Setting the Pace

I'm constantly amazed by all the stuff I still come across regarding the Dreamcast. Just when you think you've seen it all, something else pops up. Now, I'm aware that there are plenty of other folks out there on the interwebs who no doubt know far more about the Dreamcast and Sega than I ever will...but quite how this passed me by, I don't know.

What am I on about? Well, it appears that in 2001 Sega entered into a partnership with set-top box manufacturer Pace with a view to create a digi-box...with a 40GB hard drive and the guts of a Dreamcast chucked in. The vision was an all-in-one digital TV receiver that could also download 'on demand' Dreamcast games that were subsequently to be stored internally. Yep...mind: blown. Obviously, this kind of thing is the norm in this age of broadband, Xbox Ones and Hi Def thingamajigs...but in 2001? It was truly groundbreaking stuff.

Here's an excerpt from Imagination Technologies' (a division of PowerVR, creators of the Dreamcast's graphics chips) press release:

"Set-top boxes with built-in Dreamcast architecture will enable consumers to play network games as well as view TV shows and other entertainment content using this single product. Games will be downloaded on demand to an integral hard disk - currently 40 Gigabytes - that Pace has incorporated into its digital TV home gateway. These devices will enjoy complete compatibility with Dreamcast games content by utilising the proven Dreamcast technology, including PowerVR graphics processing."

You can read the rest of the press release here. There's also an archived report on the Guardian website here. Alternatively, you could use AltaVista and search for 'Sega Pace.' Or Lycos. I think there's another popular search thingy called Bing too.

So, what happened to this Pace/Dreamcast hybrid? Not much, by all accounts. As we all know, Sega backed out of the hardware business not long after the deal was announced so I can only imagine that somebody had to phone Pace and break the news to them. Not an enviable position, I'll wager. I've looked around online and there don't appear to be any of the pictured prototypes out in the wild...but I could (as ever) be wrong. If I am, you know what to do...

It's a very interesting story, and just another twist in the 'before it's time' tale. Motion controls, online play, the VMU, the Sega Swatch, Zip Drive, Dream Eye, Karaoke add-on...the list of innovations goes on and on. Now, the question remains: why didn't you buy a Dreamcast in 1999? Eh? Eh?! It could have all been so different :'(

3 comments:

Aaron said...

That's pretty cool

Robert Bishop said...

I remember reading this back in about 2001, just goes to show sega had ideas long before there rival's. Why ahead of there time. Dreamer4life

Tomleecee said...

Yeah, it's very cool and well ahead of other consoles that now have this functionality. I'd love to get hold of one of those demo units...but it'll never happen!