Over the last couple of years there have been at least 3 projects, funded by crowd funding sites, that have announced the coming of a new Sinclair Spectrum for the masses.
The one by Elite Systems and Steve Wilcox fell short in so much as the device released is nothing more than a glorified Bluetooth keyboard. Having not seen or touched one myself, those who have, have applauded its authenticity in terms of its look and feel (even down to the rubbery keys). The fact that you have to download an application, be it from iOS or the Android store, then top up your game collection by buying games through the shop on the app left many feeling short changed having pledged large amounts on the original Kickstarter campaign. Sales have been reported to extremely high on sites like Maplin and Amazon – especially over the last Christmas period.
The feelings of those who are long life Spectrum fans towards the device and the promises from Wilcox are slightly jaded, and many look on in wonder at the foolishness of the public buying a keyboard for over £100 – not the ‘recreated ZX Spectrum’ that Elite would have you believe.
The next contender for bringing a little nostalgia to Sinclair fans is called the Vega. The Vega was always touted as console and boasted a huge library of games built in. An IndieGoGo campaign was launched and over £150K was raised to produce the device. Again, many got wrapped up in the emotional roller-coaster of the campaign, whilst the rest of us questioned why? The pictures of the console that hit the the internet looked basic, unattractive and one could only guess that it was awkward and clumsy to use. When the device shipped, the fears of many were met and even worse it was felt that corners had been cut with only a composite cable providing a less than clear picture to your TV. Many of the games offered with the console were bizarrely text adventures – and with no actual keyboard to interact with these games it left many scratching their heads. The internet was awash with many ‘not so happy’ owners of the device, and units started to appear on Ebay very quickly. The packing though, it has to be said, is authentic to the original I remember opening in 1983!
Then, it felt as just as the Vega drama was dying down the Vega+ was announced and another IndieGoGo campaign launched. This time Rick Dickinson was the designer of yet another console – this time one with an LCD screen and sporting an SD card – so the library of the supplied games could be extended. I must admit, the console in the campaign did look good and I was for a brief moment thinking of supporting. The reality is that there are many portable devices already out there that can give you a portable ZX Spectrum at a fraction of the £100 asking price of the Vega+ – the original Nintendo DS for example, or more lately the GPD XD hand held console with an appropriate emulator from the Android store. The campaign was an amazing success finishing at over £300K – I’m sure that champagne bottles were popping at the base camp of those involved in the project, including Sir Clive Sinclair. An then bad news broke with two of the main staff behind the original Vega and this new one resigning in a cloud of mytery…. The device is not out for a few months yet – a prototype picture or two did surface and the response by the Spectrum fan base was mixed. Time will tell if this is the device we have been waiting for.
And now to this weekend – the announcement of another ZX Spectrum wannabe, the ZX Spectrum Next. A number of images have surfaced on the internet and an announcement is planned at this weekend’s Play Expo in Blackpool. From what has been read and seen, this re-incarnation looks like it is paying homage to the ZX Spectrum + with its look (here’s looking at the the keyboard). There is a mini HDMI out, a joystick port, faster processor, more memory, new video modes, SD storage…the list goes on and on. It´s totally open source and fully compatible with original ZX Spectrum, so in theory the community can take advantage of all this ‘more’ and create ‘new’ Spectrum games of a quality that has not been seen before. Oh, and the device has FM sound – the Spectrum at last can sing! There will be a crowd funding campaign in the near future for this new computer – and again I feel my nostalgic nerve twitching by looking at the images shown below. I am sure the campaign will be successful and this I believe, depending on the price per unit, could be the one I pledge on. I think mine will be a white one.
Let me know what you think in the comments.