This Macintosh Pocket computer concept makes us wish we had a time machine

They always say that hindsight is 20/20, but that really doesn’t mean much when you can’t change what has already happened. Many of us would probably try to undo things or make different decisions based on what we already know happened, but that just isn’t possible. To be fair, our predecessors did the best they could, based on information they had at that time, and even the greatest visionaries couldn’t have predicted the ups and downs that would change the world for better or worse. The young Steve Jobs of the 80s, for example, probably never saw the iPhone or even the BlackBerry coming, so we can only imagine how things could have turned out if Apple had the knowledge and resources to make a pocket computer back in the days. Fortunately for us, somebody asked that same question and came up with a rather intriguing answer.

Designer: Rex Sowards

Apple did try to briefly venture into the pocket computer market, but the Newton was more aimed at Palm, which was a Titan in that niche market during that era. It wasn’t exactly pocketable by any standard, but it did try to introduce innovative ideas and features in the personal digital assistant (PDA) market that was thriving at that time. The Newton, however, barely lasted a decade, especially after it failed to meet the returning Steve Jobs’ infamously high standards.

This Macintosh Pocket isn’t a simple rehash of that failed concept, though. Instead, it takes its DNA from two unlikely sources. On one side, you have a QWERTY keyboard in a cramped space that has become synonymous with BlackBerry. On another side, you have the two-step chassis of a Game Boy Pocket of that generation, hence the “Pocket” in the concept’s name. At the same time, you still have the telltale design language of Apple from the late 80s to early 90s, like that off-white color scheme and Macintosh keycaps.

The concept doesn’t simply slap on a display and a keyboard on a Game Boy body and call it a day, though. There was a great deal of thought given to how the mouse pointer would be controlled for a device of this size. A touch screen and a BlackBerry-esque touchpad were both out of the question, and a Lenovo nib is probably just as unlikely. Instead, Sowards took his inspiration from the PowerBook’s iconic trackball, reduced in size, of course. He even took the extra step to pattern the button after the PowerBook’s design, making it curve around the trackball on one edge rather than being perfectly square.

The back of this device is equally interesting in how it hides the ports that were standard on the Macintosh Classic. The most logical positions for these would be on the sides, but that would have cluttered the gadget’s design, a big no-no for Apple. Hiding it behind a panel where the Game Boy’s batteries would have been is a rather sneaky way to keep the design clean without losing functionality. Unsurprisingly, there is absolutely no room for a floppy drive of any size.

It’s probably questionable whether the Apple of the 80s would have adopted such a design, even if they magically foresaw BlackBerry’s becoming the de facto standard mobile device in the business world. It’s still an interesting thought experiment, though, combining designs and lessons learned by various companies across various industries. The craziest thing about this concept, however, is that it is probably completely doable today, thanks to 3D printing and small PCBs. It won’t be able to run the old Mac OS, though, at least not legally, but it could still be an interesting foray into what could have been if the stars were just aligned differently.

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This custom-made circular Game Boy is an object of pure weirdness

I don’t think anybody’s ever held a Game Boy and gone “Maybe this would be better as a circular device”. Sure, it would look cool, but the potential pros are heavily outweighed by the potential cons. Nevertheless, here we are with Love Hultén’s latest custom build, a weirdly circular Nintendo Game Boy that also comes with a circular display to match its body. At best, it’s weirdly fun, at worst it’s a usability nightmare, but then again, Hultén isn’t planning on selling this piece. It’s purely a custom build to flex his DIY skills and probably rile the internet up a little.

Designer: Love Hultén

From the looks of it, Hultén’s custom build was pretty much made from scratch and didn’t involve harming or hurting any existing Game Boys. Having extensively worked with circular displays (and even integrated a few into his custom-made synthesizers), Hultén managed to find a 5-inch IPS display he could spare for this build. The body looks like it was made from scratch, and the origin of those buttons could be anyone’s guess. Speaking of guessing, this custom Game Boy probably runs off an emulator fitted within its base. That also probably means all your games need to be sideloaded, and the circular Game Boy doesn’t have a slot at the back to input cartridges… although I wouldn’t put it past Hultén to actually make his own circular cartridges too!

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Game Bot reimagines an iconic gaming handheld as a toy you can play on

The Switch might be Nintendo’s current darling, but it is hardly its most iconic gaming device. That distinction probably belongs to the Game Boy, the handheld gaming console that catapulted the company’s name into the nascent gaming scene, at a time when consoles were still hulking boxes that had to be kept at home. The Game Boy served as the inspiration for many new products, projects, and concepts, and this latest do-over turns the Game Boy into a robot that, in some alternate universe, could actually have been a working and usable gaming console.

Designer: Greg Dmnt (Grapheart)

The original Game Boy’s design is beautiful in its simplicity. With only a D-Pad and four buttons (counting Select and Start), Nintendo’s historic handheld was clean and distraction-free. Of course, the games from that age didn’t need the complex controls that even the simpler Nintendo Switch has today, but some gamers might have actually considered that to be a strength rather than a weakness.

That also meant that it was trivial to retrofit the Game Boy’s design, and it would still be recognizable as a Game Boy. Especially if you use the same button layout, same button designs, and same color motif as the original. Bonus points if you actually used some parts of the original Game Boy in a completely new design, one that has an uncanny resemblance to a certain Star Wars droid.

That’s exactly what this imaginative designer did with an unused Game Boy shell, prying it open and cutting it in half to reuse some of the parts. The D-Pad and action buttons are placed on the robot’s chest. According to the creator, those buttons are actually clickable, so they’d theoretically be usable if they were actually wired to some electronics. That’s sadly not the case, but the designer definitely aimed for authenticity and fidelity. He even created a custom Game Boy cartridge and packaging for Game Bot that looks and feels like the real deal.

Another interesting part of this robot’s design is the cartridge slot on its back, taken from the original Game Boy. It can hold a genuine game cartridge, and one can only imagine that the Game Bot could actually read the data off it. Maybe in the future, gaming consoles could actually be robots that can hook up to a TV when you want to play games and then follow you around as your faithful companion the rest of the day.

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This Keycap Looks Like a Teensy Nintendo Game Boy

Recently, I wrote about the Thumby, a teensy Game Boy-inspired gaming system that you basically need to be Ant-Man to play. If you like the idea of a miniature Game Boy, but your thumbs aren’t small enough to play that thing, you might want to consider the ZMKC Pocket Game Console Artisan Keycap instead.

These unique keycaps have an awesome retro look that apes the Nintendo Game Boy but stretched into the shape of a truncated pyramid, also known as a frustum. Yep, we all learned a new word today. If you’re typing on a mechanical keyboard, you have a whole bunch of frustums sitting there right in front of you. But I digress. These awesome artisan keycaps come not only in a retro beige color but in bold egg yolk yellow, a muted black, and several other hues in case you don’t care for the classic Game Boy color scheme.

Another neat thing about this keycap is its see-through window, which lets a keyboard backlight shine through like the old Game Boy Light screen.

The keycap is available for pre-order for $35 over on Drop, which means it’s actually more expensive than the playable Thumby game system. But I wouldn’t try gluing one of those onto your existing keyboard. It’ll start playing every time you type, plus you’ll probably get Krazy Glue stuck to your fingers when you’re doing it. Just think, for $35 each, you could replace all 85 of the 1U keys on a standard 104-key keyboard with these things for just about $3000!

The Thumby Is the World’s Smallest Game Boy

The whole point of game systems like the Nintendo Game Boy was to make them small enough to carry in your pocket and play on the go. But what if you’ve got really tiny pockets?.. or really tiny fingers? Then you need the Thumby!

Created by TinyCircuits, the Thumby is by all accounts the world’s smallest handheld gaming system. It measures just 1.2″ x 0.7″ x 0.3″ and packs a Raspberry Pi RP2040 processor, 2MB of onboard storage, and a tiny 72×40 OLED screen. It’s also got a really small D-Pad and two buttons, but there’s no way I’d be able to push the right ones with my ape-like digits.

It comes pre-loaded with five retro-inspired games so you can start playing right away, but it’s also fully programmable. Connect the Thumby’s Micro USB port to your computer, and you can create your own custom games using MicroPython or the Arduino IDE. Plus, it’s built on an Open Source platform, which means modding and tweaking are encouraged. TinyCircuits also made it so you can play head-to-head by connecting two Thumbys with a link cable.

Best of all, Thumby won’t break the bank. You can pre-order a Thumby on Kickstarter now for just $19 for the classic grey color or $24 in a color case.

 

LEGO Expert Turns NES Kit into a Game Boy Transformer

As a fan of classic video games and LEGO bricks, I was pretty stoked when they released the official LEGO Nintendo Entertainment System in 2020. The 2600+ piece set lets you build a detailed model of an NES along with a TV set, a game cartridge, and a gamepad. Now, one inventive LEGO builder has figured out how to reconfigure the kit into a completely different Nintendo system – a Game Boy. But this isn’t just any Game Boy – this is the Game Boy ROBO.

The Moko Brick Laboratory specializes in making transforming robots out of LEGO parts. Their latest build used some of the numerous parts from the LEGO NES to create this awesome Game Boy that can turn into a robot. Sure, the Transformers had cars and cassette tape players that could turn into robots, but they never had a Game Boy. Now, all we need is for Nintendo to develop a way to make one of these that is actually playable, and they’d sell millions. Can you imagine playing Super Mario Bros. or Tetris on this thing?

Check out the full build video for the Game Boy ROBO below:

I love how this guy wears white gloves while working on his LEGO builds. Parents, I suggest that you make your kids do the same so they don’t get chocolate and Cheetos dust all over the bricks like they usually do.

This Nintendo Game Boy-inspired walkie talkie takes you straight to the 90’s with style!

10-2, the 90s are back with this Nintendo Game Boy-inspired walkie-talkie!

Designer Sidhant Patnaik’s skills in KeyShot will take most of us back to our childhood a.k.a the time we didn’t have smartphones but instead, we had beloved gadgets like Game Boys. Even today you will find many Game Boy stans and this walkie-talkie is a collectible for the fandom.

The design sticks to the original aesthetics but instead of playing your favorite games, this one lets you communicate with those around you (yes, we all have phones but this is far more exciting!) so better brush up on the lingo, do you copy?

Bonus points to Sidhant for the neon-yellow screen that takes us to the glow you would see every night you spend your eyes glued to your game while staying up, late in the night!

The volume controls are run by a tiny knob on the top of the walkie-talkie, with a red line to highlight the volume. The classic combination of red, white, and black is an ode to our memories.

If this walkie-talkie becomes a reality, it will be like the summer of Pokemon Go all over again and we are not complaining!

Designer: Sidhant Patnaik

ICYMI: We try out Samsung’s S Pen/case combo for the Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung brought its S Pen to the Galaxy smartphone series for the first time this year. This week, we were able to check out the new S Pen/case combo for the S21 Ultra and we found it capable but not as refined as we would have expected. We also play...

Researchers created a Game Boy that doesn’t need batteries

The original Game Boy was no slouch when it came to battery life. With four simple AA batteries, you could play games like Tetris and Super Mario Land for about 10 to 15 hours. That was something that made the Game Boy so much more appealing than its...