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In Search of the Digital Uberdevice

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the it-could-happen dept.

Games 176

Decaffeinated Jedi writes "News.com offers up an in-depth three-part article discussing the game industry's race to develop an all-in-one digital 'uberdevice' to combine gaming, television, computing, and other consumer technologies in a single box. The article looks at the past, present, and future of such trends, arguing that these developments in the world of home gaming consoles 'could have multibillion-dollar consequences for industries as diverse as computing, consumer electronics, entertainment and communications, while redefining household entertainment.' Of course, the article also concludes by noting the fact that consumers have thus far shown relatively little interest in adopting such all-in-one convergence boxes. Could constantly improving technology, the ongoing exodus of young males from primetime television, and a revitalized marketing push turn the tide, or is the search for an 'uberdevice' just hype?"

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I have a greased up uberdevice up my ass... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717050)


As well as a first post! (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717082)

You did it! Way to go!

Earth's magnetic field is weakening (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717262)

Help, this [cnn.com] scares me!

Re:Earth's magnetic field is weakening (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717656)

And in only 1500 to 2000 years it could vanish completely. There wouldn't be a right way up for globes to go! Why aren't we hearing more about this? Why is it being covered up (other than on CNN.com)?

My uberdevice is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717053)

My computer. It's a computer, I can watch TV and movies on it, and I can play games on it. I can also use it to access the internet, and accomplish a variety of other things.

Re:My uberdevice is... (2, Insightful)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717083)

and how many people can do this at once.

In my home office, I have a TV, I have a computer.. while I watch tv, the wife does email or Diablo..
while I slashdot, she watches Friends.. -- how many UBERdevices would I require?

the only way this works is one uberdevice per person.

Re:My uberdevice is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717114)

Well, two people can do everything but use the computer part of it. You can have two people watch TV/movies, or even two people play games.

I imagine.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717069)

you could make a Beowulf cluster of these.

Uberdevice? (3, Funny)

bluedust (731676) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717071)

As long as its not a $3000 scooter...

GB-Uber (1)

t0ny (590331) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717695)

The perfect uber device would be a PDA, Cell Phone, GBA, and radio.

Then geeks around the world could actually rejoin the rest of humanity, and not have to walk around like Batman with his utility belt!

And then what? (5, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717075)

So they make a digital uberdevice that does everything. Then what do they sell next xmas?

Re:And then what? (5, Funny)

TedCheshireAcad (311748) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717127)


Re:And then what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717161)

Get with the present of the present: dancing-tickle-me-uberdevice.

Re:And then what? (1)

wud (709053) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717152)

So they make a digital uberdevice that does everything. Then what do they sell next xmas?

the same thing but they add 10,000 to the title

Re:And then what? (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717174)

They sell you the same device, but with one of the components upgraded. Of course, you pay to replace the whole thing.

Re:And then what? (2)

Eccles (932) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717477)

They sell you the same device, but with one of the components upgraded.

Exactly. The problem with any device of this type now is that tecnology is such a moving target. HDTVs are getting better each year. The PS2 is meaningfully better than the Playstation. PDAs keep adding features.

But... if I could buy an 80" LCD display capable of 1920x1080, I'd probably never want for a better display. (And Samsung has demoed a 54" display that does just that.) Games on the PS2, Gamecube, and XBox don't look dramatically different from each other in visual quality, so perhaps video games are only a couple of generations from plateauing. The largest hard drives available can store about as much music as I've ever heard, and a substantial number of movies. The various audio encodings are nigh-indistinguishable.

I wouldn't want a convergence device now, but in five years, I may want several PVR/video game/computer/movie player/audio player devices. And I may want a PDA/GPS/MP3 player/computer-in-a-pinch sooner than that.

Re:And then what? (2, Interesting)

motardo (74082) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717794)

an 80" LCD running at that resolution would look like complete ass, where I work, we have 42" widescreen LCD's running at 1024x768

Re:And then what? (3, Insightful)

EvilSporkMan (648878) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717817)

Hmm...I think that a top-of-the-line computer from a year or three ago, a portable music device, and a current video game console would give a better price/functionality ratio than any convergence device, since I prefer console gaming, I know about emulation, and I ph33r corporate lockdown of my computer. Also, I find that video game consoles tend to be MUCH cheaper than the necessary extra expenditure to get a computer capable of equivalent gaming

Re:And then what? (0)

tds67 (670584) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717345)

So they make a digital uberdevice that does everything. Then what do they sell next xmas?

The new-and-improved uberdevice, of course!

HEY, AMERICA! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717081)

Why all the fuss over Saddam? You've done nothing about these [bbc.co.uk] other [hasanpix.com] dictators [netfirms.com] .

Same as always (1)

carcosa30 (235579) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717086)

it's interesting how the computer industry has always been driven in large part by games and game companies. Atari started out as a game company. I often wonder what is going to happen with PCs, whether the market for them is going to deteriorate as consoles become more prevalent. Are there going to be "consoles for the office," ie boxes specifically designed for doing a few things and incapable of anything else?

Big changes ahead.

give it a rest (4, Insightful)

TedCheshireAcad (311748) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717087)

Will they knock it off already?

A cell phone is a cell phone.
A PDA is a PDA.
A laptop is a laptop.
A music player is a music player.

Only large, bulky, overpriced devices come out of attempts to breed any of the above.

Re:give it a rest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717176)

Hey, my laptop is also my music player and it's not-- oh wait.

Re:give it a rest (before it's too late) (1)

soluzar22 (219097) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717199)

Yep. I like my separate, individual devices. Occasionally they get features added to them which fall outside of their primary remit. Case in point: some of my games consoles play movies. My mom's camera plays MP3 files (FFS!). I'm threatened by these moves. It tends to give my view of the device in question a slight turn for the worse. It probly won't stop me buying the device, if it's the only one that does what I need from it, but if there's a choice of two, I'll pick the 'hi-fi components' approach rather than the all in one 'uber-device' any day of the week, and twice on a Sunday.

Techies! Propellerheads! Geeks of all descriptions! Do you feel like someone is waging war on your way of life. Because I sometimes do! And I feel like we are loosing. Talk to me. Let me know I'm not alone in these views. I want to hear a friendly voice. Convergence, MS .NET services. Things like these scare me. Not as much as the DMCA scares me though. This move towards Uber-devices is to me, just one more symptom of the same disease. Speak to me. Tell me I'm not crazy. I know there are those who call me a crank, and think my posts are just so much alarmist nonsense, but isn't there a chance I'm right?


Re:give it a rest (before it's too late) (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717535)

I agree entirely. A better way forward, looking at what works at present and ideas that have stood the test of time, is a combination of two things:

  • individual components that do one job well
  • a simple, flexible architecture to connect them up.

What amazes me is that none of the big cross-media types (Sony and their like) has yet developed a central "hub" technology, and standard interfaces to connect the various components that form part of any home entertainment or computer system today. The precedents are all there: using a PC or console as a central control system, connecting up your satellite/TV/video with SCART, and so on. Surely the money will be rolling in for whoever corners the market in connectivity technology for modular home entertainment/computer systems...

Re:give it a rest (2, Interesting)

spirality (188417) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717274)

No way.

I've been waiting for a game system like the game boy advance, wifi enabled, cell phone, PDA, web browser, music player for many years now. Of course it has to easily fit in my front pocket....

On the home side I still think you need a good stero, optical in with bose like speakers. Another machine that could decode the satalite signal, have DVR capabilities, play CDs/DVSs, link up to my computer (WebDAV?) to access my (entirely legal) mp3 collection and videos would be nice. That machine must also be able to turn my TV into a web browser thingy and stream media off the net. It should also be made by Nintendo or Sony and function as a game console as well, but that might be asking too much. Other than that all you need is a TV or a projector. (maybe a VCR for old-time sake :).

The nice thing about having many specialized components though is that it is cheaper to ugrade any one of them. The uber-device would quickly go out of date and would probably be very expensive.

I suspect my current DVD player (my Play Station II) will last until PS III comes out, but when I upgrade it my satalitte receiver/DVR will continue to work regardless.

It would be nice however if all of these specialized components could interface with each other in meaningful ways, maybe via bluetooth.


Hype? (1)

linuxislandsucks (461335) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717088)

its hype..peop do not wnat ot be told wha tultimate4 devie they must have they want to pick and choose not MS..

You will insted see a set box hub that allows all devices to plugin wirelessly to what come sdown and up from the cable/dtv internet pipe..

But we have a long way to go for the infrastructure to be in place for developers so tha tits as easy to develop for as the J2ME mobiole device market now is..

But then again I am just a small devloepr setting up my startUp in Jan 2004 as a LLC..:)

Re:Hype? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717437)

I find your ideas interesting: "peop do not wnat ot be told wha tultimate4 devie" is wonderful, and "developers so tha tits as easy" is just so sexy.

I'm hoping english is not your first language, which would explain some of the problems with spelling and sentance structure here, but for God's sake at least check for typos, especially when your post is only a few sentances long.

Re:Hype? (2, Funny)

Shai-kun (728212) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717625)

I hope this Uberdevice will at least have a good spell and grammar checker.

MythTV (4, Interesting)

superid (46543) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717091)

I have a VERY short attention span ("that dog has a puffy tail! c'mere puff!!" [Homer]) but right now I'm focused completely on MythTV [mythtv.org] I'm actually in the middle of installing and tweaking it right now, it mostly runs now. If I get it working seamlessly (meaning that it passes The Wife Test (tm)) then it will be the uberdevice in my house. Onscreen news and local weather Stream MP3s Play/Rip/Burn DVDs Timeshift TV and skip commercials Yes, quite uber.

Re:MythTV (2, Interesting)

The Cydonian (603441) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717372)

All you need to do is to port it to Xbox, make some cool case mods and presto, the uberest boxen in all of geekdom!

ummm (1)

cofbaron (576294) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717098)

CD-I lol
3DO lol
Xbox huge lol
Phantom what lol

Jack of all trades...master of none. (5, Insightful)

AlphaDecay (150156) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717100)

Considering 99% of the time that such convergence devices have lower quality components - I'll never go as far to just purchase the device, I'll still buy individual components that I need.

For example, the XBox/PS2 can play DVDs, without progressive scan etc. and often are more finicky in general DVD playback.

The XBox can also do jukebox type activities... Sans playlists, song ratings, multiple file formats and ID3 tag sorting.

The multifunction device might work for the unwashed non-technical masses, but I'd like to have all of those features and more in my entertainment system.


Re:Jack of all trades...master of none. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717310)

but then again considereing that the ability for xbox to play dvd's doesn't really need anything extra(beyond software) to the device.. so it's perfectly reasonable for it to play dvd's.

would you buy intentionally cripled devices? well, people do(xbox for example), but i don't like it.

however, adding a dvdplayer to a tv costs(ok, in a 1000$ tv it might not be that much extra even to add a 40-50$ dvdplayer) and the dvdplayer is probable to break earlier too than rest of the tv.

Re:Jack of all trades...master of none. (1)

MacFury (659201) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717385)

The multifunction device might work for the unwashed non-technical masses, but I'd like to have all of those features and more in my entertainment system.

and that is the point. It isn't designed for you, it's designed for Grandma who holds the mouse upside down.

I agree that all in ones are almost always a bad idea, with few exceptions. (I love my iMac and Zire71)

Re:Jack of all trades...master of none. (1)

hitlerstolemypotato (701685) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717489)

The multifunction device might work for the unwashed non-technical masses, but I'd like to have all of those features and more in my entertainment system.

I agree, but I also like having both. One of my PCs has an All-In-Wonder Radeon card and a DVD-ROM, so if I want, I have the ability to watch a DVD in one screen, keep the TV muted in another, and surf the internet, all at once. I have a CD/MP3/WMA/AM-FM radio player that also has a few games installed on it. OTOH, I also have a TV, a regular DVD player, a stereo, a radio, an MP3 player, and several gaming consoles. These all perform far better than the "uberdevices" listed above. But for long bus rides, or days when I just don't feel like leaving my room unless it's absolutely necessary, it's a lot easier to have one device that does a lot, even if I lose a little in quality.

Microsoft Tried An Uberdevice (1)

the_pointman (143482) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717105)

The XBox by Microsoft is the most notable of all attempts to make computers main stream, and hidden in a cute box. This attempt however was rushed by the demanding console market, and it had to be put out to avoid losing more ground.

I think that the XBox is a great system for it's time, and it's capabilities where only realized after it became modified.

and they called it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717106)

Golem [appstate.edu]

New box (2, Funny)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717110)

the game industry's race to develop an all-in-one digital 'uberdevice' to combine gaming, television, computing, and other consumer technologies in a single box.

But, what will I do with my computer, my TV, my GameBoy, my iPod, my /.Sig, my...?

So Basically (3, Informative)

Hal The Computer (674045) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717121)

Basically, they take a computer and add a decent video card that lets you hook up a TV cable.
Bam, TV, computer, and games(computer).
So where are my "multibillion-dollar consequences"?

Intel Digital Briefcase (3, Interesting)

swordboy (472941) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717137)

Intel has been plugging their "Digital Briefcase" initiative recently. Basically, they want to create a PDA/phone/blender type device with copius amounts of storage. The idea is to allow "Digital Briefcase" compliant PCs to automagically recognize the device via 802.11 (and/or Bluetooth) and subsequently allow a user to log into that PC as if it were their own - all settings, configuration, eye candy, etc are configured on-the-fly. The device would also hold a replica of the user's data (documents, MP3s, everything).

This seems like panacea and one might ask how Intel would cram such capability into such a small device. See my sig for more on that...

Re:Intel Digital Briefcase (1)

soapbox (695743) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717672)

There have been some rumors about Apple doing much the same thing with the iPods, allowing users to bring a home directory along and log into a given Mac from their own home directory. Very neat. And I think it represents a bridge between the two uberdevice needs we face: first, convergence of the belt-clip devices, and second, convergence of the home computing and media devices.

As noted below, the Treo 600 is the closest thing I've seen to an all-in-one device that I would use, though I wouldn't read ebooks or tech refs on that screen. I'd prefer a larger device with bluetooth headset instead of requiring actual 'phone' form factor. As for home, I think there's still a difference in the mind of the consumer; I'd look to students for evidence of true convergence; they have the tightest space constraints, and are more likely to pursue a TV-tuner/LCD monitor/media PC option.

Well of course its hype and here is why... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717148)

...There is simply more money to extract from stupid dumbass consumers in upgrading many devices rather than just one. But baiting with such plans intended to never be reached leads to better spoon feeding little pieces of convergence hype to the dumbass consumers to get them to feel good about being copper top.

All in one is bad (4, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717149)

Why would I want an all in one device? So when my video game console breaks, I can't watch cable or listen to music either? So that if I decide to take my gamecube over to a friend's house for a LAN game, my roommate can't watch a movie because I had to also take the DVD player?

Or maybe every time I want to listen to mp3's, I feel like dealing with an interface complicated enough to do not only that, but also record tv, download games, and make me a tuna fish sandwich.

It'll be great! Sony will come out with the playstation 6, but instead of just going out and buying a new console, I have to also pay for a new DVD player, DVR, and microwave, because it all comes together.

Yeah, let's just bundle everything together. We all know how well that works in the software world.

I hate uber devices (4, Informative)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717156)

Having worked in repair shops, I dislike all in one units.

for example, with a TV/VCR or DVD combo, if the player goes, you also lose use of the TV if you get it fixed

Also, many all in one units employ certain engineering design choices that make them much cheaper to manufacture, and much harder to repair in general, precisely due to the feed back loops between the devices. You see this especially on the cube shaped audio units, but I don't think it changes much for TV units.

even with a hi-end name on them, I can't help but think of them as junque.

I would rather have a HDTV unit with a svga plug on it, vs a combo unit.

One size does NOT fit all. (5, Insightful)

Agent Green (231202) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717158)

Here's what I've got at home:

* Sony Playstation 2
* Hugues DirecTivo receiver (w/ two inputs, of course)
* Sony STR-DE995 receiver
* Numerous additional specialized components...including a VCR.

It's just not possible for any one company to take all of those functions and shove them into one box. What am I to do when my core receiver dies? Toss the whole thing? I think not...and I'm definitely NOT going for that service plan shit.

This is an example of an industry which has traditionally done very well with specialized components that do their jobs very well, much like any good UNIX command...and then can be combined into whatever the enduser wants and needs.

This is like the search for the single "holy grail" system...and it's not going to happen. The huge amount of diversity only limits the market for such a device.

If I felt like adding an XBox to the collection tomorrow, it wouldn't look out of place...but it would look kinda silly connected to my uberdevice stereo/dvd/cd/ps2/vcr combination unit.

Besides, fitting all the features into one box would be prohibitively expensive...and to make something like this affordable would only result in the sacrifice of features.

Media Boxes (1)

100lbHand (676832) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717172)

It is a good idea, i was actualy thinking about picking up a few xboxes this christmas and setting them up as settops with wireless connections to my main box to serve movies and music. Maybe build a mythtv box too. then i shall be uber.

Re:Media Boxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717566)

Considering the price of higher specced PC components, the XBOX is a total waste of money.

The simple answer (5, Insightful)

Genghis9 (575560) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717179)

"...or is the search for an 'uberdevice' just hype?"

It's just hype

Divergent needs mean Convergence is impossible (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717183)

I don't see how convergence is possible because different consumer groups seek different functionalities in the device. Some people want a gaming platform, others want a DVR, some need a single-person home computer, others need a family home theater, etc.

Any device that tries to be all things to all people will fail. The device will be forced to include too much expensive hardware. Each feature and port (a hot GPU, large HD, DVI, VGA, NTSC, DOCSIS cable, ethernet) adds cost and complexity that not everyone wants to pay for. And the device will be unprofitable -- how can a company make up its losses on the bloated hardware if a large fraction of people don't buy gaming software or pay for monthly services?

Dreams of a convergent device assume convergent usage patterns and that will never happen.

Re:Divergent needs mean Convergence is impossible (1)

stripes (3681) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717420)

I don't see how convergence is possible because different consumer groups seek different functionalities in the device. Some people want a gaming platform, others want a DVR, some need a single-person home computer, others need a family home theater, etc.

I'm not sure the divergant needs is really the problem. I think the devices are at odds. For example the DVR needs to be totally reliable and on all the time. If it is integrated with a game machine what happens when I want to play Soul Calibur III at the same time as the DVR needs to record something? That would suck. More so because a large part of the point of the DVR is that you no longer need to rember TV schedules!


Individual componants will be more reliable, and likely higher quality. On the downside the probbably cost more, and some of the "highly intragrated user interface" crap is probbably very nice. (oh yeah, and there is that whole space issue....)

Re:Divergent needs mean Convergence is impossible (2, Informative)

Dr Reducto (665121) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717469)

The Phantom by Infinium Labs seeks to do this. The scope of it was originaly a console, but evolved into a DRM'd PC that will likely have PVR, Games by Download, Movies+Music by download, and much more. Fortunately, they avoided what you said by offering HDTV support as a substitute for VGA or DVI.

Just hype. (1)

KillerHamster (645942) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717186)

Next question please.

perhaps ot, but... (1)

Ateryx (682778) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717188)

It has been a few minutes since this topic was posted, and with the given 15 minutes for subscribers, let us figure this first (or perhaps second) post appears a full 20 minutes after intially posted. I think the primary reason for this is another big story is recieving most the headlines today.

I have noticed a trend among comments with slashdot stories, the highest commented stories are those with political or social links/ideas. For example, a few weeks ago when a story detailing L.A. County 'banning' the use of Master/Slave [slashdot.org] appeared the post recieved 2100+ comments. A simple look in the Hall of Fame [slashdot.org] reveals 8/10 most commented stories are primarily political/social. Most likely before nightfall today, Saddam Hussein Captured [slashdot.org] will, judging by previous stories, reach 3000+ comments.

Has anyone else noticed this trend?

Awsome! (0, Flamebait)

twoslice (457793) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717196)

I can hardly contain my excrement...

Why bother? (1)

illuminata (668963) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717209)

The idea will never catch on. People don't like to be locked in to one expensive product. Rather, they upgrade as they need to. Financially, it doesn't hurt the pocketbook as much as making one big purchase. Logically, it makes a lot more than having your big device get old, forcing you to upgrade everything whether or not it's necessary. As fast as technology advances, your big device will get old quickly.

A company might make an uberdevice, which is a horrible name for this idea, just to say that they did it. It still wouldn't make it a good idea.

Not quite (2, Interesting)

glpierce (731733) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717811)

...which is why the current (computer) system works. Your computer can easily be your TV, stereo, DVD player, gaming system, phone, etc., without even costing that much (those capabilities have been around for a decade, and unless you buy top-of-the-line, they're cheap). Each of those components is separate within the box, so you can upgrade each piece as necessary. The problem is that current computer-integrated systems are just too complex for the task.

What's really needed is just a better UI for current technology . We need a modular OS that changes entirely based on active function. A TV mode, a stereo mode, a traditional computer mode, etc.. A simple button to switch to a different mode, and each would have as simple an appearance as possible. The stereo mode doesn't need anything but stereo functions, and play/stop/pause/etc should be 50% of the screen (should be touchscreen, too). Basically, there's no reason for someone to use a mouse or keyboard when watching TV. If someone can make a seamless system to do all of this (and not require the user know anything about programming or hardware installation), it could be a goldmine.

Modular... (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717218)

I personally hate the "integrated" devices. A VCR integrated into a TV set, a motherboard with integrated audio and video adapters, such shit. This kills modularisation and customisation. It's dumbing things down, so an idiot who can't plug a VCR into TV set doesn't need to. And of course you're stuck with worse quality components attached to the better ones. Say, I buy such an all-in-one gamebox and it works great as a MP3, DVD, VCD player, sat receiver and a few more. But after short time it starts to suck at games. And what am I going to do? I'll have to buy another DVD+VCD+MP3 player+sat receiver, replacing my perfectly good existing one, just to upgrade my gaming console.

We already have it (5, Insightful)

ph4rmb0y (711836) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717220)

Its called a PC.

Anything less will be err less. The only thing consoles have going for them is that they are cheap. They are cheap because they are designed for one purpose - gaming. Whats the definition of a PC? A general purpose computer that you can:

Play Games

Do general computing stuff

Watch TV

Communicate on the Internet

Isn't that the 'uberdevice'?

Re:We already have it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717529)

It is the uberdevice, describes my computer well. However, I know people who have computers and aren't interested in replacing their various entertainment things with it, partly because of how they want things arranged in their living space.

Living in a batchelor apt, I like consolidating everything in an uberdevice, but it isn't for a lot of people. Perhaps they should be looking for ways to create greater communication between devices, where a home network would be standard and it would be easy to edit levels of a game on the computer and transfer to a game console, where the tv could get listings from the internet and share them with an lcd on the fridge to warn to get tacos prior to a Dr. Who Marathon, etc.

Pierce Bronson could be the voice of the system.

no good, no bueno (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717225)

combining all these items (especially a desktop computer and a television) will only cause problems for familys, such as when one person wants to surf the internet and another person wants to watch television, keep these items seperate, i see no problem with making a television internet aware for things like multimedia and surfing the WWW and email, and putting a PCI TV card in a computer...

Not an all-in one device is needed (1)

pbug (728232) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717226)

But an easy way for your devices to communicate is needed. As a geek I can easily put together any stereo, video, gaming, blah blah blah system. Alot of just wants to be able to plug the device into any spot and have it work. What would really be cool is a hub like device the make it easier for people to connect different entertainemnt compents and have them work nicely with each other.

Re:Not an all-in one device is needed (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717271)

...or "universal bus". like, you stack the standarised size devices on top of each other, and there's plug in top of each of them and a socket in the bottom (or two sockets and you just add a connector with 2 plugs that can small dongle you place between them or a wire) and you don't care if you connected your VCR, to microwave oven, sat TV to printer etc, it all is interconnected (so i.e. you can start the microwave from VCR timer ;)

Re:Not an all-in one device is needed (1)

pbug (728232) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717433)

exacly if someone can do that they will make alot of money

My last "uberdevice" (3, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717234)

Was a "student stereo" with AM/FM, record player, cassette, 8-track. I had all media types covered!

Now this is a novel thought... (1)

tibike77 (611880) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717236)

[naive girl mode]
Wow, so, you mean, like, I can watch TV, play games and listen to music all the same? And maybe also write e-mail, browse the 'net and maybe do my homweork?
Wow, this is, like, totally cool!

Now, let's look at this in a critical way:
Music - wondering if I saw a PC lately without a sound card... hmm, gues not
TV - snap a 20-40$ TV-tuner into your PC... tada, you got a TV
DVDs/etc - (almost) any PC can do that
Computing - Email, internet, a word processor, spreadsheets, image editing? You don't need more CPU power than a PS1 for that...
Gaming - THIS is the most CPU- and graphics-intensive part

So, in one word: add a TVTuner to ANY console nowadays, make a handfull of tweaks, and whoops you have it - the all-in-one wonderfull device everybody craves.

Guess the ONLY limiting issue here is cost (remember X-Box under-the-limit price?)
I'll take my PC over any of those.
But "ordinary people" like John Smith would go for the "all-in-one-thingy".
Guess it's only a matter of taste or advertising...

Or isn't?

And what I forgot... (1)

tibike77 (611880) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717292)

...is that if you like it really nice and compact, you could put it in a small-size nice-looking case that would even go mobile and...

Oh, wait, isn't that called a "Laptop"? :)

Sidetalkin' (1)

tibike77 (611880) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717332)

Hmmz, I guess I really hate spamming my own posts, but I tend to post then remember some other stuff...

[mental image]
Imagine sidetalkin' [sidetalking.com] with a Laptop 8-|
[/mental image]

The real problem (2, Insightful)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717246)

I'd settle for an Uberdevice that replaces all my AC adapters. These annoying things tend to hog 2 or 3 outlets due to their size, and it seems such a waste to have reconvert the AC over and over again for every device. They tend to become disassociated with their parent units over time, and my house is littered with orphan AC adapters that I don't know whether to throw away or not because I no longer know what they were for. And then there are the units with different milliamps but the same kind of plug, that you don't know what goes where (after a cleanup to untangle all the wires) without consulting the manuals, which of course have disappeared (another subject). And let's not get into orphaned and missing remotes...

"uber" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717250)

it's spelled with a umault over the "u" like this:

Re:"uber" (1)

hugesmile (587771) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717284)

ok, now it's clear. Thank you!

Re:"uber" (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717530)

Maybe so, but Slashdot removes the accent from any character in a post these days. (At least with the ones I've tried.)

First non-First Post claiming to be a first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717252)


uberphone (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717255)

How about the Treo600 [treocentral.com] ? It's a computer, PDA, color display, stereo MP3 player, 4band phone, 56Kbps+ Net terminal, game player, and more. Its SDIO slot can take "cartridges" for better games, including coprocessors for video. It's even got an uberdevice price: at MSRP $500, it costs less than the sum of its parts, but more than many desktop computers.

There's that old riddle (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717263)

Q: What can you sit on, sleep on, and brush your teeth with?
A: A Chair, a bed and a toothbrush.

Some thing we don't want to combine. If a tool does a job, then let it do its own job. Don't try to force another tool to do the same thing.

There are certain things that lend themselves to each other. However, computers and televisions are not two of these things. While they are very similar from a design poiint of view, the way we use these devices is quite different, and so are our demends for these items. I for one would prefer a smaller computer. However, I want a much bigger TV. The main difference seems to be A TV is a passive form of entetainment that several people can enjoy at once, whereas a computer typically only has one user at a time.

Certainly some things should be combined. A PVR and digital decoder can be combined, and these seem to be very popular. It would be nice to also combine these with a television. This does not mean that everything else also makes sense in this respect. My DVD player does not need to be networked. I just want it to play DVDs. If I want to play a DVD on my computer, I'll get a DVD-ROM drive.

We can combine these things. But should we?

Re:There's that old riddle (1)

tibike77 (611880) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717359)

No, really, I *would* love an extensible ergonomic chair/bed with sanitation extensions and maybe a mini-bar... that will allow me to never ever leave my cubicle again...

Re:There's that old riddle (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717401)

Welll.. Okay, with a microwave, a fridge, a TV and a computer as well. Not quite sure how you'd handle things like buying groceries without getting out of the chair to answer the door to the delivery guy, but one thing at a time.

Re:There's that old riddle (1)

hitlerstolemypotato (701685) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717556)

handle things like buying groceries

Ahem. Grocery Gateway [grocerygateway.com] .

Re:There's that old riddle (1)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717664)

getting out of the chair to answer the door to the delivery guy

Video Intercom to tell who it is at the door, and remote door unlocker/opener to allow the guy access to your home.
A small map detailing directions to your fridge-chair-toilet.

"Mythical Convergence Box" (1)

GameGod0 (680382) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717276)

Hmmm... What if you could have the mythical convergence box of the future - today!
MythTV does the trick for me [mythtv.org] .

Games, music, movies, web browsing, TV (timeshifting and recording), DVDs, pictures, weather...
What else do you need in the ultimate set-top box? MythTV does all of these.

There is a selection of these "uberdevices".... (1)

Osrin (599427) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717303)

... to choose from on the market today, the one that makes HDTV pervasive will be the one that differentiates itself and wins the competitive war.

So far non of them seem close, they're all much of a muchness, the plans that the gaming industry seem to be talking about are just more of the same.

Help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717320)

I realize I will most likely get mod'd down for this but I need help and don't know where else to turn. We need a PHP for a day or two this coming Tuesday & possibly Wednesday. For more information, please read my journal.

Things move at different speeds. (1)

Amiga Lover (708890) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717353)

I don't think everything CAN be converged like this, they take time for consumers to shift opinions. Trying to fit six devices in one absolutely freezes a device as laughable as the worst of them. Let's say you get PDA, Laptop, Television, iPod and radio in one. Good, it's cool in theory until people realise they're not going to use the laptop features and they don't watch television anyway, anbd the other features could be made smaller again - why not get something cheaper and more suited to their purposes

It's a bit like an all-in-one box from the 1980s; AM Radio, Beta video box, Television and Atari games all in one.

Perhaps only the Radio and Television side may have been useful 5 years after it's released, but even then they're a perfectly good television saddled with crap AM radio and the Atari side is broken, with the only component unused being the Beta, only cos it was so unsupported.

People LIKE a single use, elegant solution like an iPod. They can wrap their heads around it, see "music player" and while it's pricey, they're able to justify a purchase on its price because all its features are related to cool, transportable audio.

Huh? (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717361)

I don't get this. The description sounds, to me, like this thing I've heard of called a "computer." I can use it to "compute," but I can also use it to play games and watch television. Oooh, Aaah... In fact, I own one of these "uberdevices." And I do all of these things with it and more.

No, seriously, though, I do use my computer to watch TV. I haven't felt the need to purchase a television since I moved back to Mexico. I suppose if I decide to actually start watching TV shows with someone else (Unlikely; I have no friends.), I might consider a television.

It's not an uberdevice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717371)

...until it's too cool to hang out with you anymore. My nGage would rather pal around with my iPod than be seen with me.

Each item does its job well (2)

Metex (302736) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717373)

For me personally I enjoy having each function in a seprate box over an all in one combination. I have a multitude of devices that are totally redundant such as:

Ps2 with DVD controler
DVD player
2 PC's with dvd-rom drive

But overall I find I use my small $50 dvd player over the other two choices because there is no boot time and it does its job well. The problem I have with all in one devices is that it takes a realitivly long time to accsess the things you want and it is more combersome then other single focus devices. where on a PC I would have to go through 4 commands to change my anime from english to japanese with english subs my dvd player has 1 physical button that does it. It may sound extreamly lazy but for me I am a well paid sys admin and I know the value of cron jobs and perl scripts =)

Why the uberdevice is not forthcoming: (1)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717391)

Competition. There will not be an "uberdevice" unless it is the be-all and end-all of entertainment, with accessories and games, etc. sold everywhere and shareable with everyone.

But no manufacturer wants to share the market with other manufacturers. Microsoft and Sony will not have compatible games or accessories on their "superdevice" and because of this, consumers lose interest because they can't share with their friends and neighbors with different "superdevices," be sure of buying an accessory and being able to use it for many years and across brands, etc. And thus no "superdevice" will become an "uberdevice."

This will remain true until manufacturers are willing to cling to standards like the DVD standard not just for films and music but also for games, for accessories, for connectivity, etc. and also until they are willing to sacrifice repeat sales (a.k.a. "upgrades" to the new model) in the interest of backward and forward compatibility.

Since neither of these things will ever happen, there will never be an "uberdevice" because not enough consumers will really want one (given these limitations) to make it universal.

sometimes (1)

The Unabageler (669502) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717415)

I use the computer, surf tv and someone else is playing a video game on the tv's split screen, all at the same time. Why would I want to destroy that ability by putting everything in the same box??

Freevo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717417)

The uberdevice is here, and ofcourse ir runs Linux;)
There are some projects as Freevo or MythTV also, that started as "MediaBoxes" but are getting more more and features, so they are becoming the uberdevice.
For example, im writing this comment at my TV using a little mini-itx C3 800 powered box, as small and noisy as a video or dvd player, running Freevo(http://freevo.sourceforge.net) and Debian Sid
It featuresTV watching, recording tv guides, weather, audio and video playback(anything that mplayer can play) games emulators(mame, sness, etc) web browser, and any app you what to launchit you dare to tweak some freevos plugins.
The only thing missing is TV shift, that is under development.
A very interesting option, that for my surprise i haven't seen many discusions about freevo in slashdot.

All I know is ... (1)

torpor (458) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717480)

... the only thing stopping me from using my Clie for everything - email, phone, watching TV, etc. - is *a complete lack of software*.

Hardware-wise, the Clie NX70V - while being a little outdated by now - has everything I need in order to converge all my devices into one... but it appears that Sony don't want that to happen, and have done everything they can to ensure their Video/Audio API is broken for this use.

My own "uberdevice" (1)

Cobain (104632) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717487)

I had a dream (yes I'm nerdy enough to have dreams about gadgets) the other week about a device I would snatch up the second it came out onto the market. I should probably patent this idea because I bet everyone else would want one too. But how cool would it be to have a cellphone, pda, and mp3 player in one with a good sized (40 gig?) harddrive in it to hold all my stuff. I'm aware they have made devices close to this, but not with the harddrive. And most of them are quite bulky in size too. I could watch movies while driving and talking to someone at the same time! YAY!

Convergence is always happening.. (1)

wfberg (24378) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717572)

Mobile phones include a dinky webbrowser or e-mail client, now cameras and mp3 players, dvd players will play (s)vcd, playstation 2 will play dvds.. Not necessarily because convergence is an exciting new thing, but because an additional function is what marketeers call "added value". That's why cars have a stereo and a lighter. It's not about integrating your "smoking lounge" with your method of transportation, but easily achieved added value at such a low cost that dis-integrating it isn't worth it to the manufacturer even for low cost models. That's why non-smokers (and non-gagdet using) drivers have lighters in their cars too..

Of course, if you ask people, do you want a device that plays DVDs, picks up terrestrial digital television, plays MP3s, and cooks a turkey, they'll look at you quizzically and say "why would I want that?". But once they're at Joe's TV Emporium and they can buy a device that cooks turkeys as well for only $2 more.. Guess what they'll do?

There really werent any convergence boxes at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#7717580)

"Of course, the article also concludes by noting the fact that consumers have thus far shown relatively little interest in adopting such all-in-one convergence boxes."

This is B.S. I haven't seen one convergence box. Sure "MSN TV" is based on dial up, and the other lame excuses for convergence boxes never had broadband. I had to build my own for personal use because there is nothing that satisfies my needs, so much for available convergence boxes.

Marketing vs. Entrepreneurship (2, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717680)

Entrepreneurship is the act of finding a problem that has no solution in the current market, developing a solution for that problem, and making that solution available (hopefully at a profit).

Marketing is the act of taking a product and attempting to increase existing consumer demand for that product.

Marketing without entrepreneurship doesn't work (despte all the marketroids wishing really hard that it would). This strikes me as one of those cases. Entrepreneurship requires the existence of a problem, and the lack of a solution. Here we have the reverse case - people aren't asking for an entertainment convergence device, as evidenced by the fact that there are already solutions on the market that aren't selling.

A quick editorial comment on why: The components advance at a different rate. Integrating those components means that when you want to get the latest Playstation, you have to upgrade your television (or whatever the converged device is). All upside for Sony, all downside for the consumer. As long as Sony (or whoever) is letting the marketing people make decisions that should be left to the entrepreneurs, these things are going to keep popping up.

content is king (1)

1iar_parad0x (676662) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717681)

Content is king.

Art evolves. You can't make money on evolutionary processes. Broadband is making the PC more viable. Game consoles look more like PCs and PCs look more like game consoles. People play DVDs on game consoles, stand alone DVD players, or their PC.

It's the open architecture that wins out. Why? Because the best content isn't manufactured. It's designed by people who love to create. The best games are designed by the creative storytellers. The best modern day content has mostly been created by geeks who where obssessed about film, books, or traditional games. Of course, that's calling people like Lucas and Speilberg geeks. Less is more. The true creative geniuses usually get their reward. They may not "maximize" their profit, but they usually do well. Heck, the inventor of VisiCalc (the first spreadsheet application) felt guilty he made so much money on it. People flock to content, because it is a true commidity.

Take a look at LOTR. I'm not a LOTR fan and I fell asleep mid way through the picture (3 hours is too much for me). My friends loved it. I recognize why people like it. It's a well crafted world brought to life in a way only a geek could do. That's what sells.

Nobody wants to sell content at a reasonable price. Most MBAs don't know how to handle it. Of course some people argue that the entire concept about the modern day MBA is devoid of content. That's the problem.

Have you ever played those retropacks of old video games. Yeah, $50 bucks buys you 10 really old (classic) games ported to run on a uberfast processor (console). What the heck? It can't possibly cost that much to port an old game. Heck, write an emulator for it.

Content is the true killer app. That's why MBAs are so scared to sell it cheap. They understand that they can't manufacture it. It just has to happen. There's no profit in evolution.

Just a random thought, do you think that writing can actually be improved by regex? My english teacher didn't think so. Prehaps I should try and patent the non-deterministic essay while I still have a chance.

Yes and no. It'll be a virtual uberdevice. (2, Insightful)

Gldm (600518) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717683)

The problem with putting everything in one box is the weakest link problem. Whenever any one thing breaks or becomes obsolete and you want to upgrade, you usually need to throw out the entire box. PCs get around this with standard parts but the average joe or my mom is not going to go grab a screwdriver and pop open a PC to install a new video card. Think they're going to swap hard drives and tuner cards on a set top PVR so they can reccord HDTV now? No. If this kind of thing was really appealing to consumers, every TV would have a VCR and a DVD player. Do they make these? Yes. Are they popular? Not really. They made TVs with radios back in the day too, do we have them now? A few.

What's really going to kill this is WIRELESS. If all the devices in the house can interoperate over 802.11g, bluetooth, etc, then you HAVE a "virtual uberdevice". It's just a matter of getting the functionality to be seamless, and that'll take some work. Once you can stream your video files from your PVR to any TV in your house, stream your TV's captured input to your PC to edit, stream your ipod's mp3s to your stereo etc, then who needs to put it all in one box? Intel is working on putting RF in silicon so this kind of thing will be pretty cheap to add to any device. Multiple devices will probably be more expensive overall, but easier to upgrade. Will there be all in ones? Yeah, and I'll probably buy one for my mom because she'll never care to upgrade it. But anyone who swaps TVs or DVD players every couple years (gotta have that progressive scan!) or upgrades their PC at least once a year will probably go for seperate networked appliances.

The downfall of this is getting it to work right and interchangeably. I expect Sony or someone to show up with this idea fairly soon but screw it up so that only THEIR brand devices work with each other. Then the market will bemoan this for a year or 2 until someone like Intel or MS comes up with a standard. Apple/Sony/Phillips will then come up with competing standards, and after another 3 years of fighting one of them should either win out or all devices will support all the standards because it's become cheap enough.

So we should see it around 2007-2009. Probably about the time everyone's swapping out their obsolete DVD players for HDVD players and people are buzzing about upcoming Xbox3/PS4.

People want the playstation (1)

sniggly (216454) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717714)

People who have a playstation2 now will want the playstation3 no matter if it's bundling a zillion other applications into the same hardware. It's like OS software, people want to browse the web & email and they get a computer pre loaded with an operating system that bundles an array of other applications as well.

The next consoles will simply try to capture the consumers with one central device, gaming, PVR, audio, tv. People might only buy it for the gaming or the PVR or a combination but the bet is that they will use it for different applications and buy content/extensions etc from sony. (or ms).

It's got very little to do with consumer interest in the combination its got everything to do with Sony learning from microsoft on how to lock people into their solutions..

What about a PORTABLE uberdevice? (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717728)

They're already emerging, but it seems to me the ultimate uberdevice will be one you carry in your pocket. Cell phone, PDA, game unit, GPS, net surfer, book reader... We're already seeing the emergence of devices like these, but they could be so much better...

Toaster cellphone (0)

fabio (78385) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717781)

oaky, for once i read the article, and then this comes up: "They're not going to get very involved in distractions," said Jeff Brown, a vice president at leading game publisher Electronic Arts. "I have a cell phone, and I have a toaster. If they included a cell phone on my toaster, I probably wouldn't make any fewer calls because I was spending so much time eating toast." hey, great for going to veery long movies though!

Hype: and I'll tell you why (1)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 11 years ago | (#7717796)

If my wife wants to watch "Will and Grace" using this "uberdevice"... I can't pick up my game console and go to the other TV with it, because in this "uberdevice" world that device is my game console.

Why would I sacrifice flexibility? This is a similar reason that I'm just not interested in the "DVD Player selling point" of the PS2 and XBox -- I can't do both at the same time if they are the same device.
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