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Quick Review: Nokia N-Gage QD and TapWave Zodiac 2

No Lame Games
And not just the incredibly lame games that come with typical cell phones (even my 9-year-old son won't play the pathetic box-drop, Centipede, and "bowling" games on my cell phone). I want real games. Like Doom or FIFA Soccer. The kind of games someone might actually want to play.

All without sacrificing the business functions I need (or at least that I need to justify buying myself these cool toys in the first place).

Amazingly enough, I found not one, but two potential answers to my prayers. For the past couple months I've been playing around with a TapWave Zodiac 2 that stuffs a high-end PDA and a proprietary gaming environment in a curvy Palm-size package. Then, a couple weeks ago, I got hold of a Nokia N-Gage QD, which melds a cell phone with its own gaming system in a device only a little larger than a typical cell phone.

A Constellation Of Capabilities
I liked the TapWave Zodiac 2 the moment I saw it. It's a top-notch Palm OS PDA, and a powerful gaming deck with a big, bright touch screen (3.8-inches, 480 x 320 resolution, 65,000 colors), and good gaming controls (even a pressure-sensitive joystick and vibration feedback). It also offers built-in MP3 playback, video playback, image viewing, word processing, and other functions, along with a couple of cool games: StuntCar Extreme and Acid Solitaire.

Powered by a 200-MHz Motorola i.MX1 ARM 9 processor and an ATI Imageon W4200 graphics accelerator (with 8Mb dedicated SDRAM) for fast action games, the 6.3-ounce Zodiac finds room for stereo speakers, 128Mb of RAM, and a pair of SD card slots for additional memory, programs, and games. Gaming performance is excellent. (It even sports Bluetooth for multiplayer gaming, though I was unable to test that function.)

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