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Are you ready to N-Gage? - What's New? Are you ready to N-Gage?

14 February 2003
Written by Kinny Cheng


Take a closer look!

One of the contributors to the mobile gaming phenomenon is none other than Nokia, with their built-in games like the unforgettable “Snake”. Since the first version of this appeared on the Nokia 6110 many years ago, Nokia has maintained this inclusion on all their handset models ever since, even right up to premium models such as the 8910.

Playing games while on the move has become part of the mobile culture - and with Nokia’s inclusion of games in all their handsets, this may just pay off for things to come…

The Product

Enter the N-Gage, Nokia’s solution for the mobile gaming segment of the market. In addition to it being a Series 60 based mobile phone (running a similar interface as the 3650 and 7650), its main purpose is to be a mobile gaming console that you can take around with you. Therefore, this is why the N-Gage looks so much like the typical Nintendo Game Boy or defunct Sega Game Gear.

But there’s one that differs the N-Gage from the rest - its ability to communicate and borderless reach with other gamers. The integration of game console and mobile phone brings new possibilities, allowing its users to send high scores, download new levels for certain games quickly and effectively via GPRS, and go multiplayer via Bluetooth connectivity.

But that’s not all. The N-Gage is also capable of receiving FM radio transmissions and play back AAC/MP3 digital music saved onto memory cards read by the device.

And for those serious moments, the N-Gage can perform as well as it lets you play its games. The Nokia Series 60 interface has much to offer its users - including a full set of PIM applications with the ability to synchronise with a PC, SMS/MMS/email messaging support, WAP/XHTML browsing via CSD/GPRS, and Java application compatibility. Bluetooth allows the wireless connectivity of audio and data devices with the N-Gage, while the tri-band compatibility (GSM 900/1800/1900) means you can game and talk on the same device on your next round-the-world business (or pleasure) trip!


More pictures:
 Angle shots!   Screen shots!

The Showcase

The N-Gage is no small potato - Nokia is set to revolutionise mobile gaming in their own way based on this mobile gaming console!

On February 5, 2003, Nokia showcased the N-Gage for the first time in London, UK, and Sydney, Australia. With the many people who wanted a glimpse (and a go) at the N-Gage gaming deck, Nokia had many of these pre-production units around not simply to minimise queues - but also to see how people interacted with the game deck in a natural environment and possibly retain feedback on how they feel about the N-Gage personally.

Nokia currently has five game publishers set out to write games for the N-Gage device (Activision, Eidos, Sega, Taito, and THQ), where this list will certainly grow. Four titles were presented at the showcase - including SonicN, Tomb Raider, Virtually Board Snowboarding II, and Pandemonium (names sound familiar?). Each of these games was available for people to play, and I was impressed by how well the games were presented thanks to great sounds and high-quality graphics.

Although it seemed slightly big for a mobile phone, the N-Gage is neatly sized for a good gaming experience. The ergonomics of the phone also makes it comfortable for serious gaming. On the left, you have the eight-way directional controller (or “Rocker”) used for gaming and phone menu navigation - while on the right, the 12-digit keypad is laid out appropriately with the “5” and “7” keys (marked in orange) used as firing buttons for games. Other buttons, such as the soft keys and function keys, are positioned where possible.

The N-Gage does not come with an IR port, unalike other Series 60 devices - but does provide a USB data port for phone/PC synchronisations and the transferral of music and other data to and from a compatible PC.

Availability of the N-Gage

The Nokia N-Gage is still at its preliminary stages of development. While there may be physical devices already, Nokia has plans to make this available just before the festive season of 2003 - which means that the world will see the N-Gage on shelves during the fourth quarter of 2003 (possibly with more game titles than now!)

In the meantime, you may like to refer to the information below for more details on the Nokia N-Gage device.




Features

Game
  Ergonomic game controls for two-handed game play
  Eight-way directional controller (Rocker) for game play (5-way for phone use)
  Game catalogue featuring rich games stored on MMC cards with copy protection
      (sold separately)
  Ability to play single player or multiplayer wireless games via Bluetooth for
      connection with other players within a short range vicinity or via cellular network over
      distance
  Send MMS with screen capture of game level/score to friends

Digital music player & recorder
  Supports AAC & MP3 files
  Nokia Audio Manager PC software for managing audio files
  20 radio channel memory
  Integrated recorder from analog stereo line connector
  64MB MMC for music storage
  Handsfree speaker for music listening

Other features
  Tri-band compatibility (GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz)
  Large colour screen with backlight, 176x208 with 4096 colours
  Series 60 platform and Symbian Operating System (OS)
  Bluetooth wireless technology for gaming, audio and data access
  Eight-way directional controller (Rocker) for game play (5-way for phone use)
  Multimedia messaging (MMS), as well as SMS and picture messaging
  WAP/XHTML browsing over CSD/GPRS
  Java application support
  Comprehensive range of applications; e-mail and PIM
  Connectivity: calendar synchronisation with PC, USB for music file and application
      download

Usage times
  Game playing: 3-6 hours (depending on
      game type)
  Talk time: 120 - 240 mins
  Standby time: 150 - 200 hours
  Music player: up to 8 hours
  FM radio: up to 20 hours

Size
  Dimensions (LxWxD): 133.7 x 69.7 x 
      20.2 mm
  Volume: 139 cc
  Weight: 137 grams
 
 


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