Analogue’s track record of releasing high-end old-school consoles is second to none, and in 2020, the company will expand its business into the portable space. The Analogue Pocket is a handheld system that is designed for playing original Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games out of the box, as well as Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color, Atari Lynx, and more unannounced game libraries with the use of cartridge adapters in the future. It’s a $200 device (before tax, shipping, and handling), and as far as Analogue is concerned, the Pocket packs one of the best-looking screens around.
The Pocket’s 3.5-inch LTPS LCD screen is the most expensive component in the device “by a long shot” according to Analogue head, Christopher Taber. Claims of “pro level color accuracy, dynamic range, and brightness” tell some of the story, but more critical is the fact that the screen delivers 615 ppi at 1600×1440. This means the Pocket’s screen will allow for exact 10x scaling of Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Gear games’ native 160×144 resolution, and allow for plenty of wiggle room when scaling games at other resolutions. “Pocket beautifully displays non-integer scaling due to the displays high 615 ppi and our control over the display directly,” said Taber. “This feature allows for every system’s unique resolution to populate the screen without compromising visual quality and maintaining sharp pixels. In other words, at non integer scaling Pocket will not see the notorious issues you’ll see on most other displays when scaling at non-integers.”
The other big hardware-related Pocket detail is the inclusion of two FPGAs–the chips that serve as the basis for Analogue’s authentic hardware simulations. The handheld includes both Intel Cyclone V and Cyclone 10 FPGAs (Taber and Analogue aren’t saying which versions quite yet), and Analogue states that the additional FPGA is there strictly for third-party support. Taber told GameSpot that Analogue is working with other developers behind the scenes to support their Pocket-related creations, and press materials also directly mention the Mister platform as an example of what customers can expect when envisioning the benefits of this extra hardware. Mister is an FPGA-centric project that’s rallied a community of developers to recreate vintage gaming hardware on an-off-the shelf system designed for makers and educators, and it saw a flood of new releases in 2018 and 2019.
Analogue is going out of its way to make the Pocket a versatile device, and that extends outside of gaming and into the world of music creation–a realm that also goes hand in hand with vintage Game Boys. Having partnered with Nanoloop and Oliver Wittchow, Analogue will effectively deliver a robust sequencer and synthesizer in each Pocket, to be based on Nanoloop 2 but with a modified Pocket-friendly user interface.
Also in 2020 but for an undisclosed price, Analogue plans to release a dock for the Pocket designed to display portable games on your TV, either natively over HDMI or on a CRT via Analogue’s $80 DAC. The dock will support both wired and bluetooth controllers.
Analogue still has a lot to divulge regarding the Pocket, but early details paint a promising picture of what’s to come. For a look at the company’s most recent products, check out our reviews of the Super Nt and Mega Sg, two consoles that impressed us with their attention to detail, inside and out.
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