After a successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaign, Smach, has put out a trailer detailing some of what you should be able to expect when you get your hands on their new handheld PC, the Smach Z and Smach Z Pro. Their pitch is simple: it’s a handheld gaming device with enough power to purportedly play AAA games in high-def.
To achieve top-notch operating and visual performance, the SMACH Z will launch with an AMD Ryzen™ Embedded V1000 processor and Radeon™ Vega 8 Graphics, running on Windows 10 or Linux.
The system sports two recessed touch pads on the outer edges of it that are meant to help playing PC games that may require a mouse, but it also has one analogue stick on the left-hand side, four face buttons on the right, and four shoulder buttons. It also comes equipped with *inhale*: wi-fi, bluetooth, USB C, USB A, Micro USB, display port, and a micro SD card slot. And if you would like to see those PC games on a bigger screen, you can push your Switch to the side and hook up the Smach Z with an HDMI out.
Being that is essentially a tiny PC, it can function as a desktop computer in many ways.
Like a desktop, SMACH Z can double as a multimedia center, capable of 4K video playback, or be used for browsing the internet, making Skype calls, or streaming videos.
The trailer they released for E3 shows the system smoothly handling modern-looking PC games, but, and here is the important bit, this is still in early prototyping. They are at E3 now, showing the device off to the press, but little information has made its way out of the show, and they are saying that they hope to take feedback from E3 to get a fully-functioning beta version playable at Gamescom in August.
Obviously, if they pull off what they are trying to achieve with this device it would be a stellar new addition to the gaming hardware space, but there are just too many questions left unanswered at this point to dive in and start pre-ordering. For instance, with a device this powerful, how long will the battery realistically last under pressure? And is this thing going to scorch your hand as you try to force a handheld to play Metro: Exodus?
Most importantly, though, how much am I going to have to spend for one of these devices, as prices on their website show it starting at €629 and going up to €989 (roughly $740 and $1160 respectively). With what they’re offering in the Smach Z, it may not necessarily be completely unreasonable, but as a replacement for something like the Switch it’s cost is through the roof, and if you were buying it as a PC, at that point you’d be spending enough to just warrant setting up a killer rig in your home.
Theoretically, it sells itself, but the practical reality is that this is going to have to be something truly extraordinary to justify its existence. I’m sure there’s a niche market that will eat this up if it works as well as they claim, but I have a hard time imagining the Smach Z taking off in a big enough way to keep the company solvent.
All that being said, they are still working on it, and will hopefully be at Gamescom with a more complete device, so I would love to be wrong and see something like the Smach Z do well. If I could take a device with me that has access to my entire Steam catalogue it would be a completely viable alternative for me. I just worry that the attraction of PC gaming on the go ignores the reality that playing anything bigger than Steam’s seemingly infinite list of small, indie games might be a chore without the comfort of an office chair and a mouse.
While we wait for more info later this year on the Smach Z, keep checking back to Gaming Trend throughout the week for all of the news you need out of E3 2018.