Saturday, 11 March 2017

The day that Nintendo dared to cede its technology to Panasonic to create a multimedia console

A Nintendo console with entertainment center capabilities? No, that does not exist, some will say, but the truth is yes, and it is one of those strange and (almost) unique cases in which Nintendo has dared to license the technology of its consoles, in this case Panasonic.

In 2001, in full explosion of launches of so-called sixth generation consoles, the market had already received the Playstation 2 a year earlier, and Microsoft was entering this field with the launch of its Xbox. One of the main features of these consoles was their DVD support, so they could be used as training centers. On the other hand, Nintendo's response was the GameCube, which focused only on video games, you know, Nintendo playing theirs.

However, few know that Nintendo did launch a GameCube with multimedia capabilities (good, more or less), the 'Panasonic Q', which many believe would have been the salvation of the company.

Panasonic Q
The Panasonic Q, also known simply as Q or GameQ, was a risky and unique bet within the sixth generation of consoles, since it was a much more sophisticated version of the GameCube, both in function and design, which only Was released in Japan on December 13, 2001 with a price of $ 439.

It should be noted that the Q was not manufactured by Nintendo, but by Panasonic, this due to an agreement between Matsushita, owners of the Panasonic brand, and Nintendo, where the Japanese manufacturer would be in charge of producing optical disks for the console, as well The reading system. All this under the condition that Nintendo ceded the technology of its console to Panasonic, which gave them the right to manufacture a version of the GameCube with DVD player and entertainment center capabilities.

This was not the first time Nintendo had licensed its technology, and by 1986 it had signed a similar contract with Sharp, who was given permission to use its Famicom (known in the West as NES) in other products that would not be manufactured by Nintendo. This is how the Twin Famicom was born, a console capable of reading cartridges and diskettes, and the Sharp Nintendo Television, which was a television (the first of its kind) to incorporate a console in its interior, which was released in 1989.

More than a console, the Q was a DVD player with console capabilities. What stood out most of the Panasonic Q was its beautiful design , which maintained the appearance of cube but with more elegant finishes that made it an entire object of desire. It had chassis made of stainless steel and a front in polished glass in mirror finish, with attractive blue LEDs on the connectors of the controls, and with everything and backlit LCD screen.

The Panasonic Q included a Panasonic game controller, and a controller to control the player functions. Unlike the GameCube, the Q had a classic front-loading flag for the discs, adding elements that Nintendo's console did not have as an optical output for digital audio, compatible with DTS and 5.1 channels, as well as a port To connect a subwoofer. But the most attractive thing is that there was no "brick" to connect to the electrical energy, since it was incorporated into the body of the console, so we only need a cable.

The release model was only able to read region 2 DVDs and had region lock for GameCube discs. But with the aim of boosting its sales, months later an improved version was released which extended its compatibility to DVDs of all regions, besides support of CDs of Audio, MP3 and CD-R. The attractive part is that in this new version games could already be used in NTSC and JAP format, while PAL support never arrived.

In spite of all these good things, the Q never left Japan, and its production was canceled in December of 2003, with only two years of life. Although there are no official sales figures, it is estimated that Panasonic sold almost 100,000 units. Many still wonder what would have happened if Nintendo had launched this console in 2000, at the same time as the PS2, and with a risky price strategy, would the GameCube have saved itself from failure? We will never know.

To date, the Panasonic Q can be obtained on eBay or old technology stores, where it is priced at around 300 dollars used.

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