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Analogue Pocket


#1 Richard Kain   The Kaiser CAGiversary!   2790 Posts   Joined 12.5 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!   1603 Posts   Joined 5.5 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!   2790 Posts   Joined 12.5 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!   14796 Posts   Joined 11.1 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!   2790 Posts   Joined 12.5 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!   14796 Posts   Joined 11.1 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!   23000 Posts   Joined 15.5 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!   5483 Posts   Joined 14.2 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!   2790 Posts   Joined 12.5 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.