The PGS handheld game PC looks good on paper: it has two screens, physical gaming buttons, support for up to 8GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage, and support for both Windows 10 and Android 6.0 software.
But when Portable Solutions started a Kickstarter campaign for the project, a lot of people started wondering if the PGS was too good to be true… especially given the facts that the company had never produced hardware before, only had a prototype hobbled together from existing computers made by other companies, and only sought to raise $100,000 (which seemed like an unreasonably low figure, given the amount of work it’d take to bring this sort of computer into the world).
The $230 starting price also seemed a bit low.
Now Portable Solutions has cancelled its Kickstarter campaign… but the company says it still plans to build and sell the PGS (and is still willing to take your money before a product actually ships).
If you take everything Portable Solutions has said at face value (and there are a lot of reasons not to), here’s what’s going on:
- The team came up with an idea for a revolutionary new product, created some designs, and found investors.
- Those investors wanted the company to show there’s enough demand for the product to justify their spending money on it, so a Kickstarter campaign was launched in order to do that.
- In the first few days of the campaign, the PGS project raised well over $300,000.
- But then the haters started popping out of the woodwork, trying to bring them down… possibly to promote competing handheld gaming PCs.
- A lot of people started to retract their Kickstarter pledges and the campaign went from a high of around $360,000 raised to just under $303,000.
- Rather than continually try to prove the skeptics wrong, Portable Solutions has canceled the campaign, but will continue developing the hardware now that outside funding has been secured.
- But since the retail price will be $360 (much higher than the Kickstarter pledge levels), Portable Solutions wants to reward folks who pre-order by offering the handheld for $299 for a limited time. Or you can use a promo code to bring the price down to $259.
Now if you don’t take all of that at face value, what’s happened is that the company has canceled its Kickstarter campaign, failed to show evidence that it actually knows how to build the product that’s been promised, but plans to continue taking money from people who believe that the PGS will eventually see the light of day. It’s just that now you’ll be giving your money in a forum that doesn’t allow you to post comments or read those read by others.
I’m generally an optimist, so I think it’s entirely possible that this was never a scam or a hoax. Some have suggested that Portable Solutions has no intention of ever delivering a product and was just going to take the money and run. Others have suggested that the reason the campaign was canceled was because the initial $300,000 in pledges was made by the company itself, and with people canceling their pledges left and right, the team would essentially lose money (in Kickstarter fees) if it allowed the campaign to finish at this point.
I don’t know if either of those things are true or provable. But it seems entirely plausible to me that a group of individuals with little to no experience designing hardware came up with a concept for an amazing handheld system, put together a components list that suggested it could be sold at a certain price, and then hobbled together a clumsy prototype made from parts of other PCs… all the while ignoring the fact that it takes a lot more time, skill, and money than that to design a unique case, printed circuit board, software, and other pieces of the puzzle to make something like a compact, dual-screen Windows/Android gaming handheld PC work.
Those are the reasons I was skeptical of this project before the Kickstarter campaign even launched. Even if you don’t think this thing is a scam, there’s a high likelihood that the folks behind it are in over their heads and that if and when a final project is delivered, it won’t come close to living up to its promises in terms of price, performance, or design.
But Portable Solutions has also done a really pretty lousy job of addressing the concerns of its potential customers over the past few weeks. For instance, the team repeatedly promised that future updates would provide additional details about the outside investors that were backing the project (and therefore making the claim that the Kickstarter campaign wasn’t supposed to raise enough money to pay for everything, but just to show demand more plausible). But when an update finally arrived, it was the announcement that the campaign had been canceled.
And that’s before you start to dig into details about the team members, who apparently include actors and models in key roles such as “legal affairs manager” and “product designer/community manager.”