E3 2014: SteamBoy Project Is Not a Valve Product

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 15, 2014 - 01:51 AM |
Tagged: x86, SteamOS, Steam Machine, Steam Controller, steam, mobile, handheld, E3 14, E3

To be doubly clear, if the title was not explicit enough, this announcement is not made by Valve. This company is called, "SteamBoy Machine team". If not a hoax, this is one of the many Steam Machines which are expected to come out of the SteamOS initiative. Rather than taking the platform to a desktop or home theater PC (HTPC) form-factor, this company wants to target the handheld PC gaming market.

steamboy-hero.jpg

Image Credit: SteamBoy Machine team via The Escapist

If it comes out, that is a clever use of SteamOS. I can see Big Picture Mode being just as useful on a small screen as it is on a TV, especially with its large font and controller navigation. The teasers suggest that it will use the haptic feedback-based touchpads which Valve are expected to base the Steam Controller on. It will also include a 5-inch touchscreen.

The Escapist got into contact with the team and received a few more specs:

  • Quad-Core CPU (x86)
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB built-in storage

Even if this company does not make good on their expectations, companies will now be considering portable SteamOS devices. This is the sort of outside-the-box thinking that Valve was pushing for when they wanted to create an open platform. Each party will struggle to win in their personal goals, yet they can also rely on the crowd (other companies or individuals) to keep up in areas where they do not want an edge.

Philosophy aside, the company is targeting 2015 with a "Standard Edition" supporting WiFi and 3G. It would make sense to have a WiFi-only model, but who knows.

Source: Escapist

E3 2014: Alienware Alpha Announced with HDMI In and Out

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2014 - 02:44 AM |
Tagged: Steam Machine, E3 14, E3, dell, alienware alpha, alienware

While "Steam Machines" are delayed, Alienware will still launch their console form-factor PC. The $550 price tag includes a black Xbox 360 wireless controller (with receiver) and Windows 8.1 64-bit. Alienware has also designed their own "Console-mode UI" for Windows 8.1, which can be navigated directly with a controller. It will ship Holiday 2014.

Apparently PC-based consoles equate to dubstep and parkour.

About the "Console-mode UI", it will apparently be what the user sees when the Alpha boots. The user can then select between Steam Big Picture, media, and programs. They also allow users to boot into the standard Windows 8.1 interface.

alienware-alpha.jpg

As for its specifications:

  Base Model ($550) Upgrade Options
Processor Haswell-based Intel Core i3 Core i5, Core i7 (user accessible)
GPU "Custom" Maxwell-based, 2GB GDDR5
(see next paragraph)
(none) (not user accessible, soldered on)
System Memory 4GB at 1600 MHz 8GB (user accessible)
HDD 500GB SATA3 1TB or 2TB (user accessible)
Wireless Dual-band 802.11ac (user accessible)
I/O
  • HDMI Out
  • HDMI In
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Optical Audio
  • 2x USB 3.0 (rear), 2x USB 2.0 (front)
Included
Accessories
  • Xbox 360 Wireless Controller
  • Xbox 360 Wireless Accessories USB Adapter

The GPU is not specified, or even given a similar part to refer to. PC World claims that it will be comparable to the performance found on the two next-gen consoles. Since the 750 Ti has around 1.3 TeraFLOPs of performance, this GPU is probably near that, or slightly above it. PC Gamer says that it will be based on mobile Maxwell, so it might be similar to an current or upcoming laptop GPU.

One thing that has not been addressed is the HDMI-in port. We know that it supports passthrough for low latency, but we do not know what it will do with the input video. Alienware has several of these set up at their booth on the show floor, so we might hear more soon. While its specifications are a bit on the light side, particularly on the default amount of RAM (although that is easily and cheaply upgraded), its $550 price, which includes a wireless controller and its adapter, is also pretty good.

Source: Alienware

E3 2014: Grand Theft Auto V PC Release in the Fall

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 9, 2014 - 11:31 PM |
Tagged: E3, E3 14, GTA5, GTA Online

So my best guess is that Rockstar was waiting on the "next-gen" assets before they bothered releasing Grand Theft Auto V on the PC. The game will be released this fall, alongside Xbox One and PlayStation 4 ports. They do not mention distribution platforms, but Steam is a fairly safe assumption, at least now that Games for Windows has been given its final rest.

Hopefully, this delay in releasing a PC version will be a temporary hiccup due to the overlapping console generations. With Grand Theft Auto IV, the same could not be said. The problem is, with how secretive Rockstar is, we cannot really tell whether the above assumption is true, or whether they were just non-committal to the PC platform until now. At either rate, until the PC version is launched, Rockstar has not and will not get my money. Of course, there is always that danger that, by the time the game does launch, I will not be able to afford its time or expense.

That's why you should always release the PC version as early as possible.

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.

gog-galaxy.png

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

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".

nvidia-shield-tablet-il.jpg

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

Even more from Computex 2014

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 6, 2014 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: computex 2014

HP is courting mobile users with their Pro x2 series, a stylus enabled tablet with a keyboard dock containing extra outputs and a second battery in 1080p 12.5" and 11.6" 1366x768 flavours; the smaller model is already available already starting at $850.  EVGA stepped up their game with the 1600W SuperNOVA PSU that comes with a 10 year warranty while Fractal Design was showing off refillable and expandable self contained watercoolers.  You can also catch AData's new SSDs and Kingston's M.2 SSDs and even more over at The Tech Report.

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"PC makers appear to be embracing the convertible tablet form factor with gusto at Computex 2014, and HP is no exception. Today, the company announced a pair of business-focused two-in-ones: the Pro x2 612 and Pro x2 410."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Computex 2014: ROCCAT Tyon Got Buttons (And More?)

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2014 - 07:37 PM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, roccat, tyon

So this mouse has many buttons. It even has not-buttons. The ROCCAT Tyon has 31 user-customizable functions mapped over 16 buttons. The "Tyon Xcelerator", near its thumb buttons, is an analog switch designed for functions such as throttle or vertical movement. The "Dorsal Fin" is a switch that tilts left and right, like a tilt wheel, except that it also has a tilting mouse wheel.

I guess you can never have too many tilt functions.

roccat tyon.jpg

Yo Cat, Heard You Like Buttons...

In short, ROCCAT has basically put as many functions on that mouse as they believe comfortable. Personally, I think the "Xcelerator" could be quite useful for games, like Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with its UAV, where you need to move in three dimensions and rotate in two dimensions, at the same time. That just leaves about 30 other functions to think about.

The ROCCAT Tyon is "coming soon" for 99.99 Euros (~$136 USD).

Source: ROCCAT

A quick walk around Computex 2014

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2014 - 01:23 PM |
Tagged: thermaltake, roccat, nzxt, gigabyte, computex 2014, asus

The Tech Report has been busy at Computex, visiting as many booths as they can in amongst the numerous vendors showing off their upcoming products.  From ASUS we get another look at the ROG systems and a G-Sync monitor as several new motherboardsBoth Thermaltake and Roccat have new peripherals to show off while NZXT is more focussed on cooling products.  Gigabyte has taken advantage of the event to show how fast their limited edition Z97X-SOC Force LN2 can push DDR3, hitting 4.5GHz in a live demo!  There is more coverage that that, as well as our own, so you can expect to be busy over the next few days.

gigabyte-ln2.jpg

"Earlier today at Computex, Asus let loose a veritable cornucopia of items under its Republic of Gamers brand. Among them: two stylish mini gaming desktops plus a 27" display outfitted with Nvidia's G-Sync technology."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Computex 2014: WD Shows SATA Express-based PCIe HDD

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 03:37 AM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, WD, ssd, pcie, SATA Express, hdd

SATA Express is an interface to either connect a hard drive to PCIe lanes, or up to two drives via SATA. Obviously, PCIe bandwidth over a cable connection is the real draw. To use the full speed, however, the drive needs to be able to communicate over PCIe. Currently, the standard uses two PCI Express 2.0 lanes (1 GB/s).

WD-SATAe-demo.jpg

Now that Z97 and H97 have launched, WD is set to show off the technology at Computex. The above image is apparently of a dual-drive product, containing 4TB of rotating media and 128GB of SSD memory. I am immediately reminded of the Western Digital Black2 dual drive which Allyn reviewed last November. That product crammed a 120GB SSD into a 2.5" 1TB HDD, which appeared to the system as two separate drives. The drive has "Technology Demonstration" written in red font right on it, but it could be a good representation of what the company is thinking about.

WD also asserts that their prototype uses standard AHCI drivers, for OS compatibility.

If you want to see this product in action, then -- well -- you kind-of need to be at Computex. At some point, you might be able to see it in your own PC. When? How much? No pricing and availability, again, because it is a tech demo.

Source: WD

Computex 2014: ASUS Announces ROG G20 Compact Gaming Desktop and ROG GR8 Gaming Console PC

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 12:46 AM |
Tagged: ROG, gaming pc, computex 2014, computex, asus

Gaming PCs are often misunderstood. Many of our viewers will probably build their own from their personal selection of parts. If you would like to have someone else handle it, then an oft dismissed option is going through a system builder. If you find an option that is in your budget and has the performance you desire, then it is perfectly acceptable to buy it.

ASUS has just announced two offerings, branded Republic of Gamers (ROG), for you to consider.

ASUS_ROG_G20_Compact_Gaming_Desktop_PC.jpg

The ROG G20 Gaming Desktop can be customized with options which range up to an Intel Core i7 with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780. It is designed to be quiet, with expected noise at around 23-25 dbA (it is unclear whether this is measured idle or under load). While it has two fans, it also uses "natural convection" cooling, a process which uses the excess heat to make hot air rise, which is replaced by cool air that cools the components.

Yup, the PC cools itself with the air motion caused by its own heat.

After customizations, the ROG G20 Gaming Desktop is expected to retail for $800-$1700, depending on what options the user selects, and be available in late Q3, for North Americans.

ASUS_ROG_GR8_Gaming_Console_PC.jpg

The other PC is the ROG GR8 Gaming Desktop. This device will include an Intel Core i7 and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti. Despite its form factor, a side panel allows user access to RAM and storage. It has Gigabit Ethernet and built-in 802.11ac wireless. While it obviously has HDMI outputs, it also includes DisplayPort.

ASUS does not currently have an expected price range, but it will also be available Q3, for North Americans.

Source: ASUS