I finally bought a VGA box for my Dreamcast this weekend and now I'm finding it impossible to understand why the Xbox, Gamecube and PS2 won't have this capability. Output of Dreamcast through a 19 inch VGA monitor is absolutely STUNNING. Soul Calibur has taken on an even more amazing look. I needed a bucket for the drool. Jet Grind Radio was similarly fascinating.
If you've never seen a console through a monitor like this, you really have no idea how great this innovation is. Yet again it's another thing Sega did that no one else will follow the lead on. So we're going to be left with three consoles with no internet play, no VGA and no VMUs. *sigh*
By TomChick on Monday, April 23, 2001 - 10:55 am:
Yeah, I saw the VGA hook up at a buddy's house. Sharp. Sweet. I'm afraid to get one myself because I don't want to love my Dreamcast any more than I already do.
Everyone say it with me:
By Lee Johnson (Lee_johnson) on Monday, April 23, 2001 - 12:20 pm:
Dave, I think I read somewhere that the Game Boy Advance will be usable as a controller for the Game Cube--though this is a lot of dosh to fork over to get a screen.
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Monday, April 23, 2001 - 12:31 pm:
I agree with the axing of VMUs... I like the memory card in the controller thing, but that screen is just not very useful. I want to look at the game, not my controller. sure, there are a few limited uses, but not enough to justify the price.
As for the VGA box--I agree it looks stunning. But get three of your friends on a couch in front of your 19" monitor. It's just not the same. Most people just don't play console games in a desk chair 3' from the screen. They want to be 8' from the screen (or more, which is why controller cords are too short) on their living room furniture.
There are geeks like us who don't mind hooking the 'ol DC up to the computer monitor and sitting in front of it as you would your PC. But I think we're the 1%ers in that regard.
It shore do look pretty, though.
BTW--Xbox will apparently have the ability to do a similar VGA-connector thing. I don't know if they're planning one, but the video connector supposedly supports it.
Consoles with no online play? I happen to think the Xbox route of "build in ethernet" is the Right Idea for a console launching this year. Given the lifespan of a console, anyways. Oh, and Nintendo almost definitely has some online plans for Gamecube. It'll take 'em all a year, but it took the DC that long, too.
By Dave Long on Monday, April 23, 2001 - 02:34 pm:
Well, as you know Jason, I really like the VMU. I don't think anyone had time to fully exploit the device. But what was done with it I fully appreciated. Football games won't be the same without it.
Lee, Gameboy Advance doesn't interest me too much, but I like what they're trying to do there. One thing I've read lately is that Nintendo is backing away from too much usage between the two at first because they don't want people thinking they "need" both Gamecube and the GBA to enjoy the Gamecube. There's some interesting potential there though for sure.
I think there might be a few more VGA boxes out there than you think Jason, but I don't disagree with your point. Still, I'd like all the consoles to have the capability. I'm going to get more time with my DC now thanks to its removal from the TV space because my wife monopolizes that screen most nights.
Online is the big joke of this console generation. I live in a very urban area. I can't get any form of high-speed Internet, period. With the downturn in Internet fortunes, I'll bet you real money that online functions in all the consoles (except what Dreamcast has already done) will be a bust. Verizon isn't going to offer me DSL anytime soon and Comcast will be lucky to put me on cable within a year.
There just aren't going to be enough people with broadband for it to work with these consoles. They should have had a choice of modem or ethernet or just bagged it altogether instead of getting everyone's hopes up. Here Sony may succeed because they didn't put anything in their box. At least Sega has delivered on the promise of online gaming. These other guys talk a good game, but playing is another thing entirely.
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Monday, April 23, 2001 - 10:58 pm:
I bet they've sold through maybe a hundred thousand VGA boxes, total. Maybe 200k. Against, what, 7 million Dreamcasts? Many of them, like mine, are collecting dust because after the beauty of the monitor wore off, I decided it's more fun to spend 4 hours playing PSO on my futon than in my computer chair. =)
We'll just have to agree to disagree on the broadband thing. Having a choice just screws developers--they have to develop every game for dialup anyway. So broadband offers you better ping...so what? When you can COUNT on the ping and data rate of DSL/cable, you can do cooler online stuff.
Mark my words, in four years, when Xbox is 3.5 years old (3 years in Europe), there will be 100 million broadband subscribers in the US, Japan, and Europe. And half of them will have consoles. That gives a developer a 50% possible penetration for an online game.
Sony did the worst possible thing--they made the promise of online AND the usefulness of a hard drive only available to those who upgrade. Developers are gonna have shitty market penetration.
I wanna see what the online plans are. What if, say, Microsoft starting offering DSL service in your area as part of their whole Xbox online scheme? How does that change your picture?
There are, and will continue to be, more broadband users than VGA box users. =) But you're lamenting the lack of that on other consoles. I think it's just because of what you happen to personally have available. =)
By mtkafka (Mtkafka) on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 04:06 am:
Four years and 100 million broadband subscribers... i think thats stretching it. No doubt more ppl are subscribing to Cable modem but last i heard AOL STILL has 20 million subscribers. And when i last worked at a cable modem company (late 2000)the numbers for AT&T's HSD subs was arnd 750k in the US. so to jump from close to 1 million to 100 million in 4 years is a BIG jump...even including worldwide thats still a very big number...i doubt we even have that many internet subscribers as of now.
I will get Xbox prolly, but it wont be because of online capablitiy, though i think they made a mistake by not including any dial up connection. imagine they could have made some money by getting ppl to subscribe to MSN from Xbox...
By Robert Mayer on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 09:38 am:
Microsoft can't offer DSL in anyone's neighborhood. The limit to DSL and cable connections isn't providers it's physical cables. There just aren't enough fiber lines out there.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 09:44 am:
And switches. At least in our area, you have to be less than 3.5 miles from a switch, and there's only one in my town. It's a small town, but large enough that one swtich doesn't put everyone within 3.5 miles. Alas, no DSL for me. And they do cost a little over a million dollars to install, so they won't be doing that any time soon.
By Supertanker on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 11:36 am:
One of my primary job functions is dealing with applications to install telecom facilities in the streets in a number of southern California cities. I don't see a lot of motivation on the part of the phone companies to build more DSL. All of their direct DSL competitors are dying off, and the equipment is very expensive, so progress will be made at their own rate. SBC (mother company to a few baby bells) is slogging away at Project Pronto, but they look like snails next to the cable companies.
The cable companies are your best hope for broadband anytime soon. There were many, many cable franchises entered in the wake of the 1984 Cable Act, and most of them had 15 year terms. Those are coming up for renewal, and the companies are building new systems as part of that (if they haven't already).
By Robert Mayer on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 12:14 pm:
Yeah, the latest Wired has an article on how the telcos have zero incentive to push DSL; they're waiting for their competition to die off . Cable is my best bet too, but Adelphia won't lay the fiber and get digital service to my neck of the woods until spring/summer 2002 at earliest.
By Dave Long on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 01:25 pm:
The incentive just isn't there for DSL. There's too much work to be done to get everyone wired. Cable companies are our best bet because not only do they gain the ability to offer internet access with an upgrade, they get the added benefits of offering other services and more channel packages for bigger payoffs from Joe Average. It makes sense for them to lay new lines, but for DSL, where's the incentive?
I'm praying that the recent trade of my cable system to Comcast from AT&T results in quick cable internet. AT&T/Time Warner had the lines in place over a year ago now and has yet to act on the Internet side.
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 03:11 pm:
Bob--it has nothing to do with fiber, it's switches. DSL runs over POTS as long as you're within range. Anyone who has cable has the wiring for cable modem service as long as the company updates their switches.
Right NOW there are over 7 million DSL and cable modem subscribers in the US alone (stats are through end of 2000). The estimates are between 20 and 30 million by the end of this year, and a bigger growth curve next year. According to Neilson/NetRatings, there were 11.7 million high-speed internet subscribers as of December 2000 (but they include ISDN).
I think this report:
Is rather conservative at best. It's off by a million on the Year2000 stats, and their DSL and cable rollout estimates for this year are a lot lower than what most are predicting.
Fixed Wireless is beta testing in some areas now, and it looks very promising. All you need is line of sight to a tower and you get slightly better than DSL speed. Great for rural areas, where a company can canvas an area by plunking down a tower--there's no "infrastructure" to build up for a small number of homes.
The real key is Asia and Europe, where rolling out these services is a lot easier on a per-capita basis. If NTT starts selling DSL is Japan, all of a sudden 60 million people are within coverage range in half a year. They can wire 40 million people in three or four cities alone (which they've been working on for some time now).
By 2005 there is expected to be more broadband users than dialup users. How long before that do you think the majority of the video-game-playing public is going to switch? I'm guessing it'll be a super viable thing to offer a broadband-required game for a console system during the 3rd year of Xbox's life.
If content pushes the adoption of technology, then both Sony and Microsoft have plans for game consoles to sell in the tens of millions that will require broadband for premium services.
I'm not saying it's going to be here upon launch, or in the first year. I'm saying it's going to be here just when the consoles get to be really Mass Market--30 months from now.
By Robert Mayer on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 09:58 am:
Um, if it has nothing to do with fiber, how come every cable modem operator says exactly the same thing: the hold up to getting cable into more homes is the lack of fiber optic lines. Copper cannot handle the load, period--this at least is what every cable company I've ever talked to has told me. You generally cannot get cable modem service without digital cable, at least not from Adelphia, and to get digital cable you have to have fiber--or so they say.
I suppose it's technically possible to run cable modems over non-fiber cables, but cable companies simply won't do it it seems, leaving us with the same problem: no fiber, no cable modem.
By Dave Long on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 11:22 am:
I think Bob is right Jason. My cable system was redone with fiber recently and that's why the buyout by Comcast should allow me to get a cable modem within a year. They now have to set up the ISP.
But I'm no expert on this. I just know what I see and Reading is a pretty damn big city with very little high-speed internet coverage. There as an article in my paper on Sunday about two local wireless providers. But these guys Bluetruck.net want like $1000 for the equipment and setup up front. "Like hell" I say! Broadband on consoles is wishful thinking in this generation IMO. Nintendo has a modem and a broadband adapter for the Gamecube. They're more likely to get my dough for a myriad of reasons and that's one of them.
By Supertanker on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 12:05 pm:
It is possible to do cable modems without fiber, but systems like that are what brought about all of the stories about slow cable data speeds. I know of one system that used the cable for downstream speed of about 128kbps, and then had a separate phone line for upstream. Pretty weak.
The systems that they build now are referred to as hybrid systems, using fiber from the headend to the node (each node having between 125 and 500 homes, depending on your system), and co-axial cable from the node to the home. Nobody is building all-fiber yet, and there isn't even an accepted protocol for its deployment, so don't get your hopes up about that. Each node usually has about 27 megabit/second signal capacity, split amongst all users on the node. That can be increased quite easily, and the companies do add capacity now as needed. For instance, I was a "truck chaser" when they deployed cable modems here, and I've never seen my service drop below 2Mbs despite large increases in modem subscriptions.
Adelphia is lying to you about the need for digital cable for cable modem service. I have a cable modem through Time Warner, and I don't even have a cable box, much less digital service. You do need fiber for digital cable service, though. The scuttlebutt amongst us city cable types is that Adelphia is bucking for Falcon's old crown of "Crappiest Cable Franchisee." Adelphia bought up a lot of old systems, and has billions in upgrades ahead of them. They will probably still beat the phone companies to the broadband punch, though.
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 12:23 pm:
Supertanker's got it-- most of what cable operators are waiting for is to upgrade all the switches in your local exchange to handle two-way traffic, and for good cable modem service you need fiber up to that point. Fiber isn't getting laid down to people's homes or anything like that, though, and even in rural areas most cable systems built or upgraded in the last 10-15 years have fiber that far already.
You gotta watch what the cable operators will tell you over the phone, though. They don't know SHIT--they're just there to give you the rates and take your order and schedule service. They're told to give a certain explanation to everyone who asks, and that can vary from "we don't have enough modems" to "we don't have enough fiber optic lines."
Adelphia does indeed suck. Vermont filed a $5.2 million lawsuit against Adelphia for quality of service problems awhile back. Of course, Adelphia somehow managed to talk Vermont into letting them keep their service contract by saying that was all over with and they're going to spend all this money wiring the whole state for cable modems and all that crap.
But it's either them or Verizon DSL for me, and given that I'm no fan of Verizon either and cable's faster (plus they offered it first), I'll take my cable modem.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 01:14 pm:
But it's either them or Verizon DSL for me, and given that I'm no fan of Verizon either and cable's faster (plus they offered it first), I'll take my cable modem.
Yes that's true, the bandwidth is shared by the number of people on your line... if it gets to be more than 100 or so, they typically split off another channel to keep the users down. DSL is not shared bandwidth, you get it all to yourself.
Which sounds like a better deal. Excpect that, shared and all, most cable subscribers get more throughput than the fixed DSL rate. I get like 400KB/s all day long on my cable modem. Of course, no site on the 'net is uncongested enough to deliver that to me...
By Jason_cross (Jason_cross) on Thursday, April 26, 2001 - 06:05 pm:
er... that should say "EXCEPT that."
By Xaroc on Friday, April 27, 2001 - 02:30 pm:
Here is my take on DSL vs. Cable having had both and read a lot about it.
DSL is more reliable, I had 2 seperate DSL providers over almost 2 years and the line went down 1 time for a few hours. I have had Cable modem for roughly a month and have had one 4 hour outtage and one 24 hour(!) outtage.
Cable is typically cheaper. Was paying $70-100/month for 768k/768k DSL now paying $40/month for @home which is about 5MB/600-700k. Setup fees for the DSL were about $500 for the last one (it was business class). For cable it was free (self-installed, otherwise $100-200). I have seen DSL installs around $200-300 other places.
Cable is potentially faster. It is fairly new in my area and I have hit 5 MB download speeds during the day with few people on. Typically I get from 1.3 to 3 MB. DSL would hit .92 MB download speed.
Cable has one dynamic IP, DSL has one or more static IPS (I had 6 with the service I had before). In fairness I have had the same IP with the Cable the entire time so it is fairly static and my router should renew it forever.
Ping times are similar. I have hit as low as in the 20s with the Cable modem. As low as 30s with DSL. You can't tell the difference. I had my rate set at 25000 for CS on both with no problems.
From what I have heard @home is great when you first get it and when mine is working I would agree. I have also heard that @home is prone to oversubscribing their service and that they eventually will cap your uploads to 128k (go read www.dslreports.com for more evidence of this). Also, eventually your pings can go to hell and you won't hit anywhere near the upper download speed during peak hours.
My advice is if you can get only cable get cable. But if you can get at least 384/384 DSL you are probably better off in the long run with DSL. Of course since the cost of entry is low with cable (if you self install) and at least with mine it is month to month service it can't hurt to give cable a try and see if you like it.
The cable dropping out for extended periods of time has really ticked me off. I will probably start looking for a 3rd DSL provider soon. Northpoint went under which is why I have cable right now.
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Friday, April 27, 2001 - 03:15 pm:
Wow. Around here, people who can get DSL can get it for $40/month, but I don't know if that's 384/384 or 768/768, or what. Cable is roughly the same price, and few people have it around here, so I doubt that ping times would suffer much, for awhile. Install is pretty cheap for both. (I know it's $20 for cable if you rent the modem, free if you buy it. Cable is also $10/month cheaper if you buy your modem.)
So, that's cost around here. Pretty reasonable, really, and since I can't get DSL, I'll be getting cable as soon as I can talk the wife into it! We've discussed it, and here in about a month or so, we'll probably be getting it.
By Lando on Friday, April 27, 2001 - 03:21 pm:
Yeah, what Murph said. I have basic DSL, costs me $40 a month and it's 1/128 -- I have no complaints, especially since Comcast doesn't offer Cable yet in my area.
By Xaroc on Friday, April 27, 2001 - 08:05 pm:
That is another issue with DSL it is all over the map on how much it costs. My business class line was sweet though, it used a router rather than a bridge and had all of those static IPs (helpful with 5 computers in the house). At $70 it was a steal for a business class line.
I could probably get DSL cheap via Hellizon (like $40-50 and free install) but I don't like them and don't trust them to not oversubscribe their network (I had a 400 ping I$DN through them about 4 years ago).
I will probably go with Speakeasy if I get back into DSL, they have a lot of restrictions but I hear they have solid lines. $225 self install kit plus 80-90 a month for 1.5/384 RADSL. More than I pay now but I would bet it will never go down for 24 hours either. :)