Move over game console, a PC is here to take your job
DON’T BLINK, it’s not a game console. It’s something far better—a PC that’s as small as the original Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with the promise of pretty good gaming performance, too.
As we all know, making things small, fast, and also affordable is no easy feat. Yet Alienware engineers somehow managed to smash real graphics into a standard slimline tower without tacking on a huge price tag.
To be frank, this isn’t the first attempt at a small, powerful PC with a slimline shape. The X51 reminds us very much of Voodoo/Hewlett-Packard’s Firebird PC from 2009 (review at bit.ly/Delqq). The Firebird’s main failing was relying primarily on notebook technology for its GPUs, which killed upgrades.
It's sort of a weird time for game developers and publishers. Despite a reluctance on the part of Microsoft and Sony to talk about and/or announce next generation console hardware, the current crop of consoles are gettting long in the tooth and, as many suspect, facing succession. It's already happening with Nintendo's Wii console as the Wii U draws closer to release, and within the next year or so, it's conceivable to think there will be a PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 in the wild, too. Despite the uncertainty, however, EA isn't holding back and intends to invest a healthy $80 million into developing titles for next generation consoles. Does EA know something we don't?
Ask Microsoft about its future console plans and the company will pretend that the world revolves around the Xbox 360, that it "found new ways to extend its lifecycle" through the Kinect and other enhancements, and that any talk of an Xbox 720 is merely rumors and speculation, which the company doesn't comment on. Unofficially, however, Microsoft's next console may have entered the production phase.
Seemingly since the beginning of time, man and woman have been willing to paying discounted prices for subsidized hardware with long-term service agreements. It's how the majority of smartphones are sold, and in the dial-up era, you could snag a low-cost PC if you were willing to pay out the nose for blazing fast 56K Internet service. Could the same principle drive Xbox 360 sales? Get ready to find out.
Valve is one of those companies you just can’t help but admire. They are consumer first (almost to a fault), and course they also haven’t sold themselves to EA and Activision. Anytime they set out to do something ambitious, they gather a lot of media attention. Rumors of a Steam hardware console have been circling for several weeks now, but it turns out their hardware ambitions are much more bizarre. Valve developer Michael Abrash admitted the company is looking to hire hardware designers to help advance a prototype in the field of “wearable computing”.
Xbox 360 gamers will soon have reason to rediscover The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Bethesda today announced plans to release a free title updated later this month that will integrate Kinect support, allowing gamers to yell out over 200 voice commands, including dragon shouts. From bartering to battling, the Kinect update adds a new dimension to Skyrim that previously didn't exist, and there will also be a handful of new functionality to go along with the voice commands, such as special map features, additional hotkey options, and the ability to sort items by name, weight, and value.
If you weren't quick on the draw earlier this week, you would have missed out on a firmware update for your PlayStation Vita. Sony issued a system software update to version 1.65 on Tuesday and then pulled it down yesterday because of a "technical fault." Don't fret though, there's a new software update -- version 1.66 -- that includes all the previous fixes, plus a handful more.
Sony has been understandably tight-lipped about its next generation game console, most obviously because the company is still trying to move PlayStation 3 hardware. But could another reason be that Sony doesn't yet want to reveal its planned participation in killing off the used games market? It's a subject that was touched on earlier this week, and now new information about "Orbis," the codename for Sony's next gen console, seems to suggest that Sony's all-in with the idea.
GameStop's cash cow is its used game business. Sure, you can also buy new titles, game accessories, and even tablets at your local GameStop, and you can't purchase a game without the guy behind the counter pressuring you into pre-ordering half a dozen upcoming titles. But used games are the fuel that makes the company's engine run. You can imagine, then, why GameStop refuses to believe that next generation consoles will try to kill off the used game business model by linking software to your specific hardware. Sounds unfathomable, doesn't it?
After months of speculation, leaked reports, rumors, and anticipation that Microsoft might announce a new Xbox console at E3, the powers that be saw fit to temporarily depart from its longstanding policy of staying tight-lipped when it comes to unannounced products to put the kibosh on hopes we'd get our first glimpse of the Xbox 720, or the 'new Xbox,' to borrow a page from Apple.