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Adam Creighton, Computer and Video Gaming (Subscribe)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Upstart to mess up the Fall 2006 Console wars -- for Sony and Nintendo?

I stopped writing about the Phantom console some time ago, because it just seemed to me to be too much of an industry embarrassment.

However, a new contender, Envizions Computer Entertainment, may be a legitimate hybrid console player this fall.

The Evo: Phase One "media entertainment console" is actually a mid-range multimedia PC, with customized additions like a liquid cooling system (quieter and keeps the system much cooler than fan cooling), built-in biometric fingerprint reader (?) and digital video recording features.

So, why do I say this could mess up the console wars this fall? Because its timing and target audiences impact both Sony and Nintendo.

The Evo is truly a PC (running Microsoft Windows XP Media Center 2005), so it will genuinely do "PC stuff" that Sony says the PS3 console will do. At $679 it's in the same ballpark as Sony's higher end SKU ($599 SRP), and it's extensible and upgradeable. And it's supposed to ship October 20th -- a full month before Sony's next console.

As far as competition for Nintendo, Envizions CEO and founder Derrick Samuels said, "Evo is a computer but it will also provide the entire family the opportunity to access the different applications throughout the home via wireless network."

They might be much of a threat to the Big 3, because there's no brand recognition and certainly nowhere near the sales channel penetration, but, hopefully, they're paying attention.

My concern is that as a a PC, it's instantly outdated. I'm glad to see it's running Media Center 2005, but Windows Visa should ship just after the first of the year, instantly outdating the OS. More importantly, it's about the service. Microsoft's Xbox Live is pretty impressive (and getting more so), and Sony and Nintendo already have a lot of catching up to do -- and they actually have the pockets to do it. By Samuels own admission, the service side of the Evo is going to hit with the "Phase Two" model -- in 2007.

But check out the specs below -- pretty impressive. And do check out their website for more directly from the horse's mouth.

Evo: Phase One Specifications (and commentary):
  • CPU- AMD Athlon 64 3200 (not bad!)
  • L1 Cache 64kb + 64kb
  • L2 Cache 512 kb (why not 1Mb?)
  • 2.0 Ghz GPU-Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro w/HDMI (Nice!)
  • Twelve pixel pipelines
  • Core Clock 500 MHz
  • Memory Clock 800 MHz
  • Tuner card- Hauppauge with built-in FM radio (Let's you to TV and radio recording and playback)
  • RAM- 512 DDR (Should be at least 1Gb; especially for Windows Vista.)
  • Storage- 80 gig hard drive (Should be bigger.)
  • DVD-Rom drive
  • Akimbo built-in software (Video on Demand -- pretty good stuff, and making traction in the market.)
  • Biometric game save and security feature (Interesting.)
  • Digital Media Support-Support for DVD-video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R/RW
  • Send customize Envizions games to any EVO wireless router
  • Many players playing from one master hub
  • 3-D graphics
  • Cooling: Customize CoolIT Systems liquid system (Quiet and cool, like Sony's Vaio computers.)
  • Audio- Creative Labs Audigy SE; 24-bit Advanced HD, EAX Advanced HD, Supports surround sound 7.1, 6.1 and 5.1
  • I/O – Support two 2.0 USB PC ports in front; Four rear 2.0 USB ports
  • On board Ethernet port
  • Software-Media Center 2005
  • Physical specs-Width-318mm x Height-100mm x Length-415mm
  • Standard-definition and high definition video support

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SOURCES:,,,, IGN, GameInformer, Official XBox Magazine, CNN,, and others.


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