Weekend Short-Takes: 1/25/12

Rumor: Next Xbox 'Durango' specs leak

Simon Wu:

Finally we are starting to see a steady trickle of information about the next gen consoles, and it couldn’t come soon enough. After last week’s price rumor of about $350, these specs are right in line with where they want to come in. If that octa-core processor sounds crazy, I wouldn’t worry because they are using AMD processors, whose high-end Piledriver chips are 8-core. What I would worry about are the reports of less than stellar performance from both these chips and from the company itself; AMD is getting absolutely destroyed by Intel right now in the conventional PC market and the chips have apparently been more power hungry and less powerful than comparable Intel chips. The other thing I really care about is the built-in HDD, which indicates that Microsoft intends full ahead cloud storage, and eliminating the option of taking your hard drive to a friend’s house entirely.

Alex Miller:

I too am excited by these numbers. Like everyone else I cannot wait till we finally get the final word from Microsoft about what they will really be, but until this time rumors will have to do. What I am very interested by is not only the choice to go with AMD (more on that later) for the chipset, but also that the structure is one borrowed from a range aimed at laptops and tablets. Does this mean the consoles themselves will be smaller, with a more mobile structure allowing for a smaller overall frame? Will you now bring your entire console to a friends house instead of just your harddrive, as Simon pointed out you would no longer be able to do? Plenty of questions for Microsoft come E3.

Photo Credit: xtreview.com

Red and blue PlayStation 3 variants to hit Japan next month

Simon Wu:

Again, this is one of those news articles that I try and tie into something else I find interesting, which is that Sony is perfectly fine and ready to continue the PS3 well into the PS4’s life cycle; remember, the PS2 was only just discontinued. At $279, it will be a nice price point below the anticipated $350 that we’re hearing for the PS4. Another question remains to be seen: will Microsoft do the same, with a smaller, lighter 360, or is their contender the Xbox Lite?

Alex Miller:

Yay for options? Accessorizing? While it might be nice to offer fans a choice in color for their gaming console, I think this is just more of the same as far as Sony goes. They have been releasing several limited edition and/or new variants of the PS3 for the last couple months as the consoles primary lifespan allegedly winds down. Notice I say primary lifespan as I fully expect the PS3 to live on into the next generation in a similar way to what the PS2 did, and that these special versions will play a role in that. Regardless, I’m sure this will do well in Japan.

Photo Credit: engadget.com

Report: Microsoft Replacing Xbox Chat with Skype for Next Console

Simon Wu:

Skype right now is the undisputed market leader in VoIP communication, and it definitely is approaching, if it hasn’t already, verbage. As in, simply saying that you will Skype someone. It’s also a program that is filled with inconsistencies across the myriad of platforms that it is on, and I hope that further fragmentation isn’t added with now. That being said, it can’t be worse than the current chat system. Ironic that now those Xbox Vision cameras that failed spectacularly at launch are most useful at the end of the 360’s lifecycle.

John Fenix:

If you think about it, one should be surprise that Microsoft would have waited until now to integrate Skype, one of the biggest VoIP programs, into the Xbox system. It should be no surprise with the push to integrate cross-platform compatibility since the introduction of Windows 8. As the article speculates, it would be more interesting to have a chat where for example, Simon might be enjoying Halo, while I am on my computer discussing discussing the recent Greg Bear Halo book with him, while Alex probably is on his Windows Phone telling us to stop bombarding the chat with our conversations (I promise you, Microsoft didn’t pay me to say that. We’re just big Halo fans). However, there are often differences in how the system is used in theoretical and practical terms. One issue will be how Skype will be integrated with one’s Xbox Live account, but perhaps having a option to integrate each, like Google has done with YouTube, allows those who want to, and allowing those who use Skype for its normal use to remain. Like always, I shall remain patient to see how the system works out. If it does, this means that my Skype list is about to get a lot more crowded.

Alex Miller:

This in no way surprises me. Microsoft has been consolidating services in the past year or two, and with the recent announcement that Messenger will be rolled into Skype, another service joining the King of VoIP seems to make sense. Skype is just too powerful a brand not to use, and with it in their fold, there really is no reason for Microsoft to be running other services. Hopefully they can make it useful and integrate well with consoles where the controller is the primary input method, but then again any change from the previous clunky system is most likely for the better.

Photo Credit: xboxgen.fr

Report: Next PlayStation features AMD GPU, x64 CPU architecture, touch controller‏

Simon Wu:

We start and end this week with potential console specs, and the great thing is that consoles are finally folding in with PC architecture. This certainly is a move to shore up the crumbling PC market and probably a tactical move by all three console manufacturers to hedge against a total chip hegemony by Intel. The touch controller is most interesting, because it looks like they are trying to input some features or conceptual ideas from the Vita and maybe try and compete a little bit on the side with the Wii U. The problem is, I don’t think it’s needed. If there’s one thing that doesn’t need a grand makeover, it’s the controller. The PS4 also looks like it will be in line with today’s standard high-end tower PC.

Alex Miller:

These reports of a touch controller do nothing for me except call to mind the truly bizarre banana/boomerang/flying V shaped controller that was reportedly going to be the PS3’s contribution to controller design. While it is very possible that they could be developing one, (and their attempts to tie the PS3 and the Vita as close together as possible through crossover and complimentary titles might even suggest they would want too) I can’t see any sort of demand for it, considering how much of a non-factor their Move system has been. I like the sound of the specs themselves, and I think the article makes a very interesting point about console makers lining up with AMD against a possible Intel domination of the chipset market, I just am just less than convinced by a potential new Sony gimmick.

Solifluktion's picture

It would be interesting to see if Skype on Xbox will have any effect on the use of VOIP in gaming.

At the moment most people use Teamspeak for gaming and Skype for private calls, but maybe once every Xbox-Owner is forced to use Skype maybe this will change.

Whiplash's picture

I agree with Solifluktion. It's interesting that they may bring Skype to the next Xbox, although it may end up replacing Party Chat. I wouldn't want to pay extra to use Skype with more than two people, that's just downright silly and a waste of money.

darthskeletor's picture

What I see is a convergence in specs and architecture not only of the PC and consoles, as Simon pointed out, but also between the two consoles themselves. The processors and frameworks seem remarkably similar, and if so, that means software will be the primary distinguishing factor. In that case, I think the Xbox wins handily.

Solifluktion's picture


Well...I think for that scenario Microsoft would consider your goldsubscription your payment for Skype Premium.

Milleniummaster18's picture


Hopefully they will.


A touch controller? Sounds like Sony wants to kill two birds with one stone: one, they satisfy their fetish of producing a needless console gimmick; and two, they try to take a scoop out of the potential customer base of the Wii U. It's an opportunity too juicy to let slide, especially back at the country from where the sun rises.

Let's see if this spices up Japan's Nintendo vs. Sony war. At best, they finish digging the Wii U's grave; at worst, they end up with another unnecessary artifact for their new console, a minor inconvenience.

Boy, do I like sectioning things into twos, eh.

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