ZX Touch Spectrum console

2 handheld Spectrum consoles: ZX Touch and PicoZX

Last Updated on March 19, 2024

These handheld Spectrum consoles let you take classic 8-bit games with you everywhere.

I’ve gained a growing respect for the ZX Spectrum over the past few years. This was, I think, instigated by trying the ZXBaremulator software for Raspberry Pi, and now, 40 years later, I’m finally far less critical of the colour bleeding madness of Sir Clive Sinclair’s greatest creation.

(The Commodore 64 is obviously better, though…)

Now, clearly a lot of people (mostly in the UK, but some further afield too) have deep love for the ZX Spectrum. Over the past few years we’ve had the disastrous Vega, the spectacular Spectrum Next, calls for ZX Spectrum games to appear on Evercade, and dreams of a “TheZX Mini” or similarly monikered unit from the guys behind TheA500 Mini and TheC64 (not to mention the upcoming The400 Mini).

But what we’re about to share with you are two portable ZX Spectrum projects, one you can buy, and one you can assemble yourself.

ZX Touch

First, let’s take a look at the ZX Touch, a pocket-sized handheld console with the following spec:

  • ARM Cortex-M7 480Mhz MCU
  • 7″ touchscreen display (1024×600 resolution)
  • 8 tactile buttons
  • Analog joystick
  • 48k/128k ZX Spectrum emulation
  • Support for TAP, SNA, and TRD file formats
  • 22 built-in games
  • Full virtual ZX Spectrum keyboard
  • Saving/loading game positions
  • SD card slot for external game storage
  • Wi-Fi ready
  • AY/Beeper sound mixer
  • ULAplus colors
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Up to 6 hours of gaming on a single charge
  • USB-C charging port

Developed by Hungarian outfit Elmar Electronics, the ZX Touch looks pretty impresive. It also has a Wi-Fi radio built in, which be unlocked with a future firmware update.. Learn more at zx-touch.com.

This system can be purchased now from the Sintech website, where it is listed at £219.

PicoZX Spectrum console

If you prefer something more DIY, the Raspberry Pi Pico-based PicoZX will cost between $37 and $148 depending on whether you want to assemble it yourself or buy it pre-built.

The features of a built PicoZX are:

  • 2.8″ IPS Screen, very clear with beautiful colors
  • Based on Raspberry Pi PICO
  • USB-C
  • 18650 Battery charging
  • 49 buttons QWERTY keyboard
  • AY sound
  • 180x120mm dimensions
  • Optional VGA-out

Clearly this is a very different prospect to the ZX Touch. Whereas the handheld console above is geared towards gaming, the PicoZX boasts a full keyboard. This makes it more suited to programming and emulating other platforms (including Commodore 64 and Atari 800) than simply retro gaming.

Check the PicoZX Tindie page for details and prices.

About the author

Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine, TechRadar.com, and other publications.

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