New games handheld for the UK

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Sony’s upcoming PSP (click here for more) isn’t going to be the only handheld gaming console to arrive in the UK next year probably in late summer.

Tech Digest can exclusively reveal that the hottest new games console in the US, the Tapwave Zodiac will be launched here in 2004.

The Zodiac is essentially a Palm OS based PDA that has been optimised for gaming. To this end its makers have endowed the device with a 480×320 pixel screen (twice the resolution of the GameBoy) and a range of controls including a very simple to operate analogue joystick. It is also considerably more powerful than the GameBoy Advance in boasting 128Mb RAM, a speedy Motorola ARM 9 processor coupled with an ATI Imageon graphics accelerator to drive the 3D-based graphics and Bluetooth.

A true entertainment device the Zodiac also boasts an MP3 player and a Kinoma video player. Obviously the device is also backwards compatible with the huge number of applications already developed for the Palm OS.

Games, which are at specific to this device, are inserted via the player’s two Secure Digital (SD) card slots. At present this only includes a selection of racing games, Pro Skater 4, Doom II and a host of Sega arcade classics, though the company is looking to tie up deals with the bigger companies.

The Zodiac has already been given the thumbs up by the US gaming community. Click here for a rave review. If the company can tempt the big companies into producing games for the platform it may well steal market share from the GameBoy Advance, N-Gage and PSP.

The Zodiac retails for $400 from here.

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