Category Archives: Hardware

Microsoft gives up on the Xbox One DRM and used-game restrictions

Xbox One

It appears that Microsoft have been listened to the almost unanimous complaints aimed at their restrictive digital rights management (DRM) they had announced for the Xbox One.

To be honest they had to reverse their decision or take a huge hit in sales.

Their new stance is as follows:

  • An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
  • Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

Don Mattrick, Head of Xbox, had this to say: Read the rest of this entry

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Google Loon – Balloons could bring the Internet to everyone

Google Project Loon balloon on display at Airforce Museum in Christchurch

Google have recently been testing balloons in the hope of building a global network enabling internet access and mobile signals around the world.

Called Project Loon, Google launched 30 test balloons in New Zealand with 50 testers trying to connect to our balloons.

Head of the project, Mike Cassidy, had this to say about it.

We believe that it might actually be possible to build a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, that provides Internet access to the earth below. It’s very early days, but we’ve built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster. As a result, we hope balloons could become an option for connecting rural, remote, and underserved areas, and for helping with communications after natural disasters. The idea may sound a bit crazy—and that’s part of the reason we’re calling it Project Loon—but there’s solid science behind it.

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First look and details on the PS4

PS4 controller

Sony announced the new PS4 at E3 and it appears they have looked at what Microsoft were offering with the XBoxOne and the problems people had with that.

First up, unlike the XBoxOne the PS4 has no online requirements or used games DRM. It is also region free. It will cost US$ 399 ($100 less than the XBoxOne), Canada$ 399, € 399, and £ 349. It is available for pre-order.

The video below shows how you can share your games on the PS4.

PS4 has a 500GB hard drive which, like the PS3, will be upgradeable.

PlayStation®4 (PS4™) (CUH-1000A series) computer entertainment system will come in “Jet Black” color and will be available this holiday season in North America and Europe at a recommended retail price (RRP) of US$ 399, Canada$ 399, € 399, and £ 349.

The design of PS4 made its public debut at the PlayStation® press conference on June 10, 2013, which kicked off the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. PS4 will also be displayed this week at the Sony Computer Entertainment America booth at E3, one of the world’s largest video game exhibitions.

The internal design architecture of the PS4 system, from the optical drive and power supply unit to the cooling mechanism, has been pursed to keep the body as slim and light as possible to dramatically enhance the flexibility of the design.
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Check out the NASA Ion Engine

Ion Engine

This image shows a cutting-edge solar-electric propulsion thruster in development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., that uses xenon ions for propulsion. An earlier version of this solar-electric propulsion engine has been flying on NASA’s Dawn mission to the asteroid belt.

This engine is being considered as part of the Asteroid Initiative, a proposal to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system where astronauts can visit and explore it. This image was taken through a porthole in a vacuum chamber at JPL where the ion engine is being tested.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Source: NASA

The New Generation Kinect for Windows

kinect

Microsoft will also deliver a new generation Kinect for Windows sensor next year. We’re continuing our commitment to equipping businesses and organizations with the latest natural technology from Microsoft so that they, in turn, can develop and deploy innovative touch-free applications for their businesses and customers. A new Kinect for Windows sensor and software development kit (SDK) are core to that commitment.

Both the new Kinect sensor and the new Kinect for Windows sensor are being built on a shared set of technologies. Just as the new Kinect sensor will bring opportunities for revolutionizing gaming and entertainment, the new Kinect for Windows sensor will revolutionize computing experiences. The precision and intuitive responsiveness that the new platform provides will accelerate the development of voice and gesture experiences on computers.

Some of the key capabilities of the new Kinect sensor include:
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Here is the new Xbox One

Xbox One

Microsoft has unveiled the Xbox One which will go on sale later this year. There is also a new Kinect and controller.

So what is new about the Xbox One?

It has 8 gigs of RAM, USB 3.0, Wi-Fi Direct, a Blu-Ray disc drive, 64-bit architecture and “practically silent operation.” The Kinect camera sensor is now 1080p and “when you’re exercising, it can read your heartbeat,” according to Microsoft.

You’ll be able to use gestures and voice control to interact with the new system. “Xbox, on” starts up the machine. “Xbox, watch TV” will open up your television.

The new console can carry out four times as many calculations a second as the Xbox 360 and 10 times more “animation depth and detail”.

Microsoft also introduced a feature called Snap Mode, for multitasking while watching television. You can use Skype, for example, to chat with friends while viewing something.

There’s a feature called “Xbox Trending” that shows what shows are popular. “This is the beginning of truly intelligent TV.”
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New XBox may have a PC type processor

xbox-next-generationWhile Microsoft are keeping detals of the next XBox very close to their chest, rumours are beginning to leak out.

The latest details, if correct, suggest the next gen console will use an Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD) system-on-a-chip that combines powerful “Jaguar” central processing units with graphics chips. This was from an anonymous source talking to Bloomberg. The shift to the so-called x86 format ubiquitous in modern personal computers means Microsoft will drop the Power PC technology designed by International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), and game discs made for the current Xbox 360 won’t be compatible.

Microsoft also stands to benefit because game developers, who have moved toward making games for PCs and mobile devices, will find it easier to deliver those titles for the next Xbox.

If this is true then it will be a shame that it will not be backwards compatible with XBox 360 games, but it would mean the possibility of more games and pushing the boundaries of what is currently possible on consoles.
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90 Year Old Grandmother tries out the Oculus Rift

oculus-rift-kickstarter

The Oculus Rift headset is the cutting edge of virtual reality for video games.

90 year old grandmother tries the Oculus Rift. We were using the Tuscany demo.

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Google launching new version of Nexus 7 in July

350061-google-nexus-7As we all know, technology is constantly moving forward with new versions and models of popular pieces of tech always being worked on.

The latest appears to be a new version of Google’s Nexus 7.

Google Inc will launch a new version of its Nexus 7 tablet powered by Qualcomm Inc’s Snapdragon processor around July, two sources told Reuters, as the software giant pushes deeper into the cut-price mobile hardware market.

Google is aiming to ship as many as eight million of the Asustek-made tablets in the second half of the year, throwing down the gauntlet to other low-end tablets such as Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle Fire and Apple Inc’s iPad mini, the sources with knowledge of the new product said.

This is the first time details about the timing and sales targets for Google’s new tablet have been unveiled, although the company has not publicly released any information.

Google, which gets almost all of its revenue from online advertising, wants the aggressively priced Nexus tablets to be a hit as more Nexus users would mean more exposure for Google’s ads.

The latest version will have a higher screen resolution, a thinner bezel design and adopt Qualcomm’s chip in place of Nvidia Corp’s Tegra 3, which was used in the first Nexus 7s released last year, the sources said, declining to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

In a blow to Nvidia, Google weighed both U.S. chipmakers’ processors but finally decided on Qualcomm’s for power reasons, one of the sources added.

Qualcomm and Nvidia are competing aggressively in the tablet market as they seek to expand from their traditional strongholds of cellphones and PCs respectively.

What would we do if the Internet stopped working?

In the words of Ron Burgundy, the Internet is “kind of a big deal.” Most of us use it every day. You are only reading these words because of it and we take it for granted.

What would be do if the Internet suddenly crashed?

Scientist Danny Hillis, during a recent TED Talk, said the Internet’s current population exposes a new vulnerability.

Danny Hillis Ted Talk

“The Internet was designed with the assumption that the communications links could not be trusted, but that the people that connected computers to the Internet were smart and trustworthy,” Hillis told Mashable. “Those assumptions no longer apply.”

“We’re setting ourselves up for a kind of disaster like the [one] we had with the financial system, where we take a system that was basically built on trust — was basically built for a smaller scale system — and we’ve kind of expanded it way beyond the limits of how it was meant to operate,” Hillis explained.

“Since this presentation, many people have told me those stories are only the tip of the iceberg,” but he has heard from people working on a backup plan.

“So, while I am concerned to hear that things are already worse than I assumed, I’m also heartened that smart minds are starting to focus on solutions. Like so many other infrastructure problems, this one is likely to eventually get fixed. The question will be just how much pain we will have to accept before we fix it.”