N-Gage QD

Review

posted 7/29/2004 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
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Let’s face it, the original Nokia N-Gage wasn’t exactly the success that Nokia was hoping it would be. Honestly I think New Coke might have been received a little better than the original N-Gage. It was a little clunky, it did a lot of different things (none of them very well), you had to remove the battery to change games, and you looked like a tool if you actually used the device as a phone since the speaker and microphone were mounted on the side of the device. Nokia heard all the cries of the users and went back to the drawing board and this year they released the Nokia N-Gage QD, a slimmer, more functional version of the original N-Gage. The big question is if the changes were enough to make the QD a useful device. I’m happy to say that the answer is “pretty much”.

The N-Gage QD is smaller and more streamlined than the original device. Size-wise it feels solid in my hands and all of the buttons are within easy reach. The buttons are a little on the tiny size but have enough feel that you can feel the difference between the buttons. The new layout is pretty simple. Your left hand controls the D-pad and a selection button (new to the QD) while the right hand pushes the various buttons on the right side of the device. Pretty simple layout and anyone who’s ever picked up a game controller should feel right at home. An interesting feature is the power button which sits on the right side of the QD and is actually embedded in the outer part of the device. It took a few minutes for me to find it but once I found it the design made a lot of sense.

The dimensions of the QD are 4.65 x 2.68 x .87 inches and it weighs about 5 ounces. It really doesn’t seem that much bigger than your standard cell phone and if you’re used to carrying around a cell phone you’re not going to notice that much of a difference if you switch to the QD. It’s a little wider than your standard phone but that’s about it.

From a usability stand point the controls are solid and the D-pad is particularly solid. The new select button works well since you can get around the cell phone’s functions with one hand. The keypad buttons are almost a little too solid but they do get the job done. After several hours of gaming I never had any hand cramps or issues.

On top of the QD there is a plastic flap that covers the ports for the head phones and power connection. On the bottom of the QD is another plastic flap that protects the area where the MMC game cartridges are inserted into the device. This is a huge improvement over the original N-Gage which required you to remove the battery to insert the games. The mechanism works pretty well but at times it can be difficult to tell whether or not a cartridge is inserted. When it’s time to switch to another game you just open the slot and pull on the groove in the top of the MMC card to remove the game.
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