Smach Z announced that its upcoming handheld gaming machine will enter production in early 2019. This device merges the gap between a traditional handheld gaming device and a notebook PC, featuring aspects of both types of devices.
In appearance, the Smach Z looks something like a cross between Nintendo's Switch and Valve's Steam controller. A six-inch 1080p display covers the majority of the system's front, with buttons, a joystick and two haptic touch pads. There are also four trigger buttons that sit at the top of the system.
The Smach Z has a rather unique and customizable control design. Using what the company calls Z-Pads, you can cover the haptic touch pads and turn them into something else. The basic set of these Z-Pads includes a joystick Z-Pad, directional pad Z-Pad, and a four-button Z-Pad. Smach Z also offers a retro set that includes six additional Z-Pads with button configurations that mirror older game consoles such as the Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis.
Digging under the hood, the Smach Z utilizes an embedded AMD Ryzen V1605B processor. This processor is exceedingly capable for a handheld, as it is equipped with four SMT enabled Zen cores and a Vega iGPU with 512 stream processors. Smach Z indicated that the processor is set with a 15W TDP. This means that the system produces too much heat to be passively cooled in such a confined space, but Smach Z equipped the system with a small heatsink and fan to keep the unit from overheating. Due to the system's size, heat will likely continue to be an issue, but we can't be sure how much of a hinderance it will be at this time.
As should come as no surprise, the Smach Z comes with a large premium attached to its price tag. The base model Smach Z comes with 4GB of DDR4 RAM, a 64GB M.2 SSD and a Linux OS customized for the system. This unit is priced at around $630, making it every bit as expensive as a mid-range laptop. This also has a bit of a handicap, as not all games are released for Linux.
If you want 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, you can opt for the Smach Z Pro for $810, but this system continues to use a Linux-based OS. If you want to have Windows 10 on either the base model Smach Z or the Smach Z Pro, you will need to pay an additional fee of $89.
The company also offers the system in an Ultra trim that comes with 16GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and Windows 10, but at $990 this system is competing with a large number of gaming laptops. Although I see that there may be value in the less expensive Smach Z models, the Smach Z Ultra simply doesn't make much sense when you consider how much more you can do how much more performance you get by opting for a full gaming laptop.
If you plan to order a Smach Z, you may want to order sooner rather than later. All models of the Smach Z are currently on sale with a 10% discount. The prices quoted above reflect the price after discount. The first units are expected to ship sometime in 2019.