Laughing last, laughing best: Here comes the Xbox One

Xbox-One-logo

Today, Microsoft tears down all of the rumors of the next generation Xbox console called “Xbox One.” It features a brilliant glossy hardware finish that is sleek and catchy. It is geared to take what you love and make it even better.

The ideals of the next generation console is to light up the bare essentials of television and entertainment which are simplicity, instant response and complete immersion. The Xbox One does not fail to produce world class software innovation and interactive applications to make the overall user experience pleasant. Very unlike Sony, Microsoft has gone all the way to blur the lines between a gaming console and a media center and created the all in one box for all of your living room magical needs.

 

xbox one
It is amazing; you talk to the Xbox One to turn it on and control all of its applications with integrated voice commands. Imagine switching between television and game in a second just by saying: “Xbox, play game” or “Xbox, watch television.” The new Kinect is bundled with every Xbox One which gives a new dimension to motion capturing technology and even conference calls on Skype with its 1080p HD Camera. From the start, your Xbox One remembers everything you did last and well, you can snap applications just like on Windows 8 on the Xbox One with full motion based or voice commands! It is stated that it would NOT require an internet connection to function. Seeing is believing right?

It packs quite a handful on the tech specs. 8GB RAM, 8 Core CPU power, 500GB Hard Disk and Blu-ray drive. It also has an 802.11n wireless device with Wi-Fi Direct, USB 3.0 ports and HDMI out.  Microsoft’s Marc Whitten stated clearly that “Variable power states” ensure a “practically silent” operation. The console is engineered to last “well into the future,” which, of course, is an obvious reference to the company’s engineering struggles with the Xbox 360.

Imagine a console with 3 operating systems. One for your gaming on Xbox, a windows kernel and a specific operating system that covers instantaneous switching between multiple running applications. With the newly designed Xbox controller and Xbox Smart Glass technology, users can choose various ways to control their console to provide a truly complete user experience.

Microsoft has partnered with Electronic Arts for new and exclusive innovations to their ongoing sport series, The NFL for custom sporting integration and is planning to host about 15 new exclusive titles for the Xbox One on release later this year. A new, most impressive Call Of Duty is also to be released so we can be sure that it would kick off to a good start.

So there we have it for now on the new Xbox. Rest easy till E3 later on in a couple of weeks.

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PlayStation 4: When great development leads to greater questions

PS outlook

February 20 2013 was a day like no other in the world of technology; and though its prime significance was centered around building the necessary expectations to usher in another great day in the world of technology, the day did spark off well… some other great things.

Video game consoles are nothing like they used to be. Gone are the days where you bought a console for the sake of gaming. “Buy the game, then the cartridge or CD, insert, power on and play” is old news. Video game consoles have taken on several tasks that give even the non-gamer good reasons to get one. With the fact that they also provide hours of great gaming entertainment for both the kids and the adult minded, owning a video game console has finally become a set standard for modern homes. On February 20 2013, the PlayStation 4 was officially announced with Sony, giving presentations of several good things to come concerning various breakthroughs in video entertainment technology.

The PlayStation 4 was billed to be released by late 2013 so, it would be quite a long wait for many. The wait might be worth it though; Sony’s fourth console entry to the PlayStation brand packs more than a punch in making sure “nothing is between you and the game.” It boasts of an 8 core Accelerated Processing Unit, 8GB GDDR5 RAM and 1.8 teraflops of processing prowess of which, even if you have no idea of what these mean, you just have a hunch that it must be powerful enough to deliver what you are expecting.

Not 16x9 PS4 camera 1-580-100

PlayStation-Controller-Touch-Pad

Coming along is the PlayStation 4 eye which is a newly developed camera system that utilizes two high-sensitivity cameras equipped with wide-angle lenses and 85-degree diagonal angle views. There are also lots of comments about the new PlayStation 4 DualShock controller which comes with an “Option” button that replaces the traditional Start and Select buttons, a three axis gyroscope and touch panel. Will the DualShock 3 be compatible for the PlayStation 4? The answer is most likely a big no.

A number of issues come up whenever you give a closer thought on the anticipated Sony pacesetter. One of these would be backward compatibility. Some people would not find it very palatable spending money on great PlayStation 3 games just to spend even more for PlayStation 4 games which also come on blu-ray discs. A single console that could run pre-owned games would be extremely user cost effective. Having acquired Gaikai, a cloud based service, Sony plans to render older PlayStation games and stream them to the PS4. Cloud based services play a very integral part of the PlayStation 4 concerning games and this could mean that without a good internet connection, you may not even have access to the games you may have bought on the online store. Worse still, you may end up paying again for a game you already own since you can only play older games through the cloud service. Is that really okay?

Whether or not the PlayStation 4 would support blu-ray movies on 4K ultra high HD is still being rumored but having that would certainly do well to promote other offline functions of the console. The relationship between the still young-in-the-market PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 is unclear as well – if this remains, and no relationship is established, PS Vita owners might be headed for a level of heartbreak. The PlayStation 4 is estimated to cost about $400 – $600 which seems decent enough for its abilities.

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One other thought that comes to mind is what the future of console gaming would be. The PlayStation 4’s active social media integration involves a SHARE button on the DualShock 4 controller that allows the player to cycle through the last several minutes of gameplay to select a clip appropriate for online sharing. Videos can be uploaded directly from the console, either to websites or other PSN users. Players also have the chance to access their PlayStation online account using a PlayStation app available on the iOS AppStore and Google PlayStore. This App, is also mentioned to even support games as a second screen on compatible tablets and phones.

With all these features, it is sure that Sony has done a rather impressive job in presenting a working entry to this current technology demanding age. But whether it would be the next big thing in gaming compared to its rivals is another question for another post.

Nintendo WII-U : What To Expect

Just like Nintendo opened the door to the 7th generation of gaming consoles  they have also announced the first gaming console of the 8th Generation, “The Nintendo WII-U” whose specs show Nintendo really wants to appeal to more than casual gamers this time around.

Wii-U box Picture, Courtesy http://www.gametrailers.com

Image from http://www.gametrailers.com

Technical Specifications:

Processor:

Ninendo claims the WII-U is 20 times more powerful than the Wii. Which from its specs, may even be an understatement as its tone isn’t too geared at Motion Sensor technology but power, unlike the Nintendo WII (which comes with a processor clocked around 729mhz), the WII-U comes with an IBM Power Architecture based multi-core processor (Details of the number of cores and clockrates have not been released yet, but the Power Architecture processor lines have nothing less than 7 cores, the WII-U may have more.), we can expect more life like games with incredible details (as long as developers can push its limits).

GPU:

An AMD Radeon GPU, not much is known about the WII-U GPU yet, but it sure is going to be stronger than all of the ones featured in the 7th Generation systems. According to Videogamer , MCM (Multi-Chip Module) will be used, in which both the CPU and the GPU will be integrated on the same chip/module,  to speed up data exchange and reduce cost.

Storage:

From 8GB – 32GB internal flash memory, with SD and USB hard-drive support. Its an improvement from the inbuilt 512MB of the WII. Its features a proprietry 12cm optical disc drive with capacity of up to 25GB ( info ) but lacks Blueray and DVD  format support.

Memory:

Fitted with 2GB ram (23 * that of WII, 2 * that of PS3 and Xbox 360 combined). With 1GB dedicated for games and the other 1GB for System software. Well, I think you can imagine how much next gen looking its game will be (maybe a soccer game, with one processor dedicated to the shirt and wind physics, with life like blowing effect).

Controller:

Wii-U GamePad vs DreamCast Controller
Wii-U GamePad vs DreamCast Controller

Aside from the games powerful hardware, another attraction is the WII-U’s controllers. Although it fully supports all WII controllers.
There’re going to be 2 kinds of WII-U controllers, The WII-U GamePad and WII-U pro controller;
WII-U GamePad, a Dreamcast controller + VMU looking device, a first glare at it takes you down the memory lane of the classic dreamcast controller. The WII-U GamePad is the main form of attraction, aside from the games power, it features;

WII-U GamePad:

slashgear.com
  •  A 6.2 inches touch-screen display with FWVGA (854×480) display resolution (Stylus and Finger support).
  • – Features the traditional NES-like D-Pad and 2 anolog sticks. 4 digital buttons (A/B/X/Y), 2 Bumper (L/R) and 2 trigger buttons (ZL/ZR), Select, Start buttons, a TV Control button, a Home and Power button.
  • Front Facing Camera and Inbuilt Microphone (video-chatting and Multi-player chatting).
  • Motion Control support (Accelerometer, Gyroscope and Magnetometer)
  • Rumble/Vibration support
  • Stereo Speakers and Headphones.
  • NFC support. 🙂
  • Relatively flat, less than an inch in fatness, but a whooping 10.2 inches wide.
  • Extension connector/port for additional accessories (info)
  • IR sensor and Wireless communication.
  • Ability to supplement the TV display by displaying in place of the TV. (yeah! bro watching movie on the TV, u playing game on the GamePad screen :)).
  • Remote Control for TVs.

WII-U Pro Controller:

Is the second form of controller, which is targeted at more hardcore gamers. It looks an feels more like the Playstation controller with weird analog positioning.  Its going to be way cheaper than the WII-U Gamepad but more traditional for MGS like games but no TV replacement feature 😦 .

Others:

  • Supports all WII video formats and finally brings the 1080p, 1080i, 720p HD video formats.
  • An SD memory card support/slot, 4 USB 2.0 ports (2 in front and rear).
  • AV multi-out
  • HDMI

The WII-U is slated for November release and it is supposed to go for 50, 000 Naira to 60,000 Naira for basic and premium versions respectively.

The Good:

– HD Format Support
– Powerful Hardware, potential for quality games.
– Reasonable Introductory price judging from its hardware specifications
– Backward Compatibility (all WII Controllers and most of WII games).
– Fifa 13 among launch titles

The Bad

– Lack of Blueray and DVD support,
– WII-U GamePad Lacks Multi-touch support
– Awkwardly positioned analog sticks
– lack of internal storage or external SD card support for the WII-U GamePad.
– Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 13 is absent from the launch titles

WII-U has clearly set the tone for the 8th generation of video game consoles,  just like the 7th generation is characterized by the “Media War”, “The Power War”, may be ignited.