Smach published three new videos showing how strategy games, first-person shooters, and "fast-paced indie games" perform on the Ryzen-powered handheld PC it plans to release later this year. The company also shared another video featuring its chief executive, Daniel Fernandez, answering questions about the upcoming product.
If the Smach name sounds vaguely familiar, well, that's because it successfully crowdfunded its Smach Z handheld PC on Kickstarter and Indiegogo in 2016. The projects raised a combined $1.28 million, and the Smach Z was originally expected to debut between December 2017 and Q1 2018. That launch window has since closed.
That's probably because the Smach Z bears little resemblance to the original crowdfunding projects: it's since been upgraded from an AMD Merlin Falcon RX-421BD to a Ryzen Embedded V1000 processor, equipped with LTE connectivity, and redesigned to look something like a cross between the Steam Controller and Nintendo Switch.
You can see the effects of those changes in the strategy game video:
The first-person shooter video:
And the "fast-paced indie game" video:
The video featuring Fernandez can also be found on YouTube.
There's no denying the Smach Z bears little resemblance to the original pitch. But it's not hard to imagine that people who backed that project are starting to grow frustrated, nonetheless. Not only did Smach double-dip by using both Indiegogo and Kickstarter, but it also missed its launch window by a year.
The company's also flip-flopped on how many versions of the Smach Z it planned to make and how much they'd cost. In 2018 it said it would release a Smach Z for $699 and a Smach Z Pro for $899. Now it's selling pre-orders for a Smach Z ($699), Smach Z Pro ($899), and Smach Z Ultra ($1,099) that all have varying tech specs.
Yet the product itself hardly seems closer to launch: Smach called the device shown in these recent videos an "Alpha prototype." Nearly three years after raising $1.28 million, and a year after the closing of its launch window, it's still working on an alpha. (And apparently a "prototype" of that alpha version, at that.)
Maybe these videos will assure the Smach Z's backers that they will, in fact, receive the device they paid for so long ago. But at this point, it's hard not to wonder if Smach is so worried about catching up with recent tech because an outdated machine would be widely ridiculed.