The Gizmondo wiki last edited by nintendoeats on 09/22/13 12:10PM View full history

History

Originally announced as the Gametrac, before being renamed after Gametrak discovered the name and complained that the name breached their copyright, the Gizmondo was a multi-function handheld games device launched by a UK subsidiary of US-based Tiger Telematics in 2005. The device was intended to compete against Sony's PSP and Nintendo's DS but due to a limited release which initially only included the UK (And only select retailers at that) and later limited availability in the USA, the console floundered.

The initial release of the console saw only two games, Fathammer Classics Pack (A collection of 3 games from the Fathammer games line) and Trailblazer. The latter game was more popular with users and throughout the life of the platform was one of if not the most popular game in the community. Gizmondo promised to bring more games including some which made use of the console's unique features (Colors promised GPS-powered "Turf Wars" where players could fight for control of real-life areas, Agaju promised to use the camera for FPS controls and other augmented reality features), however only 14 games ever made it to release - and none which made use of the platform's unique features.

The console was released in the US exclusively through specific Gizmondo mall kiosks. Shortly after the US release, it was discovered that at least one of the big names (Stefan Eriksson) behind the company and, by extension, the platform, were members of the Uppsalamaffian, a Swedish mafia. The company never recovered and at any rate had incurred massive losses. To make matters worse, the company began circulating images of an improved Gizmondo before the console even went on sale in the US. The Gizmondo WS (WideScreen) strongly resembled the PSP and its existence angered existing owners (In the UK) because they felt they had bought the wrong machine and were going to be left out in the cold. American buyers were promised "an upgrade path" to the new system, but what this was was never made clear. No such option was ever said to be available to UK customers.

At any rate, the console never emerged and likely never got beyond the concept stage. The company essentially "went dark" shortly after the US launch due to lack of funds and the company finally went into bankruptcy in February of 2006.

Since then, the console has been cracked and the community, lead by GizmondoForums.com, have spent much time porting games, finding and releasing the console's lost commercial games (Chicane: Jenson Button Street Racing, Sonic the Hedgehog, Colors, Carmageddon and more) and creating all-new games and applications as homebrew efforts.

Some individuals think that the system failed because of its lack of games. With a catalogue of games like Alien Hominid and SSX 3, the Gizmondo just couldn't compete with cheaper handheld systems like the Nintendo DS.

In 2008, Carl Freer (Gizmondo's Chairman and the platform's corporate champion) announced he had reached an agreement with the liquidators and planned to re-launch the Gizmondo brand with a new console. This eventually came to nothing. The planned new console had been based on the existing hardware, but running open source software.

The Hardware

The Gizmondo was essentially a WindowsCE .net HandheldPC, using the embedded OS to run a custom GUI. It sported a 400MHz ARM9 processor, a 2.8" 320x480 TFT screen and an nVidia GoForce 3D 4500 GPU (The GPU initially delayed the launch as the developers decided to change from a 2D chip to a 3D to better compete with the specs of the DS and PSP). Other hardware features included a 0.3 Megapixel camera, GPS for navigation & (In select - canceled - games) location-based gameplay and a tri-band GSM radio which was used to supply an internet connection for e-mails and to send and receive SMS/MMS messages. It was also intended to be used for certain aspects of multiplayer, though this largely failed to materialise. Note that whilst it had a SIM Card and a phone number, the console did not support voice calling or any kind of voice communication.

Additionally, the system featured a Bluetooth radio, primarily used for multiplayer gaming. Other I/O included a standard 3.5mm headphone jack (The console also shipped with re-branded Sennheiser earphones), miniUSB and an SD card slot which served as the primary storage for games, movies and music. The system, like those it competed with, used a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery (Which was notably temperamental, sometimes only providing an hour's use off of a full charge if users did not charge it in regular charge, drain, charge cycles).

The battery was replaced in the US with a larger version to improve battery life. This necessitated a larger battery door, meaning US Gizmondos do not follow the same curvature as UK models - there is a large rectangular bulge. This new battery door also allowed the attaching of a wrist strap (Which was bundled) though. This model was never offered in the UK.

Smart Adds

After the initial launch, users could receive a discount on Gizmondo hardware if they agreed to receive targeted, location-based advertising. This was also offered to existing users who received a voucher and accessories gift pack for signing up in lieu of the discount. Despite a system update which added a "Smart Adds" option to the menu, no ads were ever distributed through the service - which meant everyone who had signed up for the service got either a discount or their gift pack for absolutely nothing. Some people think even the thought of this was partially why the system failed.

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