Definition: What is Coltan and what is it used for?

Coltan Information, History and Uses in Electronics

What is Coltan and Tantalum Mineral OreI have had several questions from readers asking “What is Coltan”? The reason people have asked this is in regards to the article I wrote talking about the use of Coltan in the Sony Playstation.

So I wanted to follow-up with a brief article that answers some of these questions.

Coltan is the name of a metallic ore called “columbite-tantalite”. Two key minerals can be extracted from Coltan. These minerals are niobium and tantalum. Tantalum is used in the production of many types of consumer electronics ranging from cell phones, dvd players, computers and even the Sony Playstation.

Tantalum is used for the production of capacitors for high performance electronics that need to be reliable and compact. Tantalum is produced in countries throughout the world, with less than 1% of total production coming from the Congo region in Africa. (This information goes against claims of civil wars fueled by the mining of Coltan in the Congo.)

For a great article with detailed information on Coltan and Tantalum production checkout the wikipedia entry that goes into depth on the mining, production, uses and geo-political concerns surrounding the production of this mineral.

Games for Windows – LIVE, the Free Gaming Service

Microsoft Announces Free Gaming Service for Windows

Games for Windows LiveMicrosoft has revealed their new gaming service “Games for Windows – LIVE”, a free gaming service that allows users to play games online through a service similar to that of Xbox Live.

The new service will utilize gamer tags, friends lists shared between Xbox 360, Windows Live and Zune, text & voice chat, and gamer achievements. All of these features are similar to those found on Xbox Live, the service that Microsoft has received high marks for on its Xbox and Xbox 360 console platforms.

On top of the PC game play aspects offered by the service, Microsoft has also announced cross platform gaming between Windows users and Xbox Live gamers. Although there was no mention of any plans to offer the Xbox Live service for free.

The Windows Live service sounds like it will attempt to set some new standards for online gaming. While it worries me when companies try to create standards for the rest of the industry, some of the innovations delivered by Xbox Live would be a welcomed change in the PC gaming world.

So far there has yet to be any industry standards regarding online gaming with PCs leading to a rather fractured online community consisting of millions of users. It would be very cool to allow those people to easily interact in a common ground to further the gaming culture, and bring gamers closer together.

To read the full details checkout the Games for Windows – Live homepage here.

With the new standards and features offered by Games for Windows – Live what are your impressions of how well the service will be received by users? Do you think standardizing online gaming will provide value to gamers, or make people feel as though they are being told how they should play. Let’s hear your thoughts!

By Paul in Gaming  .::. (Add your comment)

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