Kingston Sees Sales Growth in PC Hardware

Subject: General Tech, Memory, Storage | June 9, 2014 - 11:08 PM |
Tagged: kingston, ssd, hyperx

Kingston, known primarily for RAM, flash drives, and SSDs, discussed the health of their company. VR-Zone reported on the interview and highlighted the company's sentiments about the PC industry. Long story short, Kingston sees growth in sales of PC gaming hardware -- apparently 20% year-over-year. The company expects that this growth comes primarily from SSD upgrades, either from rotating media or, they claim, replacing years-old, entry-level SSDs with more modern (probably in both speed and size) options.

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Nathan Su, APAC (Asia-Pacific) director of Kingston, believes that "many users" have experienced low-tier SSDs and, it seems, would be willing to invest in the full thing. He does not clarify what he means, whether he is talking about SSD caching, or just a really small (or slow) SSDs from drive generations past.

There is a bit of a concern that SSD prices will continue to fall, with some drives reaching under 40c/GB in recent sales. As a consumer, I (selfishly) hope that prices continue to drop, while still remaining profitably sustainable for the manufacturers. Hopefully Kingston is accounting for this and will continue to see growth at the same time.

Source: VR-Zone

E3 2014: GOG Galaxy Announced

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 9, 2014 - 09:04 PM |
Tagged: E3, E3 14, GOG, gog galaxy

Good Old Games (GOG), a subsidiary of CD Projekt RED, is releasing an online gaming manager similar to Steam and Origin. The difference is that everything about it is DRM-free and completely optional. Galaxy will manage game updates, provide achievements, and host communication between friends... if you want. If you don't? That's okay. Have fun.

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Obviously, their most popular competitor is Valve. Steam has a history of being nice to their customers and erring on their side. GOG, historically, takes it to the consumer-friendly extreme. If it lives up to their statements, this is no exception. The hope seems to be just that people will remember GOG more often and have more happy customers.

Basically, most platforms are give-and-take. This is take what you want.

When will it launch? What will it look like? Who knows. We will get more news this year, which suggests that we will not get the software until at least next year. Hopefully they will take their time and get it right. I mean, it is not like they need to rush. It is not a mandatory DRM platform - it is not a DRM platform at all. I do expect they will try to target The Witcher 3's launch window (February 2015) for marketing purposes, though.

Source: GOG

The schwag was cool; the keyboard not so much

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2014 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: sentey, gaming keyboard, Phoenix Extreme Gamer Series, input

Overclockers Club offers an alternative look at the extreme gaming keyboard market which most seem to have accepted as a reasonable product now.  There are many who will pay a high price for a mechanical keyboard with good switches as they do make a difference for frequent typers though arguably not as much for gamers.  Then there are the $50 gaming keyboard with common gel switches but a fancy exterior, eye catching colours and backlighting which generally come with bottle openers and fridge magnets.  The Sentey Phoenix Extreme Gamer is one such keyboard and if you consider it reasonable to spend $50 on a pretty keyboard you probably don't want to read this review.  Those who agree with the author and would rather kill 5 generic keyboards over time will probably crack at least one smile while they read.

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"The keyboard ultimately is a joke to my hands and for the $50 asking price, I'd rather burn through five generic builder series keyboards instead. This keyboard has no home on my desk and shouldn't on yours either. I'm happy to be done with the review, simply for the sake of never using it again. Fortunately, the carry bag will prevent me from picking up shattered keys in my driveway later; good thinking Sentey."

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E3 2014: Battlefield Hardline Closed Beta Sign Up

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2014 - 04:43 PM |
Tagged: E3 14, E3, beta, battlefield hardline, battlefield

Quick message: The Battlefield Hardline Closed Beta is accepting applications now on a first-come-first-serve basis. Hardline is Battlefield in a cops and robbers universe. Think of PayDay 2 with Battlefield 4 graphics and gameplay elements, basically. It is developed by Visceral Games, the studio known for Dead Space.

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Note: The signup page is a bit glitchy, likely because of server load. If you are interested, hop in quick, before all of the slots are gone. The beta is open now, although it apparently takes a little bit of time before Origin recognizes that you are in it. You will know you are in when you get an email "invoice" for the Battlefield Hardline beta with a $0 transaction.

Source: EA

E3 2014: SteelSeries Announces Sentry Eye Tracking

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2014 - 03:25 PM |
Tagged: E3, E3 14, steelseries, sentry

SteelSeries has announced Sentry, a device which tracks the user's eye movement. Since so much of professional gaming is perception and attention, it can be valuable to acquire feedback on how your eyes scan the display. This is not exactly a new service for teams. Some StarCraft 2 tournaments have even broadcast eye-tracking data to the audience.

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This is obviously a niche product, but that is not reason to discredit it. One of the leading reasons for purchasing a high-speed camera is to analyze golf swings (I avoided the "driving reasons" pun, for your sanity). More subtly, SteelSeries is a major sponsor of several gaming teams. They might consider their personal needs as a form of subsidization, depending on if their business arrangement with Tobii and their investment in the Sentry. If it is not significantly more expensive than licensing a different service for their players, or that service is missing critical features, then why not make it and sell part (or all) of it as a product?

Currently no pricing or availability yet.

Source: SteelSeries

E3 2014: NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Will Exist?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 9, 2014 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia, E3 14, E3

The Tech Report had their screenshot-fu tested today with the brief lifespan of NVIDIA's SHIELD Tablet product page. As you can see, it is fairly empty. We know that it will have at least one bullet point of "Features" and that its name will be "SHIELD Tablet".

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Image Credit: The Tech Report

Of course, being the first day of E3, it is easy to expect that such a device will be announced in the next couple of days. This is expected to be based on the Tegra K1 with 2GB of RAM and have a 2048x1536 touch display.

It does question what exactly is a "SHIELD", however. Apart from being a first-party device, how would they be any different from other TegraZone devices? We know that Half Life 2 and Portal have been ported to the SHIELD product line, exclusively, and will not be available on other Tegra-powered devices. Now that the SHIELD line is extending to tablets, I wonder how NVIDIA will handle this seemingly two-tier class of products (SHIELD vs Tegra OEM devices). It might even depend on how many design wins they achieve, along with their overall mobile market share.

Source: Tech Report

Gesture at your camera phone?

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2014 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: windows phone 8, nokia, kinect

If you recall, the Nokia Lumia 1020 was the 41MP camera with a phone bolted to it that was released last year.  Nokia is following up their unique product with a new version which will incorporate Kinect sensors into the phone and called it "3D Touch" or "Real Motion".  Nokia sees possible usages such as turning on the phone by grabbing it and to hover your finger  over a Live Tile and tap down in the air to bring up sub-menus.  Combine gestures with Bluetooth and you will never again know if that strange person on the street is a hipster or hallucinating.  Catch more at The Inquirer.

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"KINECT TECHNOLOGY reportedly will debut on Windows Phone this year, with the sensors set to appear in the sequel to the Nokia Lumia 1020."

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Source: The Inquirer

This Wacom "Cintiq" Really Is Based on an Intuos

Subject: General Tech, Displays | June 8, 2014 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: wacom, Cintiq, Intuos, hack

A couple of years ago, you might remember my review of the Wacom Cintiq 22HD. It was not a review unit. I was originally saving for the Cintiq 24HD until the 22HD and the 24HD Touch were announced. At that point, I was making decision whether to upgrade to the 24HD with a touchscreen for Windows 8 development, or save some money and get the 22HD. If you have read my many editorials on Windows Store certification requirements, you might guess that, at least I believe, I made the right decision.

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Image Credit: Hack a Day

This purchase was actually the second graphics tablet that I owned. Years earlier, I purchased an Adesso CyberTablet 12000 but had problems with drawing in one location and seeing the results in another. I, then, transitioned to scanning pencil-and-paper and inking/filling them with a mouse. It was at that point that I took a gamble on a Wacom Cintiq.

Why am I telling this story? Wacom Cintiqs are based on the same technology as their Intuos tablets, even down to pen compatibility, with a display built in. Well, at Hack a Day, one of their clever readers decided to make their own Cintiq out of what appears to be a Wacom Intuos3 A5. Basically, he fit a replacement 9.7-inch, 2048x1536 display, designed for Retina iPads and similar tablets, behind the touch sensor. It apparently worked without much fuss.

You can find Wacom Intuos3 6 x 8-inch pen tablets for about 120-150$ used. You can also find a 9.7-inch 2048x1536 panel and the other necessary hardware for about $70. While it is not an exact replacement for a Wacom Cintiq, it is the best you will do for under $250 (or even under $900).

Source: Hack a Day

Xbox One Controller PC Drivers Now Available

Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2014 - 04:09 AM |
Tagged: xbox, microsoft, pc gaming, reverse-consolitis

Ah cool. Microsoft has provided the 32-bit and 64-bit (x86) drivers for their Xbox One controllers. The controller can only be used in wired mode, connected to the PC with a micro-USB cable, and there does not seem to be any plans to develop a PC wireless dongle like the 360 had. It will support any game which can make use of an Xbox 360 controller, which is certainly a lot of games.

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The D-Pad is said to be a huge step up from the 360, which is a polite way of saying the 360's directional pad was absolute garbage. I am hesitant about the rest of the controller, though. I have heard numerous complaints about its design, particularly with its shoulder buttons, although it is hard to know without physically trying it. Like all peripherals, I would expect it comes down to personal preference to some extent.

PC gamers have other choices, too. For instance, unofficial support for the PS4 controller exists, albeit it is missing features from what I remember (it does support Bluetooth wireless on the PC, however). Also, and this is a better option, numerous PC gaming companies have their own controllers, including Razer, Logitech, and others.

But, of course, if you already have an Xbox One -- then why not try its controller on your PC?

PCIe 4.0 Is 2x Bandwidth of 3.0, like 3.0 to 2.0 and 2.0 to 1.0

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | June 7, 2014 - 05:47 PM |
Tagged: pcie 4.0, pcie, PCI SIG

You know the PCI-SIG might break the pattern with PCIe 5.0, just to mess with us. But for right now, Tom's Hardware seems to have acquired part of the PCIe 4.0 spec and it is expected to get 2 GB/s bandwidth per lane, per direction. This is double the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0, continuing the trend of each major PCIe release doubling bandwidth of the previous major version.

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A 16-lane PCIe 4.0-compliant graphics card or storage add-in board (that feels so weird to write...) has a maximum bandwidth of 32 GB/s inbound and 32 GB/s outbound, 64 GB/s total. This is still below GDDR5 bandwidth, but approaching the same order of magnitude. That said, memory bandwidth is the major roadblock for optimizing GPGPU workloads, already. APUs will probably still have an advantage in CPU and GPU tag-teaming tasks, despite their lower compute performance.

According to bit-tech, the spec is expected to arrive with Skylake and its 100-series chipset.