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Remember the SMACH Z handheld? It's apparently going to be at E3 this year

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SMACH Z [Official Site], the gaming handheld that will give you the option of running either Linux or Windows (Windows costs extra) is heading to E3 this year. Hopefully they will have a few fully-working and complete units to show.

Details right now are quite light, as they haven't sent any special press info out that I am aware of. Their own newsroom on their website hasn't been updated since September last year and their Twitter is also rather quiet. However, they did slip out this video below today:

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I genuinely hope this is a properly real device that's actually going to work out, as it could help push a few more to make comparable devices. Imagine a small revolution of gaming handhelds that let you just boot up whatever you have on Steam—that idea is why I want SMACH Z to actually succeed.

Quite expensive though, the top-end model costs more (without the current pre-order discount) than the full Valve Index kit and I know which one I would prefer…

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43 comments
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Mountain Man 5 June 2019 at 3:19 pm UTC
The Nintendo Switch has pretty thoroughly scratched my itch for a device like this, but I'm still keeping my eye on this thing.
Klaus 5 June 2019 at 3:21 pm UTC
Eike
Arehandoro
BeamboomThe market for small dedicated handheld gaming devices. That market died right after the PSP.
20 million of Nintendo Switch owners don't agree with that statement.
Well, there are some people not using Switch outside their homes...
Handhelds are not exclusively about "on the go" use though. Using the detached Switch in bed or on a sofa, while the big screen is used for TV by someone else, ... The handheld form factor, combined with support for main-stream "stationary" games, opens up interesting possibilties also within a home. The same (albeit without explicit developer support for the form factor and with a higher price point) applies for this devicce I guess.


Last edited by Klaus on 5 June 2019 at 3:22 pm UTC
TheSHEEEP 5 June 2019 at 3:25 pm UTC
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ArehandoroIdea: For a long time PC users have wanted to play like console users.
In which universe, please? And what is "like console users" ?

People who want to play on a console, they have a console.
People who want to plan on a PC, they have a PC.
People who want both, well, those with money have both, and the others are obviously not the target audience ;)
Mountain Man 5 June 2019 at 3:50 pm UTC
ageresBut do games run well on Switch? I've seen on Youtube how games look and perform there, and it's horrible. Ugly graphics, low resolution and bad framerate for your 60€. MK11 looks worse than the mobile version of MK.
Most games run very well on the Switch and look great whether you're playing handheld or docked to your large screen television. Bad ports tend to the be exception rather than rule.
Shmerl 5 June 2019 at 4:12 pm UTC
Mountain ManThe Nintendo Switch has pretty thoroughly scratched my itch for a device like this, but I'm still keeping my eye on this thing.

Too much DRM, no Linux, and Nintendo of all things. Not my kind of itch Smach Z is interesting, but expensive. Though such price is probably reasonable, those components aren't cheap. Nintendo's SoC from Nvidia is way underpowered in comparison.


Last edited by Shmerl on 5 June 2019 at 4:13 pm UTC
Klaus 5 June 2019 at 4:26 pm UTC
ShmerlNintendo's SoC from Nvidia is way underpowered in comparison.
The nominal power may be lower, but don't forget to account for device-specific optimization and specialized OS, that increase the actual performance. PC-versions in particular, sadly often target top-end machines first. I've felt the pain sufficiently, when playing Nier Automata on a then 3-year old Thinkpad Edge – After installing the fan-made "FAR" patch, I was able to play it at "impressive" 640x400, with almost stable 25 fps... (Note: The low resolution actually looked pretty good, almost like intentional pixel-art. The only real improvement on newer hardware was gained by having fluent 60fps choreography.)

If at the time the Switch had been available, but somewhat aged, the developer would likely have tried to produce a separate, more optimized version. No such support will be given to niche devices. Not even "laptop gamers" that can't just slot in a new graphics card are really being accounted for, and that should be a reasonably big market by comparison.
Shmerl 5 June 2019 at 4:40 pm UTC
Klausbut don't forget to account for device-specific optimization and specialized OS, that increase the actual performance.

Most of the time there is no point. Trying to beat optimized compiler for the GPU and CPU is hard, and would increase the cost of such development exponentially. I.e. normally, your CPU and GPU targeted compilers should take care of that.

Plugging into lower level (like using assembly directly) can be reasonable for complex cases, like for example video encoders and decoders. Assembly is used there to benefit from hardware specific features that general purpose compilers don't address. But such development is costly as above. That's why it's better not to use underpowered hardware for games to begin with.

Reasonable CPU and GPU will handle general purpose compiler generated code fine, including in handhelds.


Last edited by Shmerl on 5 June 2019 at 4:46 pm UTC
Arehandoro 5 June 2019 at 6:15 pm UTC
TheSHEEEP
ArehandoroIdea: For a long time PC users have wanted to play like console users.
In which universe, please? And what is "like console users" ?

People who want to play on a console, they have a console.
People who want to plan on a PC, they have a PC.
People who want both, well, those with money have both, and the others are obviously not the target audience ;)

In my universe. I, and most of my friends, always wanted to play our PC games on the go. Or in the bed like some people have mentioned already.
Arehandoro 5 June 2019 at 6:18 pm UTC
monnefInteresting device, for my taste way too pricey. For a while I was thinking about GDWin (or how it was called), but IIRC it didn't have official Linux support, so I stopped following it. I am saving for Index currently and since I don't go out much, Index will have much better value for me.

Arehandoro...Switch, which partly is also being fund with software sales
I don't believe this is true:

QuoteNintendo CEO says company won't make loss by selling it; but also listening to what consumers expect from us when setting price.
source: http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2016/10/nintendo_switch_wont_be_sold_at_a_loss_two_million_units_to_ship_in_time_for_march

I am also pretty sure they said that even with some planned discount (Christmas?) they still won't be losing money on the device.

Apologies, that was some poor wording on my side. What I meant is not that they are selling the console on a loss, but that their main revenue are the games. Something that the Smach Z can't do.
Ardje 5 June 2019 at 11:50 pm UTC
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For a PC I think the price is what it is: you buy a PC. The price is on par with the GPD WIN2 (or it was for me), but with a better controller,a better GPU, a better CPU, a better heatsink, and hopefully better batteries than anything from GPD.
The PC is primarily made in Europe. I assume the PCB's and shells are printed/molded in China, and that assembly, and pick and place and soldering is done in Spain.
The cpu speed of the Smach Z is probably comparable to my Galaxy Note 9, except that my Galaxy Note 9 doesn't want to run intel architecture, nor does it have any decent linux environment, even in dextop linux.
The GPU is probably way better than an ARM mali, especially since the drivers are open source.
Being open source also means in software it lasts for the next 10 years.
So yeah, I got a good feeling about my Smach Z. In the mean time I am waiting for months to get replacement batteries for my WIN2, and waiting for the cooling mod upgrade kit, that should not have been necessary in the first place.
Let's hope the Smach Z doesn't need new batteries in less than 6 months and when it does, let's hope we can replace them with soldering some 18650's. And let's also hope the heatsink doesn't need a mod.
And yes, the platform cannot be truly open, because that's never the case with intel architecture.
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