Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A console-ation prize. Part 1

I mentioned two things while discussing the Atari Flashback. One was home-brewing which has been pretty well covered. The other was that we might consider making our very own Console Classix Console. It an interesting idea, but there are a few things that have to be considered.

First, is it feasible? I think it is. A number of small, low power PC-on-a-board type products are out there. (Embedded systems as they are known.) We could buy a unit that had all the things we needed in it. A good CPU, plenty of RAM, a solid state drive, wired and wireless network connections and a TV out port.

Hardware-wise it's really not that big of a deal. Get the system you need, wrap it in a molded plastic case and include a power supply to support it. Throw in a couple of low cost USB controllers and you are really rolling. We might even be able to do something really awesome like include a cartridge adapter module where you could put the right adapter in it and play your own carts.

Software also shouldn't be a problem. First off we could throw Linux on the thing. Provide our own splash screen and load directly into the browser app. Then we would only load X windows for the browser and the emulators as needed. It should be fairly thin and run relatively fast. (We would need to put a button on the front on the thing to take you back to the menu... a little thought would be required for that.)

The emulators themselves shouldn't prove any great difficulty. Most of the emulators we use now already have Linux builds ready to go. There would be a system or two that we would have to change out, but it would just be a matter of finding a good Linux emulator for that system. Once we had our list of emulators we would just need to get them working with our service.

The last piece of the software puzzle would be the CC Browser itself. Fortunately this last build was done with portability in mind. It is almost cross-platform ready. All told the software work shouldn't take more than a few weeks. It would also give us the added bonus of having a Linux version of the client up and running.

So, it seems simple enough. Get the hardware together, setup the software and get it out there for the public to buy. What's the big deal?

More soon...

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