The last time I considered something legit for computing and phoning, requiring two hands to hold and type, was the almighty Blackberry phone. Also known as the loser of the market, Blackberry isn’t readily used by the common public anymore, but more by HIllary Clinton who has “all those damn emails”, as Bernie Sanders would put it. The last time I considered a similar, two-handed device legit for gaming was my Game Boy for Donkey Kong-ing. But there is a new device in town that’s absurdly attempting to be a pocket computing machine, a “fantasy console”, a display, running in a browser or on a desktop, all with the appeal (and limitations) to something like a Game Boy.
The creators, Next Thing Co., has come up with something by the name of “PocketCHIP”, and it does a lot more than sit and look like a cute mini computer. When it comes to power, it’s basically a Raspberry Pi. This battery-operated, pocket-sized device comes with a 480 x 272 resistive touchscreen and QWERTY keyboard, not to mention a custom touch-friendly version of Linux. With the feeling and interface of a traditional desktop, PocketCHIP is in fact impressive to be this small, yet arguably less “microscopic” as the photos give off (so it’s not for skinny jeans, who cares?) .
In reality, PocketCHIP isn’t actually the most practical device. The little utilitarian, plastic-covered gizmo is for having a good time, and computing in the sense of freedom and experimental fun. For example, when utilizing what is otherwise great Ubuntu software, it allegedly runs too simple, and lacks many features that make computers feel like computers (maybe they should stop calling it a computer?). Yet, it has all the brains to include hundreds of built-in free games, plus the tools to create your very own. Inside, PocketCHIP runs on a 1GHz ARM processor, with an ARM Mali GPU. It comes with 512Mb of RAM, a 5-hour running battery, plus Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and video output for a peripheral, which would make it more useful as a desktop.
That’s a lot for a little guy, and as far as building your own games, you’ve got something called PICO-8 to thank for that. PICO-8 is great for gamers that love quirky little indie games. Although very limited, it supports a 128 x 128 pixel display with 16 colors, rendering up to 128 8x8 sprites. So, design away, create levels, arrange style and edit music. Even start off with one of the countless PICO-8 games included inside the PocketCHIP software. The little console computer you wanted all these years is finally here, as silly as it might be. Hey, it’s not meant to be serious, it’s meant to be fun, and you can still catch it for the limited price of $49, according to its website.
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