|DISCover Console Takes on PC Games|
|New Console Promises the Best of Both Worlds|
Aug 18 2003
The most appealing thing about console gaming, aside from the relatively low cost, is
the convenience of being able to simply insert the necessary game disc and
start playing, without ever having to address all the technical complications
that can arise when running games on a computer. While life in PC game land has
been getting a little easier over the years, it's still only a matter of
time before one has to deal with dated drivers, game patches, software incompatibilities, and so on. Nevertheless, PCs have thus far always led the
way in video gaming for a number of reasons. There are more games available for the PC than any single console platform, PC hardware is always on the cutting-edge, and monitors provide higher resolution images than most televisions, among other things.
Well, what if you could plug your TV into a console designed specifically
to "drop and play" PC games? Make way for a new concept in game hardware,
coming in the form of a "PC game console" called DISCover, created by Digital
Interactive Systems Corporation of San Gabriel, California.
The DISCover Console (Photo Courtesy DISCover)
Revealed at the 2003 Electronic Entertainment Expo, DISCover is essentially a PC with a TV output and a customized version of Windows XP preinstalled. It is designed to install, configure, and load PC games automatically without any user input, including Internet-only PC titles such as EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot. The units will come in several different models, and will also play DVDs and MP3s. Prices are expected to range from about $300 for an entry-level version, to $700 or more for a high-end model.
The software for the system will also be available separately, for those who wish to convert an existing PC into a drop and play console, and for PC manufacturing partners who want to market their own DISCover-based systems.
The makers of DISCover are hoping it will appeal to console gamers who want to step up to PC games without the PC headaches, and PC gamers that want to play sitting on the sofa in front of the TV.
There is some impressive hardware inside the more expensive models, which feature a 3 GHz Pentium 4 processor, 1 GB of RAM, a 120 GB hard drive, and GeForce4 TI or better graphics. Although you could build a faster PC with the latest technology, the DISCover will carry considerably more computing power than the next generation of PlayStation and XBox consoles.
All models will have modem and broadband capabilities. As well, the boxes can be connected to each other for the purpose of LAN games. Some of the component parts of premium DISCover consoles will, allegedly, be upgradable, and there are a full set of standard PC ports on back for keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals.
Game patches and driver updates are to be handled automatically over the Internet. The system will connect to the DISCover network regularly, and, if necessary, download and install any new files that your games or hardware require.
It's an interesting, and daring, venture, but, like many people, I am a little skeptical about how successful the DISCover will be. Given the nature of personal computing, getting it work as seamlessly as advertised could be a challenge. Consoles have so far adhered to rigid specifications and allowed little or no upgrades to ensure reliability. DISCover will have to run hundreds of games on a number of slightly different system configurations, which is no small task.
As for playing PC games on a television in the living room, many computers already have TV outputs that make this possible. That said, many PC games built around the mouse and keyboard don't adapt particularly well to couch play, for which a game pad controller is better suited. Then there is the fact that, unless you have a high definition TV, games just aren't going to look as good on a television as they do on a monitor. Of course, the option to use a monitor does exist, and DISCover's ease of use could be exactly what some gamers are looking for, perhaps in addition to their current computers.
Considering that premium DISCovers are likely to be priced in about the same range as an entry-level PC that will do much more than just play games, it will be interesting to see if this console can carve out a place in a very competitive market. Expect to see DISCover consoles on store shelves sometime early next year.