The ZX Spectrum Vega Plus console (pic Retro Computers Ltd)

Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ gets keyboard facility

The Vega Plus edge-on (pic Retro Computers Ltd)
The Vega Plus edge-on (pic Retro Computers Ltd)

More detailed anticipated specifications for the new Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ games console were revealed today, and top of the list for many potential buyers was the revelation that a real, and not just virtual, keyboard facility will now be provided in the production model, which will no doubt have Speccy-loving adventure gamers and programmers alike rolling about in a state of ecstasy.

The 48k and 128k Spectrum-compatible Vega+ will also offer access to programming mode (BASIC), and extended “ULAplus” colour palette support, in addition to the classic ZX Spectrum colour palette. All this offers a tantalising glimpse of a potentially much-anticipated ‘return of the Speccy’ scenario, albeit in a radically different form-factor and with different circuitry to the classic rubber-buttoned favourite of 1980’s bedroom coders and playground warriors…

Wired or wireless?

This doesn’t mean, of course, that such a keyboard will be built-in, but that an external connection will be made available for an accessory keyboard, something which many in the retro community bemoaned the lack of in the original Vega. It is not yet confirmed whether the keyboard connection will be wired or wireless, although the concept design by original Sinclair designer Rick Dickinson does show a USB port marked Ext on the rear edge of the Vega+ (see picture above), and it is known that the circuitry for USB was included on the original Vega main board.

The company behind the British-made Vega range of Spectrum-compatible consoles, Retro Computers Limited, have published the specification on their Indiegogo page and on Facebook, and we reproduce this in full below.

Concept design by Rick Dickinson (pic Retro Computers Ltd)
Concept design by Rick Dickinson (pic Retro Computers Ltd)
Speedy success

These latest specs follow the news that, after fully crowd-funding the project in just 3 days (the initial target being £100,000), Retro Computers Limited then went on to break the quarter of a million pounds barrier on Monday this week, and funds raised currently stand at £272,338 with more than 2,500 backers.

Console-mio

The Vega+ console, like its predecessor the Vega, is a hand-held games machine compatible with the original Sinclair ZX Spectrum range and includes 1,000 Spectrum games built-in. The latest form factor includes a rechargeable battery and an LCD screen but retains the option to output composite video and stereo sound to TV or monitor.

Its launch was revealed in our news item of 15 February 2016, and was followed by our in-depth review of the original Vega console, which was launched last year after Luton-based start-up Retro Computers Limited joined forces with Sir Clive Sinclair in 2014 to license back the rights to the Sinclair computer name and other intellectual property from current rights holders Sky In-Home Service Limited.

For more about the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+, check out the latest specs below, then go to the Indiegogo page.

Latest Vega+ anticipated specifications

The specifications published today are as follows:

Controls

  • Classic gaming D-Pad, offering up, down, left right and diagonals.
  • Four primary action buttons and three secondary buttons.
  • System menu and control-set toggle button.
  • Volume up/down / Brightness up/down.

Screen

  • Sharp LCD 4:3 aspect ratio with approximately 0.2565 mm dot pitch. Accurately reproduces the ZX Spectrum 256×192 resolution with minimal screen border.
  • LCD Screen brightness adjustable. Suitable for all light levels, and to extend battery life.
  • Extended “ULAplus” colour palette support, in addition to the classic ZX Spectrum colour palette.

Battery

  • Specification yet to be finalised, due to the variations of physical size and capacity available, however battery life is expected to be in excess of 6 hrs of continuous use.
  • Charging is achieved through a micro-USB socket.

Storage

  • SDSC and SDHC micro SD cards are supported.
  • Additional games may be loaded from micro SD card – popular snapshot and tape file formats supported.
  • SD card also allows preferences and game-saves to be stored for later resumption.
  • Firmware upgradeable through SD card.

Operational features

  • Unobtrusive pop-up control panel during game play through which to access all Vega features.
  • Novel and easy-to-use virtual keyboard.
  • Save and resume game (stored on SD card).
  • Games may be tagged as favourites and recalled through a favourites menu.
  • Player controls completely reconfigurable.
  • Game pokes can be stored on SD card.
  • Switchable Kempston and Cursor joystick emulation.
  • Default Machine selection (48K and 128K models).
  • Access to programming mode (BASIC).

Peripherals

  • 3.5mm stereo headphone socket for private listening.
  • Supports connection of external keyboard (specification to follow).
  • Headphone socket doubles as an A/V connection, allowing stereo audio and composite video connection to a TV. Supports PAL and NTSC formats.
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