Tapwave Zodiac Is The Best Palm PDA

Posted: Oct 22 2003, 10:25pm EST | by , Updated: Aug 10 2010, 2:03pm CDT, in News | Portable Devices


Tapwave Zodiac is the best Palm PDA
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Tapwave Zodiac is the most powerful Palm PDA on the market.

As posted a couple days ago, I attended a Tapwave presentation as part of the Stanford MIT Venture Lab Event on Mobile Gaming: Riding the Next Wireless Wave.

Byron Connell, Founder and VP of Marketing of Tapwave presented the business model and the Zodiac Mobile Player and answered questions from a panel and the audience.

After all that bad press on the Nokia Mobile Gaming Device N-Gage (relativated by today announced N-Gage sale numbers), Tapwave on the other hand seems to be on to something.
Tapwave’s Zodiac mobile gaming device is based on the Palm OS and open OS strategy, which enables it to run any Palm application not just Games. It is actually an extremely powerful Palm PDA, more powerful than the latest Palm Tungsten. Lets Compare!

See Also:
First Official Photos of Sony PSP reveiled

Key Comparision:

Feature Palm Tungsten T3 Tapwave Zodiac
CPU INTEL® PXA255 400MHz Motorola® i.MX1™ ARM9 processor (200 MHz)
Graphic Chip n/a ATI® Imageon™ W4200 graphics accelerator (with 8MB dedicated SDRAM)
Memory 64MB 128MB
Display 480x320 480 x 320
Audio Mono Stereo Yamaha® audio Speakers
Joystick none Analog Joystick
Price $399 $399.99
Specs: Palm Product Page Tapwave Product Page

With the Zodiac you get more Ram, a 3D graphics chip and stereo sound for the same price.
The Tapwave Zodiac is very slick looking and they invested heavily in industrial design to come up with an ergonomic and cool looking device that is attractive to the "Gameboy Graduates" (25-35year old males). I have a Palm V since years and no new Palm device besides the Treo 600 actually tempted me to upgrade. The Zodiac is very tempting.

Tapwave also invested into designing a new user interface that uses an object oriented approach with 3d look and drag'n'drop. I must say its very intuitive and attractive. It reminds me a bit on the Nextstep User Interface. They enhanced also the standard Palm applications to leverage the screen size and other features. To enable large file transfers Tapwave developers also improved the Hotsync desktop software.

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The Zodiac features an MP3 Player and also can play videos in various formats including MP4. SD Memory Cards can be used to increase the storage capacity. Interesting tip from Byron Connell, the Panasonic SD Cards icon features up to 10x faster transfer rates than other brands.

Tapwave only has 16 employees and about the same number of contractors. They hired members of the original Palm OS team. It is quite amazing what they are doing with such a small team. Their business model is mainly based on software publishing, not on console sales. They have contracts with major game developers like Atari, id and Activision. They also leverage a community of 1,100 Developers that signed up to develop software for the Zodiac.
The challenges for Tapwave are clearly the big players like Nokia and Sony. Nokia N-Gage is behind technologically, but Nokia can come up with a new version and has a tremendous distribution channel (Nokia sells 300,000 phone per day!).
The Sony PSP is clearly the strongest future contender on the technology side and also on the Market power.

The Zodiac goes on sale 10/31/03. The Zodiac 1 with 32MB sells for $299.99 and the Zodiac 2 with 128MB sells for $399.99. Look out for TV commercials on Comedy Central and MTV2.
See also one of the first Tapwave Zodiac Reviews on IGN.com.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Luigi Lugmayr () is the founding chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 15 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology magazine.
Luigi can be contacted directly at ml@i4u.com.




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