Sega and Pace unveil Dreamcast-enabled set-top box
The set-top box that incorporates Dreamcast technology, digital VCR functions, and broadband cable applications is shown to the press.
At a press conference today in San Francisco, Sega and Pace unveiled the first set-top box to incorporate Dreamcast video game technology. Pace's digital personal video recorder (PVR) incorporates broadband cable applications, digital VCR functions, and Dreamcast video game console technology into one unit. Sega and Pace have been working together on the project for a year and plan to bring it to the European market in the middle of next year. There are currently no plans for a North American release.
The PVR is similar in appearance to a digital cable box and includes four Dreamcast controller ports. The PVR is compatible with cable, satellite, and xDSL. The unit does not include a disc drive. Instead, games will be downloaded, via PVR's broadband connection, to a 40GB hard drive. Pace claims that up to 60 games may be held on the hard drive at once and that each game will take approximately three minutes to download, though this figure seems optimistic. Similar to pay-per-view movies, Dreamcast content will be available on a pay-per-play or pay-per-time basis. Alternatively, a games channel will be made available for a fee of $20 per month that will allow unlimited access to Dreamcast software. The games channel will broadcast 24-hour game previews in the MPEG1/MPEG2 formats with a possibility of free demos. The PVR is also capable of uploading MP3 content and game data to hand held devices.
Pace claims that the Dreamcast-enhanced PVR is targeted at the casual game player who has traditionally been satisfied with older gaming technology. The PVR is capable of recording full-motion video while displaying both Dreamcast games and television broadcasts via a windows system. Video may be paused, rewound, shown in slow motion, or sped up using either the Dreamcast controller or a separate remote control device. Pace stated that the same technology could eventually be used for the Xbox, the PlayStation 2, and the GameCube but it is currently concentrating on its partnership with Sega.
Pace demonstrated the Dreamcast-enhanced PVR with fully playable versions of Sonic Adventure 2 and Crazy Taxi. Both games showed no appreciable difference while running on the PVR when compared to Dreamcast production hardware. Both games were played while small windows containing full motion video were placed on top. Due to its broadband connection, the Dreamcast-enhanced PVR is capable of supporting complex online gameplay. Andrew Wallace, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Pace, claimed that the possibility for videoconferencing exists that would allow players to see whom they are playing during online competition.
Pace has yet to sign any agreements with cable carriers and the cost of each PVR will reportedly be in the $400-$600 range with prices likely to fall rapidly.
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