Masthead header

Gadget Update – aka Geekfest 2006

Haven’t blogged in a while, so this is just a quick commentary on E3 2006 … the big consumer electronics show in Los Angeles.

  • PS3 has a price (US$499 for bare bones, US$599 for larger hard drive and wireless internet, both will be blu-ray high definition DVD drives) and a launch date (November 17, 2006). I’m already sharpening my ebay knives, as I’m sure there will be a product shortage heading into the holiday season. Join me in hoarding scarce product and selling to desperate parents!
  • Nintendo has abandoned the working name for their next generation video game console (Revolution), and has instead christined it “Wii“. I’m not kidding. Wiitarded? Wiidiculous? Yes. All of wii above.
  • Xbox announced that an add-on HD-DVD player will be available that will plug into a USB port on the Xbox 360. The CD drive in the 360 is just normal DVD. They also released a trailer for Halo 3, which may excite some but doesn’t do much for me.

For those not following the move towards a new DVD standard, here’s a summary: current DVD’s and DVD players look OK on High Definition TV’s, but not stellar. That’s because they only have 480 lines of resolution.

So someone has designed new DVD’s and DVD players that put out widescreen High Definition resolution. Cool, right?

Well, there’s a catch. Sony (and a big group of companies) has their flavour called blu-ray. Microsoft (and a different big group of companies) has their OWN flavour called HD-DVD. They aren’t compatible. Each group thinks theirs is better than the others, and aren’t willing to compromise.

So what does this mean? Two formats can’t co-exist peacefully. Can you imagine Blockbuster having to carry 3 different types of discs: old DVD’s, blu-ray DVD’s, and HD-DVD’s? It didn’t work for VHS and beta, it didn’t work for DVD’s and laser discs, and it won’t work again here.

Choose your side wisely … here’s an FAQ for anyone who wants to know more. I’m unlikely to snap up the HD-DVD add-on to the xbox 360 anytime soon.

May 10, 2006 - 2:31 pm

mark - While the name is certainly ridiculous, the Wii is gonna be sweet. Have you seen what the controller is capable of? Unreal.

At $599 US, the playstation can suck my ass. Actually, at that price, I would hope that it would include some sort of ass-sucking device to make the absurd price-tag worthwhile.

May 10, 2006 - 3:57 pm

Gary - I have to show my support for Sony camp since Mark is an unabashed Wii supporter and Dan has an Xbox 360. The $599 US PS3 has Blu-Ray support, 60GB of storage, Wi-Fi, and free online gaming. So that’s $200 more than a loaded Xbox but you would have to buy the external HD-DVD player and purchase their yearly Xbox Live online subscription to compare apples to apples.
I actually find quite a bit of value in that price-tag since a Blu-Ray player standalone costs $800 USD right now.

The uncertainty in the market over which High-Def format will win does suck though. if you’re an early adopter, you’re forced to choose and that’s never a good thing. Why couldn’t all the bonehead executives have put their greedy thoughts aside for 10 minutes and think about what a success DVD was BECAUSE everyone supported 1 format. This format war will put the adoption of any 1 format behind by 2 years.

P.S. I’m a Final Fantasy nerd and Square showed a trailer for FF13 at E3 exclusively for PS3. That pretty much sealed my support.

May 11, 2006 - 6:50 am

dan - I don’t think I could have justified the price tag of any of these rigs … the only way I got into next generation gaming was winning one for free. I’ll keep my eye out for a similar PS3 contest 😀

Note on pricing: in US$, xbox 360 is $299 and $399 (CAD$399 and $499), vs. $499 and $599 (CAD$549 and $699 expected). Those xbox canadian prices were set when dollar was lower, so they might come down sooner rather than later? Agreed that to compare a similarly equipped xbox 360 to the top line PS3, you’d need $399 + $99 (wireless) + $299 (minimum for a HD-DVD add-on?) = $800, and you still only have a 20GB hard drive.  I’m not convinced that Sony’s online service will be free though.  It would be a competitive advantage, but they like $ as much as the next guy …
No indication of Wii pricing, but most expect it will be lower than others, as they aren’t going with an HD drive.
One interesting tidbit I came across in my reading is that HD-DVD will be capable of dual-format. That is, when you buy a HD-DVD, it has two versions of a movie on it – the HD-DVD version, and the old DVD version. Whether they use that feature or not … dunno.

Agreed that the PS3 will be the cheapest blu-ray on the market, similarly the PS2 was one of the cheapest DVD players upon its launch in 1999. That should move a lotta units.

I thought I heard that FF had an exclusive title going to Wii too?

What little $ I will be spending on 360 games and accessories will be going either to Oblivion, or wait for Gears of War in the fall. Don’t expect to hear from me much for a few months after …

May 11, 2006 - 8:35 am

Gary - I watched the Sony press conference and the Pres. very clearly said that their online service will be free. It will be an online centre where you can game, chat, rank, etc.

Regarding the Dual Format disks, I don’t see a big plus for that. I mean, when you have an HD player and TV and perhaps a non-HD setup in a bedroom or something, how many times will you want to watch that movie or TV show in crap-ass quality when you could easily watch it on the good system?

Whoever wins that format war will be the better marketer’s. Specs and features won’t matter, just like Beta v. VHS.

May 11, 2006 - 12:44 pm

mark - I’m actually still not convinced about the Wii. The controller is technically amazing, but I’m not sure that people want to get that physically involved in games (if you’re playing a baseball game for example, you’d swing the controller to get your player to swing rather than just pressing a button). It’s pretty amazing that they can do that, but I’m not sure of the appeal. I think it’s a pretty big risk.

Also, they haven’t mentioned a new Mario Kart for the Wii yet, and I definitely won’t buy one until they release that game.

I’ve heard rumours that the Wii will retail for well under $300, but that’s just rumours.

May 11, 2006 - 12:57 pm

Jen - you guys are nerds.



May 11, 2006 - 1:25 pm

dan - I concur with Jen. Blog post renamed to accurately reflect what’s going on here.

May 12, 2006 - 7:56 am

shelly - I wonder if when Gary says he ‘supports’ Sony, does that mean ‘intend to buy’? just curious…

Michelle Can’t-Believe-I-Married-Such-A-Nerd Nichols

May 12, 2006 - 11:40 am

Gary - “Support” can be loosely translated as: Intend to purchase when economically feasible.

I also intend to purchase 2 or 3 other systems that I intend to sell on Ebay for $1000 USD a pop at Christmas. So I guess I could say that I support Dan’s system of taking advantage of rich parents.

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *



To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image