In a recent interview, Vice President of Epic Games Mark Rein said that he believes, or perhaps envisions, the future of console gaming actually ditching the console, and focusing more on the tablet device. The reason being, is that while getting all your friends over to your house (or vice versa) is fun and all, but the idea of mobile gaming, but with the power of the Xbox 360, is just too enticing. Rein believes portability is where the next generation of console gaming will focus, as putting the power of current generation consoles into a smaller, more mobile-focused package is certainly possible.
Rein is the Vice President of the development house that built Gears of War, one of the most popular titles exclusive to Microsoft's Xbox 360. Rein believes, specifically, that Microsoft and Sony have the room to make something like this happen. Where, as he explains, "Imagine a future Xbox 360 that is actually a tablet you carry around." He went on to add that, "It will have more power than 360 does today, with technology like Kinect built right in."
But, just being portable isn't good enough. The new tablet/console would be plug-and-play, too. He paints a picture of going to a bar, and you and your friends busting out in a quick game of Dance Central (a title for Microsoft's Kinect peripheral), and then packing it all up when you're done and going about your business. But you'll have to go home some time, so that's when the other features, like wireless HDMI or other wireless technology similar to Apple's AirPlay, come into play. Being able to hook everything up, right on the fly, to your big screen TV, and then being able to use a wireless controller, or even your phone, to control what's happening on the screen.
While portability may be one component, it's the ease of use, no matter where you are, that strikes us as one of the coolest features of this "future" talk. There's no way to say whether or not Microsoft, or Sony, or even Nintendo are working on something like this. Both Sony and Nintendo already have their name out there in the mobile video game market, with their PSP and DS respectively, so perhaps making a full-blown console the size of a tablet would jeopardize those sales too much.
On the other hand, this is just pure conjecture by Rein, and there's no way to assume that this is happening around the corner, or any time soon. Or at all. However, if you want to speculate, Microsoft's UK boss did say that a new console was still a few years away -- if the tablet market is still around by then, perhaps Microsoft and Sony would indeed feel like that's a good market to get into, specifically for gaming, and providing the power (if not delivering more) of current generation consoles, wherever you go.