Monday, August 28, 2006

Nintendo ready to tangle with Sony, Microsoft?

With all the attention being heaped on Sony's upcoming PS3 and Microsoft's excellent XBox 360, I still have a feeling that the biggest winner from the upcoming console wars could be Nintendo.

I don't think the Mario Company is going to topple the big two in sales, but I think it's going to create its strongest niche market yet, harkening back the days of its original console machines.

And in the hand-held market, Nintendo continues to thrive. Last week, the two millionth unique player logged onto the company's wireless gaming service. Nintendo issued a press release claiming that the population of its Wi-Fi Connection now surpasses the population of 15 U.S. states, including Montana, Nebraska and New Mexico.

In just nine months, more than 70 million game connections have een made.

Star Fox Command: One of my favorite Nintendo console games ever looks great on the handheld DS, where you play again as Fox McCloud -- leader of an elite team of space pilots.

Star Fox is now Wi-Fi enabled, so you can play up to five players over local wireless connections or take on three players around the world via Nintendo's Wi-Fi service.

But it's also cool to play the computer, using the DS touch screen to drop bombs, steer your plane and even rubbing the screen to send your craft into a barrel roll. The creativity allowed by the screen, at least in the console and handheld world, is unparalleled.

Overall, the game's cool, too (Rating: 3.5/5)

-- PNY Technologies has released three new Verto GeForce graphics cards, which are built to support the upcoming Microsoft Windows Vista. These cards will allow gamers to run the latest releases at the highest resolution settings on PCs.

"Video card buyers demand the highest quality graphics they can afford based on their PC's hardware requirements and primary applications," said Nicholas Mauro, senior marketing manager for PNY Technologies consumer graphics cards and memory. "For instance, all cards that feature Microsoft DirectX 9.0 will allow users to take their Vista operating experience to the next level. The recent additions to our Verto graphics card lineup support DirectX 9.0 and provide users with the flexibility to enjoy the latest HD gaming and video applications without sacrificing dollars for performance."

A little about each card:

• Verto GeForce 7600 GS AGP 8X – Features high-definition, home-theater quality video via an AGP platform. The card includes a 512MB frame buffer, 400 MHz core clock, 128-bit memory interface as well as a DVI-to-VGA adapter, S-Video Cable and HDTV Break-Out Pod. MSRP $199
• Verto GeForce 7600 GS PCIe – Equipped with 512MB of frame buffer memory and NVIDIA SLI ready, users will enjoy increased bandwidth and up to 2x the performance of a single GPU configuration. By allowing two graphics cards to run in parallel, SLI dramatically scales performance on today's hottest games. MSRP $199
• Verto GeForce 7300 GT PCIe – Users will enjoy home-theatre quality video with the 7300 GT's 256MB frame buffer, 350MHZ core clock, 128-bit memory interface as well as a DVI-to-VGA adapter, S-Video Cable and HDTV Break-Out Pod. MSRP $149

-- Want to take your Hi-Def movies with you? Toshiba’s new Qosmio G35-AV660 laptop can do that. It's got an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, an enhanced version of its industry-leading digital entertainment notebook PC with HD DVD-ROM drive.

The increased processing power also enhances the standard capabilities of Toshiba’s Qosmio notebook line, such as viewing live TV from a cable or satellite feed with an integrated TV tuner, recording and pausing live TV or recording future programs through a digital video recorder (DVR), managing or playing video or audio files, or multi-tasking with other applications. In addition, the Qosmio G35-AV660 incorporates two 5400 RPM serial ATA 120GB hard drives for storage of TV programs, music and other files as well as 2048MB DDR2 memory.

Bottom line? It'll blow your desktop out of the water.

-- Time Warner Cable in Charlotte has debuted "Carolina On Demand," a new on-demand channel that produces its customers free, on-demand content from News 14 Carolina on Channel 814.

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