Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega - 1st Look

11 Aug 2015

Having just received my ZX Vega, I thought I would share my initial thoughts on the product.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega with SpectrumSetting up was simple, just like other plug-and-play TV consoles, standard Composite RCA connectors and stereo Audio RCA connectors.

My initial test was on a fairly old 14" portable CRT TV. I found the screen display to be slightly blurry as if I was using a real ZX Spectrum! I then tried a more recent LCD TV which had composite video RCA connections.

A point of note is the original ZX Spectrum was designed to be run on the television sets of the time, and these were all 4:3 aspect, and not the now common Wide screen 16:9 format.

So to get the true shape you need to configure your wide screen TV to 4:3 otherwise the games are going to be stretched horizontally.

After using the Vega on both types of display, I have to say I prefer the CRT. As a comparison I connected up an original ZX Spectrum that has had the Composite modification, and the two displays were very similar.

In use the game selector is quick and intuitive, with Adventure games separated from the rest.

The limited keys can be a problem on some games, and although there is a virtual keyboard, it wasn't something I enjoyed using, and I certainly wouldn't enjoy text adventures using it.

With 1000 Games built in there is hours of game play out of the box, but anyone nostalgic for the old Speccy will have their own favourites which may not be included. In fact I was surprised to find certain omissions myself.

As an example "Manic Miner" or "Jet Set Willy" I was expecting to be a must have, but I assume this was down to licensing.

However the ZX Vega can run additional games from a Micro SD card. The slot didn't feel as secure like the one on a Raspberry Pi for example, there is no spring click in and out, so make sure the Micro SD card you use has a groove in the top so you can drag it out with your fingernail!

Currently there is no way to map keys on the Vega (though I have seen rumours that this will change), so it will be hit and miss if your downloaded game will work. As an example I tried "Ant Attack" but this was unplayable due to the keys required.

The Good
As this is just my initial thoughts I will summarise with the Good and Bad (in my opinion).

The Vega is comfortable to hold and use, and I was happy with the D-Pad control.

The Game selector Menu is quick and simple to use.

New games and firmware updates can be loaded from the SD card.

The Bad
And now the Bad...

I have some issue with the audio connectors on some CRT TVs I have tried it on. As an example the title music on "Egghead" causes display issues. I found removing one of the audio cables helps, however I will need to investigate further.

I managed to crash the Vega several times plugging and un-plugging the RCA connectors. I would advise powering off the Vega before doing anything with any connectors.

The current lack of keyboard mapper for additional games is an issue.

Initial Opinion
So after my first use I am impressed and very happy with the ZX Vega, and I hope the keyboard mapping becomes a reality so even more games can be enjoyed.

my score: 4 out of 5