Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 04:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbox, windows, voice, software, PC, microsoft, kinect, gestures
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced at the Consumer Electronics Show that on February 1st, the new Kinect sensor for Windows would become available for purchase. In addition to the new Kinect for Windows sensor hardware, Microsoft is releasing an official SDk or Software Development Kit. Having the SDK installed on a Windows operating system will be required in order to use Kinect software applications. Currently, there are no (Microsoft official) consumer applications using Kinect; however, official hardware and an official SDK will surely spur software development.
Microsoft is confident that the launch of the SDK and specially tuned hardware will spur development of software. According to MSNBC, the company is working with over 200 companies to develop software applications for Windows using Kinect. Microsoft's partners include Toyota, Mattel, American Express, and United Health Group. These corporate partners seem to indicate that initial Kinect applications will be designed for consumers to use in a business setting, say on a sales floor of car dealerships, at hospitals, or point of sale devices (maybe American Express is planning a "card swipe" application where holding the card up to the Kinect can be used to purchase items. Software for consumers to use at home is also likely in the pipeline and users will see them in the future.
Due to the Microsoft Kinect for Windows sensor not being subsidized by Xbox 360 games and accessories, the PC version is $100 more than the Xbox 360 version, and will retail for $250 USD. Amazon currently has the device (for pre-order) here for a whole penny less at $249.99.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2011 - 08:15 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC, gaming, fps, ea, bf3, battlefield 3
As many readers of the site will know, the PC Perspective guys have been a “bit” interested in EA’s latest multiplayer first person shooter (FPS) Battlefield 3. Ryan for one has been “testing” Battlefield 3 extensively since the game’s release as he admitted on the latest TWICH podcast.
According to EA, the PC Per staff are not the only ones to enjoy the game (despite some game issues; I’m looking at you Origin) as Battlefield 3 has sold a whopping 5 million copies. It seems as though Battlefield 3 has emerged from the battle against stability issues to win the war and be a successful release. Battlefield 3’s sales have also impressed Electronic Arts who claimed the 5 million copies have surpassed their “best expectations.” Unfortunately, they have yet to release the numbers (that I want to see) concerning the percentage of sales of the PC versus the consoles.
Another bit of positive BF3 news is that almost 99 % of the game stability issues have been fixed. M ore information on the game issues can be found here. Until next time, feel free to hit up the PCPER BF3 platoon and play with some fun people!
A few months ago, there was talk coming from Hewlett-Packard regarding their Personal Systems Group, which is the OEM/PC Manufacturing aspect of the company. Management talked and seemed to decide that they would pull and IBM and sell off their PC division to become a services company. This plan was pushed by the (now) former CEO Leo Apotheker who came from a services background. The company stopped rolling out WebOS devices including the HP Touchpad, and was further considering getting rid of the whole PC division.
A surprising "whoops" emanated from HP today as the new CEO Meg Whitman reversed the previous plans to spin off the PC or Personal Systems Group division. According to Ars Technica, HP’s PSG isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The site quoted the new HP CEO in stating “it’s clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers, and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees.” She believes keeping the Personal Systems Group makes HP stronger.
Not only is HP keeping the OEM aspects of the company alive, they are planning on expanding their current lineup in the mobile space with, and you guessed it, an ultrabook of all things! While this is likely much to the chagrin of our own Jeremy Hellstrom who would rather have 2 X79 motherboards duct taped together than an ultrabook, consumers and fans of a certain other fruit flavored slim form factor computer will likely appreciate some more competition in the ultrabook space to bring down prices a bit.
HP’s Executive Vice President over the PSG, Todd Bradley, has been quoted by several sites in a conference call yesterday as saying an HP Ultrabook is coming very soon.
"We’re very focused on having a suite in that ultramobile space. And you’ll see that very soon."
-via Maximum PC
What do you think of this move? Does HP need a lesson in moderation in a time when they are either all on or all off on decisions (that are further flip flopping back and forth), or will jumping into the Ultrabook game be a good thing for the company?
Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2011 - 10:19 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: skyrim, PC, gaming
Although most of you are busy blasting away at Battlefield 3, there are likely quite a few that are also interested in the RPG genre, and in that vein Kotaku has recently gotten their hands on and released the minimum and recommended system requirements for the upcoming Elder Scrolls: Skyrim PC game. Keep in mind when looking at the recommended system requirements, that they are for running the game at "High" graphics settings and not "Ultra" which will require more powerful specifications.
The minimum system requirements for Skyrim are as follows:
|CPU (Processor)||Dual Core @ 2.0 GHz|
|GPU (Graphics Card)||DirectX 9c compatible w/ 512MB RAM|
|RAM (System Memory)||2GB|
|OS (Operating System)||Windows XP, Vista, or 7 (32 or 64 bit)|
Those are fairly tame, and most computers around today should be able to at least run the game, with some concessions. The recommended system requirements bump things up a bit for those that prefer shinier graphics in their RPGs.
|CPU (Processor)||Quad Core Intel or AMD|
|GPU (Graphics Card)||DirectX 9 compatible w/ 1GB RAM|
|AMD 4890 or Nvidia GTX 260 or higher|
|RAM (System Memory)||4GB|
|Sound Card||DirectX compatible|
|OS (Operating System)||Windows XP or 7|
Interestingly (though not surprisingly to some), Windows Vista doesn't make the list for recommended specs, which may or may not be a mistake. As you can see, even the recommended specifications aren't too high, at least compared to other (more demanding) new releases this year. Is your PC ready for Skyrim?
Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2011 - 03:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbox, PC, gaming, ea, dice, bf3, battlefield 3
Battlefield 3 is nearing its October 25th release date and information about each platform's release is starting to pour in. One notable piece of information concerns the optional hard drive install for the Xbox 360 version of Battlefield 3. We reported earlier that the FPS would come on two DVDs for the Xbox 360, and a BF3 producer had been quoted in stating that the DVDs could be installed to the system to enable "optional high resolution textures." At the time, I had assumed that the optional install would merely boost the (already) HD (high definition) image; however, according to Shack News the game will be only standard definition without the hard drive installation.
The PC will always have HD resolutions available, assuming your rig can handle it.
Executive producer Partick Bach explains that Battlefield 3 is based around a streaming texture engine where the terrain, textures, and content are all streamed in, and is a new way of doing things on the console (though not the gaming industry as a whole). Unfortunately, it looks like the concern many gamers had in regards to the Xbox 360's DVD drive not being able to stream high quality textures fast enough have been realized. Both the PC and the Playstation 3 on the other hand, are able to stream the necessary HD textures from the hard drive (PC) and Blu-Ray disc (PS3).
Mr. Bach further explains that because there are so many Xbox 360s with either no hard drives or (nearly useless) 4 GB drives, the company had to develop the Xbox version such that even a system with no hard drive could at least play the game, even at the expense of image quality. "You could call it a 'standard-def' version for the 360 if you don't have a hard-drive." What is still unclear is what exactly he means by standard definition. Whether that means the game will be limited to a 480p resolution without the optional hard drive installation or high definition (720p+) resolutions with relatively lower resolution textures is not certain (though likely the later rather than the former, if I had to guess).
What this means for Xbox 360 gamers, in the end, is that the game will be quite a bit more expensive than previously thought if they want the full experience after factoring in the cost of an (outrageously priced) Microsoft hard drive. Are you planning on buying the Xbox version?
Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2011 - 02:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC, gaming, caspian, bf3, beta, battlefield 3
The Battlefield 3 open beta is almost over; however, the full experience of a 64 player map with vehicles has not been accessible to the general public. Until now, that is. EA has announced that the once password protected Caspian map will be available this weekend to stress test the servers. To give you an idea of the map, PC Perspective was able to get onto one of the Caspian servers during our live stream.
The EA representative noted that the beta may be prone to crashes and network issues, and that they are (likely) not indicative of the final product. They are currently experiencing a bug where users may be kicked from the server with a message indicating it was due to an administrator's actions. The representative noted that the message does not mean that the user was kicked by an administrator but rather was due to being dropped from the server (due to network issues). Starting Friday afternoon, PC players will be able to log onto the Caspian maps, which will be available until the end of the beta on Monday, October 10th.
Have you tried out the Caspian Battlefield 3 beta map yet?
Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2011 - 02:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: rage, PC, id, gaming, carmack
Many of the PC Perspective staff members have been testing out RAGE this week, and were among the countless fans that had been waiting impatiently for id software’s RAGE (to be released) since the first Mega-texture screenshots surfaced of the first person shooter a few years ago. As the game finally unlocked (on steam) on Monday night; however, the game’s enemies were not the only thing catching fire. The Steam Users Forum started lighting up with numerous complaints, bug issues, crashes, and graphical woes and rolled into an uncontrollable wildfire.
id Software's RAGE, when it's working
The major issues of RAGE include the trusty “CTD,” a crash to desktop, after the initial cut scene in the campaign as you emerge into the game world, screen tearing, mouse super sensitivity, and texture pop-in. According to Maximum PC, Bethesda has stated that this error is caused when using AMD’s Battlefield 3 Beta performance drivers. I experienced this issue myself when testing out RAGE, and switching to these RAGE performance drivers fixed that particular crashing issue. There are also reports of crashing during other parts of the game; however, they are more varied than the previous crash issue and do not manifest themselves on all systems. On the mouse super sensitivity front, using a mouse on in game dialog menus can be problematic as well. The mouse sensitivity seems to skyrocket, making it difficult to hit the “accept” and “decline” options compared to the mouse speed when using guns or walking around in the game world. The same physical motions seem to be greatly magnified on the in-game menus, as shown in the video below.
The remaining major issues do not necessarily affect gameplay; however, they can be distracting and certainly can interrupt the immersion factor of the game. Specifically, there is currently a texture streaming problem such that when the player turns too fast (or at all in severe cases), the textures of the game “pop in.” What this means is that the game looks blurry and missing detail until the engine is able to “catch up” and present the gamer with the (correctly) detailed textures. Bethesda indicates that this texture lag/pop in problem is due moreso to driver issues than problems with the engine. It remains to be seen whether updated drivers will be able to fully fix the texture streaming issue, however. The video below shows the texture pop in issue quite well.
The texture issue is not only a PC issue, however. Giantbomb noted in their Quick Look of RAGE that the Xbox 360 version of RAGE also experiences the texture pop in issue, though not to the extent of the PC. Beyond texture pop in, the PC version also succumbed to screen tearing issues. As an example, when entering the Wasted Garage level, the left two-thirds of my screen became filled almost completely with a solid yellow color where the image was torn in multiple places. This image below is of another user’s screen tearing experience which was less severe than mine but still enough to cause problems in playing the game.
GameFront is having RAGE screen tearing issues as well.
Finally, RAGE does not play nicely with FRAPS, which saw a massive slowdown in framerate when recording (much more than the normal dip experienced in other games). (UPDATE: the new AMD driver (updated Rage Performance Driver) seems to have fixed this for the most part.)
Some of these graphical issues may be attributable to the automatically adjusting nature of the game’s graphical settings as the game may not be able to cache/reuse textures it has recently loaded if the engine determines that the graphical settings need to be lower or higher, resulting in the engine needing to reload textures, and thus having what feels like lagging textures even in areas you’ve recently looked around. The extent to which it happens though is likely caused by a number of factors, that many hope a patch will mitigate. On the other hand, Bethesda is indicating that the texture issue is not due to the engine but rather is due to graphics drivers.
Either way, gamers are not happy with RAGE and are waiting impatiently for drivers and/or a patch to fix the various issues, whichever the case may be. It may be prudent to take a "wait and see" approach to the game before jumping in, if you haven't already purchased it of course. Are you running RAGE right now, and if so what sorts of issues (and hopefully solutions) have you run into? Vent your rage about RAGE in the comments below!
Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2011 - 10:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC, gaming, beta, battlefield 3
PC Perspective’s own Scott Michaud has been eagerly awaiting the launch of Battlefield 3, and was kind enough to keep me in the loop on the important aspects of the upcoming multi-platform multiplayer shooter. One aspect that many gamers (including myself) worldwide are likely salivating over is the imminent Battlefield 3 beta launch next week. Specifically, the Battlefield 3 beta will be available for download starting September 29th, 2011 for the general public and the 27th for those who pre-ordered or purchased the Limited/Tier 1 edition of Medal Of Honor.
The beta will be available on all major platforms, including PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. In order to play the beta on the Xbox 360 and PS3, the game will show up automatically in the Xbox Live Marketplace and Playstation Network respectively. On the PC side of things, gamers will need to download EA’s Origin client first, and then download the Battlefield 3 beta from the free games section of the Origin client.
The open beta will last until October 10th, and until then there are no caps or time limits regarding how far you can rank up or how often you can play. The map in question will be the “Op: Metro” map from the Alpha. Unfortunately, any ranks or stats you gain from the beta will not carry over into the final game.
While many gamers will be playing the beta on Xbox 360 and PS3, there will likely be a good number of gamers who will play it on the PC for the PC experience. During the EuroGamer expo, DICE General Manager Karl Magnusson spoke to NVIDIA, and stated that 1.5 million copies of Battlefield 3 had been pre-ordered and that DICE was happy to be back on the PC. Further, he stated that they are enjoying the feedback from gamers and whether it is the visuals, audio, or game play that they are enjoying, “all the feedback we get is really freakin’ cool.”
The minimum (and recommended) system requirements for the PC are as follows:
|OS||Windows Vista SP2 32 bit||Windows 7 64 bit|
|Processor||2 GHz dual core||quad core|
|Memory (RAM)||2 GB||4 GB|
|Hard Drive||20 GB||20 GB|
|Graphics (GPU)||DirectX 10 with 512mb RAM||DirectX 11 with 1GB RAM|
|Sound||DirectX compatible||DirectX compatible|
|Peripherals||Keyboard, mouse, DVD-ROM||Keyboard, mouse, DVD-ROM|
Have you been following the development of Battlefield 3 and are you looking forward to the open beta? Let us know in the comments.
Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2011 - 11:50 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: usb, PC, mic, headsets, gaming, corsair, analog, 7.1, 5.1
Following in the success of the company’s HS1 gaming headset, Corsair recently unveiled three new gaming headsets in its new Vengeance lineup of gaming peripherals. The new arrivals include the Vengeance 1100, 1300, and 1500 audio peripherals, of which two support USB connections.
The Vengeance 1100 is the smallest of the three gaming headsets, and features a behind-the-head headphone design and boom microphone extending from the left speaker. Using 40mm drivers, the headphones are capable of a claimed 94 decibel dynamic range, and is one of Corsairs lightest headsets. The microphone is of the unidirectional variety and features noise cancellation technology. Connectivity options include two 3.5mm audio jacks at the end of the 1.8 meter cable for headphone and microphone or a single USB connection with the included adapter cable.
The Vengeance 1300 headset with dual 3.5mm analog connections.
While lightweight and open ear headphones have their place, they are not for everyone. Thankfully, Corsair have also introduced two larger designs dubbed the Vengeance 1300 and 1500 to suit the needs of gamers who prefer (whether out of desire for isolated sound or to appease the significant other) the around-the-ears circumaural design. The 1300 supports connecting to high end sound cards with 3.5mm audio connections for both sound and the noise canceling cardioid microphone while the Vengeance 1500 connects to the computer using USB for both sound and microphone. Both models feature 50mm drivers, 95 decibel dynamic range, 3 meter cables, noise canceling microphones, and support for positional audio. Further, the Vengeance 1300 uses X-Fi CMSS-3D while the 1500 headset supports 5.1 and 7.1 Dolby Headphone positional audio. The larger designs are bound to be relatively heavy compared to the smaller Vengeance 1100; however, the closed ear design should provide cleaner audio while blocking out background noise.
As far as pricing and availability are concerned, the new gaming headsets and other Vengeance gaming peripherals are slated for an October 2011 launch worldwide. The Vengeance 1100 weights in at an attractive $39 US MSRP while the larger 1300 and 1500 have a suggested retail price of $79 US and $99 USD respectively.
Do you game with headsets, or are you more of the crank-the-home-theater-speakers-to-11 (and immerse the whole neighborhood in your Battlefield match) kind of person? I have somewhat recently moved to a pair of headphones for gaming and it definitely has its benefits (including the aforementioned spouse acceptance factor...). How do you think the new Corsair headsets will stack up to the competition? Let us know in the comments!
Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2011 - 06:06 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC, gaming, deus ex 3
Yesterday the news broke that GameStop had opened new copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution PC games, and removed OnLive coupons before selling the games as new. Today, Ars Technica reports that the brick and mortar game retailer has responded to the backlash by taking their ball and going home (as the expression goes) by pulling all copies of Deus Ex: Human Revolution from store shelves.
According to a screenshot of an email posted by GameLife (shown below), GameStop has sent out an email to employees to pull all Regular PC Edition of Deus EX: Human Revolution, and place them in storage to be returned to the vendor in the future. The company further stated that the reason for pulling the copies of the game is due to the included OnLive coupon competing with their own Spawn Labs Gaming Division. “We are returning all copies of the PC regular edition to the vendor in agreement with Square Enix.”
Fortunately, any customers who had the game reserved will still be able to purchase the game if they still wished to. Returns of the game will also be honored for those with a receipt.
While this move has been supported (publicly) by Square Enix, it is sure to only further enrage customers, and result in bad PR. The issue for most customers is not the removal of the free OnLive coupon included in the package in and of itself, but the fact that GameStop represented these games and new and unopened to customers. When customers found out that their new games, which they paid a new premium price for, were actually opened (and had materials removed) prior to them purchasing them many were understandably displeased over the mis-communication.
While pulling all copies is well within the companies right, as is removing the coupons (so long as the games are not then advertised and sold as new and unopened) it is not going to help calm the waters. It is hardly my place to suggest to the company how they conduct opertions; however, as a consumer I feel that they should know their practice and recent reactions are a bit unnvering. Do you think GameStop is handling the situation correctly? What would you like to see the company do to assuage its customers?