Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+
One of the stranger trends in consumer tech last year was the sudden boom in ways to play vintage Spectrum video games.
Which is to say… there were two. But considering the original, beloved home computer was last officially for sale in 1992, those aren’t bad numbers.
The new Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ is pitched as a handheld, self-contained LCD unit — not dissimilar to the misbegotten Sony PlayStation Vita — which will come complete with 1,000 licensed Spectrum games ready to play out of the box.
The console will also be able to connect to a HDMI television and comes with an SD card slot for loading other games available online. The machine is designed by Rick Dickinson, who conceived of the original ZX 80, ZX 81 and ZX Spectrum, with engineering led by “leading expert” on Spectrum tech Chris Smith.
The core of the machine should be fairly similar in essence to the TV console released last year, and the pitch doesn’t seem to deviate too much from that which raised £155,677 on IndieGoGo in 2015. From the renders, it appears that the Vega+ is an altogether more pleasing piece of hardware — the original Vega suffered from cable overload and an overly simplified design. But the range of titles on offer to actually play will still be limited to, obviously, those made for the Spectrum itself. While that’s fine if you’re really into that machine, it’s inherently limited compared to the range of Android emulators and mobile retro consoles already on the market.
And for just £100 (presuming it meets its £100,000 fundraising target), it remains to be seen how good screen quality and battery life will be.
There are other options even if you’re purely a Spectrum fanatic. They include the very different Recreated Spectrum, also released last year, which is mostly just a nicely built, retro-themed Bluetooth keyboard that works with an iPad and includes a few supplied games.
WIRED concluded in its review of both the Vega and the Recreated Spectrum that neither managed to provide a definitive Spectrum experience for the modern era. The former was a straightforward but limited console with unimpressive hardware, whereas the latter beautifully recalled the original, but was let down by a lack of included games and awkward reliance on iOS.
Whether or not adding mobile support will tip the Vega+ over the edge is unclear. Still, it appears the public is less worried; the Vega+ hit £36,000 in total support after just a few hours.
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