Greetings and welcome to an L G R thing and this is the Tiger Telematics .
Gizmondo released in 2005 at an initial asking price of $399 .
This infamous handheld gaming device was arguably doomed from the start due to a variety of extenuating circumstances that we will talk about .
And it became one of the most infamous tech failures to come out of the first decade of the two thousands .
It sold fewer than 25,000 units worldwide before its parent company underwent bankruptcy and liquidation in February of 2006 .
Yeah , less than 25,000 units , which means that it did even worse than one of its contemporaries .
The Tap Wave zodiac , which was also a huge flop but almost looks like a success in comparison with that selling around 200,000 units .
So a big thank you to Adrian for lending me this complete inbox example to make this video because Gizmondo packages like this are rare and getting harder to find and I'm excited to talk about it .
But first , I do want to attempt to answer some of the question as to why this thing ended up how it did .
What was it about the Gizmondo that made it such a noteworthy story of failure .
Well , that is quite the tale indeed involving investment scams ties to organized crime and a high speed Ferrari crashing so hard , it tore in half .
And while the entire story of what happened behind the scenes is worthy of a documentary really today , we're mostly going to be focusing on the hardware itself , but I cannot resist including a condensed overview of the story .
So let's go ahead and start with Tiger Telematics .
A company not to be confused with Tiger Electronics that began in the year 2000 as Eagle Eye Scandinavian an electronics business in Sweden , founded by Mr Carl Freer .
Eagle Eye , mostly distributed GPS devices for their first couple of years on market .
But in a rather strange turn of events in 2002 , they were acquired by an American carpet and flooring company based in Jacksonville , Florida called Floor Decor .
Now , this business partnership was the brainchild of Stefan Erickson , an old acquaintance of Carl Freer and a fellow Swede .
And this business deal allegedly was due to wanting to make use of Floor Decors over the counter stock listing , renaming the merged companies as Tiger Telematics .
The initial idea was to use Eagle Eye GPS experience to create a child tracking system in the form of a portable device to let parents know where their kids are .
24 7 but due to the unsettling nature of the prospect , plus the fact that getting Children to keep a GPS tracking device with them at all times was a tough sell tiger .
Decided to shift gears in 2003 , their new product was an expansion on the idea they called game track .
And the goal was to provide the same child tracking service , but put it inside of a portable game console instead so that kids would be more inclined to keep it with them .
Early press photos showed a small yellow device that somewhat resembled a pager in its design accompanied by an announcement that game track would be the official sponsor of the Eddie Jordan Grand Prix team starting in 2003 .
Then in November , they showed the first prototypes to the public revealing a sleek all metal housing with over 100 Java and Mo Fun Games said to be ready for its launch date , all rather promising stuff .
But by the time it finally showed up at the Microsoft booth at the 2004 consumer electronics show in Las Vegas , the design had changed somewhat .
There was no metal case anymore since it apparently interfered with the GPS connection and there was little to no sign of the 100 plus games promised the year before .
Furthermore , there was a trademark dispute over the name Game track in the UK .
So a new name was soon devised Gizmondo not to be confused with Gizmodo the tech blog as well as a UK based subsidiary , taking care of much of the marketing known as Gizmondo Europe and the UK was also the first to receive the Gizmondo device when it finally launched on March 19th , 2005 and it was not just sold online and in your expected retailers , the company went all out with their own flagship retail store on London's Regent Street .
They even flew in performers like Busta Rhymes , Pharrell Williams and sting to hang out and perform for their launch event , partying it up with hosts Tom Green and Danny Minogue .
In another promotion , Gizmondo , Stefan Erickson entered the 2005 , 24 hours of Le Monde race in his own Gizmondo sponsored Ferrari 360 G T C .
However , for all the publicity stunts and celebrity ridden parties , actual Gizmondo sales were pitiful from the start .
Tiger expected to sell 4500 units on launch day alone but barely managed to move 1000 of them .
The problems with it were numerous but one of the big was the price .
The Gizmondo cost more than twice as much as the recently launched Nintendo DS with CNN Money quoted as saying that on top of its other problems , the product carries an insultingly high price tag .
Then there was the lack last air consumer marketing campaign and abysmal developer support with CNET UK reporting it as too little , too late .
It's lacking game support .
It's uncool when the Gizmondo finally released in the US in October of 2005 weren't much better and actually , they were arguably worse with the device almost exclusively being sold in small mall kiosks with very little advertising .
And the game situation did not improve much either with only eight of the planned 14 games ever being released in the US and some of the promised GPS software never showing up here .
And then the lawsuits started pouring in Jordan Grand Prix sued them and won $1.5 million over not being paid all of their promised sponsorship money .
Then advertising agency Ogilvy sued for more than $4 million over unpaid marketing work followed by MTV suing over Gizmondo Europe backing out of an agreement to sponsor several shows and then on top of the low sales owing to debtors and then making so many business deals , trading company shares in lieu of taking cash payments .
Gizmondo declared bankruptcy in January of 2006 having lost a reported 382 and a half million dollars in 45 months of existence .
And then the fascinating cherry on top is Stefan Erickson who'd resigned from the company shortly before they went under .
He first really hit the news all over the place because he was involved in an epic crash along California's Pacific Coast Highway where he was drunkenly driving a million dollar Ferrari Ino at what was initially thought to be around 162 miles an hour , the wreck sheared the car in two , flung the engine out the back and the car being only one of around 400 manufactured , someone spectacularly crashing such a rare car and surviving with only a busted lip would have been news enough , but this was the ex Gizmondo executive and the circumstances around the crash were increasingly strange .
So the story gained plenty of outside media attention , Chris that Ferrari Ino was nearly obliterated in the high speed crash along the PC .
The occupants who were protected inside its formula one style cockpit walked away .
But one of those men , Stean Erickson isn't escaping attention .
And this attention resulted in some truly bizarre twists coming to light including the Ferrari belonging to Scotland's Capital Bank and they had no idea how it got to the USA video tape shot inside the Ferrari revealing it was actually going 199 MPH before the crash , some evidence of weaponry on the scene by finding the magazine for an automatic glock .
And Erickson claiming to be a part of his so called anti terrorism task force which turned out to be a local bus company serving senior citizens .
It had all culminated in articles revealing Erickson's unsavory past with the Swedish mafia selling cocaine and steroids in the eighties as well as a later criminal enterprise dealing and kidnapping , counterfeiting and fraud .
He'd spent more than six years in prison before helping start Tiger Telematics .
And while at Gizmondo , he and others allegedly made some sketchy cash by layering their account records under various confusing names with nearly $200 million remaining unaccounted for in 2006 .
According to the SEC , there were several arrests and investigations that resulted .
But Erickson spent three years behind bars for embezzlement and illegal gun possession before being deported to Sweden where he spent another 18 months in prison for extortion and aggravated assault after pouring gas on someone who owed him money .
But hey , at least the Enzo he wrecked , had a happy ending .
The car was fully repaired , painted black and certified by Ferrari selling at auction in 2016 for about $1.75 million .
And yeah , that's honestly just scratching the surface of the whole story behind this thing .
But let's go ahead and dive into the device itself and see what $400 bought you in 2005 or more like $229 in this space specific version of the Gizmondo , which is known as the smart ads release as you see all over this box .
The concept here was that you would buy it at a hefty discount by agreeing to be served advertisements on the screen every so often or being provided exclusive discounts on nearby products by referencing your location through GPS .
As you can see in this demonstration video and get two for one just by showing this bar code at your local 7-Eleven .
Your current position is indicated by the flashing green dot on your GPS screen .
But as far as I can tell , Gizmondo never actually activated the smart ads service .
So my condolences to customers that paid the full $400 for one of these .
Also , it's worth noting that even though the ads were to be sent using a cellular network , the Gizmondo could not send or receive phone calls , only text messages to do that .
It has an integrated slot for a SIM card in the battery compartment and even came with a prepaid card to get you started from Vodafone .
In the case of this specific UK release I have here .
As for the rest of the box contents , you also get an AC adapter for charging the system along with an adapter appropriate for the region it was sold in .
So you can plug it in the freaking wall as well as a USB cable for syncing to a PC using Microsoft active sync , a lithium ion battery pack .
Many of which have gone bad over the years and are bulging outward by this point in time .
And a pair of Gizmondo earbuds that are not very comfortable at all , but that's not exactly an uncommon thing for 2005 .
I just never liked ear buds like this .
You also get this demonstration package on an S D card in the box labeled I can do anything which seemed to be a kind of product catch phrase or motto of some kind as seen in the one and only TV ad for the Gizmondo .
According to all principles , it's too heavy for its wings .
It just can't fly , but no one has told this to the bumble bee .
So it flies and flies .
He doesn't care much about principles .
Do you ?
You also got this sleeve filled with a few extra goodies like this card letting you know you can claim some free music if you register with the company as well as a CD containing the full manual in digital form .
And which oddly enough looks like a burned CD R to my eye as opposed to a professionally pressed compact disc .
And then you also get this Gizmondo Quick start guide , which may not be as thorough as the digital manual .
But I'm glad it's here physical documentation and it still covers all the basic to moderate level functions quite clearly with plenty of illustrations along the way .
And you know what the technical specs aren't too shabby for the time and initial impressions of just holding the system in the hands .
It doesn't feel too bad at first on the front .
Here , you get a 2.8 inch T F T L CD screen with a resolution of 320 by 240 .
And while it's not a touch screen , like some of its competitors , it's still back lit and has nice colors looks pretty good for the time .
Along the top of the device , you get an assortment of function keys for power alarm , brightness volume and heading to the home screen above the front facing speaker .
On the right hand side , you get four face buttons that act as both audio visual commands and software controls with just enough tact field to provide proper buttons appropriate for gaming .
Speaking of gaming , you get a circular D pad over here that doesn't feel great , but surprisingly has ad satisfying separation of directions when pressed down .
And then you also get two chunky circular shoulder buttons on the top referred to as left shift and right menu along the bottom are sockets for an external power supply and a mini USB connection , a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack and an S D card slot for both storage and retail game releases .
And those came in these thin plastic keep cases with a manual or an S D card inside .
And sadly , I do not own any of these as they are irritatingly hard to find now .
But yeah , this is what they look like .
And then the back of the machine is pretty unassuming , but it does feature something I didn't realize the Gizmondo had until I got this one and that is an integrated digital camera something we will be testing out soon .
Lastly , I want to mention this black rubber coating .
That's all over it because it's not only rather unique to this system , but any time I bring up having a Gizmondo in my possession , I always get questions about it melting or becoming too sticky to use .
And while I know that some units do suffer that fate , this one doesn't seem too bad yet .
It's just a soft rubbery texture that feels quite nice to hold .
Granted , it does attract particles like crazy and you have to be careful not to scuff it up because it's really sensitive to scratches .
So yeah , your mileage may vary .
All right .
So it's time to load up the battery in a SIM card and get going with the Gizmondo .
And yes , you do need to card to get past this error message .
If it's not left in flight mode , thankfully , any old SIM card will do , it just needs to have something in the slot and then you can turn it on and mess around with any feature that does not require an active Trib band GSM connection .
Once it's charged up or plugged into the wall , you can power it on by pressing this button here for a second and it will begin the Gizmondo boot process .
And yes , it is a process , not entirely sure why , but you get this loading screen and then this loading screen for even longer .
And then when it finally seems to boot into the menu , you can't actually do anything .
None of the inputs will respond , you have to wait another minute or so and eventually it'll let you start doing stuff anyway , once it does , you're greeted with the Mondo user interface .
And yes , this is built on top of Microsoft Windows ce that's hidden away by this Gizmondo interface layer .
But what you get here are a variety of pretty straightforward settings and applications and we're just going to start with the settings so you can select vibration and ring tone settings as well as a sound for the camera shutter .
There's also an area for some delightfully mid two thousands skins at 2005 reminds me of trillion and win A .
There's also a section for some very colorful kind of obnoxious wallpaper , some language settings for the user interface experience .
And this defaults to the UK English setting because that's where this system is from .
And you can select your time zone from zones of time or refer to the device information section to check out the stats of the machine as it is running at the moment .
And then there are a couple of areas for changing G S M and various protected settings , which I'm not going to bother with because that does not apply to me .
In this case .
While I do have a SIM card installed , it is not active and doesn't really allow me to do anything but turn this thing on .
And as far as the applications , you don't actually get a whole lot just a really basic alarm clock , like a really basic calculator , a really basic currency converter for , you know , doing that and a really basic assortment of Bluetooth sending and receiving options .
This is really meant to work with other Gizmondo devices .
First and foremost , not so much in receiving , but especially when sending out information .
So for instance , if you wanted to send some of your files or photos from this Gizmondo through Bluetooth , the only way it's going to let you do is if you have another Gizmondo device and the bare bones offerings continue with the contacts list .
And this is one of the most limited contacts apps I've ever used .
It only lets you input a first and last name the Gizmondo and mobile phone number and an email and that's it .
Then there's the built in digital camera and its associated application .
And while it's nice that it uses the screen as a viewfinder as you can see here , there's a noticeable bit of lag every second or so .
There's just lag all throughout the Gizmondo operating system , we'll get back to the camera in a moment .
But let's also take a look real quick at the GPS and web services , which again I can't do much with because I don't have an active SIM card nor does this come with built in mapping software .
But what I can show you is the GPS connecting to some satellites or rather not connecting to some satellites I am in a wide open area outside here and I can get perfect GPS reception on any other GPS device that I have but not the Gizmondo , it connects to one and that's it .
Not only that , but are you seeing how hard it is to actually see this screen ?
It's glossy but even at the brightest settings , it's also very dark , not a great combination for a GPS device .
Anyway , it will eventually connect to enough satellites to get a nice triangulated position .
This brought back some early mid two thousands gps memories .
I had a garment system in like 2003 that worked pretty much like this .
In other words , barely .
Uh But anyway , yeah , let's go ahead and take a look .
Not at the messaging because it can't do any messaging but the music .
Yes , it lets you play all sorts of stuff .
MP threes and whatnot .
Here you go .
Check it out music once again .
Extremely simple .
You don't get much of any options , play , pause , stop , rewind and fast forward and that's about it .
Same goes for the movies or really just the built in video player which allows you to play W M V and EG four encoded movies of a certain type .
So you can re encode your favorite videos and plop them on here in a delightful 320 by 240 resolution .
This one released by share data Incorporated in 1987 .
For IBM PC and compatibles .
There are actually quite a few , lastly before we get to the games .
Let's take another look at the camera and just see how it is for taking pictures and you know , camera stuff .
And as you might expect by this point , it is incredibly simple .
You just point and shoot by pressing this play button .
Everything is automatic .
In fact , you can't even change really settings on this camera .
But you do get a gallery to view and organize your photos which are saved internally by default .
But you can insert your own SD card and then copy them over .
If you please .
Speaking of which SD cards , they have to be S D or M MC cards , older lower capacity ones , I had an eight gig SDH C card and it did not even recognize it at all .
So yeah , that's something to keep in mind if you're uh who am I kidding ?
You're not going to keep this in mind .
But anyway , let's take a look at some friggin photos and as you can see , they're not that great for one thing .
Despite many sources online claiming that it has a 1.3 megapixel camera .
It's not , it actually shoots at 0.3 megapixels .
So you get 6 40 by 4 80 resolution images as a result .
And again , everything is extremely simplified and totally automatic white balance I S O exposure settings , it's all taken care of for you and taken care of in not a very good way , pretty much everything is gonna be either over or under exposed with the colors not coming through very accurately whatsoever .
It made my skin even more red than it actually is .
And I also found it incredibly easy to accidentally put your finger in front of the lens due to the placement of it on the front of the device .
And also the fact that the screen was so dark , I couldn't really see what I was shooting in the viewfinder in direct sunlight .
Combine this with a very slow shutter speed and naturally no stabilization of any kind means that you're going to get blurry images almost no matter what there is no tripod mount .
And even if you're standing perfectly still , it's just going to be a bit blurry .
And it is also worth noting it does not have a macro mode .
It has a fixed focus of 30 centimeters to infinity , meaning that subjects closer than about one ft will be blurry no matter what .
And then anything beyond that , it's probably be blurry anyway , because of the really slow speed .
I like to show this scene in my L G R camera overviews like this got some direct sunlight going on here and it just completely blew out everything in the photo .
I mean , just as a quick comparison , this is what it looked like when shot with my cell phone .
So there's an idea of what this scene is supposed to look like .
But with the Gizmondo camera now you , you can barely tell that guy has a face .
Uh Well , that's just how it is 2005 integrated camera like this point and shoot digital cameras were of course , way better .
But that's about what I expected for this thing .
That's ok though , because we've got games .
Remember , you can do anything , anything like inserting the demo card into the unit here which provides a little pop up there to run the game or application .
It's a game in this case , which is a demo for the game Trailblazer .
One of the few commercially released games for the system where you play a wheel thing that moves forward , avoiding obstacles , hitting speed jumps and all that kind of stuff .
It's a basic move forward , kind of runner platform or deal and you try to get through as fast as possible .
That's it .
But honestly , you don't want to do a whole lot more in terms of complexity on the Gizmondo because surprise , surprise , these controls are not suited to a lot of games that were popular in 2005 .
The system truly needed an analog stick and maybe a bit more girth to , you know , be able to be held by hands that are an adult size as evident in games like colors which was never officially released , but it was widely distributed online back in the day and here it is , it's a third person action adventure kind of open whatever thing , you know , G T A was popular .
So I had to have one of those .
It was even supposed to integrate with the GPS and do all sorts of neat gps integration things where you'd move around the world and it would associated with stuff in the real world , but we never got the full thing .
And what we got here is not too great again , largely due to the controls .
I mean , like technically this is pretty freaking impressive , I think .
And really the D pad feels fine for the games that are suited to it and the buttons too , but it's just the cramped nature of everything and really the fact that games like this just aren't designed to be played with ad pad .
So I got some pizza and stepped out in front of a subway train and died .
Moving on though .
And the most successful quote unquote game on the system is one called sticky balls .
And this is more the kind of game that the Gizmondo is suited for just considering the pacing of the game and the control method you're provided with the system itself .
Things like this makes sense .
You're just matching balls together , kind of a mix of pool and peg solitaire .
It's fun enough .
It's colorful and does its job to kill a few minutes of time .
And that I think is the Gizmondo strong suit in terms of gaming , you certainly could play and run more involved full length console , like game experiences on this thing .
The hardware inside is up to the job with its NVIDIA Go Force GP U and 400 Megahertz arm chip set and all that good stuff .
But really , it feels best when you're playing simple puzzle games and stuff .
Like Classic Compendium here and enjoying a round of Maon Solitaire or Chinese Checkers or something like that .
Anything that's slow paced and not like real time action games , like toy golf .
For instance , I quite like this one .
It's mini golf , but even more miniaturized you play in these real life environments and everything's all shrunken down .
Like here , I'm on top of a dinner table .
It's fun enough .
It's relaxing .
I could see this entertaining me in a bus or a train ride or something .
Things start to unravel a little bit when you get into the more mainstream E AAA type things on here .
There was a release of FIFA soccer or FIFA football 2005 which Gizmondo paid something like 1.5 , 2 million dollars to get this thing made .
But yeah , it works .
Again though , the D pad is an absolute detriment to this thing with a game like this .
It needs an analog stick and those tiny little buttons not very suited to my wide thumbs and the shoulder buttons , you have to hold one of those down to sprint and it is just hand cramps , man , hand cramps gameplay is fine , feels good , runs well .
But the physical controls on offer suck .
Come on something else worth mentioning though , of course , is the fact that you can plug it into a computer because it is built on top of Windows ce and therefore works with Microsoft active sync .
It does require some basic USB drivers but other than that , it works just fine and hooks up like any other pocket PC really .
So it will synchronize your data and whatever else you tell it to and you can browse it as a mobile device and Windows .
However , there's not a whole lot of reason to do that necessarily if you just want to play random downloaded games because you can just copy over the required files to an S D card .
And there you go .
Kind of disappointing that you can only install one game at a time to an S D card .
At least using the default software .
You can install custom loaders to install a bunch of things at once .
But yeah , that's a thing .
But once that's taken care of , there's a surprisingly sizable world of home brew software out there .
It's not just all of the unreleased games that made their way online over the years , there's a lot of emulators and ports and all sorts of good stuff like Dr MD here , a mega drive and Sega genesis emulator that actually works pretty well .
And that is typical for these emulators of the time .
The sound reproduction is not very good , but the gameplay man , it's pretty good stuff and the D pad and buttons and everything actually makes sense here .
I was able to play Sonic and all that kind of stuff just fine .
Not so much with this port of Quake , although it is impressively full feature to me , it's like the entire PC game right here and overall it runs right .
But again , squishy D pad and tiny buttons in a cramped layout .
It's just not made for a first person shooter at all , not even Quake .
And you know , there's the screen even on the brightest settings and the end game gamma turned all the way up .
I could barely see what was going on .
There's a very narrow viewing angle and then the reflectiveness of the screen itself .
Yeah , it's just not great fine for playing in the dark , but that's about it .
And maybe you should because it's Quake .
But yeah , that's pretty much it for the Gizmondo , a promising system that never really lived up to its promises despite having on paper , some pretty good specs .
I mean , having a gaming system with a digital camera , GPS , S MS and M MS messaging , it seems like it should have been more desirable .
But , you know , there was the Nintendo Ds then you had the Sony P S P and the fact that this thing was $400 and also didn't really have any good advertising and nobody cared and the game support wasn't there and then a Ferrari crashed and the Mafia and , you know , like there's all these things .
The Gizmondo is just a mess .
And it's kind of unfortunate because it would have been nice to see this get some better support .
But for that , it would have had to been better managed that didn't stop the company from dreaming big though .
They had some plans for augmented reality gaming as well .
And there were several different things put together that experimented with it .
You know , it's got the camera , it's got the hardware , the GPS , some interesting A R stuff .
But again , it never really reached the full fruition of that .
And there were several other Gizmondo systems planned and even announced one of them being the Gizmondo Isis A K A , the girl Mondo meant to entice female customers by offering a more shapely rounded design and a variety of colorful case options as well as the Gizmo bet an attempt to license out and take advantage of the world of digital gambling and online bookmaking .
Oddly appropriate in hindsight for the company .
But yeah , they showed this as CE S 2006 and it never made it to market one that was seemingly a little closer to getting to market was the Gizmondo wide screen , effectively a better handheld console in like every single way .
And they announced it shortly before the original Gizmondo launched , resulting in an example of the Osborne Effect where you announce the successor to something before the original even has like a foothold yet .
And then nobody cares because they're just , I'll wait for the follow up because that's going to be the better system .
I also find it interesting that Mr Carl Freer in particular has been keeping the Gizmondo dream alive over the years announcing a new $99 Gizmondo that was set to release in 2008 .
But after multiple delays , those plans fell through not only due to things like the global economic crisis of the time , but his business partner , Mikael Youngman was convicted of fraud and false accounting and sent to prison for seven years .
Yeah , that that puts a damper on your product release .
And while there have been other hints at bringing back Gizmondo in various forms like an Android device or simply re releasing its games on other platforms , it kind of seems to be dead for the time being with Mr Freer focusing on his other various business ventures and talking about riding the wave of Blockchain as you do .
And that brings us to the end of this retrospective on the Gizmondo , even though I could keep going .
There's so much to talk , talk about with this thing .
It's just such a fascinating device that never really got its chance to shine with an almost unbelievable story behind it that begs a closer look in more ways than one .
There are a ton of great articles and resources out there that I referenced throughout this video .
So I highly recommend looking into it further if this intrigues you .
But if you enjoyed this , then I appreciate it .
I hope that you will take time to check out some of my other stuff , but if not , it's so good .
Thank you very much for watching .