After the success of the Wii, Nintendo is pushing ahead with its next generation console on November 18, 2012. This one is more iPad-like with a 6.2 inch touchscreen built into the GamePad controllers, and that is driving up the price compared to the Wii at $200.
The console will launch in two varieties: The $299.99 “Basic” version, which includes a white, 8GB Wii U console, a gamepad, AC adapters, a sensor bar, and an HDMI Cable. The $349.99 Deluxe edition includes all of that in a black, 32GB console, with charging cradles and a free copy of Nintendoland.
This GamePad should make or break the console. It has a ton of features “motion control, a front-facing camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, rumble features, a sensor bar, a stylus, and support for Near Field Communication (NFC).” But it seems bulky:
And you can see the console itself (under the TV) is actually smaller the GamePad. Still, it only weighs 1.1 pounds and allows for some interesting game features (note the map on the GamePad screen above). Maybe Nintendo will surprise us all again, like they did with the Wii.
For the first time in more than 30 years, NASA is allowing Kennedy Space Center visitors inside the Launch Control Center – where NASA directors and engineers supervised all of the 152 launches including the space shuttle and Apollo programs.
The KSC Up-Close: Launch Control Center (LCC) Tour, the second in Kennedy Space Center’s special 50th anniversary series of rare-access tours, takes visitors inside Firing Room 4, one of the LCC’s four firing rooms and the one from which all 21 shuttle launches since 2006 were controlled.
Inside Firing Room 4, visitors will pass by the computer consoles at which engineers monitored the computerized launch control system’s thousands of system checks every minute leading up to launch. They’ll see the main launch countdown clock and many large video monitors on the walls, and enter the “bubble room,” with its wall of interior windows through which the Kennedy Space Center management team viewed all of the proceedings below.
A Rare Opportunity
As with the Vehicle Assembly Building, visitors have not had access to the LCC since the late 1970s, during the period after the Apollo and Skylab programs ended and before the first space shuttle launch in 1981.
The LCC will continue to operate in guiding the next generation of rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center for NASA and potentially for commercial space programs. Future launches of SpaceX, whose recent launch from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station resulted in the first mission by a commercial company to travel to and dock with the International Space Station, could take place from Kennedy Space Center beginning in 2013.
The LCC Tour is led by a trained space expert, giving visitors an insider’s view of the space program from launch preparation to liftoff. The tour also includes drive-by views of Launch Pad 39 and culminates at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, where visitors can resume the regular tour.
A new study from Carnegie Mellon University found that in 2010, video games wasted about 1% of America’s electrical energy.
They found that up to 75% of energy consumed by video game consoles is during idle use, because the machines don’t have an auto-power-down feature (like every computer does).
The authors of the study say the cost of implementing this feature is marginal and would save more than $1 billion in utility costs.
– By the end of 2010, over 75 million current generation video game consoles (Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Sony PlayStation 3) had been sold, meaning that many homes have two or more current generation game consoles
– We estimate that the total electricity consumption of video game consoles in the US was around 11 TWh in 2007 and 16 TWh in 2010 (approximately 1 % of US residential electricity consumption), an increase of almost 50 % in 3 years.
– The most effective energy-saving modification is incorporation of a default auto power down feature, which could reduce electricity consumption of game consoles by 75 % (10 TWh reduction of electricity in 2010).
– A simple improvement that could be implemented now via firmware updates to power the console down after 1 hour of inactivity. Though two of the three current generation consoles have this capability, it is not enabled by default, a modification that would be trivial for console manufacturers.
– Saving consumers over $1 billion annually in electricity bills.
Scott Lowe at The Verge points out that in May 2011, Microsoft did update Xbox 360’s firmware to enable auto-power-down by default. Now it’s up to the rest of industry to catch-up.