Playdate: Teenage Engineering is co-creating this eye-popping handheld gaming system

You certainly couldn’t accuse Teenage Engineering of taking a tried and tested approach to product development. As well as its quirky synths – the OP-1, OP-Z and PO range - the company’s roster also includes incense, a wireless speaker and an instant camera, and it’s also cooking up a project with Ikea.

TE's latest collaboration, however, could end up being its most high-profile yet: it’s just been announced that the company has worked with software developer Panic to come up with a new handheld gaming system called Playdate. And, as you might expect, it’s not entirely conventional.

For a start, it’s got a removable hand crank on it - yes, a hand crank - which serves as a rotating analogue controller. This has Teenage Engineering’s fingerprints all over it, and is designed to “put a whole new spin” on certain games.

Other features include a black-and-white screen with high reflectivity (there’s no backlight), WiFI, Bluetooth, USB-C and a headphone jack.

Playdate is also notable for the way its games are delivered. Sign up for a ‘season’ - the first one being included in the price of the console - and you’ll get 12 new games, one delivered directly to the device each week. Designers such as Keita Takahashi, Zach Gage, Bennett Foddy and Shaun Inman have agreed to develop some of these games, and more will be released in the future.

Whether there will be any kind of musical element to this device remains to be seen, but it seems like nothing’s off the table with this thing, so we certainly wouldn’t be surprised if there was.  

You can find out more in the new issue of Edge magazine, but we can tell you that Playdate will cost $149 and is scheduled for release early in 2020. Stock is expected to be limited, so if you want one, we’d recommend that you sign up for updates on the Playdate website.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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