In the early 2000s, there was the promise of a new console called the Infinium Phantom. The company promised PC performance in the living room, a concept revived recently by Valve. The console was designed to stream games over the web, another concept that has been revived in recent years. Unfortunately, streaming games has not worked well in today's infrastructure, so there was little chance it would have worked a decade ago.
The company showed off demos for several years at tradeshows, and made huge promises that seemed impossible to fulfill. As time passed, I began researching the company and found that its address was only about an hour from me. Needless to say, a friend and I took a trip to see the office, only to find out it was a storefront in a shopping center with only a desk and a phone - not even a chair.
At that point, it was clear that the company was not going to be successful, despite having over $73 million to have spent on nothing. A keyboard & mouse lapboard was produced, but never sold because it was a disaster. Shortly after my little trip, the company collapsed and faced SEC charges for stock fraud. What seemingly never happened, however, was the development of an actual console.
After last week's revelation of an original Nintendo/Sony Play Station prototype still existing, a Florida resident recalled his encounter a few years ago with a Phantom prototype. Someone brought the prototype into a local computer shop and the technician took photos after getting the device "working." The prototype was reportedly a disaster - missing components and using an adjusted motherboard.
The photos were submitted to Ars Technica by the user, but Ars has not been able to confirm any of the information. The images do, however, match the aesthetics of the actual demo devices, and the prototype showing up in Florida does match with the last known whereabouts of the company. The idea that one of these prototypes was liberated from the collapsing company and making its way into the hands of a collector is a realistic possibility. Either way, it is interesting to think that there was a time when the company actually planned to release a product.