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N-Gage 2 Pictures Show Evolution Of Handheld?

simoniker posted about 10 years ago | from the darwin-not-yet-proved-right dept.

Portables (Games) 53

Roger Ramjet writes "Fan site NGageGaming has reposted a couple of leaked images of what appears to be Nokia's N-Gage 2 phone/gaming handheld hybrid. While the device is similar to the original N-Gage, the keyboard and look has been redesigned, and on the flip side of the phone/gaming device may possibly be space for a camera." Apparently, Nokia "...is expected to have a major press event on April 14 to showcase the upgraded version", and the same fansite is also reporting on the woes of current N-Gage software support, mentioning that "Taito Memories and Marcel Desailly Pro Soccer have both been 'delayed' for N-Gage release."

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53 comments

Well that looks better (2, Interesting)

Snowspinner (627098) | about 10 years ago | (#8821198)

Only, you know, not. Where are the buttons on the right? Am I still using phone buttons?

I don't see any evidence of a game slot. Still removing the battery?

I also don't see any evidence that Nokia has got a clue what they're doing, actually.

Nope, I'm guessing a bust.

Re:Well that looks better (1)

SphericalCrusher (739397) | about 10 years ago | (#8858315)

It's going to go under just like the other one. Maybe if it would stop focusing more on the phone part, and just be a handheld also (with a lot of good games), it would do a lot better in the market. I for one don't really like the idea of holding my Gameboy up to my ear to call my girlfriend...

Re:Well that looks better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8858850)

Hey man, if you read the article and look at the pictures, the game slot is clearly visable on the bottom of the phone. You can even make out the little cartridge impression on the cover for the game slot. And the guy in the article flat out says "no more side talking"

A step in the right direction, but... (2, Interesting)

pat_trick (218868) | about 10 years ago | (#8821303)

It looks like they put a SD card slot on the lower left of the back (look at the little grey plastic flap) and at least fixed the whole sidetalking thing. But will it be backwards compatable? (my guess is yes).

It'll still come down to whether or not they've got the developers, games, and draw to get the crowd onto their system.

Re:A step in the right direction, but... (2, Informative)

Bri3D (584578) | about 10 years ago | (#8821525)

If you had bothered to read the article, and not just look at the pretty pictures, you would know that it will be backwards compatable.

I don't think it matters anymore... (4, Insightful)

Gothic_Walrus (692125) | about 10 years ago | (#8821337)

The N-Gage has been saddled with such a negative reputation that, at this point, I don't think Nokia can do anything to save themselves.

The N-Gage is, for the most part, a joke. People who have them or have used them have a laundry list of complaints about the system. News articles have been anything but positive. Even those gamers who've yet to see or touch an N-Gage still mock it, simply because everyone else does.

Even though it looks like most of the design issues have been fixed, people aren't going to buy it simply because it's an N-Gage.

I'd love to be proven wrong - I'd like to see a competitor for my GBA - but I think that this is doomed to failure because of its predecessor.

Re:I don't think it matters anymore... (1)

MBCook (132727) | about 10 years ago | (#8821449)

I agree. If they want to get ANYWHERE with it, it needs to be a loss leader (at least for a while to build up a userbase). Bundle a game or two, a GOOD game. Get a KILLER game. Sell the phone for $100 for six months or so (with rebates you get when signing up, it would be free or $50). That way people will BUY them.

But I'm not going to pay $200 or $300 for a phone that has a handfull of games none of which are supposed to be any more than "not bad". If the games are there, you have a chance at getting buyers. If the phones don't cost much, you have a chance at getting great games. It's a chicken and egg thing, so Nokia needs to get some eggs (great games) to get more chickens (owners), and putting a MAJOR discout on the chickens for a while would really help.

Otherwise, I think the system will end up a footnote in the history of convergece, only to be pulled out to make jokes about how bad it is and "The top ten 'what were they thinking'?" articles in the future.

Re:I don't think it matters anymore... (1)

NonSequor (230139) | about 10 years ago | (#8822528)

No point in making it a loss leader until they can get more games for the system.

Re:I don't think it matters anymore... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8821545)

Don't forget that mobile phones themselves were a figure of fun when the early models were released.Who here hasn't seen old pictures of businessmen shouting into devices bigger (and heavier) than a brick?

Nokia are used to quick hardware cycles, building on what they have learned from mistakes in the past. Most of the flaws of the original N Gage seem to have been fixed with this new version, and people WILL notice this. By the time Nintendo finally get round to releasing their new handheld, Nokia will be three or four versions down the line, with a lot more experience and (crucially) a substantial back catalogue of compatible games.

Re:I don't think it matters anymore... (3, Interesting)

Kris_J (10111) | about 10 years ago | (#8821728)

I own one and I don't have a "laundry list of complaints", just one -- the range of commerical games sucks. Fortunately, the phone is so good at so much other stuff that it doesn't matter. I won't unseat the GBA as a mainstream games machine, but when it comes to emulators and homebrew gaming it's quickly becoming a very popular platform.

Re:I don't think it matters anymore... (2, Insightful)

Cody Hatch (136430) | about 10 years ago | (#8822216)

Yeah. At this point, of Nokia really truly wants to be in the game hardware market, they need to drop the name, and ideally shunt the whole idea to some third party - it could even be a subsidiary, but right now, all it takes is the words "Nokia" and "games", and people start snickering.

What they need is a fresh start. Oh, and some decent hardware, of course. :-)

Re:I don't think it matters anymore... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 years ago | (#8822432)

Given the size of the GBA SP, and the size of cell phones minus most of the interface these days, the competitor to the GBA would be a GBA cellphone. Just something to think about...

Taco phone (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8821470)

Too bad you still have to talk into it like a taco to use the phone "feature".

You cannot hold a taco that way! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8824532)

If you hold a taco as though it were an N-Gage, everything will fall out. Vertically by the side of your head? Insanity. Even the hand placement is wrong for a taco. Rotating that same grip to the front of the head, horizontal, would still result in the whole taco on your lap.

The only reason anyone ever says you hold it like a taco is that it looks like a taco. If it were indeed held like a taco, you would hold it in front of you, pointing at your head. That would be a much worse way for the phone to work.

The N-Gage is held like a paint scraper, in a sense... like a seashell.... but not a taco.

Rugged up? (3, Interesting)

Kaali (671607) | about 10 years ago | (#8821476)

By those images i get the feeling that N-Gage2 is a bit rugged up, and that would be an excellent design decision as i'm sure that many children will want a cellphone(at least in finland it seems that _everybody_ has one) with "special" games and you propably know how children treat their "toys". And by those images it seems likely that it still misses shoulder-buttons which is a must feature for any game-controller. Can't see any dedicated buttons for volume adjustment either. Well, only time will tell.

Re:Rugged up? (0, Troll)

77Punker (673758) | about 10 years ago | (#8821614)

If Finland is anything like the USA, you'll see people talking on cell phones bloody everywhere! You'll hear $5 ring tones based on the latest rap on the radio that sounds like shit whether or not it's on a phone. Then whatever asshole has the rap turned up so loud it hurts the ears of the other drivers starts talking to his degenerate friends and nearly runs you off the fucking road three times on the way home. Technology is NOT for the unwashed masses! Tell me, is Finland like the USA in that respect?

Re:Rugged up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8821643)

Technology is NOT for the unwashed masses!

But your mother is unwashed! Surely, you don't mean her as well?

Re:Rugged up? (1)

Kaali (671607) | about 10 years ago | (#8821689)

> If Finland is anything like the USA, you'll see people talking on cell phones bloody everywhere!

Well, i live in a city with almost 20k population.. no, it is has not been a problem in bigger cities either.

It's illegal in Finland to talk to your cellphone and drive if you are not using hands-free.

Re:Rugged up? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 years ago | (#8822439)

Aluminum salesman: "Here, use this."
Scotty: (Holding the mouse up to his mouth like a microphone) "Hello, computer!"

N-Gage usage tracked (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8821551)

...I know for a fact that N-Gage usage is tracked to see which users are likely to buy more games.

Does anyone else see a problem with this?

Re:N-Gage usage tracked (1)

77Punker (673758) | about 10 years ago | (#8821626)

Not really surprising. No consumer electronics with transmitters can ever be trusted. Of course, it can't really be that much of a problem since only about 5 people actually have N-Gages, right?

Re:N-Gage usage tracked (1)

dustmite (667870) | about 10 years ago | (#8859806)

Sheez, an AC on /. "knows for a fact". I'm totally convinced now. And it must be true, or you'd surely never have used such emphatic language as "know for a fact". References please!

This is an improvement? (0, Flamebait)

badasscat (563442) | about 10 years ago | (#8821621)

Seriously, this has to be one of the ugliest handhelds I've ever seen in my life. I still don't see how it can possibly work as a phone, and it still has the same lame vertical screen that's so problematic for gaming. Plus those buttons look even less useful as actual game controls.

And am I the only one shocked that there's such a thing as an "N-Gage fan site" out there?

Re:This is an improvement? (3, Funny)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 10 years ago | (#8821711)

> And am I the only one shocked that
> there's such a thing as an "N-Gage
> fan site" out there?

Do you know the difference between "grassroots" and "astroturf"? I would not be surprised if Nokia gives them money. But then again, some people love the weirdest junk...

Re:This is an improvement? (1)

M3wThr33 (310489) | about 10 years ago | (#8821718)

Nope. I was more surprised to see a fan site than N-Gage 2 pictures. And yes, that sucker is uglier.

Confusion, and contradiction (2, Insightful)

Gleapsite (713682) | about 10 years ago | (#8821776)

Whilst the hardware is no different that the original N-Gage,

and

so we're gonna take a stab in the dark here and guess that Nokia have upped the specs on N-Gage 2!

So.. uhhh... they didn't change the hardware, yet they upped the specs... so either they overclocked an original NGage, or there is bad reporting going on and they really did upgrade the hardware. can someone make sense of this?

Re:Confusion, and contradiction (2, Insightful)

neverkevin (601884) | about 10 years ago | (#8823340)

I think they are talking about the hardware of the phone not the gaming hardware:

"you look in the bottom left of the display you will see "CAMERA", so we're gonna take a stab in the dark here and guess that Nokia have upped the specs on N-Gage 2"

Meaning they added a camera so the ngage 2 will have more features.

Yearly Models v. Bidecade Models (4, Interesting)

superultra (670002) | about 10 years ago | (#8821858)

I've laughed at the N-Gage as much as anyone, but I'll say this much for Nokia as opposed to Sony and Nintendo. Nokia, who's a phone maker, is pretty much used to releasing new models almost every year for their cell phone line. Why change this strategy for a video game console? Why wait 5 years for this beast we call the console lifespan cycle to come around to your side again of the gate so you can hop on for another 5?

If Nokia has anything going for it in the console/handheld industry, and I'll admit it doesn't have much at this point, it's that they can put out a new model every year. That's something Nintendo can't quite manage, and Sony keeps pushing their date back. Cellphone manufacturers, on the other hand, are perhaps the best equipped industry in the world to change models and revamp the factories every year for new designs. While I can't say that this design is anywhere near where Nokia needs to be, at least they're making progress incrementally. You can't sidetalk, and it looks like you put the cartridge in the bottom. By the time the PSP actually hits stateside, the N-Gage 4 or 5 or 6 might be something to look into.

Maybe.

Re:Yearly Models v. Bidecade Models (4, Insightful)

stickb0y (260670) | about 10 years ago | (#8822145)

Nokia, who's a phone maker, is pretty much used to releasing new models almost every year for their cell phone line. Why change this strategy for a video game console?

... because of compatibility and support issues.

For a basic cellphone (I'm excluding smartphones), users really don't install new software. A typical user just uses the phone out of the box. In this scenario, more models means more choices for the consumer, and the support costs should scale about linearly to the number of models available.

The N-Gage is not targeted for this kind of market. The N-Gage requires games--third-party software titles--that users are responsible for purchasing and installing. Now you have to worry about compatibility:

  • Backward compatibility. Are future models of the N-Gage compatible with games made for older models?
  • Forward compatibility. Do games made for future models work on older models? Are they totally incompatible or is there a well-designed, easy-to-use infrastructure to degrade gracefully?
  • User confusion. If games are not fully compatible in both directions, is it easy for consumers to determine what's compatible with what? Can they easily decide which model to buy? If the consumer is too confused, they might pass on the product entirely.
  • Developer confusion. If games are not fully compatible in both directions, is it easy for developers to determine what's compatible with what? Can they easily decide which models to target? If the developers are too confused, they won't write software for the product.
  • Support. What kind of commitment is there to providing patches and support to old hardware?

If decide that you do want backwards and forwards compatibility, the testing and support costs can increase geometrically as the number of models increases.

There are some good reasons for consoles to have somewhat long lives: they provide a stable market for consumers and a stable target for developers. Unless they plan things out very carefully (and given some of the design flaws of the first N-Gage, I wouldn't count on Nokia to do that), saturating the market with too many hardware variations could have too many potential pitfalls.

Re:Yearly Models v. Bidecade Models (1)

stickb0y (260670) | about 10 years ago | (#8822174)

Oh, I should add that I'm talking about variations to the underlying hardware.

If you're talking about changes to aesthetics and form-factor, then there's no problem there. But really, those are things that Nokia should be able to get mostly right with usability testing and design heuristics, well before the manufacturing process.

Re:Yearly Models v. Bidecade Models (1)

superultra (670002) | about 10 years ago | (#8822202)

Oh I agree wholy, and it's something I thought of while writing my post but was too lazy to include. Backwards compatibility is vital. But I think it's better to think of this new N-Gage as a revision. It's fairly drastic for what is normally a revision in a console world, which usually consists of a more efficient production process and cheaper but more reliable parts. But I think Nokia sees this more as a revision than necessarily an N-Gage _2_. I'd definitely say that oversaturation of "versions" is against the "rules" of the console market, but I think it's nevertheless an interesting development merely for its different approach. Maybe consoles would sell better if they were more revisionary. The Xbox saw more mainstream acceptance when it released a revision of its controller. Perhaps this would work better on a larger scale, ala the cell phone market.

And I think that this dependence on revisions means Nokia still doesn't understand that it's about the software stupid. Still, I don't think that will stop them from getting to an N-Gage 5 or 6, which might make other developers doubletake the N-Gage if the hardware is solid by that time.

Re:Yearly Models v. Bidecade Models (2, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | about 10 years ago | (#8822236)

I agree (also with what you replied to yourself with). I think, at this point, the best shot they have is to release lots of models of the N-Gage. How do they do this with out pushing consumers off by constant obsolesence?

"With N-Gage Technology." They basically turn ALL (or many) or their phones into "N-Gages". They would all have the same tech specs (screen, processor, memory available to the game) so they all play the exact same games. The differences would be in form factor (one that is a tad harder to play but works better as a phone, one that's the other way, etc), in abilities (one might have built in WiFi, another a camera, etc), and such. Games wouldn't have access to the things that aren't common to all models so it wouldn't matter which phone you had. They are play N-Gage games identically, they are just different. They could even license the N-Gage platform off to other companies if they wanted to. This way instead of buying a $300 cell phone/game console, you would say "Phone Y costs $50 more but includes N-Gage support and there are some games I might want so I'll buy that one." It would be almost like a $50 game console.

I think either this or massive discounts (see my other comment in this story) would be two ways to get the platform off the ground.

Either way the need some killer games or they're dead in the water no matter what they do. I think their platform would be perfect to get ports of PopCap games. They could sell a collection or two. I'd buy 'em if I had an N-Gage, those games are GREAT for killing a few minutes.

Re:Yearly Models v. Bidecade Models (1)

sn2k (749579) | about 10 years ago | (#8822221)

The problem is there is a main difference in a phone and a videogame console. With a phone it doesn not really matter if you have the newest model, a videogame console on the otherhand requires the newest model to play the newest games.

If sony or nintendo did release a new console every year only a few people would buy it every year while everybody else is stuck with the old system. Game makers would then have to decide which console to develop the game for. My guess is they would go for the old system that has more people using it. If the system was backwards compatible this would be even more likely. The fact that not many games are released for the new system would cause sales for the newer system to dwindle to fall even more. The company would then be in serious trouble because no if Microsoft released the a console after waiting multiple years people would most likely switch over to this because they now that new games will be geared towards the newest x-box instead of the old one.

Hold on - there's an N-Gage fansite? (2, Interesting)

josh glaser (748297) | about 10 years ago | (#8821901)

Seriously, though. This model seems to be vastly improved - bigger screen (I think), easier cartridge changing, and no more sidetalking (I hope sidetalkin.com will stay). But I doubt Nokia will be able to have this be successful, simply because there isn't enough games, and because the N-Gage name isn't a plus when it comes to gamer opinion...

Symbian OS? (2, Interesting)

Jmechy (656973) | about 10 years ago | (#8821945)

The picture of the screen looks alot like my 3650, which runs Symbian. Is it not safe to assume that the this does as well?

Re:Symbian OS? (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | about 10 years ago | (#8823495)

The original N-Gage was actually pretty much a 3650 without the camera in a different case. It has the same CPU, same chipset, same display, etc.

The current N-Gage runs Symbian, as do most of Nokia's high-end phones, so it's pretty safe to assume that the N-Gage 2 will run Symbian as well.

Re:Symbian OS? (1)

dspyder (563303) | about 10 years ago | (#8839069)

Yes, Nokia is obviously pretty heavily invested in Symbian. The nGage is basically a "Series 60" phone as well. It has a little more base memory, which makes running nGage titles on the 3650 a little more difficult... but possible.

The 3650 is a rocking phone (even with the rotary dialpad)... if you don't have an unlimited data plan, you're missing out on a lot of cool functionality.

And yes, you can assume the nGage2 will use Symbian as well. Maybe a newer version, but I would think backward compatability can be assured. They would be stupid not to!

--D

OMFG (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8822297)

Mike Hawk must be licking his chops and rubbing his cock right now. After all, this new N-Gage is even uglier than the first, how could he not love it?

Nokia's plan all along? (1)

mystereys (673518) | about 10 years ago | (#8822543)

Maybe this was Nokia's plan all along: they release a really sucky phone-game-mp3 combo system, and then when they release the next gen system, which is of marginal quality, everyone thinks "oh, this is a big improvement!" From the screenshots, the new system looks better: no more side-talking and better placement of game buttons.

For some reason, I keep thinking of Coke & the fiasco with Coke 2 in the 80s: releasing a sucky product to remind everyone how much better the "classic" product is.

Do people care anymore? (0, Redundant)

Shakey_Jake33 (670826) | about 10 years ago | (#8823586)

I must commend Nokia for not giving up on the NGage, and I am enouraged to see that they are trying to stick by the NGage fanbase, no matter how small it is.

Problem is, they are the only people who care. A new, more gamer-friendly design, some small remoddelling, does this change the fact that it's game line-up is horrendous? Many NGage owners have said it's cool that in the light of the PSP and the DS, it's enouraging to see Nokia push a little harder, but is it really? Does the NGage2 really stand a chance against the PSP? Even I'm planning to buy a PSP, and I'm usually a Sega/Nintendo-orientated guy.

Also, given the fact that this announcement will be of little interest to people who are not already NGage fans, who will be buying this remoddelled version? We all remember how expensive the original NGage was, I can't see current owners buying the machine over again... and Nokia will have to work hard to entice anyone else.

The NGage hadpotential. It did stuff that GBA owners could only dream of, and to be honest, handheld rendidtions of Tomb Raider and ther much-underrated Pandemonium! interested even me. But the initial 'Wow 3D handhelds!' shock has died down, and the public need something else to focus on.

I hate to be the board pessimist, but I don't think this will help Nokia really... they blew it at the start by giving themselves no market audience (Gamer's thought it was too expensive and felt awful to hold, and phone users update their phone too quickly to give the unit any long-term life), and are now struggling to keep the system floating.

A shame, had the system been in the hands of a company who knows the gaming market, it could have been big.

Screen in Portrait ? (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | about 10 years ago | (#8824220)

why on earth dont they put the screen in landscape orentation? They could keep symbian OS usable in portrait mode, but when gaming mode, run in landscape. If the phone had a different screen it would also make things like blizzard installer redundant for playing on other handsets that dont have a landscape mode.

Alternatives (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8825290)

There is also another alternative to the GBA, besides the much-maligned NGage. The Zodiac [tapwave.com] is a Palm-based PDA with hardware and OS that is optimized for gaming. I use mine for work and for play, and it performs admirably for both.

Feh, I thought you were talking about model trains (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#8829208)

Oh well

N-DeadHorse 2 (1)

billcopc (196330) | about 10 years ago | (#8833191)

It's been what, less than one year since NGage hit retail ? It has sucked beyond suckage, and yet they're already talking about NG2.

Take a hint from Nintendo: buyers appreciate longevity. I don't want to replace hardware every 6 months (unless it's in my bleeding-edge PC workstation). Sell ONE good platform that's ready for the future, keep on churning out software titles for years to come, reaping massive royalties over time, and then when you've done it all, start over with a fresh hardware platform that will BLOW YOUR USERS AWAY!

That's how it's done, now where's my check ?

I'm a happy N-Gage user.. (2, Insightful)

jlehtira (655619) | about 10 years ago | (#8858514)

..even though it has its flaws. Or, flaw. Which is the game slot thing. Sidetalking isn't, the device comes with a good hands-free set I find myself using all the time.

Yes, NG is worse for gaming than the gaming-only devices. But, it's a good phone, good mp3 player, good radio, wap&www and even an irc platform. My guess is Nokia never tried to beat gameboy, they intended to make a phone that's good for gaming, not the other way round.

Certainly, if your main concern about electronics is that you might look silly using it (for some weird reason without the hands-free), grow up.

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