Spectrum Vega+ hands on – video and mini review

Will plays with a Vega+

This report was written by Will Woodvine, photography and video by Ant Harper.

Disclosure: I backed the Vega+ Indiegogo campaign but requested and received a refund over the Christmas period. I asked for a refund due to what I perceive to be the appalling lack of information provided to backers.

The opinion below is my own and is not influenced by inducement or coercion by any parties.

It is written as a fan of the ZX Spectrum.

I attended the Dizzy event with no knowledge that the Spectrum Vega+ would be present, so was unprepared.

Like any true retro-gaming fan I spent Saturday 8th April, the sunniest and warmest day of the year so far, in a darkened room with no windows looking at computer games. The event was the Dizzy 30th anniversary in Nottingham. This took the form of a presentation by the Oliver Twins which covered their early years, mentioned the ZX81 (huzzah!) and gave me a greater insight in to the Dizzy world.

At the start of the presentation a gentleman (who I think was Lee Fogarty) came down to the front and handed one of the Twins a white box. Inside was a Vega+. This was shown to the crowd, causing a slight stirring, and then placed on the podium. At the end presentation the Vega+ was left unattended so I took the opportunity to grab it and have a close look. At no time was there any interference from anyone or any attempt made to stop me from using it or Ant Harper, Simon Williams or Simon Osborne from using, photographing or videoing the device.

I believe the device to be the pre-production device that has been seen previously.

The hardware

The device feels good in the hands, fitting well – I have medium sized hands. I gave the unit a torsional twist and the unit did not flex, which reinforced the positive feel of the device. The screen is bright and clear, easily read by someone who normally needs glasses to read and wasn’t wearing them. The buttons were an issue being unresponsive – you have to press them precisely for them to react. This maybe the “switch re-design” referred to by RCL. Simon Osborne has reported that he used a corrected production unit and the buttons were much more responsive. The spectrum flash is a sticker (peeling now) and the Sinclair logo feels raised on the clear plastic covering the screen and lower-middle section. My personal opinion is that these would look better and be harder wearing if they were under the clear plastic. The video showing me using the Vega+ does show me pressing keys with no response – this is down to the unresponsiveness issue mentioned above and also not knowing what key does what during game selection, start and play.

Using the Vega+

The Vega+ was turned on when I picked it up. By accessing the menu, it can be switched off. Doing so caused slight concern as I could not figure how to turn it on (no user manual was present) – I also feared being cited by RCL as cause for further delays by breaking the working pre-prod unit. The unit turned on by pressing a key on the front (possibly two) which caused the boot sequence seen in the video. This was repeated several times through use of the reset key (top left of the unit). Several games were tried – Alien Destroyer, Hall of the Things, Jetpac and The Boggit. All loaded fine and played except The Boggit – is seemed stuck in a tape loading loop. There appeared to be many no-name games on there, plenty known and some randoms such as a Driving Test thing? It does feel very similar to fuse, as you would expect, albeit with custom menus suited to the Vega+

Opinion – I was impressed, although it was obviously a pre-production unit. For me, the buttons need sorting and to make it a truly superb product, the Sinclair logo and Spectrum flash need to be rethought to be robust.

I’ve no idea why/who/when the Vega+ is released, I’m just a bloke who was in the right place at the right time.

Please note: It has come to our attention that the games list you see in this video is not the actual games list that will be available on the Vega+ if and when it ships.

 

Author: Ant Harper

Father, Husband, website developer, avid gamer since the mid-70s and collector of just about anything video game related. 8-Bit microcomputer and Sinclair specialist with a huge Sinclair related collection of his own. Blogs about retro gaming here but occasionally elsewhere when people ask. Bored of Mario and never much liked Zelda. Performs quirkafleegs for cold hard cash. Often found destroying ice crowns in the Lands of Midnight. Remembers: Lunar Lander. Plays: Steel Battalion, Gears of War

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