The Zeebo is a games console designed for less well developed markets, or those that are only properly emerging. Like the three main consoles of this generation (the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360), the Zeebo possesses online capabilities, except over 3G networks.
The Zeebo console was an idea first mounted in late 2008, as a cheap and cheerful games console that could be supplied to buyers in developing nations. It was seen as a combat to the prices of the more well regarded consoles due to the highly taxed goods of some nations. The first Zeebo consoles were sold for 500 Brazilian reals on 1st June, 2009. During December 2009, the consoles were distributed around all of Brazil. The Zeebo would go on to get releases in Mexico (later in 2009) and India in 2010.
While they also intended on stretching out to China before the end of 2011, it's unclear as to whether or not this game to pass - On May 27, 2011, Zeebo announced that its operations and online service in Mexico and Brazil would end on September 30 of that year. Zeebo Inc. went on to announce plans to develop a "next generation Android-based platform for launch in 2012", before never being heard from again.
The Zeebo console was designed and developed by Zeebo Inc., with the participation and aid of twelve different companies. The two main companies in the participation are Tectoy, and Qualcomm. These companies are responsible for the production of the Zeebo in their own respective nations. For example, Tectoy build the consoles in Brazil that are eventually sold on the Brazilian market. Qualcomm are responsible for the deal involving the console's graphical chipset, which is a Qualcomm Brew, similar to that of some mobile phones.
If a Zeebo console can find access to a network it will connect and always remain connected. Like the Wii's service, the online functionality of the Zeebo does not incur any subscription fees, and is free to use. What is not free to use however, are the Zeebo's games. The console does not use disc-based media at all, and all games are downloaded for it from an online store.
The Zeebo will always remain connected to a 3G network assuming it can find one. This is important due to the fact that the console does not have an optical drive. All games for the Zeebo are downloaded from the console's online store. Similarly to Microsoft Points, the Zeebo uses its own currency to complete these transactions. The currency used by the Zeebo is zCredits, which can be purchased using a credit card and several other methods. Games for the Zeebo are all about being affordable, and vary from 500 to 2500 credits. Zeebo Inc.'s argument on this matter is that downloadable games help to keep the console production costs down, as well as making piracy almost impossible, which is vital in developing markets.
In March 2010, the company responsible for the Zeebo announced that they had agreed on a partnership with American company AT&T. The agreement appears to allow the Zeebo's online capabilities to grow more quickly as tests are carried out by AT&T and Zeebo Inc. Their official statement on the matter reads:
The agreement gives users access to AT&T's international roaming network, allowing users to carry out rapid trials of the Zeebo platform in new geographic areas as we establish longer-term agreements with local carriers for deployment of the system. It will also give us a chance to explore opportunities in the US market in the future.
The interesting piece of wording present in this agreement is that they suggest exploring the American games market in the future, which suggests the Zeebo may receive a launch as a major console during the future - whether or not this release would be restricted to the US or released across the world however, is unknown.
The line-up of games for the Zeebo can expand extremely rapidly, due to the fact that the console uses reworked and remodeled versions of games from mobile phones, as well as games from other consoles - due to the fact all the games are downloadable the Zeebo theoretically, could run any game from previous consoles. Examples of games released to the Zeebo from other consoles include Resident Evil 4, FIFA 09, and even Quake. Different games are available in the countries that have access to the console, though several companies have agreed to allow the download of their games to the Zeebo console. In the run-up to the World Cup, a football based game was designed specifically for the console in order to capitalise on the events unfolding in South Africa. Zeebo F.C. Foot Camp is the first game in the Zeebo F.C. series, and it contains four mini-games relating to different footballing skills.
The Brazilian models of the Zeebo console contain three games pre-installed to the hard drive. These games are:
Meanwhile, the Mexican version of the console contains five free games that are pre-installed. However, these games are not as recent, and are:
Like all consoles, the Zeebo needs a method of controlling the on-screen events. With the Zeebo, there are two choices of controller.
The Z-Pad is the standard controller for the Zeebo, and is shaped and styled in a manner similar to that of the Nintendo Wii's Classic Controller. The Z-Pad comes in the box alongside the controller, though you will need additional controllers in order to play multiplayer.
The Boomerang controller is sold only by Tectoy, with the Brazilian Zeebo. The controller contains an accelerometer. This allows games to be played with different movements and gestures, similar to the motion sensors of the 'Wiimote'.
- ARM11 / QDSP-5 running at 528 Mhz
- ATI Imageon (renamed to Adreno by Qualcomm after buying ATIs Imageon Designteam & Chipdesign)
- 1 GB eNAND Flash
- 128 MB NAND Flash in MCP
- 160 MB RAM, 128 MB DDR SDRAM in MCP + 32 MB stacked DDR SDRAM in MSM7201A
- VGA (640×480) – 4:3 aspect ratio
- 3G (scaling back to 2.5G or 2G where necessary)
- 3 USB ports 2.0 Standard A (for accessories)
- SD Card Slot / Interface
- Interface: USB HID
- Power: AC adapter 5V 3A
- Consumption: 15 W max.
- Graphics: 4 million triangles / second
- Audio: 8 channels simultaneous MP3, ADPCM, MIDI
- Resolution: 640×480
- Size: W × D × H – 157 × 215.4 × 44 mm
- Weight: 1.3 kg (3 lb)
- Sensitivity: <- 106 dBm (in UMTS)
- Temperature: −20 °C to 55 °C (−4 °F to 131 °F)
- Humidity: 95% (40 °C / 104 °F)