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Gizmondo handheld games console

Time for Sony, Nintendo and Tapwave to tremble?

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GizmondoBesides being a games console, the Gizmondo's big sells are that it plays music, movies, has a camera, Bluetooth, sends and receives SMS and MMS via GPRS, and does satellite tracking via GPS. The content is all stored on SD cards that fit into a slot in the bottom of the device. The GPRS connectivity comes via a Vodafone pre-pay SIM card, located underneath the battery, though there's no phone. The reasoning behind this being that as Gizmondo is aimed at kids, who will be more into texting than calling, apparently. But since most children seem to have mobiles now anyway, this would mean that you'll have one phone and one SMS device, so two numbers and two bills to pay. Cynics might also point out that how many youngsters are going to shell out £230 on a games device that has two poorly known games at launch.

On the topic of games I played both Fathammer and Trailblazer and must admit that I enjoyed both titles. The games take a little time to load but one they're up and running they work well. Gizmondo is promising more games but without confirmed launch dates you're stuck with goodwill and just the above two to choose from.

What is interesting, however, is the idea of location-based games, such as the forthcoming Colours. Your interact and battle for gang supremacy with other Gizmondo owners who stray into your 'turf', with the gameplay monitored via GPS. Which will be ingenious, if the GPS can be made more reliable.

GizmondoThe SMS and MMS text entry relies on a propriety system called 'EZ tap' and although quite easy to use it does require some experimentation to figure how to make the cursor move from the selecting letters to moving around the message, to make correction or alter words. There also seems to be a lack of a key to select the suggested words that appear at the foot of the screen as you are typing, which is annoying.

The GPRS function sadly does nothing more than allow you to browse and download tones, themes and wallpapers or access the GPS map service, presumable to prevent the user from downloading huge swathes of data and wasting all the pre-paid credit on the SIM card. Second-generation devices are rumoured to offer full web browsing and may even include e-mail access.

Next page: Verdict

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