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Sega returns to the hardware market with laptop launch

Sega returns to the hardware market with laptop launch

Sega's latest entry into the hardware market sees it launching a series of laptops themed around its Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast consoles - but they're Japan-exclusive for now.

Sega is getting back into the hardware business, but not in the way you might expect: the company is launching a range of laptops designed to evoke familiarity from gamers of a certain age.

Sega was once one of the biggest names in console gaming: its move from slot machines to home gaming started with the SG-1000 in 1983, but it wasn't until it launched the Master System in 1986 that the company would become a household name. Its success would really skyrocket with the launch of the 16-bit Sega Mega Drive in 1988 - Genesis in the US - and its iconic Sonic the Hedgehog mascot, launched in 1991.

The company would spend years and multiple console generations attempting to outdo rival Nintendo: the Master System won significant ground over the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in Europe but wasn't so lucky in North America, a pattern that would continue when the Mega Drive was launched to take on the Super NES (SNES.) The 16-bit era would be Sega's golden age, with the Mega Drive selling an estimated 40 million units world-wide - somewhat below the 49 million of Nintendo's rival SNES.

A move to 32-bit gaming didn't go quite so smoothly for the company, however. The Sega Saturn moved from cartridge-based games to CD-ROMs and offered significantly more capability than the Mega Drive and its CD add-on the Mega CD - but its use of two Hitachi SH-2 processors rather than a single CPU made it difficult to program, leaving third-party developers struggling to make the most of the device's capabilities. First-party games would show off the Saturn to good effect, but it was far from a commercial success with under 10 million units believed to have been sold world-wide.

Sega's real trouble started a year after the Saturn's launch when Nintendo launched the Nintendo 64, a cartridge-based system billed as the world's first 64-bit console - the company having overlooked the Atari Jaguar, released three years earlier to commercial apathy. The N64 proved significantly easier to develop for, and would go on to eclipse the Saturn with an estimated 33 million units sold worldwide. Sega was further pressured by the success of Sony's first mainstream games console the PlayStation, which would come to dominate the 32-bit gaming market with over 100 million units being sold.

The answer, Sega decided, was the Dreamcast. Based on a powerful Hitachi SH4 RISC processor running at 200MHz and running a modified version of Microsoft's Windows CE operating system, the Dreamcast allowed developers access to the familiar DirectX programming libraries - a move that made the Dreamcast significantly easier to program for than the Saturn. The Dreamcast would be the console that put Imagination Technologies on the map: the company's PowerVR2 CLX2 graphics processor was chosen for the system, and the profits from the deal helped the company develop the low-power graphics technology that makes it a popular choice for smartphone and tablet devices today.

For Sega, however, the Dreamcast marked the end of an era. Selling just over 10 million units, the Dreamcast would win a band of loyal fans but fail to gain the market acceptance needed. It would be the last console Sega ever made, with the company relegated to producing games for rival consoles - including Nintendo's Wii and Wii U - while continuing to run its coin-operated arcade business.

The reason for the history lesson: if any of the above rang a bell, Sega's latest venture into the hardware market may be of interest. Sega News reports that the company has partnered with Japanese PC retailer Enterbrain to launch the Sega Note PCs, a range of laptops themed around the company's various historical console efforts. Each of the Mega Drive, Sega Saturn and Dreamcast Note PCs feature a cover designed to replicate the appearance of their console namesakes, while a brushed-aluminium blue version provides a more understated look for the generic Sega fan.

The entry-level model packs an Intel Pentium 2020M chip with a 500GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM, with the next model upping the stakes to an Intel Core i3-3120M processor, 500GB hard drive and 8GB of RAM, while also replacing the lower model's DVD drive with a Blu-ray reader. The near-top version, meanwhile, boasts a Core i7-3630QM chip with 8GB of RAM and a 120GB SSD, while the top-end model matches those specifications but replaces the Blu-ray reader with a writer. Each comes with a Full HD 15.6" display, and a choice from the aforementioned four lid finishes - except for the peak model, which comes with all four lid types for easy swapping and changing depending on mood.

There's another bit of bad news along the way, too: thus far, there is no indication that Sega is planning an international launch for the laptops. If you're planning a trip to Japan any time soon, pricing starts at ¥99,750 and rises to ¥194,250 (around £680 to £1,325 excluding taxes.)

More details are available on the official site.

23 Comments

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The Infamous Mr D 12th February 2013, 12:51 Quote
If they had come with some classic game emulators pre-installed, this would have been perfect!
Jimbob 12th February 2013, 12:55 Quote
Oh dear.
lacuna 12th February 2013, 13:14 Quote
You missed out the 32X
goldstar0011 12th February 2013, 13:20 Quote
Remember the old Amstrad PC and Mega Drive combo?
If these had a emulator you boot into nstead of Windows etc, that'd be epic
Gareth Halfacree 12th February 2013, 13:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by lacuna
You missed out the 32X

So did buyers. Oh, snap!
goldstar0011 12th February 2013, 13:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
So did buyers. Oh, snap!

+1 rep

http://cinemassacre.com/2007/05/15/sega-32x/
Gunsmith 12th February 2013, 14:08 Quote
it better shout SEGA when starting up or im not interested
mi1ez 12th February 2013, 14:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunsmith
it better shout SEGA when starting up or im not interested
YESSSSSSS!
goldstar0011 12th February 2013, 14:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunsmith
it better shout SEGA when starting up or im not interested

Double yes!
aramil 12th February 2013, 15:13 Quote
Yeah but you know some idiot will look at it and go "16bit I am not buying that!" Lol

Sent from my GT-I9100
pbryanw 12th February 2013, 17:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by goldstar0011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunsmith
it better shout SEGA when starting up or im not interested

Double yes!
Triple yes! Hopefully that's the bios screen sorted :)
digitaldunc 12th February 2013, 19:44 Quote
I have a soft spot for SEGA. What a shadow of their former selves they are.

Not many that are doing cool innovative stuff anymore... maybe I'm just too nostalgic.
Guinevere 12th February 2013, 20:58 Quote
So Sega allow Ebten to take four chunky OEM laptops, apply some branded vinyl skins to create some 'prototypes' and suddenly BitTech claim Sega is returning to the hardware market but not in the way we expected?

These aren't Sega machines. They're cheap laptops with the Sega brand slapped on as an afterthought.

And they're not even promising they'll be produced, only that they're taking pre-orders and if enough people order then they'll order their Chinese suppliers to make a few.
sotu1 12th February 2013, 22:52 Quote
Waaant.....

Totally utterly want....
mdshann 12th February 2013, 23:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbryanw
Quote:
Originally Posted by goldstar0011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunsmith
it better shout SEGA when starting up or im not interested

Double yes!
Triple yes! Hopefully that's the bios screen sorted :)

I'm sure it can be done, ASUS ROG laptops have an explosion sound when they power on. And we all remember that stupid "DERRR" sound Mac's make.
Podge4 12th February 2013, 23:53 Quote
Does it have Alex Kidd built in if no boot device present?
SchizoFrog 13th February 2013, 09:29 Quote
Seeing those sales figures really is a shock. Considering how iconic that age of console gaming was I am amazed at just how small those world wide figures are.

I admit I came to the console fight a little late with the second generation of each SEGA console (Master System II with Alex The Kidd built in and then the Mega Drive II) but I was an early adopter of the Dreamcast and that was a master piece. A lot of games even today struggle to compete with the likes of Metropolis Street Racer, Shenmue and several others...
veato 13th February 2013, 12:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdshann
I'm sure it can be done, ASUS ROG laptops have an explosion sound when they power on. And we all remember that stupid "DERRR" sound Mac's make.

The Mac startup sound is the same one WALL.E makes when he's fully charged.
Omnituens 13th February 2013, 13:56 Quote
My old SKT775 ASUS had POST sound you could change. Granted it was shonky quality, but it was still possible.
raxonb 13th February 2013, 23:50 Quote
"To be this good takes AGES" - They should bring back that phrase
Bogomip 14th February 2013, 00:41 Quote
I would totally be after this if it came with a cartridge port and stuff :)

Digital downloads are cool and whatnot, but if we got a cartridge with "Sonic Generations" emblazoned on it or something that we could plug in... legend :)
Andy Mc 14th February 2013, 16:38 Quote
Does this remind anyone else of the Amiga/Commodore PCs? This is the end of Sega.
Fizzban 14th February 2013, 18:00 Quote
I hope this does well for Sega, but I've a horrible feeling they've made a mistake with this gamble.
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