Tamagotchi is back and this time it’s social

BandaiTamagotchiFriends5Do you remember the 1990s? The decade of Generation X, Cool Britannia, raves, grunge, dressing down, Baywatch, roller blades and Tamagotchi.

Ah yes, Tamagotchi, the digital pet that first launched in Japan in 1996 and took Britain by storm the following year. Small enough to fit on a keyring, the Tamagotchi would ‘hatch’ on screen and required feeding and nurturing in order to keep it ‘alive’ and happy. It introduced a generation of children to the concept of keeping a pet without all the messy cleaning out of cages and burying of deceased gerbils at the bottom of the garden. Because of the attention it demanded it was also widely confiscated by a generation of school teachers.

Now 17 years and 80 million units on the Tamagotchi is set to be relaunched by Bandai Toys. Already predicted to be a best seller as Generation Xers revisit their childhood on their own offspring the new Tamagotchi Friends will go on sale on Boxing Day.

The latest incarnation of the toy has kept the look of the classic ’90s model but now has short range communication technology similar to the NFC feature found in smartphones. This enables Tamagotchi owners to ‘bump’ with other Tamagotchi Friends to send text messages, exchange gifts and even go on a date. ‘Bumping’ leads to more points and rewards being earned and a raised score on the best friend meter.

The new Tamagotchi also includes new characters, five games, a pause function, on-off sound and the ability to interact with a new Tamagotchi Friends website at www.tamagotchifriends.com.

Bandai Marketing Director, Darrell Jones, who worked on the original Tamagotchi launch says, “In the 90s, Tamagotchi paved the way for a digital age in toys so we are incredibly excited to be giving the hugely popular, classic toy a modern day update. The innovative features, including the new characters and the short range communication ‘bump’ feature, will entertain a whole new generation of Tamagotchi fans. We’re really looking forward to seeing Tamagotchi being welcomed into homes and playgrounds across the country, and once again becoming an important member
of everyone’s family.”

Announcing the launch of the latest Tamagotchi the Daily Mail is quick to point out that the original, “…led to pupils the world over being distracted in class as they frantically tried to keep their Tamagotchi’s alive. It was a big enough problem for teachers in some schools that the toys were banned.”

Wired wonders how much of the mechanics of the original will be carried though to the new version, “…pets back in the day could (and would) die, which resulted in news reports about sad children. You might also wake up one morning to discover your Tamagotchi had spent its waking moments producing vast quantities of dung — something that may clash with the cute aesthetic of Kiraritchi, the cute Tamagotchi Friends character who aspires to be a pop star. Will I be cleaning up her ‘downloads’? Will she contract a disease and die if I don’t? She would have with the originals, but that might stop parents spending money with the brand if they see their kids upset at the sight of a dead pop idol.”

Pocket Lint attributes the relaunch to the success of the Tamagotchi L.I.F.E. iPhone and Android app which saw some 2.5 million downloads within 90-days of its release in February this year.

If all this has you ready to shop like it’s 1997, Tamagotchi Friends are priced at £24.99 and will be available via high street retailers from 26 December or they can be pre-ordered now from Amazon and The Entertainer.

Is that a Boom in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?

No surface was safe this week as I put the Pocket Boom portable speaker to the test! The styling of this gadget, which is designed to be used with any mobile device is top-notch. It’s incredibly tactile – the rounded bullet shape, combined with the matt black finish, means it feels good in the hand and smooth to slide into a pocket.

A lot of thought has gone into the design – the top screws off and the cable runs between the main part of the device and the head, which is what you attach to any surface to amplify the sound. The cable is concealed inside and slips out reasonably easily as you turn the top – it is a bit fiddly to start with until you’re confident that you’re not pulling too hard. The cable shows red when it has been pulled out to its full extent.

Pocketboom

The device is also a very neat size – it measures 9.5cm long and is 3.5cm wide, so will fit into a handbag or pocket (as long as your jeans aren’t too tight!

The vibration pod is where the sticky part is – this is the bit you attach to any surface to enable the device to use it as a speaker. As I said at the beginning, nothing was safe in my house – I had a large cardboard box (it being nearly Christmas and having had a delivery from Mr Amazon) to try it out on, and I was quite amazed at the sound. Another great surface proved to be the living room window.

A wooden table also offered a great sound, as did an Ikea bookcase – in fact it was so loud that I had to turn the phone’s sound down as it was distorting. The toaster didn’t offer such a great return.

While the Pocket Boom offered an excellent means of listening to the sound on my own videos (especially as I usually have to hold my iPhone up to my ear to even barely hear), I’m not sure whether the sound is truly good enough to listen to a lot of music. Rock music did suffer from quite a bit of distortion.

It’s a fun gadget, and it has been entertaining running around trying out different surfaces, but I’m not sure I would pay nigh-on 20 quid for the privilege. Having said that, if you often find the need to put your phone on speaker when you’re out and about, it’s a good, neat and compact solution.

The device can run on two AAA batteries, or using the supplied USB cable. The audio jack fits neatly into a groove in the side of the body. The sticky pad has a small plastic cover which protects it between uses, but I can see that getting lost pretty quickly, although I don’t think it really matters. Once the pad gets dusty, it can be wiped clean to bring back 95 per cent of its stickiness.

The Pocket Boom is exclusively available on MobileFun.co.uk