March 2, 2018 // 11:19 a.m.
Smach Z, the handheld gaming PC concept which was originally scheduled to launch in April 2017, has announced that it will be opening pre-orders for 10,000 on its official website - despite having yet failed to deliver anything to crowd-funding backers.
Launched in October 2016, the Smach Z Kickstarter campaign promised much: a portable PC designed to mimic a - bulky, admittedly - handheld console and capable of playing any AAA title natively and out-of-the-box. Backers were promised a device based on the quad-core AMD Merlin Falcon RX-421BD running at 2.1GHz with integrated Radeon R7 graphics, 4GB or 8GB or RAM, 64GB or 128GB of storage, an integrated 6" Full HD capacitive touch-screen, and a five-hour battery. Having raised £423,000 on Kickstarter, Smach Z headed to Indiegogo with the same promises and raised a further £500,000 - 190 percent of the funding it said it required to produce the device.
In typical crowdfunding fashion, though, the planned launch date of April 2017 came and went with no Smach Z devices being shipped. By July the company was publicly denying rumours that it was a scam, following the news that its original design manufacturer (ODM) partner - the company actually producing the hardware - had dropped the project.
Earlier this year Smach Z announced a revision to the design to use the new AMD Ryzen Embedded V1000 system-on-chip (SoC), and claimed to be working towards a May 2018 release. Now, the company has confirmed the finalised specifications: a Ryzen Embedded V1605B SoC with Radeon Vega 8 graphics, up to 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and the same 1080p touch-screen of the original design. With this, the company claims, the device can play popular games at acceptable frame rates: The Witcher 3 on medium settings at 720p achieves 40 frames per second (FPS), Alien: Isolation at 1080p on low settings manages 50 FPS, GTA 5 on normal settings at 720p does 60 FPS, Rocket League at 1080p and normal settings does 60 FPS, and Dark Souls 3 manages 40 FPS at 720p and low settings.
'The introduction of the Smach Z handheld console will create new opportunities for portable gaming devices, enabling users to play AAA titles at HD framerates, delivering desktop-quality power and graphics in the palm of players’ hands,' claims Daniel Fernandez, chief executive of Smach. 'By leveraging the new AMD Ryzen Embedded V1000 with superior graphics capabilities and mega processing power in our console, we are ready to revolutionize the on-the-go consumer gaming experience. The new AMD Ryzen Embedded V-Series is a market changer. Working together with AMD has been a great opportunity for us to make real the gamer’s dream of playing AAA PC games on the go.'
The company has announced it will be opening pre-orders for a 10,000-unit production run on March 15th, pricing the device at a 10 percent discount from its $699 (around £507 excluding taxes) retail price and shipping it prior to a commercial release. It has not, however, indicated how that production run will affect those who had already backed the project on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Indeed, it's still possible to back the project on Indiegogo at $490 (around £355 excluding taxes) with a promised May 2018 shipping date - less than the 'discounted' and yet-to-open pre-orders.
More information on the project is available on the official website.