When was the last time you checked in on the state of cheap desktop calculators? Apparently, they’ve evolved well past those low-cost monochromatic LCD screens and now feature full-color touchscreen displays and enough horsepower to play modern versions of Doom. How does this thing cost only $10?
If you do stay on top of calculator news, you may have seen a few reviews of a device called the GHLBD earlier this month, which looks like a traditional desktop calculator with a basic set of over-sized number keys paired with a color screen. Although priced at under $25, some have found the GHLBD being sold at second-hand online stores for as cheap as $10, which is where YouTuber Taki Udon—who specializes in covering retro gaming machines—found theirs.
Although the GHLBD only functions as a very basic calculator out of the box (it doesn’t even offer scientific calculations), it turns out it’s manufactured using motherboards and other hardware from outdated tablet devices, including a 32-bit quad-core Allwinner A50 processor paired with 1GB of RAM. Even better, it runs Android 9. All it took was a few screen swipes and taps to get a full launcher enabled on the GHLBD so it doesn’t automatically boot into its basic calculator app, and from there, Taki Udon was able to install a bunch of emulators and ROMs.
Unfortunately, the calculator’s number buttons don’t generate key codes when pressed, which means that in order to play games on it, Taki connected an 8BitDo SN30 Pro wireless controller to it over Bluetooth. Yes, this calculator also has Bluetooth and wifi on board—they’re just left dormant when it boots to calculator mode.
The GHLBD can play everything from NES, to N64, to Dreamcast and PSP games okay-ish, but even titles dating back to the NES days still exhibit some unexplained occasional stuttering. In other words, this is not the device you should consider if you’re interested in getting back into retro gaming. For that, we like the Anbernic RG35XX.
But the GHLBD can not only play the original version of Doom. It can also run 2004's Doom 3 natively, with support for on-screen touch controls if you can’t get away with pulling out a controller while sitting at your desk at work. And because it runs Android, you can install Steam Link on it, which means that a $10 desktop calculator can even be used to play games like Doom Eternal using game streaming.