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Apex to sell Discover

The Daisy

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Really, more like an HTPC in a can, but for $299 it makes a very slick and very cheap HTPC.






Here's a cut/paste transcript:


VIA / ApeXtreme Gaming Console:


Here is just about as much scoop as you are going to get before this thing is officially unveiled at CES this week. It seems that VIA is carving out their own segment of the emerging console market under the APEX brand name with the new "ApeXtreme Personal Gaming Console and DVD Player", or PGC.


Under the sleek and very living room friendly exterior is the now widely known VIA Eden Embedded System Platform running at a very fast 1.4GHz supported by a next-gen VIA chipset, the CN400. This system is not focused to be part of the hardcore gaming market but rather a more mainstream one. There are however a few features on the ApeXtreme that are going to make it a very likeable addition to many of an enthusiast living room.


It will be powered by a near-instant-on version of WinXP (embedded) with Windows Media Player, and as you can obliviously see from the pictures, will have removable media in the form of DVD/CD. We are told the OS will not be "locked down", certainly inviting many modifications by the end user. The video processor behind the box will be VIA's S3 DeltaChrome graphics processor, and VIA 5.1 "Vinyl" audio will supply 5.1 sound.


Six USB2 ports, RCA, DVI, and S-video outs, SPDIF out, 10/100 Ethernet and modem, and get a load of this, Component Video Out! Yes, it supports High Def signaling. This thing has got ?DivX Jukebox? written all over it and I already want one for my living room. It seems as though a 40GB IDE hard drive that is NOT proprietarily formatted will be the main storage for the system. I would think expanding the storage might be very easy to accomplish succesfully. Pricepoints and scaling of models is yet to be known by us.


Obviously, you can play DVD movies, audio and video CDs, and PC games on the box. We were also told that versions of games are being developed that you do not have to "load". Simply put the CD in and play, much like is used on other consoles. We were also told that price points will be at US$299 and US$399 and that you should be able to buy them pretty much anywhere Apex appliances are now sold. So that means the bigger electronics stores in North America.


From the first looks that we have gotten at the ApeXtreme PCG, I have to say that it looks to be very exciting and has just knocked the cost of building a DIY "Home Theater PC" down quite a bit. The interface is supposedly a wireless "keypad" controller. The only thing that I see missing is 802.11G wireless networking, but I bet that is already slated for the next revision should this take off in the marketplace. I personally would still use my PC for most of my gaming and surfing, but I can see a couple hundred DivX movies and countless MP3s being dumped onto it making my "DVD Jukebox" a reality.


Now, I just hope they let me into the press conference on Thursday when they officially launch the product so we can get some hands on time with this Apex PCG.

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Keeping with the subject:




Q&A session with the folks at Apex on how the new DISCover machine will work.




GameSpot: When are the first DISCover-based consoles going to hit stores?


Loren Kaiser: The end of Q1 2004. We're going to launch at CES with the ApexExtreme, which has been chosen as a finalist for the CES Innovation Award. DISCover itself is not making any consoles. DISCover's business model is to help electronics manufacturers tap into the gaming industry. Using our technology they will be able to tap into a library of thousands of existing PC games using the DISCover standard. It's kind of similar to the Dolby or DVD standard. How it works is the games are scripted and the scripts are loaded onto the machine. We're going to script 2,000 games at launch.


GS: Can anyone license the technology?


LK: Not anyone, just select partners. We don't like to use the term "licensing" because we provide a BIOS chip that contains portions of the software. They're also getting our database of scripts, and several programs that work together that we call the DISCover engine. It's really more of a partnership. We don't just hand them a little gold CD. We also script all the games and optimize them to their system.


GS: Is anyone else besides Apex adopting the DISCover engine?


LK: Alienware is going to launch with a media center that incorporates DISCover. The media center will let you do PVR functions and TiVo-type things, like Microsoft's media center--movies, music. Now when you incorporate this, you just drop in the games and they'll play. ? They're [also] evaluating a $995 console with a P4 and a gig of RAM. There's going to be some shocks out of the Alienware one--you should see what they're designing.


GS: I was reading on your Web site that the DISCover engine will auto-update and install all the past and new patches for every game played on the console. How will it do that?



I'll be honest, it sounds downright intriguing! The Alienware model especially sounds pretty killer (though that price tag is hefty, for that money Ill put together a PC and the hell with it). If the price is right I'm willing to give it a look.

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I've thought about making an HTPC out of my PC for a while, even bought a nice shuttle case last summer. This sort of Apex deal just takes all the guesswork out of it though, I'll watch it's release with interest.


Imagine scaling all media (DVDs, TV, etc) to 1080i through this thing AND having PVR/divx jukebox capability? Wow!!!

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  • 11 months later...

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