When is a Game Console Not a Game Console?

When is a game console not a game console? When it can run linux.

Recently Sony announced it will sell online, a linux kit for the PS2 . The kit includes a linuxdistribution on DVD, plus some additional software, documentation, a 40GB hard drive, an Ethernet adapter, a USB mouse, a USB keyboard, and a computer monitor cable. The package will cost $200. So,for ~$500 you can have a full fledged machine that can surf the net, serve as an email/web/file server, play original Playstation and Playstation 2 games, AND play DVDs. But what does that mean? Wellthe article mentions that now, game developers and kernel hackers can now write games for the PS2 without having to purchase the very expensive SDK. This, combined with Sun’s new java game initiative , means that a single device can function as many different things. Imagine taking a CD out of the wrapper,dropping it in to your Windows PC, PS/2 or Linux box and the game will run on all three.

With the economy in a crunch, the consumer has very little pocket change to throw around. Gone are the days when we can drop $2000 down on a decent gaming computer. Now we buy sub $500 boxes, drop in a decent video card and cross our fingers. The consumer is moving away from specialized configurations. For example, people are no longer buying just a DVD player, game console, stripped down machine that can only run office apps and configurations of the sort. They want a cheap wonderbox that can do it all. Many companies have different technologies and strategies to accomplish just that.

Take, for example, Nvidia’s Personal Cinema and the new nForce chipset With the Personal Cinema devices you can turn your computer into a Tivo basically. It also has the abililty to play DVDs, capture video, and comes with a remote control. With the new nForce chipset, the nVidia motherboards have on-board graphics and Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding, which means you can integrate it right into your current home entertainment system.

When is a Linux Box not a Linux Box? Want to run Windows apps but not have to pay for XP every time your computer reboots? Enter Lindows .

This OS aims to bridge the gap between Linux and Windows. It allows the stability and functionality of Linux but also the compatibility with those Windows apps that you just can’t live without.

Can all this be a little confusing and daunting for the average gamer, home computer user, and home entertainment shopper? Of course. Is it good for them and the public in general? Yes. I think that convergence of devices is not only inevitable but has been going on for quite a while. A lot of companies are even leading the charge. I am excited about the future and hope that these guys can fulfill their promises…

If anyone has had a hands on experience with any of these, please drop me a line or post in the forums…

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

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