Anbernic RG345XX H
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

We reviewed the Anbernic RG35XX Plus a short time ago, and found it to be a solid emulation handheld capable of playing all the way up to the PS1 and Dreamcast era.

Now, the Chinese company returns with yet another member of the same family (the 'Plus' was an interaction on the bog-standard RG35XX), this time with a landscape orientation which calls to mind the glory days of the RG350 and RG351, the company's breakout hardware hits.

Does the Anbernic $75 RG35XX H match its forerunners in terms of design, build quality and portability? Join us as we find out.

Anbernic RG35XX H Review: Design & Screen

Unlike its siblings, the RG35XX and RG35XX Plus, the RG35XX H has a landscape form factor. Depending on your personal preference, this might be a massive improvement; we personally prefer how this device feels to use when compared to the other variants. Your fingers tend to overlap on 'Game Boy' style handhelds, whereas, with the RG35XX H, it feels like there's more room to grip.

Another big advantage of this configuration is that the shoulder buttons are much easier to use; on the previous RG35XX models, they were frustratingly awkward to reach. Here, they're nestled neatly on the top corners of the device and rest directly under your fingers.

The other most obvious improvement the RG35XX H has over the other models is the inclusion of dual analogue sticks, which makes playing Dreamcast games much more appealing. For all of the other inputs, things are largely the same; the cross-shaped D-pad is good, while the four face buttons are responsive and clicky (although the glossy nature of the buttons can make them slippy when your fingers are clammy).

Two MicroSD card slots are available, and you get two USB-C ports as well. There's also a Mini-HDMI port for hooking the device up to your television and a 3.5MM headphone socket. On the back, there are two rubber pads which improve grip and mean you can lay the RG35XX H down on a table without scratching its rear panel.

The 3.5-inch, 640x480 pixel IPS screen is decent, with solid viewing angles and reasonably good colour balance. It's not an OLED panel, so darker areas tend to look a bit grey, but at this price point, it's hard to grumble.

Anbernic RG35XX H Review: Performance & Battery Life

Like the RG35XX Plus, the RG35XX H has an H700 quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 running the show, and things are largely the same in terms of emulation performance.

Dreamcast and PSP are at the upper end of the device's skillset, and while neither is perfect (we noticed frame drops and audio skipping on some games), both are perfectly playable. PlayStation emulation is more solid, and anything prior to that – including consoles, handhelds and arcade games – is also rock-solid. The device has a section for 'TATE' mode arcade games, too – these can be played by holding the device in a portrait orientation.

The RG35XX H has the same 3300mAh battery as its relative, which offers around eight hours of use, depending on factors such as what you're emulating, screen brightness and volume.

As has been the case with quite a few of Anbernic's handhelds lately, the software it comes pre-installed with is straightforward to use but feels a little half-baked; we've seen the community solve this with unofficial firmware in the past, so we hope the same thing happens with the RG35XX H and it gets a software experience to match the polished hardware experience.

Anbernic RG35XX H Review: Conclusion

A third iteration on the same device might seem overkill, but in the case of the RG35XX H, the third time's a charm.

Software cripes aside, this is an excellent refinement of a decent formula. The inclusion of analogue sticks makes playing Dreamcast games a much more attractive proposition, and it's capable of handling pretty much every system released prior to that.

If you already own an RG35XX Plus then you might want to mull over the purchase before handing over your cash, but for those of you who are still rocking older Anbernic devices and are looking for an upgrade, this is definitely worth a look.

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Thanks to Keep Retro for supplying the unit used in this review.