The64 Mini Review

The64 Mini Review
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    "The64 Computer games and console" was an Indiegogo Campaign that launched way back
    in April 15, 2016, promising to bring us a miniature version of the Commodore 64 with
    a wide range of games preloaded and the ability to load our own ROMs.
    I was intrigued by the prospect of owning a miniature Commodore 64 and became a backer.
    I was one of the ones who was under the mistaken impression, the keyboard would be fully functional.
    Much to my disappointment this was not the case.
    Even though it has been nearly two years since launching, the64 team was giving constant
    feedback and updates, letting their supporters know where they were at in the process.
    So what actually does the64-mini come with?
    Inside the box, you'll find the64 Mini, a Joystick, an HDMI cable, a manual and a USB
    power cable, without the actual unit to plug into the wall.
    This should not pose a problem now a days for most people since USB AC units are common
    for our mobile devices.
    According to their website the64mini sports High Definition output of 720P via HDMI.
    Pixel perfect graphics at a 4:3 ratio with full width, crt filter and US/Europe display
    mode options.
    - This is a really nice option.
    The filter is a must to make it look more authentic to the period.
    Save Game Function.
    Each game on the unit can have 4 save states.
    How this works, it saves everything exactly in place and when you load the saved game
    you continue exactly from where you left off.2 USB Ports.
    Plug in a USB keyboard and use as a fully functional home computer with c64 basic or
    add a second joystick for 2 player games.
    Now, even though it does support two USB ports, one of them is already taken up by the joystick.
    When you are in basic mode, if you unplug the joystick the unit exits you back to the
    menus.
    It does support a USB hub for more ports.
    Supports software updates via USB flash drive.
    This is important since the current method supported to load additional ROMs to the unit
    is tedious.
    The unit includes 64 games, many of which were popular across the pond.
    The positives: Visually the64 Mini is stunning.
    It's really a nicely proportioned miniature version of the Commodore 64.
    The color of the unit looks right, all they keys are there minus the writing on the inside
    of the keys.
    The power led lights up.
    The USB ports are located exactly where the joystick ports were originally placed on the
    C64 as is the power button, which as I mentioned is a button now rather than a switch.
    The HDMI and power plugs are properly located on the back of the device.The joystick looks
    and feels great.
    It looks exactly like the old plug and play unit "the c64 direct to TV".
    It is responsive and I did not notice any LAG when playing games.
    That's not to say that there is no lag, but for me it is not an issue.
    When the mini is powered on, the menus start up very fast with a nice SID tune playing
    in the background.
    You control the menus with the joystick pressing left or right to select a game.
    The menus allow you to select your language and also change up the graphics with the pixel
    perfect filter options.
    I prefer the 4:3 US bottom right option.
    Each games has a preview and a brief description including the year the game originally released.
    When a game is selected it loads fast.
    The gameplay feels right to me and the sound effects are spot on.
    So the emulation seems to be pretty good.
    The unit supports save states, 4 for each game which is quite a lot.
    The negatives: Oh man I really wish the keyboard was fully
    functional rather than just a scaled down facsimile.
    The unit provides the option of bringing up a "Virtual keyboard".
    This is a must for those of us without an extra USB keyboard laying around.
    For those of us that do have one, it sure would have been nice for there to be three
    USB ports available instead of two.
    For example I cannot easily load a new ROM to the unit with just two ports.
    One port has to include the joystick.
    If you unplug it, the unit returns you back to the menus.
    Now if it didn't work that way and it supported a keyboard plugged into one port and a flash
    drive in the other, this would have been nice, but this is not the case.
    One thing to note here is that the virtual keyboard does have a virtual keyboard buffer
    so you can keep typing commands while waiting for a program to load for example.
    Currently the way the unit supports loading new ROMs is tedious at best.
    You have to copy the image to a flash drive.
    The image must be renamed 'THEC64-drive8.d64'.
    The flash drive must be 64GB or less and be formatted as FAT32.
    If you don't have a USB keyboard plugged in then you must use the virtual keyboard, which
    is a slow process and takes some getting used to.
    Their website mentions this process is changing with a future firmware update, so this may
    be fixed soon.
    Oh, and after you have saved the state of a game you have to be careful not to accidently
    overwrite it when trying to load it.
    I have accidently wiped out a saved game when trying to load it.
    This situation could be helped had there been a message that popped up "do you want to overwrite
    this saved game", or something to that effect.
    Now, I want to talk about the pricing of this unit.
    The pricing for the64 mini has yet to be released, but on the indiegogo website, the unit is
    listed at $175 US.
    In my opinion this places it in the realm of for enthusiasts only or the crazy fans
    of the Commodore 64 like myself.
    I think this thing, as is, should retail for no more than about $60, much like the atgames
    flashback units.
    Now, had the keyboard been fully functional then I think it would have been worth it to
    pay the premium price.
    So would this unit make a suitable replacement for the Commodore 64 for someone that really
    wanted to get back into it?
    Well, it depends.
    Do you want to do Commodore 64 computing on the big screen TV in your living room?
    Personally I would rather pick up a used Commodore 64 for under $100 and be on my way.
    Now had the keyboard been fully functional it would be different.
    Having said that, if you want to play Commodore 64 games on your wide screen TV in the living
    Room, you now have that option with the64 mini.
    It's still a blast to play around with.
    Let me know what you think about it in the comments.
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