a) Reading this thread, I'm starting to think that maybe the unifications should not be made after all?
b) To resolve the issue, a HW MENU button would be required. But that won't help the issue at all, since the GCW Zero does not have one - but this is something to consider if someone makes another open handheld in the future
c) Even that would not be optimal HW design (I believe I read Justin pondering this very issue somewhere during the Kickstart project). Eulated systems are difficult in this respect, since they had their own buttons for accessing the rudimentary UI features - usually start and select buttons - "a dedicated menu button" would be something that is not in use in any other emulated system, but is still an otherwise useless button. But different systems had different number of buttons (originally) - so why not make yet another usable button (in-gaming) instead of a gamingwise-useless menu button? OTOH, it is useful / clearer for the user, if the functions of the controls are easy to understand.
d) Anything that uses buttons intended for gaming will clash with some emulator for some users, and the power switch is not an ideal solution either.
e) Because of the above, if the unification is made, it is imperative that it is configurable! Also, every maker of an emulator should include a readme (with the most relevant usage information - I just checked, 3/13 emulators I currently have installed, provide a readme in the OPK). If they don't, it is very difficult to RTFM.
a: Perhaps, perhaps not. I think the discussion here is doing a good job determining whether it's needed. There is one person vocally against the unification, and now arguments are starting to mount against a total unification, more towards a configurable button or hotkey on top of Power.
b, d: I agree that a menu button would be ideal, but we have to make do with what we have. The hardware isn't going to change itself retroactively.
c: I don't see your point here. Is it going for or against the point you made in b?
e: I don't know why awareness of X-OD-Manual is not that high, but it is indeed pretty awesome. For you to have 3 emulators with a manual, you must have PocketSNES and ReGBA, as well as Mame4all on your GCW Zero, yes?
Maybe developers feel it's a waste of time to make a manual that users won't ever read -- even if it would clearly contain the information the user seeks. I think of it the other way: If a user doesn't need to ask me, personally, how to use the emulator, he or she can use the emulator even if I'm not around to help, and can even refer to the manual on the device itself.
I agree that more emulator ports should have manuals that minimally explain essential files, essential hotkeys, how to start a ROM, how to select a ROM directory, the default button mapping, and options. With the unification, they would not have to explain how to get into the menu, but they might want to do that anyway. But that's a subject for another thread, including Timepilot's thread, /GCW Zero/General/
I would like to offer my text editing/composition services to devs...