Analogue Pocket preorders are going live on August 3. But that gives us some time to get answers to some pressing questions. For example, can you put the Pocket into sleep mode, and will developers’ work on FPGA cores outlive the Pocket? I asked Analogue CEO Christopher Taber those and more.
Here’s my question-and-answer session with Taber. Let me know if I missed anything.
On the Analogue Pocket’s usability
GamesBeat: Does Analogue Pocket have a sleep/standby feature, and if so, how does it work?
Christopher Taber: Yes. On a technical level, sleep mode turns the screen off and freezes data in RAM, effectively suspending your gameplay state. This all happens with the press of a button. Press again and it wakes right where you left off. Easy with a computer but difficult with pure FPGA.
GamesBeat: Previous Analogue retro consoles like the Super NT had excellent interpolation for non-integer scaling. This enabled fans to upscale a game by 4.5x without the shimmering you get with certain games. Will Analogue Pocket have something similar?
Taber: Yes. Pocket will have all the same capabilities of previous Analogue products plus much more. With an incredible 1600-by-1440, 615ppi display totally under our control we can do some profound things like Original Display Modes, which will transform Pocket’s display into a stunning re-creation of the displays that were in the original handhelds decades ago. Really makes it feel like an original. Of course you don’t have to use these modes — razor-sharp pixels will always be the default; like all Analogue products.
GamesBeat: What does the super-high resolution mean for scaling something like the Neo Geo Pocket Color’s 160-by-152 ratio?
Taber: It means we can scale it beautifully and accurately — also there will be a NGP/NGPC Original Display Mode.
GamesBeat: What controllers work with the 2.4GHz wireless connectivity in the dock?
Taber: At launch all 8BitDo controllers. We’ll introduce further compatibility depending on user interest.
GamesBeat: How easy is it to replace the battery?
Taber: Technically, easy. Remove four screws on the back of the unit and the battery is directly below. It’s connected via a plug, so simply unplug it and a battery can be swapped out. We don’t suggest users do this themselves — it will void your warranty — but the battery is designed to be exchanged with ease.
What about development support for Analogue Pocket FPGA cores?
GamesBeat: What is Analogue doing to ensure the SDK is friendly for developers?
Taber: We’re launching a developer program for Pocket on July 27, too. We’ll be providing developers with dev kits — Pocket + Dock — free of charge. More information is coming when we start to send dev kits out later this year.
GamesBeat: Will cores developed for the open FPGA in the Pocket continue to work in the future if a theoretical Pocket 2 comes along with a refreshed/upgraded FPGA?
Taber: Yes, we’re developing an ecosystem for future products and developers to make cross-product development as seamless as possible.
On production concerns and Covid-19
GamesBeat: What is the outlook on meeting demand? Will you do multiple production runs?
Taber: We’re going to do the best we can given the current state of global affairs. We will do multiple production runs, yes.
GamesBeat: What is COVID-19 doing to the production?
Taber: Mainly supply-chain challenges. It only takes one material delay or issue in the global supply chain to cause a domino effect.