Some business colleagues recommended that I pop into the Gizmondo flagship store on Regents Street, London. Some had felt they had seen the future in the little device.
The sales pitch didn’t go well. Firstly the demonstration device’s battery failed after about 2 minutes. It seemed that I couldn’t use it while charging as they found me another. Apparently with constant use the battery lasts 3 hours, not very appealing.
I’m no games player, certainly not when on the move – I sold my GameBoy when I was 16. So, accepting that games were a major part of their pitch, I asked what else it could do. Well apparently a Gizmondo ‘sounds better’ than an iPod, though it only comes with 32Mb as standard. I don’t care if something sounds better than my iPod, mine sounds good enough to me. I’m also not convinced by this removable media malarkey. Didn’t the iPod show that even down at the Shuffle size people prefer long-battery life and fat capacity as opposed to loads of expensive, fiddly little cards? Didn’t MiniDiscs also show the same kind of trend previously?
Moving on, I tried to use the Internet access on the bright little colour screen. Unfortunately it’s a walled garden at the moment, you can only access sites approved by Vodafone and not enter the URL of choice. What a waste of time. The camera sucked and I couldn’t get the much vaunted GPS to work. All this with a Gizmondo lady helping me out.
Usability was terrible. Typing emails or SMS messages consisted of using the joypad to flick around a tiny software keyboard. Hellish. The controls are essentially a Nintendo gamepad with a few miniscule shortcut keys for power, volume etc. How one dials numbers or does anything remotely useful other than shoot aliens is beyond me. Perhaps one gets so frustrated with trying to dial that one resorts to shooting aliens…
I also find the lack of WiFi astonishing. Kids (ie game players) are cost conscious people – slurping down free bandwidth is a must. Perhaps nervous 3G providers are tightening the thumb-screws on handset designers to prevent revenue leaking out through big fat WiFi pipes. I hope not.
Gizmondo (a Windows-based gadget, £129 starting price) is going to get squashed horribly under Sony, Apple, Nokia, Nintendo, Blackberry… you get the picture. I’m sticking with my Blackberry.