SEGA Lets Console Games Get a Mod Community... on PC

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2016 - 11:24 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming

I joke of course, because Unreal Tournament 3 had the option to cook mods for the PlayStation 3. Modding console games isn't a mainstream practice, though, especially since the hardware vendors tend to be afraid of what users will put into their systems. Third-party content is pushed into the realm of hacked consoles or emulators.

In this case, SEGA, over a decade after they made their last console, has decided to allow Steam Workshop with their SEGA Mega Drive Classics Hub (which corresponds to the SEGA Genesis for North Americans). The purpose of this is “allowing you to share modified versions of your favourite retro SEGA titles”. Sonic the Hedgehog is featured prominently in the promotional video, but will not be available at launch. The list is fairly long, however, and includes games like Ecco the Dolphin, Vectorman, Golden Axe, and so forth.

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I am a big fan of long-term support, especially for user-created content. Video games are an excellent way for people to express themselves, be it with ridiculous and cruel Sonic levels, or with something more abstract. Regardless of their reasons, I'm glad that SEGA is giving a part of their platform to their fans (and society as a whole).

What do you mean the battery is immune to capacity degradation? Someone shoot that researcher!

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2016 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: happy mistake, battery, nanowires

A very happy accident occurred during Mya Le Thai's doctoral thesis research, which will greatly upset replacement battery suppliers everywhere.  Lithium-ion batteries slowly lose the ability to charge fully and to hold that charge as they are used and recharged multiple times.  There are several reasons why this occurs and her team of researchers were trying to find a way to avoid some of those reasons by using nanowires to store and transfer electrons.  This method has not been very successful in the past as nanowires are very brittle and would degrade over time in the same way other solutions did.  However, in what The Inquirer refers to as an accident, the team discovered that coating gold nanowires in a manganese dioxide shell and then placing it in a Plexiglas-like gel resolved that problem, their test battery has now been recharged over 200,000 times in the space of three months, with no measurable loss of total capacity or power delivery.  Hopefully this technology does not end up patented and sitting on a shelf unused to ensure we still need to continually replace the batteries we use.

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"RESEARCHERS AT the University of California at Irvine (UCI) have accidentally - yes, accidentally - discovered a nanowire-based technology that could lead to batteries that can be charged hundreds of thousands of times."

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Source: The Inquirer

Fastest switch in the west, Corsair and Cherry reveal the Cherry MX Speed switch

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2016 - 09:14 PM |
Tagged: RapidFire, K70 RGB, K70, K65 RGB, corsair, Cherry MX Speed, cherry

Corsair announced three new keyboards, the K70 RGB RAPIDFIRE, K65 RGB RAPIDFIRE and K70 RAPIDFIRE all of which use Cherry's new MX Speed switches which have an actuation distance of 1.2 millimeters and and activation force of 45 cN(centinewtons, or 45.887229584 gram force). 

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All three keyboards have a brushed aluminium shell, the two RGB models are capable of producing almost any colour on the spectrum with the remaining model featuring red backlighting.  All three are compatible with CUE LINK, you can synchronize the LEDs of your Corsair keyboard, mouse and headset to compliment each other and perhaps as a distraction tactic during LAN parties.  100% Anti-ghosting and full key rollover over USB mean even in the heat of battle your death will not be caused by a keypress not registering.  Touch typists should also enjoy benefits when using the new keyboards, a light touch is all that is required for the keyboard to register a character, though the tiny amount of travel required may take some getting used to.  Many will be please to note that these keyboards do ship with a wrist rest.

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They are available as of today, MSRPs are $169.99 for the K70 RGB RAPIDFIRE, $139.99 for the K65 RGB RAPIDFIRE and $129.99 for the K70 RAPIDFIRE.

Click to read the PRs, but do it lightly and quickly.

Source: Corsair

There are stranger things than a Flappy Bird that vapes

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2016 - 07:56 PM |
Tagged: mod

Sure whoever modded their eVic-VTC Mini Box Mod e-cigarette to play Flappy Bird is in the headlines now, but what about the fact that DOOM has been run on both an ATM and a Canon printer?  There is also the mad genius who managed to get Windows 95 running on a Nintendo 3DS for reasons best left unexplored.  Someone even went so far as to install Windows XP on an Android Wear watch, simultaneously useless and amazing at the same time.  Top 10 lists are a bit overdone but this one at The Inquirer might cheer you up a bit after all the sad news today. 

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"This got The INQUIRER team talking, and we soon found ourselves reminiscing about our favourite 'things made to run on things they shouldn't run on' stories. Yeah, we know, we're an exciting bunch."

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Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #396 - MSI Gaming Notebooks, Intel Layoffs, the PlayStation Neo and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2016 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, msi, Intel, Playstation, ps4, neo, ps4k, phanteks, idf, Optane, XPoint, western digital, nvidia, GTX 1080

PC Perspective Podcast #396 - 04/21/2016

Join us this week as we discuss MSI Gaming Notebooks, Intel Layoffs, the PlayStation Neo and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Delving into DirectX 12 performance

Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2016 - 07:14 PM |
Tagged: hitman 2016, gaming, dx12, asynchronous compute, ashes of the singularity

DX12 is very new and with these two games utilizing it, Hitman 2016 and Ashes of the Singularity, it is difficult to get a good sample of results to see exactly what the new API will offer.  [H]ard|OCP have been working with both of these games to determine the performance differences between DX11 and DX12 and to find where the bottlenecks, if any, are.  With Ashes they tried limiting the CPU, one set of tests at 1.2GHz and the second at 4.5GHz which showed how well DX12 lived up to the touted benefits of reduced CPU usage.  They also tested with older GPUs on a 4.5GHz CPU to see if the new API does indeed help out older GPUs.  They also delve somewhat into the confusion surrounding AMD's Asynchronous ace in the hole.

For Hitman they contrasted various GPUs from both AMD and NVIDIA while leaving the CPU alone for the testing.  This review emphasizes the performance delta between DX11 and DX12 on the same GPUs, and unfortunately also addresses some stability issues which DX12 has brought with it.  Read through the review to see what results they gathered so far but do not consider this the final word since both NVIDIA and AMD's GPUs could barely manage 10 minutes of DX12 gaming before completely locking up.

We still have a lot more investigation to perform before we can define the strengths and weaknesses of DX12.

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"Hitman (2016) supports the new DirectX 12 API. We will take this game and find out if DX12 is faster than DX11 and what it may offer in this game and if it allows a better gameplay experience. We will also compare Himan performance between several video cards to find what is playable and how AMD vs. NV GPUs compare."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Best of luck in your new life; farewell to Jonney Shih

Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2016 - 06:03 PM |
Tagged: jonney shih, asus

There are some fairly solid rumours that Jonney Shih, Chairman of ASUS, will be stepping down soon, with ASUS co-founder Ted Hsu likely to take the reigns.  He has been chair of ASUS for 23 years and has overseen some very large changes in the industry.  He is widely know for the ASUS Eee PC Project, which has changed the mobile computing world from larger notebooks to the netbooks and ultraportables which have become ubiquitous.  His presentations have always been both informative and entertaining, hopefully his retirement is not immediate and we will still see him around for a few years yet.

We at PC Perspective would rate his performance as head of ASUS as 9.99 out of 10.

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"Asustek Computer will have co-founder Ted Hsu, currently vice chairman for ODM Pegatron, return to become chief strategy officer, triggering speculation that Asustek chairman Jonney Shih is going to retire and let Hsu succeed him."

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Source: DigiTimes

Summer Games Done Quick 2016 Schedule Published

Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2016 - 12:55 AM |
Tagged: gdq, pc gaming

It's still a few months out, but the schedule for Summer Games Done Quick 2016 has been posted to their official website. SGDQ 2016 is almost a solid week of speedruns, starting on Sunday, July 3rd at noon and ending some time after the midnight between Saturday, July 9th and Sunday, July 10th. Games Done Quick, itself, is a charity event, which generated over a million dollars of donations in four out of its last five occurences. It occurs about twice each year, plus an extra one for special events (such as the 2011 earthquake in Japan and TwitchCon 2015).

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They usually have a fair amount of PC titles in their mix. While the schedule doesn't state the chosen platform, Elder Scrolls II, III, and V will be run back-to-back-to-back, followed by Fallout 3 and Fallout 4. That all takes place after a block of Quake, Hexen, System Shock, Deus Ex, Star Wars: Dark Forces, Serious Sam, and other titles. Curiously, Super Mario 64 is missing, except for a 50-star run of Super Mario 64 DS, which is usually their big event. They will have a TAS block, though, which uses a computer to submit controller input at a much higher precision than a human would be capable of, leading to interesting glitches, like injecting an IRC client into Pokémon.

It's a fun spectacle, and it's for a good cause. SGDQ 2016 will benefit Doctors Without Borders.

IOGear's Kaliber Gaming Mechlite,

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2016 - 05:54 PM |
Tagged: input, Kailh, Kaliber Gaming Mechlite, IOGear, mechanical keyboard

IOGear have joined the mechanical keyboard market with the Kaliber Gaming Mechlite, opting for Kailh Blue switches as opposed to the Cherry MX switches which have dominated the market.  The plain black look will appeal to some, for others the blue LED backlighting with adjustable light levels will be more attractive.  The lighting is controlled via a switch as opposed to software, something which may lessen the attractiveness of the board to potential buyers, as will the lack of a bundled wrist rest.  Currently it sells for $70 on Amazon, relatively competitive for a backlit mechanical keyboard.  Neoseeker has published their impressions of the keyboard if it piques your interest.

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"The Kaliber Gaming Mechlite has a blue LED backlight with adjustable brightness levels in 7 different patterns. It has 5 programmable macro keys supporting up to 32 characters each, anti-ghosting keys with full N-key rollover, a Windows key lockout, laser cut keys and braided USB connector cable."

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Source: Neoseeker

An easier way to make flexible FETs

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2016 - 04:30 PM |
Tagged: flexible transistors, quantum dots

Flexible transistors have been made in the lab before but the process to deposit semiconductors on a flexible substrate required a vacuum to evaporate all but the desired portions of the layers laid on that substrate.  This new technique utilizes the same materials for insulators and semiconductors but the process uses inks and a photoresist mask to ensure the correct placement of a layer of conductive silver nanocrystals for the gate.   Over top opf the later of silver a layer of aluminium-oxide is added as the insulator, then cadmium-selenide quantum dots for the semiconductor channel and then another layer of silver nanocrystals and indium nanocrystals for the drain.  This is baked as you would normally treat transistors to dope the semiconductor channel and you end up with working FETs on a flexible substrate.  Check out more details on the process at Nanotechweb.

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"A high-quality, flexible transistor, made entirely from colloidal nanocrystals, has been developed by a team in the US. By sequentially depositing their components in the form of nanocrystal "inks," the researchers could make transistors using standard industrial methods, without the need for high-temperature, high-vacuum specialist equipment."

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Source: Nanotechweb

HP's Z1, a user upgradeable All-in-One workstation

Subject: General Tech | April 18, 2016 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: hp, z1, workstation, AIO

The newly announced HP Z1 all-in-one workstation is smaller than its predecessors but hides quite powerful capabilities inside.  You can choose between a Skylake or Xeon E3 chip from Intel, 32 or 64GB of RAM and you can add in a pair of HP Z Turbo Drive PCIe SDDs to complement the installed HDDs.  The screen is 4k, but of a slightly smaller size than previous models at 23.6" which may deter some previous owners from upgrading, support for NVIDIA's new Maxwell chips may change that opinion.  For peripherals, there are a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports, Type-C form factor for those of you whom this is of prime importance.  As you can see from the picture at The Inquirer, these AIO's are designed to be user serviceable and you can upgrade most of the components after you have purchased the machine.

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"HP INC has unveiled its third-generation Z1 workstation, having given it a boost with more memory, more storage and the latest Intel processors. "

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Source: The Inquirer

NZXT Announces Partnership with human-I-T for Earth Day Recycling Program

Subject: General Tech | April 18, 2016 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: recycling, nzxt, human-I-T, Earth Day, e-waste

To celebrate Earth Day (April 22) NZXT is partnering with human-I-T to help users recycle their unwanted technology, with the working items being donated to those in need. And as a thank you, NZXT is providing discounts for purchases made on their website for those who participate.

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“This Earth Day, we're partnering with Human I-T to turn your inoperative laptops, desktops, smartphones and other devices into powerful and free educational tools. Not only does it reduce E-waste, it also helps close the digital divide by enabling vocational training for millions of people in need.”

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The page is up on NZXT’s website, and the process looks painless with a free label provided for your shipment of approved devices.

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The program begins on Earth Day, but NZXT plans to continue this program into the future.

Source: NZXT

Almost disposable gaming peripherals? Cooler Master's Devastator II mouse and keyboard combo

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2016 - 06:33 PM |
Tagged: input, cooler master, Devastator II, gaming mouse, gaming keyboard

If you tend to be hard on your mice and keyboards it seems a waste to invest in a $100 device which will end up dead or at least severely injured within a few months.  Cooler Master has come up with a package that just might appeal to you, the $30 Devastator II keyboard and mouse combo.  The mouse has an optical sensor with 1000, 1600 and 2000 DPI levels and six buttons, including the sensitivity adjustment button.  The keyboard is backlit and the  "mem-chanical" switches Cooler Master uses are Cherry MX compatible so you can swap keycaps if you are so inclined.  Drop by Hardware Canucks for a closer look.

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"Cooler Master's Devastator II keyboard and mouse combo claims to do the impossible: provide a capable gaming-grade keyboard and mouse in a package that retails for just $30."

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Knights Landing apparently knows Ninjitsu

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2016 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: knights landing, Intel, CentOS

That's right, if you already hired a rock start ninja programmer, soon you will be able to give them the hardware they want as well.  Intel's new Knights Landing HPC Phi devices will sell under the unfortunate name of Ninja Development Platform and can be pre-ordered for just under $5000USD for the 72 core desktop model and upwards of $20,000 for a four node racked device.  According to the sources that The Register spoke with they will run using CentOS 7.2 and customers will be able to choose the amount and type of  memory and local storage they desire.  We do not have exact shipping dates yet, but we should see this 14nm silicon soon.

"Intel's fulfilling its 2015 promise to let developers get their hands on a Knights Landing developer platform before the 14 nm HPC silicon reaches general availability."

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Source: The Register

QuickTime For Windows Apparently Won't Be Updated...

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2016 - 06:37 AM |
Tagged: apple, quicktime, Adobe

So TrendMicro has published a blog post that lists two unpatched vulnerabilities that affect QuickTime for Windows. Worse? They announced that Apple will no longer provide security updates for that software, either. These exploits will continue to exist until you uninstall the software (unless Apple has an abrupt change of heart). Basically, uninstall the software.

OSX users are unaffected. QuickTime is still supported on that platform.

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For most users? This shouldn't be a big deal. There really isn't anything that the free QuickTime Player does which cannot be accomplished with VLC. Then again, I'd expect that many of those users (who would also be reading our website) have already moved on.

QuickTime Pro and Adobe users will likely be more affected by this. The formats and utilities that Apple provided are very useful in professional applications. For instance, QuickTime is one of the only reliable video formats (unless something came up that I was unaware of -- correct me if I'm wrong) that had an alpha channel for transparency. This allows you to share translucent footage between applications without resorting to some frame-by-frame solution, like a PNG sequence. It is also required to handle QuickTime footage in Adobe Premiere, if you need to collaborate with a Mac user or you have QuickTime-centric hardware.

This is mighty annoying of Apple, but that's a downside of relying upon proprietary software.

Source: TrendMicro

Podcast #395 - AMD Driver Quality, New Intel and Micron SSDs, Corsair's SPEC-ALPHA and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2016 - 04:42 PM |
Tagged: video, TMX, Thrustmaster, podcast, omega, micron, Lian-Li, Intel, game ready, crimson, catalyst, bx300, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #395 - 04/14/2016

Join us this week as we discuss AMD Driver Quality, New Intel and Micron SSDs, Corsair's SPEC-ALPHA and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Micron no longer has NVMe envy

Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2016 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: Ryan's Law, NVMe, micron

Micron has announced their own PCIe 3.0 NVMe devices today, in HHHL, M.2 and 2.5" form factors.  The specifications are a little sparse at the moment, we do not know the flash which resides within the devices nor the endurance differences between the 7100 PRO series which is designed for read heavy scenarios or the 7100 MAX which is for mixed usage.  In addition to the 7100 series, they also announced the 9100 series which ranges in size from 800GB up to 3.2TB and has theoretical sequential reads of 3GB/s and writes of 2GB/s.  The Register was not provided with any specific pricing but Micron suggested the 7100 series could be priced similarly to SATA drives, while the 9100 series will obviously lie outside the boundaries of Ryan's Law.

You should also take a look at the information Al gathered while he was at the product launch.

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"These NVMe SSDs complement Micron's existing S600DC SAS SSDs, which are now shipping in volume. The 7100 is the smaller product and the 9100 its big brother. Both have a PCIe gen 3 NVMe interface, which is faster than the 12 Gbit/s SAS interface used by the S600DC flash drives."

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Source: The Register

The Creative Assembly tries a different take on DLC for Total War: Warhammer

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | April 13, 2016 - 05:57 PM |
Tagged: creative assembly, warhammer fantasy, total war, dlc, gaming

After committing the double sin of pimping preorders and Day 1 DLC announced before the release date, The Creative Assembly seems to be trying to win back some of their fans by offering free new content for all some time down the road.  There will be new Legendary Lords, magic items, quest chains, and units and towards the end of the year.  If you want to play as Chaos you will still have to preorder the game or pay for it after release.

The offer of free content is appreciated, apart from one small problem; the game's release date is still over a month away.  The offer of future free content seems to be a thinly veiled effort to increase the sales of preorders, since many of us have refused to take them up on their offer.  Hopefully this is a hint that the industry is beginning to realize that publishing the actual game in full will draw more customers than releasing a partial game with DLC already planned. 

Iceberg Interactive has a much better model, Endless Legends was released as planned and once they realized how popular the game was they put effort into adding entirely new features and races.  Instead of taunting their customers with DLC announced at the same time as they released the game, they have treated it more as a reward for customer loyalty.  Then again, perhaps their customers are the exception and The Creative Assembly's announcement will succeed in selling more copies of the game before the release date.

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"Now, developers The Creative Assembly have released details of their post-release plans and that includes loads of free add-ons. There will be new Lords with their own quest chains, items and campaign bonuses, new magic, and, most intriguing of all, an entire new playable race."

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Software defined USB may help save your devices

Subject: General Tech | April 13, 2016 - 04:59 PM |
Tagged: usb type-c

The USB Implementers Forum, in charge of developing the standards for USB interfaces have developed software which can confirm the authenticity of a USB device or USB charger before allowing power to pass over the connection.  This is intended to prevent the death of another Pixel, or any other device which might charge over a Type C connection thanks to a dodgy cable.  It is not yet released but was written with the intention enabling it to be distributed as a patch to your OS as it was designed with a proper signature and certificate to ensure it is not easy to tamper with.  The Register has more on this story as well as information on Google's WebUSB protocol which will allow a connected USB device to communicate with connected networks.

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"The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has announced the "USB Type-C Authentication specification", a set of software-defined rules that a device can use to protect itself from potential sizzlage."

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Source: The Register

PS4 Remote Play Now Available On PCs and Macs With 3.50 Firmware Update

Subject: General Tech | April 13, 2016 - 04:54 AM |
Tagged: sony, remote play, PSN, ps4, playstation 4, game streaming

Sony is rolling out a new firmware update for its PlayStation 4 gaming console. The 3.50 firmware update adds social networking features to schedule events and allow users to appear offline along with a major change that opens up Remote Play to allow game streaming from the PS4 to Macs and Windows PCs.

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Users should start receiving the console update shortly. In order to stream to PCs, users will need to download the Remote Play utility for Windows or OS X. PC system requirements are modest requiring a minimum of a dual core (4 thread) Intel Core i5 560M (2.67 GHz) and 2GB of RAM when running Windows. Mac users can get by with an even lower end i5 520M (2.4 GHz). Users will need to be running the 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Windows (8.1 or 10) or Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite or newer.

Sony recommends having a bare minimum of a 5Mbps symmetrical broadband internet connection in order to stream games to remote devices, and it recommends a connection with at least 12 Mbps download and upload speeds for the best results. Unfortunately, this rules out most DSL users, though they should still be able to play locally over their LAN. (It is not clear whether you can direct connect to the console to stream or if you have to go through a Sony server to stream, other remote play devices seem to be able to work only off of the LAN connection though so it should work.)

Sony makes it easy to play your games by supporting the DualShock 4 controller – users will simply need to plug it into the PC via USB cable and it will work as expected on PlayStation games. You will also need a Sony Entertainment Network account to pair devices and it is recommended to set the desired PS4 as your primary account. Specific setup instructions can be found here.

Streaming capabilities are currently limited as there is no support for streaming at 1080p resolution. Out of the box, Remote Play will stream at 540p and 30 FPS (frames per second). Users (preferably with wired devices including the PS4) can go into the settings and max it out at 720p and 60 FPS or dial it all the way down to 360p if you really need to play remotely over the internet with a small upload pipe.

Sony notes that not all games support Remote Play, but it seems like the majority of the console's catalog of games do.

There are several YouTube videos of users testing out Remote Play, and it does work. It seems to be a bit behind Xbox One streaming in the video quality and usability departments (e.g. no 1080p and you can't change resolution and frame rate on the fly). Hopefully Sony continues to flesh out the application and features.

Have you had a chance to try PS4 to PC game streaming? I'm now waiting for Microsoft to allow PC to Xbox One streaming hehe.

Source: Sony