Come April 6th, there will be much to rejoice about for Xbox 360 owners as we finally get support for USB drives.

It was announced today that the April 6th console update for the Xbox 360 will finally allow you to use the USB drive of your choice for storing game saves, demos, profiles and more.  While you will have option of using an external hard drive, the announcement does stress that flash-based devices will be the better option.

You will need to configure any device you plug into the Xbox, or you can wait until May when SanDisk will release pre-configured thumb drives you can use right out of the package without having to do anything.  Any thumb drive you choose to use will have to be a minimum of 1 GB, and you can have two thumb drives connected at any time for up to a maximum of 32 GB of storage.

This is a welcome addition to the console as no one really thrilled to the Microsoft produced memory units that only had 512 MBs of storage, meaning they weren’t even capable of storing most game demos.  This will greatly free up space on crowded hard drives, or if you choose to go for the Arcade version of the console which does not come with a hard drive, this could be a much cheaper alternative for saving game data.

Thumb Drive prices are constantly dropping, and this is something Microsoft has needed to do for some time now.  It will also give you the option of properly backing up your data in case of a hard drive crash.

We can’t wait for April 6th now!

Categories: Video Games   
 

Netflix has finished its goal of making sure every current video game console can access its Watch Instantly streaming content now that it is shipping the activation discs for Nintendo Wii consoles.

The Xbox 360 has been able to stream Netflix for a while now, and eventually the Sony Playstation 3 was able to do it via an activation disc that you have to put in the console each time you want to use the service.  While not as convenient as the Xbox 360 method, it still works well.

Now Nintendo Wii consoles will be able to use the same method as Sony has.  You can request the free disc at the Netflix site, and they will ship them out as soon as possible.

While the disc itself is free, do remember that you need to have a subscription to Netflix to use the actual service.  Without the subscription, the disc is kind of pointless.

Categories: Video, Video Games   
 

It would seem that the little known experiment being conducted by Walmart and Best Buy to accept trade-in games has come to an end.

Industry Gamers is reporting that the e-Play kiosks that were placed at Walmart and Best Buy locations to accept used video game trade-ins has come to an abrupt end.  Seen as a chance to steal away some of the glory from GameStops, it appears to have had about as much impact as a feather on an elephant.

All of the current kiosks have been shut down and will be removed over the coming weeks.

It seems the problem was more with the third-part e-Play than the actual stores, and the retailers could try it again under a different system, but it seems unlikely that they will waste the effort.

GameStop has been the undisputed king of game trade-ins for some time, and it is seeming less and less likely that any one will be able to unseat them.  Personally, since we have no GameStop in my town, I’ve been using Amazon’s trade-in service to great success.  Hopefully that won’t go anywhere any time soon, but as for any other physical chain giving them a challenge, it just seems unlikely at this point.

Categories: Video Games   
 

It isn’t just computers any more that is leading to children being molested by strangers they meet online.

Edward Stout, a 27-year-old man from Richmond Heights, Missouri, has been sentenced to ten years in prison for engaging in sexual relations with an underage California girl.

Mr. Stout and the underage girl met on X-box Live in April 2008, and in Jan. 2009 he drove non-stop for 30-hours to California to meet the girl.  Upon meeting they engaged in a sexual encounter.  There is no indication of how the relationship was discovered, but Mr. Stout plead guilty to an “illicit relationship” and will now spend ten years in prison.

We have said many times here on StarterTech that you need to keep computers where they can be monitored for usage by your children, but that goes for any device that allows them to communicate with the world.  We’re all for them being online, but would you let them hang out with adult strangers in person?  Then why should you let them do it online?

Categories: Opinion, Video Games   
 

amazon logoAmazon is ready for you to start your holiday shopping for the video game fan on your shopping list right now.

Amazon is running a video game promotion from now until Oct. 31st wherein if you purchase $80 worth of video games, you will receive a credit for $40 off your next video game purchase.  The credit voucher will be emailed to you seven days after our order for $80 ships to you.

This isn’t the type of thing we normally cover around here at StarterTech, but we were struck by the selection of games including some very recent releases such as Batman:Arkham Asylum, Wet, The Beatles: Rock Band and so on.  You normally expect in sales such as this for them to only offer up older games that a company is overstocked on, but this offer really is worth it considering how expensive new releases are running now.

Even if you have no one to buy for, this deal is worth checking out for your own collection if you have been putting off purchasing some of the newest releases.

Categories: Shopping, Video Games   
 

netflixNetflix is finally coming to the Sony Playstation 3.

While it has been rumored for quite some time, Netflix has finally announced that its streaming service will be coming to the Sony Playstation 3 very soon.  There is, however, one hitch for those who start using it right away … you need a Blu-ray disc to make it work.

Yep, you need a disc.  You will need to contact Netflix to get a free Blu-ray disc that will need to be in your PS3 any time you are streaming content.  This is only a temporary workaround until Sony updates the system software in 2010.  Still annoying, and it makes you wonder why Netflix didn’t wait to launch the service, but oh well.

This now leaves the Nintendo Wii as the only current generation video game system in the United States without Netflix streaming capabilities, so it makes you wonder how long until that system also receives it.

We here at StarterTech stream Netflix via an Xbox 360, and we love the service.  Sure it isn’t perfect, but for the price, you really can’t beat it.

Categories: News, Video Games   
 

tru logoDo you have a copy of Pitfall for the Atari 2600 collecting dust in your closet? Well, why not trade it in for something far more current?

Toys R’ Us has announced that it has launched a new video game trade-in program that will take any game with its original case and artwork all the way back to the Atari 2600 and 32-bit Sega Genesis.  While they are accepting the games, they will not be selling them through their stores.  The games will be accepted on behalf of an unnamed third-party, but considering what you can get rid of, does it really matter?

As to how the process will work exactly, Toys R’ Us has written it out step-by-step for you:

  • Used video games in their original cases, with the original case artwork may be brought to a Toys”R”Us Guest Services desk.
  • Games will then be scanned and prices will be offered for individual titles.
  • Gamers confirm that they want to accept the offer to exchange any, or all, of the games they brought to the store.
  • Once the transaction is complete, customers receive an activated gift card equal to the total worth of all games traded.
  • Immediately upon receiving the gift card, customers can purchase any product from iPods and toys to candy and diapers at any Toys”R”Us or Babies”R”Us location or online at Toysrus.com.

There is no indication how much they will be paying for the games, but considering how hard it has been to get rid of some older games, anything seems like a deal at this point.

Major support for this new program will begin on September 13th with mentions in the weekly circulars.

Categories: Video Games   
 

rrodIt’s been almost four years since the Xbox 360 first launched to the public, and yet there are still units out there failing.

Every owner of an Xbox 360 fears the well-known “Red Ring of Death” (RRoD) which leads to them having to ship their unit back.  While the number of failed units was once as high as 50 percent in the first two year’s of a system’s life-cycle.

Well, good news everyone, Information Week is reporting that the number of failed systems has dropped to a mere 23.7 percent of systems in first two years of life!  HUZZAH!

All kidding aside, this rate is still too high, and you have to wonder why it is that Microsoft still hasn’t come up with a way to solve this problem.  This statistic unfortunately makes the Xbox 360 the most unreliable of the current systems on the market, but that of course doesn’t stop it from still selling in huge numbers.

While it is unlikely that the high failure rate will deter anyone from buying one of these systems, it still wouldn’t hurt for you to make sure you are very familiar with your warranty information from Microsoft and keep it somewhere where you can get to it.

Categories: Video Games   
 

ps3 slimAfter nearly three years in the market place, the Sony Playstation 3 is not only getting a price drop, but a smaller version of itself.

In what is possibly the worst kept secret in video game history, the long-rumored PS3 Slim has been announced at a game show in Germany.  Priced at $299 in the USA, with a September 1st release date, the new version of the system is not only physically smaller, but it also is 34 percent lighter and draws 34 percent less power.

The new system will come with a 120 GB hard drive and all of the features of the original version such as Wi-Fi, Blu-ray player.  One new feature is if you hook the PS3 in to your Sony Bravia via an HDMI cable, they will operate together, and you will be able to control the PS3 from your TV remote, and if you turn off your TV, the Playstation will turn off at the same time.

As we said, the price in the USA will be $299, elsehwere in the world it will be 299 Euros, $499 AUD, $629 NZD and 29,980 yen.  Releases around the world are either Sept. 1st or Sept. 3rd.

This could be just what the doctor ordered for Sony as the PS3 has been lagging very far behind in this iteration of the console war.  One of the things consumers always noted was the pricing, so not only do you finally get a price cut, but you get a better version.

Categories: Video Games   
 

xbox-liveMore details of the Xbox Games on Demand program have been revealed, and it just keeps getting more interesting.

Yesterday we brought you some information on the Xbox Games on Demand service, and even more info has popped up now.  First off, the pricing looks like it will be $20 – $30 per game.  Considering the age of these games that sounds about right, but, again, the nice part of this is not having to go out and buy them.  So if you really have a hanering to play Call of Duty 2 at 2 AM, now you can just buy it online and play it.

Secondly, the list we published yesterday was the list for the European market it turns out, so here is the list for the USA via Joystiq:

  • Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft)
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (LucasArts)
  • Rainbow Six Vegas (Ubisoft)
  • BioShock (2K Games)
  • Mass Effect (Microsoft Game Studios)
  • Ridge Racer 6 (Namco)
  • Burnout Paradise (EA)
  • Meet The Robinsons (Disney)
  • Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis (Rockstar Games)
  • Call of Duty® 2 (Activision)
  • MX vs. ATV Untamed (THQ)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SEGA)
  • Viva Piñata 2: Trouble in Paradise (Microsoft Game Studios)
  • Need for Speed Carbon (EA)
  • Test Drive: Unlimited (Atari)
  • Fight Night Round 3 (EA)
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted (EA)
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2K Games/Bethesda Softworks)
  • Prey (2K Games)
  • Viva Piñata (Microsoft Game Studios)
  • Karaoke Revolution American Idol Encore (Konami)
  • Kameo: Elements of Power (Microsoft Game Studios)
  • Perfect Dark Zero (Microsoft Game Studios)
  • Dance Dance Revolution Universe (Konami)

24 games compared to the 21 for Europe!  YAY!  We win!

Categories: Video Games   
 
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