Technoholics beware--New video game consoles due soon

So I’m sitting at my desk, building some beautiful Coastal Point pages for our gargantuan Memorial Day weekend issue, when our beloved editor, Darin, asked me if I’d heard about the new Sony PlayStation 3 console that had been announced at the E3 video game conference held last week.

I was naturally intrigued with the news and immediately started searching for any tech specs I could find on the new console. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not one, not two, but three new video game consoles are due, most likely in the next year or so. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all plan to release the most powerful gaming consoles ever.

Nintendo Revolution

Nintendo will release the Revolution, which will pack two to three times the gaming power into its small (about the size of three DVD cases stacked) footprint. Nintendo hasn’t released much information about the console, except that it will have 512MB of onboard flash memory, be backwards compatible with other Nintendo console games, and include the ability to download game titles from previous systems to the Revolution. Many speculate that Nintendo may incorporate the DS portable game system into the console’s functionality, perhaps by allowing a DS to act as a wireless controller and displaying miscellaneous information on its two screens, like game maps or something along those lines. The system will use a blue laser technology for it’s games. So it should be compatible with HD-DVD and/or Blu-ra, which is a leg up on Xbox 360. It’ll be interesting to see exactly what final specifications Nintendo will release, to see exactly what kind of player the Revolution will be in the battle of the consoles.

Microsoft Xbox 360

Microsoft should be the first to release its next generation console. Microsoft announced the Xbox 360 during an MTV special before E3 began on May 12. The Xbox 360 spec sheet is awesome. There are three symmetrical cores for multi-tasking, each running at 3.2 Ghz, an ATI graphics processor and 512 MB of 700 Mhz GDDR3 RAM to support the 16:9, 720p and 1080i screen resolutions. With a theoretical overall system floating-point performance rating of 1 teraflop, this machine will scream. The 360 will include a detachable and upgradeable 20GB hard drive, a 12x dual-layer DVD-ROM and a Memory Unit support starting at 64MB. The controllers will be wireless, with support for up to four controllers and will include three USB 2.0 ports and two memory unit slots. The 360 will include ethernet and will also be Wi-Fi ready, supporting 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g wireless networks. Digital media support will include DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, WMA CD, MP3 CD and JPEG Photo CD. You will also be able to stream media from portable music devices, digital cameras and Windows XP computers.

Sony PlayStation 3

Sony Computer Entertainment, the leading console manufacturer, in my humble opinion, has announced the most impressive of the three upcoming consoles. Within it’s enclosure, it houses Cell. Cell is a new PowerPC-based architecture that has a 3.2 Ghz core, which acts as a brain, and seven (really eight, but one is for redundancy, so it actually isn’t used) synergistic processing units, each running at 3.2 Ghz. This architecture will allow the processor part of the PS3 to process much more than game instruction, up to and including graphics, sound and more. The PS3 will include an NVIDIA graphics card, the RSX running at 550 Mhz. The graphics processing unit will reach a theoretical 1.8 teraflops, almost twice the estimated overall system floating-point performance rating of the Xbox 360. PS3 will use a blue laser technology for it’s storage, much like Nintendo’s Revolution, but will support Blu-ray discs instead of HD-DVD. All Playstation games from Playstation 1 and 2 will be fully backward compatible with PS3. Other disc formats it will support include CD-DA, SACD, DualDisc, DVD-ROM, DVD-Video and BD-Video.

The PS3 controllers will use Bluetooth wireless 2.0 EDR with a range up to about 30 feet, and support up to 7 wireless controllers. Those of you with a PSP portable game system will also be able to use it as a controller via built-in WiFi supporting 80.11b and g. It will also include a detachable 2.5” hard drive slot (the same size as laptop hard drives), four front USB 2.0 ports, two rear USB 2.0 ports, a Memory Stick slot, a SD card slot and a CompactFlash card slot.

One of the more impressive features of the PS3 is the fact is supports up to two HDTV’s. And to top it off it supports 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p. Although 1080p is not commonly used yet, it offers the best resolution in HDTV, because it’s progressive instead of interlaced.

There is so much that will be offered by the next generation gaming systems, I can hardly compare them in one column. But I assure you that they will be quite impressive, offering more action, more reality and certainly more fun-ctionality.