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Santa claws!

Oh yes, Christmas is definitely coming, and that sound you hear is the stampede of manufacturers lining up their holiday product portfolios for our pleasure and delectation. I went along to a multi vendor pre-launch press do yesterday and came back with some interesting stuff which I will share with you herewith if you like.

First up the Gizmondo. First impressions of this new Brit handheld games console? Surprisingly good. The 2.8 inch TFT screen is excellent (better than the N-Gage QD for example), the ergonomics are slick and the whole thing feels solid and well built. I spent a long time questioning Mr Gizmondo and gained some interesting insights into the product.

* Despite the fact that it is built from the ground up to be a SIM card based, GPRS multi-user game console, there’s no voice call functionality. Lots of bluster from Mr G., but I get the impression it was a question of cost and time to market. Silly move in my estimation, but watch for version 2, I reckon. You can still use it to send and receive SMS messages though.

* It’s really feature packed, what with the MPEG4, MP3, SMS messaging and up till now hush hush Nvidia 3D graphics chipset. But it’s the GPS that the company is clearly pinning its hopes on. This will allow the product to be used as an in-car satellite navigation system (software already on the way) via the GPRS, as well as allow for a whole raft of GPS games. Mr G. mentioned an FPS game called Colors which would use GPS to detect if someone came within your physical ‘territory’ and challenge them automatically. Sounds woo-hoo, eh?

* Battery life is so-so at 2.75 hours intensive gaming, which I suspect will slump with intensive GPS and GPRS too.

* Scary talk of sending smart advertising (a la spam-ville?) for new music, videos etc via GPRS, which would identify where you were from the GPS and then direct you to the nearest store to buy said item. Minority Report anyone?

Overall View: Pros – Nice form factor (genuinely pocket sized – as opposed to Sony PSP?), GPS, GPRS and SMS features add value, great screen for watching multimedia, priced OK at �229.00. Cons – Games, games, games. Sony and Nintendo have muscle, expertise and cash. If this puppy doesn’t get a whole raft of killer games by launch, it’s a doorstop.

Nexio XP30.

Samsung’s newest handheld computer upgrades the processor of the original Nexio and adds some other nice touches like 128MB ROM and 128MB RAM. It’s a really great little box, and something that could really catch on in the space which I originally saw the Tablet PC occupying, that of the portable home Net device. The Tablet PC is a total flush with its 2 hour battery life and heavy weight, but the Nexio certainly overcomes those problems in every way.

Just switch on the internal Wifi and surf, check emails and generally have fun for the length of the 5 hour battery life. I’ll have to wait until I get a review model to see whether that battery life is real or not, but if it is, hey…..! And the new price is scheduled to be around �499.00 including keyboard and dock, which is not bad.

Overall View: Pros – Superb screen, really snappy operation with the new processor and extra memory, wonderfully slim and light, and great feature set like internal compact flash, integral USB and external VGA. You can even hook up a full sized monitor and keyboard to it and use it like a ‘proper’ computa. Cons – keyboard is not great for touch typing, although it is definitely useable for emails, surfing, short documents etc. Also the unit probably needs to come down even more in price to compete with laptop alternatives.

I’ll pitch in with some more stuff from the show tomorrow…..

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