Xi3 made a bit of a splash yesterday, since the countdown timer on its site officially came to an end – for some of us though, much sooner than expected. I ended up sitting there hitting refresh shortly after 11AM when it rolled over to 00:00:00 and nothing happened. Xi3 soon got in touch and discovered that due to linking the timer with a person’s PC clock, us UK readers ended our countdowns many hours too early. This was ultimately corrected and the big announcement made at the official time later in the day.
But what was that big announcement? The expected one: the Xi3 Piston release date. We now know the little console that isn’t a Steam Box but could potentially act like one, will be released on 29th November, with pre-orders being delivered two weeks before.
“The PISTON Console is just Xi3’s first step in what we believe will be a transformative technology revolution for the Living Room,” said Jason A. Sullivan, Xi3’s founder, president and CEO. “Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what I know is coming because it’s not time to tell you. But I will say this: the bar has been raised. PISTON is smaller, lighter, and will last longer, provide more gaming options and be more powerful than any other gaming console on the planet. The reason I feel confident in saying this is because we started with a clean slate, unlike competing manufacturers. And that Tabula Rasa approach is what sets PISTON apart from other gaming systems today and what will set us apart tomorrow.”
He went on to announce that the Piston would get its first official outing at the Interlop New York trade show this Wednesday and/or Thursday, where it will be playable, so journalists will be able to try out the Piston for themselves.
On top of the release date news, Xi3 also announced some more details about the internal workings of the Piston, telling us that its storage capacity would be 128GB as standard, thanks to the internal SSD. However, for those with deep pockets, there will be the option of an added 1TB of storage space thanks to some of the newly released high capacity SSDs and a new microSD slot on the Piston, allowing even further expansion.
We’ve known what the rest of the internal hardware would be for some time, with 8GB of RAM and a 3.2GHZ Quad Core CPU. However, as Forbes points out, the problem comes with the fact that the Piston is only packing an AMD R464L for graphics processing, which is a graphics core from the last generation, not a dedicated GPU. This could mean that the Piston is significantly underpowered when compared to next-gen consoles and certainly when put up against comparatively priced PCs (the Piston will run you $1,000 (£615).
The Piston will try to make up that value by shipping with a library of games pre-installed, allowing gamers to pick up and play on the system straight away. They’re connectivity online will be assured too, as Xi3 has also tweaked the Piston’s network controller to prioritise game related traffic, thereby potentially improving latency over traditional consoles and PCs. Like the Killer NIC add-in card for desktops before it, the Piston should have a particular advantage in network heavy games, like MMOs.
Sullivan also hinted that there was potential for the use of hardware like the Oculus Rift with the Piston, which could open up whole new ways to play given the mobile nature of the system itself. With a screen as mobile as the Rift too, this device could theoretically be a great bit of in-car entertainment for children, if it doesn’t have too hefty a power draw.
“ PISTON was built for super-fast gaming by utilizing SSD storage and prioritizing gameplay traffic. PISTON also gives you 3 Ways to Play—at your desk, in your living room, or via a Virtual Reality setup,” said Sullivan. “And you can still play with a controller or via keyboard and mouse, you decide. And naturally, we’ll ship PISTONs pre-loaded with pack-in games. The bottom line is I can’t wait to get this into the hands of gamers everywhere ‘cause I know they’re gonna love it.”
KitGuru Says: Quite a nifty little bit of kit, but given how the Ouya hasn’t performed that well so far, it’ll be interesting to see how a somewhat more powerful, much more expensive version will fair. What do you guys think? Will you be buying one?