of a corresponding boost to graphics quality. Realistically, LCD technology has come far enough that we can have full color graphics in an affordable book-sized device without having to take that intermediate step with full-motion e-ink displays on our gadgets.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:01 PM on September 5, 2012


The "Williams Arcade Classics" release for Playstation used a 6809 emulator. Digital Eclipse had this working way before MAME did.

Sure, sure, although Digital Eclipse used some shortcuts in their emulation. Their Dreamcast Williams compilations, for example, start games in the same random state, because instead of going through the games' coin drop code and options, they just load an internal save state at the beginning of a game. So, the enemies in Robotron's first level are always in the same positions. This also means we don't get such arcade-supported options like starting Stargate with seven lives for two credits. And I'm pretty sure that most Digital Eclipse recreations use digitized recordings of arcade hardware instead of creating it from scratch, which results in subtle sound bugs.

The best way to emulate Robotron on a Nook would be to do it directly, without the overhead of emulating a whole PS1 in the way. Maybe that way you could get sound, too.
posted by JHarris at 9:10 PM on September 5, 2012


Insane Opinion That I Actually, Truly Hold Alert: Crash Team Racing was the very best Playstation game.
posted by Kwine at 11:33 PM on September 5, 2012


I don't know about that, but it does look like the kart model used is an actual model, unlike Mario Kart 64 which used car sprites, so that's a point in its favor.
posted by JHarris at 11:39 PM on September 5, 2012


I have a rooted Nook Tablet and it's just wonderful. I really enjoy Nook products. I know this isn't the NT but it's awesome to see people making these things break the mold.
posted by Malice at 1:45 AM on September 6, 2012


CTR used a 3D model for the angular low-poly cart models, and overlayed sprites (or billboarded polys, really) for their round, cartoony wheels. A neat compromise.
posted by phl at 8:03 AM on September 6, 2012


@Jharris: yeah, you're totally right and I get it. I just like stacking turtles.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:19 AM on September 6, 2012


Meanwhile...
posted by Artw at 7:27 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine anyone looks at that and says "well, I wasn't going to purchase it initially, but 5% off? I'd be crazy not to buy it!"
posted by griphus at 6:54 PM on September 9, 2012


What??? Do you HATE TOAST? Madness!!!
posted by Artw at 7:11 PM on September 9, 2012


Sega Genesis emulator ported to the Nook Simple Touch
posted by Artw at 7:13 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Look at that framerate, wow. Very cool.
posted by JHarris at 2:41 AM on September 20, 2012


Yeah, that is killer. My girlfriend has adopted my poor, disused Nook and also enjoys Sonic games.

Finally, an excuse to get this working!
posted by griphus at 9:51 AM on September 20, 2012


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