This year’s Tokyo Games Show was full of surprises. First, I did not expect to see the Smach Z there! At least 3 of their representatives were there, from technical side to marketing/financial side, and they were showing a prototype at their booth. Unfortunately, it was not functional.
Oscar de la Torre from Smach Z told me that they have recently had issues with the connection between the PCB and the screen (they needed another chip in between apparently) and they had to wait another 2 weeks before they could get a new PCB to fix the issue. So they could not have a working prototype in time for the TGS.
While it is a shame, they said they will targeting first production runs at the end of this year, or early 2019 (first quarter). While you could not play with the Smach Z, it was possible to hold it: it’s quite large, definitely bulkier than a Switch, and heavier too. But not too the point where it would become too uncomfortable. The haptic feedback pads on each side are very similar to what you have on the Steam Controller, albeit a little smaller in diameter.
As for the launch plans, they plan to have 2 versions, one with Windows, and one with Linux – the Linux distribution will not be SteamOS anymore – instead they will have a build based on Arch Linux. I also inquired whether or not they would be using a mainline kernel, and apparently not – some hardware drivers will require additional patches that are not upstreamed at this point. They hope to manufacture and sell about 10 000 units in 2019. This sounds small, but it’s probably realistic, especially in a market where there are already alternatives like the GPD Win 2.
Anyway, while I am still cautious about the state of this project, meeting the guys behind the project in person gave some reassurance that this is probably not a scam but a genuine project that should hit the market soon-ish. Let’s look for more tangibles demos in the next few months as they finalize the prototype.
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