Nokia Gameboy?

— 12:00 AM on February 6, 2003

Nokia is about to debut a new cellphone with a heavy emphasis on gaming. The N-Gage, as it will be called, "is a half-moon-shaped device that measures 5.2 by 2 inches and is an inch thick. It has a 4,096-color active-matrix display and built-in camera for video and still images."

If you find that intriguing, head on over to Nokia's N-Gage web site for pictures, FAQs and other frivolity. According to the AP article, Nokia is claiming "console-quality" games, which is certainly an interesting statement. Of course, there's NES-quality and then there's PS2-quality, so that blurb will mean more when we know which console they're talking about.

Nokia has tapped Eidos and Sega to develop games, and the titles on the web site certainly reflect that, with Sonic, Tomb Raider and even Super Monkey Ball being shown. The N-Gage also plays MP3 files and includes a 64MB memory card in the box, though I couldn't find any information on what type of memory cards the thing takes. It even has a built-in radio.

Did I mention it's a phone?

That just leaves the two big questions, When and How Much? Well, the answer to the former is apparently late in 2003, so if this thing has got you all hot and bothered, you may now hurry up and wait. The answer to the second question is more complicated: "The price will vary from market to market, as the retailers determine final retail prices."

Hmph. Personally (and I'll be pleasantly surprised if I'm wrong) I'm expecting this thing to cost a ton of money. It has to do with what I like to call the Economics of Cell Phones That Do Something Else. Here's an example:

Treo 90 PDA: ~$200
Entry-level Cellphone: ~$100
Treo 300 PDA/Cellphone: $500

Now, looking at that example, what do you think a tri-band cellphone/MP3 player/FM radio/GBA-like gaming system with wireless multiplayer is going to cost?

Yeah, I was afraid of that.

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