All posts in “Gadgets”

Nintimdo RP is a DIY Nintendo Switch clone that plays classic games

Tim Lindquist is an undergrad at Iowa State University and, if you’re into classic gaming, might just be the man of your dreams. His super-cool Nintimdo RP project is a 3D-printed case for a Raspberry Pi that is designed to simulated the size and shape of a Nintendo Switch without all those silly modern gaming advances. In fact, the Nintimdo RP is dedicated to playing classic games.

Writes Lindquist:

​This project was to create a portable gaming system that could also double as a portable computer. Above shows the 3D model (Rev 3) I made on Autodesk Inventor. Waiting on final prints, More coming August 2017. This project was to create a portable gaming system that could also double as a portable computer. The goal was to create a console that was functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. I use what I learned with 3D modeling to make professional looking cases to house my circuits. Buttons were constructed using tactile components behind a stripped façade.
Inside is a Raspberry Pi 3 that holds a Broadcom BCM287 processor (ARM architecture) is running a light version of Linux (pixel) with emulators on top through retroarch and retropie. This interfaces with the 7-inch touch screen on the front to display the GUI. Buttons are wired to a microcontroller and finally to the motherboard so games can be played. Thermals are controlled by bringing air in through an intake located on the back. The air is directed past heat sinks on the processor and graphics card, this then goes through the fan and into a duct system that routs the exhaust out of the top of the device.

The entire thing is open source and available on Github. You can download the models here and see the parts list here. After all, it’s dangerous to go alone. You’d better take a 3D printed Raspberry Pi-based handheld console.

Analogue’s Super Nt comes with two SNES games, including a ‘Director’s Cut’

The SNES Classic from Nintendo is pretty great, and it ships with the previously unreleased Star Fox 2 in the box. But Analogue’s amazing Super Nt – a precision engineered reference quality Super Nintendo console that can play the original cartridges – might just do one better.

For its release, the creators are including a new, previously unreleased version of a game, too – but this one is a ‘Director’s Cut’ of a game that did come out already once before, just not in the way its creators originally intended.

The game is Super Turrican, and Analogue is including not one, but two copies of the game in the box with preorders for the new Super Nt, which retails for $189. One is the retail version of the game that came out in 1993, which itself was hailed widely by critics as a success.

The other is Super Turrican: Director’s Cut – one that’s closer to the original, which had to be cut down by 33 percent to 4Mbits even though the SNES could technically handle 6Mbit titles because of publisher requirements. The Director’s Cut includes a whole new level, new music, new enemies, improved sound effects and graphics, and a new game mechanic for one of the weapons your hero can use.

Super Nt is available for pre-order now. The console features an FPGA created specifically to allow it to run original SNES games, played via original cartridges, at HD resolution on modern TVs with no lag.

Touchscreen Google Home device evidence spied in official app code

There’s now more evidence Google is testing a touchscreen Home device. AndroidPolice points to sections of code of the latest Google app that refers to a device that sports a new on-screen interface. The APK teardown of 7.14.15 beta version revealed a long list of on-screen menus and functions that are utilized by a device with the code-name of Quartz. These abilities include YouTube playback — a function the Amazon Echo Show recently lost.

In September we reported Google was working on a Google Home device that sported a touchscreen interface. Two sources confirmed the device has been internally codenamed “Manhattan” and will have a similar screen size to the 7-inch Echo Show. One source received info directly from a Google employee. Both sources say the device will offer YouTube, Google Assistant, Google Photos and video calling. It will also act as a smart hub that can control Nest and other smart home devices.

This report by AndroidPolice seemingly confirms many of those details. The code review revealed multiple on-display features, interactive timers, weather forecasts with 32 different icons, YouTube video playback and a basic web browser, along with photo galleries and Google Maps with business listings.

At this point Google has yet to confirm the existence of the device yet it makes sense Google is at least toying with the idea and internally testing such a device. Companies have long tried to build a central information hub of sorts with the Amazon Echo Show being the latest such device. Google is clearly following the Amazon Echo line step for step with the next obvious move being an Echo Show clone.

Nintendo to release SNES-themed 3DS XL in the U.S.

Nintendo is going to ride the retro cash cow to the bank. The company recently announced an SNES-themed 3DS XL for Europe and apparently its coming to the States, too. The handheld is available for pre-order for $199 and ships two weeks after the European release on November 27. To sweeten the deal, a download code for Super Mario Kart is included with the system.

This is just the latest in a long-line of throwback gaming system. Last year Nintendo released the NES Classic and followed it up this year with the Super NES Classic. There was multiple versions of each with Europe and Japan getting different versions. In early 2016 Nintendo announces a Super Famicon-themed 3DS for the Japanese market. And why not. Retro sells and Nintendo is smart to lean on its long gaming history to sweeten its books.

Essential Phone gets a $200 price drop, existing customers get credit

Essential has an offer that’s honestly very hard to refuse: The price of the Essential Phone (PH-1, going by technical model number), is now $200 cheaper, so $499 off-contract and unlocked. That’s an amazing price for their debut smartphone, which remains my favorite in terms of straight up industrial design (and it has one of the best color-tuned displays in devices right now in my opinion).

The Essential Phone went on sale just a few months ago, but the company believes that as a young startup just getting out therein a market where incumbents like Apple and Samsung basically take up all the available space, there’s a lot of value in word of mouth and perceived value. That’s why it’s making this price change, Essential tells me – though you have to also wonder whether the company’s not seeing the numbers it was hoping for in terms of initial sales, which is what some early third-party sales estimates have suggested.

Regardless of the reason, the price drop makes Essential arguably the best value smartphone on the market, and definitely the best Android device in that range. It’s one major failing has been its camera, which launched as a slow and buggy feature compared to most out there, but the subsequent camera software updates have improved its speed and reliability a lot, and more updates are promised in the future, too.

Lest Essential’s earliest customers feel slighted, it has a deal for early buyers, too – they’ll receive a $200 ‘friends and family’ credit they can use to further discount (valid through December 15, 2017) a device for a loved one (or another for themselves, if they maybe also want the just-released white Essential Phone, for instance), or to buy the 360-camera attachment. Customers will be able to sign up to redeem the $200 credit on the Essential page, using their phone’s IMEI and serial numbers, along with the email address they used to purchase.

In a time when the price of flagship smartphones in both iOS and Android worlds are ballooning, this is a very welcome nod to affordability. Without question, if you want an amazing phone at a killer price, the now $499 Essential Phone is the one to get.

Also, this is U.S. only for now – details on a program for Canadian device followers will follow, per Essential.

Featured Image: Darrell Etherington