I got the idea last night – there’s a lot of stuff we’ve reported about that hasn’t been talked about many other places, and subsequently disappeared. I figured it’d be nice to bring these things out into the open again, with fresh eyes. I may do another deeper post with news bits that have since dried up, but for now, I’ll focus on things we saw at tradeshows and did full reports on. Let’s begin! Just one for now, perhaps another tomorrow.
Here’s the FreeOn. This was a korean handheld we saw at E3 2003, which had cellphone properties to it, but was a dedicated system with bluetooth and a 32bit ARM 7 Core CPU, and actually used carts. It was touted as the ‘first bluetooth handheld,’ but of course wasn’t, as it didn’t come out. Here are some things about it, according to, well, me when I wrote it! “The voice recognition device (though called a voice recorder above), allows you to tell the game to do certain things. Like if you want to drop a bomb, say ‘bomb’, and the game does this. Very curious thing to do with a handheld.
The SDK is free, and games can be downloaded online, though most will come in the rom carts. There’s a Virtual Machine in the hardware, though it’s not JAVA. It’s a proprietary VM, and java games must be ported to it in order to work. Again, a very odd choice. “
We used to have a video of it, I’ll have to see if it’s still around somewhere. The website for the handheld has long since disappeared, but we had updates on november 27, 2003 and april 4, 2004 showing new hardware revisions. You can find those images here and here via the wayback machine. That last one I linked was basically the final update, and that original link is pretty much the only available english-language account of the thing.
What we saw was an actual playable version, which was a bit uglier than some of the concepts, but at least it worked. I also remember that the president of the company had really bad breath, so I didn’t get as much information as I otherwise would have. You can check out some of their own videos here, which mostly consist of zooming in on blonde girls, and setting up their booth. If you want to see a bit of the system in action, check the video 6.wmv – not much though. I’ll keep you updated as to whether the insert credit archives actually still contain any FreeOn videos, and anyone who knows more about the whereabouts of the hardware or the company, please let me know!