January 03, 2024

The Retro Watch is a Mini GBA SP Smartwatch

The Retro Watch is a mini GBA SP that can emulate older consoles, while also acting as a smartwatch!

I am someone that has always loved using an Apple Watch. Even though I don’t wear one anymore, I loved the simplicity of having something on my wrist that tells time, but I can also read texts and check my heartbeat. It was a nice little device, and if I could get another one now, I probably would, but this definitely has my attention.

The Retro Watch - Mini GBA SP

Disclaimer: This product is a Kickstarter, so the details are subject to change. This article is based on the information present at the time of writing.

Introducing the Retro Watch! I first saw an article about the Retro Watch from Retro Dodo, who covered it, and I was quite intrigued by the premise. A watch designed to be opened up and built like a miniature Game Boy Advance SP? That sounds really cool on paper, but how could this be applied in practice. Emulation needs processing power, but could this miniature device deliver? Would I be able to play Yu-Gi-Oh Worldwide Edition on my wrist? I really hope so.

On the hardware side, the Retro Watch uses a main Renesas / Dialog DA14706 processor with 1.5MB of internal RAM, 8MB of external RAM, an ARM-33 Application processor with a scalable 32KHz to 160MHz speed, dual ARM M0 processors for sensors, a 2D GPU that supports most Bit Blip applications, and 3 high speed flash/RAM interfaces.

The device also has a Magnetometer, accelerometer, audio amplifier, and custom 60Hz 320×320 display that comes in around 1.54 inches. And yes, an external display that can show the time!

Then, we have the software. For regular smartwatch use, it can tell the time, as well as connect to your phone to send/receive messages, use applications, and download new games. There’s no word on which phones this could interact with yet, but it will most likely be Android.

For gaming, the Retro Watch should be able to handle DOS games with ease and possibly some 8 and 16-bit titles. The processor in there seems to be quite powerful for the form factor, but the inclusion of a FPGA to create and utilize custom rendering cores that will help out with emulation. Jason claims that this will be able to power most 8 and 16-bit systems, and that the minuscule device has more horsepower than a N64. For reference, this would include the Game Boy, NES, and SNES systems, but not the GBA or later consoles.

It sounds really ambitious, and quite intriguing, but I would still take it with a grain of salt. Like I mentioned earlier, it sounds nice on paper, but in practice, the screen could be too small or the buttons too hard for my fat thumbs to press down. I want to see how this would be in a real-world experience instead of reading it. This doesn’t change how interested I am in it though!

If what we talked about intrigued you, you can check out the Kickstarter page where a $179 pledge gets you the watch and a basic band, as well as early access to their update blog.

If you enjoyed this review, check out the rest of the content on HandheldHQ! We have a wide variety of reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you’re looking for news and handheld reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we’ve got your back.

Noah Kupetsky

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