For some time now, video game players have been waiting for the release of the "Lynx II", Atari's redesign of their portable video game system. Though the original unit offered many features not found in other portables, some found the unit's size and design to be awkward and unpleasing. Though it's taken several months, the new, smaller, sleeker Lynx is now publically available.
The Lynx II is about 9" x 4" x 2" tall. From the front, it looks like a "rectangularized" version of the original Lynx, with fewer curves and more straight lines. It comes in a dark grey/black color, with the screen in the center. There is an eight-way plus-shaped joypad on the left of the screen, with a small light to indicate power, and three recessed buttons for On, Off, and Backlight (to turn off the screen only). To the right of the screen are the Lynx's Option 1, Pause, and Option 2 buttons, followed by reversable A and B buttons as well. Above the top of the unit are dials for screen brightness and volume, and ports to connect an AC adaptor, headphones, and/or a ComLynx cable.
Game cards are inserted in the back of the Lynx II, similar to the Sega Game Gear. 6 AA batteries can be loaded into the bottom of the unit, covered by a plastic door. On the back of the Lynx, where your fingers would rest, are two strips of soft rubber to help avoid tensions from long hours of playing.
The only gripe I had with this setup were the buttons to the sides of the screen (On, Off, Backlight, Option 1, Pause, and Option 2). The buttons were recessed to be flushed with the case. This made pressing them a little more difficult. In time, you will get used to this, but being familliar with the raised buttons on the original Lynx, I was caught unawares.
The screen display is still 3.5" diagonal, the same size as the original Lynx screen. There is a clear plastic shield over the screen, which gives the display extra protection, and contributes to the 2-inch height. And as mentioned before, the Backlight button can be used to turn the screen image on or off, ostensibly to save battery power. Otherwise, everything else is identical to the current Lynx design: the display is as bright and clear as before, the screen image can be flipped 180 degrees, and vertically-oriented games are supported.
The biggest innovation in the Lynx II is the stereo sound. Yes, the new Lynx does stereo! Two sound channels go in the left ear, and two channels go in the right. Apparently, current Lynx games are already written for stereo support -- Roadblasters, for instance, had the roars of passing cars going to different ears, according to which side you pass them on.
There's not much else that needs to be said. This is a 100% backwards-compatable Lynx, in a smaller package and with a few extra features. I only saw it in the $99 "Lynx only" package, thought it will eventually replace the original design in all Atari Lynx packages. It is sufficently smaller than the original Lynx, without sacrificing any of the original features.