Seems that Microsoft has caught soccer (or football to you non-Americans) fever. The special edition Xbox 360 Blue is set to be released in celebration of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The Xbox 360 Blue will have all of the same features and accessories as the Xbox 360 Premium, but will also include a sporty Adidas Japan blue faceplate, Adidas Japan blue bandana, and a copy of 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany. Microsoft is expected to ship 10,000 of these special edition units. Unfortunately it looks like these special Xbox 360s are only set to be released in Japan. This special edition Xbox 360 is set to hit stores on April 27th and is expected to cost around $430.00. I doubt Japanese electronics stores are ready for the flood of crazed soccer fans these units should create. Then again, we are talking about the Xbox 360 - in Japan.
Read More | Gamespot
In a recent radio interview, George Fornay, the Vice President of Sony’s Playstation Division, remarked that the Playstation 3’s price would be between 500 and 600 Euros (approx. $610 to $740 USD) when it was released later this year. Formay tried to soften the news by mentioning that not only would the end-user be receiving a gaming console, but a Blu-ray player as well.
By contrast, the Xbox 360 Premium currently sells for around $499, and carries an estimated build cost of $501 to $525 USD. With cost estimates for the PS3 hovering around $725 to $905 USD, if Sony does sell the system near the prices mentioned by Formay, they’ll be taking a fairly substantial loss on the hardware. If they bring the price down to a point where it’s competitive with the 360, Sony’s losses on hardware will quickly become enormous. However, fiscal losses on the core consoles are nothing new as historically both Microsoft and Sony have sold their systems at a loss. The console platforms themselves are only a means to an end, and the disparity between the cost/sales amounts is easily recouped on game and peripheral sales, the real “bread and butter” of the console gaming industry.
Prior even to the launch of the Xbox 360, Sony execs were quick to point out that the PS3 would be an expensive system, and that consumers should start saving money to buy one. Regardless of the price, there are plenty of gamers who will happily snatch up the new console when it is released, but if Sony does keep the price high, will they pull in enough takers to effectively compete with Microsoft? Odds are Sony will release the PS3 at a fairly competitive price, and eat the short-term losees in order to win the long-term war.
UPDATE: Information was released after this article was published that indicates Sony has dismissed Fornay’s remarks as “mistranslated or misunderstood”. Apparently Mr. Fornay was alluding that although the PS3 would be expensive compared to current systems on the market, it would still be quite the value with its Blu-ray and HD capabilities. Although it has been hypothesized that “current systems on the market” refers only to the PS1 and PS2 systems and not the Xbox 360, Sony has not clarified.
Apple has quietly released the beta version of Boot Camp, a software package that allows its new Intel-based systems to run Windows XP. The next major revision of Mac OS X, v10.5, will have the software incorporated into it, and therefore the beta software will only work for a limited time.
The software doesn’t act as an emulator but allows Windows XP to run natively, thereby reducing any bottlenecks and performance issues. It works by creating a partition on the hard drive just for Windows XP, and includes all of the required drivers thereby making the install much easier than the unofficial methods that are currently floating around. A graphical interface walks the user through the process of creating the partition and burns the drivers to a CD/DVD. Upon completing the install, users will have the option of dual-booting into either Windows XP or OS X.
Requirements for Boot Camp include the obvious Intel-based Mac, plus a USB keyboard and mouse (or integrated keyboard/trackpoint for laptop users), Mac OS X v10.4.6, the latest firmwares, 10GB of free space, one blank CD/DVD, and Windows XP Home or Professional with SP2 or later.
“We think Boot Camp makes the Mac even more appealing to Windows users considering making the switch” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. Indeed, this may be just the impetus that some Windows users were waiting for.
Microsoft has announced that Virtual Server R2 Enterprise Edition will come with a new pricing structure - free. In addition, new offerings are now available in the form of virtual machine add-ins and technical support for Linux guest operating systems, a dramatic change for the software vendor. By making Virtual Server free, Microsoft is responding to similar moves by its competitors. One such competitor, and leader in the virtualization market, is VMWare who made their own GSX Server software available for free back in February.
Microsoft acquired Virtual PC, and the unreleased Server product, from Connetix Corp. in 2003. When first launched in September 2004, Microsoft’s Virtual Server came in two flavors - Standard and Enterprise with pricing at $499 and $999 respectively. This past December version R2 was released, along with a pricing change of $199 for Enterprise Edition and $99 for Standard Edition.
It looks as though Samsung will be one of the first companies to have an Ultra Mobile PC available for purchase. We gave you insight into the UMPC just a few weeks ago, and with products about to hit the shelves, it’ll be interesting to see if they fly, or flop. Granted, they’re very cool from a gadget standpoint as they do a little bit of everything, but that may be the whole crux of the problem. Devices that do a bit of everything tend to not do any of them really well, and turn out to be rather mediocre as a whole. Somehow this smacks of the Tablet PC all over again in that there isn’t a strong market for the product (even less so with the UMPC), but I digress . . . on with the show.
Expansys has the Samsung Q1 UMPC up for pre-order for £799.95 (~ $1,390 USD). The specifications are what you’d expect of an “everything but the kitchen sink” type of device. Running a Celeron M ULV CPU at 900MHz, it comes with 512MB RAM, a 7” WVGA LCD (800x480), Bluetooth, GPS, Wireless (802.11 a/b/g), and more. About the only thing missing would be some form of high speed data like UMTS or EVDO, but that was never in the design specs anyway.
Full specifications after the jump.
As an owner of a Smartphone, I was personally outraged that iAnywhere Solutions did not offer a client for my platform. It seems that the wait for Avantgo goodness is over; iAnywhere Solutions announced today that there is a beta client available for Windows Smartphone. The beta supports Windows Mobile 2003, 2003 Second Edition and Windows Mobile 5.0 for Smartphone handsets. Unfortunately, the feature set is reduced due to the lack of a touch screen and the maximum display resolution on Windows Mobile devices. There are over one thousand content providers available though, which should make up for some of the features that are not available. You can grab the beta at the link below.
Read More | AvantGo
With Windows Mobile 5.0 released, and with Windows Mobile 2003 still around, many people have discovered that Windows Media Player for Windows Mobile has some flaws. With Windows Media Player (WMP) unable to play .divx files or .ogg files, many users are left needing software capable of features that WMP does not offer. Enter Beta Player, free software for your Windows Mobile device that can do all the things WMP can not and then some.
Supported file containers:
- AVI (*.avi)
- Matroska (*.mkv, *.mka)
- MP4 (*.mp4, *.m4a)
- Ogg Media (*.ogg, *.ogm)
- ASF (*.asf)
Supported audio codecs:
- Mpeg 1 Layer III
- Ogg Vorbis
- Windows Media Audio (on Windows Mobile devices)
- Adpcm, uLaw
Supported video codecs:
- MPEG4-SP (plus B-frame support)
- Windows Media Video (on Windows Mobile devices)
Beta Player is considered open source software, and has a very active community. It’s also available for a variety of different devices, so even if you don’t have a Windows Mobile device, you can still usethe product. I personally use Beta Player on my Windows Mobile device, the software was easy to install, and I have experienced no issues with it.
Read More | Beta Player
By now most people have heard about MIT’s noble effort to bring technology to third world countries by designing a $100 laptop. Google’s founder, Larry Page, said that Google would back MIT’s project. Bill Gates publicly critiqued the $100 laptop, saying, “The last thing you want to do for a shared use computer is have it be something without a disk…and with a tiny little screen.” Gates went on to say, “If you are going to go have people share the computer, get a broadband connection and have somebody there who can help support the user, geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you’re not sitting there cranking the thing while you’re trying to type.” Prior to the critique Gates was promoting Microsoft’s new “ultra-mobile computer” which is expected to cost between $599 and $999. What is funny is the $100 dollar laptop program is called One Laptop per Child, or OLPC. These laptops are not being given to American families to close the digital divide here; they are intended to assist children in third world countries that lack the support infrastructures that many of the things Bill Gates is interested in offering require.
Read More | CNN
It looks like even the Xbox 360 is not the impermeable fortress that Microsoft expected it to be. Recently, a group of hackers have not only managed to hack the firmware, but they got burned copies of game discs to play as well. The team responsible for the hack has declined to release the hacked firmware for the masses - probably to avoid issues with Microsoft. The hack does not allow region free playing of discs, nor does it allow the execution of unsigned code. It merely allows the playing of directly copied discs. Technical details here, and here.
Read More | MaxConsole
Back in January we reported on the rumor that Sony was going to make its 200-disc media changer available separate from their Digital Living System PC. Rumors do come true now and then, and this happens to be one of those times. Whether the VGP-XL1B2 is a viable alternative to assembling terabytes of hard drive space for your ripped DVDs is arguable, but it’s certainly an interesting option. The changer requires Windows Media Center Edition (with the Rollup 2 update), utilizes a firewire interface, can be daisy-chained with 4 other units (max 5 total), and supports the following disc formats:
• DVD R Double Layer/DVD±RW drive
• DVD R DL Write (4x max.)
• DVD-R Write (16x max.)
• DVD-RW Write (6x max.)
• DVD R Write (16x max.)
• DVD RW Write (8x max.)
• CD-R Write (40x max.)
• CD-RW Write (24x max.)
Available directly from Sony for $799.99