The ZX Spectrum Vega+ is a handheld game console based on the ZX Spectrum and designed by Rick Dickinson[3] as a follow-up to the ZX Spectrum Vega handheld TV game which was released in 2015. Only a small number of Vega+ machines were released, before Retro Computers (who manufactured the devices) was wound up.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+
Delivered design.
ManufacturerRetro Computers Ltd
Release dateJuly 2018 (2018-07)
LifespanJuly 2018-February 1, 2019
Units shippedAt least 400[1]
System on a chipFreescale MCIMX233DJM4C[2]
Memory16MB[2] (DDR SDRAM[2])
Storage64MB SPI Flash[2]
Removable storagemicroSD card[2]
Websiteindiegogo page

Design and specification Edit

The industrial design was produced by Rick Dickinson, the designer of the original ZX Spectrum.[4]

The Vega+ uses Fuse to emulate the ZX Spectrum hardware. It is supplied with 18 pre-loaded games. Games are stored on a removable microSD card.[5]

History Edit

Announcement and funding Edit

As with the original Vega, the development was funded through the crowdfunding website, and surpassed its target of £100,000 in the first two days of campaigning in March 2016.[6] The original intention was to supply the Vega+ with 1,000 games pre-loaded, as the Vega had been.[1]

Team split Edit

The original Vega was produced by Retro Computers, which consisted of managing director Paul Andrews, Chris Smith (author of "The ZX Spectrum ULA: How to design a microcomputer"), David Levy and Sinclair Research.[7] However, soon after funding was completed, both Andrews and Smith resigned from the company[8] due to "irreconcilable differences" and since then the project has been mired in controversy.[9][10]

Delays Edit

Despite claims from Retro Computers Ltd that product development was complete with a prototype ready for production in February 2016[11][12][13] and a statement from SMS Electronics Ltd, the UK based manufacturers, that production had started in April of that year,[14] no consoles had been released and the future of the project was uncertain.

In order to counter the growing concerns, Retro Computers released photos of a "life-size model" of the Vega+ on 25 August 2016[15][16] and confirmed that the console was still on target for release in September 2016. On 26 September, they announced that the product would be launched on 20 October 2016 and, according to campaign updates for backers on Indiegogo, production of the ZX Spectrum Vega+ had commenced although no shipment date was given.[17]

In a review of a "production model" published by The Inquirer on 4 November 2016, Retro Computers assured backers that they would receive their units in time for Christmas.[18] but three weeks later on 25 November, they announced that they had identified a problem with one of the buttons on their units during testing and that delivery to backers would be delayed.[19] In a follow-up article from The Inquirer, it was revealed that the "production model" previously reviewed was in fact from a limited run produced for testing purposes and that Retro Computers could no longer guarantee Christmas delivery.[20]

On 23 December 2016 Retro Computers Ltd announced that the problem button had been redesigned and that they would "ship the first units in February 2017".[21] However, on 25 February The Daily Telegraph reported that Indiegogo had closed the crowdfunding campaign due to the continued failure to deliver and quoted Suzanne Martin as claiming the delays were now due to unnamed "game developers pulling their support" and that they had "every intention of delivering".[22]

Suspension by Indiegogo Edit

In March 2017 Indiegogo halted the funding campaign amid concerns about the ongoing lack of a firm release date and failure to communicate with backers or the media. The BBC revealed that in December 2016, it had been threatened with legal action if it reported on the delays, with Retro Computers' lawyers demanding editorial control over any reports before publication.[23]

On 9 August 2017 Retro Computers announced shipment of Vega+ units to backers within the following 8 weeks.[24] On 8 November, the company once again blamed problems with buttons for delays, telling backers that it was this issue that had caused "so much trouble".[25] As of 9 November 2017, Retro Computers' website was offline, displaying a holding page.[26]

On 5 February 2018, in a series of updates on their Indiegogo campaign page[27] Retro Computers indicated they were "now looking at an estimated delivery date (for the start of shipping units to backers) of April 2018, hopefully sooner". On the same day, BBC News reported that Indiegogo had told them that they would be appointing a collections agency to recoup the money paid to Retro Computers if the console was not released by the end of May.[28] Retro Computers denied that it had been issued an ultimatum by Indiegogo and claimed the BBC report was "completely misleading".[29]

On 6 June 2018, Indiegogo themselves posted an update to the ZX Vega+ campaign page[30] stating that Retro Computers had failed to fulfill the three requirements that they had give the company, including providing them with a finished console, and they would be appointing a collections agency in an attempt to recoup funds for backers. Retro Computers' response, as reported by BBC News, was "We responded yesterday saying that we would sooner give a demonstration of a unit to their UK representative, and asking Indiegogo to request that he contact us to fix an appointment. Their reaction was this latest statement".[31]

Refund case Edit

In January 2018, a backer won a small claims court action against the company[32] with the judge ruling that there was "an implied contract of sale" between the backer and the company.

Dispute with shareholders Edit

On 27 April 2018, a statement was released by 75% of the shareholders of Retro Computers (Paul Andrews, Chris Smith and corporate director Sinclair Research Limited) which demanded a shareholders meeting with the aim of replacing the current directors of the company.[33] This was immediately followed by an update by the company on their Indiegogo page claiming that "initial shipments" of the "first batch of ZX Vega+s" would be made "between the 8th and 12th May 2018".[34] On 17 May 2018, the company claimed on their Facebook page[35] that they had been unable to ship the consoles because one of their partners had requested confirmation that they held the rights for the 1000 games due to be included on the Vega+ console.

Licensing issues Edit

On 1 August 2018, BBC reported that Sky, who holds the rights to the Sinclair and ZX Spectrum brands, informed Retro Computers that the licence to use these brand names would be revoked on 7 August.[36][37]

First units delivered Edit

On 30 July 2018, Eurogamer reported that one backer had received a ZX Vega+ console, quoting them as being "quite disappointed" that "the few supplied sample games don't work" and that the "build quality's not the greatest". This followed Retro Computers' announcement that they would ship 400 "blankety blank" consoles without the promised 1000 games as the company no longer had licensing agreements for them.[1]

Reviewing the Vega+, The Register criticised numerous aspects and features of the machine, including its design and build quality and summed up by saying that the "entire feel is plasticky and inconsequential".[38]

Winding up Edit

On 5 February 2019, The Register reported that Retro Computers had been wound up on 1 February 2019[39] following a petition presented by Private Planet Ltd.[40] The sole director of Private Planet, Janko Mrsic-Flogel, was a director of Retro Computers from April 2016 to August 2018[41] and also used the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform to raise over US$2.5 million[42] to produce the Gemini (PDA) for Planet Computers Ltd.

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c Wales, Matt (30 July 2018). "Backers have finally started to receive the beleaguered ZX Spectrum Vega Plus". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Retro Computers Limited releases a whole heap of ZX Vega+ technical specs". Flickering Myth. 15 September 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  3. ^ Brown, Eileen. "Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ console with 1000 retro games smashes crowdfunding target". ZDNet. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Dickinson Associates :: THE PRODUCT DESIGNERS". Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  5. ^ "ZX Spectrum Vega+ blows a FUSE: It runs open-source emulator". The Register.
  6. ^ Merriman, Chris. "ZX Spectrum Vega+ raises three times its Indiegogo target in three weeks". The Inquirer. Incisive Business Media Limited. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. ^ McFerran, Damien (25 May 2015). "ZX Spectrum Vega - The Story Behind The Speccy's Second Coming". Trusted Reviews. Time Inc Ltd. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  8. ^ Villordsutch. "All change for the ZX Spectrum Vega+ management due to a surprise double resignation". Flickering Myth. Flickering Myth Ltd. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  9. ^ Villordsutch. "A war of words breaks out over the ZX Spectrum Vega+". Flickering Myth. Flickering Myth Ltd. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  10. ^ Williams, Rhiannon (9 August 2016). "Retro computer project directors row". BBC News. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  11. ^ "The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega Plus Console - Story". Indiegogo. 18 February 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  12. ^ "The Sinclair Spectrum Vega+ - Details emerge today". Juicy Game Reviews. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  13. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley. "Now there's a Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega handheld". Gamer Network. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  14. ^ "Four Weeks after Mammoth Crowdfunding Campaign Sir Clive Sinclair's Second Crowdfunded Project The Vega+ Pushes the Button on UK Production". SMS Electronics Ltd. Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  15. ^ "The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega Plus Console - Updates : Rick Dickinson Designed Vega+ Model Images Revealed For The First Time". Indiegogo Inc. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  16. ^ Villordsutch. "Retro Computers releases images of the ZX Vega+ model". Flickering Myth. Flickering Myth Ltd. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  17. ^ "Only Six Months After record-breaking crowd-funding campaign Sir Clive Sinclair backed ZX Vega+ announces Launch Date". Archived from the original on 22 October 2016.
  18. ^ Merriman, Chris. "ZX Spectrum Vega+ hands-on review". The Inquirer. Incisive business Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  19. ^ Fogarty, Lee. "Update 25/11/2016". Retro Computers Ltd. Retro Computers Ltd. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  20. ^ Merriman, Chris. "ZX Spectrum Vega+ production is delayed but RCL 'hopes' for pre-Christmas rollout". The Inquirer. Incisive Business Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 20 December 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  21. ^ Fogarty, Lee. "New Improved VEGA+ Scheduled to Ship in February, 2017". Retro Computers Ltd. Retro Computers Ltd. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  22. ^ Titcomb, James (25 February 2017). "Plan to revive Sinclair ZX Spectrum hit by legal turmoil". The Telegraph. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  23. ^ "Sinclair ZX Vega+ funding campaign halted by Indiegogo". BBC News. 9 March 2017.
  24. ^ "Update 9/8/17". Retro Computers Ltd. 9 August 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  25. ^ "Update 69, Official ZX Vega+ Indiegogo Page". Indiegogo Official ZXVega+ Campaign Page. 8 November 2017.
  26. ^ "Retro Computers Limited Official Website". 9 November 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  27. ^ "We're Still Here - Part One". Indiegogo. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  28. ^ Kelion, Leo (5 February 2018). "New Spectrum Vega+ promises follow funds threat". BBC News. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  29. ^ Corfield, Gareth. "Indiegogo to ailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm: End of May... or we call the debt collector". The Register. Situation Publishing. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  30. ^ "Update from Indiegogo Trust & Safety". Indiegogo Inc. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  31. ^ Kelion, Leo (6 June 2018). "ZX Vega+: Indiegogo calls game over on Sinclair console". BBC News. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  32. ^ Corfield, Gareth. "Crowdfunding small print binned as Retro Computers Ltd loses court refund action". The Register. Situation Publishing. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  33. ^ Corfield, Gareth. "ZX Spectrum reboot firm's shareholders demand current directors go". The Register. Situation Publishing. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  34. ^ Retro Computers. "FINALLY..." Indiegogo. Indiegogo Inc. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  35. ^ Corfield, Gareth. "What's up with that ZX Spectrum reboot? Still no console". The Register. Situation Publishing. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  36. ^ Kelion, Leo (August 2018). "Vega+ to be stripped of Sinclair and ZX Spectrum brands". BBC News. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  37. ^ Wales, Matt (2 August 2018). "Maker of the troubled Vega Plus told it can no longer use Sinclair and ZX Spectrum trademarks". Eurogamer.
  38. ^ Corfield, Gareth. "ZX Spectrum Vega+ blows a FUSE: It runs open-source emulator".
  39. ^ Corfield, Gareth. "Is this a wind-up?". The Register. Situation Publishing. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  40. ^ "Petitions To Wind Up (Companies): Retro Computers Ltd". The Gazette. The Stationery Office. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  41. ^ "Retro Computers Limited: People". Companies House. UK Government. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  42. ^ "Gemini PDA Android & Linux keyboard mobile device". Indiegogo. Indiegogo Inc. Retrieved 5 February 2019.