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Games Entertainment

In Search of the Digital Uberdevice 176

Decaffeinated Jedi writes "News.com offers up an in-depth three-part article discussing the game industry's race to develop an all-in-one digital 'uberdevice' to combine gaming, television, computing, and other consumer technologies in a single box. The article looks at the past, present, and future of such trends, arguing that these developments in the world of home gaming consoles 'could have multibillion-dollar consequences for industries as diverse as computing, consumer electronics, entertainment and communications, while redefining household entertainment.' Of course, the article also concludes by noting the fact that consumers have thus far shown relatively little interest in adopting such all-in-one convergence boxes. Could constantly improving technology, the ongoing exodus of young males from primetime television, and a revitalized marketing push turn the tide, or is the search for an 'uberdevice' just hype?"
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In Search of the Digital Uberdevice

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  • MythTV (Score:5, Interesting)

    by superid ( 46543 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:27PM (#7717091) Homepage
    I have a VERY short attention span ("that dog has a puffy tail! c'mere puff!!" [Homer]) but right now I'm focused completely on MythTV [mythtv.org] I'm actually in the middle of installing and tweaking it right now, it mostly runs now. If I get it working seamlessly (meaning that it passes The Wife Test (tm)) then it will be the uberdevice in my house. Onscreen news and local weather Stream MP3s Play/Rip/Burn DVDs Timeshift TV and skip commercials Yes, quite uber.
  • by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:32PM (#7717137) Journal
    Intel has been plugging their "Digital Briefcase" initiative recently. Basically, they want to create a PDA/phone/blender type device with copius amounts of storage. The idea is to allow "Digital Briefcase" compliant PCs to automagically recognize the device via 802.11 (and/or Bluetooth) and subsequently allow a user to log into that PC as if it were their own - all settings, configuration, eye candy, etc are configured on-the-fly. The device would also hold a replica of the user's data (documents, MP3s, everything).

    This seems like panacea and one might ask how Intel would cram such capability into such a small device. See my sig for more on that...
  • Re:give it a rest (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spirality ( 188417 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:48PM (#7717274) Homepage
    No way.

    I've been waiting for a game system like the game boy advance, wifi enabled, cell phone, PDA, web browser, music player for many years now. Of course it has to easily fit in my front pocket....

    On the home side I still think you need a good stero, optical in with bose like speakers. Another machine that could decode the satalite signal, have DVR capabilities, play CDs/DVSs, link up to my computer (WebDAV?) to access my (entirely legal) mp3 collection and videos would be nice. That machine must also be able to turn my TV into a web browser thingy and stream media off the net. It should also be made by Nintendo or Sony and function as a game console as well, but that might be asking too much. Other than that all you need is a TV or a projector. (maybe a VCR for old-time sake :).

    The nice thing about having many specialized components though is that it is cheaper to ugrade any one of them. The uber-device would quickly go out of date and would probably be very expensive.

    I suspect my current DVD player (my Play Station II) will last until PS III comes out, but when I upgrade it my satalitte receiver/DVR will continue to work regardless.

    It would be nice however if all of these specialized components could interface with each other in meaningful ways, maybe via bluetooth.

  • Re:MythTV (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Cydonian ( 603441 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:56PM (#7717372) Homepage Journal
    All you need to do is to port it to Xbox, make some cool case mods and presto, the uberest boxen in all of geekdom!
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @01:16PM (#7717535)

    I agree entirely. A better way forward, looking at what works at present and ideas that have stood the test of time, is a combination of two things:

    • individual components that do one job well
    • a simple, flexible architecture to connect them up.

    What amazes me is that none of the big cross-media types (Sony and their like) has yet developed a central "hub" technology, and standard interfaces to connect the various components that form part of any home entertainment or computer system today. The precedents are all there: using a PC or console as a central control system, connecting up your satellite/TV/video with SCART, and so on. Surely the money will be rolling in for whoever corners the market in connectivity technology for modular home entertainment/computer systems...

  • Re:And then what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by motardo ( 74082 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @01:45PM (#7717794)
    an 80" LCD running at that resolution would look like complete ass, where I work, we have 42" widescreen LCD's running at 1024x768
  • Not quite (Score:2, Interesting)

    by glpierce ( 731733 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @01:48PM (#7717811)
    ...which is why the current (computer) system works. Your computer can easily be your TV, stereo, DVD player, gaming system, phone, etc., without even costing that much (those capabilities have been around for a decade, and unless you buy top-of-the-line, they're cheap). Each of those components is separate within the box, so you can upgrade each piece as necessary. The problem is that current computer-integrated systems are just too complex for the task.

    What's really needed is just a better UI for current technology . We need a modular OS that changes entirely based on active function. A TV mode, a stereo mode, a traditional computer mode, etc.. A simple button to switch to a different mode, and each would have as simple an appearance as possible. The stereo mode doesn't need anything but stereo functions, and play/stop/pause/etc should be 50% of the screen (should be touchscreen, too). Basically, there's no reason for someone to use a mouse or keyboard when watching TV. If someone can make a seamless system to do all of this (and not require the user know anything about programming or hardware installation), it could be a goldmine.
  • by sangfroid ( 63845 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @02:08PM (#7717987)
    No way! My dream digital convergence is the Phone + PDA + Music player. Complete convergence can be bad for reasons listed above but there are some things that should be merged. By your argument:

    A monitor is a monitor.
    A keyboard is a keyboard.
    A speaker is a speaker.
    which implies laptops are bad...?

    Some things naturally fit together, especially things that have redundent or related parts. A PDA + Phone + Music player of appropriate size and cost (yes, that's key, I know) would steal the market.

    The only important thing your phone does that your PDA doesn't is connect to another device using the cellular network... which some PDA's do... and contains a speaker and microphone.

    The only important thing an iPod has that on a PDA in terms of functionality is basically (yes, I'm generalizing) the _Hard Drive_ in the iPod. The average PocketPC can play music, it just can't play very much.

    Nobody complains that the PS2 plays DVDs. Yes, absurd convergence and combination is bad and being _FORCED_ to use said convergence devices is even worse. But if it's natural to combine functionality, great! And there are some people who don't ascribe to the "UNIX Way." My grandma, for one, likes her TV w/VCR & DVD player in it and single, easy to use remote... she'd adore an iMac if she weren't content with her 200mhz P1 for checking e-mail...

    The problem here is the marketing. Young males (read: geeks) don't want a convergence device but (my) grandma does. Change your market focus oh corporate masters and let us poor geeks alone... unless you're giving me my iPod + PDA + Phone.
  • by Bruha ( 412869 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @06:24PM (#7720045) Homepage Journal
    Example is the home theater systems. For many, systems such as the Sony Dream system works great for them while others like me who are audio/videophiles tend to preferr the component setup with our seperate players, amps, and other equipment.

    PC Games have pushed the development of the PC more than business computing or anything else. To turn that into a Xbox takes away from the PC where hardware makers would have to detract from the PC side to meet the demands of the console gaming side. However this may change with the adoption of high resolution TV's the demand for console systems to have PC equivalent grapics performance will begin to go through the roof. It may lead to a exodus to the PC for those in search of better gaming expericene, or you get a different group of console systems with varying prices.. such as a Xbox and a Xbox Hidef version.

    One of the more annoying things however is the lack of intergration (IMO the way to go) of your home electronics. I should be able to intergrate my computer systems with my entertainment systems and vice versa which is yet to happen. I'd love to have a TiVO that would use my home SAN to save the movies on rather than on it's puny 40 gig drive.

    I want my music wherever and whenever which today is still impossible due to the outbound bandwidth restrictions of my DSL lines and very few companies offer upstream bandwidth past the 128k for less than a arm and a leg. I know this was to stem the abuse of the networks but in reality that's less of a concern today than 3 years ago when the networks were relatively new.

    Either way there may be a all in one device but many times unless the parts are user serviceable and replaceable for a fraction of the unit cost and upgradable they're all doomed to eventual failure.

    LOL the Phantom is supposed to be upgradeable in that aspect that it (if ever released) would be preferred by hard core console gamers over their out of date xbox or PS2's.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"