In addition to games, Sega also loved to play with hardware whether it was in the arcade or in bringing the same experience home via their consoles. Things like a light gun for the Master System, the Sega CD expanding the capabilities of the Mega Drive/Genesis, or the Power Base Converter that allowed Master System games to be played on their 16-bit box. Little things like card readers and expansion ports were also worked into systems like the Master System or the Sega Saturn.
But one thing I didn’t think Sega made were PDAs until I saw this ad for the Sega IR 7000 which was made by Japanese electronics giant, Casio. It featured a tiny LED screen, keyboard, directional buttons, and a clear plastic clamshell cover with the Sega IR 7000 badge. It even had an IR messaging function to reach out and text someone with another Sega IR 7000.
Two AAA batteries powered this PDA which had a calendar, calculator, a memo program, currency converter, and even a contact info app for which you could create an individual avatar “face” as an identifier for each entry. An integrated game called “Battle Attack” was even on the system as a freebie. Navigating through the icons on the tiny screen took you to whatever you wanted to go.
It was slightly larger than today’s iPhone, though at the time for $79.99, offered itself as something a simple PDA for what it compared to more powerful devices such as Apple’s Newton which could retail for around $700. Yet it never quite caught on.
Whether it was because it tried to market itself as a PDA aimed at young adults, or because it confused the market on what exactly it was trying to do with the Sega name by not being a dedicated gaming device, the IR 7000 quietly disappeared from shelves after its debut in 1994. Yet if you look carefully, Sega’s infatuation with hardware would return to one or two of the ideas that the IR 7000 experimented with in the Dreamcast’s VMU whether it was in being a mini-game console or in trading files with friends.
If you’re feeling a bit of deja vu from seeing Snatcher’s ad, you’re not alone. This one nearly does a four way split across its face in the same way, but tickles the design a bit with overlapping elements to give it a slightly rebellious look along with balancing out some of the space to show off the PDA and a few of the screens which seem to have been brightened up a bit. It looks neat, but whether the youth it was aimed at really wanted a PDA over the Game Gear, the Game Boy, or the upcoming Sega Nomad seemed, to me at least, to be something of a stretch.