Cybikos - Portable Gaming Devices Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Cybikos - Portable Gaming Devices

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A Cybiko, in short, is a portable gaming device that needs no cables for head-to-head play - it is basically a game-based PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) aimed at teens. Cybiko is advertised as having wireless chat and email, and while this is technically true, it isn't really that impressive. No cellular air-time charges are involved, but it is therefore limited to a broadcast and receive range of 300 feet - and that's in optimal conditions. Its indoor broadcast range is 150 feet. This does allow you to communicate through walls or across an American football field. There used to be an advertisement on the box that a new game is released daily1.

Cybikos are made by a private company called, logically enough, Cybiko Inc. You have your choice of colours2 ranging from Backstreet Black to Magic Clear, which is simply usage of transparent plastic as the casing.

Why Bother with a Cybiko?

A Cybiko, while of limited wireless functionality, is really quite fun to play with. Even though the games that are usually released have little to zero play value, there are still some really good ones out there3. A Cybiko is not as convenient to carry around as one would be led to believe - while this Researcher is unsure of its exact weight, try picking up half of a portable CD player and you have the approximate weight. It is five inches long and about three and a half inches wide.

A program that is not included with the device and must be downloaded off the Internet is the only way for new programs to be added to the could-be-more-user-friendly device. The connector cable is serial, not USB, ensuring overloaded computers everywhere. A special switcher may be necessary so one can attach multiple devices to the same port; since the serial port is the most commonly used port, many find this necessary.

Rumours state that the Cybiko Two will have a power switch. The power switch is the ESC key which must be held for five seconds to power off, but will turn on at a touch, ensuring dead batteries from it getting turned on in a pocket.

The battery life of ten hours of play is assuming that the sound, antenna, and vibrator are all off. The free memory is a limited 400 KB or so. To check your email, you have to connect it to your computer... the wireless part, while what is mostly advertised, is not the main part of it.

Good Points

Several bad points aside, consider the fact that there aren't many devices where you can play Doom on the go, with up to eight people in the same maze. It is good to keep a grocery list on; there is even a program for that. And even though the keys on its miniature QWERTY keyboard are almost unpressable, this is made easy by the virtue of a stylus for pushing buttons on this non-touch-screen device.

Fortunately, the arrow keys are in a very easy-to-use control pad with five buttons next to it for very good game control. Some of the games are quite addictive, and this Researcher is still enjoying his Cybiko months after purchase.

You can check your email wirelessly if you walk within 150 feet of a 'CyWIG'4, or if someone sends an email cybiko-to-cybiko and the two units become within 150 feet of each other, so it does indeed have IM (Instant Messaging) features. Sadly, your IM address, and your default email address, are both your impossible-to-remember serial number.

Cybiko comes with one of the best virtual-pet style programs there is. Virtual pet is actually a little misleading; Cybiko calls it a 'simulation of life' - which is also a little misleading. Basically, 'CyLandia' is a virtual pet that can learn to do things for itself, has to get a job, you have to buy everything, and has a stock market. It's a bit like a 'pre-life' for teens who aren't on their own yet; this is more of a warning of what's coming... while extremely fun, you better start it on a weekend as the two-day baby stage hasn't learned how to do a lot yet.

Everything Has a Cost

Sadly, very few things in life are ever free. This is no exception. If you want a Cybiko, be prepared to shell out over $100.00 for it (prices correct at time of writing). Since the on-machine memory and Flash-based storage space is badly limited, you may also choose to purchase an additional accessory that increases the device's storage capability.

Known Bugs

Nothing's perfect. Even if it's from the company that made the device.

Do not use:

  • CyBank
  • Action Checkers
  • Probably a zillion more that haven't been tried yet

Fortunately, a program that re-sets your Cybiko to how it was when it first came out of the box is available, and it always works since it's on your computer.

1At the time of writing, however, Cybiko, Inc has removed all promises of a new file daily. However, new files are still uploaded on roughly a monthly basis.2This Researcher feels the colours to be somewhat ugly. Most simply have transparent casing instead of solid.3Although the names could use some work. Who's idea was it, anyway, to name a great brain-based puzzle game 'Piddle'?4CYbiko Wireless Internet Gate.

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