Tapwave Zodiac Joins European Market

Can’t decide whether to buy a DS, PSP, N-Gage QD or Gizmondo? Well, European gamers can not at the Tapwave Zodiac to their list of handheld consoles to check out.

The multimedia handheld will be available on the high street from 22nd October – and it’s at the expensive site end of the market. A 32mb Zodiac 1 will set you back UK£269.99 (€391), the 128mb Zodiac 2 will cost you UK£329.99 (€477). Its nearest functional equivalent, Sony’s PSP is expected to cost nearer UK£200. (€290).

Games, stored on SD cards, are priced at UK£29.99 and will include Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, SpyHunter, DOOM II Duke Nukem Mobile. There will also be two compilation packs – Z Pak: Adventure, which will include Galactic Realms and Legacy; and Z Pak: Fun featuring Paintball, MegaBowling and Kickoo’s Breakout. More titles are promised for Christmas.

The Zodiac is built around an ARM9 processor and a ATI Imageon chipset, running PalmOS — and so is being pitched as considerably more than just a games machine: the hardware and OS used mean that users can play video, read ebooks and listen to music, and enjoy the huge library of Palm software that already exists. But will the public be willing to shell out for what appears to be a specialised Palm Pilot?

Nokia have already had their hands burned badly in the handheld games console market twice – and with two very compelling units from Sony and Nintendo, not to mention the Gizmondo GPS gaming, it’s going to be a very tough market for the Zodiac to survive in. Given that floor space is very expensive in the run up to Christmas, any new console will have to prove itself very quickly before retailers move it on in favour of something that will shift more units.

The Tapwave Zodiac

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?