New Gaming to Go

Game Boy gets some competition from Sony and Tapwave.

Photograph by John B. Carnett

In the world of portable gaming, Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance SP dominates–for now.

Building on the immense success of the Palm OS for PDAs, start-up Tapwave has developed an impressive PDA/game-playing hybrid that it showed at E3. The device can run the thousands of Palm-based productivity and entertainment titles on its high-res 480- by 320-pixel color screen, and it’s powered by a Motorola processor and ATI Imageon graphics chip. What makes this PDA so
suited for gaming is the inclusion of analog game controllers and triggers, a powerful 3-D graphics engine, and Bluetooth for head-to-head wirelessly linked game play between devices. Not only that, but the handheld can play music and video, and display digital photos stored on SD memory cards. The
6-ounce device will ship later this year. Expect to see it for under $300.

Sony’s also preparing what it calls the PSP, a portable device that will play games and multimedia. Though no prototype has been shown, specs of the PSP’s new storage format have been released: a 60mm optical disc (half the size of a conventional DVD) with 1.8GB storage capacity. The PSP will also incorporate a Memory Stick slot and a
widescreen, 4.5-inch LCD display, and will
support video, audio and digital photo playback. Look for it in 2004.