Analogue Pocket Pre-Orders Go Live on August 3

Analogue has come forward and shared all the latest details surrounding their hotly anticipated console — Pocket. After a tease last week, Analogue has announced that pre-orders for the Pocket will begin next Monday, August 3, 2020 at 8:00 AM PST. Most of Pocket’s accessories will also go up for pre-order at the same time. There is a limit of two Pocket consoles per order, presumably to help mitigate demand.

The hardware itself has gotten some tweaks and clarifications as well. The “start,” “select,” and “home” buttons have been moved from the lower right corner to the bottom middle. The super high-resolution display retains its incredible specs and is now confirmed to be made out of Gorilla Glass. Another super snazzy feature is what Analogue dubs “Original Display Modes.” These allow users to mimic Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance screen properties—think scan lines for Game Boy systems. I wonder how far this kind of feature can and will go. The Pocket will support Game Boy and Game Gear (I think, but more on that in a bit) right away. Could features like mimicking Atari Lynx or Sega Game Gear screens become a reality? What about just the diverse screen types within the Game Boy line itself? Could I chose between a regular GBA, a frontlit GBA SP, a backlit GBA SP, and a Game Boy Micro? What about the DS screen? There is plenty of potential for this kind of feature and I wonder how far Analogue will take it.

There is also a sleep/wake feature built into the hardware; simply pressing the power button will put the Pocket to sleep and suspend gameplay. The Pocket has a 4300 mAh battery that can support 10+ hours of sleep time and 6-10 hours of game time. Recharging happens over USB-C and folks may use an 18W fast charger if they’d like. 

I found the biggest surprise from today’s announcements to be the plethora of accessories for the Pocket. The Dock got its time in the spotlight with its own improvements. Now there is a small recession to provide better stability for the Pocket itself. The Dock comes in at $99 and goes up for order the same day and time as the Pocket. It has two USB-A ports for wired controllers and supports both Bluetooth and 2.4g wireless controllers for up to four controllers at once. As someone who just bought a 2.4g 8BitDo controller, I am super stoked for its inclusion.

Besides all of the Game Boy games, Pocket will support Sega Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket, and Atari Lynx. These adapters take their design language from Analogue’s Mega SG adapters and the DAC. The slick transparent design is right up my alley. Based off the images, the adapters appear to sit flush with the bottom half of the console. These adapters are $29.99 a pop and only the Game Gear adapter will be up for pre-order next week. I assume this is because Analogue already has the core for it thanks to the Mega SG. Since says that the Game Gear adapter will also ship in May 2021, I assume that the Pocket will also have Game Gear support out of the box, if you have the adapter. The other adapters only have a date of 2021.

There are cables out the wazoo for the Pocket. Besides a traditional style link cable, there are cables for connecting the Pocket to various music devices thanks to the inclusion of Nanoloop music software. There is a MIDI-IN cable, analog sync, and USB-A. All of these connect to the Pocket through the link cable port, just like one would use Nanoloop on a real Game Boy. I wonder if it would be possible to route it through the USB-C port though. I doubt it is a question of hardware, but rather software. It’d be nice to see this as an option down the line, instead of through a older port. All of the cables are $19.99, except for the traditional link cable and a USB-C to USB-C cable, both of which run for $15.99.

The Pocket has a few other odds and ends as far as accessories go. There is a clear plastic hard-shell case ($29.99) that also doubles are a vertical stand for the console. You can buy a tempered glass screen protector for $15.99 and a fast charging USB-C Power Supply for $19.99.

Analogue came out of with more than just hardware announcements today. They also announced two developer initiatives. First, Analogue has partnered with GB Studio to let people make Game Boy games and run them on the Pocket. GB Studio pitches itself as an “easy to use drag and drop retro game creator.” Analogue has also opened up a developer form for folks to apply for an Analogue Pocket FPGA dev kit so that developers can create their own cores before the system’s release next summer.

The Pocket feels like the end-all be-all for Analogue. It is more than just an FPGA console for the Game Boy, but this amalgamation of games, music, and development. I can’t wait to actually get my hands on one just to see how it feels and plays. I want to push its limits and explore the legacy that Pocket actually provides access to.

If you want to read more about the Pocket, I wrote a whole preview back in April based on everything Analogue publicly talked about. I compared the price to the competition, whipped up charts comparing resolutions, and broke down the software design.

Analogue Teases Pocket News

Jul. 27, 2020

8am PST

Analogue via Twitter

After roughly nine months of silence, Analogue has teased some sort of Pocket update. This could be preorders or just an update for the ambitious handheld device. Back in April, I whipped up a preview that went in to detail on everything we know about the Pocket.

Monday is going to be exciting.

Update: I reached out to Analogue and they seem very excited about the Pocket.

Analogue Nt mini Noir Delayed to November 2020

Nt mini Noir’s ship date has been delayed and will ship in November 2020. Due to the current state of global affairs and sudden supply chain challenges. Any questions about your order or to cancel for a full refund you can do so at any time at http://support.analogue.co. We apologize for this inconvenience.

The Nt mini Noir was originally scheduled to ship sometime this month. This final run was supposed to be just a slightly redesigned of Analogue’s NES FPGA console and sold for $500. The Analogue DAC was delayed back in April, but Analogue said that the Nt mini Noir was still on time. To soften the blow of the four month delay, Analogue announced new features in the Nt mini Noir:

  • New FPGA, Scaler, and UI
  • A perfected NES cartridge slot, designed in house by Analogue
  • Dual, simultaneous HDMI & analog output
    • Full Analogue DAC support (dual analog output)
  • NES Core 100% rewritten
  • All known game bugs fixed
  • Composite video optimized
  • Microphone input is mic input +a headphone output
  • Controller passthrough mode added
  • Cart slot voltage options added
  • FDS channel redone
  • N163 channel redone

The coolest feature to me is the dual analog support via the DAC. I dig my own DAC and being able to capture/stream and play on an analog screen will be a welcome feature to those that want it.

This also most assuredly means that the highly coveted Analogue Pocket will not release in 2020 as originally planned, although Analogue has been mum on the system since February 2020.

Analogue DAC Thoughts and Impressions

My Analogue DAC showed up about two weeks ago and I finally had some time to play with it and write down my thoughts. Before my own DAC arrived, I was curious why there was a lackluster amount of reviews for the device online. Now that I have one, I see why most folks would pass on reviewing the DAC. It works exactly as advertised and serves a niche segment of an already tiny market. As some one who falls into the more casual side of that segment, I do think it’s worth the effort to discuss critically though.

The DAC gives the line of Analogue products flexibility. Before the Super NT, Analogue made the Nt mini. This was the NES FPGA console and it cost a whopping $450, but it had both digital and analog output. It also was made out of a solid block of aluminum. When the Super NT was revealed, one key factor that played into the significantly lower cost of $190 was the removal of analog support. Arguably, most customers want a simple plug-and-play, high-def way to play their SNES games. CRT televisions live on through the retro game community, purists that crave the highest quality video that the developers intended back in the 1990s. Most folks have chucked these kinds of TVs to the curb.

For those that want that analog output, the DAC provides that. For an additional $80 (really $100 after shipping), you can plug in any Analogue console and output the system to a CRT television. It still ends up being cheaper than an NT mini and works with any Analogue console.

As for the DAC itself, it is a small box that acts as the midway point in a daisy chain of video signals. Power is through the same USB Micro power supply that comes with an Analogue system. There is an additional USB Micro cable included that goes from the DAC’s USB port to your Super NT or Mega SG. This provides pass-through power to the console; no need to have two power supplies.

From the console to the DAC is where the HDMI cable goes. The console and the DAC communicate somehow, which makes the console kick into DAC mode. Then the DAC converts that digital input signal to analog out through a HD-15 port. All you need to do is buy the HD-15 cable you need. I went with the component cable that Analogue recommends, as it is the highest analog video I can currently play on. You also need a separate cable for analog audio.

And that’s it. I powered on my CRT and it worked immediately. I have to admit, seeing the Analogue boot sequence on an actual CRT was pretty rad. It just feels right. And that’s part of why I bought the DAC, because I enjoy playing games on my CRT. I currently have some form or another to play almost all my home consoles on an HD TV (sorry N64 and PS2). There is an authentic feeling when playing on a CRT. Maybe it’s just nostalgia that throws up blinders to convenience, but I genuinely enjoy having this capability.

The DAC also provides the promise for future compatibility in Analogue’s line. The Pocket connected through the Dock to the DAC (say that five times fast) opens up high fidelity analog video for handheld consoles that is extremely difficult to experience. Mods and software emulation melt away through the use of FPGA consoles and the DAC. Players could venture down the path of the MiSTer, but that is for the people into tinkering with computers. Analogue offers a path of least resistance, but that comes at a cost; both financially and straight-up consumer demand.

When stepping slightly outside the realm of plug-and-play, I did run into some issues. I wanted to test capturing analog footage. I have an older Elgato HD capture card that supports analog video capture. I plugged everything in and bupkis. At Jeremy Parish’s recommendation, I tried all the sync options, but to no avail. Somewhere in this chain of wires, a miscommunication is happening and I can’t figure out how to correct it. This doesn’t impact my ability to play the games, but It did mean I couldn’t capture direct footage for my needs (i.e. this article).

The DAC is a smart solution for multiple problems. It allows Analogue to make their primary consoles cheaper for every customer. It gives customers that do want analog video an accessible option that works with any Analogue console they own or will buy. It opens the gateway for consoles to get high quality analog output, even those that have to jump through numerous, technical hoops. Preservationist, historians, and enthusiasts get the performance they desire, while Analogue gets to have their cake and eat it too.