ArcadePC Mini Review
Important Information - Please Read
I purchased my ArcadePC from a previous owner, not directly from Hanaho. From others' dealings with Hanaho's shipping methods, they have all been pleased and have experienced no problems in the arrival of their product. See the links page for other's experiences.
My ArcadePC arrived via ForwardAir and was shrink-wrapped and crated for the trip from Denver to New Orleans. It took me 45 minutes to uncrate and unwrap the item once I got it home. You WILL need some help to move the item into your residence. I'm sure Hanaho has some similar packing methods which makes the product big and heavy. However, from my understanding their freight carrier will only deliver it to your door, not inside. Be sure to have one or two people ready when your product arrives.
Upon looking at the cabinet standing in the middle of my living room floor, let me say, WOW! I can not give enough praise to Hanaho simply for the way this thing looks. Mine came in pure black melamine siding with matching T-molding and the HotRod logo across the control panel. It had Plexiglass in front of the monitor and a nice marquee logo designed for the ArcadePC. The monitor is fitted behind a monitor bezel so all of the innards are hidden from view. The controls are, simply put, the same ones you play on in arcades today. And there are easily removable front and back panels that allow access to the insides of the cabinet (with key locks for each). I also received the 6" base stand that Hanaho makes for the ArcadePC. Even though it may not seem like much, it makes a BIG difference. Having the extra 6" is perfect for playing using bar stools and can even be played standing up. If you are over about 5"10 and want to play standing up all the time, I would recommend the 12" stand Hanaho also sells.
The front panel can be replaced with an actual working coin slot. Although I thought that a blank panel would detract from the ArcadePC's realism, it really does not. With the front panel closed, everything is hidden from view and a missing coin mechanism is a minor detail that I realize I don't miss. Opening the front panel gives you access to place your PC inside the cabinet, and perhaps a sub-woofer if you so choose. You will want to place your PC and other items in the front opening and plug them using the back panel opening. Once everything is plugged in to the surge protector, you can close the back panel and never need to open it again unless there is any necessary maintenance.
Upon closer inspection, you can really see Hanaho's attention to detail. The back panel has air slots to help air get inside the cabinet (helping keep the computer and monitor cool). It even has its own fan inside to keep air moving throughout the cabinet ensuring nothing will overheat! On the back is also a single cutout allowing an extension cord outlet to the surge protector that comes standard inside the cabinet. All of your computer components can plug directly to the surge protector with one simple connection to an electrical outlet outside the cabinet. Great! Removing the back panel allows access to the monitor, speakers, and wiring. The speakers sit right behind the marquee with a volume control accessible from the front of the cabinet. Hanaho also went through a lot of trouble to make sure the wiring was professionally done and out of the way from anything you may be needing to get to at the back of the cabinet. Once again, very helpful.
Underneath the front panel you will have access to your PC, and the monitor adjustment control knobs. Hanaho made sure the monitor controls were easily accessible and actually had them wired to the front of the cabinet instead of keeping them in the back. I'm sure this was more difficult for Hanaho to set up, but a big benefit for the user. Another plus in my book. Underneath the front panel, there is a release for the control panel. This is superb! This will allow you to switch control panels depending on what type of game you want to play. Hanaho has other control panels available now through special order. You also have the option of building your own if you so choose (How awesome would a Dreamcast control panel and VGA Dreamcast adapter for the monitor be to play Capcom VS. SNK? Take a look at the X-Arcade for some ideas).
The ArcadePC also has a pullout keyboard shelf so you can have access to it even without opening the cabinet. As other sites have mentioned, the shelf for the Mini is not big enough to accommodate a keyboard and mouse comfortably, so a keyboard/mouse pair is suggested. The shelf retracts and clicks into place completely inside of the ArcadePC and out of site when playing. This is another great little item that you'll appreciate once you have it (how many home made cabinets have this?).
For the most part, you can configure Mame to use the HotRod buttons and never need to use the pullout keyboard or mouse. This makes things easier to switch between games.
OK, so the thing is put together well. So how does it play?
AMAZING!! Once I plugged up my PC to the surge protector, connected the monitor, and plugged the cabinet to the outlet, I was up and running. Even though it is an arcade monitor, because it accepts VGA inputs, I was able to use native resolutions to my PC and video card. Originally, I decided to use pure DOS because of possible monitor problems and speed enhancements. This lended me to using the ArcadeOS front-end for setup of the cabinet. I did not have to change any monitor settings within ArcadeOS. I just started it up and was running. By using the "Auto" resolution setting, I was able to get almost full screen displays on all of the horizontal games.
With the addition of the "stretch" feature into Mame32, I was really excited because now I could get full screen displays for all games (even vertical ones if I wished) Also, with the recent purchase of a 1.8 Ghz system, I could do so without any frame skipping issues. I was a little concerned with the arcade monitor because of stories I had heard through the web about problems running in Windows. I can only speak for myself, but I have run Windows98 and am now running WindowsME on the arcade monitor and have had no problems in over a year of use. I run Windows at 640x480 resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate. There is no discernable loss of clarity in the games either. Remember, most of these games had a much lower resolution setting anyway. For arcade games, these settings are perfect. I've also found that other computer games and emulators respond and look just as good using these settings. See my pictures to note just how good these games look.
The Wells Gardner monitor is absolutely cool. If you have the option of getting one, perhaps on an older ArcadePC model, I would definitely recommend it. I had forgotten what these games really looked like in the arcades. Believe me, the scanlines option in MAME is NOT the same. I would rather have MAME with scanlines than without, but with an arcade monitor, you don't need to worry with this setting because the arcade monitor is set up to run at lower refresh rates (and therefore with scanlines) automatically. I think the games look good on PC monitors, but they look GREAT on an arcade monitor. And if you are scared to go out on a limb and get an arcade monitor with VGA input, don't be (I was before, too). As I stated earlier, if you can run in full DOS or Windows at 640x480 at 60Hz or less, you will be fine. Please read the Information page for some important info about Hanaho's current ArcadePC monitors.
The monitor is set horizontally. I am unsure if Hanaho has an option for vertically displayed monitors, but you can always ask. Many people go through the trouble to set up rotating monitors (I looked very seriously at it), but it is intrinsically more difficult to do and can cause major problems with a monitor. With the 19" monitor, even vertical games are large and look very good. If size and display of vertical games is an issue for you, I can say that I think you will be pleased with the way these games look on a larger screen even if it is set horizontally. It is a tradeoff, but definitely worth it because of the ratio of horizontal to vertical games (plus think about playing CPS2 on a vertical monitor).
The controls are equally awesome. Each button and joystick move provides the "click" I was used to in the arcades. The joystick and buttons are very responsive, too. I love fighting games and was just giddy about being able to pull off all of Street Fighter 2's half circle monstrosities. Mortal Kombat was just as easy to play. In my opinion, it is worth having an Arcade PC for the Capcom VS. series games alone. The ONLY problem I had was with some of the 4-way games such as Pac Man responding with a direction I was unintentionally specifying (i.e. - I would be pressing down-right instead of right and would accidentally go down). This was easily fixed by just being a little more aware and intent on all of my direction presses. I now play Pac Man without any problems and don't even think about it.
Also, since I've had my ArcadePC for a longer period of time, I've had the opportunity to try many different emulators with the product. And without a doubt, I become more impressed with this machine as time goes on. The controls are just as tight and responsive under other emulators. MAME works beautifly with the ArcadePC. But so do all of the 3-D games on Impact. Grab the Impact controller configuration (thanks to HotRod Support at MAMEWorld) and you are set. The DGEN emulator for Genesis has provided my friends and I hours of fun reliving the EA NHL and Madden series. If you own Bleem!, the playstation emulator, you have access to another list of games. Also, in most cases, computer games will work fine with the product (just note that some software cannot remap the Alt key). Overall, I'd say the ArcadePC can support 80 to 90% of the systems out there once you find the right emulator. And playing console games on a standard arcade controller just adds to the fun. I can promise you that you'll find yourself enjoying those old console games once again after you put them on the ArcadePC.
I was a little hesitant to make the move with Hanaho because I had begun reading all kinds of stories about the HotRod joysticks having problems. I can not speak for others, but mine works perfectly. I have not had any hangs or misplaced movements with my HotRod. And the majority of testimonials out there seem to be positive. Let me just say this...every product line has bad apples. I have a BMW that is less than a year old and it has been in the shop twice. Does that mean BMW doesn't make good products? No. There are plenty of satisfied BMW owners out there without any problems. And BMW has helped solve my problems and been very adequate in the customer satisfaction department (note: if my car goes to the shop again, I may have different things to say about BMW). I believe the same to be true of Hanaho. In every case of a poor product, I have heard that Hanaho has been courteous and available to replace the product or refund customers' money. They ARE reputable. I have read enough personal articles to be confident of that.
Hanaho's service is good. While difficult to sometimes get a hold of, Hanaho always provides you with answers to your questions and is usually prompt with response to email. The company is not in the Top500 companies, so they are not based in different states with lots of employees. Remember, this is the beginning. And they are the ones hanging around while others are washing up. Their new line of products and partnership with the new X-Arcade and Oscar spinner controllers proves this. Moving and selling their product line is job number one. They do want satisfied customers, too, but there are only so many hours in a day. Keep querying. They will respond and help with your questions.
So let's review...
The ArcadePC looks incredible. All of the components are exactly what you'd expect from a top arcade cabinet manufacturer. All of the innards are well designed and put together. The cabinet is really a plug and play device since everything is set up to just connect to your PC and go. And lest we not forget, this thing plays all of your favorite games, just as you remember them. If you are not too keen on building your own arcade cabinet but know you have to have one for yourself, this is definitely the solution for you. Is it worth the money? Without a doubt. Everyone who thought I was a little stupid and childish for buying the ArcadePC now thinks it is the coolest thing ever. And what better way to spend an afternoon with those buddies who loved the arcades just as much as you? Do yourself a favor and buy one of these machines.