Is the Tapwave Zodiac better than the Sony PSP?

The Sony PSP was released here in the U.S. yesterday and Joel picked one up for review purposes and testing at his work. He seems to like the unit and is posting a mini-review on today. I was thinking about this device because I was particularly taken with the Sony PDAs and know the quality is probably excellent. Then I started checking prices and see that bundles with games are running from $280 to $345, with tax. Wow, that is a lot of dough for a gaming machine. Granted it does have WiFi and can be used to listen to music and watch videos. However, music has to be stored on proprietary Memory Sticks and movies and games are stored on the new Sony Universal Media Disks (UMDs).

After I hit this price point and looked at some of the PSP features, I wondered why people would go for this device when, in my opinion, the Tapwave Zodiac offers more with a similar form factor. Check my simple table below for a direct spec comparison of major features.

Specification Tapwave Zodiac 2 Sony PSP
Display size 3.8 inches 4.3 inches
Display resolution 480 x 320 480 x 272
Display colors 65,536 16.77 million
Touch screen Yes No
Processor 200 MHz with graphics accelerator 333 MHz
Integrated RAM 128MB 32MB
Lithium battery capacity 1540 mAh 1800 mAh
Expansion slots 2-SD slots 1-Memory Stick Duo, UMD (read only)
Analog controller Yes Yes
Stereo speakers Yes Yes
Integrated wireless Bluetooth, WiFi through SD card, IR WiFi, IR
Vibration Yes No
Size 5.6 x 3.1 x .55 6.7 x 2.9 x .9
Weight 6.3 ounces 9.92 ounces

It’s a pretty close call if you just compare the specs. However, the Tapwave Zodiac runs the full Palm OS so you get a device that can be used for a PDA as well as a gaming machine, MP3 player, portable video viewer, email machine, and web surfing machine. The PSP allows you to listen to MP3s stored on the Memory Stick and watch proprietary movies only purchased on their UMDs. You can convert virtually any movie into a format to watch on the Zodiac and it handles them flawlessly. The Zodiac also has a nice smooth black alloy casing and is quite durable. The PSP has a black plastic casing that I also have read is quite cool. The Zodiac also has a touch display so you can enter text via the display or even using an external keyboard. Games have to be purchased on UMDs for the PSP at about $40 a shot. You can play any Palm game on the Zodiac and there are also several optimized for the device that run about $30 a pop, but can be stored on a single SD card with many other games. While the Zodiac doesn’t have integrated WiFi, you can add it with a SD WiFi card and still have another slot open to add a 2GB SD card. Personally, if I was going to fork out $300 for a machine to play games on then I would go for the Zodiac over the PSP.

Now, my comments on the PSP are based on reading and checking out the device online. I’ll try to go to the store this weekend and play with one a bit to see if it changes my opinion at all.

  1. #1 by powder2000 on March 25, 2005 - 12:42

    Good analysis. As a 29 year old, I would definitely go for the zod.

  2. #2 by Jonathan on March 26, 2005 - 04:21

    I have the PSP and am very happy with it for games. It is much more powerful than the Zodiac in this category… there are simply more capabilities both technically and with the power of the major publishers.

    Movies, music and photos all work well on the Memory Stick which is not just proprietary, but more expensive per MB, which is annoying. I use the Treo 650 as my PDA and use an iPod for music so I can’t say I’ll be missing or wanting to do music or photos (splashphoto) on the PSP. Video though is another thing… In addition to converting to MP4 which is easy, you have to transfer via a PSP app or Memory card and name easily (can’t use real names, they have to fit in a unique directory structure).

    I’m still very impressed with the PSP though. I had actually considered the Zodiac as an additional Palm device, but am glad with the decision for the PSP. The hardware is really sweet.

  3. #3 by Anonymous on March 27, 2005 - 19:34

    I hope Tapwave stays afloat and releases a Zodiac 3!

  4. #4 by Anonymous on March 29, 2005 - 07:01

    The reason why people will buy ths PSP is becouse its a PS2 in your pocket with, not only grafic that looks like PS2 quality, but the same games that are on yor PS2, with out any limitation or lower quality. The PSP will also get the best games when they com out.
    I mean, can the Zodiac Play Tony Hawk underground 2, GT4, GTA, fifa 2005 ??

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