Microsoft will announce a handheld gaming console at the E3 next month according to substantial rumours by Mimbee, a previously unknown German gaming site.
The rumour concerns ´ZuneX´, a Zune media player which doubles as a gaming console. Its alleged features include obviously dedicated software, as well as compatibility with Xbox Live Arcade and the recently announced cloud gaming service OnLive. It is said to feature MicroSD and SIM card slots, making at least some mobile phone functions likely.
Its tech specs are comparable to the original Xbox, at least in parts. The news site has since published a wealth of images, including a product shot, logo, a snapshot of a presentation, a snapshot of a hands-on session and five detail shots of a product sheet showing tech specs.
Of course, we need to ask the question whether the above images are real or just an elaborate fake. In my mind, ZX-1000 is too close a product code to the PSP. But that is nothing more than a hunch. There are further reasons to believe that the images are fake.
On the third image showing tech specs, under the heading ´Input´, there is the entry ´Customizable controlls´. A spelling mistake like this one is highly unlikely on a legitimate document of this type.
Also, an alleged Microsoft Office Twitter account is cited in the story which stated that "June 2009 will be an important month for Zune lovers" and later added: "New product launch, that's all I'm allowed to say. Hold off from buying an iPhone/Pre. :)"
This appears to be a mistake, though. The official Microsoft Twitter account in question is this one, as the above user admitted himself.
What is certain is that a German Xbox representative twittered: "As of today, I am really pissed that I'm not going to be at E3. Unfortunately, I can only say more on June 2nd." This could be entirely unrelated to the above rumour, though.
I was initially swayed to believe that the images were real. But the fact that the Twitter account is not an official Microsoft one makes them far less credible. The website also cannot be traced back to reliable Whois information. They claim to be a gaming site run by German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom AG. Given the very colloquial style of the site, I find this highly doubtful. T-Online's gaming site really does link to the site but calls it "a satirical video blog." Of course, I will investigate this further next week.
Finally, a spelling mistake in documents such as above is only a subtle indicator, but it makes me even more sceptical. I myself believe that the story is fake. What do you think? Do you find any other clues in the material above? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
EDIT There is a similar rumour about a revised Zune player codenamed "xYz", which is described as a "digital entertainment handheld". TeamXbox claims to have learned about the device from several inside sources.
Apparently, the device "sits somewhere in-between the Xbox and Zune platforms, offering both gaming and media playback, as well as Internet-related services, all in a portable format." The codename "xYz" is meant to symbolize that the device will act as a catalyst between those two platforms, Xbox and Zune.
Another source consulted for this story confirmed the development of such mobile device, at least as of December of last year. This source defined the Microsoft handheld as “unlike anything on the market today,” and said that the only way to describe it is to “think of a mashup of the Sony Mylo, the PSP, and the iPhone… errr, the iPod Touch; [the MS handheld] doesn’t need access to a phone network.” That last sentence was one of the juiciest comments made, since the source wanted to emphasize this device lacks access to a phone network and that’s why he changed the iPhone example with the iPod Touch.
Even if several analysts and publications have reported that Microsoft is planning to market its own smartphone, this second source told me not to expect any business application or user interface (UI) that resembles a smartphone. Furthermore, the source stressed:
“Although the Microsoft handheld is definitely a converged device, this is not a Zune Phone.” The source added: “Microsoft won’t compete with its Windows Mobile customers.”
There is far more information in the article itself, so head on over.
With the source and the article oozing journalistic integrity and, as such, reliability, this rumour appears far more credible to me than the one above. I have also been told by someone working directly for one of the current two handheld manufacturers that the spec sheet of the alleged ´ZuneX´ looks highly unusual.
EDIT I can exclusively reveal that the entire ´ZuneX´ rumour and concerned documents are fake. For more, intriguing details please read my next post.
Thanks to: Gameswelt (German)
Image Source: Sol.de