Gizmondo.jpgWe’ll get right to the point: The Gizmondo handheld gaming system is not worth your gaming dollar. Although it boasts a staggering complement of built-in features—including a built-in digital camera, Bluetooth, GPS, and support for SMS messaging—the Gizmondo lacks one key feature: fun.

The pain begins with five “piano” keys at the top. These require a great deal of pressure to push, but their action is so slight that it’s tough to tell when you’ve pressed one. This just aggravates the problem of a device that’s slug-slow to respond—even powering up takes almost a full minute. The Gizmondo claims it can play MPEG-4 video and MP3s from an SD card, but it didn’t play most of our test MPEG-4 videos; and if you dare to look up someone’s telephone number while listening to music, playback stutters.

The Gizmondo has a built-in GPS unit, so you can keep track of your kid via the web (if actually watching him or her is too much of a bother). Kids also have the option of pressing an emergency button to send an SMS message to your cellphone, informing you of their location—as long as the Gizmondo is powered on, can obtain a GPS satellite signal (we couldn’t), and the battery doesn’t poop out (as it will do in less than two and a half hours).

The Gizmondo does have one thing going for it: It’s very comfortable to hold while playing games. And you can shave $100 off the device if you consent to wirelessly receive up to three ads a day, which appear on the device when you launch games. But the number of titles available at press time barely earns the plural (we review three here). The Gizmondo makes Nokia’s N-Gage seem desirable, and the downfall of the vastly superior but discontinued Zodiac Tapwave does not bode well for this clumsy stab at portable entertainment.
Logan Decker

Month Reviewed: September 2005
Verdict: 3



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