Today, Tapwave has launched two new gaming-oriented Zodiac machines for pre-order today. Both machines feature 200Mhz processors, dual SD slots, an analog controller, D-pad controller, 480 x 320 hi-res+ screen and a bunch of apps and games. The Zodiac 2 features 128MB RAM and a charcoal colored case while the Zodiac 1 has 32MB RAM and a slate colored case. More Zodiac details.
I want to focus on the design of the Zodiac, which I've mentioned before, reminds me quite a bit of the old Apple Newton Message Pad 2000/2100. This is partly due to Zodiac's specs (dual SD slots, horizontal screen format and screen resolution) and partly due to the Zodiac's darker slate/charcoal cases (old Newtons were dark gray).
Actually, Shaun McGill at PDANews24 disagrees with me on the look of the Zodiac, preferring Sony and Palm devices' appearance. I think the Zodiac is a very nice looking machine, which I would be very comfortable with in client meetings.
Here's a comment I sent to Sammual at PalmAddict earlier in the week:
Regarding the Zodiac, yeah, much like an Apple Newton for sure, in some ways. I did hold one of these babies back in May and I can report it's very, very nice. Tapwave did a nice job on the industrial design. I think it looks very professional. I suppose that's something open to opinion, but I would not at all be ashamed to carry a Zodiac into a business meeting with an important client. It is very slim and the rounded edges are very nice after so many hard edged squared off devices we've already seen so far. I like that someone is venturing into something different, which I suppose Sony could be credited for on the NR/NX and now UX devices for other reasons.
I should add that when I had a close-up of the Zodiac back in May, it was in a darkened room and this was several months back, so details are fading. Still, I do know that I and everyone else in the room were very impressed with the hardware and the Zodiac's performance as a game machine. I really felt that Tapwave were aiming to do things correctly with their first device -- I think they're pulling this off very well so far.
Palm Infocenter, Bargain PDA and Brighthand also have more detailed coverage on the Zodiac launch. For discussion, check out the Tapwave Users Yahoo Group, Brighthand Tapwave Forums and Palm Infocenter's Tapwave Forum.