2006 ultimately proved to be a good year for tech. After getting off to a somewhat slow start, 2006 eventually brought gamers and hardware enthusiasts some great products: towards the beginning of the year ATI introduced their Radeon X1900 series and NVIDIA their GeForce 7900 family in the high-end graphics segment, while cheaper mainstream parts were introduced as well. Towards the middle of the year, the big hit was Core 2. And of course, at the end of the year we saw the debut of several cheap thrills in graphics from ATI in the form of the Radeon X1650 XT, X1950 Pro, and X1900 XT 256MB, and NVIDIA’s GeForce 7900 GS and 7900 GTO. Quad-core was big at the end of the year as well, with both AMD and Intel releasing quad-processing solutions, although AMD’s Quad FX platform is still MIA as we type this.
Along the way we saw the debut of the 1-kilowatt power supply, memory speeds got faster, hard drives got bigger, and motherboards got more expensive. The latter was really the only downside to 2006.
In this article we’re going to sum up our picks for the 5 top most ground-breaking hardware products released last year. Every year has its fair share of lame ducks as well, so we’ll go over those in a follow-up article.
Before we get to the top 5 though, let’s start with the near misses.
Near Misses (in no particular order)
A year ago it was nearly universally believed that Nintendo’s next console would be a dud. Nintendo was very cryptic on specs, only acknowledging that they weren’t shooting for high-end graphics this time around, and that their focus would instead be on making games for a more mainstream audience by making games that were easier to play with more involving gameplay. Nintendo acknowledged that their new console wouldn’t sport high-definition graphics, and at the time they were still downplaying the importance of online play. Meanwhile, word leaked out from game developers who had access to pre-release hardware that Nintendo’s upcoming console offered little graphically that wasn’t already in place in Xbox 1. In this IGN article
, one unnamed game dev called Nintendo’s console a “souped-up Xbox”.
The bottom line was that it looked like Nintendo was giving up on the hardcore gamer in order to appeal to the masses. Keep in mind that these users may or may not be interested in gaming at all.
Jakub played devil’s advocate in his Nintendo: For The Win article
, but many of you disagreed with his arguments, seeing no chance for Nintendo to compete successfully with Microsoft and industry heavyweight Sony. The criticism really picked up when Nintendo named their new console Wii. “Nintendo, Wii have a problem” was by far the #1 joke levied at the console.
Boy what a difference a year makes. Not only has the mainstream media embraced Nintendo’s Wii console, the hardcore gaming crowd has too. The Wii’s near universal appeal has led to lots of sales for Nintendo – it was at the top of most shopping lists for a lot of consumers this Christmas.
The Wii just missed our cut however. Its revolutionary controller is without a doubt ground-breaking, but the rest of the console itself is rather mundane, if not a little outdated, and we’re not just talking about the graphics. Nintendo’s online strategy for Wii is still in its infancy stages, and as any PC gamer can tell you, while single-player games are fun, it’s all about getting online and chatting with and playing against other people nowadays.
Considering the tech specs of the console, it’s no surprise to see that Nintendo’s selling it for a profit at $250.