December 2nd, 2004, 09:33
Seen those spooky adverts on the TV that warn "It has been released"? Or maybe you've caught them on this very website? Those adverts are the first foray into the mainstream conciousness of Gizmondo, the new handheld games-and-everything-else system from Tiger Telematics.[br]Okay, so with DS launching in the US and Japan and PSP just round the corner it might not be the ideal time to introduce another handheld - one with no proven track record in the games market. Gizmondo isn't scared. Tiger today announced that they've recorded over 560,000 pre-orders for the unit through its official website.[br][br]According to Tiger, "the majority of these pre-orders originated from outside the UK, apparently with early adopters trying to purchase units ahead of the US and pan-European roll outs scheduled for Q1 2005."[br][br]The official launch date for Gizmondo in the UK was October 29, although don't be surprised if you haven't seen it down your local games shop. At the moment the unit is only available through the official website for 229, and only in limited numbers. [br][br]An actual retail date for the system - which features a 400 Mhz processor, Nvidia graphics hardware, an MP3 and Mpeg4 movie player, GPS capabilities, a digital camera and wirless connectivity for gaming and communication (phew!) - has not yet been set, but is pencilled in before the end of the year in the UK and first quarter 2005 in the US and across Europe.[br][br]Carl Freer, the managing director of Gizmondo, said of the pre-order figures, "This is a fantastic affirmation of interest and these numbers bode extremely well for Gizmondo." [br][br]He's right, but we do have a couple of caveats to throw into the ring.[br][br]First off, this pre-order figure does not necessarily translate into sold units. At present the Gizmondo website is accepting pre-orders on the condition that purchasers will be notified when a unit is available and then asked for their payment details. Freer believes that "realistically at least half of these pre-orders will move to retail sales."[br][br]More tellingly, our efforts to get hold of a Gizmondo to playtest have so far proved fruitless - and not for want of trying. It could just be part of a masterful teaser campaign intended to stoke up interest in the system, but it would be good to see the thing running for real.[br][br]Nonetheless, a number of big name publishers including Microsoft and SCi have been linked to Gizmondo and a Gizmondo store is planned for London's trendy Carnaby Street. Could this mysterious system prove to be a heavy hitter in the handheld wars?