Cybiko: it sounds Japanese, but is actually designed by the Russians and funded by the Americans. In a nutshell, a Cybiko is a handheld computer designed for the under twenties market.
It features the usual applications associated with a PDA (address book, organiser, text editor etc.), along with wireless networking, allowing Cybiko users to communicate with each other within a range of 300 feet, as well as email, chat and much more.
Each device comes complete with a power pack, serial cable, the above applications, and a small selection of games. However, many more games and applications (currently over 400) can be downloaded completely free.
This involves downloading and installing the 'CyberLoad' program, available from the Cybiko website (see below). Once installed, and with the Cybiko connected to a PC via the serial cable, simply select the desired games or applications from the list and hit the download button to install directly to the device.
Because every application/game is free, they aren't of the same quality as an adult's PDA or a Gameboy, but many are engaging and great fun. Whatever a child is into they are sure to find many applications or games to suit.
With its full QWERTY keyboard on the front and large joypad-style navigation, the Cybiko is a bulky, but light, device. The rather garish design, available in four translucent colours, ensures it will appeal to the younger end of the market, but I can't see any self-respecting 16 to 20 year-old waving one about, but maybe I'm wrong.
The one feature of the Cybiko that may well win the 16 to 20 year-olds over, however, is the wireless networking. With this it is possible to chat to fellow Cybiko owners up to 300 feet away for free. By creating various buddy lists the device can even alert you if a buddy comes within range. With text messaging already hugely popular this feature is likely to be attractive, if only to reduce telephone bills.
Wireless networking also allows multi-player games to be enjoyed and even access Wap sites, as long as one Cybiko is connected to the internet via a PC (other users simply access Wap sites wirelessly via the connected Cybiko).
Housed at the bottom of each unit is an expansion slot allowing external devices to be attached. This is currently limited to several memory cards and an MP3 player, but many more are expected to be made available in time.
Add the fact that anybody can design their own applications with the free Software Developer Kit and the Cybiko has plenty of scope to become a powerful handheld device, offering the features of a PDA combined with wireless networking.
On the downside, the LCD screen is limited to grey scale colours, and lacking a back light it becomes completely useless in dim or dark conditions. The keyboard is extremely small and involves using a toothpick-style stylus to tap the keys. Fingers can be used, but this can be fiddly even for those with small hands.
Incorporating a touch-screen would have been useful, but was undoubtedly left out to keep the cost down.