The Pixel Artboard is still currently in its Kickstarter cycle which should be ending in the next couple weeks.
So anybody looking to pick one up can back that campaign and get theirs shortly after its completion.
But what is the Pixel Artboard?
Well, as the name suggests… this new handheld device from Minbay (China) is a dedicated pixel art tablet to be used for retro style image creation.
Why Would You Want The Minbay Pixel Art Handheld?
So, why would you want a device like this when you can do the same thing with an app on your cellphone (as one Instagram follower impertinently asserted to me)?
Well, this is a device for people like me who enjoy cool handhelds and photographing them for social media posts.
People who carry Game Boys or one of the Best Handhelds Under $100 in their bag for both fashion and function
Yes, you absolutely can do the same thing on your phone if that’s what you prefer.
But to me, that’s like saying “why play a Game Boy when you can play a Nintendo Switch?”.
Similar devices from Divoom, such as their Pixoo-64, are focused on displaying pixel art on a desktop or bookshelf and use a separate app to create images. That device sells for $149.99usd.
To me, it is not a matter of which is better or worse. It’s more about what you hope to do with it. They are just made for different uses.
What’s It For Then?
The Pixel Artboard is for people who want to play around with some pixels on a dedicated device without the endless distractions of a cell phone.
I really enjoy playing on my Pixel Artboard and recreating some of my favorite game characters from retro games as well as from my own game The Mayor of Sanctuary.
The limited palette of 100 colors means that your images will mostly have a retro vibe.
Admittedly, this color limit is also a bit frustrating at times, as it feels like it’s missing some important variations.
But clearly Minbay intended this to be a retro focused device, and the color choices will feel similar to the NES which only had 56 colors.
I have yet to use mine to create new images, but the Pixel Artboard is also intended for the purpose of creating new works of pixel art on the go.
Their (not so well translated) tagline is “The desire to paint must be satisfied anytime, anywhere”.
The Pixel Artboard can certainly fulfill that purpose.
Pixel Artboard Specifications
Let’s take a look at what the Pixel Artboard has under the hood!
The Minbay Pixel Artboard measures 114.4 × 103.4 × 14mm (a little smaller than the size of a CD case) and weights 160g (feels dense, but not heavy).
The screen is a 3.95 inch TFT-LCD screen at 480×480 pixels.
Touch sensitivity is not great, so you will often have to redo pixel placement. Not sure if this is due to the screen used or the software.
The ABS shell comes in yellow, white, and transparent black for the front and transparent black on the rear of all models revealing the beautiful PCB inside. It also feels very strong!
Inside is a 2000mAh battery with USB Type-C charging and computer connectivity.
It also contains a Bluetooth chip to connect to their app for image backup and to share your images on social media.
Oh, and it has stereo speakers for some reason. Not sure why, but it looks nice!
The OS has some cute sounds when you use it, making the experience a little more premium.
You can create up to 20,000 paintings on the device’s 500mb hard disk, and your paintings can be at 16×16, 24×24, or 32×32 pixels.
Their OS is clean, simple and intuitive.. but not the best performance. Don’t worry; I’ll go into more detail on that below.
How Did I Discover The Pixel Artboard?
I discovered the Pixel Artboard when it popped up on my Instagram feed as an ad, which lead to their Kickstarter campaign. It looked cool to me, so I clicked on the link.
After reading more and seeing more images, I was impressed. I nearly purchased one, and sent the link over to Brandon Dodo…
Coincidentally, Minbay had just reached out to us for an early review. So my timing was perfect.