Tech Time: Handheld Game Consoles

Having now mastered the game console at home, its time to hit the road with portable game consoles, commonly called handhelds. Handhelds are lightweight, portable devices with a built-in screens, game controls and speakers; they are easy to carry and can be used virtually anywhere. Unlike video game consoles, the controls screen and speakers are all part of a single mobile unit.

In the market for handhelds, Nintendo was king. From their pioneering Game Boy, which revolutionised portable game place, to the current DS line, Nintendo captured the lion’s share of the gaming market with the worldwide introduction of Tetris.

The DSi is the current Nintendo to rule the roust and is an upgrade from the popular Game Boy Advance (GBA) series. The basic DS system sports two screens in a clam shell design. The lower screen is touch sensitive and can be operated by a stylus or in some cases, a finger. It has a built in microphone and wifi for multiplayer gaming and online browsing. With the upgraded DSi, you’ll lose backward compatibility with GBA games, but you’ll have access to the DSi shop for downloable games and SD card access that allows you to listen to stored music. The DSi will set you back about US$130.00.

The only handheld to rival the popularity of the Nintendo series is the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP). The PSP is more expensive than the DS line, but here is why ... The PSP offers rich graphics and amazing game play with a larger collection of games than the DS. It has an AV output that allows you to watch videos or games on a regular TV. You can browse the web, play music and watch movies, listen to internet radio, talk on Skype and enjoy multigame play with competitors in the room or across the world. It’s about US$40 more and with all that power, the games do load slower than the DS. Point to note, the PSPs uses the UMD (Universal Media Disc) format.

Some may classify the new iPod Touch and iPhone as handheld game devices. But, gaming is not the core function of either device. That said, the iTouch and the iPhone are two pretty cool handheld game consoles. There are over a 100 game titles available, some free, and they are easy to source online. The iPod Touch and iPhone are both great for ammeters and may be of some interest to game enthusiasts as well.

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Tech Time: Game Consoles