Smach Z gaming PC handheld becomes another cautionary tale

There is no shortage of gaming handhelds today running a full Windows 10 OS, at least if you know where to look. From the GPD WIN 3 to the AYA Neo to the new ONEXPLAYER, there are now a few choices when it comes to bringing your PC games with you on the go. Back in 2014, however, that idea was revolutionary and a small team tried to make that happen before anyone else did. Of course, the Smach Z went via the crowdfunding route and, while it was successfully funded, it has now become yet another anecdote on how such dreams not only fail but also deprive people of their hard-earned money.

The way it started may have already prefigured its fate. Launching first as SteamBoy because of its original intention to be a handheld Steam Machine, the project was forced to change its name to "Smach Zero" and then finally to "Smach Z". It successfully got the project funded on Kickstarter and, for a time, it seems that its troubled beginnings were finally behind it.

That, however, was just the beginning. The project would encounter several problems and changes, including changing the very processor that it promised on Kickstarter. It would still be an AMD-based embedded system but its capabilities became less and less impressive at each update.

Smach Z would also go silent for long periods and would suddenly spring to life briefly with a new update. Unfortunately, the latest one, a message on the Smach forums that was posted on Reddit for the public to see, is perhaps the worst. In a nutshell, the startup behind Smach Z will have to declare bankruptcy after losing its primary investor. In other words, the Smach Z is unlikely to ever ship and backers are unlikely to even get a fraction of a refund.

If the Smach Z ever did ship, it would have been easily outclassed by the likes of the GPD WIN 3 and ONEXPLAYER anyway, definitely not worth the $600 that backers paid for 5 years ago. Crowdfunding is always a risky investment and this incident shows once more how even the most successful campaigns can end up a failure in the end.