Back in June broadband streaming video game service OnLive launched
, offering users a PC broadband streaming gaming service for $14.95 a month -- plus the cost of games. Reviews for the service were mixed
, and not too surprisingly dependent on the quality and speed of your broadband connection and how close you are to OnLive's data centers (within 1,000 miles is required). In October the company ditched the monthly fee
, and today the company announced they'll begin selling their set top device on December 2
According to the company, the device consumes just 6 watts, is 1080p60, 3D TV-compatible, has optical HDMI and Ethernet connections, and supports four wireless controllers. Games max out at $50, though the company says they're also cooking up a flat rate plan with access to an unlimited back catalog of titles.
The device is essentially a dumb terminal, streaming games that are running elsewhere on more powerful hardware. According to the company's tech specs
, the service requires at least a 3 Mbps connection for televisions under 30", 4 Mbps for 30-40" TVs, and 5 Mbps for 40" and larger TVs.
The company originally considered both giving the device away and/or including Wi-Fi, neither of which apparently happened. Joystiq
has posted the first review of the device I've seen -- the reviewer sporting a whopping 68 Mbps connection which probably helps. The final verdict is a positive one, with the device sporting better graphics than their console counterparts (which makes sense given high-end PCs are running the games) and good network performance:
Controller flakiness aside, I have to say that I consider the OnLive MicroConsole (and its controller) to be a pretty fantastic piece of hardware. It's instant-on and relatively quick to get into games, the navigation's snappy and, as hard as it has been to believe, the picture quality from a normal viewing distance is largely superb.
As we've commented in the past, it seems like broadband game streaming is inevitable, but with a field dominated by major players like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo -- it's just not clear OnLive is going to be the one to truly succeed at it. If OnLive can't make a profit, the games users are shelling out $50 for won't exist a few years from now.