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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The new ZX VEGA Review

Processor: ARM SOC 

Memory: 16MB SD RAM
Storage: 64MB Flash Storage
Website: http://retro-computers.co.uk/vega/


What's it all about:

It was originally produced by Retro Computers as part of a crowdfunded idea to produce a ZX Spectrum clone, that could connect directly to any TV set. Many people have likened it to the DTV64. The difference being that the Vega includes 1000 games and a hardware specific interface, built into the circuit board that allows for future software upgrades. Chris Smith developed the Vega, a former Speccy developer, for his sins. 

The good bits:

It runs nearly every game I've thrown at it, TAP files included. It's an all-in-one solution that plugs nicely into your telly, using composite or SCART (additional SCART connector needed). The build quality isn't as bad as what others have made out, it looks and feels alright to me. The menu system looks basic in design, but it actually works really well, and there's really cool music playing in the background. There're one thousand games to sift through, and the vast majority of games I've tried thus far, work just as good as the real thing, in some cases better. There's a Micro-SD slot, where you can easily upload thousands more. The Vega also automatically maps additional games to the Kempston setup, It can sometimes be a bit hit and miss, but for the most part, helps to make the whole experience that little bit less cumbersome. Games can also be saved, allowing you to pop out and resume from where you left off. The ZX Vega experience is powered by USB, so you'll need a USB power source if playing on an old CRT.  

The bad bits:


It's really difficult to play classics such as Skool Daze, or any adventure game for that matter, as the console device lacks a true Qwerty keyboard. The built-in keyboard just isn't appropriate for this type of game. The other issue comes with the selection of games preloaded, these aren't the games that used to set our pulses racing, don't get me wrong, there's a few classics in there, but unfortunately there's a heck of a lot that ain't. There's also two big ugly wires, falling out the back of the Vega, and get this, they've omitted an HDMI connector.
     

Alternatives:

You can play ZX Spectrum games on nearly every device out there, PSP, NDS, and on the PC for free. There's also the really good 'Spectaculator' http://www.spectaculator.com/ available for PC, iPad and Android. 


Should I get one?

I've had it a while now, but delayed my review, as I wanted to fully test it. The emulation is spot on, and it's great for taking away on holiday. I've played some classic Speccy games, I didn't even know existed, games I definitely wouldn't have played if not for the Vega. Classics such as Jetpac, Death Chase (Download) and R-type (Download) have never felt so good. But because of the high price of £99, and cumbersome control issue's when trying to play adventure games, unfortunately, I can't recommend it. 


Personally, for me, I think it's great, and hopefully, they'll make similar devices for the C64 or Amstrad CPC in the future. You can see a full list of pre-loaded games by clicking on the web address above.    

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