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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 May, 2004, 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK
Phantom console shows its substance
By Darren Waters
BBC News Online in Los Angeles

The much-hyped Phantom games service has made a strong debut at the E3 games show in Los Angeles, impressing many of its critics.

Phantom console (Photo: Jon Jordan)
The Phantom looks like other game consoles
The service combines a "games receiver", which looks much like a games console, and a subscription which allows games to be downloaded from the internet.

Phantom had been ridiculed for its substance-less qualities in the last 18 months as the new company got off the ground without showing any actual hardware.

The company has made light of such stories in its E3 marketing, with slogans "Phantom lives" and "I Believe".

Downloadable library

"It's a games receiver for PC games," explained a spokesman for the company.

Phantom keyboard (Photo: Jon Jordan)
It comes with a keyboard and mouse
"You pay $29.95 a month and for that you get the receiver, a lap pad and games pad."

The receiver is a high-specification PC in a custom-designed box which does not look out of place in a living room.

It comes free only if customers sign up for a two-year subscription - it costs $199 without a subscription.

The lap pad is also a clever piece of design, combining a keyboard and mouse which sit combined in your lap.

"Trying to play PC games in your living room is hard. This makes it easy," said the Infinium spokesman.

The service is being compared with subscribing to cable or satellite television.

The package comes with a library of free games and more can be downloaded.

Phantom players

Kevin Bachus, president of Infinium Labs, said: "People my age who grew up playing video games are now starting families of their own and are eager to play together.

Concept art for Phantom console, Infinium
Early designs looked very different
"We'll have an array of titles. And all the customer will have to do is sit down in front of the system, choose a title and begin to play."

Phantom has announced deals with chip manufacturer AMD to provide the main processor and Nvidia to provide the graphics chip.

The receiver has a Athlon XP 2500+ CPU, with a 40 gigabyte hard drive and 256 megabytes of Ram.

Those specifications compare well with PCs available today although it is unclear how the receiver will adapt to the fast changing world of PC gaming.

"We think it will appeal to the hardcore gamer and the casual gamer," said a spokesman.

The console will also allow for multiplayer games with other Phantom owners as well as PC gamers.

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