Pixel Vision Review – Is Retro Gaming Worth $460?

Positives
  • Beautiful Design
  • Handheld Retro Gaming
  • Can be played off a battery pack
  • Tons of Games!
Negatives
  • Expensive
  • Occasional Software Glitches
  • Saving Game progress is problematic

Who doesn’t love kicking back and playing old school games from your childhood?  Swedish artist Luv Hulten fuses modern technology with traditional artisan knowledge. He’s got dozens of creations inspired by retro gaming, 8 months ago Mobile Geeks backed the PixelVision on Kickstarter, and we finally got our our hand held retro gaming console in the mail.  There are only 500 units out there and we’re going to let you know if it was worth the $460 that we paid for it.

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Design

Swedish designer Love Hultén has made a name for himself crafting some of the most beautiful electronic devices in the world, combining hand-crafted wooden bodies with old-school electronics for what can only be termed as retro extravagance. Modeled after the foldable Game Boy SP, the Pixel Vision’s innards comes encased in solid walnut with painted cast acrylic and a satin finish.

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The Pixel Vision is made of American Walnut and each unit is hand crafted. The design is beautiful it blends traditional craftsmanship with old school gaming. The 3.5 inch display is surrounded by a smooth soft plastic that doesn’t look or feel cheap.

Hardware

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The tech behind the pixel vision is nothing new, the device runs a simple emulator and you simply load the games via USB, it comes with an 8GB stick which is enough to hold 10,000 games.

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Hardware specifications

Raspberry Pi A+ board
3.5” LCD monitor
Pixel Vision bridge board
DAC+ audio chip incl headphone jack
Built-in mono speaker
Charging circuit
Soft tactile micro switches
1600mAh LiPo battery cell

Software

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How well the Gameplay is pretty ROM dependent.  At times the music stuttered or we weren’t able to save game progress, so if say the right and left buttons are reversed in a few games we tried, so you’ll have to go searching for different builds if you want to get things running seamlessly.  The raspberry pi a+ can emulate game consoles like atari 2600, Game boy and game boy advanced as well as the original NES, SNES and Sega.  You just need to find the ROMS.

Pixel Vision is capable of emulating some of the most classic game systems:
Atari 2600
Atari 5200
Atari 7800
Game Boy
Game Boy Color
*Game Boy Advance
Nintendo
*Super Nintendo
Sega Master System
*Sega Genesis
Sega Game Gear
*ZX Spectrum
PC Engine

Pixel Vision uses the Nintendo A+B button layout, not ideal for most games on systems marked above with *

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A few tips that we thought we would pass on to save you time when you’re navigating the Pixel Vision are if you want to go back to the main menu, you click the left 2 buttons on top. Restarting the game by clicking the outer top buttons at the same time.

We also had a lot of trouble saving games, I was able to find a few ROMs that did save game play, but for 99% even if you make a profile it does save gameplay which is very frustrating because it tells you that it’s saved it and it hasn’t. When you want to start a game the inner right hand button will get things going, but on some games it’s the inner left. The R2 and R1 can sometimes be reversed which is easy to figure out. One thing that we did notice on occasion was a spit second of code when you first turn it on, but it’s fine and an occasion rough edge that pushed through.

Battery Life

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You get between 2 and half to three hours of play time and you are able to play with it connected to a battery pack. Though you’ll need to charge it for a bit before you try to play it off the battery pack, we learned that lesson the hard way. The game also works best when it’s in the upper 50% of the charge, you’ll start to notice more glitches after the first hour of continuous game play. That’s when I would plug in to a portable charger, just to keep things running perfectly.

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We should also not that when we first got it we would leave it plugged in for hours with no luck on charging, you need to make sure the light is flashing, unplug and plug it back in again.

Charging from empty to full takes 3 hours.

Sound

There is a headphone jack tucked away on the back the of the device, so you’ll be able to zone out to your favortie old school game sound tracks. If headphones aren’t your thing there is a tiny speaker on the front of the Pixel Vision, to turn it off you’ll need to head into the game settings, but if you can’t be bothered it’s not very loud. We would have liked to control the volume, but if you were playing it in a coffee shop the person beside you wouldn’t be annoyed, it’s really just enough for you to hear softly.

Price

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It’s expensive, almost too expensive, $460 is more than a gaming console and this isn’t nearly as powerful, versatile and it won’t get nearly as much use. But…if you love retro gaming and want to one piece to pay homage to that BIG part of your life growing up than you won’t mind paying this hefty price tag. To be honest, it was a hard pill to swallow but now that it’s in hand we’ve got no regrets.

Did I mention that it’s limited edition? Head on over to Love Hulten’s website to see if you can even pick on up. Having said that we’re sure that we might end up seeing one or two on EBay, if you see one, do it!

Rating
Design / 9
Sound / 6
Performance / 7
Battery Life / 7
Software / 7
Price / 5.5
Editor's Choice / 9
Hardware / 7.5
Display / 7
Pixel Vision

There's no denying that the Pixel Vision is a gorgeous device. It's small enough to be convenient, yet large enough to show off the wood finish - this is something that you'll want to stare at as much as you'll want to play it. At first we thought this is the ultimate hipster accessory, but at $460 you need to be a real gaming enthusiast to open up your wallet. There is no doubt that it’s expensive since most gaming consoles will run you $400, but if you’re someone who loves old school games this is a piece is something that you can enjoy even when you’re not playing it.

7.2
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