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nD, New $10 Gaming Handheld Device Claimed to be more Powerful than Nintendo DS, Runs Custom Embedded Linux Firmware

nD is a new indie handheld gaming device currently in prototyping phase. nD is a brainchild of Robert Pelloni, creator of Bob's Game. Many of you who follow Nintendo DS news will be familiar with Bob's game and Robert as there has been quite a bit of history between him and Nintendo. I won't get into details about this but you can just search for Bob's Game on the web or hit Wikipedia for more info.

So what is nD?

Robert and his team are all set to develop an indie handheld gaming console which will run a number of indie games. The device will support 2D games only and will run a custom developed embedded Linux firmware. nD will have its own Game Store which will allow users to download games from the device itself and well as from a PC game store. The SDK will be released soon in upcoming days and is based on open source gaming standard - SDL.

In a recent blog post, the team behind nD claimed to have a working nD prototype.

I’ll let you in on a secret- our prototype is currently using a 400mhz CPU. For comparison, a Nintendo® Game Boy Advance™ uses a 16mhz CPU, a Nintendo® DS™ uses a 66mhz CPU (and a 33mhz one), and a Sony® Playstation Portable™ uses a 333mhz CPU. That was in 2004. this is 2011!

The nD has a higher resolution screen (320 x 240) than the Nintendo® DS™ (256 x 192) and a CPU possibly more than four times faster. Of course, we can’t promise this will be the final specification until we’ve secured enough supply. It’s possible we’ll end up with something 200 or 300 mhz. (still much faster!)

The point is, the nD truly is a new generation of more powerful 16-bit games. It can certainly handle some 3D as well! However, we would rather see some really awesome higher-resolution 2D titles!

nD will just cost $10 and will be sold at cost at no markup. The game developers will get 90% revenue share from game sales. The low price reasoning being given as exponential drop in price of mobile hardware components due to rise of smartphones plus economies achieved through bulk purchases.

nD developers are planning to release the first batch by the end of 2011, although 2012 is a more realistic date. The target release date is currently "before the Wii U launch." 

Check out the videos below:

Detailed Proposed Device Specifications
  • Screen resolution will be 320x240
  • The current prototype features a 400MHz ARM CPU, although this may change for the final hardware if these chips cannot be acquired in a large enough volume
  • nD will feature at least 16MB of RAM, but more likely 32MB
  • The nD uses a built in rechargeable battery pack and not AAA batteries. The battery life of the nD is TBD
  • Features a 2.4 inch backlit LCD display with a resolution of 320x240 and capable of displaying 16 bit color
  • Wi-Fi for local multiplayer and possibly online multiplayer
  • Doesn't feature any kind of SD storage. However, the nD does feature internal memory for game storage. Currently 2GB is expected to be the amount for the base model
  • In the future, developers may choose to create their own custom designed nD to ship with their game
Current Games Approved for the device

More and more games are being approved for the device and the list is increasing. Current games include Bob's Game of course, a port of DOOM (2D) which will allow multiplayer deathmatch game through wifi. A list of all the games can be found here

The official nD website homepage shows a comparison of nD with other gaming devices:

Excitement as well as Skepticism

Many people are quite excited by possibility of such a gaming device. nD community is growing rapidly and has got attention from both users and developers. The SDK being based on SDL, developers are told that they actually can start making and compiling games on Windows, Mac and Linux using a 320x240 resolution.

But then there is huge skepticism and suspicion as the possibility of such a device in just $10 seems like a dream and something hard to achieve. The project is currently securing funds and is looking for venture capital. There is no corporate office yet and they are not hiring at the moment which will only start after funding is over. Plus people simply does not want to believe Robert Pelloni considering his past antics, gimmicks and viral marketing tactics.

Additional Note: Many readers have already started to believe that such a device will be released for sure. Please note that the purpose of the article is not to confirm anything but is to show current situation, what Pelloni and his team have claimed and how people got divided into two groups, one believing that it will be released soon and another one considering it nothing but a hoax. If the article sounds as a confirmation then its my bad.


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