Sega Nomad

The Sega Nomad is a handheld gaming console also known as the Sega Genesis Nomad. It was released by Sega on October 13, 1995 as a portable version of the home based unit the Sega Genesis. This unit is one of the few systems that can play most of the games from any region without an adapter.

The system sold around one million units before it was discontinued in 1997. It was codenamed Project Venus during its development as Sega’s policy during that era was to name their systems after planets.

The unit was similar to the Sega Mega Jet and featured a built-in color 3.25-inch LCD screen with 320 x 224 resolution. The Mega Jet needed the use of an external monitor. It had a detachable, external battery pack that held six AA batteries. It also featured an A/V port for connecting to a TV with a separate A/V cable for gameplay.

The Nomad had a directional pad for single-player games, but a controller port on the bottom of the unit could be connected to a second controller for two-player games.

This unit could be used as a portable handheld console or be a home system if connected to a TV.

The CPU used was a 7.67 Mhz Motorola 68000 with a 3.58 Mhz co-processor. Memory was 156 KB total, 64 KB main RAM, 64 KB VRAM, 8 KB sound RAM, and 20 KB ROM. Sound is generated by a Texas Instruments SN76489 Programmable Sound Generator.

The battery life was limited to only about two hours of playtime, and rechargeable batteries were not recommended. However, a rechargeable battery pack or a car adapter with the wall wart using SLA batteries would also work.

The Nomad was compatible with an estimated 600 titles that were already on store shelves. Due to a short battery life and release date of the unit sales were low. Even after a price reduction the Nomad would not have enough in sales to continue production.

Image Caption: Portable gaming device Sega Nomad. Credit: Evan-Amos/Wikipedia