Why it matters: Back in October 2016, SMACH Team launched its Kickstarter campaign to develop the SMACH Z. It promised a full-on PC gaming experience in a portable device about the size of the Nintendo Switch. AMD will be showcasing the handheld at its Tokyo Game Show booth in just a few days.
The SMACH Z project raised almost double its goal of €250,000 on Kickstarter. Nearly 1,300 backers pledged €474,530 to the development of a high-powered handheld gaming system. The device was initially slated to ship to backers in April 2017, with a full market launch coming between December 2017 and Q1 2018. However, issues with its manufacturer disrupted production plans and pushed the project back significantly.
SMACH Team gave backers and the public an update at E3 2018 saying that in a way the delay was a blessing in disguise for backers (video below). While the team was looking for a new manufacturer, the Ryzen V1000 chips launched. So the developers decided to go with the more powerful SoCs. This means backers are getting much more bang for their buck.
The SMACH Z is powered by the Ryzen Embedded V1605B SoC with AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics. The device is equipped with WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/d/e/h/i and Bluetooth v2. It can run for 5 hours on battery power and can be fully charged in 45 minutes.
The SMACH Z, as you would expect, is going to be quite pricey on release. The base unit will retail for €699 ($816 US) and has 4GB RAM, and 64BG storage . The Pro version of the console has 8GB RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a 5MP camera for €899 ($1050 US). The top tier called the “SMACH Z Ultra” has the same camera as the Pro, but double the RAM and storage retailing at €1099 ($1284 US). Storage on all units is expandable with an SD card. I imagine early adopters will mostly consist of hardcore enthusiasts.
The asking price may seem steep when compared to something like the Switch, but it is way more powerful and can even double as a computer if you hook up a mouse, keyboard, and monitor to it. It runs Windows 10 or Linux based SMACH Z OS. It has a six-inch 1080p touchscreen and is capable of 4K (on some games) with an external monitor. If it catches on enough it warrant more massive manufacturing, we could see the price fall significantly.
Best of all it will launch with over 20,000 compatible games, many of which you might already own. The SMACH Z will be able to install anything from your existing online game libraries. The device supports Steam, GOG, Origin, Itchio, Battle.net, and UPlay. Additionally, it can stream games from PlayStation Now or any other PC-compatible service.
The SMACH Z is set to launch on December 1, 2018. Pre-orders are available on its website, which is currently offering a 10-percent discount for early orders. The price cut is only available for the first 10,000 units ordered.