Sifteo Cubes touchscreen game blocks hit 2nd generation - available in UK too

Sifteo Cubes is an interactive gaming system that comprises 1.7-inch full-colour touchscreen blocks that communicate with each other wirelessly and respond to gesture commands from a player. They come with four games from the box, and can be expanded with further downloaded app titles.

Now, Sifteo has improved the technology for its 2012 generation of cubes, and will be releasing a brand new set in November, just in time for Christmas. And we can't wait, because they add a dimension to table -op gaming that will delight adults and kids alike.

The new Sifteo Cubes are now totally wireless. Previously, a control dongle needed to be connected to a PC in order to run the cubes, but now there's a separate Sifteo Base unit that does the job. And as it runs on batteries, it is totally wireless.

The Base stores players' games, plays game audio with a built-in speaker, wirelessly communicates with Sifteo Cubes, and it's only when you want to add new games to the set-up, that you need to plug it into a computer.

As for the cubes themselves, they're completely wireless at all times. Each features a 3-axis accelerometer, proximity sensors, to check whether they sit next to another cube and 2.4GHz wireless communications technology to keep in touch with the base.

The starter pack comes with three of the cubes and the Sifteo Base, with more able to be added, and there are four games pre-loaded. While each offers a different challenge, they rely on movement of the cubes and laying them down near each other, as well as interaction with the individual touchscreens and gesture control. It truly is a new way of playing.

Other improvements for the new range of Sifteo Cubes over the first wave include the ability to have up to 12 cubes to the one set-up. Adding additional cubes unlocks new content for existing games, such as new levels, puzzles and special characters. It also means you can have more players than before.

One change that may not be so welcome is that the Cubes themselves are now powered by a single AAA battery each, rather than rechargeable like the first set.

And, sadly, Pocket-lint has found out that the new Sifteo Cubes are not compatible with the last generation, so you can't just build on your set that way. However, Sifteo has considered its early adopters with a money off incentive.

"They are not backwards compatible, so people can not combine the original cubes with the new cubes," explained a company spokesperson.

"The reason for this is because the new Cubes have undergone such significant upgrades that it just wasn't possible to make them work with the original Sifteo Cubes. We are offering a 'Friends & Family Loyalty Voucher' to people who purchased the original Sifteo Cubes.

"We would not be where we are today without the support we received from our first customers. They are the reason we started Sifteo, and the reason we have been able to make Sifteo Cubes way more awesome. We'd like to share our excitement with them by offering an exclusive $50 loyalty voucher to help them get their first set of the new Sifteo Cubes."

Customers have already been informed by email.

As previously mentioned, the next-generation of Sifteo Cubes will be available from November, with pre-orders in the US now open at $129.95 for the three Cubes starter pack, $199.95 for a six Cubes bundle, and add-on Cubes for $29.95 each. You can buy them from Sifteo's own website, www.sifteo.com.

The Sifteo Cubes range is now also available in the UK, from distributor RM Education. It is currently stocking the first generation of the game system for £230 excluding VAT for the six Cubes set, which includes the rechargeable versions of the blocks and a charging dock. They are available from, www.rm.com.

We understand that RM Education will also be carrying the next-generation of the system when it is ready for release.