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Little Kitty, Big City

Little Kitty Big City Logo

Overall: A+ go get it.

Little Kitty Big City just came out on May 9th, and I've been playing it for a few hours now and I absolutely love it.

Like one of my other favorite cat-themed game, Stray (honorable mention to Catlateral Damage) in Little Kitty, Big City you take on the role of a house cat who finds themselves on the street unexpectedly and has to make their way home. Along the way you interact with other animals in the city, as well as the throngs of faceless humans wandering around.

Your primary objective is to get home, which is complicated by the fact that home is an apartment at the top of a skyscraper. In order to do that, you need to eat fish so you'll have enough energy to climb. The first fish is behind a quest that you'll uncover very quickly and there are several more around the map - usually behind a simple puzzle (involving tricking humans).

During this journey, you do all of the things a cat might do, including:

  • Tripping humans
  • Stealing bread
  • Catching (and releasing) birds
  • Climbing
  • Giving dogs snacks
  • Stealing fish
  • Sitting in boxes
  • Napping on things
  • Meeting other animals
  • Doing cute poses
  • Collecting hats

The stand out part of this game for me is the writing. There's not a lot of it, but when there is it's pretty dang funny and spot-on. Each of the animals you encounter has a distinct personality and that really comes through. I think Crow is my favorite, but the Tanuki is also pretty great.


Overall I've had a lot of fun with it. It is a pretty short game, if you run it quickly I think you could get home within 20ish minutes if you know where you're going. I expect we'll see an any% speedrun of this game at some point. If you want to collect all of the hats, find all the sleep spots, and sit in a bunch of boxes it'll take a bit longer for you to explore the city and find all those spots.

If you've got Game Pass, it's a no brainer. Go install it or play it via streaming, it's well worth it. Otherwise, it's available on Switch and Steam for a price I think is reasonable from an indie dev making a fun cat-themed game.

Writing Tablet Showdown

It even does custom screen savers

I’ve searched long and hard for the perfect writing tablet for me, and I’ve found it in Supernote. It’s the perfect blend of “write-on-able”, readability, and features. It often features in blog posts over on Cthonic Studios because it also makes it super easy to make character sheets, do some quick doodles, and has several nice features.

But, I want to spend a bit of time talking about the other things I’ve tried and wound up walking away from (I’ve provided Amazon Affiliate links for convenience if you happen to want one of these alternatives, meaning I’ll get a small commission should you choose to buy something).

It’s worth noting that I am primarily approaching this from an “Is the writing experience good first, followed by the reading experience, followed by the extra features” so that’s the criteria I’m judging.

Other bit: I purchased all of these, no one is paying me to write about them.

All of these options support Templates and Layers for their notebooks, to varying degrees — these let you set custom backgrounds on your documents, so you can have more than just the basic lines / dots / etc. Where they lack in features, I’ll call out.

Most of the devices also have a “paper-like” feel to them, except for the Kobo Sage.

Basically, any eInk device is going to have issues with image-heavy PDFs, which I tried on all of them, but haven’t really had a great experience.

Kindle Scribe

My first foray into having a dedicated tablet for writing actually started as an attempt to get my wife something that was useful for marking up PDFs. At the time, her job involved a lot of scientific paper review, and she needed something that would be easy on her eyes but transfer the markup. The Scribe was on a very deep discount at the time, and it promised document markup, so we decided to give it a shot.

Reader’s sidebar: this became a moot point as organizational policy prevented her from actually using the device, but hey, we don’t create eWaste in this household willy-nilly.

Dear reader, the PDF markup capabilities of the Kindle Scribe leave a lot to be desired. You can only annotate PDFs that you have sent to your scribe via their Email conversion service, not via side-loading them by USB cable. I don’t really want to hassle with sending things through Amazon’s servers just to enable annotation, so this was a hard stop for the both of us. You see, I also like to annotate PDFs to review stuff I’m working on, for unpublished games / adventures and I don’t want that going through Amazon’s servers either.

The annotation problem also extends to Kindle books, only certain Kindle books in a particular format allow for direct annotation. Many of them default to the old kindle style annotation where you highlight a passage, and then you can make a text/handwriting annotation on that text. That’s way more annoying than just writing on the text. There is a growing body of Kindle books that are directly annotatable (along with several puzzle books you can buy), but the selection is still fairly small at the time I’m posting this.

The writing experience itself is actually fantastic, the pen feels nice on the device, and it feels pretty close to writing on paper. The input delay is minimal, I don’t really notice it. There are a pretty solid set of marker shapes and sizes to choose from, though switching between them takes a bit of time (this will be a common theme, throughout).

I appreciate the inputs on the pen. It features a side button which defaults to the highlighter and an “eraser” on the back, much like a real pencil. It feels pleasant in the hand, though if you’ve got wide hands like me, it’s going to feel a little small.

There’s not a dedicated template feature on the Kindle Scribe, you have to make a PDF with your template and then annotate the PDF directly. Annoying, but it works.

The one complaint I have about the pen is the need to replace the nibs periodically. The Supernote features a pen that has a permanent tip (the film on the device is self-healing so they can make the nib harder), but in practice I only changed the nib on the Kindle once.

Accessing your notebooks from other devices is a bit of a crapshoot. You used to be able to view them online via a specialized link (which as far as I can tell, they never advertised), but they removed that link.

You can access those notebooks via the Kindle mobile app in read-only mode. That’s about the only sync option you’ve got.

When exporting notes, you have two options:

  • Email a PDF
  • Convert to Text and Email the Text

I’ve tried both, the text recognition is “okay” but not great. My penmanship isn’t great, so this will be a common theme throughout.

This is about what you’d expect from a Kindle in 2024, the screen is clear and crisp. There’s a backlight. It can do cold and warm lighting with a bunch of adjustable brightness. This is impressive because one of Supernote’s core claims about why they do not have a backlight is because it would degrade the writing experience. Maybe a little, but for me, I can’t really tell (and kind of wish the Supernote had a backlight).

The biggest obvious advantage here is that if you’re already in the Kindle ecosystem and have given Amazon piles of money for books, you can easily access your library on the device because at its core it’s just a Kindle.

You can also still side-load DRM free eBooks in various formats. Picture-heavy PDFs still have some performance problems, an issue I’ve seen with other eReaders.

The Scribe is probably my second favorite of the tablets I’ll be talking about today, and also generally, the easiest to acquire. For me, it’s more of a “reading tablet that happens to have writing capabilities” (See also the Kobo Sage)—and while its writing experience is workable, it’s not ideal.

Its current price is $419 USD for the 64 GB model with the premium pen included, though it’s frequently on sale. You can also pick up a refurbished model for as low as $309.

Purchase Link

The second tablet we tried after finding out about the PDF limitations on the Scribe was the Remarkable 2, which was a fair amount pricier but hey, at least it supports PDF annotation via side-loading out of the box.

Like the Kindle, you can transfer files over USB. It does this via an embedded web server and specialized website that’s served over an IP address over the USB interface. It’s a little weird, I expected it to mount a drive like the Kindle does.

Remarkable has the Remarkable Cloud Service which allows you to sync notebooks between your devices via their cloud, as well as offering Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive integrations. This allows you to sync your stuff to different clouds even without the subscription. There is a cost associated with Remarkable Cloud Service.

Finally, you can sync files via the Remarkable apps available on mobile and desktop over Wi-Fi.

The Remarkable 2 Writing experience is quite nice as well, it feels like you’re writing on paper. I went back and forth between the Remarkable and Scribe when we first got both of them (right around the same time, as you might recall) and it was difficult to determine a clear winner between the two when it comes to writing experience and accuracy.

The Remarkable suffers from the same problem as the Kindle, switching between pen types requires a few taps each time you want to do it. That slows me down a touch when I’m taking notes and want to call out stuff like headers. Like the Kindle, there are many pen types to choose from and switch between.

The pen is also fairly nice (we have the Marker Plus pen, but there is also a “basic” pen), but compared to the Kindle and Supernote Pens, I have two major complaints:

  1. The eraser side requires more pressure than I would like to use
  2. There’s no highlighter button (which is also a thing with the Supernote pen)

Likewise, the pen nibs are intended to be replaced on the Remarkable, and we tend to go through them quickly. There’s also a very fun quirk if the pen tip gets too worn down, it will start to write when the pen is not in contact with the Remarkable. On the one hand, great visual indicator that you need to replace the nib. On the other, pretty annoying if it starts happening when you’re not anywhere near your replacement pen nibs.

Remarkable also has a Keyboard Folio which allows you to type notes directly, but I’ve never used it, so I cannot comment on the experience.

(I don't have one of these handy yet as I need to borrow it from the wife in order to upload it sooo... soon?)

Your basic options are the same as the Kindle Scribe. You can either export as a PDF or you can convert it to text first. The difference here is how you get it to other devices. You can:

  • Sync with Remarkable Cloud
  • Sync to Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive
  • Copy via USB
  • Email

The reading experience is pretty good, but not as convenient as the Kindle.

There are no built-in services to connect to, so you have to transfer your eBooks manually via any of the mechanisms mentioned above. It can handle reading PDFs very well, but like other eInk devices, it struggles with image-heavy PDFs.

The ePub experience is pretty good, it provides a few different ways to navigate the content, either via a full page view or via the quick browse feature they recently added.

There is no backlight, so you will want to have a suitably lit environment if you intend to read eBooks on the Remarkable 2.

Compared to the Kindle, this is a tablet that was designed for writing first, and reading second. The writing experience overall is better, especially when it comes to getting your content from the device. I, personally, don’t want everything going through anyone else’s servers, and Remarkable makes that possible.

It also comes in at a fair amount pricier than the Kindle Scribe, at $549 for the bundle with the cover and Marker Plus pen.

Purchase Link

Kobo Sage

Who in this house needs better control over the lighting in here? It's me!

I wanted to like the Sage. I really did. A while ago, I stopped buying books through Kindle and instead started borrowing more books from my local library and when I couldn’t do that, getting them through Kobo. So, I have a fair amount of content in the Kobo Ecosystem now.

The Sage + Pen combo was one of my first forays into the “can I go paperless” experiment, well before the Remarkable 2 and Scribe experiments (before the Scribe existed, even). The major thing I liked about it is the size. It’s compact and easy to carry around. If I could read on it and scribble some notes, all the better.

The battery life isn’t nearly as good as I’d expect from an eReader, which is probably why Kobo sells a special case that charges the device, but it’s not terrible.

I still use it for reading, but after giving it several shots, I’ve not used it for writing again.

If I had to summarize this in a single word: Bad.

The first problem with the writing experience is that the surface of the device is not grippy like the other devices in this list. The pen does not counter this in the slightest, so when you write the nib slides around a lot more than I would like. It’s very similar to the iPad pencil tips in that regard. Some people are okay with this, but I want my writing experience to feel more paper-like.

The second is sometimes it doesn’t register the pen strokes. Lines will wind up broken, drawings look weird. I think this also has something to do with how the Sage’s case functions with magnets. I’ve discovered that if you try to write when the Sage is in contact with metal, like my back porch’s table, it gets much worse. Dunno why that is, but it makes it basically unusable.

There is some noticeable lag between drawing a line and it appearing on the screen, and occasionally, it’ll just write before you tap. Yeah. Not great.

The stylus is “fine” (I have the original stylus, not the 2) but it rattles as you’re using it, so I didn’t really like using it. It has two buttons on the side, one for erasing, one for highlighting.

Notebooks come in two styles: Basic and Advanced. Advanced notebooks use Nebo under the hood, and it behaves basically exactly like that app. You can make nice diagrams, move things around, and numerous other things. Nebo’s also available on Android and iOS if you want to give it a shot there.

Your options on the Kobo are very similar to the Kindle, with the exception that you can do this over USB, or via Dropbox.

Depending on the notebook, you can also export it as a .docx file, HTML, Text, or a few image files.

Compared to the writing experience, the reading experience is good! Like modern Kindles, there is a good backlight with an adjustable temperature for warm and cold light. The device is pretty snappy, and you can side-load other eBooks onto the device.

Furthermore, like the Kindle, there are integrations with OverDrive for loading library books and finding them directly from the device.

Like other eReaders, it struggles with image-heavy PDFs.

Much like the Kindle Scribe, this device was built for reading first, and writing second. Unlike the Kindle Scribe, that is a very distant second. For me, it’s borderline unusable.

The Sage is the cheapest option on this list is $270 without the pen. The stylus costs an additional $36.

Purchase Link

Okay! I’ve saved my favorites for last. I like this device so much that I’ve actually got two of them. Not only that, but I picked up the A5X near the end of its lifecycle, and the Nomad as soon as it came out.

Of the devices we’re looking at today, this one has the most flexibility when it comes to getting content onto it. It’s running Android under the hood (though it’s way more locked down than something like an Onyx Boox), so you can also mount the filesystem via a program like OpenMTP to transfer files back and forth. I have had an issue on newer macs where the “Allow USB connection dialog” disappears too quickly to allow the Supernote to connect, however. Still not sure what’s up with that. This only happens on the Nomad, not the A5X.

It also has a nice feature where you can turn on the ability to transfer files over Wi-Fi. Turning on that feature starts up a web server on the device, allowing you to drop files on it. The downside to this is that it starts a web server on the device, which is discoverable on the network. I’d only do this at home or on other networks you control / trust. Don’t do it on public Wi-Fi unless you want someone doing shenanigans.

They also allow you to sync files back and forth via Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or Supernote Cloud as well as a companion Mobile app that works over Wi-Fi.

Like the Remarkable 2, it has the option to connect a keyboard; this time you can use any bluetooth keyboard you’ve got lying around. That’s a cool feature, but the refresh time makes the typing experience suboptimal. If you can put up with a little input lag, it’s not terrible.

Small sidebar, the way the Nomad attaches to its case via magnets is A+, love it.

Unsurprisingly, for me, the Supernote is the best writing experience of the bunch. It feels the closest to paper for me, and it has some convenience functions that make it much quicker to do certain kinds of writing.

One of the things you might have noticed that I mention on basically all the prior devices: Switching between pens is kinda slow and awkward. Supernote solves this problem by letting you set custom hotkeys on the sidebar so that you can rapidly switch between the kinds of pens you use rapidly.

Supernote Nomad showcasing quick switch

There are also a number of multi-tap and sidebar gestures for undo, redo, change the toolbar, and the like. It’s really solidly done.

The other thing I really appreciate is the ease of using custom Templates. You can use both images and PDFs and then easily set those as a background. Here’s an example of me using the Ironsworn Character Sheet PDF as a background:

Supernote Ironsworn Character Sheet

The only negative I’ve had with the Nomad (which does not happen on the A5X I think) is that sometimes tapping the pen will not produce a dot, making it so that I have to be careful to properly dot i and j.

I have the premium Heart of Metal 2 Pens, which feature the ceramic nib that never needs to be replaced (which is awesome). It doesn’t feature any buttons, but the gesture controls make that almost unnecessary (but it would be nice). There is a secondary pen option which has a side button that activates either the lasso or eraser lasso tool.

The Supernote gives you the ability to export in PNG, PDF, TXT, and .docx formats, and it lets you sync via any mechanism you can use to get content on the device (so, USB, Supernote Cloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, over Wi-Fi).

Additionally, it has the ability to “Share via QR Code” which uploads the note to Supernote and generates a URL that is good for 24 hours, where you can download the note via a web browser.

Likewise, the reading experience is almost perfect. As I mentioned above, there is no backlight, which I sometimes miss. It supports all the usual suspect formats, including PDFs. They’ve got strong enough processors that RPG pdfs do tend to work okay. They still struggle with the image heavy ones (which is sadly most Pathfinder adventure paths).

Because this is an Android-based device, you also have some access to Android apps. The “Supernote Store” on the devices allows you to install the Kindle app, providing you with access to your entire Kindle Library. It’s possible to side load applications on it if you can access the debugger, but I’ve not personally done so. As of the latest updates for the Nomad, they’ve added a “side-loading” button which enables debugging. I’d love to add the Kobo app, but I’ve not attempted to do so yet.

Otherwise, there’s not much else to say — navigating around books and PDFs is quite pleasant, and it’s got a nice feature for PDF bookmarks, letting you skip around the bookmarks quickly rather than having to scroll through them.

This is my favorite eInk writing tablet I own, so much so that I bought it in two different sizes.

Believe it or not, the Nomad is not the most expensive item on this list (nor was the A5X!) by itself. The device clocks in at $299, but when you start adding accessories, it adds up. The Heart of Metal 2 Pen is $75, the folio is $49, so a full package is $423, just over the Scribe’s price (even more if you get a refurbished one or grab it when they do periodic Kindle sales).

Purchase Link (this one is not an affiliate link).

I’ve tried to do some writing on my iPad, and it works out reasonably well, but the default pen tips suffer from the same problem of sliding around and not feeling good to write with. I have tried the Pentips 2+, but they are egregiously expensive, and I’ve had some quality control issues with them. I’m still rocking one of those for doing drawing / creating the OSRaon Icon Set, but it’s not great for writing.

Boox makes a ton of eInk tablets that are running “Basically stock Android”, which is wild to me. I’ve been debating picking one up. They have color eInk variants too, in various sizes. I’m a little worried that the writing experience won’t be great, but the temptation is strong.

If I wind up doing so, I’ll post a follow-up review.

If you made it to the end here, I hope this was entertaining and informative if you’re in the market for one of these things. Til next time, friends.

ROG Ally

I don’t have a handheld gaming problem, I swear.

Okay. Maybe I have a bit of a handheld gaming problem. See, when we last talked about this, one of the key things that I outlined as a requirement for my gaming handheld was the ability to connect an external GPU to the thing so that I could play it on a desktop with decent performance.

While I could eventually do that with the Ayaneo 2, the process was extremely fiddly and prone to breaking any time there was a software update. Likewise, you had to plug the eGPU in during a particular part of the boot sequence so that it would properly detect and use the eGPU. Related problem: if you allowed the system to go to sleep, it would not properly function when it awoke, requiring you to force restart the machine and do the little plug-it-in-ritual all over again. It was extremely frustrating.

So, doing the thing that I seem to always do, I went completely overboard and looked for a different solution. When Asus decided to put out their own handheld, complete with a mobile eGPU solution (which uses laptop graphics cards - we’ll get to that in a minute), I decided that was the way to go. I purchased the Rog Ally Extreme at launch (which, at the time, did not contain the “extreme” moniker - that came later when Asus made a less-performant but cheaper model) along with one of their XG Mobile eGPUs (the 3080 version). The price was eye-watering, and for the eGPU - overpriced. What it promised, however, was a better eGPU experience, and I was willing to pay a premium if that worked. More on that later.

The Handheld Experience compared to my other handhelds

Permalink to “The Handheld Experience compared to my other handhelds”

On the whole, the Ally is a great experience as a handheld. The actual comfort of the device while it is in use ranks #2 out of my entire collection, just behind the Steam Deck. It’s really comfortable to use for extended periods of time (in my hands, which are rather…large), and it even has back paddle buttons which you can remap to do what you want with them.

The screen is also a delight - it has a 120hz refresh rate, which you’ll be hard-pressed to actually hit on anything but retro or indie games, that has a nice color quality to it for an LCD. Asus’s software support also has several visual tweaks you can apply to make the colors more vivid, should you desire that. It also is a 1080p display, which is just much better than the Steam Deck, and just behind the 1200p of the Ayaneo 2. It’s not as vivid as the OLED on the Ayaneo Air, but it’s probably my favorite screen of the bunch.

Sidebar: The Ayaneos both use displays with a native resolution that is vertical and then uses software to make the image horizontal - this causes an issue in some games, notably Phasmaphobia, where the resolutions only appear in the vertical orientation.

Performance-wise, it’s definitely more capable than the Steam Deck for sure. There are a ton of reviews out there that actually crunch the number, but my “feels” test for undocked performance, in 15W and 30W power profiles, is that the Ally is the most capable device I possess. The second place goes to the Ayaneo 2, but it still struggles with other games with the previous gen Ryzen processor.

The size is a bit wider than my Ayaneo 2, but smaller than the steam deck overall, so it’s really the perfect size for couch gaming - I still default to the Ayaneo Air for travel though, it’s really hard to beat its size profile. If you want to see a comparison Rock Paper Shotgun has several comparison photos.

Overall: This is the device I pick up most often, both when playing on the couch and when playing docked.

ROG Ally docked to the XG Mobile

Remember earlier how I said Asus promised a better docked experience than the Ayaneo 2? Well, that only partially materialized. For one thing, when you plug in the XG Mobile, it recognizes that you’ve done so, and it prompts you to switch the graphics driver from the internal to the external - giving you a prompt to restart the programs in question. So far, so good.

That works about 80% of the time now (when I first got it, it was maybe 60% of the time, so hey, improvement!). When it doesn’t work, you either have to run the script several times to try to get it to stick - or you need to reboot the device and try it again. So while I’m happy that I don’t have to do the little cable dance ritual anymore, I still have to deal with a non-functional script sometimes.

Likewise, this combo also has the problem where if it doesn’t output to the screen for a while (either by falling asleep or you switching monitor inputs), it will refuse to display on that screen again until you suspend / resume it. That’s better than a full reboot by far, but it’s still annoying. For a laptop eGPU that cost nearly $1500 at the time of purchase, I feel like the experience should be better.

Maybe I’m being nitpicky here, but that’s a premium price and I don’t think it’s super unreasonable to expect a premium experience. To Asus’s credit though, it’s been getting steadily better with software updates, so maybe it’ll get to that coveted 99% (nothing ever works 100% of the time with computers).

Cracking it open and upgrading its innards

Permalink to “Cracking it open and upgrading its innards”

After a couple of months with the stock drive, I upgraded the SSD inside of the Ally from the 512 GB it came with to a 1 TB SSD, and the actual installation process was a breeze. The case was simple to get open, and the SSD was readily accessible without having to move anything out of the way. Asus has also produced a handy guide that covers the process. It’s a snap.

I chose to reinstall the OS instead of copying the old SSD over, and … that was a bit of a process. On the good side, Asus includes a utility in the BIOS to re-flash the SSD with everything you need, Windows included. On the bad side, when I did it, my version of the BIOS had a bug that messed up the system clock, so I had to search around the internet until I found a post detailing that fact. The fix was simple: Set the system time to an accurate time yourself, and then you can proceed. HOWEVER! Even with that fix, I had to attempt this install a grand total of 4 times before I got a functional Windows install. It did eventually work, but it was several hours’ worth of “try, wait, and try again”.

It took them a while, but Asus did finally admit that the ROG Ally has an appetite for eating delicious SD cards, metaphorically at least. Apparently, the card reader gets a little too hot during operation and that can cause it to malfunction and completely break the SD card inside.

While I’m happy to report my unit has not destroyed any SD cards yet, the write speed on it is atrocious. Takes absolutely forever to install anything but the smallest games. As a result, I barely use it for anything that’s not tiny. Which is a shame, since I have filled up the SSD a few times now and have to regularly prune games in order to keep relevant stuff installed. Either that or resort to game streaming. Glad I have a good internet connection.

Look, I really like the ROG Ally - it’s become my daily driver. I even wound up giving the Steam Deck to a friend, despite it having the vastly superior control scheme. Perhaps I’d be happier with the Steam OLED’s upgraded display, but I don’t feel compelled to spend any more money when the Ally fits my needs for the most part. The fact that I dropped $2000 on it all told has also made me more fond of keeping it alive and relevant for as long as possible.

That said, the handheld gaming scene keeps evolving - who knows what we’ll see in the next couple of years.

Teracube 2e

The Teracube 2e is a budget phone that promises to be more eco-friendly than your typical phone by committing to 3 years of updates as well as affordable repairs for 4 years (which is also the duration of the standard warranty), while also promising features and hardware that will remain relevant for that time. All of this for the low price of $199.

I've found that it generally lives up to its promises, but had to make several (and sometimes bizarre) compromises to get there.

I picked this up primarily to be a device I'm okay accidentally chucking in a river when I'm out traveling internationally, and can slot in a second sim for local data rates via a local SIM (though now that there are several eSIM options, I might do this with another phone in the future, particularly one with a better camera).

Things I wish I had known before buying the 2e

Permalink to “Things I wish I had known before buying the 2e”

There are a couple of things I really wish I had known before buying the 2e, which might have affected my decision to get it.

  • It does not support Power Delivery, which in effect means you have to use a USB-A to USB-C cable to charge it.
    • This is maddening! All of my chargers are basically PD ports, so I have to carry a whole separate cable just to charge the phone.
  • Verizon is not supported, and this includes all of their VMNOs. This is due to Verizon's certification process evidently.
    • I wanted to toss my V1 Ting card in there, and I had to use the X3 card instead - not a huge deal but did impact my plans.
    • There are a few reports on the forums of people getting Visible to work, but I've not been able to.

In a similar category, that I did realize before buying was that there's no IP rating, and so I wouldn't recommend trying to use this in a downpour or maybe any moist condition at all.

For a $200 USD phone, you really shouldn't be expecting much in the way of "great" but the 2e actually does an admirable job in several areas. The first thing that I like to call out is the display. It has a 720X1560 IPS HD+ display, which actually looks pretty great for the price point. The refresh rate is only 60hz, but asking anything more at this pricepoint is unreasonable.

The battery life on the 4,000 mAh battery is also quite good, I'm easily able to get a full day out of moderate usage - which is not something I can say for moderate usage of my primary phone. One of the other major selling points is the fact that the battery is replaceable, so you can pop off the back and swap it out if you need to, which should prolong the life of the device. Plus, there are settings which can prevent overcharging so you can tell the phone to only charge up to say, 80%, and then stop charging. Given the good battery life already, this isn't a big deal at all and should prolong the battery life even further.

The placement and the speed of the fingerprint sensor are a nice change of pace from the in-display sensors I've gotten accustomed to. It's been able to read my prints every time and unlock the phone quickly.

NFC Support! Which means it does work with Google Pay. I've not actually added any cards to it, but I have tested it as a general NFC reader and it works perfectly fine for that.

Dual Sim card support is another big draw, not too many phones have that. On the Samsung Note 20 Ultra you can use two sims, but then you give up the extra SD card storage - with the Teracube 2e, you don't have to choose, you get 2 sim slots and a microSD slot. It's wonderful.

Generally working custom ROM support is also on the Teracube forums, and the folks at Teracube are super cool with flashing custom ROMs to the phone.

The big stand-out problem here is the Camera. It's serviceable, but with the stock camera app it takes forever to focus on an item - HDR mode is so slow it's basically unusable for moving targets. I didn't expect much from the camera...but I expected more than whatever this is. Being able to snap photos on the go while traveling and get a semi-decent picture out (if I wanted it to be great I'd just carry my primary phone). Not being able to do this definitely makes me question using this as a travel phone.

Likewise, the processor is a little sluggish at odd times. In general, performance is reasonably good and on par with the Moto Play line of phones, but sometimes it'll chug just a little - enough to miss a letter while typing or just stuttery enough to be annoying but not super disruptive. I expect this will get better after some updates or via a custom ROM - but it does make me wonder how the phone will handle Android 11 or 12. This phone's supposed to get updates for 3 years, remember?

So, if you're getting this phone you shouldn't expect that you'll be able to play modern phone games - but it can be nice to sit down and play something if it's the only device you've got.

The short answer is that any modern 3d game is going to have a really hard time, with some interesting exceptions. I've tried the following games and can report on how well they work:

  • Genshin Impact
    • Totally unplayable - the framerate is bad enough that gameplay is impossible. You can manage your inventory and collect daily things, but it won't be a fun experience.
  • Battlechasers: Night War
    • Mostly Unplayable - it stutters a lot when you try to move around the map.
  • Black Desert Mobile
    • Borderline - So this game is a weird one in that the performance is adequate, and you could play it if you really really wanted to... but the quality level is potato. It's going to be blurry. This is probably fine if you just want to hop on, sell some stuff, do dailies, etc - but I wouldn't want to be playing it for any length of time.
  • League of Legends: Wild Rift
    • Reasonably Playable - this surprised me, I managed to play a full match at a solid 30 fps without any noticeable slow down when I was in the game. Load times are noticably slower though, so you might be the last person to fully load the game, but otherwise it works just fine.
  • Love Letter; One Deck Dungeon; Reigns
    • Plays great - these are basically digital card games, and they play really well on the device.
  • Out There Omega
    • Plays well - a little slow at points, but all in all it runs great
  • Game Dev Tycoon
    • Plays great - I'm pretty sure this game could run on a literal potato, but it does do just fine.
  • Doors: Awakening
    • Mostly Playable - This is a nice little puzzle game, and it generally works fine but the load times are noticably slow and sometimes interactions are slow.
  • Polytopia
    • Extremely Playable - It's a nice little civ-like mini game. No issues, runs very well.

I ran a few benchmarks against it and unsurprisingly it didn't do so well:

  • 3DMark Sling Shot - 708
  • 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme - 378
  • Geekbench CPU - Single-Core 141, Multi-Core 825
  • Geekbench Compute - 0 (it crashed)

At the time of this writing, out of the box you cannot install apps to the SD card. You have to first enable developer settings () and then turn on the option to enable it. Afterwards, it works just fine. It'd be nice if it were in the stock image and maybe it will be after their first upgrade.

Use a different camera app. It doesn't make the camera much better, but it does speed up how quickly the auto-focus takes effect. The forums recommend Open Camera, which seems to be working fine for me (even though I kinda hate the UI).

So bottom line, I got this as a secondary phone - not to be my daily driver and I do not think it would be a good daily driver for me. I'd probably survive but I wouldn't enjoy it, especially since I like playing some fairly intensive games on the go or from the couch.

That said, if you're the kind of person who is already considering something like a Moto G line phone, or one of the budget Samsung Phones (like an A52) - and you don't need a serviceable camera, this is a solid contender at a price point that's difficult to beat. Once you consider the warranty, the accidental damage repairs, and the promise of a more eco-friendly phone that might just push you over the top.