It's funny you should mention the iPhone as a yardstick. The iPhone 3GS use a 800MHz Cortex A8 ARM CPU, underclocked to 600MHz. The Panda uses a 600 MHz Cortex A8 CPU, and has a slight headroom for overclocking. Again comparing with the iPhone 3GS it has 256 MB ram, DDR SDRAM. Guess what, except for speed which i don't know for the iPhone 3GS, it's identical. By now, it's not that much of a supprice that the graphics for the iPhone 3GS & the Panda is the same, PowerVR SGX. Again, i simply don't know the speed of the chip in the iPhone, but i think it is a 520 flawor, the 530 used in the Panda is the second slowest in the series.
I guess i could go on, but there really isn't much point. The iPhone 3GS and the Panda is pretty much the same hardware in different skin. The iPhone 4 is a slight upgrade from the 3GS, with a 1GHz CPU downclocked to 800MHz, 512MB RAM, and a PowerVR SGX 535. (It's the same CPU, a Cortex A8, and the same GPU family, however Samsung stuck the two under the same roof, and the chip is called Apple A4.)
What i'm trying to say is that over all, the iPhone 4 is about 20-25% faster then your Panda. The reason that emulators and alike is more enjoyable is more down to ease of accessing the hardware for the programmer then the speed of the hardware.
Don't get me wrong, i think it's great that they managed to get something out the door at all, and the hardware is more then enough to pull most emulation needs of with ease. But still, they charge a fairly high price for a unit, and worse yet, first batch buyers are still waiting for a unit, and a lot of the hardware parts used to build the darn thing is starting to get so old that you cant buy em any more. Ethics, or lack there of, have made first batch buyers still have to wait, long after the first batch was sold out.
Yeah, we already agreed on that. It's just not right, and it still pisses me of, even as i didn't bought a unit in the first place.
And to put things in perspective. If all you want is a emulation device, the GP2X Caanoo is about 100 Euro. The Panda is about 400 now, and then some. I believe they are switching to a German production plant for the mainboards, and i don't expect prices to drop, so to speak. (The Caanoo is in most aspects 50-75% of what the Panda is, 533MHz ARM CPU, only got Open GL ES 1.1 where as the Panda has 2.0 support, half as much memory, and so on. Just as the Panda, there is a small space for overclocking, in the case of the Caanoo, it seams most hit 720-750 MHz.)
I wouldn't get either, as you said, the Vita is a lot more promising.