Nokia Takes the Wraps Off the N-Gage QD

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As expected, Nokia has just announced the N-Gage QD, the next generation of its gaming-oriented, cellular-wireless handheld.

N-Gage QD “With improved gaming ergonomics, gamers can now start to play games at the push of a button and enjoy the increased responsiveness of the game keys,” said Nokia’s Senior Vice President of Games, Ilkka Raiskinen. “We also added support for hot-swap MMC and extended the battery life. For phone calls, we reoriented the speaker and microphone to support ‘classic talking’.”

The N-Gage QD was created to replace the original N-Gage, which had some severe design flaws that made the device unpopular.

Games, Games, Games…

The primary focus on this new handheld is games. Nokia confirmed today that the N-Gage QD will be able to play all titles created for the previous model.

N-Gage QD There are a dozen or so N-Gage games on the market now, and more are expected in the near future, like The Sims Bustin’ Out (see picture at right).

Nokia has also announced some upcoming N-Gage exclusive games, including Ashen, Pathway to Glory, and Pocket Kingdom: Own The World.

Like its predecessor, the N-Gage QD allows users to do multiplayer gaming via Bluetooth short-range wireless networking.

This device includes a D-pad to make game play easier, but its screen resolution is only 176 by 208 pixels, lower than its competitors. For example, the Nintendo GameBoy Advance SP has a 240-by-160-pixel display, while the Tapwave Ziodiac’s is 480 by 320 pixels.

The new N-Gage Arena Launcher will allow users to access the N-Gage Arena community directly from their smart phones, where they can communicate with one another, download exclusive content, access rankings statistics, and more. Existing N-Gage users will be able to download the N-Gage Arena launcher in May.

…but Also Much More

The N-Gage QD will be able to do more than just play games. It is also a full smartphone running the Symbian OS with Nokia’s Series 60 providing the user interface.

It includes personal information management (PIM) applications, an xHTML browser, and email software. In addition, users are able to download and install other Series 60 applications.

However, there are some features the original version had that this one lacks. It no longer offers an MP3/AAC player, for example, or a built-in FM radio.

There will be a GSM 850/1900 version for the Americas and a GSM 900/1800 version for the rest of the world. The original N-Gage was a world phone that offered all these frequencies in one device.

At $330, many felt the original model was too expensive for its target market. The N-Gage QD will cost considerably less. The retail price will be $199, but Nokia will push wireless carriers to offer it for just $99.

It is expected to be available in May for Europe, Africa, and Asia Pacific and in June for the Americas. This is barely six months after the release of the original N-Gage.

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