Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact
Although undoubtedly feeling like the youngest child in the family (the one that
always ends up getting hand-me-downs) local gamers are probably
eagerly awaiting the release of the Microsoft Xbox.
I see that a number of local journos
have even received units to have a play with -- alas, nothing has
turned up in my mailbox (I wonder why? :-)
Surprisingly, the local price for the Xbox will be almost identical
to that being charged in the UK and Europe and very little more than
the US$199 list price in the USA. Of course this isn't so much
attributable to Microsoft as it is to Sony's agressive pricing for
So who's going to lay out NZ$499 to buy an Xbox, and should you join the queue?
Well (as mentioned just moments ago) I can't provide any comment on the
merits of the Xbox as a games console because I don't have one.
However, I'm sure that many of the real hard-core gamers will be lining up to buy
them and more than a few homes will likely have a PS2 (or PS1) and
an Xbox by the new year.
There can be no doubt also that more than a few Xboxes will be bought for
A growing community of Xbox hackers has already dedicated itself to the
task of "repurposing" the console -- turning it into a more general purpose
computing device operating under Linux.
Given that Microsoft appear to be selling the Xbox at a price well below
its cost of manufacture, perhaps the best thing all those anti-Microsoft
zealots can do is buy a whole bunch of them.
If/when the hackers manage to pull off their little
plan, the Xbox will probably make a great firewall, rendering engine,
budget PC, webserver, or just about anything else you can think of.
The cheapest PC out there at the moment (sans monitor/keyboard) is still
priced at nearly twice the Xbox -- so being able to transform these games
consoles into something completely different would be a great achievement.
Indeed, a good measure of success
in this endeavour has already been achieved and the keen hacker can now boot up their Xbox with
the world's most popular non-Microsoft OS.
There are also an increasing number of websites
popping up that are dedicated to the subject of Xbox hacking.
So, even if your not a keen gamer, you may find that there's an Xbox in
I suspect Microsoft also realise this and it won't be long (IMHO) before we
see new versions of the Xbox being released. These new units will likely
incorporate web browsing, some Tivo-like functions, etc -- turning the
games console into more of an "appliance."
So should you buy an Xbox now?
Personally, I'd wait until after Christmas.
In fact if you're like me, you reschedule Christmas to New Year's day so that
you can buy all your gifts at a much lower price in the sales that inevitably
start on Boxing Day. You'd be surprised how much you can save by doing this.
By swapping New Year's and Christmas, you still get to have a lot of fun and
a decent party on December 25, while being able to afford a much bigger pile
of presies on Jan 1. Try it -- you'll like it!
A note to Microsoft: Was it something I've said? :-)
Late Update: It seems I *am* on Microsoft's list of people who will
be given a chance to check out the Xbox and I've been told that it
should arrive in a couple of weeks. I'll keep readers informed.
Have your say.
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