A little while ago we received the Play MG Android based pocket gaming system to try out. At the time I was very excited to have a device I could hand off to my kids instead of my smartphone. After spending some time with the Play MG I can say it performs as advertised and has not disappointed.
The Play MG comes in a clever yet simple drawer-style box with just a few items inside. The most notable item in the box is a debit card. The SpendSmart Mastercard creates a “digital wallet” that your kids can use to buy apps without pestering you when they want a new app that is not free. Once the SpendSmart card is loaded with money you can see your balance prominently displayed on the units main home page. Your kids will always know how much they have left to spend.
The next “surprise” in the box was the very noticeable lack of a charger. I spent a few moments looking about to make sure I didn't drop it someplace. After reading every word on the box I noticed it is in fact not supplied. The instructions state to use any standard mini USB adapter. Before I got outraged over the situation, I realized I had a half dozen such chargers about the house. Anybody progressive enough to be considering a device like the Play MG probably does too and it stopped being an issue.
The Play MG looks great and feels good in your hands, just as a portable gaming device should. Although substantially smaller than traditional handheld gaming devices, the buttons and shape feel right. Although the screen is smaller than most dedicated gaming devices, it is in tune with screen sizes of similar sized Android phones (which is the point).
The screen is bright and the pixel density is superb making for a great looking experience. The performance of the unit is at least as good as any late model smartphone and keeps up with the screens quality. There is nothing worse than a great screen coupled with a slow processor, no such problem with the Play MG.
The device feels and looks like any Android smartphone using a late edition of the OS. If you have an Android phone you already know how to use the Play MG. I was up and running in minutes as a result. Downloading apps is as easy as it is on your phone, in fact its the exact same process, and I like that.
Setting up the Play MG for my kids could not have been any easier. My unit came with a plethora of pre-installed apps to get us started. In fact, my kids have yet to request anything new as they aren't through with the included apps yet! Combine the loaded apps with my existing familiarity with the Android OS and it was a total snap. I will warn you against linking any of the apps with any accounts you use on your smartphone however. My Play MG attempted to set itself up as my smartphone was, not something I want for a device primarily for my children's use, but I suppose a nice feature if I was the sole user of the Play MG.
The only issue we had was the initial version of the OS that shipped with the unit had some stability issues. I should say for full disclosure that our unit was a pre-retail demo unit and these things are to be expected. After the update was available (and easily applied) we have yet to have any issues.
Overall the Play MG is an excellent idea and a well executed product. My kids love to play it as much as my phone leaving us all much happier. This aspect alone is worth the price. In a way, the Play MG is as much of a gift for mom and dad as it is for the kids. You can currently buy the Play MG directly from PlayMG or from Amazon for $149.99. It is a bargain compared to a top tier smartphone.
Thank you to the PlayMG Corporation for providing a complimentary product sample for us to base this review upon and for providing an additional product for our contest prize.
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