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Infinium to launch $199 Athlon XP console 18 Nov

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Infinium Labs will finally launch its long-awaited broadband-based online gaming service on 18 November, the company said today.

And it will attempt to attract punters by offering free consoles to anyone who coughs up for a two-year subscription to the service.

Both console and service are called Phantom, and many observers had come to wonder whether either would prove little more than a vapourware. Infinium started touting both products early in 2003, but August came and went without the promised launch. A second launch timeframe, Q1 2004, was also missed, and the company couldn't even show a working version of the console at January's Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show.

With E3 opening today, Infinium is once again talking up its offering. The console will is based on an AMD Athlon XP 2500+ and contains a 40GB hard drive, 256MB of memory TV output and broadband Internet feed. The graphics come courtesy of an Nvidia GeForce FX 5700 Ultra ship. Nvidia also supplies the nForce 2 400 Ultra chipset on which the console is based.

The box, which clearly amounts to little more than a low-end PC, will retail for $199, Infinium said. The Phantom Games Service costs $29.95 a month, and if you sign up for a 24-month period, you'll get your Athlon XP box for free.

The service provides downloadable games that can be bought or rented. Software manages the removal of titles after the rental period and if the number of downloaded titles exceeds the drive's capacity. The service will offer "top new games to old standards people want to play again and again", Infinium promised.

"Subscribers will receive an initial library of free games, which will be supplemented with new choices each month as a part of their subscription fee," the company added. "Additional titles can be rented or purchased. Premium content packages will also be made available."

Infinium is currently fighting a legal battle with hardware site HardOCP over an article that criticised the company's business record. ®

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