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Sunday, January 28, 2007

My gaming and A/V setup ...

(This is an update to an older post about my gaming setup.)

I'm gonna take the blogging format to its egocentric roots to tell you about my new PC and Xboxing set-up. This isn't meant as a bragging post (there are far nicer setups out there), but I hope it shows what can be done on the gaming and A/V setup front.

  • The projector: Toshiba TDP-S20U Mobile Projector

    • This is an office projector doing a great job for PC and Xbox gaming. It has 2000:1 contrast, 14 lumens, supports HDTV and widescreen, and supports two VGA inputs, which gives me flexibility to have both my PC and consoles plugged in at the same time, with passthrough (if needed, but I've moved passed that). Is it true HDTV? Nope, it's native 800x600, but it scales pretty cleanly up to 1600x1200, so it does a great job, at a fraction of a cost of "true" HDTV projectors. The downside of a projector is it's not as sharp or bright as an LCD, plasma, or other display, but it's close, and great for four-way, same screen gaming, theatrical DVD watching, and sports events.

  • The screen: Panoview DS-3100PM 100" Diagonal

    • This is an awesome, cheap (I got mine for less than $100) screen, with decent quality. I actually started with an 84", but returned it (seriously, size matters). Even though it's on the lower end quality wise, and requires a little more light control in the room, it's a solid retractable projection screen that can be wall or ceiling mounted, and has various stopping points to support 4:3 or widescreen (not perfectly, but watchably).

  • The audio: Altec Lansing XA3021 (desktop); Spherex Inc. Xbox 5.1 Surround Sound System (Room); Sony MDR-RF975RK (headphones)

    • I got the Altec Lansing XA3021 when was having one of their crazy one-day sales. I thought these things would be good for ancillary audio, but the sound is so great from this little package that I use them as my primary audio. When using my PC or piping my Xbox 360 through my monitor and using analog sound, I use the Altec Lansings.

      The Sony's a good rechargeable set of wireless headphones, and operates on the 900 MHz band. These things have served me well (without even having problems with cordless phones). I had a brief problem when I swapped out my wireless network for a cheap 108mbps, and the interference was finally a problem, so I returned that setup.

      For my surround sound system, I finally picked up the Spherex Inc. Xbox 5.1 Surround Sound System when they dropped from their $400 list to $200, with a rebate on top (you can now find them even more cheaply). My first set had a bum speaker, so I swapped out the set, and haven't had any problems since. The sound from these little bad boys is amazing, but more importantly, the omnipolar feature gives me (and anyone sitting in the room), a richer, more flexible sound envelope for gaming and movie watching. And pumping up the bass on Halo 2 rocketball is a thing to experience. Additional upsides include the incredibly connectivity options, the built-in amplifier, and their sexy look. Downsides are thought Spherex gives a 10-year warranty, I get a bad vibe from Email interactions with the company, making me wonder how long they'll stay afloat.

  • The cables: Monster Gamelink 400 X - Component Video (Xbox); Xbox 360 Component HD AV Cable and Xbox 360 VGA HD AV Cable (Xbox 360);

    • Monster cables are nuts -- 10-foot, "Nitrogen injected dielectric", 24k gold contact connectors. I bought these at Hastings in a clearance bin for $10 (yeah, they didn't know what they had). The NEC Adapter lets me get the component signal mapped to the right VGA pins, to keep the color separation, and the widescreen data. I use the Xbox 360 Component HD AV Cable that came with the Xbox 360 Premium SKU for the projector, and the Xbox 360 VGA HD AV Cable when playing on the 19"monitor (my computer uses the DVI, so there's no swapping needed on the monitor side).

  • The computer: Sony Vaio PCV-RZ 44G

    • Sony was offering competing Media Center-like PCs, and this box was one of the first of Sony's actual Microsoft Media Center Edition PCs. I've kept the thing upgraded to MCE2005 (thanks to a MSDN Universal License (no thanks to Sony). What makes this box cool is it has both the Window Media Center software, and the Sony software on the same box -- lot o' options. It's gotten a bit dated over time, despite topping out the RAM and upgrading powerpacks, video cards, and the like. Once the first or second Microsoft Vista Service Pack comes out, I'll look at replacing the machine.

  • The seating: Chair-and-a-half, or Desk chair

    • I finally graduated from the pear bean bag and folding camping captains chair (the folding chair was cool -- uber comfy with two cupholders for a beer and a bottled water; or two beers). Now, I use a chair-and-a-half when using the projector, and the desk chair when, um, gaming at the desk. I also got a few mini-ottomans from IKEA that I can build into Tetris-esque footrests, or they can be used as extra seating for LAN and big football game parties.

  • The A/V management: Pelican S-1037S System Selector PRO

    • An upgrade from the previous wired version I had, this sleek little jobby let's me hook all of my component video sources (PC/HDTV, Xbox, and Xbox 360) and non-component sources (extra cable box, SNES, etc.) into one switch, as well as multiple types of audio (digital optical, digital coax, composite), and switch those out to the projector. I had great luck with the first one, and this one has slightly improved video quality, has a remote, an LCD screen, and better A/V and ethernet switching functionality. The catch on this last one is it's a switch, not a hub. Where I could run into problems is when I want to network play my Xbox and 360 in Halo 2. I get around this by switching to my Xbox on the Pelican (and projector), and running my 360 through the VGA cable/monitor. Since the A/V switch has connectivity turned off for the 360, the wireless adapter kicks in without a hiccup (nice job, Microsoft).

  • The games: (Multiple)

    • I like games that support at least 480p (most Xbox games), but 720p/1080i and widescreen is a great experience.

      Games that give a sense of scale of which a big screen projection can take advantage are pretty cool, and both Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and Dead Rising do this, for massive baddies (the former) or a sea of baddies (the latter). Even a game like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance plays great on the projector, and I'm not sure I could do same-screen multiplayer on a standard TV. I'm really looking forward to Turok: Next Gen, for bigscreen dinos.

      For last gen, I play Halo 2, X-Men: Legends/II, ESPN NHL 2K5, MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf, and Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy. Halo 2 is cool, because it supports widescreen and horizontal splitscreen. X-Men Legends/II just rocks at 720p and widescreen.

  • What's Missing

    • OK, so nothing's really "missing", per se. This setup already borders on "beyond what I ever thought I would have". But there are some things I wouldn't mind.

      HD splitting -- I'd actually like to run the component out from my Pelican S-1037S System Selector PRO to a component video splitter, so that I could switch between my projector and my monitor, without swapping cables. This would likely require another NEC ADP-CV1. If you have a suggestion, let me know.

      A universal remote -- Right now, the Logitech Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360 (or the 550 on which it's based) actually supports everything in my house.

      Headphones -- Though they're wired, I'd like a set of the Tritton Audio Xtreme 360 Headphones. These give you true 5.1 surround sound, and built-in Xbox Live microphone capability.

      HD DVD -- I'm thinking about the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player. The thing is I want the HD DVD functionality to show up in discs, because since I'm using a projector, I'm not sure I'll notice the 1080p fidelity.

      Projector -- I don't know that I'll ever spring for a top-tier home theater projector. But I do plan on upgrading my current projector someday, and I'll probably go to a projector that does native 720p, and scales to 1080i/p. I suspect this will probably be from Panasonic.
OK, so my plan wasn't to brag about my setup for the sake of bragging about it. Maybe. A little.

Anyway, it's a lot of fun to bigscreen game. Besides, if you're in my geographic area, you're invited to play ... ;-)

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    Projector deal

    I just saw CompUSA has a two-day sale on the ViewSonic PJ400 Projector -- $399 after savings an rebates (January 28 and 29 only).

    This isn't "the bomb" as far as projectors go, but it's a good little gaming projector at almost twice the price, so the deal is pretty good.

    It's a little noisy, and a little light on the lumens (heh), but it scales to all of the needed resolutions and aspect ratios. Older ViewSonics tended to come out a little muddy on contrast, so you'll want to look at that.

    See more about this projector at I suspect price is probably down because of the PJ402D.

    The other projectors to look for in this occasional budget price come from Optoma, and usually show up both at CompUSA and Fry's Electronics.

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    Minor changes to video game blog

    I'm making some minor changes to the presentation, publishing, and feeds, so if you see weirdness, let me know.

    These are basically the first steps toward breaking out the gaming portion of my site as a more stand-alone entity, and to clean up some stuff that's outlived its usefulness.

    So, "Sticky Blogs" are gone (for now), and I've updated repackaged news feeds (at right) to be just industry players (for now, pending their response) and

    I've added my "talking Xbox 360" blog to "Blogs", just for fun.

    To my "Sources" at the bottom of each blog posting, I've added,, and, since I depend on the three of them.

    On the less-than-positive front, I've unfortunately removed due to their recent lack of professionalism (they've been consistently lagging other news sources recently, so there's no loss to you on the timeliness front); I've also pulled the redirect to their news items.

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    Thursday, January 25, 2007

    Permanently banned from forums?

    UPDATED: You can read the forum comments to my post here (the post itself has been deleted, but you can read it below).

    So, this is interesting.

    I posted on the off-topic forum (which is probably one of the less-policed forums I've seen) today about my disappointment with a less-then responsible "news" story the ran about the Pope's recent statements about video games. ( version; CNN version; The Star (AP) version.)

    As I was unfortunately expecting (but hoped wouldn't happen), the comments to my post were negative, juvenile (or indecipherable), and had very little to do with the (what I thought was maturely presented) post's content.

    I went to check just now to see if there were any updated comments for my post, I got the following message:

    You have been banned for the following reason:

    Date the ban will be lifted: Never
    Now, I don't think the content of the original post was offensive or worth censorship. Even the responses (none from me), though not reflecting well on our video game culture, didn't warrant a ban. And if they did, wouldn't they ban the commenters, rather than me for my original post?

    And banned for reason "Snapple"? Now, there was one commenters who repeatedly wrote "Snapple" (and nothing else) in response to my post. So I wonder if s/he may be a moderator on the site, and is abusing resident power.

    So, I'm putting the original post here -- you tell me if you think it warrants being banned from a Website.

    I've also posted the content on my TeamXbox base page.

    And I will pursue this elsewhere.

    UPDATED: My request for clarification as to why I'm banned goes to, so I don't have much hope that this will get resolved appropriately there. I'm now waiting for a response from parent subsidiary IGN Entertainment's support and legal folks. If that doesn't happen in a timely manner, I'll go up the owning-company route for resolution.
    Poor TeamXbox handling of "Pope Condemns Violent and Sexually Explicit Games"

    By: adamcrei
    04:09 PM PST
    Views: 20


    I'm bummed to feel like I have to post this.

    I'm disappointed with the treatment of the "Pope Condemns Violent and Sexually Explicit Games" pseudo news story ("pseudo" as portrayed on and other sites, but I'm posting here).

    The lack of respect for a world political/religious leader and the acerbic commentary aren't needed, and are pretty irresponsible:

    "The head of the Catholic Church wants you to educate your child like we were in the 19th century.
    "We guess the Pope won't like Marilyn Manson or Grindhouse, the Quentin Tarantino/Robert RodrĂ­­guez exploitation film.

    "Will the Pope like Gears of War's Destroyed Beauty concept and the chainsaw executions? We don't think so."

    Understand, I'm not Catholic. And I think this was probably one of those topical things that was fed as an agenda item and then included as part of the Pope's address, but the game culture and "press" handling of it -- including -- is pretty poor, and counter to painting a positive image of gaming and gamers.

    Are all games bad? No. Are all games good? No. Are all violent games OK? No. Is there artistic merit in some pretty hardcore stuff? Sure. Is this hazy intersection of culture and morality easy, and is there a "clean win"? Heck, no.

    We're at a tough place in gaming, and we're getting nailed constantly in the mainstream press and court system for being violently or sexually explicit. And now, our greatest advocate and president of the ESA, Doug Lowenstein, is stepping down.

    Which means the rest of us have to step up.

    Which means we can't willfully mishandle things like this, as small as they seem.

    And the writer knows it. I noticed comments are turned off. There was either a flood of bad comments after the poor posting and unprofessional lead-in, or he turned off comments in advance, not wanting to face accountability or feedback on his lack of professionalism.

    I'm all for autonomy for, but this is maybe where some parental oversight could come in handy. Pull stunts like this a few more times, and I expect that oversight will be mandated.

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    Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    "Mass Effect" box art

    Microsoft Game Studios and BioWare Corp. have released the final box art for Mass Effect, the Xbox 360's next opus.

    And it's not just that Mass Effect is a huge game. But going back to what CliffyB said in one of his posts:
    "The demo looks sweet, really, it looks solid. The fellas are going
    through the experience and this little bell goes off in the back of my head.
    It's hard to say what it is at first... truth be told I didn't put two and two
    together for months after that. And then it hits me...

    "The feeling that hit me when I was checking out this game was the
    sensation I first had when I saw the original Star Wars Trilogy..."

    Look at the box art. It's got the same sensibilities as the poster from the first Star Wars film. Or even the Logan's Run poster (kinda). Or some of the Star Trek films.

    We're talking hefty space opera, kids.

    Can't wait ...

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    Monday, January 22, 2007

    Xboxing with the masses ...

    I had an interesting weekend.

    Since I was going to be out of town for three days for a retreat, kind of last minute I packed my 360, old Xbox, a couple of projectors, and some games for any available "free time" throughout the weekend (which, for me as relates to gaming, includes between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.). We had a couple of other guys bring a 360 and second Xbox, and one dude brought his Nintendo GameCube (?).

    It was an interesting deal, because we networked the two boxes for 4-on-4 Halo 2 (would have been all 4 boxes, but we only remembered to bring two copies of the game, and we were in the boondocks), and I got to firsthand run people through multiplayer -- and a lot of these guys (depending) didn't have experience with a 360, or Xbox, console gaming, or gaming at all.

    So, I observed several things.

    Those from an Xbox or other console background, who hadn't spent time with the 360, really, really liked it. They liked the interface, they liked how easy multiplayer games were to set up, they loved the controller (seriously, I think I have to wash one).

    Also, people who weren't used to games (if even just console games), but were willing to try, had a blast, and they did pretty well. There were PC Halo guys who jumped in on Halo 2 and held their own. There were "old" dudes going head-to-head with Soul Caliber II, which was fun to watch.

    Speaking of Soul Caliber II, I'm thinking it's not as well designed as I thought it was, since a non-gamer could frantically button mash and consistently whomp on people who were used to the game (not me, I did fine). I'm talking seriously button mash, to the point where my buttons on one wireless controller don't respond as well, and the left analog stick is now listing up and to the left permanently. Bummer. Soul Caliber II also reinforced for me the 360 controller's D-pad sucks.

    I learned that video games can be an indicator for addictive personalities. Take someone who doesn't play, give them a constantly available play environment for the first time, and watch them forego previous considerations (like sleep). Interesting.

    And I got to experience the online frustrations with Halo 2 in person.

    Understand that normally when I pack my 'boxes for travel, I'm setting up with people I know, and there's some accountability and openness on calling each other on stuff. Online, there are a lot of jerks (from my experience, a majority of jerks). By "jerks" I genuinely mean people of deficient character.

    This weekend was definitely more toward the former, with some educable opportunities thrown in.

    Pet peeve #1 came in the form of things like 4-on-4 capture the flag. One game took freaking forever, but not just because the team's were evenly matched (though there was some of that). It took forever because 2 guys on my team (who are experienced with Halo 2) were playing their own game. I would get the opposing flag, my buddy would be guarding our flag, and I'd be asking the guys sitting next to me (this is important) for cover. They'd be so lost in their own conversation they wouldn't hear me. I'd look at their portion of the screen, and they're up on the mountain, not with a sniper rifle, but arguing about who's going to take invisibility, and trading the shotgun for the rocket launcher, etc. Freaking irritating, and it ultimately cost us the match (3-2 on Blood Gulch, because even two very good players can't take on 4 in capture the flag).

    The other bigger pet peeve I have is liars -- in general, but especially about video games.

    We had a group of kids from another retreat come in, ask what we were playing, and ask if they could play. One guy even said, "I'm not very good at this game." Then in team slayer, they mopped the floor with us 50-5. Surprise, they play all the time on the same team on Xbox Live.

    Me being me, I called them on it.
    "Seriously, lying is pointless, but lying about a video game? C'Mon, guys! You
    -- you even said, 'I'm not very good at this game.' Nice. Knock it off. Let's go

    They were surprised we wanted to play again, but I split the teams (and kept the match team-based, because experience has shown me people with character problems will play online as a team in individual death match just so one of them will win). The game was more even, and (interestingly), they didn't enjoy it as much.

    Those gripes aside, it was a good experience, I seriously enjoyed sharing something I'm passionate about with people who don't experience it much, and it woke me up to some accessibility and design considerations to give back to developers, and to consider for my own game development.

    And to think the rest of the weekend (outside of gaming) was even more rewarding ...

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    Wednesday, January 17, 2007

    My Xbox 360 is talking ...

    Or, blogging, actually. True now-gen innovation is putting a HAL-ified Xbox 360 into the blogosphere.

    I've been meaning to try for a awhile, and finally took the plunge.

    It's an entertaining way to use the Xbox Live data spewing out of my 360, publishing it as it's own blog, and giving it some personality.

    I wish the thing picked up last-gen Xbox games played on the 360, and other 360 activities (like playing music, movies, or videos through the Media Center extender functionality), but as it is, it's fun, and the home page it creates isn't half bad for for stats and links to other Xbox 360 community sites.

    Here's an example of a recent post:

    Hitachi Wasabe's Xbox - 1/16/2007
    Hitachi Wasabe held the Xbox button on his controller down for a few seconds and our adventure began! A gamer score of 1660 is lighting the way. That is a boost of 70 points over last time! He rallied LOST PLANET picking up 3 achievements, and I think there was some random Live Marketplace browsing, but I wasn't paying attention.
    I may republish the 360voice blog's RSS feed on this page, because I think that would be kind of fun. We'll see.

    A snapshot of my 360voice blog

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    Friday, January 12, 2007

    Xbox 360 outsells PS3 and Wii ...

    ... Depending on who you ask.

    But if the NPD Funworld numbers are any indication, this seems to be the case.

    Microsoft sold 1.1 million units in December alone, benefitting from the Wii (604,200 units in December) and PS3 (490,700 units) shortages.

    And while Microsoft is trumpeting December, it's also crowing (via press release) it outsold "all next-generation consoles in November and December" -- but the Xbox 360 had full production and a full month so sales in November, where Nintendo and Sony not only had shortages, but had partial month sales, since they were released on November 19 and November 17 (respectively).

    And Sony is crying foul at the NPD numbers, saying it doesn't account for Canada (?) and 150,000 units shipped the last week in December. I think I need to do a separate post deconstructing some of the recent Sony corporate communications indescretions. Besides, I've been snapping picts of retailers in town, and PS3s are sitting untouched.

    Oh, and forum poster fanboys are bad enough, but I'm disappointed to see some "objective" multiplatform sites (that is, not things like, slanting their news stories to one particular console or another.

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    Wednesday, January 10, 2007

    Gears of War Map Pack, Theme, Video available now

    Epic loves their fans.

    Today, you can download two new versus maps for Gears of War, "Raven Down" and "Old Bones".

    In addition there's a Gears of War "Map Pack 1 Theme", and a video from game designer CliffyB.

    All this is free. Which goes back to the "Epic loves their fans" thing.

    If you haven't downloaded the patch for Gears released yesterday, you'll need to do that, first. Check out to see what the patch addresses.

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    Tuesday, January 09, 2007

    Yet even MORE CES gaming goodies ...

    John Carmack / id Software get two Emmy's:

    Ok, so yesterday/today I slightly badmounthed the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (probably not a good idea for an actor) for giving a technical Emmy to Sony for the PS2 Sixaxis controller, but not even nominating Nintendo's Wiimote.

    I'm sticking to that.

    But, restoring a little of my faith in them, they did bestow The Pioneering Development Work in 3D Game Engines award to co-founder and technical director of id Software John Carmack for his contributions to rendering technology as the lead programmer on DOOM. id Software got a separate Emmy for technological leadership in rendering breakthroughs with the QUAKE technology.

    Microsoft Zune to have games -- by 2008:

    Frankly, I hate these kind of CES announcements. CES is in January, so I'm erked enough at stuff coming out at year end (um, Bill Gates? CES 2004? Media Center Extender?), but making an announcement for something 1.5 years out? Please don't waste my time. I'll have my first flying car by then.

    Still, it's cool the Zune will have games -- just 8-16 months after other MP3 players have games.

    Apple iPhone:

    Speaking of which, Apple's "anti-CES" Macworld announcement of the iPhone (for July of this year, Microsoft) shortly after this Microsoft announcement sure was a bit embarrassing. To Microsoft.

    Microsoft Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation3:

    This is just a tease, because I want to do a dedicated post digging through some of the holiday and CES numbers. And call the liars, liars.

    And I have photos.

    TV Tech:

    LCos? SED? OLED? New Plasma? New LCD? New DLP? New Projectors?

    I may do separate post on this later, but it will likely just be descriptive link list to folks who are already doing this better elsewhere.

    But ... if anyone wants to buy me Sharp's 1008-inch LCD, I'll take it.

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    Yet more CES gaming goodies ...

    As far as ongoing coverage of the gaming side of the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show, has a good CES-related coverage page, as does For non-gaming-specifc goodness, check out CNET's page. coverage is unfortunately leaving me cold.

    As far as a sampling of updates:

    Xbox 360 price cut:

    Rumored many times, and back on the table in Vegas. A couple of lesser know analysts are saying a $100 price drop isn't unreasonable, as Microsoft tries to disrupt the market. Maybe, but Microsoft's historically not into disruptive pricing -- they're more price takers.

    And Wedbush Morgan's Michael Pachter (who is more well known), doesn't think there will be a price drop.

    But here's something to ponder. What if Sony continues to get traction on PS3s? Arguably, they outsold what the 360 had in its couple launch months in 2005. And what if there is something to the rumor of a new Xbox 360, with a 65mm chip, HDMI, and maybe a bigger hard drive? Microsoft could drop pricing on the current Xbox in a "promotional period", then restore the price when the new 360 ships -- softening the blow for people who buy the older unit.

    Want more? Pachter seemingly arbitrarily picked a July 11 date for Sony's price drop for the PS3. That would make sense, and could suck the wind out of the availability of Microsoft's new version of the SKU. But if Microsoft drops its price before that, they'll suck the wind out of Sony's sails, and potentially force Sony to a deeper price cut.

    Hellgate: London

    From "one-of-my-most-anticipated-games-so-where-is-it" department (or maybe it's my "why-haven't-you-returned-my-calls?" department), Flagship Studios announced Hellgate: London will ship this summer. CEO Bill Roper also said you can play Hellgate as a single-player game, and there will be an option to turn it into a multiplayer game (subscription-based) if you want. That flexibility is interesting, and we'll see how it plays out.

    Sony PS3 Sixaxis controller gets an Emmy

    I'm trying to track down more details on this, but Sony did get a Technology and Engineering Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the PS3's Sixaxis controller.

    As far as I can tell from the less-than-optimally-navigable Website, Nintendo wasn't even nominated. That seems odd.

    And reading the back-and -forth comments from posters on this issue across the various Websites makes me said at the published lack of intelligence and maturity out there.

    UPDATED: The sixaxis didn't get the Emmy, despite what Sony's press release said. Turns out the Emmy was given the previous evening at CES to Sony and Nintendo for "Peripheral Development and Technological Impact of Video Game Controllers". So it was the PS2 Dual Shock controller, not the rumble-less-Wiimote-light Sixaxis controller.

    According to Sony:

    "Due to miscommunication between the two organizations, this information was
    incorrectly reported. SCEA won a Technology and Engineering Emmy Award for the DualShock controller."

    Wireless HDMI

    This was demoed last year, but this year it's Philips doing the demoing, rather than some little unknown company. They're promising uncompressed HD signals up to 25 feet, without needing direct line-of-sight, and it's using ultra wideband that will not interfere with any other wireless devices.

    Oh, and it will be available in May for $300.

    That's what CES is about.

    New Xbox 360 downloadable content

    Content providers seem to be happy with the owners downloading TV shows and movies. Comedy Central and Warner Bros. (at least) are being vocal about it being a prime platform for moving their content (and are adding more), and Lionsgate has just jumped on board with a bunch of old and new favorites like Blair Witch Project and Crank.

    Shadowrun delayed

    Shadowrun has moved from "Early 2007" to "Spring 2007" -- no surprise, since I picked it earlier. But this multiplayer-only game sounds a bit light on the multiplayer modes. We'll see.

    TVs TVs TVs

    Hot on the heals of the SED delay, new plasma tech and bigger, better LCD TVs and projectors are all over CES. Some ridiculously low for great tech, some ridiculously high for great tech.

    And, not surprisingly, a lot of 1080p sets.

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    Monday, January 08, 2007

    More CES gaming goodies

    Here are a few more game-specific CES 2007 happenings:

    Linksys announces a draft-N router for gamers:

    I think this is the first N-spec gaming router (I really expected DLink to update their GamerLounge line), and it sounds impressive, but CNET does have this caveat:

    "It's a familiar song, so if you know it, sing along with us: while we've seen fast throughput from the draft N routers, they don't live up to the much-hyped theoretical speeds of the N spec, not even close. If you have to have the fastest gear now, it's likely that most of the currently available draft N products can be made compliant with the final spec with a simple firmware upgrade, so go for it. If you don't want to take that risk or pay through the nose (this router costs about $200), be patient and wait to see if the final spec results in better performance."
    "Orb MyCast: Stream to your Wii":
    "Orb is a program that turns computers into streaming media servers, so users can access their movies and music through any compatible web browser [like the Nintendo Wii version of Opera]."

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    Sunday, January 07, 2007

    CES gaming happenings

    The 2007 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) starts tomorrow, but tonight's Bill Gates/Microsoft keynote had some gaming nuggets for the masses.

    Of course, Microsoft was pushing Windows Vista, with just around three weeks before the public release.

    Where that matters to gamers was the demo of the much-touted "Live Anywhere" functionality -- playing a game on Windows Vista (via an Xbox 360 controller), getting online, hooking up with someone on an Xbox 360, and getting them to play the same game.

    Sure, the game was UNO (nothing against UNO, since it is one of the top-downloaded/played games; it's just not my thing). Microsoft did, however, say (again) Halo 2 is going to be another "Live Anywhere" game. Halo 2 has been trotted out a couple of times by Microsoft in this context, and has generally been dismissed as a mistaken reference (how are they going to make the last-gen Halo 2 work over Live Anywhere?). But having yet another mention lends some credence to the idea.

    Of course, Bungie's FAQ is still pretty cut-and-dried:
    Q Will Halo 2 Vista players be able to play against Halo 2 Xbox players?
    No, Halo 2 Vista players will only be able to against other Vista owners.
    And there was a passing reference to Shadowrun. Again. I'm hoping they're soft-selling this title to keep it from competing with Gears of War, Mass Effect, Crackdown, and other titles, rather than because it needs more baking time.

    Oh, and the Windows Live experience, I dare say, is slicker and faster than the Xbox 360's.

    Microsoft also made the big announcement IPTV will be available on the XBox 360 -- in holiday 2007. The concept and demo are exciting (standard and hi-def video, picture-in-picture, zero lag channel switching, and so on), and its being targeted for the 360 is a surprise -- I just hope it comes to fruition. I've still got a really bad taste in my mouth from CES 2004 when Bill Gates announced the Xbox Extender -- "by end of year" -- and it shipped the end of November 2004. And sucked. Horribly.

    According to Xbox chief Robbie Bach, Microsoft sold 10.4 million Xbox 360s (exceeding their EOY shipping target of 10M units) -- absolutely dominating the now-gen war. There was a nod to new "Halo-level franchise" Gears of War (and its moving of 2 million units), as well as to upcoming titles Mass Effect, Guitar Hero II (??), and Grand Theft Auto IV.

    According to Bach, The Xbox 360 and HD DVD peripheral drive "continue to sell out" (which I'll be interested in seeing nay-sayers debunk), and (more interestingly), that the HD DVD format is the top-selling format (ostensibly over Blu ray).

    There was more interesting stuff in the keynote, but I wanted to pull just the (even marginally) game-related stuff out.

    Besides, this is the Consumer Electronics Show, so the keynote detail was a bit light. And they blacked out the HP Media Server portion of the keynote (which is something in particular I care about).

    I'll post more game-related stuff if it happens.

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    Friday, January 05, 2007

    Play "Rogue Trooper" ...

    I just played (and finished) Rogue Trooper, from Rebellion. It's a last-gen game (Xbox, PC, PS2), but you can also play the Xbox version on the Xbox 360 now-gen system.

    It's a great, under-rated game, and Gears fans? Prepare to be surprised at the mechanics that are in Rogue Trooper. Its only real shortcoming is a lack of online modes (basically only limited co-operative assault and defend variations).

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