Android gaming on a x86-powered PC with iConsole.tv

Android gaming on a x86-powered PC with iConsole.tv

Summary: The new computer should outmuscle Android consoles using mobile chips, and may be able to run the Linux version of Steambox.

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TOPICS: Android, Linux, PCs
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Android gaming at home has mostly been limited to low-power consoles like the long-awaited Ouya, but a new company hopes to beef up the platform with some serious gaming PC hardware.

prototype-iconsole-tv-android-gaming-pc
(Image: iConsole.tv)

Unlike competitors that rely on mobile chips like ARM processors, iConsole.tv is readying a device that uses an x86 CPU, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a 500GB hybrid disk drive/SSD, and an undisclosed GPU. In other words, it's built more like a mini-gaming PC than a feeble Android console.

It also will run a Linux Desktop mode, which means users will be able to access Steam for Linux to get even more games than the Android ecosystem already provides. Mobile Media Ventures even throws in support for CableCard to turn iConsole.tv into a home theater PC.

Currently, the company is offering a $999 developer kit that features an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, but only integrated graphics. It explained that Ivy Bridge vastly outperforms other chips running Android, and that the graphics card that will ship with the actual console will be "at least two to three times more powerful" than Intel's integrated graphics.

The device lacks a price yet, as well as a firm release date. Right now, Mobile Media Ventures said it hopes to launch iConsole.tv in Q4. That vagueness leaves open the possibility that this will turn out to be vaporware, but the company did let Engadget gets its hands on a developer kit to show off its capabilities. In an interview, CEO Christopher Price extolled the potential of Android, not only for serious gaming, but also as "the future of personal computing". He also said iConsole.tv will be priced well below the cost of the developer kit.

Does iConsole.tv have a future as a gaming PC for your HDTV and built on Android? Hopefully we'll have a chance to find out several months from now.

Topics: Android, Linux, PCs

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11 comments
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  • lol 2x intel integrated gpu

    good luck with that POS

    Better idea add steam games to the next xbox and playstation
    everss02
    • Re: everss02

      As every media report has said, the production iConsole.tv will not have what you describe it to have.

      I would suggest re-reading the article.

      We're creating iConsole.tv because mainstream consoles resist the kind of innovation you just described.
      Christopher Price
  • Android gaming on a x86-powered PC with iConsole.tv

    This device has fail written all over it. Android has more malware than any other OS. People will not want that in their living room. People will not want to compile their kernel every day to get into linux desktop mode either. And the linux version of Steam was bigger fail than I predicted.
    Loverock-Davidson
    • Re: Loverock-Davidson

      Android 4.2+ actually solves most of the malware problem. Google has added a killswitch and vectoring malware server for sideloaded code. Most gamers won't ever enable sideloading to begin with - and we'll have additional malware provisions built-in to iConsole.tv.

      Sideloading is something we believe in, and we're going to make it secure for the ~10% of geeks that want to sideload. For the rest, we're going to have a safe and secure gaming experience that does what those who cower behind walled gardens resist... and open, fast, great gaming experience.
      Christopher Price
  • thoughts

    "The new computer should outmuscle Android consoles using mobile chips, and may be able to run the Linux version of Steambox."

    Not hard to do. Mobile chips are built for power savings and small screens, not for full size TV. Nobody should be under the impression that mobile ARM is anywhere near as powerful as full size PC.

    "It also will run a Linux Desktop mode, which means users will be able to access Steam for Linux to get even more games than the Android ecosystem already provides."

    If it were the Windows version of Steam - that would be true.

    Unfortunately, the Linux version of Steam, although I'm sure they're trying to push as many games as possible to it, likely doesn't have as many games.

    Linux has never really been considered a serious gaming platform by developers. Regardless of what its supporters claim, the truth is that you're going to make a larger profit on Windows, which has the bulk of gamers. Thus, very few games have actually been ported to Linux. Thus, the Steam store on Linux has only a fraction of what the Steam store on Windows offers.

    If you really want the best gaming experience, wait for the next-gen Xbox or PS4, or buy a PC with a dedicated video card and Windows.
    CobraA1
  • Re: But I don't like kool-aid...

    Linux version of Steam is what powers Steambox - there will be plenty of games there soon.

    "If you really want the best gaming experience, wait for the next-gen Xbox or PS4, or buy a PC with a dedicated video card and Windows."

    Under that logic, we should all buy iPhones, enjoy the soviet-style walled gardens, and be slaves to Apple. No thanks! If iConsole.tv can get games to the same quality - I'll chose that over Sony/Xbox in a heartbeat.
    SonicXtreme
    • Problem isn't Valve, it's other devs and publishers.

      "Linux version of Steam is what powers Steambox - there will be plenty of games there soon."

      That's what Valve hopes, yes.

      But Valve, outside of their own games, is at the mercy of the other publishers and developers. It's up to the individual publisher/developer to decide whether or not they want to port their games to Linux.

      Basically - other than their own games, it's out of Valve's hands.

      "Under that logic, we should all buy iPhones, enjoy the soviet-style walled gardens, and be slaves to Apple."

      That's quite a leap of "logic."

      "If iConsole.tv can get games to the same quality . . ."

      Doubtful. The new Playstation 4 has an 8 core CPU with 8 GB GDDR5 (and yes, the GDDR is used as main memory) and a custom Radeon GPU. A high end PC gaming rig easily has 16+ GB of memory and plenty of GPU power.

      If the only source of GPU power ends up being the Ivy Bridge APU, then there's no way they're gonna match the PS4 or a gaming PC.
      CobraA1
      • Re: GPU

        Quoting the article: "the actual console will be "at least two to three times more powerful" than Intel's integrated graphics."

        We have said all along that Unit 00 represents a stepping stone towards the production iConsole.tv, while the HD 4000 GPU is great to get Android developers started with, we have no plans to ship that to consumers.
        Christopher Price
        • Well . . .

          "We have said all along that Unit 00 represents a stepping stone towards the production iConsole.tv, while the HD 4000 GPU is great to get Android developers started with, we have no plans to ship that to consumers."

          Well, it's hard to compare when the actual GPU is unknown, even to the devs.

          2-3x sounds significant - until you consider that it's comparative to the HD 4000. Not exactly a top-tier GPU to compare to, IMO. It's in the same ballpark as some of the very first DirectX 10 cards, and GPUs have come a long, long way since then.
          CobraA1
  • This is awesome!

    I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw the article. I thought to myself, "Great, another one." After reading through and noting the comments left by Christopher Price, I must say I am rather excited. I pre-ordered an Ouya gaming console and I think this may be even better. Another step in the right direction at the very least.

    As a response to Loverock-Davidson:
    I would like to say that I am rather amused at your attempt at Linux bashing. Compiling your kernel every day? Really? In the four years I have used Linux I have never compiled a kernel. I don't see how anyone could possibly be forced to.

    As a response to both Loverock-Davedson and CobraA1:
    Steam for Linux is not a failure. Of course there are going to be more games for Windows and even Mac. Steam for these platforms has been around much longer than the current port. Linux has never been a haven for gamers, but Valve is taking a huge leap with Steam for Linux. With over a hundred games in a few months, no, I don't think it is a failure at all.
    chuzzle44
    • Guess we'll find out.

      "Steam for Linux is not a failure."

      No, not right now it isn't. But if they want to succeed, they have to start getting other large publishers on board, as well as more developers. They also have to convince gamers that it's an acceptable platform.

      Getting gamers onto a new platform is a pretty tough task, especially if the gamer has a rather large catalog of games. The more games can be ported, the better.
      CobraA1