I’m holding a Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega, the crowdfunded plug-and-play gaming device produced with the involvement of Sir Clive Sinclair himself. Even the box, with its black cardboard sleeve and rainbow corner flash, has been designed to mimic that of the original 48k home computer. I can feel the nostalgia juices rising, but also a wave of scepticism. Is this a genuine new Sinclair product, or a cleverly packaged emulator, ruthlessly designed to tweak my middle-aged yearning?
As an actual piece of hardware, the Vega does not impress. It’s light and feels cheap. The input buttons are stiff, and the odd button placement does it no favours in games that require more than just moving, jumping and shooting. More troubling is how many corners have clearly been cut. Two long and rather ugly wires trail from the Vega. One is a standard AV input which plugs directly into the basic Video In and left/right audio sockets on your TV. There’s no HDMI, and if you even want to run it through SCART, you’ll need to supply your own connector.
This is also true of the power, since your only option out of the box is a USB cable. The idea is that this plugs into the USB socket on your TV – assuming your TV has one – or else you’ll need to borrow a phone charger or find some other USB port to draw power from. The absence of even a simple plug really makes this feel like a bargain basement offering. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the Vega retailed for around thirty quid, like other plug-and-play TV game devices, but when the asking price is £100 requiring the customer to dig around for spare parts is very cheeky.
Who would have thought that a Sinclair-approved product would feel like cheap junk? Still, I’d like to play Elite on an original ZX Spectrum at some point and I suspect that it’ll cost much less than the £100 (157.68 USD) asking price for the Vega to acquire one.