AYANEO’s Mini Gaming Console borrows NES persona to satisfy Retro-geeks

The AYANEO Mini PC AM01 boasting the nostalgic Mac design got the tech pundits excited and for good measure. With the looks of the classic Mac and the innards of a Windows 11 PC, the cool little desk accessory is a gaming console at large for gamers who love retro flavors.

When we first got you acquainted with this little bundle of joy, there were already talks of the Retro Mini PC AM02 which emulates the design of the classic NES. A mini PC at heart, this one too balances out the retro and contemporary design scheme to perfection. Obviously, Nintendo fans will fancy this one over the AM01, but other users will also be drawn by its 4-inch touchscreen, considering most of the rivals don’t offer this luxury.

Designer: AYANEO

This mini gaming console blends unique design aesthetics with high-performance hardware without any compromise in the compact form factor. Keep it on your desk or mount it on a wall or anything in the vicinity, the mini gaming console weighing just 538g is equally impressive. The recreated front cover tactfully hides all the input/output ports for a clean look which is another resounding plus. This cover can be click opened with a red button opposite the power button, adding to the cool trickery.

The on-board AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS APU, DDR5 RAM (16/32 GB) and 512GB/1TB SSD on the AM02 are well-equipped for PC gaming or tasks like video editing or music composition. To keep the internal temperature down, the mini gaming console has a potent four-copper pipe heat dissipation structure, aided by the 45W large-size turbine fan. Coming onto the screen it displays vital statistics for nerds including CPU data, current FPS, temperature and fan speed. For normal users, a left swipe on the screen toggles the view to the current date and time. One more swipe displays the virtual volume control and the option to toggle the display on or off.

For gamers, the company has an in-built launcher or you can use your own preferred launcher like the Launchbox/BigBox to run Steam or Epic titles, but that option requires a bit of working around. The AYANEO Mini PC AM01 will set you back anywhere between $440 – $630 depending on the chosen configuration. For that starting price you can get yourself a PS5, so the mini gaming console is at a more premium spectrum of the market choices.

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Atari is entering the handheld gaming space with this gorgeous console that packs 200 iconic games

If as a kid you ever relished the thought of carrying all your change to the nearest arcade to bust out a few games, this one should be the perfect feels trip down nostalgia lane. The MyArcade Atari Gamestation Portable, unveiled at CES 2024, is a vibrant time capsule that transports you straight back to the golden era of gaming. This device promises to deliver a nostalgic yet innovative gaming experience, and here’s what makes it stand out.

Designer: MyArcade

Design and Controllers: A Nostalgic Twist

The Atari Gamestation Portable distinguishes itself with a design that’s a respectful nod to the classic Atari era. Licensed by Atari, MyArcade has done more than just slap on a retro label; they’ve integrated elements of the beloved Atari 2600 into a portable format. This isn’t just about playing old games; it’s about reliving the unique experience of them. The inclusion of an Atari Trak ball, paddle, and a keypad, alongside a d-pad and ABXY buttons, ensures that both classic and modern gamers feel at home.

Display and Games: A Feast for Retro Eyes

The Gamestation Portable boasts a 7-inch high-resolution display, significantly larger than MyArcade’s previous handhelds. This size increase enhances the visual experience of the over 200 classic Atari games preloaded onto the device. While the full games list hasn’t been published, the promise of such a vast library is exciting for fans of Atari’s extensive catalog.

Operating System and Connectivity: Tailored for Atari Classics

The device runs on a proprietary operating system, specifically designed to play Atari classic games, eschewing more common systems like SteamOS or Windows. This specialized OS ensures a seamless gaming experience, tailored to the unique requirements of retro games. Additionally, MyArcade has included two rear-mounted USB Type-C ports and a kickstand, adding modern convenience to the retro experience. The system’s LEDs illuminate to indicate which buttons are supported by the game currently being played, adding a helpful, modern touch to the gameplay experience​.

Pricing and Availability: A Trip Down Memory Lane

The Atari Gamestation Portable is expected to hit the market in September or October 2024, with a price tag of $149. This pricing positions it as an affordable entry into the world of retro gaming, making it accessible to a broad audience of gamers and nostalgia enthusiasts alike​.

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Atari 400 Mini retro console is a charming recreation of a quirky design

Most people today probably only know of the Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch, but there was a time when the market was littered with countless gaming consoles, each with their own distinct designs. Many of them look almost outlandish by today’s standards, but it’s exactly because of these that these old machines have become today’s novelties again. The retro console craze has died down a bit, but it still exists and there are plenty of designs still left untouched. One of those is the rather distinctive Atari 400, which now finally comes in a mini recreation that brings yet another bunch of classic titles from one of gaming history’s biggest giants.

Designer: Retro Games x Atari

You might already be quite tired of hearing about all these classic games being made available to a newer, younger audience, but the console that this batch comes in is definitely worth noting. The Atari 400 and 800, after all, made many firsts in the industry, bringing what is practically a personal computer into homes with a focus on gaming. That objective was what informed the machine’s design, giving it a peculiar appearance even among its peers.

In essence, the Atari 400, or the 800 rather, looked more like a giant typewriter than a computer of any sort. Atari eschewed the typical joysticks and gamepads associated with gaming machines (and its own Atari 2600) and gave its first 8-bit family a keyboard for tasks beyond just playing. The Atari 400 itself was quite peculiar because it didn’t use real keys but a membrane keyboard, basically a seemingly flat, pressure-sensitive surface that could be considered the ancestor of touch-sensitive controls today. Suffice it to say, the typing experience was anything but enjoyable.

The Atari 400 Mini brings this one-of-a-kind design down to half the size of the 1979 original, which means you get all the looks but none of the quirks or the functionality. Yes, that miniaturized membrane keyboard is just for show, which is probably for the best. Imagine typing not only on a small space but also on a surface you have to press hard to even register a key. Fortunately, you can connect a USB keyboard if you really need to type something. With five USB ports, you can connect almost any controller, though thankfully the package ships one Atari CX-40 joystick for good measure.

The small machine comes with 25 titles from the original already pre-installed, though can also run other Atari classics provided you know how and where to get them. The Atari 400 Mini isn’t available yet, but you can already put down $119.99 to pre-order this recreation of a piece of gaming history before it hits the shelves on March 28th.

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Oddly-shaped PlayStation 5 Pro concept emphasizes VR immersion for Metaverse games

Sony just released the PlayStation 5 Slim to give gamers another reason for hitting the couch this winter season. The console is considerably smaller than the bigger brother released in November 2020. The question remains, is it the better version of the PS5 or do gamers deserve a better gaming console from Sony?

This is where the rumors of a PlayStation 5 Pro sound exciting, filling in the gap to the long lull before PS6 finally hits the shelves. Like the PS4 Pro, the PS5 Pro gaming console is destined to be a better version of the base PlayStation 5. So, what will the PS5 Pro be like set for a probable November 2024 launch? It’ll be more powerful, have more memory and have advanced hardware.

Designer: Seungjae Lee

This flamboyant concept gives our imagination wings of what PS5 Pro could bring to the competition. The main focus here is on the augmented reality and virtual reality aspects of modern games, and that’s where we’re headed in the future. Gear for such a gaming console requires VR headsets and accompanying controllers. The rear of the console houses the VR controllers and headsets and comes with wireless plug-and-play functionality.

To keep the wire-clutter of main cables routed to the console to a minimum, the bottom rear handles the organizing aspect. What’s most intriguing about this concept gaming console are the controllers. They can behave as knuckle controllers in conjunction with the VR headset for an immersive experience. When two are joined together, they behave as a normal controller of the current generation.

Not only the controllers, but the VR headset also has a hidden surprise on top. There are docked wireless earbuds that can be used for increased audio immersion. All-in-all, the PS5 Pro concept is designed for enhanced gaming experience in the Metaverse. To add spice to the customary PlayStation theme, Seungjae has designed the renders in peppy options including a camouflage skin.

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Analogue Duo console revives TurboGrafx cartridges and CDs with a catch

The retro gaming craze has given birth to many console revivals, but some of them are walking on legally gray areas. The officially sanctioned devices bear licensed titles but in very small numbers. Third-party recreations that use emulators, on the other hand, offer more freedom and flexibility but you’ll have to be creative in where you source your games. And then there’s the rare middle ground that puts those old games in fresh new hardware, like this curious console that pays tribute to the oft-forgotten NEC TurboGrafx. Unlike other retro consoles, however, it doesn’t come bundled with its own games and you’ll have to bring your own cartridges and discs, presuming you still have some of those around.

Designer: Analogue

With the explosion of home gaming systems in the late 80s to early 90s, it wasn’t much of a surprise that some brands would be pushed to the background. Although it did have a faithful following, the NEC TurboGrafx system eventually faded into history, only to be remembered with retro consoles and devices such as the Analogue Duo. It’s not a simple recreation of the original console, however. In fact, it looks nothing like the TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine consoles. What this new console brings, instead, is a way to be able to use those original game cartridges and CDs just the way they were meant to.

Retro mini consoles like the NES and SNES Classics practically use emulation software to run digital copies of games that used to exist on physical media. That’s definitely convenient but also removes the gratification of experiencing those classic titles from the cartridges or CDs they came from. Without going into technical details, the Analogue Duo claims to use no emulation at all and uses hardware engineered for thousands of hours to offer compatibility with a wide range of NEC gaming systems and media, including those for the TurboGrafx-16, PC Engine, SuperGrafx, TurboGrafx CD, PC Engine CD-ROM, and Super Arcade CD-ROM.

The design of the Analogue Duo itself is also quite unique, eschewing the trend of copying the appearance of the original consoles. It does lie horizontally like most consoles, but its modern and sleek appearance clearly tells which century it comes from. An odd and rather interesting detail is the wavy rear of the console, something you won’t find on any gaming hardware today. Interestingly, you can place two of these consoles back-to-back with those waves intersecting with each other.

The Analogue Duo is pretty ambitious in its goals, which is probably why it took three years for it to finally become available. Even then, it will be in extremely limited supply, available first to those who pre-ordered back in May. Perhaps it’s for the best so that TurboGrafx fans will be able to bide their time and see whether the console will be able to deliver that faithful classic experience it promised.

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PlayStation One-inspired Handheld Console has a Built-in Disc Reader for Offline Gaming On-The-Go

The PlayStation 5 may have gotten a design refresh in the form of a detachable disc drive… but this handheld concept gets a feature we never thought we’d see… handheld disc gaming! The MOI3D is a concept controller from the brains of Vadim Danilkov, who wanted to build a modern variant of the PS One. Debuted in 2000, the redesigned PS One was the highest-selling console that year (even outperforming the more capable PS2 which launched in the same year)… its highlight, a detachable LCD screen that made it a complete gaming solution that you could play with sans a TV. MOI3D builds on that retro vision, with a handheld variant that lets you play all your disc-based PS games going all the way back to the first PlayStation made. Pop the disc in the back and the console fires up, allowing you to relive almost 3 decades of gaming a la PlayStation!

Designer: Vadim Danilkov

The MOI3D was created as a part of Vadim’s broader CAD modeling and plastics rendering course back in the day, and only recently revived as a concept tech device given Sony’s odd PlayStation Portal debut that really confused the entire gaming world. While the Portal looked like a spiritual successor to the PSP, it turned out to be a glorified controller that only worked when wirelessly tethered to an existing PS5. The MOI3D has no such problem, given that it physically runs games on the device thanks to that built-in CD player.

The MOI3D’s aesthetic gets defined by the presence of this CD reader. While most handheld consoles like the Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck have a rather sensible rectangular shape, the MOI3D looks sort of like if a rectangle ate a circle. The weird form may be a deterrent for some, but I think it’s a classic example of form following function… and what the MOI3D loses in sleek appeal, it makes up for with its gaming chops and incredible backward compatibility.

The level of detailing in this concept is maddening to the point where I feel like it should just be a real product by now. Vadim’s pretty much built out every PCB, button, and plastic component in this device and that in itself is a design feat that’s difficult to achieve.

Keeping in line with current handheld consoles, the MOI3D has all the bells and whistles, including all the action buttons (even the L1/L2 and R1/R2 buttons on the shoulders), an HDMI out, and a USB-C port for charging. A centrally located button on the top surface helps open the CD tray, and at least from the looks of it, the one thing missing is a 3.5mm audio jack. To be fair, the MOI3D does have its own front-firing speaker units. That should definitely hold up wonderfully for some of the older games you’ll find yourself playing on the MOI3D, given its ability to support games from the original PS dating back to 1994! Online gaming could never compare itself to this…

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This retro gaming console is actually a mini PC disguised as a classic Macintosh

Nostalgia is a very powerful emotion, especially judging by the number of successful “retro” products sold in the market in the past years. Although the flood has seemingly trickled down a bit, it continues to flow especially in the gaming scene. Old gaming brands have suddenly resurfaced to bring nearly forgotten designs to the present, taking previous generations down memory lane while introducing today’s gamers to old-school experiences. While some of these retro consoles actually try to relive the past, this interesting and rather cute box might take your head for a spin with its Mac design and PC internals, combined to offer not just a gaming computer but a piece of desk decoration as well.

Designer: AYANEO

Compared to the computers put out by the likes of Atari and Commodore, the early PCs didn’t really have a memorable design that would go down in history as iconic computers. It was the original Apple Macintosh, instead, that captured people’s attention and imagination of what a home personal computer should look like. Of course, that was decades in the past, but the imagery has stood the test of time as proof of the design’s timeless character. AYANEO, a brand better known for gaming handhelds, is now taking that immensely popular design and giving it a rather curious twist.

As part of its AYANEO REMAKE concept line, the AYANEO Retro Mini PC AM01 slaps the old Mac design onto a new machine. The basic elements that have distinguished one of Apple’s earliest successes are there, tweaked a bit to avoid potential controversies, of course. There’s the telltale sign of a floppy drive, as well as a square rainbow badge that’s a nod to the old Apple logo. There’s a black rectangle near the top that’s purely cosmetic, denoting where the screen is supposed to be located. There’s nothing there, though, which is a bit of a waste, but it doesn’t really matter considering how the mini PC is used.

Unlike the Mac, the AYANEO Retro Mini PC is meant to lie down on its “back” rather than standing up, with that black rectangle in the rear. That’s because the ports for the computer are actually located on what would have been the top and bottom sides, so it has to be horizontal to actually be useful. Of course, this product is a gaming console anyway, not a standalone computer with a built-in display, so you’ll need to plug in peripherals to make it work. And yes, it runs Windows 11, which, given the eternal rivalry between Macs and PCs, some might find a bit insulting.

AYANEO has other retro designs also in the pipeline, including the Retro Mini PC AM02 that takes after the classic NES design. Curiously, that one does have a functional mini display since it can actually be used upright. It’s also working on a handheld that brings back the dual-display design of the not-so-old Nintendo DS, though the practical purpose of that second display is yet to be revealed.

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This modular handheld console puts force feedback at the forefront

Alternative handheld gaming console designs featuring unique styles are steadily growing in popularity. Take the PocketMan P1 concept as a close example of that trend; an all-chrome hybrid handheld with the form factor of a GameBoy Color mixed with the performance and wide functionality of a Nintendo Switch or a Steam Deck. At the same time, advanced haptics and force feedback are growing more popular in mainstream gaming – especially with the PlayStation 5 dominating the current console market – and it makes sense that designers are inevitably going to try to one-up the incredible DualSense controller with their own designs.

Enter the feeel handheld gaming system. No, that wasn’t a typo. Conceptualized in a recent BA thesis by Jasmin Kappler, a student at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam, the feeel is a concept handheld designed to maximize the sensory experience of the user by conveying precise haptic feedback through specific material-based interactions. It’s also extremely customizable, with up to six slots to switch between configurable buttons and toggles, meanwhile its orange-and-gray color scheme and carrying handle is accented with a birthday cake-inspired pattern that harkens back to the days when school children would hide Nintendo handhelds and old Pokémon cartridges in literal lunch pails.

Designer: Jasmin Kappler

The feeel’s unique haptics system is based around three buttons on the front of the device – one made of metal, one wood, and another fabric. When chopping down a log or nocking an arrow in a bow in a game, for instance, the wooden button is meant to exhibit force feedback meant to feel more “real” due to the physical qualities of the material conveying the haptic effect. Asking a user to do an extra action (in this case, pressing an optional button) may not be the most practical way to implement haptics into a console or controller, but here it clearly serves as a great way to test the edges of current haptic technology.

Kappler clarified the intention of the thesis on her website, saying, “The question arises how the sense of touch can be better addressed by the control system, so that players can more easily achieve an immersion. How can tactile perception be trained and improved through video games? The aim of this bachelor thesis is to answer these questions and to implement them in a concept for a handheld game console.”

Kappler’s concept shows an icon of Horizon Zero Dawn as well as other games that probably wouldn’t be able to play on an actual handheld – at least, not without serious AI tech and/or cloud streaming functionality. In that sense, it feels less like a Nintendo throwback and more like a modern emulator or Steam Deck-a-like. However, its modular design makes it stand out from those devices in a way that feels distinctly like a Nintendo console.

Take the screen, for instance. It can detach from the body/controls to allow for tabletop play. The feeel’s controls are also completely reconfigurable, like the PlayStation 5 Access Controller, featuring six different magnetic zones where a number of dials, knobs, sliders, and buttons can be placed and programmed for use in a wide variety of games. This is a great way to let the user define their own experience, and it’s nice to see more console designs move in this direction as accessibility and modularity become more commonplace.

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The PlayStation 5 Slim is smaller, lighter, and comes with extra storage

The original PlayStation 5 is the largest PlayStation console on the market. In fact, it’s the largest console, period, at a form factor of 390 mm x 260 mm x 104 mm, or 15.4 inches tall, 10.24 inches deep, and 4.09 inches wide. Designer Yujin Morisawa knew this when he unveiled the original design at the Sony “Future of Gaming” event in 2020, and according to an interview with the Washington Post in November of that same year, he described the large size as a matter of comfort – comparing it to plants, animals, or some other household object.

We loved the original design of the PlayStation 5 and slightly less expensive PlayStation 5 Digital Edition when it was first unveiled in 2020. However, not every gamer was excited to try and fit the relatively oversized console into their entertainment centers, with some needing to make peace with the fact it was probably necessary to fit in the PS5’s next-generation gaming hardware. Today, Sony unveiled a potential solution that retains the beauty of the original design: a newer, slimmer PlayStation 5, which not only looks like a much sleeker version of the OG PS5, but is rated to be about 30% smaller and weigh between 18% to 24% less – depending on whether you go for the PlayStation 5 or the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, respectively.

Designer: Yujin Morisawa (via Sony)

The upcoming PlayStation 5 model will also come with a better storage unit. Originally, the PS5 came with an 825GB NVME SSD, which will now be bumped up to a full 1TB of storage – translating a bit more closely to 800GB of actual, usable storage space for games and media. However, this also comes with a price hike for the Digital Edition, which previously costed around $400, and is now set to be bumped up to an MSRP of $449.99. There is some good news there: all PlayStation 5 Digital Edition owners will finally be able to play optical media on their devices, thanks to a plug-and-play external UHD Blu-ray disc drive that will become available on Sony’s store for $79.99.

All existing PlayStation 5 covers will no longer be compatible with the new devices, but Sony already detailed plans to roll out a new series of external removable covers as well as a new vertical stand, saying, “A variety of PS5 Console Cover colors for the new model will be available starting in early 2024, including an all-matte Black colorway and the Deep Earth Collection colors in Volcanic Red, Cobalt Blue, and Sterling Silver.”

These newer PlayStation 5 units (which haven’t officially been designated “PlayStation 5 Slim,” but are simply replacing the older models) are set to begin rolling out in November, in time for the upcoming holiday season. The MSRP for the slim PlayStation 5 will remain at $499.99.

 

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Retro-modern Atari 2600+ console plays classic game cartridges in high definition

Atari’s first-ever game console has now been reincarnated for modern gamers’ needs without sacrificing the nostalgia of the cartridge era. No this is not a concept design, but rather an official release by the company who’s revolutionized the gaming scene. They’ve teamed up with publisher Plaion to bring the iconic gaming console back to life.

Dubbed the Atari 2600+, the console pays homage to the four-switch model from the 1980s. This trimmed-down version (80 percent scale) of the original slated for the November release can play both 2600 and 7800 cartridge games. Keeping in mind high-definition output requirements, the 10-in-1 game cartridge console comes with HDMI and USB ports.

Designer: Atari and Plaion

This is not the first time Atari has cashed in on the trend of faithful recreations of classic models, as Atari VCS released in 2021 very well proved. Yes, the combo console and TV streaming box with the price equivalent to an Xbox Series S. After the initial success, the console failed to attract prospective buyers and was eventually discontinued. The Atari 2600+ should have a chance of gaining stable popularity with the Gen-Z given the compatibility with old game cartridges and widescreen output support.

Out of the box, the retro-modern console will come with titles including Adventure, Combat, Dodge ‘Em, Haunted House, Maze Craze, Missile Command, RealSports Volleyball, Surround, Video Pinball and Yars’ Revenge. Other than these titles, if you’ve got the Pac-Man, Frogger, Space Invaders or Pitfall cartridge somewhere in the closet, you’re good to go. Atari has enlarged the cartridge socket size to eliminate the cartridge sticking issue and the logo lights up to enhance the gaming feel.

The console comes with a revamped CX40+ joystick which is again a modern take on the classic Atari CX40. Support for two-player mode is there, so you’re in for a fun time with your millennial buddies. Surprisingly you’ll get only a single stick bundled with the purchase, and for the second one, you’ll have to shell out $25. Atari also promised a revamped CX-30 Paddle Controller for a price tag of $30.

Powering the retro-mini gaming console is a Rockchip 3128 processor mated to 256MB DDR3 RAM and 256MB internal storage. Atari 2600+ will launch worldwide on November 13 with pre-orders starting right now. A price tag of $130 should give it the strategic advantage in the arcade gaming arena going neck to neck with Nintendo Switch.

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