A Kickstarter campaign for a handheld, mobile SteamOS-based gaming platform, SMACH Z, is starting to gain some serious attention and traction. SMACH Z promises to bridge the gap between sedimentary desktop PC gaming and on-the-go gaming.
The handheld PC gaming market is an area that manufacturers have been aiming to innovate and reinvent for a while. Most of these attempts are unsuccessful; primarily due to hardware limitations and practicality. NVIDIA attempted this to a degree with their Android-based NVIDIA Shield and controller. In contrast, SMACH Z will run on the heretofore lacking SteamOS platform, accessing your existing Steam Library and promising to support 1,000 Steam games out of the box. Lately, there has been some controversy about the relevancy and performance of SteamOS. Will SMACH Z prove to give SteamOS the boost it desperately needs?
Originally announced as the “Steam Boy” last June, SMACH Z has gone under a few transformations and now somewhat resembles Steam’s own controller. Depending on the success of its 0ne million dollar Kickstarter campaign goal, there will either be a five-inch 720p or 1080p display positioned in the center of the device. The two trackpads on both sides of the device support what has been coined the “Magic Z-Pads” feature. As seen below, it allows the user to optionally attach D-Pads or additional dedicated buttons on top of the touch pads. The manufacturer wants to offer a variety of differing interchangeable pads.
The SMACH Z also has four Xbox game buttons, four backside trigger buttons, and a joystick. Currently, there are two models, an Entry-Level and an SMACH Z Pro model. The display will be Touch enabled, powered by an AMD Radeon G-Series APU with 2GB VRAM, an HDMI port, Bluetooth, dual-band WiFi, and the cutting-edge USB Type-C port. The SMACH Z will be able to game up to five hours, with an optional swappable battery to double the length of your gaming sessions.
Though sure to be changed and modified, the device will sport 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of storage—which will be quickly eaten up by the size of modern games. However, it will have a Micro-SD slot that will allow much more storage to be added. The SMACH Z Pro is stated to have 4G support and a front-facing camera. Likely depending on the model, there will be up to 8GB of RAM available.
Here are the specs as listed on SMACH Z’s Kickstarter page:
AMD embedded G-Series SoC (formerly codenamed “Steppe Eagle”) with “Jaguar”-based CPU and GCN-based Radeon™ graphics with 2 GB of dedicated GPU RAM.
4 GB RAM memory (8 GB on PRO model)
64 GB* internal memory (128 GB on PRO model)
MicroSD Card Slot.
5-inch Touch screen with 1080p** resolution.
USB 3.0 type C
Configurable tactile gamepads.
HDMI video output connection.
Wi-Fi connectivity 5.0 Ghz
4G mobile network connectivity (PRO model only).
In my opinion, its most attractive feature is its ability to stream Steam games, using the already existing software that enables you to piggyback off your gaming rig located anywhere in your home, harnessing its hardware’s power. Nonetheless, a simple laptop, HTPC and Steam Link has the same capability. What do you think of the SMACH Z? Will it be relevant and successful, or just another stab in the dark at mobile gaming?
Benjamin is a writer for both Newegg and TheNerdStash, providing PC-related articles focused on gaming and hardware. Tinkerer and TV junkie, he also owns a computer repair business and constantly invents unreasonable justifications to upgrade his rig.