Along with the announcement on the release date of their modular PISTON Console, Xi3 has also dropped a question and answer (Q&A) document which is aimed at putting all of the details about the console in one, easy-to-read place.
The document is rather lengthy as it covers a lot of questions that people have had concerning the console, such as its description and full specification, price, pre-order information, peripherals, gaming, ability to upgrade, and more.
You can check out all the details by clicking on the press release button.
Since announcing its first computer gaming system—the PISTON Console—at the International CES trade show in January 2013, Xi3 Corporation has received unprecedented media attention along with intense interest from gamers worldwide. Some of the accolades and honors garnered by PISTON at its unveiling included
- Popular Mechanics Editors Choice Award,
- Popular Science Product of the Future Award,
- IGN.com Best of CES Award (Best PC),
- Men's Health Coolest Tech at CES 2013,
- Digital Trends Best of CES: Gaming, and
- TechRadar's Best New Products from CES 2013.
With the scheduled Fall launches of new gaming systems from two of the largest game console manufacturers in the world, along with continuing multi-year efforts by one of the world's largest independent game publishers/developers to produce a Linux-based gaming platform, attention on PISTON has never been higher, especially amid speculation that PISTON may be the long awaited "Steam Box."
To help provide additional information about PISTON and address many of the speculative reports in the media and/or on the Internet, Xi3 is releasing the following answers addressing many of the questions surrounding the PISTON Console document. Xi3 expects to disclose additional information about PISTON in the near future.
QUESTION #1: Can you please briefly restate what PISTON is and its specifications?
ANSWER #1: The PISTON Console is a small yet powerful gaming and entertainment system designed to allow users to run their most popular games and access their most popular forms of entertainment, including music, movies, television/cable shows, and more. Housed in a cube-like aluminum chassis roughly the size of a softball (4.27x3.656x3.656-inches), the PISTON was built upon the patented Xi3 Computer Architecture that forms the backbone for the tri-board design of Xi3's line of Modular Computers.
The PISTON is powered by a quad-core, 64-bit x86-based processor running at up to 3.2GHz, includes 384 programmable discrete-class graphics cores and is supported with 8GB of DDR3 RAM. As such, PISTON can run the most popular operating systems, including Windows, Linux, UNIX and others, along with the games and applications written for those OSes. PISTON comes standard with dual SSD connectors, one internal microSD card slot, and 128GB of solid-state SSD storage (upgradeable to 1TB), includes 3 display ports (miniDP, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors), 12 total USB ports (4 USB 3.0, 4 USB 2.0, and 4 eSATAp/USB 2.0 combo ports), digital audio ports and more, and supports up to 4K resolution (4096x2160 pixels).
Q2: What is the list price for PISTON, and when will it be available?
A2:November 29, 2013 (Black Friday) is the General Availability date for PISTON. Its list price in the United States is $999.00. PISTON pricing outside the U.S. will be announced at a future date.
Q3: Xi3 opened PISTON pre-orders earlier in the year during the SXSW Gaming Expo. When will those customers receive their PISTONs?
A3: Any customer who pre-ordered a PISTON Console during or before the 2013 SXSW Gaming Expo will receive their PISTON on or before November 15, 2013.
Q4: Isn't $999 a lot to pay for a gaming console?
A4: First of all, the PISTON is a lot more than just a gaming console. In fact, PISTON offers users a level of freedom and choice unheard of in the gaming console world. But one of the reasons PISTON Consoles cost more than gaming consoles from the Big 3 manufacturers is that PISTON uses solid state drives (SSDs) while they only use spinning discs. SSDs are faster and more reliable than discs and provide a significantly better overall gaming experience.
But back to the question of price, we'd ask people to consider how much they have already paid for their gaming systems in the past. In fact, a better question might be, "What can a PISTON Console replace?"
Q5: What can a PISTON Console replace?
A5: Simply put, the PISTON Console can replace a lot, starting with every closed gaming console on the planet. One of the main problems with gaming systems from the Big 3 manufacturers is that they are each closed systems, which means people can only play a game developed for a Wii on a Wii (or Xbox games for Xbox play or PlayStation games for PlayStation play). Such a closed approach also forces game developers to spend significant amounts of time and money developing for multiple platforms so they can reach the most number of prospective gamers. And that's on top of developing game versions that can run over the Internet or on a Windows-based computer.
But even then, most gamers and families that game have one or more computers capable of gaming, along with one or more closed gaming systems. And by the time you add up the total expense of buying each of those systems, the $999 price tag for the PISTON Console looks quite reasonable.
Q6: But what about all the peripherals most people already use?
A6: This is another area where the PISTON Console shines. As a general Rule of Thumb, any product that says, "Made for PC" will also run with the PISTON Console (PC). That means your Xbox and other game controllers, displays, keyboards, mice, printers, etc. will also work with your PISTON Console (PC). In other words, PC not only means Personal Computer, but it can also mean PISTON Console (PC).
Q7: What gaming software will run on the PISTON Console (PC)?
A7: If it's a Web-based game, then those games will obviously work on PISTON Consoles (PCs) as long as the PISTON is connected to the 'Net. Conversely, disc-based games that are "Made for PC" will also run on the PISTON Console (PC). Simply connect an external USB DVD/CD-player to your PISTON and play to your heart's content.
Q8: So how will PISTON be upgradeable, and why should consumers care about that?
A8: It has been 5—7 years since the previous "closed" gaming systems were launched by 2 of the Big 3 Gaming manufacturers. When those machines began shipping, they provided a great gaming experience for their day. Today? Not so much. The reason that's the case is that those machines were never designed to be truly upgradeable or updateable, and as we all know, technology continues to advance with new capabilities being launched every year.
The same problem also exists with gaming computers. Like it or not, the vast majority of computer owners don't know how to update or upgrade their machines by themselves. That means if they want a better computer gaming experience, they have to pay someone else to do it for them or go off and buy a brand new machine. With the PISTON Console (PC), this will not be the case.
Because PISTON is based upon the Modular Computer architecture that replaces the typical single motherboard found in most computers with three miniaturized and interconnected boards, PISTON Consoles (PCs) can be updated simply by removing and replacing one of these three boards. In the future, Xi3 will provide upgrade PISTON boards and components to provide increased processing power, faster/better graphic rendering capabilities, improved networking speeds, greater connectivity options, and more. As a result, Xi3 believes it will allow PISTON users to continue to enjoy topnotch gaming throughout the life of each PISTON Console (PC).
Q9: So what about Valve Corporation? Does Xi3 have a relationship with Valve or not?
A9: When we unveiled the PISTON Console (PC) at CES 2013, we announced at the time that Xi3 had received an investment from Valve. We have not revealed the amount or nature of that investment, nor will we do so now. We did, however, provide additional commentary about Valve and the "Steam Box" in a separate announcement in March of this year.
Q10: Is PISTON the Steam Box or not?
A10: Xi3 has never described its PISTON Console (PC) as the Steam box or a Steam Box, especially since it appears that Steam Box is a term created by journalists and not by Valve. To be clear, however, PISTON Console owners will be able to access and play games on/through Steam since it is a Web-based platform open to anyone with an Internet connection and a Steam account, either on a Windows- or a Linux-based system. So in this regard, PISTON could be considered the first commercially available Steam Box.
Q11: Does that mean PISTON will come pre-loaded with the newly announced SteamOS?
A11: It's a bit premature to answer this question, especially since few details have been disclosed about the SteamOS. However, according to the SteamOS announcement page, the SteamOS will ". . . run on any living room machine." Therefore, SteamOS should be able to run on PISTON Consoles (PCs) as well, but we'll have to wait until SteamOS is available to confirm this.
Q12: Why does PISTON have dual SSD connectors?
A12: First, solid state storage is simply much faster than disc-based storage, so we expect gamers will have a better overall game experience with PISTON's SSD-based storage approach versus the spinning disc approach of the closed gaming systems. Second, because PISTON's storage setup has no moving parts, the likelihood of losing data or having a system crash is significantly lower than with the spinning disc approach of the closed gaming systems. Third, PISTON users can easily expand and/or upgrade the amount of their PISTON's storage, including the ability to expand their PISTON to up to 1TB of SSD. And they can also use external storage options with PISTON as well.
Q13: What else helps improve gameplay on the PISTON Console (PC)?
A13: PISTON's Ethernet controller has been designed to recognize and prioritize computer gaming data to the top of PISTON's network queue. Such data traffic prioritization will further speed-up response times for PISTON gameplay. Additional details about optimized gameplay data traffic will be revealed at a future date.
Q14: Will the PISTON Console ship with any pre-loaded games?
A14: Yes. PISTON will ship with "pack-in" gaming titles pre-loaded onto its PISTONs. Details about publisher and developer partnerships, as well as the official list of pack-in titles, will be released before Black Friday.
Q15: What does the PISTON Console (PC) look like when it boots up?
A15: Stay tuned.
According to Xi3 Founder, President and CEO, Jason A. Sullivan, Xi3's goal is to set a new standard for the gaming world with the PISTON Console (PC).
"The PISTON Console (PC) is so small and lightweight, it can easily fit in the palm of your hand," Sullivan said. "The PISTON has also been designed to be modular from the ground up, which means we've built it so it can be easily updated and upgraded—no other gaming console manufacturer has ever done that.
"Additionally, PISTON was built for super-fast gaming by utilizing SSD storage and prioritizing gameplay traffic. PISTON also gives you 3 Ways to Play—at your desk, in your living room, or via a Virtual Reality setup. And you can still play with a controller or via keyboard and mouse, you decide. And naturally, we'll ship PISTONs pre-loaded with pack-in games. The bottom line is I can't wait to get this into the hands of gamers everywhere 'cause I know they're gonna love it."