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Gizmondo handheld games console

Time for Sony, Nintendo and Tapwave to tremble?

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The GPS tracking feature, when it works, offers a number of interesting features. You can register the device, via the Gizmondo website, so it can be tracked via satellite. The rationale being that little Johnny has the device in his pocket and so you always know where little he is. It seems though that little Johnny will need to take the Gizmondo out of his pocket and having it in clear line-of-sight of the sky for a good while to allow the GPS system to initiate and detect enough satellites to get a bearing. The previously mentioned emergency button only works if there is a signal. There is also a 'Geofence', a self-created boundary around the device. This can either be set on the device or via the operator of the device's Guardian account, using the website. All these functions are fine in principle but rely on the device establishing contact with the above and beyond, which the Gizmondo seems to resist.

GizmondoAmazingly the service also relies on you to have some prepaid credit on your SIM-Card. Because there is no on-board memory all the maps are stored remotely and accessed via GPRS. In fact, it seems that 99 per cent of all messaging and connectivity ceases to function once your credit runs out, thus making it a wholly unwise proposition as a device you are going to used to keep track of your children with. Gizmondo does point out that as the device runs low below the £5 credit mark, the administrator of the Guardian account will be notified. The device only comes with £1 of credit on it. If you join the automated SIM update scheme, you receive another £4 of free credit, but you're still below the warning level, so no message. Unless you top the card up with more than £5 of credit this vital function will never work. Strangely, the device never alerts itself to the dropping credits unless you check your SIM balance manually.

But the problems don't stop there. Battery life is appalling. We failed to get more than 24 hours' usage out of the device. Of course, you can't charge the battery outside the device so you are hampered at your every turn. Naturally there are power saving methods, such as 'stand-by', which interesting seem to always kick in just before you get a fix from the GPS satellites.

Verdict

The Gizmondo is a work in progress, and feels like it was pushed onto the High Street before it was ready. The body of the device looks good but nothing works properly besides the games, and even those were partly to blame for the device 'crashing' more a dozen times during the test. The software is buggy and recent excitements include a problem with the conversion of the clocks to BST, which took 14 days before a software upgrade could be offered to users. But all is not lost, the first version of any new system is filled with problems, you only have to look at the issues that dogged the PS2 and are dogging the PSP. Don't write the Gizmondo off just yet, but give its developer six months to fix all its niggles, otherwise you'll end up dashing it against the wall in fury, as I nearly did.

Review by
Pocket-Lint.co.uk

Gizmondo
 
Rating 40%
 
Pros Its looks, graphics and sound.
 
Cons The OS, speed, battery, buttons, cost, storage capacity.
 
Price £230 inc. VAT
 
More info The Gizmondo site

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