The International Trade Commission in Washington is investigating a complaint by Motorola against Microsoft and will decide whether or not to ban imports of the Xbox 360 game console, Bloomberg reports.
We'd be shocked if the two sides didn't come to some sort of agreement to prevent that from happening, and this looks like a whole lot of legal posturing to us, but the fact that the dispute between these two companies has gone this far is troubling.
It all started when Microsoft filed a lawsuit in early November accusing Motorola of shenanigans with its patents used in the Xbox 360. According to Microsoft, Motorola breached contractual obligations made to standards organizations for "reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and conditions" for patents dealing with wireless and video-encoding technologies. Microsoft described the patent royalties as "wholly disproportionate to the royalty rate that its patents should command under any reasonable calculus."
Motorola quickly fired back with a lawsuit of its own, claiming its demand was a "fair offer" and Microsoft should quit bellyaching.
It's nowt the ITC's job to investigate the dispute, and it has the power to ban imports of products found to infringe on US patents.
Fancy yourself a tree-hugger? That doesn't mean you have to give up gaming on the console, you just have to choose your system wisely. So which one gets the nod? According to findings by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the Nintendo Wii consumes about a sixth of the power of Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 consoles.
"We included only a small sample of the many gaming systems available, but it reveals the differences in energy use can be significant," said Mark McGranaghan, vice president of Power Deliver & Utilization for EPRI. "With the holiday shopping season in full swing, now is a good time to consider this factor."
EPRI conducted its tests by playing EA's Madden 2011 football game for one hour on each system. In doing so, EPRI found that the Wii used an average of 13.7 watts, while the PS3 and Xbox 360 pulled 84.8 watts and 87.9 watts, respectively.
"Obviously there are many considerations when looking at a gaming system and we're only about energy use," said McGranaghan. "There are also trade-offs associated with graphics and speed that drive higher energy use and consumers will need to factor those elements in as well. The more graphically intensive systems will, by design, require more energy."
Or you could say the hell with it and build a dual- or tri-videocard gaming PC, power consumption be damned.
Microsoft's Kinect motion-sensing add-on for the Xbox 360 hasn't even been on the market for two months, yet we're already impressed with what the modding community has been able to do with the device. This is just the beginning, folks.
According to Eurogamer, an upcoming firmware release will improve the device's compression technology and depth sensor. As it currently stands, the Kinect detects movement at 30 frames per second at a 320x240 resolution, which is dictated by an artificial limit placed on the USB controller to use around 15MB/s even though it's capable of 35MB/s.
What Microsoft is trying to do is double the spec of the depth camera to 640x480 via a dashboard update. In theory, this could make the Kinect capable of detecting finger movements and hand rotations, which would open a whole new world for the modding community to play around with.
It's a shame there were only 250 "Collector's Edition Tron Wireless Controller" devices ever made, because the thing looks f'in awesome. On the bright side, it's not grossly overpriced (it runs $50), despite the limited edition run.
According to the product description, "this controller represents Clu, the current dictator of the Tron world, and the The Black Guard, his elite fighting force." Orange accents light up and run across the top and bottom portions, while the Tron logo sits on the bottom middle.
It also comes with rubber grips sporting a soft-touch finish, and none of it looks gaudy, at least from the pictures we've seen.
Are you as infatuated with the design as we are? If so, keep your eyes peeled. PDP.com will offer up the limited edition controller as a Web exclusive in "late December."
Maybe it's not the whole gimmick of motion controlled gaming that's holding you back from pairing your Xbox 360 console with a Kinect camera. Maybe, just maybe, you thought to yourself, "If only Microsoft made a Kinect laden with crystals and jacked up the price fourfold, then I'd be all in!"
If that sounds like you, then you're one lucky son-of-a-gun. Dutch website DSStyles.com is selling a customized Kinect plastered with over 5,000 genuine Swarovski crystals adhered to the front, back, and everywhere else.
"With over 5,000 pcs [of] genuine Swarovski crystals adhered, it can simply be acted as the sparkling light at night," DSStyles says. "Especially when playing the hottest game Kinect Dance, with these Swarovski crystals, it is just like dancing in the disco!"
Just like it, huh? In that case, at only $632, how could you not buy one?
Maybe this will turn out to be much ado about nothing, but according to Fudzilla, Microsoft is all finished supplying retailers with Xbox 360 250GB consoles for the year. That means Walmart, Best Buy, Gamestop, and every other retailer will have to make do with whatever stock is remaining.
This normally wouldn't be cause for concern, but with the recent release of Microsoft's Kinect motion control camera, the Redmond outfit is noting increased sales of its high capacity console.
"The situation isn't ideal, but we still have significant inventory of the Xbox 360 4GB model, and in fact, we have a good number of the 250GB slim upgrade hard drives if buyers want them. It isn't idea and it costs a little more, but if you had to have a 250GB model for Christmas, we could sell you one; it just would cost a little more and come in two parts," an un-named retailer told Fudzilla.
The looming shortage purportedly only affects U.S. retailers, Fudzilla says.
Prior to its launch, Kinect was mostly viewed as a gaming peripheral. But Microsoft's answer to comparable motion-gaming products from rivals Sony and Nintendo has turned out to be much, much more. Hackers are wallowing in the world of endless possibilities unleashed by the release of open source Kinect drivers. The latest hack has the Kinect perched atop a quadrocopter so it can lend its services as a 3D radar. The Ascending Technologies Pelican UAV uses the data from the sensor to fly autonomously through predefined waypoints while avoiding obstacles. The imaginative brain matter behind this hack belongs to a group of researchers at the Hybrid Systems Laboratory at UC Berkeley.
U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez gave out a verbal lashing to prosecutors who want to send a 28-year-old college student to jail on two counts of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). So what did defendant Matthew Crippen do, exactly? He modded Xbox 360 consoles, Wired reports.
"I really don't understand what we're doing here," Gutierrez said.
If convicted, Crippen faces five years for each count. Crippen, who is a hotel car-parking manager by day, is being accused of running a business out of his home hacking Xbox 360 optical drives so that they could play pirated games. Crippen maintains that his mods can be used for other purposes, and the judge so far seems to agree.
"The only way to be able to play copied games is to circumvent the technology," Gutierrez said. "How about backup games and the homebrewed?"
The judge also didn't take kindly to the prosecution telling the jury that it needn't prove Crippen willfully broke the law, also known as "mens rea" in legal speak.
"The first prosecution 12 years later, and you're suggesting a mens rea that is akin to exactly contrary to the IP manual: that ignorance of the law is now excuse?," the judge said. "You didn't even propose a middle ground. What's getting me more riled, it seems to me I cannot communicate the severity to you of what's going on here."
Are we the only ones that wish there were more judges like Gutierrez?
Microsoft this week announced that strong demand over Black Friday weekend helped bolster retail sales of its Kinect motion control platform to more than 2.5 million units since launching less than a month ago.
"We are thrilled about the consumer response to Kinect, and are working hard with our retail and manufacturing partners to expedite production and shipments of Kinect to restock shelves as fast as possible to keep up with demand," said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. "With sales already exceeding two and a half million units in just 25 days, we are on pace to reach our forecast of 5 million units sold to consumers this holiday."
By comparison, the Sony Move sold just 1 million units during its first month of sales, while it took Apple's iPad two months to record 2 million units sold.
The Xbox 360 was first released on November 22, 2005 in the U.S. and Canada, just over five years ago today (by a week). As CNet notes, the coming and passing of the Xbox 360's fifth birthday without a successor in sight could very well mark the end of the 5-year console cycle that's been in place for three decades, give or take a couple of years between releases. Check it out:
Nintendo Entertainment System: 1985
Super NES: 1991
Nintendo 64: 1996
Nintendo GameCube: 2001
Nintendo Wii: 2006
Sony has kept the same cycle, releasing the original PlayStation console in 1995 followed by the PlayStation 2 in 2000 and the PlayStation 3 in 2006. Microsoft's first Xbox showed up in 2001.
Looking ahead, there aren't any new consoles on the horizon from any of the big three (Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony). Instead, each company has found other ways to extend the shelf-life of their existing consoles. Sony, for example, added 3D support, while both Sony and Microsoft recently launched their own take on motion controlled gaming. Nintendo hasn't been as active, but did add disc-less Netflix to the mix as well as various add-ons, like the Wii Balance Board and Wii Draw tablet.
On top of it, all three current-generation consoles are more adept than ever as serving as viable home theater media centers.
Which console(s) do you own, and do you plan on purchasing one before the end of 2010?