Alienware Says Alpha Is Still In Alpha

Alienware Says Alpha Is Still in Alpha

The Alienware Alpha is smaller and more powerful than an Xbox 360 or PS4, but the $US549 Windows-powered game console shipped a little half-baked. Not to worry, says Alienware: updates are on the way! "We're in the alpha phase of Alpha," admits the company.

When I confronted Alienware Alpha product boss Marc Diana about the issues I saw during my review, he admitted that the current product isn't quite where Alienware wants it to be. "It's not a full robust controller-based OS," says Diana, "but it will be." Alienware is committed to updating the system every single month until it gets there. "Every month we'll eliminate the known bugs and move into feature improvements," he says.

What kind of feature improvements? Origin games. Volume controls. The ability to hop over to the Windows desktop without plugging in a mouse and keyboard (one of my biggest pet peeves). Press a button to launch the Windows 8 on-screen keyboard, complete with D-Pad support, instead of having to hunt and peck with an emulated mouse. A recovery tool so you don't need to wait for Alienware to ship you a Windows image in order to replace the drive.

"In the next three months you can expect things like file exploration, the ability to map into pictures, documents, that kind of stuff," adds Diana.

Alienware Says Alpha Is Still in Alpha

But Alienware also wants you to tell them what the console should do. Every month, you'll see a list of changes on Alienware's support page, and you can submit your ideas there too. "As long as it's something we can pull off in a month, we'll do it," says Diana, though Alienware will also entertain features that might take a little bit longer.

Diana claims the Alpha will get faster, too. "I imagine into two months it's going to be performing faster than it's performing today, and that's not an understatement... I'll be pressuring the team to have significant boot time improvements." Right now, the Alpha takes over a minute to boot, but the company's shooting for the 22-second boot times they originally showed at E3.

As far as the Alpha's stupidly slow hard drive goes, Diana says going with a 5400rpm hard drive was necessary to hit the $US549 price point, considering that the company had to pay for a Windows 8.1 licence and an Xbox 360 controller for every box, but they're looking into better alternatives too.

Next year, Diana says he intends to work with "as many game developers as we can" to optimise Windows games for the Alpha specifically. Traditionally, one of the biggest benefits of a game console is a hardware spec that doesn't change, because it lets game developers eke out more performance than they can when targeting the least common denominator. Optimization for the single Alpha spec could be a major boon.

But of course, that assumes that the Alpha sells well to begin with, which assumes you trust Alienware enough to buy one. I like the Alpha, and it already plays games well. Alienware seems committed to the idea. But it's your call whether to wait, or jump in now.


Comments

    So it's faster and smaller than PS4 and XBOX 360, how about comparing that to XBOX One?

    Will it be just another PC?

    Sp this is a PC based console playing PC games ?

      Put simply, it is a PC with integrated components (Midway between a laptop and a desktop usually) and a customized interface designed for a controller.

    The Alienware Alpha is smaller and more powerful than an Xbox 360 I'd hope so.

    This is exciting - if these steam boxes take off then we might start to see more effort for the ports.

    Plus, it's a big kick in the nuts to idiots who think the PC gaming is expensive.

      As I've always said to people, if you already have a desktop, chucking a 750 Ti (the holy grail of graphics cards right now) into it for ~$150 AUD and buying $350 worth of games will always be better than the current gen consoles and provide about 90% of the experience.

      If you don't have a desktop you likely have a laptop, most do. Just take the amount you are willing to spend on "just" a laptop and then add $400 and you'll usually be able to get something that will play any game fine at moderate specs.

        Agree, although I personally think that people shouldn't baulk at the start-up price of building a PC. You can built a really good rig for ~$800. That's about $200-300 more than a next gen console and (although I don't want to start a PCMR pissing-contest) a far better gaming machine than either next gen console.

        The difference is made up almost immediately by game prices though. I've spent $75 on games so far, and steam gauge values the total at around $800 (you can try it here http://www.mysteamgauge.com/). That includes some older titles which are personal favourites of mine, that I couldn't replay on next gen anyway (FO3/NV, Skyrim, etc).

          Oh I completely agree, I'm just about to finish an iTX build (GPU and HDD for Christmas from me, to me) for just shy of $3k, but that's an extreme case designed to last me through a 5 year engineering degree. buying any $1,300 laptop will net you gaming for the next 3 years at what ever resolution the laptop runs at so that's my usual suggestion.

          EDIT: Also, my Steam gauge is $6,254 and around 2TB worth.

          Last edited 25/11/14 3:58 pm

            The thing you PC tards don't ever seem to understand is that a lot of people, myself included, just don't like to hunch over desks to play games. I'd rather kick back in my lounge AND I have a PC with 32g ram, nvidia 780 with plenty enough grunt to run most games. It just sucks playing at desks.

            Couch master race

    need to have support for that graphics amplifier they just released for their 13" laptop and this thing will be future proof!

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