The Rumor Mill

PlayStation in a Mac

- 2000.08.24

Reasoning that if you can't beat 'em you should join 'em, Sony has decided to attack Connectix on their own turf: the PlayStation emulator market.

As you may know, Sony tried to block Connectix's Virtual Game Station, a software PlayStation emulator, in court. Sony lost.

Before anyone gets the chance to create PlayStation2 emulators, Sony will unveil something even better: a PlayStation2 card for Macs and PCs. This stunning product puts almost an entire PlayStation2 on a single card, which supports both PCI and AGP.

The only thing the user needs is a DVD drive; Sony takes care of the rest. In fact, Sony engineers have included an Ultra/66 controller on the card, making it easy for owners of older PCI Power Macs to add a DVD-ROM or DVD-RAM drive to their systems. For that matter, Sony is expected to offer bundle deals containing the PS2 card and either a DVD-ROM or DVD-RAM drive. (For Mac owners dependent on software DVD players, there's an extra bonus - the PS2 card does all the DVD decoding in hardware for top quality full speed output.)

No FireWire or USB in your computer? Sony's got you covered.

No extra slots? Sony may even help there, since the card can also replace any existing PCI or AGP video card, or any third-party USB or FireWire card you may have added to your system.

No memory card slot? Not necessary; you can save your games to the computer's hard drive.

Unlike software emulators, the PlayStation2 card doesn't take a toll on your CPU. Except for a driver that lets you run PlayStation games either in a window or full-screen, your computer mostly sits by while the PS2 card does its thing.

That's right: You get the full Emotion Engine inside your computer!

Best of all, the 3D video performance is absolutely stunning. Sony has had a crack team optimizing Mac, Windows, and Linux drivers for almost a year now - this ain't no beta software!

Because this is a genuine Sony product, there's no need to worry about software updates or game incompatibilities. Sony has been working with all major DVD makers to assure that the card works with any DVD-ROM or DVD-RAM drive built in the past two years.

For serious gamers, this card is a case of having their cake and eating it, too, although you'll have to wait until April 1, 2001. After all, Sony doesn't want to steal sales from the initial U.S. PlayStation2 rollout.

Drawbacks? Well, it looks like the card may end up costing more than the PlayStation2 console itself, probably somewhere around US$400 for the card - and more if you want the DVD-ROM or DVD-RAM bundle. This is so Sony can recoup its investment in designing the system and assuring compatibility. Besides, it's a great opportunity for Sony to make up for the fact that most game consoles are sold below cost just to create a market for the games.

On the other hand, what serious gamer wouldn't rather have everything inside the computer instead of adding yet another console to their collection?

- Anne Onymus

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