Yesterday, the fine folks at Analogue announced their next major product. There were rumors circulating about this for some time, and sure enough, it's a handheld. They will be making a retro-themed premium handheld, fueled by the same FPGA technology that they incorporated into their last three products.
Some pertinent details...
- It's coming out some time next year, 2020. That's a pretty broad window, so it might end up being later in the year.
- It will have a crazy high-resolution screen. Seriously, the screen is only going to be 3 and a half inches, but will have a resolution comparable to some full-size computer monitors. More than 600 pixels per inch. That's over double the standard resolution of print media.
- It's going to be $200, for just the base unit. This is fairly typical of Analogues pricing, so it doesn't come as a surprise. At the same time, this thing is NOT cheap, and is clearly targeted at premium retro collectors.
- There will be a dock sold separately, that will allow it to connect to a TV. There will be Switch-style screen capability, but it won't be part of the base package. You will have to spend extra for that feature.
- There will be an extra FPGA chip, with the objective of opening the Pocket up as an FPGA-development platform.
- It will play the entire GameBoy line, right out of the box.
For fans and collectors of the GameBoy, this news is pretty huge. For a while now, the options for optimal play of classic Gameboy titles have been a bit limited. The DS Lite is a great way to play GameBoy Advance titles, but isn't compatible with classic GameBoy games. (and isn't perfect for GBA playback either) The GameBoy Player is a decent option for TV playback, but has resolution issues thanks to having to be connected to a GameCube, and the D-Pad on the GameCube controller stinks. One of Analogue's previous products, the Super NT, is one of the best ways to play classic GameBoy titles along with the Super GameBoy cartridge. But that solution doesn't play GameBoy Color games or GBA titles. Probably the best classic GameBoy solution at the moment is the back-lit GameBoy Advance SP. But that model is actually kind of rare, and has the diminutive form factor and cramp-happy controls that the SP was known for.
Bottom line, there is definitely a use for a device like this among classic portable gaming enthusiasts. Having one platform to play the entire GameBoy line on, and the ability to throw all that content up on a big screen with no visual issues or compromises is a big deal. The FPGA development side of things is also going to help move units. The MiSTer community has been growing, but the hardware for FPGA experimentation is not cheap. (or convenient) Having a capable, designed platform for that style of development with a built-in screen and the ability to display on a TV is going to be a big draw for FPGA programmers.
So yeah. Once again, this thing is going to be well outside the price barrier for casual users. But the more hardcore crowd is going to love it. Analogue does it again.