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Analogue Pocket


#1 Richard Kain   The Kaiser CAGiversary!   2870 Posts   Joined 13.2 Years Ago  

Richard Kain

Posted 17 October 2019 - 04:32 PM

Here's some news for all the retro enthusiasts out there.

 

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.



#2 Retroxcellence   Billy "Big Bang" Blitz CAGiversary!   1753 Posts   Joined 6.2 Years Ago  

Retroxcellence

Posted 17 October 2019 - 05:06 PM

This  looks great. I wish I had waited to get my lynx modded as this costs just about the same to get the mcwill mod with VGA out. I will just sell more of my nintendo games to pay for this I guess and grab a gameboy, gamegear, and neogeo pocket everdrive



#3 Richard Kain   The Kaiser CAGiversary!   2870 Posts   Joined 13.2 Years Ago  

Richard Kain

Posted 17 October 2019 - 05:17 PM

I wish I had waited to get my lynx modded as this costs just about the same

 

Yeah, this is one of the things that hampers retro handheld gaming. There is no one best solution. One of the best GameBoy-to-TV options at present is the GBA consolizer. And that thing is a hobby DIY kit that costs $170 un-assembled. If you want one pre-built, it costs close to $250. It's options like this that make the Analogue Pocket more feasible. The cost of various custom hardware, assembly, and/or scan-line converters really adds up, and is massively inconvenient. An elegant, pre-built solution like Analoge provides helps to justify the steep price.



#4 Jodou   Infamous CAGiversary!   15039 Posts   Joined 11.8 Years Ago  

Posted 17 October 2019 - 06:06 PM

TIL my GBA SP is rare. Huh, I've had it sitting in a closet for decades now. . .



#5 Richard Kain   The Kaiser CAGiversary!   2870 Posts   Joined 13.2 Years Ago  

Richard Kain

Posted 17 October 2019 - 06:19 PM

The original front-lit GBA SP is not rare. That is the default version that most people got their hands on. But later in the GBA's run they revised the SP with a fully ultra-bright back-lit screen. This model is not nearly as common, and it's screen is actually quite good, making it highly desirable to collectors. The original front-lit model goes for peanuts these days, but the back-lit model regularly commands twice the price of its inferior predecessor. Despite its "clicky" controls and diminutive form-factor, it is still one of the better ways to enjoy the original GameBoy's library. The screen for it is bright, crisp, colorful, and exactly the correct resolution. The rechargeable battery life for the system is also very good, and the clamshell design is convenient.

 

Another solid option for the more DIY-included is to modify an original-model GBA with a back-lit screen. This requires some minor soldering, and some cutting of the plastic case, so it is very much a DIY project, and not recommended for anyone hoping to preserve the original hardware. If you are interested in going this route, I recommend getting a well-worn GBA used, and then purchasing a replacement exterior on-line. These can be had for very little, and you even can find a broad selection of different colors. All you need from the GBA is the circuit board. At the end of such a project, you have an original model GBA with a fully back-lit screen, identical to the one found in the later-model SP. This combines the more "mushy" buttons and D-pad of the original GBA with the superior bright back-lit screen. Best of both worlds. I have two of these models that I modded, as well as glass lenses I ordered from Rose-Colored gaming. Very choice.



#6 Jodou   Infamous CAGiversary!   15039 Posts   Joined 11.8 Years Ago  

Posted 17 October 2019 - 06:24 PM

Ah, that's why. Been close to two decades I think since that thing came out so had no idea of the change. It is a pretty badass handheld tho.



#7 Vinny   Bang, bang... pew... CAGiversary!   23571 Posts   Joined 16.1 Years Ago  

Posted 17 October 2019 - 07:54 PM

 

Another solid option for the more DIY-included is to modify an original-model GBA with a back-lit screen. 

I've been thinking about doing this. I like the wider form-factor of the original GBA but holy hell, that screen is pitch dark. I have no idea how I played that thing back in the day. I also like that it has a headphone vs needing a dongle for the SP. 

 

In any case though, this handheld looks insanely slick. And the price doesn't seem horrible. 



#8 anotherpoorgamer   Bird's Nest Hair CAGiversary!   5552 Posts   Joined 14.8 Years Ago  

anotherpoorgamer

Posted 17 October 2019 - 07:56 PM

Finally, I have an option to play my Game Gear cartridges on a monitor/screen.  Hopefully, I can scrape up by next year, the $200 for the handheld and whatever the price of the add-on will be.



#9 Richard Kain   The Kaiser CAGiversary!   2870 Posts   Joined 13.2 Years Ago  

Richard Kain

Posted 17 October 2019 - 08:02 PM

I've been thinking about doing this.

For hardcore GameBoy fans, I would recommend it, especially if you like these sorts of handy hobby projects. The various parts for it are not very expensive, and the end product is essentially the best version of the GameBoy you can have. The need to use AA batteries is a tad annoying, but the controls are great as is the compatibility with all games. A few games don't work as well on the SP because of the change in its cartridge slot position.

 

As far as the Analogue Pocket goes, it will be a pre-order for me. But I am a sucker for the Analogue line, and already have a Super NT and Mega SG. The pocket is a no-brainer for a cartridge-obsessed collector such as myself. Very much looking forward to playing Metroid Fusion and the GBA Castlevania games on the big screen.



#10 Richard Kain   The Kaiser CAGiversary!   2870 Posts   Joined 13.2 Years Ago  

Richard Kain

Posted 27 July 2020 - 03:45 PM

Some recent news, the Pocket has been delayed until May of 2021. While unfortunate, given the whole COVID situation and how it's affected production of physical items, it's hardly surprising.

 

On the plus side, we now finally have a date for the opening of pre-orders for the system. Pre-orders will open up on August 3rd. We also got a whole lot of specific information, including the actual prices of the system and accessories. The Pocket itself is still $200. The Dock is going to be an even $100. Both combined makes for quite a hefty priced handheld. (basically no different than buying a full-on Switch) With pricing this steep, more casual handheld fans will likely shy away.

 

The hardcore collector crowd is still going to have plenty of reason to jump in though. The Pocket is going to have all manner of connectors, especially for anyone interested in the synthesizer functionality. The Dock will allow for bluetooth controller pairing. And a PC program will allow anyone interested to make their own GameBoy games, and play them on the Pocket.



#11 Richard Kain   The Kaiser CAGiversary!   2870 Posts   Joined 13.2 Years Ago  

Richard Kain

Posted 04 August 2020 - 08:32 PM

And, a quick update on the Pocket.

 

The pre-orders opened for it yesterday, and sold out in 8 minutes. Pre-orders are no longer available.

 

The sheer speed was a little surprising. Previous pre-orders for the Super NT and Mega SG lasted several days at least. This is probably a combination of very limited supply (not surprising), and unusually high demand (a little surprising). With the steep price-point on this device and its associated dock, I was expecting the ardor for it to cool somewhat. That's clearly not the case. Even with a smaller supply, the demand for this thing is straight-up rabid, way higher than I was expecting.

 

I'm wondering if the additional features for the device may have figured into the demand. It's possible that the music-mixing community may be part of what's boosting the demand. Original video game handheld hardware has been used for music sampling and synthesis for quite some time. A lot of DJs use GameBoys in their performances, because of the unique sound their processors produce. The Analogue Pocket is going to come bundled with music composition software, and it has the potential to near-flawlessly simulate any traditional video game handheld. In fact, it will likely have the FPGA muscle to simulate ANY older audio chip. And it's going to come with a plethora of MIDI output options built right in. For classic chip-tune sampling, it's basically a bargain, and a dream-come-true for a lot of DJs.



#12 anotherpoorgamer   Bird's Nest Hair CAGiversary!   5552 Posts   Joined 14.8 Years Ago  

anotherpoorgamer

Posted 15 August 2020 - 02:54 PM

Still haven't scraped up the money.  Pandemic didn't help.  I think I need to figure a way out to have a budget for video game items like this.



#13 Richard Kain   The Kaiser CAGiversary!   2870 Posts   Joined 13.2 Years Ago  

Richard Kain

Posted 09 September 2020 - 05:00 AM

Keep saving. You'll have another chance. They've kept the Super NT and Mega SG regularly available, and will likely continue producing them for years. The Pocket is also one of their mass-production models, so they will likely continue to produce it for years to come. No worries over it being limited-edition, like some of their previous products. (let's be honest, MOST of their previous products) You can bide your time, wait for reviews, wait for the supply to level out, and then pick one up. Plenty of time to save up and buy responsibly.