Exclusive: Panasonic Jumps Back Into Gaming With A New Handheld: The Jungle

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With the iPhone and iPod Touch taking over bigger chunks of the portable gaming market each quarter and giants like Sony and Nintendo doing everything in their power to cling on to what they can, it seems pretty crazy to get into the portable gaming space right now. Well, someone call up the nut-house, because we’ve got a new contender: Panasonic.

Yep. Almost 15 years after their 3DO gaming console (remember that?) suffered an early death, Panasonic is dipping their toes back into the gaming waters with the launch of a new Online Gaming-focused business segment called Panasonic Cloud Entertainment (or, as they call it, PCENT, which is an acronym I don’t think anyone on the product naming team tried reading aloud), with plans to launch at least one device — tentatively known as “The Jungle”.

Panasonic is keeping their cards really close to their chest here, as they’re seemingly not quite ready to completely announce it. With that said, we’ve been sent a copy of the text that should be going live at TheJungle.com later today, along with a copy of a video that will be embedded on the page.

Here’s everything we know so far:

  • “The Jungle” is the name of the handset, but it’s also the brand for a few things it encompasses, including video content creation (they’ve partnered with Machinima.com to make a new weekly show called Online Underground) and working with third party developers.
  • If the renders we’re seeing hold true, The Jungle device will be a clamshell, with a display on the top half, and a touchpad, keyboard, and what looks like dual touch-sensitive D-pads (or just comically huge speakers) on the bottom.
  • Their focus here is online gaming and “content in the cloud”. The only game we’ve got confirmation for so far: Battlestar Galactica Online. BSG:Online is made by Bigpoint, who generally makes Flash-based online games for the browser. Read into that as you will.
  • It might be Android-powered , as suggested by this job posting from PCENT looking for an Embedded Software Engineer for Android. If the Jungle is Android-based, it’ll almost certainly be heavily modified/skinned beyond recognition.(Update: Nope, just heard that it’s not Android-powered. Linux, maybe. Android, no. Bummer!)
  • If you take a close look at the ports down at the bottom, it looks like this things got a 3.5mm jack, a micro-USB port, a mini HDMI port and.. other unidentifiable things. Whats that on the far left side there, opposite of what looks like a volume rocker? SD slot?
  • Unless our sense-of-scale is totally off, this thing is going to be pretty big. Physically, that is.
  • Check out the screenshots we grabbed (and brightened) from the video, which should be going live later this evening. We’ll have an embedded version of the video soon.

    Update: And here’s the video

    http://welcometo.thejungle.com/player/player.swf

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