Linux-based Handheld Offers Free Games

That noise you hear is computer science students cheering around the world.

”FREE” is a magic word. It transforms even the most sensible, sedate and rational of people into greedy lunatics. So just imagine the chaos now there is a portable gaming console that has free titles.

Called the GP2X it is based on a Linux OS (that alone is enough to make Spode post coital cigarette) and features two 200MHz CPUs, 64MB of RAM and 64MB of NAND which – according to designer Game Park Holdings – makes it four times more powerful than a Ninentdo DS.

Adding to the fizz is a large 320 x 240 backlit LCD which can view DivX, WMV and AC3 formatted videos without the need for rescaling and supports MP3, Ogg, Jpg, Bmp, and eBook multimedia files (no WMV I’m informed, contrary to the website). A USB2.0 port, SD card slot, TV out and 3.5mm headphone jack offer a good range of connectivity options and a universal 3.3V connector means it can powered from any compatible power source. When on the move two AA batteries are claimed to provide between five and 10 hours of operation depending on the demands put on the device.

Hard facts over with perhaps the most interesting aspect to the GP2X is its approach to software. Because of its Linux core a whole world of free games, utilities and emulators are at your disposal. Classic titles like Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, Doom, Resident Evil and SNES, Megadrive, Neo Geo and MAME releases to name just a few. The company has also released a whole raft of free downloadable apps, demos, emulators, games, magazines and more here.

In addition, given that Linux is an open source system, anyone with the inclination and nous can build games for it and a software development kit is actually bundled with the console. Get a load of that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony! At just £124.99 the GP2X doesn’t cost the earth and it goes on sale tomorrow.

Ultimately the success or failure of the GP2X will lie in the hands of the bespectacled open source community around it, but the Linux mob is a pretty dedicated bunch (again, just ask our residential unnaturally redheaded Technical Editor) so Protx could well have made itself something of a sleeper hit…

GP2X Official Site

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