Vega+ Shipping Dates
- End of September 2016
- October 2016
- In time for Xmas 2016
- February 2017
- A "few weeks" from March 10th 2017
- Summer 2017
- 8 weeks from August 9th (October 4th, 2017)
- Mid October 2017
- April 2018
- May 8th - 12th 2018
- May 12th 2018
- May 31st 2018 (Indiegogo deadline)
- June 15th 2018
- July 6th 2018
World of Spectrum
Searchable threads in one long post:
The Vega+ daily blog is now so long that by default it only shows the last 7 entries. If you wish to read the full history, click the button below.
Sunday 1st July, 2018
George Cropper releases a video called THE VEGA+ - TRIPLE TROUBLE!
A video of the Vega+ from the South West Amiga Group meet is uploaded to YouTube. In the video:
- The unit appears to be a V1 prototype
- The buttons do not appear to function correctly
- There is a piece of sticky tape holding the bottom corner together
- The bottom row of buttons appear to have been hand painted
RCL release their 104th update (with 12 having been deleted) announcing yet another security breach:
C:\> ping -n 1 retro-computers.co.uk Pinging retro-computers.co.uk [126.96.36.199] with 32 bytes of data: Reply from 188.8.131.52: bytes=32 time=84ms TTL=45 C:\> ping -n 1 clivehelpus.website Pinging clivehelpus.website [184.108.40.206] with 32 bytes of data: Reply from 220.127.116.11: bytes=32 time=104ms TTL=49
The image of the Vega+ appears to have regressed from the single colour buttons of the V2 (allegedly from June 20th) to the multi-coloured buttons of the V1 (allegedly taken on June 29th).
An article showing that SMS Electronics is owed hundreds of thousands of pounds is added to the Levy Leaks section.
Chris Smith posts in the public discussion facebook group regarding the IP of the Vega:top
Monday 2nd July, 2018
Just one day before the shareholders meeting adjourns to decide whether to fire David Levy, Suzanne Martin and Janko Mrsic-Flogel, RCL announce that shipping will begin this week:
An article is added to the Levy Leaks section showing that law firm Michelmores is owed more than £300,000 by RCL.top
Tuesday 3rd July, 2018
An article is added to the Levy Leaks section showing that David Levy/RCL owe more than £17,000 to their previous law firm Teacher Stern, and 18 months on the debt still hasn't been paid.
George Cropper releases his 62nd video called THE VEGA+ - ANOTHER £300,000+ OF DEBTS LEAKED.
A second article is added to Levy Leaks showing that David Levy admitted that the leaked bank statements were real on the (now taken down) site rclaccounts.uk.
Paul Andrews posts that David Levy used a technicality to delay the vote/poll to remove the current directors:top
Wednesday 4th July, 2018
Lee Fogarty tweeted the following statement 2 days ago:
I wonder if David Levy is aware that Suzanne Martin stated several times she fully intends to sue RCL for failing to protect her for the last 2yrs? #zxvega— RealFogartyLee (@RealFogartyLee1) 2 July 2018
A new Levy Leak is added called Suzanne Martin to sue RCL. It contains various correspondence with Lee Fogarty and Suzanne Martin.
A second Levy Leak is added called HD Tooling Service shows that David Levy/RCL appears to have not paid for the production of the buttons and owes the company £11,400.
Gareth Corfield publishes an article on The Register called ZX Spectrum reboot firm boss delays director vote date again. Highlights from the article:
- The ZX Spectrum reboot scandal will drag on for at least another month as Retro Computers Ltd’s embattled directors have again delayed a showdown that could lead to their dismissal.
- The Vega+ was originally advertised as being ready for delivery by Christmas 2016, the money being raised earlier that year to put the final design into production.
- Tuesday 3 July was supposed to be the day when the company’s shareholders voted on whether to remove all its directors, who are chairman David Levy, MD Suzanne Martin and CTO Janko Mrsic-Flogel.
- According to notes of the meeting made available by Andrews on a Facebook group for disgruntled RCL customers (Facebook registration and group membership required), Levy found a provision in the company’s articles that allowed him to delay the vote by another 30 days, something he did not deny when we asked him about it yesterday. The meeting had already been adjourned for a month prior to this.
- Levy did deny to The Register that RCL’s board had fallen out with the Sinclair Research Ltd (SRL) representative at the meeting, insisting that he had been shown a working Vega+ console. Andrews suggested otherwise in his published notes, claiming: “Mostly Levy said they would not answer the SRL questions ‘until after they had shipped’. I think it’s fair to say no questions asked were answered by RCL, and the conversation went round and round and round again between SRL and RCL.”
- RCL has declared it will be shipping some units this week, a claim it has made so many times over the past few years.
- As previously detailed, Andrews and Smith want Levy and his team off the board because of the long delay in delivery of the console. Questions have mounted over the state of RCL’s finances, especially what has happened to the allegedly ring-fenced £513,000 of customers’ money.
- Indiegogo has kept a very low profile in all this until The Register reported a successful legal action brought against RCL where the judge found that Indiegogo’s terms and conditions were meaningless, ruling that an RCL customer had formed an implied contract of sale with the game console firm. Indiegogo has since insisted it is going to hire a debt collection agency to recover customers’ monies from RCL, though it was happily transferring five-figure sums of customers’ cash to RCL as late as the middle of last year.
- Bank statements filed at Luton County Court and seen by El Reg revealed that on the same day as RCL’s accounts claimed it had £433,000 in capital and reserves, in fact it had just £1,200 in the bank. The account was overdrawn at points with cash top-ups being supplied by VAT refunds from HMRC.
- In a statement posted to its Facebook pageyesterday, RCL made various claims that Andrews has committed criminal offences and that he is under investigation by various agencies. No evidence was offered to support these claims. It also claimed that Andrews had "immediately released to the press" his meeting notes, when in fact El Reg saw them on Facebook.
- Questions remain over what RCL's board have done with the £513,000 of crowdfunded cash and when will they refund the 489 customers who have requested a total of £55,505 be returned to them. In addition, Indiegogo's promised debt collectors have yet to materialise.
Suzanne Martin posts her theory for RCL's supposed hack on their facebook page when responding to the question, "How can you keep getting hacked? Have you never heard of two factor authentication? Or perhaps you're not really getting hacked at all, and it's all just a smokescreen?"top
Thursday 5th July, 2018
The Indiegogo Trust and Safety team issue an update refuting a large number of false allegations made by RCL in their update on July 1st. RCL originally wrote:
Friday 6th July, 2018
RCL miss another delivery date as the Vega+ units were supposed to ship today. On Monday the 2nd of July, RCL posted an update stating "Good News - Shipping - THIS WEEK".
A new leaked email is released showing that David Levy and Suzanne Martin fought with Indiegogo to prevent Suzanne Martin being listed as the campaign owner for the Vega+ campaign.
RCL release update 107 on Indiegogo called Happy Friday:
Lee Staniforth asks Dermot O'Leary on twitter whether has has ever heard of Retro Computers Ltd or the ZX Vega+:
No, no idea. Huge Spectrum fan, but never had one of these..— Dermot O'Leary (@radioleary) July 7, 2018
On Thursday 20th October 2016, RCL claimed that Dermot O'Leary was getting a Vega+ with his name on:top
Saturday 7th July, 2018
A new article is added to the Levy Leaks section called Blackmail, showing how Suzanne Martin and David Levy treat backers.
Dermot O'Leary replies to @RCL_FAN_CLUB again re-iterating he never received the personalised Vega+ that RCL claimed he had.
Er. I really didn’t.— Dermot O'Leary (@radioleary) July 7, 2018
Sunday 8th July, 2018
A new article is added to the Levy Leaks section called Dr David Levy trading insolvent and includes a full email chain with David Levy giving excuses to Teacher Stern why he cannot pay their outstanding debt more than a year later.top
Tuesday 10th July, 2018
A new article is added to the Levy Leaks section called No Assets. The article says that Michelmores didn't expect to recoup money from Nick Cooper's bankruptcy, and that they wanted a 60/40 split of Vega and Vega+ profits to pay off their outstanding debt.
Lee Fogarty tweets claiming that Suzanne Martin/RCL intended to sue their previous lawyers Teacher Stern:
I wonder if Teacher Stern are aware that Suzanne/RCL intend to sue them to return payments made? #zxvega— RealFogartyLee (@RealFogartyLee1) July 10, 2018
Thursday 12th July, 2018
The ZX Vega+ Refunds Requests reaches another milestone with 500 backers requesting refunds totalling £56980!
Saturday 14th July, 2018
A new leak is added that shows David Levy and Suzanne Martin planned and executed a disability hate crime against Paul Andrews disabled wife back in 2017. Lee Fogarty was also used in a scripted conversation along with Jan Saggiori. Police officer TDC Levy was also mentioned in the leak.
Due to the disgusting nature of what was done by Dr David Levy and Suzanne Martin, the leak was not going to be mentioned on the news page of this site. However, a public facebook post from Paul Andrews himself stated that although the content made grim reading, the public deserved to know what was going on. For this reason, a news item was added to the site.
To add insult to injury, Jan Saggiori posts on the democracy group, stating that his words were taken out of context and that "ill people" are not other peoples fault - only god knows:top
Sunday 22nd July, 2018
Kieren Hawken posts on the public discussion facebook group to say that his Indiegogo account has been frozen:
Indiegogo follow up later to say that Kieren's account is too risky:
Former RCL contractor Paul Dunn confirms that David Levy had access to his yahoo account firstname.lastname@example.org when he contacted him on July 5th 2018 to inform people about Levy's new gmail account email@example.com:top
Tuesday 24th July, 2018
All Vega and Vega+ hardware on the RCL shop is now showing as sold out. After 3 months, RCL had sold 17 Vega+ units based on their initial shop stock levels of 5000 units. The remaining 4983 have apparently sold out overnight, along with all the original Vega units.top
Thursday 26th July, 2018
Gareth Corfield tweets regarding complaining about Retro Computers Ltd to the Insolvency Service:
If anyone following the #zxvega saga makes a complaint to the Insolvency Service about Retro Computers Ltd, please feel free to contact me in confidence. DMs open or firstname.lastname@example.org https://t.co/QauzXQ5zvu— Gareth Corfield (@GazTheJourno) July 26, 2018
RCL release their 108th update on Indiegogo claiming that they are shipping blankety-blank units to the first 400 backers starting today:
RCL post an almost identical message to facebook. For some reason, a botched copy/paste includes David Levy's new email address email@example.com. The email address part is deleted 40 minutes later, but you can view the original in the Edit History section of the post.
RCL tweet claiming that journalist Gareth Corfield has been lied to:top
Friday 27th July, 2018
RCL tweet that an addition 200 units are going out tonight:
A new article is added called Google Takedowns, showing how RCL are attempting to remove negative stories about themselves from Google searches.top
Saturday 28th July, 2018
Jan Saggiori (employee of RCL that was uncovering the identities of "trolls") tweets claiming to have a Vega+ (archived backup available). The 2 photos Jan posts carefully crop out the bottom and right side of the Vega+, covering up any Sinclair logo, rainbow sticker, or the buttons:
A number of backers receive the following email:
ChinnyVision tweets regarding the world first unboxing video of the Vega+, and is promptly blocked by the Retro Computers Ltd twitter account. (Original link available on pscp.tv)top
Sunday 29th July, 2018
Paul Andrews posts information about the RCL PayPal account and the bank card he never ordered to the public discussion facebook group:
Another member posts suggesting the information needs to go to Sinclair Research Limited for the upcoming shareholder meeting on August 2nd, and Paul follows up with the following:top
Monday 30th July, 2018
Jan Saggiori is caught altering the Wikipedia pages for the Vega+, spreading misinformation and lies about the project in his pigeon English style. Administrators undo several of his edits with comments such as "User is affiliated with company; there is no independent and undisputed verification that this statement is true."
The first few reviews of the Vega+ have been received, and they are unversally negative. The 3 backers that received the devices have already supplied photos and a video of the device in action, something RCL have failed to do for 2 and a half years.
Eurogamer publishes an article called Backers have finally started to receive the beleaguered ZX Spectrum Vega Plus. But early impressions aren't great.top
Tuesday 31st July, 2018
Another 4 reviews are posted by backers that have received the device. Read the detailed report of the first reviews!
The RCL Wikipedia page is deleted due to the edit war started yesterday by Jan Saggiori.
Lee Fogarty posts a link to download Ultimate games on Indiegogo:top
Wednesday 1st August, 2018
The BBC publishes an article called Vega+ to be stripped of Sinclair and ZX Spectrum brands. Highlights of the article:
- A retro games console crowdfunding campaign is to lose the right to feature the brands of the original computers it is based on.
- The revelation coincides with the delivery of some units of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ to backers, albeit without most of the games originally promised to be pre-installed.
- Rights-owner Sky told the BBC there had been repeated missed deadlines. It is pulling use of the "ZX Spectrum" and "Sinclair" trademarks as a result. The decision was taken in May. Sky has told campaign manager Retro Computers Ltd (RCL) that a licence to use the names will therefore expire on 7 August.
- "We would love to see the Vega+ consoles in the hands of fans. However, as RCL have repeatedly failed to deliver and breached the terms of their licence, we have made the decision to end our working relationship," a spokesman for the broadcaster explained. To give as many gaming fans as possible the chance to get their Vega+ console, RCL [had] three additional months from termination to deliver the products."
- RCL declined to comment on the allegations but said deliveries had begun last week. "We have managed to start shipping at last," RCL's chairman David Levy told the BBC. "But this time we did not say exactly when this would happen, so those who have thrown various spanners in the works in the past, in order to hamper our efforts, were not able this time to prevent us from shipping."
- Sky owns the intellectual property involved as a consequence of its purchase of Amstrad, which had earlier acquired Sinclair's marketing and merchandising rights. In addition to the brand names, it also owns the rights to a number of Spectrum games that it now intends to withhold.
- Sky does not, however, have a connection to the emulation software, so RCL could theoretically continue to produce the handheld console under a different name.
- The disclosure comes ahead of a crunch shareholders meeting scheduled for Thursday. Two former directors of RCL - with a combined 50% stake - are seeking to displace the current management. But to succeed they would need the support of Sinclair Research - the original ZX Spectrum inventor Sir Clive Sinclair's company - which owns 25% of RCL.
- Backers were originally told deliveries would be made in September of the same year and 1,000 licensed games would be included. After several missed delivery targets, the company sent out the first units at the end of last week.
- It has said it is in the process of shipping consoles to 400 of the more than 4,000 backers, who had agreed to receive units with only a small number of games. Nineteen titles appear to have been included.
- To date, a handful of people have confirmed receipt of the devices, via social media posts, several of whom have complained about the quality of the console.
- "The buttons are absolutely awful," wrote David Whitchurch-Bennett. "You have to press so hard and they intermittently stop working unless you apply so much pressure."
- Craig Wootton complained his console had arrived with "no protection, no bubble wrap, polystyrene et cetera. The screen cover itself is scratched," he added in a video posted to YouTube. "That's pretty poor, if I'm honest." He also said that a lack of instructions had left him at a loss as to how to add other games.
- RCL director Suzanne Martin has posted on Facebook that the machines had been deliberately "shipped in ethical packaging without any additional plastic" and that information about how to use the consoles would be made available online.
- One recipient has been more positive. Jan Saggiori has posted several messages on social media saying how much he has enjoyed playing the console. He had earlier been blocked from making edits to a Wikipedia page dedicated to the Vega+ over claims he was affiliated with the project and therefore biased.
- But he told the BBC that this was a false allegation and his involvement was limited to running an independent Facebook group dedicated to supporting the project. "I am a backer who upset the trolls [and] have no affiliation to RCL," he said. "I have been personally targeted... and attacked, threatened, blackmailed for supporting the campaign."
- Indiegogo - the crowdfunding site that hosts the project - announced in June that it had appointed a debt collection agency in an attempt to recoup backers' funds. The BBC understands the US company is still pursuing collections despite the fact some deliveries have been made.
George Cropper releases his 63rd video called THE VEGA+ - IT'S BEYOND USELESS!
Mike Davies tweets regarding Lee Fogarty uploading Ultimate Play the Game titles yesterday:
The World of Spectrum is now distributing tape images of Ultimate Play the Game titles. I didn't realise World of Spectrum had permission from Rare to host and distribute these games. #zxvega pic.twitter.com/zvQWGugZG0— isofarro (@isofarro) August 1, 2018
Lee Fogarty responds on Indiegogo:
MCV publish an article called Sinclair ZX Vega+ finally arrives with backers, after 2+ year wait.
PC Gamer releases an article called Vega+ retro game console loses Sinclair and ZX Spectrum brand licenses.top
Thursday 2nd August, 2018
Paul Andrews and Chris Smith announce they did not attend the shareholders meeting due to Sinclair Research Limited abstaining from the vote to remove directors David Levy, Suzanne Martin and Janko Mrsic-Flogel:
#zxvega— Peter Barrack (@Prbarrack) August 2, 2018
Mine has stopped working less than a day after receiving it. Leaving it charging for a few hours killed it.
The Vega+ Refunds Request site reports 523 backers have requested refunds totalling £59400.
3 Vega+ consoles have been placed for sale on EBay, with bids currently up to £170.
The BBC updates their article regarding Sky terminating their licence, confirming that David Levy is a liar:
George Cropper releases his 64th video relating to the Vega+ debacle called THE VEGA+ - SKY NEWS AND BAD REVIEWS !
EuroGamer releases an article called Maker of the troubled Vega Plus told it can no longer use Sinclair and ZX Spectrum trademarks.
Darren also explains the white powdery residue on the close up of the edge:top
Saturday 4th August, 2018
Lee Fogarty posts the contents of an email David Levy sent to testers on April 26th 2017:
According to Lee, Janko Mrsic-Flogel's company Private Planet had quit the previous October and had no intention of finishing the Vega+ project:
A second report of a Vega+ failing to charge is posted by Barel Barelon to the Vega+ Shareholders Petition facebook group:
No reply is made by the RCL twitter account when asked:top
Sunday 5th August, 2018
Lee Fogarty posts another 2 messages on Indiegogo claiming that Suzanne Martin has been contacting his friends on facebook.
Lee also posts a reply to Gary's question on Indiegogo about which SD cards can be used and that lots of games on the card will slow the unit down significantly:
Lee Fogarty also claims to have emailed David Levy and posts in the World of Spectrum facebook group:
Lee Fogarty also posts on the World of Spectrum facebook group claiming that he has been marked refunded to silence him on Indiegogo:top
Monday 6th August, 2018
Gareth Corfield publishes an article on TheRegister called ZX Spectrum reboot latest: Some Vega+s arrive, Sky pulls plug, Clive drops ball. Highlights from the article:
- Sir Clive Sinclair's company has accused flailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd of trading while insolvent. Meanwhile, the firm has delivered some consoles – and been stripped of the brand rights to its flagship product.
- Last week some customers of Retro Computers Ltd reported on social media that they had received samples of the infamous ZX Spectrum Vega+ console, the firm's flagship product.
- Initial reviews were not positive, with many commenting on the lack of packaging and absence of items such as an instruction manual or a charging cable, as well as the need for users to manually map keys by themselves before being able to play games.
- Although the company claimed it was posting out 400 consoles, one irritated customer spun up a probability distribution based on an analysis of serial numbers seen in social media pictures of the device that estimates a figure that is closer to 50.
- The ZX Spectrum Vega+ scandal has become synonymous in the public eye with the pitfalls of crowdfunding. RCL's raising of £513,000 from more than 4,000 members of the public and subsequent failure to deliver the promised product for two years threw into stark relief the fact that crowdfunding platforms such as Indiegogo are wide open for abuse.
- Though some lucky customers secured county court judgments against RCL to get their money back, the vast majority have been left out of pocket while RCL's management pumped out unkept promises of production and delivery.
- In light of last week's developments, The Register is concerned that the first batch of consoles may be the last of the Vega+ ever to see the light of day.
- The BBC reported that RCL has been stripped of its right to use the ZX Spectrum brand by Sky, which owns the trademark, having bought out Amstrad which in turn acquired the brand from Sir Clive Sinclair himself. Sky also owns the rights to a number of games that were supposed to be bundled with the console, which cannot now lawfully be done.
- "In a statement provided to the BBC, we confirmed our decision – made in February – to terminate the licence as of 8 May 2018," the company told the Beeb. "To allow as many fans as possible to receive the console, we provided an additional 90 days grace period, which runs until 7 August 2018. This decision has also been communicated directly to David Levy of RCL."
- Levy, RCL's chairman, had tried to suggest to the BBC that Sky withdrawing the licence was "completely untrue" – ironically.
- The Register has spoken to irate RCL customers who say they have reported the company to the Insolvency Service. The service has the power to investigate alleged irregularities within registered UK businesses, can apply to have companies wound up and can have individuals disqualified from being company directors.
- The Register has seen proof that the company bank account was all but empty in early 2017, while around 530 customers have requested refunds totalling £60,135 at the time of writing.
- The Insolvency Service's involvement could be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, forcibly winding up RCL and holding its management to personal account would satisfy a great number of people. On the other, such moves would also hammer a stake into the corpse of the Vega+.
- Last week also saw a crunch shareholder vote to dismiss RCL's current board, consisting of Levy, managing director Suzanne Martin and CTO Janko Mrsic-Flogel. They would have been replaced by someone appointed by SRL and the other shareholders: former MD Paul Andrews and former CTO Chris Smith, who designed the firmware for the Vega+ before the directors split in April 2016.
- The Register understands that the intention was to examine RCL's management accounts and figure out if production of the Vega+ was possible from whatever resources were left in the firm's control.
- At the twice-delayed shareholders' meeting, SRL abstained from voting on the motion to dismiss the directors. With Andrews, Smith and Levy each owning 25 per cent of RCL, and a 75 per cent threshold being needed to sack the directors, the motion failed.
- Although SRL failed to take any action, a statement from SRL seen by The Register openly questions whether RCL is trading while insolvent.
- It should be noted for the record that SRL have serious concerns regarding the solvency of the company and the ability to continue to trade and fulfil all of its obligations. The directors should consider the position and seek the appropriate advice as there is a real concern that the company is trading whilst insolvent.
- Trading while insolvent is defined as a company being unable to pay its debts as they fall due and its assets being of less value than the total of its liabilities (debts). In plain English, if the cash in RCL's bank account plus whatever can be earned from flogging off company property is less than the total of its debts, the firm is insolvent.
- The Register has asked RCL to comment on this allegation from SRL. We have also asked an SRL director why, if the company truly believes RCL may be trading while insolvent – which is against the law – it abstained from voting against the people who ostensibly got it into that position.
- In summary: a handful of RCL customers have received a device that looks something like the originally advertised Vega+. It appears to have been completely redesigned in a great hurry and pushed out of the door to coincide with the shareholders' meeting, presumably to deter SRL from voting to sack the directors – a strategy that paid off.
- However, for the other 4,250 customers awaiting consoles, they may well be left out of pocket. As RCL can no longer lawfully use the Sinclair branding or more than half of the original 1,000 games that were supposed to be bundled with the Vega+, hope of further deliveries has all but disappeared.
- What happens next is in the hands of SRL and the Insolvency Service.
- Crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, which RCL used to raise its initial funding from the public, appears to have changed its systems so money pledged by "backers" (as it calls customers) is recorded as a "pledge" and not an "order".
- This appears to be a direct result of the January 2018 court case against RCL where the use of the word "order" was what convinced the judge to sweep aside Indiegogo's terms and conditions and rule that a contract of sale had been created.
Jason Brooks responds to a question about an EBay auction for a Vega+ that was removed, and admits he removed it as his Vega+ has also died. This is the 3rd known Vega+ to have died within days of them being released.
Tuesday 7th August, 2018
Today is the final day that Retro Computers Ltd are allowed to use the names Sinclair, ZX, and Spectrum.
Carry on Gaming release a YouTube video review called Vega+ or Vegargh+?
The ZX Vega+ Refunds Request page shows 530 backers have requested refunds totalling £60,135.
Wednesday 8th August, 2018
Retro Computers Ltd violate the Sky licence by showing products available for sale on their website using the Sinclair, ZX and Spectrum names.top
Thursday 9th August, 2018
Reporter Gaz Corfield publishes a review of the Vega+ in an article called ZX Spectrum Vega+ blows a FUSE: It runs open-source emulator: Uncomfortable to hold, crap buttons – oh dear. Highlights from the article:
- With public interest at an all-time high in what the company has actually produced during the ongoing scandal, El Reg acquired one from an RCL customer for review purposes.
- No instructions were supplied with the console. In time-honoured retro gaming fashion, The Register’s crack review team resorted to button-mashing to figure out what did what.
- Supplied with 18 games, our review console (lent to us by an RCL customer who wishes to remain anonymous) was finished in black plastic with a very bright screen, on which we will say more later.
- The plastic screen cover looks cheapish in our opinion, with the Spectrum rainbow branding being a small triangle of coloured paper that looks for all the world like it was run off on a home inkjet printer.
- There are two buttons set almost flush into the case above the D-pad and the coloured buttons. The left-hand one of these is the power button and also brings up the main menu while the device is running, with the D-pad being used to navigate around it. There are also three buttons below the main right-hand set. These appeared to have been painted to give them splodges of colour.
- The right-hand side buttons are moulded in coloured plastic with the lettering painted or printed on. Games are loaded and played through use of the D-pad buttons and the red F button, which doubles as the enter key for most things.
- Every game bundled with the device appears to have been written by one Jonathan Cauldwell. Given that Sky and a host of other rights-holders to ZX Spectrum games have withdrawn permission for RCL to use their games, it could be these are the only games that RCL could legally use.
- The D-pad buttons are atrocious. El Reg suspects they were set too deep into the case so not enough protrudes above it to make gameplay comfortable. We found it necessary to use a prodding device to access the two buttons, which appear to operate on release rather than depression.
- Using the D-pad is uncomfortable, with the low-set buttons being extraordinarily stiff to press; it really takes a toll on the left thumb. Resistance from the buttons is enough to make you stop playing it after quarter of an hour.
- Start-up time from cold was around six or seven seconds – not unreasonable. The screen goes from a Retro Computers splash screen to the home screen, a blank white page displaying “© 1982 Sinclair Research Ltd”. From here you need to press the top left button to bring up the menu.
- We didn’t want to risk leaving our review unit on charge for extended periods of time, bearing in mind some customers’ reports of bricking, so we don’t have an estimate of battery life. Our review unit was able to display the battery voltage but could not measure the life remaining or the charge on it.
- The unit appears to power off at random intervals if you leave it alone for long enough, which may or may not be a power saving function; ours powered on again afterwards with no apparent problems. While charging, the screen maintains maximum brightness. We could not tell if it charged while the unit was powered off.
- The first thing we noticed was that some of the games have not had their keys mapped to the Vega+’s controls. While the main menu has an option to “remap game keys”, this is not the state a finished product should be delivered in. That it was delivered in this state at all suggests that it was rushed out of the door to buy RCL’s management some breathing space in their ongoing corporate woes rather than with any regard for consumer experience.
- The top right button (with a splodge of red paint on it) brings up the Game Info menu. There is a field labelled “hint” where the game designer can insert tips, tricks or explanations of gameplay. On our review console only a couple of games had this filled in.
- Using the red F button, we found more than once that it tends to input through several menu levels with a single button push, so trying to open the game list resulted in instantly re-opening the last selected game several times. That aside, the menu worked OK. With better buttons this could have been a much better experience.
- Some of the games we tried seemed to work well. "Byte Me", while fully functional, was particularly hard to play because of the lack of tactile feedback from depressed buttons. Opening "Egghead 5" produced an edge-of-hearing high pitched buzz which prompted us to close it again immediately. Some other games, such as "Izzy Wizzy Versus The Mutants", were unplayable out of the box unless the keys were remapped.
- The key mapping option in the menu would only bring up a virtual on-screen keyboard, appearing to only allow the mapping of keys to a keyboard that doesn’t exist on the Vega+. You'd need to have an external keyboard that functions through a Micro USB port, something Vulture Central is sadly lacking, even assuming the console can handle external inputs through the charging port.
- The Vega+ is uncomfortable to hold because of its rough edges. As is inevitable with injection moulding, the two clamshell halves of the case are not flush, leaving a sharp-to-the-palms edge that digs in. Some more bezelling work or a dust channel would have helped. One thing is plain; this is not a Rick Dickinson design. Rather, it’s what happens when you look at a picture of a Rick Dickinson case design and trace round it with crayons.
- On the bright(ness) side, the unit is very light – while we did not weigh it, it comes in lighter than most modern smartphones – and is only slightly larger than a smartphone in a case, so the Vega+ will fit into your pocket for on-the-go retro gaming.
- We also discovered that the screen on this unit has an unpleasant high frequency flicker if used at anything other than maximum brightness and contrast. In addition, the console occasionally freezes – a pleasant relief from the flicker.
- The micro SD card slot in the back of the Vega+ is unsprung. This means getting a card out of the unit needs a tool such as a pin. The headphone jack didn’t work on our review unit, either when plugged in during gameplay or when plugging them in with the unit off and then powering it on.
- Much was made, at the outset of the Vega+ project, of it running custom firmware – something RCL, the console’s makers, had to abandon after a dispute over payment with Chris Smith, author of the original firmware intended for the Vega+. Since then rumour and speculation has abounded as to what it is running.
- The Register can confirm that the Vega+ is in fact running the Free Unix Spectrum Emulator (FUSE), version 1.3.0, as released on 3 October 2016. By saving a game to a micro SD card and then opening the .s03 file generated by the Vega+ in a text editor on a PC, we found plain text that confirmed the presence of FUSE.
- FUSE author Philip Kendall also examined the savegame file and he confirmed our findings. RCL itself had said it was using software that "incorporates" FUSE, in a post from late July on its Facebook page.
- FUSE is licensed under the GNU General Public Licence version 2, which tells those distributing software under that licence: "You must make sure that [customers], too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights."
- Neither the GPL nor the FUSE source code were referenced on RCL's website at the time of publication.
- The Reg verdict: Not worth the £105
- The Vega+ is, in our view, not worth the £105 that RCL customers each paid for it. The buttons are borderline unusable, the case is uncomfortable to hold and the screen is either far too bright at a usable setting or flickers.
- Most pertinently, it does not include 1,000 games and it is not the console that RCL’s customers originally paid for in the first £513,000 crowdfunding exercise through Indiegogo.
- Rating out of 10? We'd give it a solid 4. It powers up, which is a positive point. But out of the box some of the games aren't playable, the case is poorly designed and joined, and the entire feel is plasticky and inconsequential. The screen is far too bright and unusable when dimmed. And, despite everything, it's just a GPL'd emulator in lightly customised hardware.
- Why Sir Clive Sinclair’s corporate shareholder in RCL, Sinclair Research Ltd, has not intervened is a source of ongoing confusion. Robert Freestone, an SRL director, failed to respond to The Register’s previous enquiries about SRL’s decision not to dismiss the RCL management last week.
The RCL facebook page has disappeared for the second time in recent weeks.
Lee Fogarty posts a message he apparently received from David Levy on the World of Spectrum facebook group:
Lee Fogarty posts various comments in the same facebook thread:top
Saturday 11th August, 2018
Lee Fogarty posts a document in the World of Spectrum facebook group called fuse.pdf showing his "attempts" to prove the original Vega ran Fuse.
The author of FUSE Philip Kendall tears Lee Fogarty's findings apart just 4 minutes later:top
Monday 13th August, 2018
YouTube channel Mark Fixes Stuff reviews the Vega+, scoring it 2 out of 10 in a video called Sinclair Vega Plus Handheld - One Week Review - Vega + - RCL - Retro Computers Ltd.top
Wednesday 15th August, 2018
A new 22 minute long review (including a drop-test) is released called A Cannibalvern special - The Vega+ Review:top
Friday 17th August, 2018
Gareth Corfield attends the court hearing to decide the costings between Paul Andrews vs David Levy, Suzanne Martin and Janko Mrsic-Flogel. Gareth publishes an article on TheRegister called ZX Spectrum reboot scandal biz gets £35k legal costs delayed: But just for a month - and what a month September will be for its directors. Highlights from the article:
- The directors of the company at the heart of the ZX Spectrum reboot scandal have been ordered to pay yet more legal costs as they keep trying to kick their financial woes into the long grass.
- At a hearing in London’s Royal Courts of Justice earlier today, David Levy, Suzanne Martin, Janko Mrsic-Flogel and Retro Computers Ltd (RCL) succeeded in having an oral hearing to assess earlier legal costs delayed until mid-September – but were ordered to pay £900 to cover the costs of today’s legal wranglings.
- The hearing shed light on RCL’s steadily mounting legal costs following the ZX Spectrum Vega+ handheld game console scandal.
- Claiming legal costs against RCL and its directors are former directors (and current shareholders) Paul Andrews and Chris Smith. The two sides are arguing over who should pay the lawyers’ bills from a High Court case heard last year brought by Andrews and Smith to stop RCL stripping them of their shares. RCL has repeatedly sought to delay anything that might be a step towards a final costs judgment, with today seeing a repeat of the same behaviour. Approximately £35,000 is now at stake.
- Hearings in the Senior Court Costs Office, itself a court, are not like other court hearings. They take place when two (or more) sides in a High Court case can’t agree on legal costs. Both sides’ lawyers prepare detailed breakdowns of how money was spent during a previous court case (for example, preparing documents, replying to letters, etc) and a costs judge then rules what must be paid and who must pay it.
- Costs proceedings are supposed to be finished within three months of the main case. RCL's case has taken more than a year, achieving legal time extension after time extension.
- As he tried to convince the judge to set the next hearing date as far into the future as he could, RCL chairman David Levy, wearing a pale jacket and an open-necked shirt, complained to the judge: “We have to get hold of various documents... this is one of the problems, [Andrews and Smith] sent us some documents during this whole horrible dispute but we haven’t got everything.”
- Chief Master Marsh, presiding at today’s hearing and the most senior judge of the Senior Court Costs Office, told RCL’s directors: “I appreciate life wasn’t straightforward for you. Nonetheless, we are over a year from when we should have done this. The claimants are entitled to require you to get on with it so really it’s just a question of you getting on with it.”
- Undeterred, Levy continued: “May I ask the question, if our solicitors are unable or unwilling for any reason to provide the documents, are we entitled to seek those documents from the other side and are they?”
- Chief Master Marsh, smiling patiently but firmly, interrupted Levy: “They’re not obliged to provide them. The obligation is on you to obtain the documents from your solicitors. If you have difficulties you can apply back to the court for an extension of time. That’s not going to be looked on with great sympathy.”
- Some days before the hearing, RCL’s solicitors, Michelmores LLP, told the court they were no longer acting for the scandal-hit company. All its directors were present in person to defend themselves.
- Janko Mrsic-Flogel, RCL’s CTO, piped up towards the end of the hearing to ask the master why the directors were individually liable for costs from the High Court case. Chief Master Marsh replied: “Those proceedings have effectively finished. We’re now dealing with costs, everybody entitled with costs needs to be a party, or be obliged to pay costs. You all need to be parties for the purposes of paying costs in proceedings.”
- When Mrsic-Flogel asked if there was “a way to get the personal names removed” the judge said “I very much doubt it.”
- The master also asked Levy in passing whether RCL was still in existence, to which its chairman replied: “Yes.”
- Chief Master Marsh ordered at the end of the hearing that unless RCL, Levy, Martin and Mrsic-Flogel filed requests for provisional costs assessments by 4pm on 14 September, “the costs to which they would otherwise be entitled... shall be disallowed.” The costs bill before this hearing was just over £34,000, with today's costs order of £900 being added to that.
- Lee Fogarty, a former RCL contractor who has since entered his own legal dispute with it over allegedly unpaid money, was dropped from today's costs order at Andrews and Smith’s barrister’s request. It was said that he only became aware that he was named in the proceedings very recently and that he first contacted the Senior Court Costs Office about it on 8 August.
- This means September will see more legal wranglings over RCL. Whatever happens next, it definitely won’t involve the delivery of more ZX Spectrum Vega+ consoles because a fed-up Sky has withdrawn the right for RCL to use the ZX Spectrum brand.
- Two RCL customers have recently secured county court judgments against the firm, with one confirming to The Register that he has secured a warrant to enforce it, the full value being £277 including costs.
Immediately after the court case loss, Suzanne Martin and Janko Mrsic-Flogel are terminated as directors but back-dated several weeks. Suzanne Martin shows an apparent termination of August the 3rd and Janko Mrsic-Flogel terminated on August the 7th, 2018.
In a case of incredibly poor timing, Thomas Eberle posts that he stills believes everybody will get their console in the Spectrum Forever facebook group. Thomas Eberle was previously trolling backers by posting a staged handover photo of a Vega+ prototype involving Lee Fogarty at the Spectrum 35 event.
An updated prediction analysis of how many Vega+ have been shipped has been shown in the backers collective facebook group:top
Saturday 18th August, 2018
Paul Andrews posts in the ZX Vega Plus Backers Collective Legal Action Group:
Latest Funky Spectrum RCL Videos
More terrible press for the much maligned console and to make matters worse, Sky have now insisted that the company no longer use the Sinclair name and its related trademarks.
A tiny amount of the promised 400 have been spotted in the wild and there's not a single positive review.
RCL really do seem to be trying to "go for broke" here, with their lawyers now contacting them to chase over a quarter of a million pounds in unpaid fees...
"Our Indiegogo campaign is to raise funds to manufacture the first 2,500 or more units of the Vega+ in the UK, and to prepare us for the second production run."
— RCL (15/02/2016)
- All refunds processed: ✘
- Roll of honour email: ✘
- Address confirmation: ✘
- Battery specification: ✘
- PEGI certification: ✘
- Final specs released: ✘
- Games list released: ✘
- Finished box design: ✘
- Manual released: ✘
- Working website: ✘
- Final devices made: 0 ✘
- Small claims victories: 0 ✘
- Prototypes made: ~100-200 ✔