Microsoft must be scratching its head
John “jaQ” Andrews
Microsoft must be scratching its head.
Sony and Nintendo know something it doesn’t? Why on earth would they
release their next-generation consoles in March 2006, just three months
Regardless of their reasons, the late release of the Sony PlayStation 3
and Nintendo Revolution consoles allows Microsoft an unopposed run at
this year’s holiday shoppers with their new Xbox 360. Sony and Nintendo
will have to compete with their aging — though comparatively cheap —
PlayStation 2 and GameCube products.
Price may have played a central role in both Sony’s and Nintendo’s
decisions. The $100 GameCube and $150 PS2 offer attractive alternatives
to the Xbox 360, which starts at $300. Both companies also put out
mobile platforms earlier this year as well, with the PlayStation
Portable and Nintendo DS.
Still, the Xbox 360, released Nov. 22, has the spotlight this
Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus/Boxing Day. And I guess Microsoft
realized that some competition was needed to make the season exciting,
so it put out two separate versions.
Xbox 360 Core System is $300, and it includes the console itself, a
wired controller and a composite AV cable. The Xbox 360 — no “Xtreme
System” or “Hardcore Package” moniker, suggesting that “Core System”
really means “Lame, Incomplete Budget Version” — is $100 more and
replaces the wired controller with a wireless one and adds a 20GB hard
drive, Xbox Live Headset and Ethernet cable. It also upgrades the AV
cable to support High Definition output as well as standard TV output.
course, this is Microsoft, so nothing is simple.
of the big selling points of the Xbox 360 is backward compatibility with
Xbox games. This is true, if you have a hard drive. Buyers (or
recipients) of the Core System will be disappointed, though you can buy
the hard drive separately — for $100. The same $100 that gets you the
bunch of other stuff mentioned above if you just suck it up and pay up
and that High Definition output? It only supports 780p and 1080i,
leaving out the highest-quality mode, 1080p. PlayStation 3 will support
1080p on two televisions at once. Nintendo played the bargain role last
time with no DVD support on their GameCube; for the Revolution, they’re
reportedly doing the same by leaving out HD.
the total geeks, here’s a stream of numbers, acronyms and nonsense words
about the Xbox 360: triple 3.2GHz core processors; 512MB RAM; 500MHz
graphics processor; 48 parallel shader pipelines; three USB ports.
those of you reading this column every week, you may notice that the
Xbox 360’s graphics processor is by itself just as fast as the main
processor in the $100 laptop described last issue. Both of you make of
that what you will.
Also, for the limited number of gamer/environmentalist crossover folks
out there, a mixed bag: while the 360 uses twice the electricity of its
predecessor, it contains no lead, mercury or cadmium.
Normal people resume reading here
Microsoft is offering a 64MB memory unit as an accessory. Not only is
this a way to save games without a hard drive, but you can also download
content from retail kiosks. If there’s a movie trailer on the Xbox 360
at your favorite mall store, just transfer it to your memory unit and
take it home.
can also customize the look of the console with changeable faceplates.
There’s even a “Play & Charge Kit” that hooks your wireless controller
to an electrical outlet to recharge its batteries while you’re playing.
Yeah, a wire for your wireless controller. I told you, it’s Microsoft.