The new Checkmate Monitor is a modular display case that looks old, but can house a lot of awesome tech. The possibilities are endless. Let’s see why…
The Checkmate was created by a small team helmed by Stephen Jones, who was actually a designer for Amiga hardware and software in the 80s and 90s.
So it makes sense why he is doing his best to preserve that retro aesthetic that he surely helped contribute to. An aesthetic that a lot of us grew up with and love.
The team behind the Checkmate wanted to bring back that classic look, but shove a bunch of really awesome tech inside.
It can become a bit confusing when you read the Kickstarter page, but fear not little Dodos… we’ve done the research to make it clear, so you can decide if the Checkmate is for you!
So what is the Checkmate? Glad you asked!
The Checkmate is being described as a “monitor platform supporting modern IPS displays and modular inputs”.
That description tells you all you need to know while telling you not much at all. Which is why we said it might be a bit confusing.
The most important thing you should know straight away is that the Checkmate is not a monitor at all! At least not exactly how you might imagine.
At its basic level, the Checkmate is a retro style CRT shaped case. That’s it.
You can think of it as a computer case shaped like an oldschool monitor.
What makes the Checkmate special (besides its sexy retro look) is in what it can actually hold.
What’s Inside The Checkmate?
The first and most obvious thing that the Checkmate can actually hold is a modern IPS display.
Stephen Jones has clarified in a video with Nostalgianerd that the reason that the Kickstarter package does not include the actual display panel initially is because they intend to offer you several options at the time of fulfillment.
So it will technically include the ips panel, they are just not promising exactly what panel at the time of a Kickstarter pledge.
Depending on which model you select, the Checkmate can hold either a 19inch or 17inch display panel. That’s with or without those glorious chunky bezels. I’d go for the chunky monkey version, myself.
And the display ratio is a 5:4, which is perfect for the proportions in the kinds of retro uses of a monitor like this.
Retro computer systems and retro game consoles will all look perfect on here.
The color options are Oyster White RAL1013 and Black. Exactly what you would expect to see in retro computer monitors.
The Checkmate also comes with built in speakers, which are apparently quite high quality. Stephen is quite excited about them.
Where the real magic begins to happen is in what they are calling Pods.
The Checkmate is meant to be an expandable computer case. And there are endless possibilities in what you might put inside the Checkmate using the available slots in the back.
Their all-in-one video controller board has HDMI, VGA, Component, Composite inputs and Composite output. These are all included as outside ports as well as ports inside the Checkmate unit.
Which means you can use the Checkmate like a standard monitor (plug your stuff into it from the outside), and it also can receive all of those same video signals from other boards (“pods”) inside the Checkmate case.
To clarify; that standard video controller pod does come with the Checkmate.
What other pods you use inside the Checkmate is entirely up to you.
They will offer a range of optional panels, or you can custom make your own.
Examples of possible pods that they list are a built-in MiSTer gaming computer or a Raspberry Pi CM4 computer.
You could easily build in one of the best consolizers or original game console hardware and make your own custom retro gaming unit.
You can literally put a Super Nintendo in here with a cartridge slot in the back and controller ports on the front.
The Checkmate’s limits are only in the limits of your imagination.
Checkmate Price And Optional Upgrades
To secure a Checkmate Monitor case, you would need to pledge £249 ($300usd). That secures you a Checkmate case and the video controller board.
You can also choose from the following options:
IPS Display Panel Options
- Default high quality IPS panel $149
- Unicorn panel from Arcooda (details coming once Kickstarter successful)
- Budget TN panel $99
- SVideo module with fitting kit (£49)
- Retro Tink Mini and Pro fitting kit (£29) or 3D print model for free.
- GBS-Control Module with Scart RGB, full Component support and CGA 4/16 colours input and EGA support (£59) – (Deduct £20 if you have GBS8200)
- MiSTer fitting kit including cables (£39)
- Raspberry Pi fitting kits, Pi4, CM4 etc. (from £29)
- Enhanced connection kit with backplane for just plug and go (£TBA)
- Multiple HDMI input board option (£19)
- Custom carry bag for monitor, keyboard and accessories for meetups (£90)
Admittedly, this all starts to be pretty expensive when you start adding it all up. In fact, it all sounds a bit expensive without add-ons.
But you have to look at this as a niche low-quantity custom computer case with modular functionality.
It’s made for people who intend to go all out on their computer setups.
You gotta spend some money to get everything perfect.
And if your vibe is retro, this is gonna be your best option for a custom computer or gaming setup.
The Checkmate is aimed at the kind of people who like to DIY their computer or retro gaming setups.
And for people who want to have a bit of fun putting together their own custom monitor that may or may not contain the source of the video being displayed.
The Checkmate can be used as a cool looking retro monitor for all of your video needs, or you can create a custom all-in-one computer and/or gaming unit all within the Checkmate.
The fun part is thinking about how you might configure your own Checkmate system.
I’ve already got a bunch of ideas for my dream setup!
They have already exceeded their Kickstarter goal with nearly 900 backers. And it’s likely you’ll see this after the campaign is over.
But don’t let that stop you from checking their page out and trying to order your own Checkmate.
If you’ve got the money to spend, it all sounds like a pretty fun project.
It will be cool to see all of the awesome setups people will make with the Checkmate.
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Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.