While gaming has come a long way in recent history in terms of graphics, gameplay and hardware, you can’t beat retro gaming. While for millennials it means PlayStation One games, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum was hugely popular in the 80s and boasts a library of over 14,000 low resolution, retro games. Based on the popularity of the platform, Retro Computers is in the process of manufacturing a handheld version of the retro console, complete with a library of games. Here, we discuss the pricing, availability, design and features of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+. Read next: Most anticipated games of 2017
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Update 13 March 2017: Following multiple reports from backers that they are still waiting for their consoles (expected to ship in October 2016) and have received little communication from the company behind it, Retro Computers, Indiegogo has stopped all further pledges to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ campaign.
It has also emerged that Retro Computers last year threatened the BBC with legal action in an effort to stop it reporting on this story, with its lawyers suggesting the BBC was "supporting and participating in a malicious campaign intended to denigrate our clients' reputation".
The ongoing silence from Retro Computers was blamed on a design change to one of the console's buttons, and a business dispute with former directors.
However, the company has finally broken its silence, assuring backers that the Spectrum ZX Vega+ is still coming - albeit late - and that the campaign would be allowed to return to Indiegogo once it has fulfilled its first 'perk'. It also claims to have some new games onboard.
"Since our announcement last Friday, we've been overwhelmed by offers of support and kindness. Thank you for that - it's very much appreciated. We're delighted to tell you we've had a significant number of key players in the game developer community step forward to offer us games - from old classics to some fantastic new ones. Some of the games are from people we're already working with, and they are offering us even more games. Some of these games developers are entirely new to us and we know you'll love them. So a huge thank you to all. We can also confirm that Indiegogo are happy for us to return to "InDemand" once we've fulfilled our first perk. We always knew that once we were three months late this was a possible scenario. So another big thanks to the team at Indiegogo," said Retro Computers.
When is the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ release date?
Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ UK release date: 20 October 2016
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ started life as a project on popular crowdfunding website IndieGoGo, with an aim of raising £100,000 in funds to kickstart the manufacturing of the handheld console. The project gained interest and managed to raise £366,655 in funding in the 40 days that it was live, making it one of the most successful IndieGoGo campaigns of all time.
How much does the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ cost in the UK?
Though the funding period is now over, interested consumers can still pledge for a Spectrum Vega Plus for £100 via the IndieGoGo InDemand platform. The Classic Black Vega+ is still available to buy via the website, but the red, white and blue limited edition versions are no longer available.
What does the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ look like?
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ is, essentially, a handheld version of the classic Sinclair ZX computers that were hugely popular in the 1980s. To add to the authenticity of the product, the manufacturers are working with industrial designer Rick Dickinson, the man behind the look of all of Sir Clive Sinclair’s ZX computers, on the design of the Vega+. The result is something that resembles the PlayStation Vita, but with a hat tilt to old-school ZX design and bold colour schemes.
The Vega+ features a 4:3 aspect ratio screen in the center of the device, with controls situated on either side. It features a classic gaming D-pad, along with four primary buttons and three secondary buttons, all of which can be configured to your specific gaming needs. It also features a MicroSD card slot, headphone/AV port, charging socket and volume controls on top of the device, much like other handheld consoles. In terms of flavours, the Vega+ is set to be available in four colours; red, blue, white and black, with the former three being limited edition.
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What are the features and specifications?
So, what’s so great about the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+? First of all, it allows you to play any Spectrum game from the 80s – and when we mean any, we mean any. According to the manufacturer, the design of the software enables support for over 14,000 Spectrum games, many of which can be found on various websites online and loaded onto the Vega+ via the MicroSD card slot. It’s also said that popular snapshot and tape file formats will be supported, and the SD card can also be used to save game saves and preferences.
That’s not all either, as the Vega+ will come with a library of 1,000 licensed Spectrum games pre-installed, meaning you can game from the get-go without having to go online and hunt down your favourite games.
The display is interesting too, as it tries to replicate the original resolution supported on the ZX Spectrum while still being crisp enough for modern standards. According to the manufacturers, the 0.2565mm dot pitch and 4:3 aspect ratio featured in the Vega+ display should accurately reproduce the 256x192 resolution of the Spectrum with minimal screen border, providing a nostalgic experience for those that used the original system in the 80s.
There isn’t anything in the way of confirmation regarding the size of the battery to be used in the console, but the manufacturer claims that the Vega+ should provide retro gamers with at least six hours of battery life on a single charge. It’ll be charged via MicroUSB, although it’s unclear at this time if it’ll also be used to transfer Sinclair games to and from the handheld console.
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