[H]ard News

Monday February 27, 2017

Ark: Survival Evolved Developer Announces $4,000 a Month Stipend for Modders

Studio Wildcard, developer of the runaway success dinosaur game Ark: Survival Evolved, has announced that they will be financing fifteen groups of modders to complete a mod for Ark. They will be paying each group $4,000 a month to complete their Ark mod with the understanding that each completed mod will become paid DLC. Each month the mod team's work will be evaluated and some might be dropped in favor of another mod. Some months the number of teams supported might rise depending on the number of high quality mods that Studio Wildcard feels has the potential for being paid DLC.

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There have already been issues with paid mods in Ark. DMCA take down requests have already been filed against competing Pokemon mods. One mod that was scheduled to become paid DLC was removed because it used the animations from another mod without permission. One modder that joined the Studio Wildcard team will make the final decision over which mod makes it into the program. There might be a public voting system instituted later on. All assets from a mod are required to be uploaded to the development team so that if a future patch breaks it, and the mod creation team refuses to fix it, someone from the Studio Wildcard team will work on getting it back running. Pretty cool stuff! I like this much better than the Steam wild, wild, west method of curating paid mods.

"Really," said Stieglitz of the sponsored mod program, "this speaks more generally to something that I think is kind of lacking in the industry which is a midway point between hobbyist modders, who are just really dabbling, and professional game developers."

Discussion

HTC's New Vive Payment Plans Diffuse the High Cost of PC Virtual Reality

I think we can all agree that unlike in the 90's when Virtual Reality first became a buzzword, VR today is pretty damned cool. One of the problems preventing it from really gaining as much traction as it should has been the rather steep up front cost. First you need a $800 headset, and then you also need a rather beefy computer with a fast GPU to keep up with the 11ms render times needed to prevent you from going into reprojection mode.

Well, at GDC HTC has announced that they are looking to do something about half of this problem. The HTC Vive will be offered with 0% $66 per month financing for 12 months.

If it has anywhere near the same effect it had on toe adoption rate of smartphones, this financing plan should certainly help with the adoption rate of the technology, especially for those who are on the fence, uncertain if the up-front investment is worth it. While some might argue about the wisdom of buying entertainment products on credit, personally I have no problem with taking advantage of a 0% financing option every now and then to soften the upfront blow. In fact, believers of the time-value of money might note that a 0% financing deal equates to a lower effective cost when considering the present value calculations, and is the smart thing to do if it is offered, as long as you keep up with your payments!

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"For the first time, Vive is launching a financing program in North America. For $66 a month and no-interest financing for 12 months, users can purchase a Vive on Vive.com with zero down. Additional new financing options are available at varying finance terms."

Discussion

Microsoft to Block Non-Windows Store Apps in Windows 10?

A few sites out there have been running with this alarmist headline today, and boy does it sound scary, right? Could windows 10 be going on full device-style lockdown, requiring you to use apps from the Windows Store? Well, not so fast. First off, as Beta News reports, this is only an option which can be enabled should you so desire, and while it is in the current preview version of the Creators Update coming this year, there is no indication if it will be in the final version or any future version at all.

While the concept of a locked down Windows where you, the user, do not have the freedom to install the software of your choice does sound like a grim dystopian future, and it may actually happen on the future Cloud version of the operating system, Microsoft's alternative to ChromeOS, it is also not without its merits. The majority of all exploits used to infect Windows machines come not from the Operating System itself, but rather from installed applications and browser plugins. What if you could have a package manager like under Linux, a Windows Update which updates not only Microsoft software and components of the operating system to the latest version, but also manages all installed software? This could be a huge benefit, helping make sure there is not some vulnerable outdated application installed somewhere you forgot about, and it also removes the need for each software vendor to install their own updater app, constantly pestering you about updates.

If they go down this road, however, I'd insist that they take more of the Steam approach, where if you purchase your software elsewhere, you can add it to the system using a key or other means, so they don't monopolize the distribution of software for all Windows machines, which account for some 90% of all computers out there. There also needs to be an out, maybe requiring special administrative privileges, for those times you just need that software that's not in the official store.

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Why would you want to do this? Well, blocking non-Windows Store software means blocking traditional programs, and these are the ones that are more liable to be malicious or pose a security threat. Apps that have made it into the Windows Store have -- in theory -- been vetted to some degree, and are less able to wreak havoc. Here's what you need to do:

Discussion

Twitch to Sell Games to Support Streamers This Spring

Twitch has partnered with various video game publishers to sell games directly through the Twitch streaming service. For example your account through Ubisoft's UPLAY can be linked to your Twitch account. If your favorite streamer is streaming a Ubisoft game, then there will be a buy option at the top of the broadcast. The streamer would get 5% commission of the sale and the game would be added to the viewer's account automatically. No keys would be generated to keep abuse low.

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What do you think? I've used Twitch since it's inception and I've seen them have account issues before. I remember when all the biggest streamers got hacked and more salacious content was streamed on their accounts in an attempt to get them banned from the service. Since then Twitch has regularly upgraded their service and all of these issues seem to have gone away. Amazon allows it's Amazon Prime users to link their Twitch to it for free games, DLC, discounts, unique Twitch only in game items, free subscriptions, etc.

I think it is masterful to place a purchase button on game streams as they happen in real time. I have to admit that some of the streamers are talented entertainers and it's a lot easier to hit the "Buy" button when you're in an euphoric mood from watching a twenty kill streak unfold, or world record Mario run. I can also see a lot of charge backs on credit cards as there are a ton of children that watch streams as it is the "TV" for the gamer culture. I wonder if the games will go on sale from time to time as the Steam Sale has become a part of our gamer culture. Without early buyer discounts and sales, this could die really fast.

It's worth noting that Riot and Valve are not included on this list, whose games—League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive—are among the most viewed on the streaming service. Whether or not this changes down the line remains to be seen.

Twitch's vice president of commerce Matt McCloskey adds: "Many of our streamers want to make a living doing what they love. To help them, we're enabling game developers to sell game content at the exact time and place their communities are gathered to watch, which in turn lets streamers earn money from games sold on their channels. To ensure everyone benefits, we're also rewarding fans that take part in the program with Twitch Crates."

Discussion

Just What does Intel Have up Its Sleeve in Response to Ryzen?

Well, a little birdie has whispered in our ears, not much.

We posted this last night while many of you were in bed, but thought it was interesting enough for a mid-day refresh, so it doesn't fall off the front page.

This reportedly showed up on Intel's intranet this past week:

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Could we be seeing a repeat of the K7/Netburst era with Intel having to play catch-up for a change? Maybe abandoning the tick-tock strategy and keeping 8th generation Core chips on 14nm in the face of limited competition to their x86 products was a little premature?

If their response to Ryzen is to emphasize low end i3 chips and features such as their new Optane high speed storage technology, instead of high end CPU's, the answer to that could be "maybe".

Ongoing Discussion

Intel and the x86 Architecture: A Legal Perspective

With the review embargo of AMD's new Ryzen CPU supposedly lifting in the next few days, rumors, leaks and official marketing is suggesting it is going to be a huge leap forward for AMD, potentially even outperforming Intel's offerings. Many of us PC enthusiasts and consumers have been overjoyed with this news, either because we have warm fuzzy memories of overclocking AMD CPU's during the K7 vs. Netburst era, or because we welcome seeing the return of real competition to the x86 CPU market, which has seemingly stagnated for lack of it over the last decade.

It has also given many of us reason for pause, as we remember all too well what happened the last time AMD had a superior product. Intel resorted to any number of underhanded exclusionary closed doors business tactics, offering OEM's and other major customers large discounts in exchange for locking out the competition. Let's also not forget how they intentionally sabotaged AMD's performance on binaries compiled using their high performance in house compiler. Of course, Intel wound up paying dearly for these improprieties with record billion+ dollar fines from both the FTC and the European Commission, as well as a similarly large settlement with AMD, but by then the damage was already done, condemning AMD to more than a decade of mediocrity.

With this in mind, it is not a surprise that many are very concerned that this, or a variation of it, might happen again. In this environment of hyper-vigilance, several reports of alleged new Intel improprieties have surfaced. We are not in a position to judge the accuracy of these reports or determine the legality of the alleged behaviors, but it does warrant a walk down memory lane, looking at how Intel has navigated the legal landscape throughout its history.

In 2011 the late Greg Tang wrote a comprehensive article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology (JOLT) detailing the history of Intel and its aggressive and often questionable legal tactics to stifle competition, dating back to the early years of the x86 architecture in the early 1980's. I think most of us are aware of the legal history of Intel in the last 20 years or so, but it was certainly an eye-opener to me, that similar behaviors date back to the very beginning of the x86 era of computing. I highly recommend the article, as it certainly is an interesting read. The original has unfortunately since dropped off the Harvard Jolt page, but it is still available in the Internet Archive. (an archival version is still live on Jolts page, but the formatting is horrible, making it difficult to read.)

So, could this happen again? I certainly hope not. As Intel, I certainly wouldn't want to go before a judge again, and defend against accusations of the same improprieties they already promised to not repeat, as part of their fine settlements, but I feel it will take all of us in the community to keep the attention on this topic, so that being fined for behaviors like these doesn't just become a 3+ billion dollar cost of doing business in order to kill the competition.

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In the early 1980’s, two of the computer industry’s most influential pioneers were undergoing major transformation. Intel withdrew itself from the computer memory-chip industry and reinvented itself as a microprocessor manufacturer; and IBM made its foray into personal computers after years of denying the mainframe’s inevitable death. IBM’s PC development team broke from the company’s tradition of developing complete solutions in-house by deciding to outsource most of the parts and components for its first model. At a time when the microprocessor market was still crowded with a panoply of competing architectures, IBM selected Intel’s 8086 processor as the "brain" of its computer. However, IBM required that Intel find a second-source supplier because production had to be guaranteed and it was too risky to rely on a single company as the sole source of its chips. See Fred Warshofsky, The Patent Wars: The Battle to Own the World’s Technology 134 (1994). Intel approached Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), a startup chipmaker that was founded by fellow Fairchild Semiconductor alumni. The companies signed a technology exchange agreement in 1982, which the Ninth Circuit described as, "in effect, a reciprocal second sourcing agreement: if one party wanted to market parts the other party had developed, it could offer parts that it had developed in exchange." Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., 12 F.3d 909, 910 (9th Cir. 1993) .

Discussion

[H]ardware Round-Up

GTX 1080 Founders Edition SLI Testing @ LanOC Reviews

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Biostar Racing Z270GT4 Review @ TechPowerUp

Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 240 Liquid Cooler Review @ Technoyard

ROCCAT Skeltr Smart Communication Gaming Keyboard Review @ Mad Shrimps

Creative Sound BlasterX Siege M04 @ Vortez

Patriot LX Series micro SDXC Class 10 256 GB Flash Memory Review @ Modders INC

Samson QH4 4-Channel Headphone Amplifier @ BCCHardware

Intel Kaby Lake Core i3-7350K versus non-K Showdown @ Mad Shrimps

EpicGear Melodiouz Analog In-Ear Gaming Headset Review @Funkyit

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition Is Coming on April 7, 2017

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is the remastered version of the game that is coming out on April 7, 2017. For those of us that played the first game; this is a much anticipated remaster! I can't wait for the upgraded visuals and the removal of GFWL. GFWL with it's bugs and pure frustration while just trying to login almost killed PC gaming in my opinion.

Complete, Content-Loaded and Eye-Popping Edition of the Cult-Classic Shooter Storms onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC via Steam on April 7

Discussion

Windows File History Is a Great Backup Tool in Windows 10

Microsoft has hit a home run with the Windows File History backup tool. Hardware Secrets delves into the good and the idiosyncrasies of using the tool to make file backups. The tool checks often to see how files in the monitored folders have changed and saves copies of them based on the intervals that you set. The author of the article was able to retrieve a copy of a document after deleting an important paragraph. The instructions in the article are really straight forward and even have a graphical layout for those that aren't computer savvy in your family. Time to grab an external hard drive and save your most precious memories!

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You will notice that only folders can be backup up using the File History. That is by choice. File History does not back up your program files or apps. It only backs up files that change often.

File History takes snapshots of versions of your files and stores them on your backup drive. Backups of changed files are made at the interval of your choosing. This creates a library of past versions that are recoverable. This can be extremely valuable.

I recently accidentally deleted an important paragraph from a document that I was working on. When I realized my mistake, I recovered the missing paragraph from one of the versions that was saved in my File History.

Discussion

PSVR’s Secret Weapon, The Aim Controller, Has A Release Date

PSVR has come a long ways as they are closing in on one million units sold. That has invigorated Sony to get their Aim controller out to the public on May 16th for the shooter game Farpoint. VR devices such as a trackable gun device greatly add to the immersion while playing games. Sony was forward thinking about their less dexterous users by giving the option of using one analog stick control or two. So if you are susceptible to motion sickness then you don't have to concentrate on using but one analog stick. Of course if you're more advanced then there is a dual analog input option available. Very smart thinking!

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Farpoint is already promising on its own, but having such a tool available will do wonders for players as they move more naturally and don’t have to adjust to a different style of locomotion such as teleportation. Better yet, the accessory presents an option for other developers that are working on shooters and/or simply would like to add a more fluid mode of locomotion to their existing games as well. Gamestop has a bundle including Farpoint and the controller listed for $79.99 but this could possibly be placeholder as this listing doesn’t have the correct release date. We’ll update with more information in the future.

Discussion

Sunday February 26, 2017

Just What does Intel Have up Its Sleeve in Response to Ryzen?

Well, a little birdie has whispered in our ears, not much. This reportedly showed up on Intel's intranet this past week:

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Could we be seeing a repeat of the K7/Netburst era with Intel having to play catch-up for a change? Maybe abandoning the tick-tock strategy and keeping 8th generation Core chips on 14nm in the face of limited competition to their x86 products was a little premature?

If their response to Ryzen is to emphasize low end i3 chips and features such as their new Optane high speed storage technology, instead of high end CPU's, the answer to that could be "maybe".

Discussion

NASA Kicks off Study to Add Crew to First Flight of Orion, SLS

The agency is currently deciding whether it is feasible to add human crew to Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), which involves the most powerful rocket in the world for a moon mission. The maiden voyage of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft hosting guinea pigs will be decided by early springtime, but EM-2’s 2021 launch is almost certain to be manned.

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During the first mission of SLS and Orion, NASA plans to send the spacecraft into a distant lunar retrograde orbit, which will require additional propulsion moves, a flyby of the moon and return trajectory burns. The mission is planned as a challenging trajectory to test maneuvers and the environment of space expected on future missions to deep space. If the agency decides to put crew on the first flight, the mission profile for Exploration Mission-2 would likely replace it, which is an approximately eight-day mission with a multi-translunar injection with a free return trajectory.

Discussion

Augmented Reality Lets Cars Communicate to Reduce Road Rage

You would probably be less likely to give someone the finger if you knew they were rushing to the hospital in an emergency, right? That’s the thinking behind this idea for projecting other drivers’ information using an augmented reality smartphone app. I wonder if there be a virtual sign you can display when you accidentally sideswipe someone because you were too busy reading something off of your windshield? Thanks to Kyle for this one.

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Chao Wang and his colleagues at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have developed an augmented reality app designed to reduce road rage by improving communication between drivers. "In the US every year, 1500 people are injured or killed as a result of aggressive driving," says Wang. His prototype "social car" project puts a transparent screen in front of the driver on a section of windscreen that displays projected information from a smartphone, augmenting the driver’s view without blocking it. The app flashes up information about other drivers using the system when the phone’s camera spots their cars. A special periscope lens attachment allows the camera to see cars in front of the driver while it is lying flat to project images onto the screen.

Discussion

Amazon Takes on Microsoft, Google with Its Own Suite of Office Productivity Apps

Google Docs is huge and Microsoft Office is even bigger, so it will be interesting to see if Amazon can make any kind of dent in the world of office productivity software. To start, the company is improving its email-calendar and file storage-collaboration apps to lure in corporate customers. Amazon’s Chime app could also serve as a Skype or Hangouts alternative.

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…sources in the know have said that Amazon’s plans are still in their infancy, but the first steps will include improving AWS’s existing WorkMail and WorkDocs applications. These apps, which offer calendar and file storage functionality, have yet to catch on with customers, and in their current form pale in comparison to what’s available from Microsoft and Google. It’s also unclear how Amazon will flesh out its suite, either with its own word processing and spreadsheet tools, to the tune of Microsoft’s Word and Excel, or if they will take a different route thanks to a recent update to their AppStream service.

Discussion

Video Game Industry Is Lobbying against Your Right to Repair Consoles

Another staunch opponent of the right-to-repair bills that are hitting Nebraska, New York, and other states is the video game industry. Companies that include Sony and Microsoft have more than once demonstrated an ineptitude for producing stable consoles, so it may be concerning that they are not only subjecting owners to technical difficulties but making it more difficult than necessary to repair them. Needless to say, this is all about easy profits.

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…both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 have "signature failures" that affected huge numbers of devices: The "Yellow Line of Death" and the "Red Ring of Death," respectively. Sony charged $200 for a refurbished device. Microsoft replaced many Red Ring of Death Xbox 360 devices free of charge, which is laudable. However, the actual fix for the problem was both cheap and easily done by independent companies or even consumers. What was a massive ordeal for customers and the company could have potentially been much easier if independent repair had been supported.

Discussion

Plastic Film Cools Whatever It Touches up to 10 Degrees Celsius

Two professors at the University of Colorado in Boulder have developed a film embedded with glass spheres that provides a passive cooling effect. Twenty square meters of the material would be enough to keep a room at 20°C in 37°C weather. The real kicker is that it is actually cheap to produce.

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A thin plastic sheet may soon provide some relief from the intense summer sun. The film, made from transparent plastic embedded with tiny glass spheres, absorbs almost no visible light, yet pulls in heat from any surface it touches. Already, the new material, when combined with a mirrorlike silver film, has been shown to cool whatever it sits on by as much as 10°C. And because it can be made cheaply at high volumes, it could be used to passively cool buildings and electronics such as solar cells, which work more efficiently at lower temperatures.

Discussion

Samsung Takes on Microsoft Surface with Galaxy Book Tablets

Samsung has just unveiled a bunch of new tablets at Mobile World Congress. I don’t think the Tab S3 is anything to get excited about, since it is rather similar to the last model (aside from HDR and nicer speakers). The Book 10 and 12, however, are pretty sweet because they run full Windows. The latter, aside from the beefier hardware, is definitely going on my list because of its AMOLED screen.

Last year, Samsung launched the Galaxy TabPro S, a Windows 10 tablet that borrowed and improved upon many of the ideas put forth by Microsoft’s Surface line. Now it’s launching two new tablets that feature even more improvements on the productivity tablet idea. The new Galaxy Book 10 and Galaxy Book 12 both run Windows 10 and come with styli and keyboard cases. They both have slim, aluminum designs and will be available in both Wi-Fi and LTE models. The Book 10 has a 10.6-inch, 1920 x 1280 pixel LCD display and an Intel Core m3 processor, while the higher-end Book 12 is equipped with a 12-inch Super AMOLED HDR display and Intel’s fanless Core i5 processor.

Discussion

Shadow of Mordor Sequel Leaked

Thanks to a Target screw-up, it has been revealed that the Shadow of Mordor successor will be called Middle-earth: Shadow of War. While a PC version has not been officially listed yet, you can be sure that it is in development alongside the pleb versions. Am I the only one who practically maxed out his character before getting anywhere in the main quest?

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"Go behind enemy lines to forge your army, conquer Fortresses, and dominate Mordor from within," it reads. "Experience how the award-winning Nemesis System creates unique personal stories with every enemy and follower, and confront the full power of the Dark Lord Sauron and his Ringwraiths in this epic new story of Middle-earth." PS4 and Xbox One versions are both listed. The original Shadow of Mordor was also available on PC, though the absence of a PC version on Target's website doesn't preclude it from also being in development. A release date is stated as August 22. That might prove to be true, but early release dates on retailers' websites don't always pan out.

Discussion

Large Hadron Collider Disproves the Existence of Ghosts, British Professor Claims

Who you gonna call? Nobody, since ghosts don’t exist. University of Manchester particle physicist and media personality, Brian Cox, is claiming that if ghosts were real, they would have some sort of signature that proves their existence, like a specific particle. Being that the Large Hadron Collider is the crème de la crème of particle detection and has found no such thing, it may be safe to leave the lights off after all.

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Astrophysicist and media personality Neil deGrasse Tyson, who was also a guest on the show, clarified by saying, "If I understand what you just declared, you just asserted that CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, disproved the existence of ghosts." Cox said yes. If ghosts were real, he posits, they would have a certain frequency or particle associated with them, corresponding with the human or body, with which it was once attached. If that was the case, we would be able to detect them. After all this time and with all our advanced instruments, we haven’t picked up anything close.

Discussion

The Nokia 3310 Returns from the Dead

Nokia has just resurrected their iconic handset, and it looks like they did a pretty decent job of modernizing the phone. As you would expect, the screen has been updated with a revolutionary feature called color, and it even plays the classic game Snake. Owners can expect 22 hours of talk time on the device, but those who expected another Android device to add to their collection are sure to be disappointed.

If you need a long-lasting phone for emergencies, or a device that’s tough and safe enough for a child to use – without having to worry about them going crazy with app store downloads or in-game purchases – then the new Nokia 3310 could have a lot of appeal. Of course, those of us who remember the pre-smartphone days with some degree of wistful pleasure might be interested too. Nokia says the new 3310 is expected to retail at just €49 worldwide, SIM-free and unlocked. That works out to about $52, though final pricing and release date are yet to be confirmed.

Discussion

PlayStation VR Sells Nearly a Million Units in Four Months

Sony has managed to sell 915,000 PSVR headsets since its debut in October. According to global chief executive of Sony Interactive Entertainment Andrew House, those kinds of numbers were totally unexpected and the product can already be considered a raging success. He notes that availability of the headset will improve in April, but I have seen plenty of them around...

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The headset, PlayStation VR, has been scarce in many stores, especially in Japan, since it went on sale in October. In an interview at his Silicon Valley office on Friday, Mr. House revealed PlayStation VR’s sales for the first time, saying consumers had purchased 915,000 of the headsets as of Feb. 19, roughly four months after it went on sale. Sony’s internal goal was to sell one million of the headsets in its first six months, by mid-April. The company will almost certainly surpass that forecast. "You literally have people lining up outside stores when they know stock is being replenished," said Mr. House, describing the scene in Japan, one of the largest games markets.

Discussion

[H]ardware Round-Up

SeaSonic Prime Titanium 750 Watt Netzteil (German) @ PCeXperience & HardOCP

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CRYORIG A80 Review @ aph networks

Scythe Kabuto 3 @ TechPowerUp

AZIO ARMATO Review @ Vortez

Patriot Viper 4 und Viper Elite im Test (German) @ Technic3D

SteamVR Beta on Linux Feels More like an Early Alpha

Valve recently brought SteamVR on Linux into public beta, but Phoronix didn’t have the best experience with it. Their early impressions suggest that Linux gamers are bound to run into driver, performance, tracking, and numerous other issues. But while the technical kinks should be patched up in time, there is still that problem of Linux’s comparatively tiny catalog of VR-supported games—the author notes that there are a grand total of three VR-only titles. Thanks to Kyle for this one.

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The initial setup was certainly a headache and letdown with the problems encountered and knowing I am not the only one running into shared IPC compositor errors and other struggles. That certainly made it feel much more like an alpha than beta and cannot imagine a Windows gamer being willing to go through such strides. Even with being a dedicated Linux user for about the past decade and a half, I was frustrated and embarrassed by these initial SteamVR Linux woes being encountered on Linux in 2017.

Discussion

Qualcomm: Future Smartphone Screens Will Push Resolutions to "6K, 8K, and Beyond"

This is a great happening for mobile VR enthusiasts and PPI nuts, but not so much for those who simply want a phone that doesn’t drop dead at the end of the day. Qualcomm thinks that it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing phones with 8K screens. It seems like we will never get a flagship phone with truly great battery life, as a cutting-edge display will always be there to negate any improvements made toward power usage.

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"We’ll see 6K, 8K and beyond" from future smartphone resolutions, envisions Tim Leland, Qualcomm’s vice president of product management. "It’s going to keep going." That's an incredible leap in a world where most flagship Android Nougat phones have 2K screens and the iPhone 7 Plus is half of even that resolution, sporting a rather meager 1080p display. "It’s going to levels I wouldn’t have believed a few years ago," he admitted. "These are all steps toward not even photo realism, but optical nerve realism. "It won’t be just in terms of pixels per inch, it’ll also be the width of the color gamut, color accuracy and the brightness of the display."

Discussion

Honda Wants to Charge Electric Vehicles for "Unlimited Range" on Highways

Talk about a pipe dream. While it would be awesome to have charging hardware embedded into roads, what would be the infrastructure costs for that kind of project? Nevertheless, Honda has gone ahead and designed a system that "enables dynamic charging with a charging power of 180 kW (DC 600 V, 300 A) while driving at a vehicle speed of 155 km/h (96 mph)."

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Honda wants to give "unlimited range" to electric vehicles with a new dynamic charging technology at high speeds. Honda doesn’t currently produce any all-electric vehicles, but it is reportedly going to offer battery-powered and PHEV versions of the Clarity, which was first developed to be a fuel cell hydrogen car. While the dynamic charging technology isn’t likely to be implemented in those vehicles, Honda plans to demonstrate it at WCX 17 SAE World Congress Experience next month. Dynamic charging requires charging hardware to be embedded into or over the road. It would basically create invisible train tracks for EVs to use and potentially drive continuously by wirelessly charging.

Discussion

5G Specs Announced: 20Gbps Download, 1ms Latency, 1m Devices per Square Km

Companies such as Nokia and Samsung have only reached 10Gbps and 7.5Gbps downlink speeds in their current 5G network tests, but the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is taking things to the extreme by dictating that download speeds for a single 5G cell should reach 20Gbps. Real-world data rate, however, should see download speeds of 100Mbps and upload speeds of 50Mbps.

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The total download capacity for a single 5G cell must be at least 20Gbps, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has decided. In contrast, the peak data rate for current LTE cells is about 1Gbps. The incoming 5G standard must also support up to 1 million connected devices per square kilometer, and the standard will require carriers to have at least 100MHz of free spectrum, scaling up to 1GHz where feasible. These requirements come from the ITU's draft report on the technical requirements for IMT-2020 (aka 5G) radio interfaces, which was published Thursday. The document is technically just a draft at this point, but that's underselling its significance: it will likely be approved and finalized in November this year, at which point work begins in earnest on building 5G tech.

Discussion

Saturday February 25, 2017

New Performance Mode Boosts Nintendo Switch Mobile Clocks by 25 Percent

Digital Foundry has discovered that Nintendo Switch developers may have more to work with in the system’s portable mode. It was believed that the console’s GPU would run at 307.2MHz undocked, but a 25% increase to 384MHz can be achieved through some sort of boost mode. I would love to see how much this affects the Switch’s battery life, which is already nothing to brag about.

…we wonder whether Zelda uses the new mobile GPU clock mode - it closes the gap a little between handheld and docked GPU performance and combined with only a small leap in memory bandwidth, this may explain why the title renders at 720p on the go, but only 900p when docked. Beyond that, we also wonder whether using the 384MHz mode may come with compromises elsewhere in the system - perhaps by disabling WiFi (PS Vita also had multiple performance modes and one of them did turn off WiFi in order to repurpose the power budget). This is speculation of course, and as always, time will tell.

Discussion

BlackBerry Refuses to Die, Launches New $549 Device

BlackBerry is back to remind everyone that they’re still alive with another Android device, the KeyOne, which comes with a hardware keyboard. If you liked the company’s last effort, the BB Priv, this will be right up your alley. The device was unveiled just hours ago at Mobile World Congress, but the whining has already begun: it offers mid-range hardware, such as the Snapdragon 625, yet costs $549.

…the real story is clearly the physical keyboard that sits below the screen. Like the one seen on BlackBerry’s last hurrah as an independent hardware manufacturer, 2015’s expensive and temperamental Priv, it’s touch-sensitive and does a ton of neat tricks. You can use it to scroll without touching the screen; you can assign each key a shortcut, like "I for Instagram" app speed-dial; you can just start typing to start searching Google. There’s also a fingerprint sensor on the space bar.

Discussion

Google Details Unpatched Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge Vulnerability

The Patch Tuesday delay is probably biting Microsoft in the arse yet again. This time, Google has revealed browser bugs that affect both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of IE and Edge: an attacker may execute malicious code. The good news is that none of you actually use these browsers, right…

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Google has now gone public with a security vulnerability in both Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. Going under the description of "Type confusion in HandleColumnBreakOnColumnSpanningElement", the bug has the potential to allow an attacker to execute malicious code. The vulnerability has been assigned the code CVE-2017-0037, and details of the flaw have been published under the terms of Google's Project Zero. Microsoft was notified about the problem 90 days ago, and as the company failed to patch it Google has made the problem public.

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FAA Warns More Drones Are Flying near Airports

A newly released FAA report reveals that drone sightings are up: there were 1,274 reports of drones near airports versus just 874 for the same period in 2015. But while there is increased panic of drones colliding with planes, it’s the birds and hanging obstructions that continue to create the majority of problems. Apparently, there hasn’t been a single verified instance of a drone hitting an aircraft.

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…while the FAA has received several reports from pilots that drones may have hit their aircraft, the administration was unable to verify any such claim. "Every investigation has found the reported collisions were either birds, impact with other items such as wires and posts, or structural failure not related to colliding with an unmanned aircraft," the FAA said in a statement. The report is noteworthy given the fear many people have of drones crashing into planes and causing major catastrophes. Last April, for example, a British Airways pilot claimed a drone hit his plane during his landing at London's Heathrow Airport. While the drone incident led to stories in major news outlets like the BBC and the Guardian, a follow-up British government investigation found that the pilot had misidentified the object.

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