James Posted April 18, 2004 Share Posted April 18, 2004 [color=#707875]We did have another N-Gage thread here on OtakuBoards, but I decided to create a thread specifically for this new unit. Basically, Nokia is creating a new N-Gage called the "N-Gage QD". It's not [i]new [/i]in the sense that it's not an "N-Gage 2" or something, but rather it's a redesigned version of the original machine. Before I say anything else, I'll say one thing; [i]it's about time![/i] This is the machine that Nokia should have used at the very beginning, if they were truly serious about the handheld market. As it stands, the current N-Gage is poorly designed and ill-equipped to deal with the likes of Sony's PSP. On the sheer hardware front, N-Gage is somewhere in between Game Boy Advance and PSP in terms of graphical capabilities (though probably closer to GBA than PSP). In my opinion, this was a pretty poor judgement call on the part of Nokia, especially considering the price point of the unit. Moreover, the vertical screen design has been a bit problematic for certain games and the implementation of buttons and other features was lousy. While the N-Gage QD doesn't actually address all of those concerns (because it's still the same machine), it [i]does [/i]seem to improve on various design faults in the original unit. So this should make it a more attractive product in terms of being a gaming device. [center][img]http://ngagemedia.ign.com/ngage/image/ngageQD_460frontalimage_04-13-04_1081921881.jpg[/img][/center] The N-Gage QD is apparently smaller than the original N-Gage, in terms of width across its face (by about an inch). I must say, I thought that the original unit was already quite small...so I'd be interested to see how small the QD actually is when held in the hands. The QD is also a more robust design -- stronger casing and a rubber bumper running around the edge. Though when I read about this, I really wondered how many people regularly drop/throw their N-Gage, to justify the development of such protection. lol [center][img]http://ngagemedia.ign.com/ngage/image/QD_460KeyPad_1081921882.jpg[/img][/center] I haven't played an N-Gage, so I really don't know about this in terms of experience. But I did hear that one of the biggest complaints about the original unit was the fact that the buttons were very flat and flimsy. The new machine raises the buttons higher, making them "fatter". Apparently they also have a more satisfying click to them, which gives them an overall more robust feeling. The 5 and 7 buttons also have the raised part, just like before. And now, it is apparently much easier to roll your thumb around all the buttons. IGN mentioned that more developers are taking advantage of all of the numerical buttons...and if you look at some of the latest games, this is really apparent. So the new button layout could be quite beneficial in that regard. [center][img]http://ngagemedia.ign.com/ngage/image/QD_460DPad_1081921881.jpg[/img][/center] The D-Pad has also undergone some plastic surgery and for the better, it appears. No more "center click" (there's a seperate enter button for that) and an overall more "clicky" and robust pad. Good news, without doubt. [center][img]http://ngagemedia.ign.com/ngage/image/N_GAGE_QD_460Bottom_1_1081921881.jpg[/img][/center] There are two other properties on the N-Gage QD that are really no-brainer fixes. And why the original N-Gage was designed with faults in these areas, I will never know. Firstly, games can now be easily swapped via a port on the bottom of the unit -- you know, just like a [i]normal [/i]game system. lol The original N-Gage requires you to actually open up the entire machine and "install" the game card. Could that be anymore annoying? That is one feature that must have soured a [i]lot [/i]of gamers. Secondly, you no longer have to hold the machine sideways when talking (and thus, you don't have to look like a complete idiot when taking a call). The speaker is located near the numerical pad (just above it) and the microphone is just to the side of the unit, near the D-Pad. So you can hold the machine flat to your face while talking. Lovely. There are some drawbacks to this machine though. As a result of the new design, certain multimedia components are now missing. Most noteably, the MP3 and FM radio features are gone on the QD. However, you can apparently download third party MP3 playback programs for use on the QD...and considering all the other design fixes, I assume that this is a minor inconvenience. [center][img]http://ngagemedia.ign.com/ngage/image/N-GAGE_QD_460Prof_2b_1081921880.jpg[/img][/center] The new unit also doesn't have Tri-Band compatibility and such although from what I've read, this shouldn't be a huge issue for most mobile phone users. IGN has more details about that, should you care to read the article (which is located here: [url="http://ngage.ign.com/articles/506/506283p1.html"]http://ngage.ign.com/articles/506/506283p1.html[/url]). Also, price has changed. If you sign up for a service, you can grab the unit for only $99USD, or $199 without a contract. So what's my verdict? Well, I don't have one yet. Having not actually played either unit, I can't make a judgement on the improvements from that angle. However, I really do believe that this is the way Nokia should have gone at the start. For several years, Nokia has been the world's number one mobile phone maker -- now their design is falling behind in that area (companies like Samsung in particular are pushing past Nokia in some sectors). And the original N-Gage was, in my view, an awful design. It was the most counter intuitive gaming system I've seen -- just as counter intuitive as the Virtual Boy, which is saying a [b]lot[/b] about how poor it was (though at least Virtual Boy didn't need to be operated on to insert game carts lol). I had long thought that Nokia would either end the N-Gage's miserable life, or that they'd actually replace the unit with a new design. The QD will not outright replace the original model, but it will be an option for more "game-centric" consumers -- the kind of people that Nokia clearly wants to go after. I think Nokia is learning what Nintendo has known all along, in regard to handhelds. Keep an intuitive and simple design theme, and don't bog the machine down in complex and unnecessary features. N-Gage QD is a big step forward in my opinion, although it's still not ideal. ...and I don't think that it stands much of a chance against PSP. But, I'm sure it will help. And I hope it does. More handheld competitors is a good thing and if Nokia puts in the effort to develop a great machine, they deserve success from that. If anyone buys this unit, or does a comparison, that'd be great. I'd love to read a post about it.[/color] Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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