Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 5, 2018 - 01:02 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, gaming, mobile gaming, game streaming, Gigabit LTE, computex 2018, computex
In addition to the usual Republic of Gamers branded gear, ASUS unveiled the new ROG Phone at Computex which is a high-end Android device aimed at gamers that extends the ROG brand to mobile devices. The new ROG Phone packs a ton of hardware into a six-inch smartphone that can double as a portable gaming machine and is complete with the requisite aggressive ROG aesthetics especially around back where, yes, there is even configurable RGB.
ASUS’ new smartphone measures 158.8mm x 76.2mm x 8.6mm (6.25”x3”x0.34”) and weighs in at 200g (0.44 lbs). The device is black with white accents drawing aggressive angles on back along with vents for cooling and both Republic of Gamers branding and a configurable RGB ROG logo. The front of the phone looks fairly standard with a large 6” 18:9 AMOLED display taking up most of the front face and surrounded by dual front facing SmartAmp speakers that can reportedly get quite loud according to the various hands on videos online. The display has a resolution of 2160 x 1080, a refresh rate of 90 Hz, a 1ms response time, 10,000:1 contrast ratio, and is rated at 108.6% of the DCI-P3 color space. A dedicated image processing chip handles HDR support and the ability of the display to boost the local contrast of certain areas of the display.
As for cameras, there is an 8MP camera in front and dual cameras around back with a main 12MP camera and a 8MP 120-degree wide angle camera.
One interesting thing as far as I/O is that the phone has two USB-C ports with one in the usual spot on the bottom edge and one on the left edge to make using it in landscape mode easier. The included AeroActive cooler can plug into this port and blow air onto the back of the phone to help cool it and your fingertips while also breaking the USB-C port out into a USB-C and 3.5mm headphone jack. As far as audio, ASUS’ ROG Phone supports Dolby DTS Headphone 7.1 virtual surround sound and Qualcomm aptX for wired and Bluetooth headphones respectively.
Asus has also placed ultrasonic buttons around the edges with two on the left edge corners and one on the bottom right edge that can be used as triggers while in landscape mode for gaming or to do usual Android stuff like taking photos or launching an app.
As far as internal specifications, Asus managed to work out a deal with Qualcomm for binned Snapdragon 845 chips that can run all eight Kryo 385 CPU cores at 2.96 GHz (+160 MHz over stock). The Snapdragon 845 processor also contains the Adreno 630 GPU, Hexagon 685 DSP, Spectra 280 ISP, Qualcomm SPU, Aqstic audio, Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, and 802.11ad Wi-Fi. The chip also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 though I’m not sure which level Asus has enabled as Asus is calling it HyperCharge (up to 20W with the charging IC in the adapter to reduce phone temps). The SD845 is paired with 8GB of LPDDR4X memory and either 128GB or 512GB of UFS 2.1 internal storage. The ROG Phone is powered by a 4,000 mAh battery that can be charged to 60% in 33 minutes or 85% in an hour with the included charger. The USB-C ports reportedly only support USB 2.0, however so no USB 3 speeds when transferring files – I suppose Asus needs to at least try to keep the pricing in check! Wireless I/O includes 802.11ad 60GHz Wi-Fi, 802.11ac 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz 2x2 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and Gigabit LTE.
ASUS is using a copper heat spreader as well as a 3D vapor chamber to keep the phone cool while gaming and to keep the Snapdragon 845’s CPU and GPU clocked as high as possible for as long as possible. For the serious mobile gamer wanting to keep the frame rates up there is also the clip on AeroActive cooler or “enhanced cooling” in the TwinView dock.
Speaking of docks, ASUS wants gamers to be able to get serious with the ROG Phone by plugging it into docks that will be sold separately. The TwinView dock adds a second display (that is reportedly identical to the AMOLED on the phone itself), physical trigger buttons, and a 6,000 mAh battery while the Mobile Desktop Dock turns the ROG Phone into a portable computer by allowing you to hook it up to a 4K display, keyboard and mouse, Gigabit Ethernet, 5.1 channel speakers, and other USB peripherals. For those wanting to game on the big screen to share games with friends there is also a WiGig dock and compatibility with the third-party Game Vice controller that turns the ROG Phone into something resembling the Nintendo Switch with joystick and physical buttons on either side.
The ROG Phone is packed with enough hardware to make it competitive with other high-end smartphones as well as the other gaming-focused phone offerings from Razer, Xiaomi, and other entrants to this market. At launch Asus has the docks and accessories down, but pricing is going to be a major concern as the phone itself is not going to be cheap and after adding the docks it might be equivalent to a budget DIY PC build (well before the GPU and RAM price spikes I guess)! On the other hand, it would be a powerful mobile device for running emulators and Fortnite and PUBG are on mobile now (heh) so maybe there is a market serious enough about mobile gaming willing to pay a premium for the ROG Phone.
What do you think? Will you be picking up the ROG Phone?
The ROG Phone is slated for release later this summer with specific pricing not yet available.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | January 8, 2018 - 11:35 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: pc game streaming, nvidia, geforce now, game streaming, cloud gaming, CES 2018, CES
NVIDIA is opening up its Geforce NOW cloud gaming service to PC gamers who will join Mac users (who got access last year) in the free beta. The service uses GeForce GTX graphics cards and high-powered servers to store, play, and stream games at high settings and stream the output over the internet back to gamers of any desktop or laptop old or new (so long as you have at least a 25Mbps internet connection and can meet the basic requirements to run the Geforce NOW application of course - see below). Currently, NVIDIA supports over 160 games that can be installed on its virtual GeForce NOW gaming PCs and a select number of optimized titles can even be played at 120 FPS for a smoother gaming experience that is closer to playing locally (allegedly).
GeForce NOW is a bring your own games service in the sense that you install the Geforce NOW app on your local machine and validate the games you have purchased and have the rights to play on Steam and Ubisoft's Uplay PC stores. You are then able to install the games on the cloud-based Geforce NOW machines. The game installations reportedly take around 30 seconds with game patching, configurations, and driver updates being handled by NVIDIA's Geforce NOW platform. Gamers will be glad to know that the infrastructure further supports syncing with the games' respective stores and save games, achievements, and settings are synched allowing potentially seamless transitions between local and remote play sessions.
You can find a list of currently supported games here, but some highlights include some oldies and newer titles including: Borderlands 2, Bioshock Remastered, various Call of Duty titles, League of Legends, Left 4 Dead 2, Kerbal Space Program, Just Cause 3, StarCraft II, Resident Evil 7, KOTOR, Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Solid, Dirt 4 (just for Josh), Project Cars 2, Fallout 4, XCOM 2 (a personal favorite), PUBG, WoW, Civilization VI, and more.
While many of the titles may need to be tweaked to get the best performance, some games have been certified and optimized by NVIDIA to come pre-configured with the best graphics settings for optimum performance including running them at maximum settings at 1920 x 1080 and 120 Hz.
If you are interested in the cloud-based game streaming service, you can sign up for the GeForce NOW beta here and join the waiting list! According to AnandTech, users will need a Windows 7 (or OS X equivalent) PC with at least a Core i3 clocked at 3.1 GHz with 4GB of RAM and a DirectX 9 GPU (AMD HD 3000 series / NVIDIA 600 Series / Intel HD 2000 series) or better. Beta users are limited to 4 hours per gaming session. There is no word on when the paid Geforce NOW tiers will resume or what the pricing for the rented virtual gaming desktops will be.
I signed up (not sure I'll get in though, maybe they need someone to test with old hardware hah) and am interested to try it as their past streaming attempts (e.g. to the Shield Portable) seemed to work pretty well for what it was (something streamed over the internet).
Hopefully they have managed to make it better and quicker to respond to inputs. Have you managed to get access, and if so what are your thoughts? Is GeForce NOW the way its meant to be played? It would be cool to see them add Space Engineers and Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion as while me and my brother have fun playing them, they are quite demanding resource wise especially Space Engineers post planets update!
- NVIDIA GeForce NOW Initial Thoughts and Review @ PC Perspective (Note this is the Shield variant (formerlly GRID) which is separate from the PC / Mac aimed service)
Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2018 - 03:01 AM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: pc game streaming, parsec, hp omen game stream, hp omen, hp, game streaming, game stream, CES 2018, CES
HP today announced OMEN Game Stream, a remote game streaming service based on Parsec's low latency streaming technology. Similar to services and technologies such as Steam In-Home Streaming and NVIDIA GameStream, OMEN Game Stream lets users render demanding PC games on their home HP OMEN PC while streaming and playing the games on a lower-end device, either from across the house or across the world.
With OMEN Game Stream, users can play their high end PC games from the living room couch while the gaming PC in the office does the heavy lifting, or play from their low-end work laptop while on a business trip. In addition to the benefit of having games rendered on your presumably higher end gaming PC, the fact that all game rendering and data stays confined to a single machine means that users can pick up and play from anywhere right where they left off without needing to rely on cloud-based save files or configurations.
All remote streaming services offer this convenience and flexibility in exchange for increased latency, but the Parsec propriety streaming technology used by HP claims to offer superior performance to its competitors. We here at PC Perspective tested Parsec's service late last year and, while not perfect, it offered latency and responsiveness that was as good or better than the offerings from Steam or NVIDIA. Competitive gamers in the FPS or fighting categories may still be unsatisfied, but for the majority of gamers (and game genres), Parsec's streaming technology offers a perfectly acceptable experience if you have sufficient bandwidth on both ends of the equation.
And speaking of bandwidth, HP is advising that users need a minimum of 25Mbps for 1080p60 gameplay and a minimum of 10Mbps for 720p60. It's also advised to use wired network connections on both ends, or 5GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi if a wired option is unavailable. And remember, like all remote game streaming services, these minimum specs for network speed and quality must be met both at home with your HP OMEN gaming PC and on the road at wherever you're planning to stream.
Thankfully, to help users troubleshoot connectivity and performance issues, HP also offers a Streaming Performance Test feature in the OMEN Game Stream application. This should give users a guide as to whether their current network connections will offer acceptable performance before starting that marathon RPG session.
OMEN Game Stream will be a free service preinstalled on new OMEN gaming PCs starting this spring, and there will be no charge to users for streaming from their own OMEN PC.
Subject: General Tech | April 13, 2016 - 12:54 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech | March 19, 2016 - 04:36 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, sony, remote play, ps4, game streaming
Sony will be opening up its Remote Play feature to include Windows and Mac PCs with the next system update, version 3.5. In its current form, Remote Play allows users to stream games from their PS4 to certain Sony devices including Xperia phones, Vita handhelds, and the PlayStation TV "microconsole". The new update will let users stream games from the game console to PCs over your home network.
PS4 System Update 3.5 is set to release later this month. While a beta is available, the beta build does not include the streaming feature. It does add support for live streaming to Dailymotion, updates to the social platform (e.g. planned parties), and an incognito mode that allows user to appear offline (how has it taken Sony this long to support that??).
Sony opening up the streaming is a welcome move as it puts it more in line with Microsoft's offering by not requiring specific hardware. Actually, it may be a bit better since users might be able to get away with using older Windows operating systems (Xbox One is limited to Windows 10) as well as streaming to their Macs. Further, Ars is reporting that Sony stopped shipping its PlayStation TV hardware in the US and Europe at the end of 2015. Thus, that may be one of the reasons Sony is moving away from streaming only to Sony hardware. I'm interested in trying out the Remote Play game streaming to see how it compares to the Xbox One to Windows 10 streaming which has worked pretty well so far for me in streaming Forza to my desktop!
Game streaming is proving to be popular and it is interesting to see both popular gaming consoles will soon allow you to stream games from the living room to your computers while at the same time Valve and others are pushing for solutions (e.g. Steam In-Home Streaming) to stream games from your PCs to the living room. Exciting times, especially if you're able to used wired network connections!
What do you think about Sony's plans for expanding Remote Play? Did you use the PS TV?
Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2015 - 12:08 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, valve, steam link, steam hardware, Steam Controller, steam, game streaming
Last week we posted a video that looked over the new Valve Steam Controller and I offered some feedback and input on the new hardware. It was interesting, to say the least, and took some getting used to, but in the end I was surprised by how easy some things were, and how different other things felt. It's an interesting experiment for $50 or so, but it definitely is not a product I recommend all of our readers invest in immediately.
But what about the Steam Link device? This second piece of the puzzle is a small unit that sits near your TV or entertainment system, with an HDMI output, USB inputs, integrated wireless connectivity and Ethernet support. The goal is to stream Steam games from your primary PC without the need for a second computer. Instead, much like the NVIDIA GameStream technology that we have seen for a couple years now, the Steam Link receives a video stream from the gaming PC, accepts input from a controller or keyboard/mouse, and loops it all back.
Specifications (from Valve website):
- 1080p resolution at 60 FPS
- Wired 100 Mbit/s Fast Ethernet and Wireless 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO) networking abilities
- 3 USB 2.0 ports
- Bluetooth 4.0
- HDMI out
- Supports Steam Controller (sold separately,) Xbox One or 360 Wired Controller, Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows, Logitech Wireless Gamepad F710, or keyboard and mouse
In the Box
- Steam Link
- Power cable and adapter
- HDMI 2.0 cable
- Ethernet cable
To get my full take on it, and to see me test out a handful of games using the Steam Link in our office, check out the video above. The short answer is that game streaming technology is still hit or miss: some titles work great others are an immediate turn off. Want to play a fast paced FPS game? You're going to hate it if you have any kind of PC gaming experience already. Maybe you need to catch up on those recent indie games released on the PC but want to sit on your couch? Steam Link will do the trick.
Again, the device is only $50, so it's not a significant investment for most people, and it might be worth trying if you have some time and are interested in checking out the technology out for yourself.
Setup, Game Selection
Yesterday NVIDIA officially announced the new GeForce NOW streaming game service, the conclusion to the years-long beta and development process known as NVIDIA GRID. As I detailed on my story yesterday about the reveal, GeForce NOW is a $7.99/mo. subscription service that will offer on-demand, cloud-streamed games to NVIDIA SHIELD devices, including a library of 60 games for that $7.99/mo. fee in addition to 7 titles in the “purchase and play” category. There are several advantages that NVIDIA claims make GeForce NOW a step above any other streaming gaming service including PlayStation Now, OnLive and others. Those include load times, resolution and frame rate, combined local PC and streaming game support and more.
I have been able to use and play with the GeForce NOW service on our SHIELD Android TV device in the office for the last few days and I thought I would quickly go over my initial thoughts and impressions up to this point.
Setup and Availability
If you have an NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV (or a SHIELD Tablet) then the setup and getting started process couldn’t be any simpler for new users. An OS update is pushed that changes the GRID application on your home screen to GeForce NOW and you can sign in using your existing Google account on your Android device, making payment and subscription simple to manage. Once inside the application you can easily browse through the included streaming games or look through the smaller list of purchasable games and buy them if you so choose.
Playing a game is as simple and selecting title from the grid list and hitting play.
Let’s talk about that game selection first. For $7.99/mo. you get access to 60 titles for unlimited streaming. I have included a full list below, originally posted in our story yesterday, for reference.