Tapwave Zodiac

The Tapwave Zodiac, released in October 2003 by Tapwave, is a mobile entertainment console. The unit was designed to play music, display images and videos, plus allow the user to play games. Less than 200,000 Zodiacs were sold making it the third worst selling handheld system. Only the Gizmondo and R-Zone sold less. It was discontinued on July 26 2005.

Features of the Zodiac included an MP3 player that allows the user to create custom playlists by drag-and-drop and play MP3 files by either the SD slot or from the internal memory. Photos with the JPEG or PNG format could be downloaded using the Palm Desktop software loaded onto an SD card and viewed, shared, or made into a slideshow.

Videos could only be played in a converted format by the Kinoma Producer software. The software could convert MPEG1, MPEG4, Quick Time, AVI, and DivX video files but with some difficulty.

The device uses the Palm OS, has a 200 Mhz CPU, has 32 MB of storage on the Zodiac 1, and 128 MB on the Zodiac 2. It has Wi-Fi, infrared, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity.

The Battery has a three hour life when using video and six hours with audio.

There were 18 released games, six unreleased games but were leaked and playable, and 22 freeware games.

Software with the unit included an eBook reader, word processor and a graphing application. It also was bundled with two games: AcidSolitaire and Stunt Car Extreme.

Some accessories for the Zodiac include a battery charger, USB cable, car charger, a cradle attachment, a folding keyboard, and the Veo Camera.

Despite the system’s low sales, it did receive many awards:

*Popular Science – BOWN Award

*Stuff Magazine (UK) – Top 10 Gadgets of the Year

*Wired Magazine – Fetish Award

*CNET – Editor’s Choice Award

*PC World – 2004 Next Gear Innovations Award

*PC World – Editor’s Pick

*Consumer Digest – Best Buy Award

*Laptop Magazine – Hot Pick

*PC Magazine – 1st Place Last Gadget Standing

*Handheld Computing – Most Innovative PDA

*Business Week – Best Products of 2003

*Business Week – 2004 Design Excellence Award

*Time Magazine – Best Gear 2003

Image Caption: Handheld Tapwave Zodiac Console. Credit: Dekaritae/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)