ZX Vega+: Some backers have received units, but they are not impressed
A development both unexpected and perhaps, expected.
A month or so back, I wrote an article about what was, at the time, known as the Sinclair ZX Vega+ -- I hoped to inform the people here at Retronauts, who might not be too aware of the story, about this crisis that has somewhat infected the ZX Spectrum community. Things have hardly gotten better for the beleaguered handheld since then, with latest developments such as Sky, the broadcasting company who own the rights to the Spectrum through their purchase of Amstrad, denying Retro Computers Ltd permission to use the Sinclair name on the product -- as ever, ZXVega.co.uk is a good source for the daily happenings as pertains to the machine. However, there has been a development: In the past few days a few backers have finally received their Vega+...however, reviews have not exactly been positive.
In this video, backer Craig Wootton gives us a look at the machine he received, saying that the Vega+ came in a blank box with little packaging (RCL director Suzanne Martin has stated that the reason for this is to "go green" and save on plastic consumption). He states in the video that the build quality of the handheld is not particularly great, and that he has been unable to figure out how to load games onto the system via a microSD Card. The system itself is the "Blankety Blank" edition of the Vega+ which comes pre-loaded with around 30 homebrew Speccy games -- however, when Craig plays an example it appears as though the Vega+ controls have not been mapped to the controls of the game itself.
Other reviews that have been posted on the Vega+'s Indiegogo page are also less than positive -- some complaints appepar frequently, ranging from issues with the buttons in that they are difficult to use and require unnecessarily high level of force in order to push down and use, a screen that flickers if the brightness is set below 7, frequent crashes and very low build quality -- some have complained of scratched screens, the lack of spring in the microSD card, and the handheld generally being uncomfortable to hold and use. Sadly, it appears that the machine is a far cry from what was presented in prototype images 2 and a half years ago.
Is it likely that the actual release of the machine will bring an end to this saga? Probably not - there are still a lot of other backers who are yet to receive a machine, and it seems as though the group of people who are already demanding a refund may well be joined by those who are unsatisfied with the product that they have received. RCL have continued to be bullish about the progress of the Vega+ in statements, and the arrival of units to backers could potentially drag this out even further, emboldening them with regards to their interactions not just with customers, but with Indiegogo themselves. For now, the story of this handheld appears far from over.