High-quality portable gaming without the Game Boy.
Many of the portable gaming hacks we’ve discussed relate to proprietary consoles ( [Hack #24] ). You may need to buy flashcart devices, for which Nintendo will chase you down with legal papers and raised voices. Let’s now discuss a portable device that can play classic titles through emulation, is free for anybody to develop on, and is easy to transfer data onto: a palmtop computer.
There are two main branches of portable devices. One is the multimanufacturer PocketPC, running a portable version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system. The other is Palm-compatible devices running the Palm OS, mostly manufactured by Palm and its offshoots.
There’s one major issue with the form factor of all of these devices: they’re primarily portable productivity devices for keeping appointments, surfing the Web, or writing down notes—not for playing games. They lack the easy game-oriented controls of game-specific devices such as the GP32 ( [Hack #23] ) or the Game Boy Advance ( [Hack #20] ).
Also, there are two main new PocketPC processor types, both produced by Intel: XScale and ARM. PocketGame has a good synopsis of the different processors found in PocketPCs (http://www.pocketgamer.org/links/ppc.php), including older processors such as MIPS and SH3. Fortunately, almost all new PocketPC titles are ARM-compatible, so they also work with XScale; some also work with MIPS-powered devices. Notable ...