yeah, android is an immediate “no” from me. very limited for what you can do. retroarch on android has a lot of problems, from what i hear. i don’t believe there’s an auto-booting emu front end for android, for example? isn’t it all just apps?
but that said, there’s many x86 or whatever mini PC systems you can get if you want a low-cost and powerful system for emulation, but i think the pi is still the cheapest and most flexible in its class, as long as you manage your expectations. having perfect emulation of the home and arcade 8-32-bit era is plenty to be getting on with!
plus for me i like taking modest hardware and making it do cool stuff, especially knowing that there’s this huge userbase/community that is trying the same. it’s a journey
Actually some Android devices are pretty cool IMHO. Devices like that are really cool and very cheap (the GPD XD is just an example):
For 150$ you can have a portable console with good emulation support from 8 bits to PSP and Dreamcast…
But, for cheap home emulation on my TV I prefer the Pi as it is fully configurable, will have better software support over time and is enough for a lot of consoles.
In any case, as you say, we have to remember that when we were young, we might have killed to have something like retropie at home. 😉