Since gaming consoles are pretty much full blown computers these days, it's no surprise what they can do. If you have an Xbox 360, you'll definitely want to consider adding an Xbox 360 HD-DVD player to your setup. ZDNet has a review of the HD-DVD player that starts out:
While the Sony PlayStation 3 may have an integrated Blu-ray player, Microsoft is doing its best to blunt that possible competitive advantage with a next-generation DVD player of its own for the Xbox 360. Dubbed simply Xbox 360 HD-DVD player, the fairly basic external drive connects to the Xbox 360 via a USB cable. Like the 360 itself, you can either stand the drive upright or lay it down horizontally. Whichever way you go, the whole outboard concept is a little kludgey, but the drive's $200 price tag is quite reasonable considering today's stand-alone HD-DVD players start at $500. Better yet, Microsoft is also throwing in an Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote and, for a limited time, a copy of Peter Jackson's King Kong HD-DVD.
The review wraps up:
Despite its connectivity drawbacks, the Xbox 360 HD-DVD player makes a perfectly suitable means of watching HD-DVDs, and it's a good way for Xbox 360 owners get in on the next-generation DVD action without investing too much. Of course, adding $200 to the cost of the Xbox 360 puts the total cost of the console at the same price as the PlayStation 3 and its integrated Blu-ray drive. Apples to apples, if next-generation DVD is what you're looking, the PS3 is going to be the better overall solution from a design standpoint. But for die-hard Xbox 360 fans, the PS3 just isn't an option.
Since you already spent a ton on the 360 and games, what's a few hundred bucks more to watch HD-DVDs?
We've pointed you to a lot of articles about buying an HDTV but here's the first one we've found that is mainly aimed at gamers. Obviously gamers are looking for some features a regular HDTV buyer isn't looking for and this article at Mercurynews.com does a decent job of breaking down HDTV buying for gamers:
Here's some other information gamers should know. If you're going full-tilt and buying a 1080p TV for a PlayStation 3, you should make sure it has at least one HDMI connector, or a plug that can take an HDMI cable for faster video transfer between the game console and the TV. An Xbox 360 does not support HDMI, which carries audio and video over the same cable. If you're connecting an Xbox 360 to the TV, use the component input cables (red blue green with red and white sound), not the standard AV cables (red, white, yellow). Sony says HDMI gives you deeper color reproduction.
Some brands such as Samsung can automatically set the right resolution and video source when you start a console. And, in game mode, the Samsung LCD TVs can adjust their "refresh rates,'' or speed at drawing a picture, to keep up with a fast game. But the plasma advocates say that plasma screens are inherently much faster than LCD TVs. Hence, plasmas can be better for gaming on a 720p TV.
While this article could probably be more in-depth, it's a good starting point if you're a gamer and not sure what you need in an HDTV.
Earlier this month, we told you about the Microsoft's plan to offer movies and TV shows for the Xbox Live service. Well, the service went live on November 22 and as we promised, we've found the pricing for you. According to Afterdawn.com:
High definition TV shows cost 240 ($3) Microsoft points, while the inferior standard definition media costs a whole lot less at 160 ($2) points. Movie prices vary from 240 to 480 ($6) points, standard definition "classic feature film" will cost you 240, high def classic 360 ($4.5), a new release film in SD 320 ($4), and at the top a brand new HD film 480 Microsoft points.
The movies have a 14-day "rent period", during which you have to watch it, however the movie has to be watched within 24 hours from the first time it is launched.
Ouch! That pricing is just too high for a rental. We're also annoyed that you have to buy points first instead of just buying the movie or show. Still, we like the ability to download movies with the Xbox Live Service and hopefully we'll see the prices dropped a little in the near future.
If you have any interest in the Nintendo Wii, you'll want to start with this great FAQ at Engadget. It has several great questions like:
Does the Wii upconvert non-Wii games?
If you've got the component cables you can "upscale" old games to 480p / EDTV. Not that it's going to look any better, but the display doesn't change back 480i or anything.
How steep is the learning curve on the Wii? Is it worth the time investment to learn a new way of gaming?
Not very steep, most of the motions and gestures come naturally. Which is kind of the point -- they wanted to make gaming less about button combos on a 20-button controller, and more about natural, intuitive movements that people of all ages can understand and play with.
What are the load times for the games?
Nothing at all unusual for a disc-based console. Considering it's loading less data than the PS3 or Xbox 360, we might've liked to see those load times shaved down a bit. But it's nothing unreasonable, and doesn't clock into the minutes territory.
Overall the FAQ has 44 great questions that you'll want to check out.
Bummed out because you spent 48 hours in a tent only to passed over when they started selling PS3s last night at midnight? Well, you still have a chance to score a gaming system this week when the Nintendo Wii goes on sale Nov. 19th. According to Wikipedia:
The Wii console is Nintendo's smallest home unit yet; measuring 44 mm wide, 157 mm tall, and 215.4 mm deep in the vertical orientation without the included stand (which itself measures 55.4 mm wide, 44 mm tall, and 225.6 mm deep). It is approximately the size of three standard DVD cases stacked together (approx. 4.5 cm x 15 cm x 20 cm). The console can be stood either horizontally or vertically.
The front of the console features a slot-loading media drive illuminated by a blue light and accepts both 12cm optical discs for Wii software and 8cm discs from Nintendo's prior console, the GameCube. When a disc is inserted, the light illuminating the disc port turns off. When there is no disc the light turns on, allowing the player to load discs in the dark. The ability to load differently sized discs is uncommon in slot-loading media drives, which typically only accept discs of a single size. Two USB ports (at the rear) and one SD card slot (behind a flap cover at the front of the console) are provided.
On of the coolest features has to be the controller:
The Wii Remote is a one-handed controller that uses a combination of accelerometers and infrared detection (in conjunction with the sensor bar) to sense its position in 3D space. This allows users to control the game using physical gestures as well as traditional button presses. The controller connects to the Wii console using Bluetooth, and features force feedback, 4KB non-volatile memory and an internal speaker.
The controller can connect to other devices through a proprietary port at the base of the controller. Perhaps the most important of these is the Nunchuk unit, which features an accelerometer and a traditional analog stick with two trigger buttons.
Did we mention that the Wii retails for $249.99? Add that to the fact that the lines won't be near as long as the PS3 lines were and the Wii looks like a steal this time of the year.
If you really want to sell a product, the key seems to be to overhype how hard it's going to be to get that product. It obviously works with gaming systems according to a report at MSNBC:
Sony Corp. sold 88,400 units of its PlayStation 3 game console in the first two days after the launch in Japan, leaving most stores without any stock, video game magazine publisher Enterbrain said on Monday.
Just so you get an idea of how big a deal that is:
The basic model of the PS3, equipped with a 20-gigabyte hard disk drive, sells for 49,980 yen ($425), while a more advanced 60-gigabyte version is retailing for about 60,000 yen.
Of the total sold so far in Japan, Enterbrain said 54,600, or about 62 percent, were of the more advanced model.
Wow! If my calculator is functioning correctly, that's around $40 million in 2 days. The PS3 was expected to be a big seller but that's stilll pretty amazing.
We'll keep on eye out to see how well PS3 units sell in the US when they hit the shelves on November 17th.
Here's some interesting news in yesterday's press release from Microsoft:
REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 6, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced agreements with CBS, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, Turner Broadcasting System Inc. (TBS Inc.), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to bring an initial lineup of over 1,000 hours of hit TV shows and movies to Xbox 360™ gamers in the U.S. by the end of the year. Furthermore, Xbox 360 will be the first gaming console to bring standard and high-definition TV shows and movies via digital distribution over the Internet directly to the consumer.
Beginning Nov. 22, on its first anniversary, Xbox 360 will be the first gaming console in history to provide high-definition TV shows and movies directly to gamers in their living rooms. Xbox 360 gamers will have access to the full-length TV shows as downloads to own and movies to rent via download from the Xbox Live® network, the worldwide leader in online distribution of high-definition gaming and entertainment content.
The release also states:
The initial lineup of TV shows available for download to own and feature films available for download to rent will include a growing catalog of popular hits. Examples of content that will be available on the network by the end of year include the following:
“Robot Chicken” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” from Adult Swim
“CSI,” “Survivor” and “Star Trek” from CBS
Emmy and Peabody award-winning “South Park” and “Chappelle’s Show” from COMEDY CENTRAL
“The Real World” and “Pimp My Ride” from MTV
“Avatar: The Last Airbender” and ”SpongeBob SquarePants” from Nickelodeon
“Skyland” and “The Nicktoons Network Animation Festival” from Nicktoons Network
“M:i:III,” “Nacho Libre” and “Jackass: The Movie” from Paramount Pictures
“Carpocalypse” and “Raising the Roofs” from Spike TV
“Race Rewind” provided by NASCAR.COM
Select episodes of the original season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series and the “UFC: All Access” shows from the UFC
“Breaking Bonaduce” and “Hogan Knows Best” from VH1
“The Matrix,” “Superman Returns” and “Batman Forever” from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
No pricing has been announced yet but we'll keep you posted when more details emerge.
Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Sony Corp., which slashed its profit forecast yesterday, said it may not reach this year's shipment target for the PlayStation 3 game console because of a parts shortage in the Blu-ray high-definition disc drive.
Sony plans to ship two million PlayStation 3 players this year to the U.S. and Japan, and six million worldwide by March. The Tokyo-based company said yesterday annual profit would fall 35 percent to its lowest in five years on price cuts of the console in Japan and a recall of 9.6 million computer batteries.
It's absolutely amazing how game console manufacturers tell you for 3 years they're coming out with a new product but when the big day comes, there's always a shortage of units. You have to give them an award for knowing how to play the supply/demand game almost as well as those freakin' "Tickle me Elmo" guys.