To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

ZX Spectrum revived as a £100 games console

The Sinclair Spectrum Vega squeezes 1,000 classic games into a handheld unit

Fans of low-rent graphics and plinky-plonky sound effects are in luck: the ZX Spectrum is being revived as a crowd-funded games console. The Sinclair Spectrum Vega, which is being backed by Sir Clive Sinclair himself, is effectively a ZX Spectrum emulator squeezed inside a deliciously retro games controller. The controller is modelled on the original case design, right down to the legendary rubber keys, although there are only five on the revamped Vega.

The hardware plugs straight into the television and is pre-loaded with 1,000 of the old Spectrum titles, although the makers don’t reveal exactly which of the classics will be installed on the Vega. The company promises to release more titles in time, although users can add their own games via the console’s SD card slot.

The company hasn’t revealed the precise specification of the device, other than to say it’s comprised of just three chips: an ARM-based processor, some RAM and flash memory on which the games are stored. it’s safe to say it will be higher spec hardware than the original, which ran on a 3.5MHz processor, 16KB of ROM and as little as 16KB of RAM. It was capable of outputting just 15 different colours (two shades of seven colours and black) at a resolution of 256 × 192. Indeed, the new hardware has an enhanced colour palette, allowing games to use colours such as orange for the first time! 

The device is being made by the appropriately named Retro Computers Ltd, of which Sir Clive is a shareholder. Unlike many of the knock-off emulators that have appeared on the market over the years, the Vega is properly licensed from Sky In-Home Service Ltd, who acquired the intellectual property rights from Sir Alan Sugar’s Amstrad. The software royalties are being paid to the Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Retro Computers claim they’ve got a fully working prototype of the device, but now need the Indiegogo crowdfunding to get the device into manufacturing. They are seeking £100,000 worth of funding, and they’re already £3,000 of the way there at the time of writing, just a day after launching their crowdfunding bid. 

There are various rewards for potential backers, the most enticing of which is the console itself, which costs £100. The company will only sell 1,000 of these limited edition units in the first instance, although there are plans for a full commercial launch if the crowdfunding target is reached. Other rewards include pieces of concept art signed by Sir Clive (£350) and the only 3D model of the Vega prototype (£1,000). 

The team aims to have the first batch of Vegas out to customers by April 2015. You can get your name on the waiting list at the Indiegogo website


Read more