Computer Questions: How The Phantom Works

The Phantom from Infinum Labs promises to be a major change from current consoles. Get a sneak peek at how it will work.

Infinum Labs is set to introduce what may be a completely new revolution in home gaming this holiday season with the introduction of the Phantom console. The Phantom isn't your typical gaming console. In fact, it has more in common with the computer sitting on your desk than it does with the Playstation 2 or Xbox sitting in your living room.

The Phantom is really less of a game console and more an entirely new concept of how the home entertainment market should work. Rather than going out to the store to buy games for the system, the Phantom makes new releases available for purchase and immediate download from the comfort of your own home. No more standing in lines at Electronic Boutique or Gamestop on release days needed.

What makes the Phantom revolutionary is its dependence on a high-speed internet connection in order to function. Instead of inserting game discs into the console as you would with the Playstation 2, Gamecube or Xbox, the Phantom connects to Infinum Lab's private network using your cable modem or DSL connection. Once the console has connects to the network and verifies your account, you'll be provided with options to purchase available games for download, rent a title you're not sure about or possibly even download free game demos.



How does it all work? Well, the big secret to Phantom is that it's actually not a console at all. Inside the sleek case, the Phantom is almost identical to current PCs used for playing games. The machine runs a version of Windows XP to control the hardware, which is mostly PC compatible hardware. The connection to the online network is made through an Ethernet port identical to those found on your desktop PCs, while the graphics for the games are processed by an NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 (a fairly high-end PC graphics card). The processor inside of the machine is an AMD Athlon 2500+ chip, exactly the same chip found in many current desktop PCs.

On the gaming front, what this new concept means is that you'll be required to pay around $29.95 a month for access to Phantom's gaming network which provides a few free games as well as access to download demos on the built-in hard drive. Infinum Lab's big selling point is their claim that by cutting out the retail stores, you'll be able to purchase new games cheaper and faster, an idea that should appeal to many gamers that think games are too expensive now.

The drawback to the concept, though, is the fact that Infinum Labs has chosen a 40-gigabyte drive to store the downloaded games and other files. While it may sound large, when you take into consideration the fact that most current games take up three to four gigabytes each it won't be long before the hard drive is full. Moreover, without being able to delete games to free-up space and reinstall from discs like you can with a computer"¦ It remains to be seen how Infinum Labs intends to address the problem, as not many gamers will be willing to download large files each time they want to play a game.

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