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There are a growing number of handheld gaming PCs, including models with the latest Intel or AMD processors, high-performance integrated graphics, and built-in game controllers.

And then there’s the Hand 386. It’s a handheld computer designed to let you game like its 1995 (or earlier). The little computer has a VGA display, a thumb keyboard, and a 40 MHz Intel 386sx-compatible processor that supports MS-DOS, Windows 3.x or Windows 95.

Spotted recently by Anatoly Shashkin, WinFuture, and Tom’s Hardware, the Hand 386 was on sale at AliExpress for $195 until recently, but it’s now said to be “no longer available.”

But a five minute video posted by haobin zhang shows that it appears to be a real thing that works as expected. And, of course, it runs DOOM.

Designed to run software that’s 3 decades old, this thing isn’t going to be much use for modern games or PC applications. But it allows you to play classic games and run older software without firing up DOSBox or other emulation software.

It’s powered by an 40MHz M6117D processor with an M1217 chipset, 8MB of system memory, and a 1GB CompactFlash card for storage.

The display is a 740 x 480 pixel screen with support for 256 colors, and the system sports a Yamaha YMF262-M OPL3 sound card and a 2,500 mAh battery.

Ports and connectors include a VGA output, 3.5mm audio jack, USB Type-A, and even a PS/2 mouse and keyboard connector.

The whole thing measures 150 x 130 x 16mm (about 5.9″ x 5.1″ x 0.6″), making it about the size of two typical smartphones held side-by-side. That might make it a little too wide to slide into your pocket, but it should take up a lot less space in your bag than desktop or laptop from the early 1990s with similar specs.

I also had to do a double take when I first saw this tiny computer, as it bears a very strong resemblance to the Decktility cyberdeck that Lee wrote about yesterday. But while the Decktility may lack a 386 processor, it features modern hardware including a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 5 and USB-C ports. Honestly, despite being a DIY device, the Decktility also looks like it has better build quality than the Hand 386.

Update (5-31-2023): In case you were wondering if the Hand 386 is actually a real product, YouTuber Action Retro bought one and posted a hands-on video and a better explanation of where these things come from (they’re made by a retro computing enthusiast in China, have a pretty lousy keyboard, and really can run retro software including Windows 95, MS-DOS and games like Wolfenstein 3D).

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  1. has been observing such a trend for a few years now. People want a portable computer with a normal operating system, with a mechanical keyboard and more than one USB A sockets

    Why big producent not create a small device like a oqo/vasio packet, c.h.i.p. ; ello 2 etc. (ideal will be solar panel, normal 18650 battery or lipo, ethernet, irda, camera and sound)

    1. Really hoping to see more clamshell handhelds for the screen protection but yes, definitely with solar panel-equipped covers, a bit like on calculators.
      USB is great for additional storage, being able to USB boot and use pluggable Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/LTE modems.

    1. In all seriousness, this is something I’d really like, although I’d want more power than a 386. I’d like to play some of the later point-and-click adventure games. Like some of the CD-ROM titles with voiceovers (King’s Quest VI, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, etc).

      If someone built an FPGA device similar to some of the old DOS Palmtop devices (although with a 4:3 screen, instead of the crazy wide screens they used on palmtops), I would absolutely buy something like that.

    1. Right? I would buy one in a heart beat. An old friend of mine would chuckle over this, as back in the late 90’s we used to muse about how cool it would be to have a hand held that could run windows 98 and play 98 games.

      Just beef up the specs a little and it could.

      I’d totally buy it!

      1. p.s forget the Yamaha YMF262-M OPL3 sound card. Soundblaster Live! or go home! 😛

        (one could dream, right?).

      2. Yeah, and to beef up those “ancient” specifications probably wouldn’t cost much.
        Say a Pentium/586 compatible 133-166 MHz with 16-32 MB and you would have what in 1995 was a pretty beefy computer.
        I remember buying in 96 or late 95, a Pentium 200 MHz (the last version before Pentium Pro) with 32 MB RAM and a huge 200 MB hard drive with Windows 95 and the latest MS Office verdion. It had an ATI Mach64 graphics card with 4MB memory and a 17″ CRT monitor. I paid around 35,000 Swedish Kronor for it. (Remove a zero to get dollar/euro/pound, more or less). It was a lot of money more than 25 years ago. It was a beast of a computer. Most of my friends had 8 or max 16 MB of RAM.
        A hand held clone of that sort of specifications probably wouldn’t be more expensive than a 40 MHz 386 with 8 MB RAM.

        1. None of that is needed for DOS gaming though. This isn’t being advertised as a Windows 98 gaming device.

  2. In a similar vein, AliExpress is also selling a tiny Intel 8088-powered notebook with CGA graphics: https://www.aliexpress.us/item/3256805342629426.html

    It’s a shame that the Hand386 is unavailable, but to be perfectly honest my uConsole is probably going to be running DOSBox 99% of the time, and it will have the flexibility to run modern software when needed. Still, a dedicated vintage machine in that form factor has a certain appeal.

    What a time to be alive!

    1. That 8088 notebook is so… Delightful. To quote the birthday girl from Ant Man, “He’s so ugly, I love him!”

      How can I find more like this? Thanks!