ZX Spectrum Vega (£100 + P&P)

What’s the story?

The Vega is the brainchild of Luton-based Retro Computers Ltd, a start-up in which Sinclair Research Ltd is a shareholder. Although Sir Clive was reportedly not overly thrilled during the 1980s in the Speccy mostly being used for games, that’s all the Vega’s designed for. There are nods to the original hardware, but this is essentially a plug-and-play TV system.

The initial run was funded by an Indiegogo campaign. There was controversy in Spectrum developers being asked to ‘donate’ games to the cause in return for Retro Computers Ltd making a charitable donation to Great Ormand Street Hospital for Children, but the team nonetheless had little problem in raising over £150,000.

How does it work?

Long wires trail from the unit and cannot be detached. The composite and audio ones go into the relevant ports on your telly, and the USB one must find its way to a power supply — there’s not one in the box.

Once the Vega’s fired up, you select games using a smart on-screen menu. Controls have been mapped to the Vega’s buttons, although because Spectrum games were typically controlled using its keyboard rather than joysticks or gamepads, some mappings are awkward. For text adventures, there’s a virtual on-screen keyboard, which is cleverly designed (you drill down into ‘groups’ of characters), but ultimately tedious to use.

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