0% FOMO – Polycade Sente To have Smaller Screen Than Lux Because They Think it “feels better to play”

By Todd Russell Nov2,2023

In 2023, do you want a smaller or bigger screen with your arcade cabinet setup? This is the primary question this article is pondering and will admit this could vary from gamer to gamer, but modern arcade manufacturers seem to think, at least based on their newest game releases, that bigger is better.

Have been following Polycade (https://polycade.com/) at various levels of interest over the last couple years. The Polycade game hardware, described in more detail below has not been on my radar, due to pricing and specs. In my opinion, their hardware prices are way too expensive. My main interest has been in their software, it is free, and creates local and global leaderboards for most MAME arcade games. I made a detailed YouTube video covering Polycade in 2022 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd-0f5sGm5E

Here is a breakdown of the pricing of the Polycade offerings:

Note: Polycade is showing they are “sold out” of their Lux wallcade which previously sold for $4,999. Yes, that’s five grand for a wallcade with a 27″ screen. It certainly looked durable and with quality components, but the price, oh my. How did this sell out when they were making these essentially to order is another mystery to solve, get the Scooby Doo van team on the case, but we won’t go down that rabbit hole. Instead, let’s look at what Polycade is doing next.

Introducing the Polycade Sente. They have setup a page dedicated to comparing their expensive Polycade Lux to the less expensive, new Polycade Sente here: https://polycade.com/pages/compare-lux-sente

The new Polycade Sente is being launched at a pretty steep discount for “Day One Preorder” $999 without PC, which is the price (or even lower) that they should have focused on to begin with, but the MSRP of $2000 (ok, $1999) is still way too much for a wallcade with a 24″ screen. Yes, they actually made the screen smaller than the Lux which is 27″. This seems to be backwards from what is being seen in arcades with bigger screens. Arcade machines like Wicked Tuna (see: My Wife Wants WICKED TUNA!) boast giant 65″ 4K TV. Golden Tee wants you to have a 55″ 4K TV. Given these games are meant to be played where you play with some space between the game and the pedestal/control panel and with the Polycade wallcades, your face is right up against the screen like an older arcade machine.

On the same comparison page, Polycade explain why, in their opinion, a smaller screen is justified, and it’s pretty much laughable marketing-speak, but judge for yourself (emphasis in bold is by this author):

We’ve been producing the Lux for 8 years. It’s been through 2 major versions and 4 minor versions. During this time, we’ve learned a lot about what could be possible with this product.

The Sente represents the culmination of our learnings. It is essentially an evolved version of the Lux – optimized, modular, and still high quality.

Even the smaller size of the Sente is an optimization. The Lux uses a 27.5″ monitor, which is a little too big for how close you are to the screen. The Sente’s 24″ monitor feels better to play on.

Additionally, because the Sente has a significantly lower price point (due to mass production instead of the Lux’s made-to-order manufacturing), it means we can produce accessories like different control panels, marquee toppers, and more.

Because we feel the Sente is essentially an improved Lux, the Lux will be discontinued when the Sente becomes available.

Where to start with these quotes? Maybe just let them stand on their own. A smaller screen is an “optimization”? I can see the Lux being too bulky as a wallcade, and they wanted to go smaller, but couldn’t they have made the construction less tank-like and more slim and trim? Basically the monitor/TV *is* the #1 focal point and 3″ they “feel” is better to play on when the commercial arcade space is going bigger, not smaller.

Visit any arcade in any town and look at the size of the gaming monitors. They aren’t smaller, they’re bigger, like something you’d put in your living room. This seems like a terrible idea and would be more interested in the Sente if had either stayed at 27″ or gone 30″+ Maybe even 40″+ and the MSRP was under $1,000. Keep in mind this is without a computer, this is just the screen and powder-coated steel case. I have zero FOMO for this hardware, but it’s being presented to us like we should want to preorder this “now”! Um, no.

Recently, visited Next Level Pinball & Arcade Museum (see: Next Level Pinball Museum Hillsboro, Oregon) and took some pictures of modern arcade cabinets. Check out the sizes of these monitors, first up a vertical monitor for the most modern arcade version of Galaga from Raw Thrills:

Hote: this is a one-player setup and the Polycade is for 2-players. Check out this 4-player modern TMNT:

Clearly, these monitors are not going smaller, which to play devil’s advocate, perhaps in a commercial setting, bigger is better, but at home Polycade thinks that smaller monitors are better? Feel free to sound off in the comments whether or not you think the smaller monitor side is preferable. Again, my opinion, but it seems to me like this is marketing speak for “we wanted to save money on monitor cost” (which for three inches should be neglible). The 3″ when you’re up close are making the experience better? Seriously?

The hardware aside, and you can judge for yourselves if you think this Sente is a good deal or not, I still believe there is promise in the software side of Polycade. The problem there is they don’t make any money from that, except if you buy games from their store which, the last time checked, had very limited selection.

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