Gaming consoles are more and more positioned as entertainment centers. All well and good, as they’ve got the power necessary to live up to the task. One thing they don’t have, however, is hard drive space. And adding an external drive, for some reason is more of a chore than it deserves to be. Datel says it’s got a solution: the Space Dock, which provides a simple plug-and-play method for using an external hard drive with a PS3 or Xbox 360.
The Datel Space Dock is a 2.5-inch/3.5-inch SATA HDD docking station. It will handle SATA hard drives up to 1TB in size, and transfer data at up to 480Mbs. To use it with either a PS2 or Xbox 360 just plug it in. The Space Dock also connects to your PC and, using the “unique Memory Manager Software”, you can drag and drop movies, music, and pictures onto the external drive. What’s more, the Space Dock can be used to manage back-ups of your console’s internal hard drive.
Wonderful, except Datel’s product description is a bit sparse. For example, the folks at Gizmodo aptly note there’s no instructions on set-up other than plug it in. Gizmodo assumes that the drive is automatically formatted, with all necessary files for compatibility installed. But we all know what happens when we assume, don’t we? Furthermore, Gizmodo reckons the back-up feature only works with the PS3.
While the Space Dock is a good idea, it may be an even better idea to wait for a bit more information about the Space Dock to trickle out before plunking down $40 for one.
Being a PC enthusiast and a gadget nerd go pretty much hand in hand, but have you ever wondered what it actually cost the manufacturers to assemble your army of iPod's and book reader's? Well wonder no longer because marketing research group iSuppli and Business Week have teamed up to tear down over 25 popular gadgets and have come up with what they consider a pretty accurate ball park picture of the manufacturing costs. Some of the results appear to be a bit out of date, particularly when it comes to the consoles, but it still gives a pretty good overview of how much money each product is raking in.
As you would expect most gaming consoles continue to sell at a loss, but many of the popular new smart phones actually make a fair bit of money when you factor in the kickbacks they probably get from the carriers. You can check out the full article to read about all 25 of the gadgets from the tear down, or review our sampling below for some of the more interesting snippets to save you time.
Hey, did you hear? Netflix plans to bring 1080p streaming and 5.1 surround sound to its streaming HD video service to later this year. Pretty rad, right?
It would be, except Netflix is taking a mulligan on the recent announcement, and now says that it incorrectly acknowledged 1080p streaming in the company's 2010 roadmap. Boo, hiss! Netflix didn't say why it pulled the about-face, though it probably has to do with bandwidth. While not official, Netflix says the requirement to stream 720p HD content on an HD-compatible box is "typically" 5Mbps. It's a safe bet that 1080p would require more, and maybe Netflix feels there aren't enough streaming subscribers with the fast enough broadband speeds.
That means for the foreseeable future, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 owners are stuck with "underwhelming" 720p. That's right, in somewhat related news, Steve Swasey, VP of Corporate Communications for Netflix, downplayed the streaming service when discussing what Wii owners are missing.
"PS3 and Xbox users have 1 in 17 titles available in HD, and it's streamed in 720... it's not in 1080, and it's not in 5.1 surround sound or anything," Swasey said during an interview with The Wire. "So the HD experience at Netflix Instant Watching isn't that overwhelming. It's a little bit underwhelming. So the Wii folks aren't going to miss that much."
Marc Whitten, writing on Xbox 360 Press, says that the original Xbox console and games just don’t hack it on Xbox LIVE any more. It’s too much of a kludge. It’s not capable of taking advantage of the cool new whiz-bang features, like Marketplace, Netflix, or social networking. And, one might suspect, it’s become too expensive to continue to support. Therefore, on April 15, users of the original console will be dropped from Xbox LIVE.
Writes Whitten: “Your Xbox LIVE community has grown to 23 million strong. And as we look down the road, we’ll continue to evolve the service with features and experiences that harness the full power of Xbox 360. To reach our aspiration, we need to make changes to the service that are incompatible with our original Xbox v1 games.” Translation: welcome to dumpsville--population you.
Microsoft today reported results for the second fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2009. It managed to churn out strong results during the quarter thanks mainly to Windows 7. Both its profit and revenue soared to record levels in this period. During fiscal 2Q, the company reported earnings of $6.66 billion, or 74 cents per share, on revenue of $19.02 billion. This is way better than what financial pundits had predicted.
Microsoft claims it has sold 60 million Windows 7 licenses. While the phenomenal consumer interest in Windows 7 is clearly propelling Microsoft's growth, the lingering parsimony among enterprises is a cause for concern.
The division that makes its popular Office productivity suite was particularly hit by lack of corporate spending, with its revenue dropping 3 percent. The entertainment division did not fare too well, either. It only sold 5.2 million Xbox 360 consoles, 13 percent less compared to the previous year.
Microsoft isn't usually the type of company that likes to compare itself with Apple, but in its anti-trust case over the Xbox 360, they are borrowing a page from Steve Jobs legal manual to justify the walled garden that is "Xbox Live". According to Microsoft, if Apple can prevent Psystar from selling unauthorized hardware with OSX, why shouldn't they be able to stop unauthorized accessories from being sold on the Xbox 360?
The company at the heart of the lawsuit is hoping to sell a game genie type device to allow in-game cheating, but if aftermarket accessories were to become a real possibility, I'm sure they wouldn't be the only ones to hop on the bandwagon. I know at least a few PC Gamers who have taken issue with SSD style prices for 5400 RPM laptop upgrade drives simply because they have no other choice.
Datel argues that Microsoft is monopolizing the market for "Multiplayer Online Dedicated Gaming Systems". This won't be an easy thing to prove, but do you think Microsoft is up to its old monopolistic tricks again?
For gaming on the go, it's probably a better idea to pack a PSP or DSi in your carry-on luggage than to stuff an Xbox 360 in your suitcase and hope it makes it in one piece. It's not that the luggage handlers play a game of kickball with your suitcases, but do you really want to risk having your $300 console tore into?
That's exactly what a man named Adam claims happened to him, who wrote to the consumerist complaining that US Airways destroyed his console after telling him everything would be hunky-dory.
"I was flying out Logan Airport and I checked my Xbox 360 in my baggage," Adam writes. "The agent assured me that here would be no problem with it. When I got home I found that they had put a little Ziploc bag on top of my things, and the bag was filled with tiny metal components that used to be in the Xbox. It's broken and they're telling me tough luck. Any advice?"
Already given, Adam--see above. But it's too late for that now, assuming Adam isn't pulling a fast one. Seems like this is the kind of thing that would warrant more than just a single paragraph description. And with no accompanying pic, color us skeptical, though the possibility is duly noted.
Dreaming about what the Xbox 720 (or whatever Microsoft decides to name the Xbox 360's followup console) will be like? Well, keep dreaming, because the Redmond outfit has no plans of replacing the four-year old console any time soon, and is instead focused on Project Natal and other ways of extending the console's lifespan.
"I think it's important to say that the Xbox 360 is the console of the long future for us. There is no need to launch a new console, because we're able to give this console new life either with software upgrades or hardware upgrades like Project Natal," said David Hufford, senior director of Xbox product management. "The Xbox 360 was designed for a long life, and I don't even know if we're at the midpoint yet."
Microsoft is concentrating on bringing Project Natal to the Xbox 360, which the company indicated should be ready for the 2010 holiday season. After that, it's anyone's guess what else Microsoft has planned, especially if, as Hufford suggested, the console hasn't even reached its midpoint yet. Could Blu-ray finally be in the Xbox 360's future? Probably not.
"We love our prices right now," Hufford added. "I don't want to say that technology stops, but we believe we have a high quality console, and we stand by that quality with an unprecedented warranty, so we think we're in a good place now heading into the Natal era."
If I asked you in 1993, “What’s a PC?”, you’d probably have pointed to the beige box sitting under your desk at work. In 1999, if I asked you the same question, the odds are good that you’d have shown me a grey box in your den. In 2005, you would probably have shown me a shiny new notebook. But, as I sit here in 2009, I’m finding it difficult to answer this seemingly simple question.
Sitting on my desk, I have four extremely powerful computing devices, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Let’s decide which of these are personal computers together.
Machine A features four CPU cores, and a host of GPUs and coprocessors. Machine B is more modest, with three CPU cores and a decent GPU. Machine C is even more modest, with a dual-core CPU, but a woefully inadequate GPU. Machine D pushes a lot of its workload onto dedicated processors, but still sports a dedicated GPU.
So, what’s all this powerful hardware? A home-built gaming PC, an Xbox 360, a Lenovo X200s notebook, and an iPhone 3GS.
“The strategy and vision of Zune is to continue to build out that full entertainment experience. This is a very important step for us to introduce Zune to new consumers around the world,” Christine Heckart, general manager for TV, video and music marketing at Microsoft, told the Financial Times. Apart from rebranding the video service on the Xbox 360, the company will also be introducing direct access to social networks like Facebook and Twitter.