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Games Entertainment

In Search of the Digital Uberdevice 176

Decaffeinated Jedi writes " 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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  • Uberdevice? (Score:3, Funny)

    by bluedust ( 731676 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:25PM (#7717071) Homepage
    As long as its not a $3000 scooter...
    • The perfect uber device would be a PDA, Cell Phone, GBA, and radio.

      Then geeks around the world could actually rejoin the rest of humanity, and not have to walk around like Batman with his utility belt!

  • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:25PM (#7717075) Homepage
    So they make a digital uberdevice that does everything. Then what do they sell next xmas?
    • by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) <ted@f[ ] ['c.r' in gap]> on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:31PM (#7717127) Homepage
    • So they make a digital uberdevice that does everything. Then what do they sell next xmas?

      the same thing but they add 10,000 to the title
    • They sell you the same device, but with one of the components upgraded. Of course, you pay to replace the whole thing.
      • They sell you the same device, but with one of the components upgraded.

        Exactly. The problem with any device of this type now is that tecnology is such a moving target. HDTVs are getting better each year. The PS2 is meaningfully better than the Playstation. PDAs keep adding features.

        But... if I could buy an 80" LCD display capable of 1920x1080, I'd probably never want for a better display. (And Samsung has demoed a 54" display that does just that.) Games on the PS2, Gamecube, and XBox don't look dra
        • Re:And then what? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by motardo ( 74082 )
          an 80" LCD running at that resolution would look like complete ass, where I work, we have 42" widescreen LCD's running at 1024x768
        • Re:And then what? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by EvilSporkMan ( 648878 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @01:48PM (#7717817)
          Hmm...I think that a top-of-the-line computer from a year or three ago, a portable music device, and a current video game console would give a better price/functionality ratio than any convergence device, since I prefer console gaming, I know about emulation, and I ph33r corporate lockdown of my computer. Also, I find that video game consoles tend to be MUCH cheaper than the necessary extra expenditure to get a computer capable of equivalent gaming
        • if I could buy an 80" LCD display capable of 1920x1080, I'd probably never want for a better display.

          Hah! Yeah right. 1920x1080 is nowhere near the resolution limits that human eye [] can discern. And then there's full FOV stereoscopic immersion. Mmmmmmm...


    • Puppies. Then, the year after that, uberdevices for puppie.
  • it's interesting how the computer industry has always been driven in large part by games and game companies. Atari started out as a game company. I often wonder what is going to happen with PCs, whether the market for them is going to deteriorate as consoles become more prevalent. Are there going to be "consoles for the office," ie boxes specifically designed for doing a few things and incapable of anything else?

    Big changes ahead.
  • give it a rest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) <ted@f[ ] ['c.r' in gap]> on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:26PM (#7717087) Homepage
    Will they knock it off already?

    A cell phone is a cell phone.
    A PDA is a PDA.
    A laptop is a laptop.
    A music player is a music player.

    Only large, bulky, overpriced devices come out of attempts to breed any of the above.
    • Yep. I like my separate, individual devices. Occasionally they get features added to them which fall outside of their primary remit. Case in point: some of my games consoles play movies. My mom's camera plays MP3 files (FFS!). I'm threatened by these moves. It tends to give my view of the device in question a slight turn for the worse. It probly won't stop me buying the device, if it's the only one that does what I need from it, but if there's a choice of two, I'll pick the 'hi-fi components' approach rathe
      • 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

        • 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.

          Not surprising at all for a few reasons:

          Supporting a single standard would require paying license fees to the standard holder (an advantage that no company wants to give to another). DVD-R and DVD+R is one example.

          The entertainment industry is still afrai
          • Sayeth the poster:
            Given the choice between tilting the playing field in favor of themselves vs competing fairly, a company will act solely in it's stock-holder's self-interest.

            Fixed that for you! See SCOX
          • I completely take your point about wanting to control the standards; that's why I gave Sony as an example or a company that might do it. They already make TVs, audio gear, computers and so on, all themselves. If they could establish a definitive home entertainment kit, and get everyone buying their hubs, then everyone would be buying their other kit (or somebody else's compatible kit, giving them licensing income instead) and they'd be laughing all the way to the bank.

    • Re:give it a rest (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spirality ( 188417 )
      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
      • Re:give it a rest (Score:2, Insightful)

        by telekon ( 185072 )
        Well, sure portable convergence devices are a great thing. I want something 2mm thick that's indestructible with broadband wireless networking, every media codec imaginable, a terabyte of storage and a hi-res color plasma screen.

        But at home, I like my boxes and boxes and boxes. I want 8 computers, an xbox a ps2 a stereo etc etc etc. It's just the damn wires that are the problem. Keep separate devices, put the R&D money into figuring out cheap wireless substitutes for the 2.6 * 10^13 wires that are pe
        • Yeah man. I totally agree. The wires are such a pain in the ass. I suppose it would be hard to do away with power cords, but for transmission of signals it is of course quite possible.

          I too like my plethora of boxes. I wouldn't own an XBox, regardless of what games it has. :)

          As for your super portable device, yeah the smaller the better, and while we're at it I'd like the input device to be some form of thought recognition. Until we're there input devices may dictate some minimum size. The screen (unless
    • by xigxag ( 167441 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @02:07PM (#7717985)
      I know exactly what you mean.

      A computer is a computer.
      A monitor is a monitor.
      A modem is a modem.
      A DVD player is a DVD player.

      Only large, bulky, overpriced devices come out of the attempts to breed any of the above.

      Like a laptop.

      Oh, wait.
    • 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 onl
      • A cell phone...
      • A PDA...
      • A laptop...
      • A music player..
      What do all these have in common? They were all once large, bulky and overpriced devices, just like their functionality-mixed progeny.

      You see it as a matter of infeasibility, I see it as a matter of time.
    • A cell phone is a cell phone.
      A PDA is a PDA.
      A laptop is a laptop.
      A music player is a music player.

      It's like trying to combine a conventional oven, a microwave oven, and a toaster oven.
      Each of these things performs well for a particular problem domain.
      Trying to combine them into one device (as some companies have) results in a device that doesn't do a particular job as well as using a more specialized device.
      In addition, if the device breaks down, you have no backup.

      My father recently bought a T.V.

  • its hype..peop do not wnat ot be told wha tultimate4 devie they must have they want to pick and choose not MS..

    You will insted see a set box hub that allows all devices to plugin wirelessly to what come sdown and up from the cable/dtv internet pipe..

    But we have a long way to go for the infrastructure to be in place for developers so tha tits as easy to develop for as the J2ME mobiole device market now is..

    But then again I am just a small devloepr setting up my startUp in Jan 2004 as a LLC..:)
  • 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 [] 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.
    • Re:MythTV (Score:3, Interesting)

      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!
    • I really like TvTime for my Tuner. Really, really clear picture.

      Freevo is nice too.

      Just letting you know some other options. :)
  • CD-I lol
    3DO lol
    Xbox huge lol
    Phantom what lol
  • by AlphaDecay ( 150156 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:28PM (#7717100) Homepage
    Considering 99% of the time that such convergence devices have lower quality components - I'll never go as far to just purchase the device, I'll still buy individual components that I need.

    For example, the XBox/PS2 can play DVDs, without progressive scan etc. and often are more finicky in general DVD playback.

    The XBox can also do jukebox type activities... Sans playlists, song ratings, multiple file formats and ID3 tag sorting.

    The multifunction device might work for the unwashed non-technical masses, but I'd like to have all of those features and more in my entertainment system.

    • but then again considereing that the ability for xbox to play dvd's doesn't really need anything extra(beyond software) to the device.. so it's perfectly reasonable for it to play dvd's.

      would you buy intentionally cripled devices? well, people do(xbox for example), but i don't like it.

      however, adding a dvdplayer to a tv costs(ok, in a 1000$ tv it might not be that much extra even to add a 40-50$ dvdplayer) and the dvdplayer is probable to break earlier too than rest of the tv.

    • The multifunction device might work for the unwashed non-technical masses, but I'd like to have all of those features and more in my entertainment system.

      and that is the point. It isn't designed for you, it's designed for Grandma who holds the mouse upside down.

      I agree that all in ones are almost always a bad idea, with few exceptions. (I love my iMac and Zire71)

  • The XBox by Microsoft is the most notable of all attempts to make computers main stream, and hidden in a cute box. This attempt however was rushed by the demanding console market, and it had to be put out to avoid losing more ground.

    I think that the XBox is a great system for it's time, and it's capabilities where only realized after it became modified.
  • New box (Score:3, Funny)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:30PM (#7717110) Homepage Journal
    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.

    But, what will I do with my computer, my TV, my GameBoy, my iPod, my /.Sig, my...?
  • So Basically (Score:4, Informative)

    by Hal The Computer ( 674045 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:31PM (#7717121)
    Basically, they take a computer and add a decent video card that lets you hook up a TV cable.
    Bam, TV, computer, and games(computer).
    So where are my "multibillion-dollar consequences"?
  • 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...
  • ...There is simply more money to extract from stupid dumbass consumers in upgrading many devices rather than just one. But baiting with such plans intended to never be reached leads to better spoon feeding little pieces of convergence hype to the dumbass consumers to get them to feel good about being copper top.
  • All in one is bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:33PM (#7717149) Journal
    Why would I want an all in one device? So when my video game console breaks, I can't watch cable or listen to music either? So that if I decide to take my gamecube over to a friend's house for a LAN game, my roommate can't watch a movie because I had to also take the DVD player?

    Or maybe every time I want to listen to mp3's, I feel like dealing with an interface complicated enough to do not only that, but also record tv, download games, and make me a tuna fish sandwich.

    It'll be great! Sony will come out with the playstation 6, but instead of just going out and buying a new console, I have to also pay for a new DVD player, DVR, and microwave, because it all comes together.

    Yeah, let's just bundle everything together. We all know how well that works in the software world.

    • Or maybe every time I want to listen to mp3's, I feel like dealing with an interface complicated enough to do not only that, but also record tv, download games, and make me a tuna fish sandwich.

      If it could make you a tuna fish sandwich, it'd be worth it.

      You know it would.
    • Oh, come on. It's not like there aren't certain economies that can be exploited by building a device that can perform multiple functions.

      Video game consoles need a high-density optical disk drive. DVD players need a high-density optical disk drive. Why not use one drive for both?

      Computers need a video display and hard disk storage. Personal video recorders need a video display and hard disk storage. Why not use the same case components for both?

      Even with "all-in-one" convergence, nothing's stopping
  • I hate uber devices (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:34PM (#7717156) Journal
    Having worked in repair shops, I dislike all in one units.

    for example, with a TV/VCR or DVD combo, if the player goes, you also lose use of the TV if you get it fixed

    Also, many all in one units employ certain engineering design choices that make them much cheaper to manufacture, and much harder to repair in general, precisely due to the feed back loops between the devices. You see this especially on the cube shaped audio units, but I don't think it changes much for TV units.

    even with a hi-end name on them, I can't help but think of them as junque.

    I would rather have a HDTV unit with a svga plug on it, vs a combo unit.

  • by Agent Green ( 231202 ) * on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:34PM (#7717158)
    Here's what I've got at home:

    * Sony Playstation 2
    * Hugues DirecTivo receiver (w/ two inputs, of course)
    * Sony STR-DE995 receiver
    * Numerous additional specialized components...including a VCR.

    It's just not possible for any one company to take all of those functions and shove them into one box. What am I to do when my core receiver dies? Toss the whole thing? I think not...and I'm definitely NOT going for that service plan shit.

    This is an example of an industry which has traditionally done very well with specialized components that do their jobs very well, much like any good UNIX command...and then can be combined into whatever the enduser wants and needs.

    This is like the search for the single "holy grail" system...and it's not going to happen. The huge amount of diversity only limits the market for such a device.

    If I felt like adding an XBox to the collection tomorrow, it wouldn't look out of place...but it would look kinda silly connected to my uberdevice stereo/dvd/cd/ps2/vcr combination unit.

    Besides, fitting all the features into one box would be prohibitively expensive...and to make something like this affordable would only result in the sacrifice of features.
    • Sony Playstation 2
      * Hugues DirecTivo receiver (w/ two inputs, of course)
      * Sony STR-DE995 receiver
      * Numerous additional specialized components...including a VCR.

      It's just not possible for any one company to take all of those functions and shove them into one box. What am I to do when my core receiver dies? Toss the whole thing? I think not...

      Sure you will. Technology today should allow them to produce this uber-device for a cost where you can pick up a new one, or get the old one serviced, for a reaso

  • It is a good idea, i was actualy thinking about picking up a few xboxes this christmas and setting them up as settops with wireless connections to my main box to serve movies and music. Maybe build a mythtv box too. then i shall be uber.
  • The simple answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Genghis9 ( 575560 ) * on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:36PM (#7717179)
    "...or is the search for an 'uberdevice' just hype?"

    It's just hype

  • I don't see how convergence is possible because different consumer groups seek different functionalities in the device. Some people want a gaming platform, others want a DVR, some need a single-person home computer, others need a family home theater, etc.

    Any device that tries to be all things to all people will fail. The device will be forced to include too much expensive hardware. Each feature and port (a hot GPU, large HD, DVI, VGA, NTSC, DOCSIS cable, ethernet) adds cost and complexity that not eve
    • I don't see how convergence is possible because different consumer groups seek different functionalities in the device. Some people want a gaming platform, others want a DVR, some need a single-person home computer, others need a family home theater, etc.

      I'm not sure the divergant needs is really the problem. I think the devices are at odds. For example the DVR needs to be totally reliable and on all the time. If it is integrated with a game machine what happens when I want to play Soul Calibur III

    • The Phantom by Infinium Labs seeks to do this. The scope of it was originaly a console, but evolved into a DRM'd PC that will likely have PVR, Games by Download, Movies+Music by download, and much more. Fortunately, they avoided what you said by offering HDTV support as a substitute for VGA or DVI.
  • Next question please.
  • It has been a few minutes since this topic was posted, and with the given 15 minutes for subscribers, let us figure this first (or perhaps second) post appears a full 20 minutes after intially posted. I think the primary reason for this is another big story is recieving most the headlines today.

    I have noticed a trend among comments with slashdot stories, the highest commented stories are those with political or social links/ideas. For example, a few weeks ago when a story detailing L.A. County 'banning' []

  • The idea will never catch on. People don't like to be locked in to one expensive product. Rather, they upgrade as they need to. Financially, it doesn't hurt the pocketbook as much as making one big purchase. Logically, it makes a lot more than having your big device get old, forcing you to upgrade everything whether or not it's necessary. As fast as technology advances, your big device will get old quickly.

    A company might make an uberdevice, which is a horrible name for this idea, just to say that they did
    • Not quite (Score:2, Interesting)

      by glpierce ( 731733 )
      ...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 curren

  • I personally hate the "integrated" devices. A VCR integrated into a TV set, a motherboard with integrated audio and video adapters, such shit. This kills modularisation and customisation. It's dumbing things down, so an idiot who can't plug a VCR into TV set doesn't need to. And of course you're stuck with worse quality components attached to the better ones. Say, I buy such an all-in-one gamebox and it works great as a MP3, DVD, VCD player, sat receiver and a few more. But after short time it starts to suc
  • We already have it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ph4rmb0y ( 711836 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:41PM (#7717220)
    Its called a PC.

    Anything less will be err less. The only thing consoles have going for them is that they are cheap. They are cheap because they are designed for one purpose - gaming. Whats the definition of a PC? A general purpose computer that you can:

    Play Games

    Do general computing stuff

    Watch TV

    Communicate on the Internet

    Isn't that the 'uberdevice'?

    • Exactly!

      And what most people seem to be afraid of in "uberdevices" is: if one part breaks, you'll have to toss the whole thing and buy a new one.

      Well, the PC is modular. If part doing thing x breaks, all the others will still work just fine and you only need to replace the faulty one to get the fully ubermachine back in business.

      Of course there are the obvious minuses (there's no free lunch), worst of 'em (on some machines, at least) being price and noise.
  • But an easy way for your devices to communicate is needed. As a geek I can easily put together any stereo, video, gaming, blah blah blah system. Alot of just wants to be able to plug the device into any spot and have it work. What would really be cool is a hub like device the make it easier for people to connect different entertainemnt compents and have them work nicely with each other.
    • ...or "universal bus". like, you stack the standarised size devices on top of each other, and there's plug in top of each of them and a socket in the bottom (or two sockets and you just add a connector with 2 plugs that can small dongle you place between them or a wire) and you don't care if you connected your VCR, to microwave oven, sat TV to printer etc, it all is interconnected (so i.e. you can start the microwave from VCR timer ;)
  • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:43PM (#7717234) Homepage
    Was a "student stereo" with AM/FM, record player, cassette, 8-track. I had all media types covered!
  • [naive girl mode]
    Wow, so, you mean, like, I can watch TV, play games and listen to music all the same? And maybe also write e-mail, browse the 'net and maybe do my homweork?
    Wow, this is, like, totally cool!

    Now, let's look at this in a critical way:
    Music - wondering if I saw a PC lately without a sound card... hmm, gues not
    TV - snap a 20-40$ TV-tuner into your PC... tada, you got a TV
    DVDs/etc - (almost) any PC can do that
    Computing - Email, internet, a word processor, spreadsheets, image editing? You
    • that if you like it really nice and compact, you could put it in a small-size nice-looking case that would even go mobile and...

      Oh, wait, isn't that called a "Laptop"? :)
      • Hmmz, I guess I really hate spamming my own posts, but I tend to post then remember some other stuff...

        [mental image]
        Imagine sidetalkin' [] with a Laptop 8-|
        [/mental image]
  • The real problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:45PM (#7717246)
    I'd settle for an Uberdevice that replaces all my AC adapters. These annoying things tend to hog 2 or 3 outlets due to their size, and it seems such a waste to have reconvert the AC over and over again for every device. They tend to become disassociated with their parent units over time, and my house is littered with orphan AC adapters that I don't know whether to throw away or not because I no longer know what they were for. And then there are the units with different milliamps but the same kind of plug, that you don't know what goes where (after a cleanup to untangle all the wires) without consulting the manuals, which of course have disappeared (another subject). And let's not get into orphaned and missing remotes...
  • How about the Treo600 []? It's a computer, PDA, color display, stereo MP3 player, 4band phone, 56Kbps+ Net terminal, game player, and more. Its SDIO slot can take "cartridges" for better games, including coprocessors for video. It's even got an uberdevice price: at MSRP $500, it costs less than the sum of its parts, but more than many desktop computers.
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @12:47PM (#7717263) Journal
    Q: What can you sit on, sleep on, and brush your teeth with?
    A: A Chair, a bed and a toothbrush.

    Some thing we don't want to combine. If a tool does a job, then let it do its own job. Don't try to force another tool to do the same thing.

    There are certain things that lend themselves to each other. However, computers and televisions are not two of these things. While they are very similar from a design poiint of view, the way we use these devices is quite different, and so are our demends for these items. I for one would prefer a smaller computer. However, I want a much bigger TV. The main difference seems to be A TV is a passive form of entetainment that several people can enjoy at once, whereas a computer typically only has one user at a time.

    Certainly some things should be combined. A PVR and digital decoder can be combined, and these seem to be very popular. It would be nice to also combine these with a television. This does not mean that everything else also makes sense in this respect. My DVD player does not need to be networked. I just want it to play DVDs. If I want to play a DVD on my computer, I'll get a DVD-ROM drive.

    We can combine these things. But should we?
    • No, really, I *would* love an extensible ergonomic chair/bed with sanitation extensions and maybe a mini-bar... that will allow me to never ever leave my cubicle again...
    • Some things can benefit from a combination. I'd love to have a GPS receiver in my digital camera, so I could remember where I was when I took a picture. But I'm going to smack the next guy that decides to build another combination digital camera + MP3 player because they share parts and it's cheap to do.
    • the way we use these devices is quite different, and so are our demends for these items.

      Quite true. A television maker whose sets flashed blue at random and had to be unplugged and restarted on a regular basis wouldn't be making tv's long. But somehow, this kind of behavior is acceptable so long as the device is a PC.

      I know some people run Linux, but the vast majority of PC buyers just accept Windows....

  • Hmmm... What if you could have the mythical convergence box of the future - today!
    MythTV does the trick for me [].

    Games, music, movies, web browsing, TV (timeshifting and recording), DVDs, pictures, weather...
    What else do you need in the ultimate set-top box? MythTV does all of these.
  • ... to choose from on the market today, the one that makes HDTV pervasive will be the one that differentiates itself and wins the competitive war.

    So far non of them seem close, they're all much of a muchness, the plans that the gaming industry seem to be talking about are just more of the same.
  • I don't think everything CAN be converged like this, they take time for consumers to shift opinions. Trying to fit six devices in one absolutely freezes a device as laughable as the worst of them. Let's say you get PDA, Laptop, Television, iPod and radio in one. Good, it's cool in theory until people realise they're not going to use the laptop features and they don't watch television anyway, anbd the other features could be made smaller again - why not get something cheaper and more suited to their purposes
  • by Pedrito ( 94783 )
    I don't get this. The description sounds, to me, like this thing I've heard of called a "computer." I can use it to "compute," but I can also use it to play games and watch television. Oooh, Aaah... In fact, I own one of these "uberdevices." And I do all of these things with it and more.

    No, seriously, though, I do use my computer to watch TV. I haven't felt the need to purchase a television since I moved back to Mexico. I suppose if I decide to actually start watching TV shows with someone else (Unlikely;
  • For me personally I enjoy having each function in a seprate box over an all in one combination. I have a multitude of devices that are totally redundant such as:

    Ps2 with DVD controler
    DVD player
    2 PC's with dvd-rom drive

    But overall I find I use my small $50 dvd player over the other two choices because there is no boot time and it does its job well. The problem I have with all in one devices is that it takes a realitivly long time to accsess the things you want and it is more combersome then other single fo
  • Competition. There will not be an "uberdevice" unless it is the be-all and end-all of entertainment, with accessories and games, etc. sold everywhere and shareable with everyone.

    But no manufacturer wants to share the market with other manufacturers. Microsoft and Sony will not have compatible games or accessories on their "superdevice" and because of this, consumers lose interest because they can't share with their friends and neighbors with different "superdevices," be sure of buying an accessory and bein
  • Mobile phones include a dinky webbrowser or e-mail client, now cameras and mp3 players, dvd players will play (s)vcd, playstation 2 will play dvds.. Not necessarily because convergence is an exciting new thing, but because an additional function is what marketeers call "added value". That's why cars have a stereo and a lighter. It's not about integrating your "smoking lounge" with your method of transportation, but easily achieved added value at such a low cost that dis-integrating it isn't worth it to the
  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @01:32PM (#7717680) Homepage
    Entrepreneurship is the act of finding a problem that has no solution in the current market, developing a solution for that problem, and making that solution available (hopefully at a profit).

    Marketing is the act of taking a product and attempting to increase existing consumer demand for that product.

    Marketing without entrepreneurship doesn't work (despte all the marketroids wishing really hard that it would). This strikes me as one of those cases. Entrepreneurship requires the existence of a problem, and the lack of a solution. Here we have the reverse case - people aren't asking for an entertainment convergence device, as evidenced by the fact that there are already solutions on the market that aren't selling.

    A quick editorial comment on why: The components advance at a different rate. Integrating those components means that when you want to get the latest Playstation, you have to upgrade your television (or whatever the converged device is). All upside for Sony, all downside for the consumer. As long as Sony (or whoever) is letting the marketing people make decisions that should be left to the entrepreneurs, these things are going to keep popping up.
  • by Gldm ( 600518 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @01:32PM (#7717683)
    The problem with putting everything in one box is the weakest link problem. Whenever any one thing breaks or becomes obsolete and you want to upgrade, you usually need to throw out the entire box. PCs get around this with standard parts but the average joe or my mom is not going to go grab a screwdriver and pop open a PC to install a new video card. Think they're going to swap hard drives and tuner cards on a set top PVR so they can reccord HDTV now? No. If this kind of thing was really appealing to consumers, every TV would have a VCR and a DVD player. Do they make these? Yes. Are they popular? Not really. They made TVs with radios back in the day too, do we have them now? A few.

    What's really going to kill this is WIRELESS. If all the devices in the house can interoperate over 802.11g, bluetooth, etc, then you HAVE a "virtual uberdevice". It's just a matter of getting the functionality to be seamless, and that'll take some work. Once you can stream your video files from your PVR to any TV in your house, stream your TV's captured input to your PC to edit, stream your ipod's mp3s to your stereo etc, then who needs to put it all in one box? Intel is working on putting RF in silicon so this kind of thing will be pretty cheap to add to any device. Multiple devices will probably be more expensive overall, but easier to upgrade. Will there be all in ones? Yeah, and I'll probably buy one for my mom because she'll never care to upgrade it. But anyone who swaps TVs or DVD players every couple years (gotta have that progressive scan!) or upgrades their PC at least once a year will probably go for seperate networked appliances.

    The downfall of this is getting it to work right and interchangeably. I expect Sony or someone to show up with this idea fairly soon but screw it up so that only THEIR brand devices work with each other. Then the market will bemoan this for a year or 2 until someone like Intel or MS comes up with a standard. Apple/Sony/Phillips will then come up with competing standards, and after another 3 years of fighting one of them should either win out or all devices will support all the standards because it's become cheap enough.

    So we should see it around 2007-2009. Probably about the time everyone's swapping out their obsolete DVD players for HDVD players and people are buzzing about upcoming Xbox3/PS4.
  • People who have a playstation2 now will want the playstation3 no matter if it's bundling a zillion other applications into the same hardware. It's like OS software, people want to browse the web & email and they get a computer pre loaded with an operating system that bundles an array of other applications as well.

    The next consoles will simply try to capture the consumers with one central device, gaming, PVR, audio, tv. People might only buy it for the gaming or the PVR or a combination but the bet is

  • They're already emerging, but it seems to me the ultimate uberdevice will be one you carry in your pocket. Cell phone, PDA, game unit, GPS, net surfer, book reader... We're already seeing the emergence of devices like these, but they could be so much better...
  • If my wife wants to watch "Will and Grace" using this "uberdevice"... I can't pick up my game console and go to the other TV with it, because in this "uberdevice" world that device is my game console.

    Why would I sacrifice flexibility? This is a similar reason that I'm just not interested in the "DVD Player selling point" of the PS2 and XBox -- I can't do both at the same time if they are the same device.
  • That first sylable is used so often I'd thought I'd give some details on it.
    Uber (actually it's a 'U' with two dots on the top which can be substituted with 'Ue' in emergencies: Ueber) Translates from german into 'Over'.
    So it would be 'Overdevice' or 'Ubergerat' (Uebergeraet) in german.
    Which in german sounds just as aqward as in english.
    It's a humorous approach to the bizar and ultrafashist concept of the 'Overhuman' aka 'Ubermensch' propagated by the Nazis in the 'Third Realm' aka 'Drittes Reich' or, mixed
  • by DavidinAla ( 639952 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @02:14PM (#7718041)
    Conventional wisdom is that devices converge, but the opposite has actually tended to be true. For instance, when the computer first appeared on the scene as a mainframe, it didn't converge with other office devices such as copiers or time clocks. Instead, computer categories divided -- into mini-computers and then personal computers and then further divided into laptops and desktops. There are all sorts of specialty devices now, and we STILL have the old mainframes around in various forms.

    Going back to what an example of convergence would have been if we were looking at it long ago, you could make a technical argument that the computer and the copier DID converge, because today's copier IS a sophisticated computer in many ways. (Even a time clock is a simple computer instead of an old-fashioned mechanical device.) But just because computer technology is incorporated into a copier, that doesn't mean it's a general-purpose converged device. Instead, it's a copier and we don't even think about the computing power instead.

    Devices are defined by what users believe they are, not what they're actually capable of. Just because a cell phone can take a picture doesn't mean that the customer thinks he's buying a camera when he gets one. To him, it's still a phone. Over time, people might come to think of a camera as being a natural feature of a phone, but it's STILL going to be considered a phone.

    In the same way, it would be natural -- if convergence were really the way the market worked -- that we would all have one device that was a television, radio, CD player, DVD player, speakers, etc. Instead, we tend to have a separate TV, receiver, maybe an amplifier, a CD player, a DVD player and separate speakers -- all wired together. (I suspect the distinction between a DVD player and CD player might eventually go away, but only because they use the same form factor as far as the user is concerned. The user would just consider it is disc player.)

    Convergence sounds like such a reasonable idea when you hear companies laying out their grand strategies, but it just doesn't seem to work that way in the real world. Iconoclastic marketing gurus Al Ries and Jack Trout have written a lot about this subject from the viewpoint of marketing and have explained why divergence is a more natural direction for markets than convergence. Although their arguments were counter-intuitive to me from a technical perspective, I believe they're right based on both history and human psychology.
    • Yet a lot of devices already seem to naturally converge on the PC and cellphone, and if the divergent devices tend to seek the same feature sets it really doesn't matter if you call your cellphone with a digital camera a cellphone or if you call your digital camera that you can make phone calls on a camera.

      Sure, you're still going to have specialized devices and equipment. I'd love to get some specialized speakers and a better soundcard for my PC, an easily portable from my PC system for my car and for ta

  • I long for the day when software-defined radio can allow me to use one single device and have it adapt through software to whatever task I want it to do.

    Imagine having a PDA that can pick up HDTV signals, calculate GPS positions, make calls via GSM and monitor your local police frequencies. It could communicate via any of the 802.11 standards, participate in a Bluetooth network, unlock your car and open your garage door.

    And at the bottom of it all is a software stack, able to monitor and analyze any kind
  • by plastik55 ( 218435 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @02:35PM (#7718218) Homepage
    Convergence devices will not take off until they fit in your pants pocket.

    Just like cell phones didn't take off until they fit in your pocket,
    Just like PDAs didn't take off until they fit in your pocket,
    Just like Game Boys were only for kids until they made one that fit in your pocket,
    Just like mp3 jukeboxes didn't take off until there was one that fit in your pocket.

    I look at the current convergence devices like the Clies and I wonder... I can carry my Palm in one pocket and the iPod in the other, and yet if I buy a device to serve both tasks it will not fit in either pocket. Where will I carry it?

    HOWEVER this does not apply to cameras. Most of the components of the mythical convergence device can be miniaturized, but camera optics can't really. There needs to be an adequate aperture and a long enough focal length or any picture you take is going to look like dim blurry crap. I'f I want to be taking pictures I will carry a proper camera. So I would like my convergence device without the crappy camera please.
  • . . . for people that want to save space. For example, a printer/fax/copier/scanner won't work as well as buying one of each. But if you've got only a square foot of space for peripherials you'll opt for the combo. So Uber devices will probably make their way into dorm rooms and their ilk.

    And of course those that are easily flummoxed by technology. I'm sure you've heard laments like "S-Video this, Component that, recievers, formats, scan this, scan the other thing, I just want it all to WORK!" Well t

  • This is stupid. So with an 'uberdevice" if it breaks I can't watch tv, use the internet, listen to music or cook a burrito? What I'm saying is seperation of purpose is a fairly good thing. Ever hear of "Jack of all trades master of none"?
  • But, it'll never happen.

    Presume that you have invented the "ultimate" digital device. It does everything and does it well. It is convenient, never breaks, never needs consumables, and is owned (not licensed) by the user.

    It's cheap, too.

    The minute such a device appears, thousands of marketing drones at dozens of major corporations begin working on a campaign to convince us this one sucks and we need to buy theirs.

  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @05:08PM (#7719416) Homepage Journal
    Why do they only want to sell me one device?
  • Just Hype (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CowboyRobot ( 671517 ) on Sunday December 14, 2003 @05:47PM (#7719740) Homepage
    At any time during the past 50 years, we could have been using TV/radio combination devices rather than the separate components we use now.
    Combinations only make sense when one component is used exclusively with another. TV/VCR combos work because there will never be a situation when you would need the VCR independently.
    But how many times have you had the radio and TV on at the same time? Or the TV, computer, and game system on at the same time? If those things were combined, you would have to interupt the game to IM your friend - and instead of just turning your head toward the TV to see what's going on, you'd have to switch modes on your one screen.
    In general, I think people want more screen real estate, not less, yet combining these devices means reduces the area.
    It seems more 'efficient' to have devices that do double- or triple-duty, but in reality it's as practical as those combination salt/pepper/sugar shakers that some people have.

  • 1. It will have to be as reliable as the most reliable component that it's replacing. This won't happen.

    2. Upgrade of a single component would no longer be possible. This will piss people off who don't want to buy a whole new unit just to play the latest game.

    3. Monolithic is stupid.

    Simple solution: build components designed to integrate perfectly with one another and sell them as just that--components.
  • 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.
  • Having an uberbox combining these mildly related things is an interesting idea. Picture if you will if someone created an uber-box-receiver with built in cd player, tape deck, amplifier, and even comes with some nifty speakers. Oh, such things already exist. And while they can be useful (they're often a great deal), they're decidedly mediocre. Trying to merge everything into one box means that the one box is a jack of all trades, but master of none. It might make a nice base system, but if you can affo

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.