Today we’re proud to make the first major wave of new announcements about iConsole.tv. We’ve already received great coverage about what we’re building, and our soft-launch dev kits have proven themselves in the field to truly be the most powerful Android-compatible device ever shipped.
First, a look back…
In mid-May, we very quietly announced we were building a powerful x86 gaming console on Android. It has been quite a trek since then, talking one-to-one with hundreds of developers about what a powerful Android console really meant to them. People were wowed by all the firsts we’re ushering in. First Steam-compatible Android device. First shipping Android device to break
30 40 50 60 70 80,000 on AnTuTu. Our developer kits have changed what people think of how far Android can reach, and where Android can go in the post-PC era.
What really has excited us, is how many developers saw the potential for iConsole.tv to serve a dual-purpose; both as a gaming console at your HDTV, and at the desktop as a post-modern PC. And, thanks to sporting dual HDMI outputs, our developer kits actually could do both at the same time.
Now, it’s time for new stuff.
Intel Iris™ – Next-Gen Graphics Lands on Android
Our biggest announcement today, is the GPU that will power iConsole.tv when we take it into production for consumers.
We’ve decided to tap Intel’s impressive new Iris discreet-class graphics to power the production iConsole.tv. Since the dawn of time, Intel and gaming-graphics really haven’t belonged in the same sentence, let alone the same paragraph.
We realize it’s a bold move, nearly ever other high-performance console has gone in the opposite direction.
Iris has changed the Intel equation, completely. Intel’s Iris graphics allows us to get within striking distance of the most powerful next-generation consoles, all while taking Android to new levels of graphics performance. We’re talking a road to the entire OpenGL 4 graphics layer, alongside Steam compatibility inside of an Android box. Complete with an Ubuntu-compatible Linux Desktop feature that will allow your gaming console to run powerful office, productivity, and open source applications as well in desktop mode.
Only Intel Iris showed us the flexibility, scalability, and raw power to meet our needs for iConsole.tv. Intel’s Open Source Technology Center continues to impress us with dramatic triple-digit gains in low-level optimizations of Iris, that helped drive our decision making.
We know many will have their doubts that Intel graphics can take on the big guns. Fear not, we plan to be tapping chips that aren’t available to the average consumer. And we’ll be taking those chips to their limits, augmenting them with new technology we’ll announce in the near future.
Iris is not the only part of the graphics equation for iConsole.tv. In the next couple of months, we’ll unveil a couple more parts of the equation that will give iConsole.tv a gaming edge both now, and in the years to come.
Unit 00 Gets Haswell & A Price Drop
When we shipped the iConsole.tv Developer Kit, which we affectionately call Unit 00, we promised it would deliver everything you needed to build a game for iConsole.tv.
Early access developers got in the door for $999. Today, we’re dropping the price on our Unit 00 dev kits to $699.
Everyone will be getting a Haswell dev kit, regardless of if you signed up the day we introduced iConsole.tv, or if you sign up as a developer today. We’re upgrading all early-access developers with entirely new dev kits, for free.
These mass-production Unit 00 dev kits include the same core silicon that will be going into the production iConsole.tv. As we note more in-depth on our developer blog (full specs for Unit 00 are over there too), we’ll be tuning these developer kits as we go to more closely match production hardware. And, of course, you’ll get briefed and shipped upcoming accessories and tools as we finalize them for production… all for free.
And those who buy our dev kits won’t pay any publishing fees to upload apps for the first year after we launch to consumers.
Considering what we’re packing into Unit 00, and the developer program, $699 is a bargain. Try comparing it to a comparable mini computers. Go on, we’ll wait. Now that you have checked the competition, you’ll see why we’re only offering Unit 00 to developers.
To sign up, click on over to developer.iconsole.tv – Again, developers only for now.
An Update on Pricing
We learned some lessons with our original announcement. Developer kit pricing does not equal consumer pricing… which, some in the media didn’t quite get.
So, we’re making it very clear today. iConsole.tv will be priced competitively with other high-end, next generation consoles. Even though it’s also a breakthrough next-generation PC. Even though it’s open. Even though it’s Steam-compatible.
We expect iConsole.tv to land in the $399 to $499 price range, with multiple versions available to cater to different audiences. Details on the final specifications and different versions will be made available in the coming months.
As we mentioned earlier, we realize some may be concerned that Iris isn’t enough. We have a few more compelling hardware announcements that will be coming in the future months. Some of the technology that will set iConsole.tv apart from other gaming consoles, is not available in any consumer device today. In the coming months, we promise enthusiast and mainstream gamers alike will appreciate the final package.
Over the next couple of months, most of our announcements will focus on software. We’re not just forking Android into something that isn’t dependent on the big G. We’re building a version of Android that functions in radically new environments. To do that, we’ve had to focus on putting together a harmony of apps, user interface, content distribution, and interactivity.
We still have a lot of work to do, and the team is still growing, but what’s next for us is to start showing off what makes iConsole.tv awesome in terms of software. We’ll start doing that over the next several weeks. Stay tuned.