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Looks like it's all over for the once promising Smach Z handheld

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Press F to pay respects. Remember the Smach Z? A handheld gaming unit where you could pick between Windows 10 and SMACH OS (Linux) - well it looks like it's all over now.

The situation surrounding the Smach Z has always been a bit of an odd one, with the team behind it often going completely silent with plenty of people out there who considered it a scam from the beginning. It's had multiple funding rounds with €474,530 from Kickstarter and a further bunch from IndieGoGo in 2016, and they had pre-orders available since 2018 too. Over time it seems they pulled in some investors too but the well has run dry.

In a forum post from the Founder, Daniel Fernandez, which isn't available to view publicly (but reposted to Reddit) Fernandez goes on to mention how they "might soon enter bankruptcy" due to their main investor pulling out of the project and they were the only thing keeping it afloat.

Fernandez makes it clear that despite all the money, "the project was way more ambitious than the budget we were managing" and they even had aid given by their government and private investors but "after a few missteps, the investors felt forced to decide to stop supporting the project".

What does Fernandez claim are the reasons? A mixture of COVID, the charging unit failed an emissions test and problems with the batteries heating up too with continued delays that has led to this.

Will anyone get their ordered devices? Considering some have pre-ordered units for close to £1,000, it's a lot of money to lose on your dream handheld gaming device. Sadly, it looks like a no and there's only three people on their team so it's clearly not going to happen. How about refunds then? If they do declare bankruptcy, anything they have left will apparently go towards refunds. They also claim to have been providing refunds "for a very long time" already but they can no longer do it now due to the investor pulling out.

Sounds like a clear message: It's dead, Jim.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Hardware, Meta
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22 comments
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elmapul 16 May
we could be donating to one of those open source projects that exist and struggle to make money like make human and gimp...
but no, lets donate to that thing that might be an scam (and there are a lot of evidence supporting it).
the worst part is, even if this was sucessfull nothing would change in terms of marketshare for linux, people would just install windows on it (i mean, if they didnt already preo ordered with windows to begin with)
meanwhile donating to some open source project can make an difference.
nitroflow 16 May
Quoting: slaapliedjeAnd yet I've been seeing a few different systems that are similar to this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wINKqvWou5w

This, and also the ones from GPD.
MayeulC 16 May
How about they open up their designs? Even if those aren't complete, the community could try to pick up where they left, if there's any interest.
BielFPs 16 May
Quoting: emphyIt seems fairly clear to me that this project's underlying management problems are what are the real cause of it failing, not any inherent difficulty in getting such a niche product in costumers' hands.
In my opinion Canonical should make a project like that, would be a perfect opportunity for them to push their snap packages in this "untapped market".
slaapliedje 16 May
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Quoting: nitroflow
Quoting: slaapliedjeAnd yet I've been seeing a few different systems that are similar to this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wINKqvWou5w

This, and also the ones from GPD.
I have a GPD Win2... and kind of hate it because of how loud the fans are.
slaapliedje 16 May
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Quoting: BielFPs
Quoting: emphyIt seems fairly clear to me that this project's underlying management problems are what are the real cause of it failing, not any inherent difficulty in getting such a niche product in costumers' hands.
In my opinion Canonical should make a project like that, would be a perfect opportunity for them to push their snap packages in this "untapped market".
Personally, I think Valve is the one that should do it. The Steam Machines were a wonderful idea.

1) they failed as there wasn't a standard set up. Hard to do as games have a hige range of hardware requirements. There just needs to be "games for Steam Machine" icon.

2) the prices per spec were too expensive for most (because people don't understand that making PC hardware fir inside the embedded space IS expensive...)

3) a portable / dockable version like the Switch would have been AWESOME!

The problem with computer gaming overall is there are too many games that are simply unplayable without a mouse / keyboard, and Steam needed a better way to show that off. They have it now with the categories.
BielFPs 17 May
Quoting: slaapliedjePersonally, I think Valve is the one that should do it. The Steam Machines were a wonderful idea.
Yes Valve would be better, but I can't see a reason for them to invest in this right now, they're prety much comfortable with steam link.

Quoting: slaapliedje1) they failed as there wasn't a standard set up. Hard to do as games have a huge range of hardware requirements. There just needs to be "games for Steam Machine" icon.
Steam machines failed because they didn't "fix linux gaming" before launching it to the customers, but since the main reason was to send a message to Microsoft, in the end they achieved their objective.

Quoting: slaapliedje2) the prices per spec were too expensive for most (because people don't understand that making PC hardware fir inside the embedded space IS expensive...)
And that's the main problem, common users don't want to pay more for something that you have to configure some things yourself, even if the result is better in the end. That's why consoles and notebooks are a thing, because it's pretty much "just use it". Also "exclusives".

Quoting: slaapliedje3) a portable / dockable version would have been AWESOME!
Indeed, nowadays there's much more software resources to make something like this succeed, they also could use some flatpak-based distro to make sure the games are more akin to run without problems, so again, Canonical may be losing a opportunity to invest in this and push their snap packages (which I'm not a fan)

Quoting: slaapliedjelike the Switch
I personally didn't want anything from Nintendo since the Gameboy Advanced, so I don't know how it is...

Quoting: slaapliedjeThe problem with computer gaming overall is there are too many games that are simply unplayable without a mouse / keyboard, and Steam needed a better way to show that off. They have it now with the categories.
Support for Bluetooth mouse + keyboard and an adapter for bigger screens could partially solve this (again the main problem is hardware costs), but most small screen friendly games usually are played with controllers.
slaapliedje 17 May
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Quoting: BielFPsYes Valve would be better, but I can't see a reason for them to invest in this right now, they're prety much comfortable with steam link.
Steam Link has been discontinued, it's now just an app.

Quoting: BielFPsSteam machines failed because they didn't "fix linux gaming" before launching it to the customers, but since the main reason was to send a message to Microsoft, in the end they achieved their objective.

Even the Windows based ones that would boot straight to Steam BPM failed to sell well. I tend to think the failure was purely marketing. No one knew about them, there were too many manufacturers of it, and too many levels of the specs. Imagine if the Atari 2600 had released with three versions, one that could only play 2600 games, one that could also play 5200 ones, and one that also could play 7800 games. But Atari didn't manufacture any of them themselves, and just let random companies build them? Pretty sure the Video Game industry would never have really been born, and we'd all be spending our gaming days in the Arcades... (mind you Atari would probably still be a giant in that industry, as it seems that's where they were raking in the most cash!)

Quoting: BielFPsAnd that's the main problem, common users don't want to pay more for something that you have to configure some things yourself, even if the result is better in the end. That's why consoles and notebooks are a thing, because it's pretty much "just use it". Also "exclusives".

Ha, Exclusives are one thing that make ZERO sense on a computer platform. I agree with GabeN on this. Console players are always about the 'exclusives' as it is the reasoning behind why they 'Just have to' buy all the consoles. Imagine if exclusives didn't exist. One could purchase a single console based on either specs, controller style, machine capabilities, etc. Instead of 'OMG, I need the newest Halo, so must get Xbox!' Then again, also think of how crap it is when a game does come out for every platform, and they code it for lowest common denominator (like the Xbox, most games target that and don't utilize any of the cool controller developments that Playstation or Switch have. Like no Gyro, etc).

Quoting: BielFPsIndeed, nowadays there's much more software resources to make something like this succeed, they also could use some flatpak-based distro to make sure the games are more akin to run without problems, so again, Canonical may be losing a opportunity to invest in this and push their snap packages (which I'm not a fan)

Ha, Canonical needs to get over themselves. Snap is terrible. They need to just stop being a 'me too' and 'not invented here' distribution and be successful based on distributing a good product. Seems to me they haven't even cared that much for the Desktop as much as they care about their server products, and Openstack, etc. Look at who funds most of the desktop oriented stuff. It's mostly RH, which is funny as years ago they basically said Desktop Linux was dead and they weren't going to bother with it. Yet most of the Gnome stuff is funded by them, as well as Pulse, Pipewire, systemd, etc. I stopped using Ubuntu years ago, as they had decided to diverge from standard Gnome and use Unity (which seemed to have worse performance, and looked terrible to me).

Quoting: BielFPsI personally didn't want anything from Nintendo since the Gameboy Advanced, so I don't know how it is...

I hear ya, I've never been a Nintendo fan (Atari and then Sega for me). The Switch is the only Nintendo console I've ever bought / owned. And it was mostly the concept of being able to start playing on one TV, pick up a game play on a road trip, and then dock again at another TV that was appealing. Then of course how many times have I traveled since getting one? Zero...

Quoting: BielFPsSupport for Bluetooth mouse + keyboard and an adapter for bigger screens could partially solve this (again the main problem is hardware costs), but most small screen friendly games usually are played with controllers.

Sadly, for gaming bluetooth and wireless in general kind of sucks. I have a Logitech wireless keyboard/mouse thing for remote loading up / logging in for my living room computer, and I swear if I move in the wrong direction it doesn't work right. Also they tend to have really aggressive sleep states, so unless you're constantly moving, it disables it frequently to conserve battery. Though the one I have isn't bluetooth if I recall, it uses Logitech's own dongle. Also, would be terrible for gaming, as it's very much like a Laptop keyboard. I tend to game on a mechanical keyboard, which would be terrible to fit on your lap on a couch :P
slaapliedje 17 May
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Quoting: elmapulwe could be donating to one of those open source projects that exist and struggle to make money like make human and gimp...
I'd never heard of MakeHuman. Awesome! They also announced MakeTherapist. Which in this day and age, I think we could all use, Ha!

Actually that reminds me of the old Eliza program...
BielFPs 17 May
Quoting: slaapliedjeSteam Link has been discontinued, it's now just an app.
I'm talking about the app, it's working without having to purchase specific hardware for it, so there's no reason to Valve investing in it right now (hardware).

Quoting: slaapliedjeEven the Windows based ones that would boot straight to Steam BPM failed to sell well. I tend to think the failure was purely marketing.
For sure, and also because Steam machines were only offered in countries where good hardware is affordable, so why a lot of people would invest in a new computer / console hybrid, if they already have a top computer and the newest consoles? This + a lot of games not running properly + totally lack of marketing resulted in where we are today. And if it were offered in third world countries, would have been too expensive for most people to try it without a good base (they didn't offered here).


Quoting: slaapliedjeHa, Exclusives are one thing that make ZERO sense on a computer platform. I agree with GabeN on this. Console players are always about the 'exclusives' as it is the reasoning behind why they 'Just have to' buy all the consoles.
I know this and you know this, the average customer don't. You underestimates how much the impact of exclusives has in it, the entire console market nowadays is made on top of this. I personally have friends who always buy playstations because they're hardcore fans of Resident Evil franchise (which was a exclusive not long ago) and God of War, so it's a mix of nostalgia + practicality for them, not to mention that a lot (I mean really a lot) of people in my country only buy a console to be able to play "soccer games with a joystick with practicality" despite any technical advantages / disadvantages of the platform.

Quoting: slaapliedjeImagine if exclusives didn't exist. One could purchase a single console based on either specs, controller style, machine capabilities, etc. Instead of 'OMG, I need the newest Halo, so must get Xbox!' Then again, also think of how crap it is when a game does come out for every platform, and they code it for lowest common denominator (like the Xbox, most games target that and don't utilize any of the cool controller developments that Playstation or Switch have. Like no Gyro, etc).
That's the point, exclusives (and consoles) still exists, because of marketing pushing them as a good think (ask about to any console fanboy), and most important practicality. Non-tech enthusiasts despite anything that's not "plug and play", and I would like to take this opportunity to comment a quote that I think every linux developer on the planet should tattoo on their arms: "It's a good thing when you can configure something, it's a bad thing when you need to"



Quoting: slaapliedjeHa, Canonical needs to get over themselves. Snap is terrible. They need to just stop being a 'me too' and 'not invented here' distribution and be successful based on distributing a good product.
I personally don't care about Canonical or snaps, I only cited them because I see them as a company that could have interest to invest in a project like this (in order to push their snaps at the market)

Quoting: slaapliedjeI hear ya, I've never been a Nintendo fan (Atari and then Sega for me). The Switch is the only Nintendo console I've ever bought / owned. And it was mostly the concept of being able to start playing on one TV, pick up a game play on a road trip, and then dock again at another TV that was appealing.
Practicality

Quoting: slaapliedjeSadly, for gaming bluetooth and wireless in general kind of sucks. I have a Logitech wireless keyboard/mouse thing for remote loading up / logging in for my living room computer, and I swear if I move in the wrong direction it doesn't work right.
I think the main problem of bluetooth is the different versions of the protocol, maybe if it was the latest version of both the peripherals and the host, this could help to remedy problems like that.


Last edited by BielFPs on 17 May 2021 at 7:10 pm UTC
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