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TurboExpress/PC Engine GT
Turbo express.jpg
TurboExpress handheld, TV tuner, games
Manufacturer NEC
Type Video game console
Release date 1990 (1990)
Introductory price $249.99
Units sold 1.5 million units
Media HuCard
CPU HuC6280 clocked at 7.16 MHz or 1.79MHz
Memory 8KB RAM
Display 400x270 screen resolution, 512 colours, 481 colours on-screen
Related articles TurboGrafx-16

The TurboExpress or PC Engine GT (Game Tank) in Japan was a portable version of the TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine (video game console), released by NEC in 1990 for $249.99 (the price was briefly raised to $299.99, soon dropped back to $249.99, and by 1992 it was $199.99).

It was the most advanced handheld of its time and could play all the TurboGrafx-16's games (which were on a small, credit-card sized media called HuCards). It had a 66 mm (2.6 in.) screen, the same as the original Game Boy, and could display 64 sprites at once, 16 per scanline, in up to 481 colors from a palette of 512. It had 8 kilobytes of RAM. The Turbo ran its 6820 CPU at 1.79 or 7.16 MHz.

The optional TurboVision TV tuner included RCA audio/video input, allowing the player to use TurboExpress as a video monitor. The TurboLink allowed two-player play. Falcon, a flight simulator, included a "head-to-head" dogfight mode that could only be accessed via TurboLink. However, very few TG-16 games offered co-op play modes especially designed with the TurboExpress in mind. As of July 30, 2007, the TurboExpress has sold 1.5 million units.[1]

Contents

Hardware problems

While the system was technologically superior to the other handhelds of its era, it still had its problems. Due to a problem with cheap capacitors (See Capacitor Plague), sound failure was a frequent problem with the TurboExpress. Sometimes even new systems had dead capacitors. This problem can be fixed by replacing the faulty capacitors.[2]

The screen used in the TurboExpress was another source of problems; though it was state of the art when it was released, the LCD technology used was still fairly new and the rate of pixel failure was very high. Brand-new TurboExpress systems often had several bad pixels. Text was also difficult or impossible to read in certain circumstances, as many times fonts were written to be seen on a television screen, not on a small LCD screen. As a result, certain RPGs and adventure games could be difficult to play on the unit.

Some TurboGrafx-16 HuCards saved game data to the internal memory of the TurboGrafx-CD unit, TurboDuo, or TurboBooster Plus (a peripheral for the core TG-16 console). The TurboExpress lacked this internal memory, and as a result it was not capable of saving in this manner. Most games provided a password save mechanism as an alternative.

Another serious problem was that the battery life was only about three hours (for 6 AA batteries), which was also a problem for other color and backlit/sidelit handhelds of the period, namely the Game Gear (5-6 hours), the Sega Nomad (2-3 hours) and the Atari Lynx (4 hours+).

Reception

Despite its technical advantages, the Turbo Express was not very popular or known with gamers.[3] In addition to NEC's disastrous marketing, the fact that the handheld was initially released for $399.99 did not help matters (because of this price tag it was labelled as the Rolls Royce of handhelds[4]). Since there were other affordable handhelds and the TG-16 was not popular enough to be accessible for the great majority of players, the system was finally quietly discontinued around the time the Turbo Duo was also in its twilight.

TurboExpress systems appeared in the movies 3 Ninjas, Doogie Howser, M.D and also in the movie Enemy of the State well after the system's demise.

Specifications

  • CPU: HuC6280
  • CPU Speed: 7.16 MHz or 1.79MHz (switchable in software)
  • Resolution: 400x270
  • Max Colors: 512
  • Max Simul. Colors: 481
  • Max Sprites: 64

References

  • The Electronic Gaming Monthly 1991 Video Game Buyers Guide.

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TurboExpress

The TurboExpress or (PC Engine GT in Japan) was a portable version of the TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine, released in 1990 for $249.99 (the price was briefly raised to $299.99, soon dropped back to $249.99, and by 1992 it was $199.99).

It was the most advanced handheld of its time and could play all the TurboGrafx-16's games (which were on a small, credit-card sized media called HuCards). It had a 66 mm (2.6 in.) screen, the same as the original Game Boy, and could display 64 sprites at once, 16 per scanline, in 482 colors from a palette of 512. It had 8 kilobytes of RAM. The Turbo ran its 6820 CPU at 3.58 or 7.16 MHz.

The optional TurboVision TV tuner included RCA audio/video input, allowing you to use TurboExpress as a video monitor. The TurboLink allowed two-player play. Falcon, a flight simulator, included a "head-to-head" dogfight mode that could only be accessed via TurboLink. However, very few TG-16 games offered co-op play modes especially designed with the TurboExpress in mind.

Hardware problems

While the system was technologically superior to the other handhelds of its era, it still had its problems. Due to a problem with cheap capacitors, sound failure was a frequent problem with the TurboExpress. Another issue was burned out pixels; due to the quality of LCD technology at the time, the rate of pixel failure was very high. Brand-new TurboExpress systems often had several bad pixels. TurboGrafx-16 HuCards saved game data to the internal RAM memory of the TurboGrafx-CD unit, TurboDuo, or TurboBooster Plus (a peripheral for the core TG-16 console). The TurboExpress lacked this internal RAM memory, and as a result it was not capable of saving. Text was also difficult or impossible to read in certain circumstances, as many times fonts were written to be seen on a television screen, not on a small LCD screen. As a result, certain RPGs and adventure games could be difficult to play on the unit. Another serious problem was that the battery life was only about three hours (for 6 AA batteries), which was also a problem in some other handhelds of the period, such as the Game Gear and Atari Lynx.

Reaction

Despite its technical advantages, the Turbo Express was not very popular or known with gamers. In addition to NEC's disastrous marketing, the fact that the handheld was initially released for $299.99 (because of this, it was labelled as the Rolls Royce of handhelds) didn't help matters. Since there were other affordable handhelds and the TG-16 wasn't popular enough to be accessible for the great majority of players, the Turbo Express was targeted mainly to the relatively small number of fans of NEC's systems. The system finally was quietly discontinued around the time the Turbo Duo was also in its twilight. ame.


This article uses material from the "TurboExpress" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.







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