So what does the near future hold for handheld gamers? Here are just a few of the up and coming options for pocket gamers.
Nintendo is releasing a new version of the DS called the DSi. The unit is presumably being called the DSi for two reasons. First it is as close as Nintendo would dare to get to naming their machine the iDS. Secondly it has two cameras--get it, DS eye? The camera on the outside of the DSi will be a reasonable 3 megapixels, with the second camera that points at the user weighing in at 0.3 megapixels. The DSi will be 12% thinner than the existing model with two slightly larger screens. It will have built-in memory and a SD memory-card slot to play songs, store photos, and play games downloaded from the Nintendo store. Unfortunately the DSi will no longer play GBA titles. Also, all information seems to indicate that the system will have essentially the same processing power and functionality outside of the addition of the cameras. The DSi will go on sale in
More adventurous gamers might want to order the Pandora http://openpandora.org/ a Linux-based handheld gaming device. The Pandora is about the same size of a DS Lite and has a similar clamshell design on the outside. Inside the Pandora is quite different. The Pandora has an awesome set of features: WiFi, USB, a 4.3-inch 800x480 touch-screen, lithium-ion battery, QWERTY keyboard, a directional pad, and two analog nubs. It aims to be “the most powerful handheld in the world both in terms of raw CPU power and 3D graphics capability.” With a TI OMAP3530 with PowerVR SGX GPU processor and 128MB DDR SDRAM and 256MB internal flash memory this may be true. In layman’s terms the system should be about as powerful as a Nintendo Gamecube and due to its open source nature will invariably be the home to Nintendo 64 and PS1 emulation. The unit retails for $329.99 but is already sold out for preorders and no new units will be available until 2009. Cautious gamers might want to take a wait and see approach. Truly lunatic gamers will want to not only buy a Pandora but also pick up the Wiz.
The Wiz http://www.gp2xstore.com/ is another Linux based game system. The details are also quite interesting: a 533MHZ Arm 9 processor with 3D acceleration, 64MB of Ram, 1GB internal memory, USB, a SD card slot, a 2000mAh Lithium Polymer battery and a touchscreen. The Wiz does not appear to be nearly as capable a device as Pandora but should be quite capable of emulation up to the Super Nintendo and possibly the PS1. It is a direct predecessor of the very capable GP2X and, besides a rather questionable looking dual directional pad set of controls on the front of the unit, it should be very nice. Not too much information is available even though it is available for preorder right now for $179.99.
Owners of the PSP or DS certainly don’t need to rush out and get any of these units however it is really cool to see both the Big N and some smaller companies keeping handheld gaming moving forward with serious interesting new systems aimed at all different types of consumers. I hope that consumers step up and support this type of innovation to advance the fringes of what portable gaming has to offer. Hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on the units in the future for full reviews. Until then, happy gaming!