OCC TECH NEWS
February 10, 2014
After solving issues that related to 4G LTE connectivity that faced the Nexus 7 from Google, Verizon Wireless has announced that the tablet will soon be featured on the carrier’s network. Available on February 13, 2014, the Google Nexus 7 with 32GB of internal storage will be available online and in retail stores for $349.99. For a limited time, with a two-year activation, the price of the tablet drops to $249.99. Various accessories, such as several cases, will be available from Verizon Wireless once the Nexus 7 is officially launched for the carrier.
For customers that have already purchased a second generation Nexus 7, Verizon Wireless has ensured that an income update will allow the tablet to fully function on 4G LTE network that it offers.
Source: The Verge
Retro gamers still playing on the NES, SNES, or SEGA Genesis might be pleased to hear that Innex is releasing a new console called the Super Retro Trio. The Super Retro Trio supports the aforementioned systems and has a game cartridge slot for each, as well as six controller ports. It builds upon the Retro Duo from the company, just it now has support for a whole new game system - SEGA Genesis. The package includes the console itself, an AC adapter, S-Video cable, and two SNES-style controllers. An optional Super Retro Adapter will allow the use of the Game Boy Advance cartridges, thus making this into a 4-in-1 console.
The Super Retro Trio will be available later this year for $69.99, while the Super Retro Adapter is already available and is priced at $44.99.
Source: Press Release
For years, Bing has been able to provide currency conversions for currencies all across the world. As Bitcoin continues to grow in use and fluctuate in value as it matures, the virtual currency is gaining popularity and making headway in world markets. Bing announced today that it is now supporting currency conversions to and from Bitcoin, allowing individuals to view how much their Bitcoin stash is worth. The addition of Bitcoin currency conversion into Bing can be accessed the same as other currency conversion, with search results providing the values of each currency entered. As a bonus, the value displayed for Bitcoins changes on the fly as the currency fluctuates.
Source: Bing Search Blog
Although FreedomPop originally introduced their cellphone program by using a free model, the company has just added more plans that are value oriented. The new plans focus more on individuals who want more voice, text, and data than the free offering, while still paying an inexpensive price. FreedomPop now allows users plans that are monthly, annually, and semi-annually, ranging in price from $10.99 per month, $6.67 per month, and $4.58 per month, respectfully. The two year and one year plans include unlimited voice, unlimited text, 500MB of data, and voicemail and are charged as a one-time fee for the duration of the contract. The monthly plan loses voicemail, but keeps the aforementioned features.
FreedomPop is certainly shaking up the mobile industry with its free and low pricing plans, however, only the Samsung Galaxy SII and HTC EVO 4G are available for customers of the service.
Intel plans to introduce "an energy-efficient graphics processing core built on the latest 22nm tri-gate SoC process technology" at the International Solid State Circuits conference this year. By incorporating a number of new technologies Intel claims that the new chipset can improve energy efficiency by up to 40% over comparable chipsets. This improvement in power efficiency will help to increase battery life and overall system performance in mobile devices and could also see desktop applications. Intel Labs Research Scientist James Tschanz described some of the technology saying, "this design demonstrates a new “selective boosting” technique which uses a slightly higher “boosted” voltage for key parts of Vmin-limiting memory arrays in the core," and further added, "In this graphics core we therefore include a technique – called adaptive clocking – to reduce this safety margin by detecting voltage droop events and slowing down the clock frequency of the core to prevent failures."
The R7 250X is the latest entry from PowerColor into the AMD based R7 series of GPUs. The 250X is built on the GCN architecture and has a total of 512 stream processors. The card has a system clock of 1000MHz and 1GB of GDDR5 that runs at a frequency of 1125MHz. With full support for Eyefinity and CrossFire as well as DirectX 11.2, the R7 250X offers options for expandability and keeps gamers up to date with the latest technology. The card also takes advantage of AMD PowerTune and ZeroCore Power technology help to ensure that power is used efficiently under stress and keep it minimal when in idle mode.
Source: Press Release
Ever since the PlayStation Vita Slim (also known as PS Vita 2000) was announced for Japan back in September of last year, gamers in other parts of the world were wondering if and when they could get their hands on one. Two weeks ago, it was confirmed that the PS Vita Slim would be coming to the UK (released this past Friday) and today it was finally confirmed that it'll be coming to North America this Spring.
The official announcement came during a Los Angeles press event and eventually on the PlayStation Blog, where Sony's John Koller stated the PS Vita Slim Wi-Fi model "will be available via the Borderlands 2 Limited Edition PlayStation Vita Bundle this Spring" for $199.99. The bundle comes with the PS Vita Slim, a digital download code for Borderlands 2, and an 8GB memory card.
Whether the PS Vita Slim will also be sold separately was not revealed, nor was the fate of the original model. While this is certainly great news to North American gamers that were interested in the PS Vita Slim, it's also great news for existing Vita owners, as we now have a Borderlands 2 release date of this Spring. In addition to the PS Vita Slim and Borderlands 2 announcement, Sony also posted a bunch of other Vita news today, including Vita release dates for the God of War Collection (May 6) and Sly Cooper Collection (May 27), and confirmation that Murasaki Baby, No Heroes Allowed: No Puzzles Either!, and Invizimals: The Alliance are on their way to Vita in North America. This is certainly a good day for both existing and future Vita owners.
Source: PlayStation Blog
There are a number of materials that may greatly affect the future of electronics, and topological insulators may be the most intriguing. These materials have the unique property of conducting electrons only on their surface and not through their volume. The exact mechanics of what happens in and on a topological insulator are not very well understood, but researchers at MIT may have changed that.
Because of the very different behavior of electrons inside of and on the surface of topological insulators, many researchers have previously simplified models by considering assuming the electrons in the two regions do not interact. This is an understandable assumption as some of the behaviors seen for the surface electrons are only possible with two dimensional materials. Now though, the MIT researchers have constructed the analytical tools for modelling interactions between the two regions, and have come to some surprising conclusion. For one thing, some predictions for two-dimensional materials appear to be wrong, based on this work.
The researchers also identified that there should be six, and only six new kinds of topological insulators that require strong interactions between electrons in the two regions. Now the question is how might those materials be made, and then what could be their potential applications.
Most concept cars never actually hit the consumer market, but that doesn't stop attendees at auto shows from drooling over them. At the New Delhi Auto Show this past week, attendees had a new reason to drool – the Renault KWID Concept. While the KWID includes a slew of features and interesting design decisions, the most unique is "the world's first built-in quadcopter," which Renault is calling the Flying Companion.
Hidden beneath a rear pivoting roof section, once deployed, the Flying Companion can either "run through a programmed flying sequence using GPS coordinates" in automatic mode, or be controlled manually by passengers inside the car via an integrated tablet to the left of the center-aligned steering wheel. The Flying Companion can be used to scout traffic or road conditions ahead, or be used to unearth those rare-to-find parking spots in a large city.
While the Flying Companion certainly sets this concept car apart, its looks are also quite unique. As alluded to earlier, the driver's seat and steering wheel is actually positioned in the center, flanked by two passenger seats, allowing the KWID to be usable in all countries without reconfiguration, regardless of the side of the road people drive on. The seating is also quite unique, featuring "a mix of two-tone elastomer straps laid out over a solid white bench," which is supposedly supposed to be better in warmer climates.
The KWID was designed with new emerging markets like India in mind, so whether it would ever come to the US or even hit the consumer market is anyone's guess – but it's certainly an interesting concept.
Small PC's SD240ML is a 24" 1920x1080p multi-touch Marine LCD monitor "designed and tested for reliable operation in wet dirty environments." The monitor has been IP67-tested for dust and water ingress. Since the monitor is tightly and completely sealed with a rugged aluminum casing, it's dust-proof and can be immersed in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. It also claims ideal viewing is provided even in direct sunlight due to enhanced glass bonding and anti-reflective coatings. It even boasts an impressive brightness of 1000 nits!
The display device is equipped with VGA, Composite, and HDMI ports with VESA mounting options. The SD240ML monitor alone is set at a whopping $3,895.00 and an optional integrated Intel i3/i5i/7 CPU can be added for an all-in-one solution.
Source: Press Release and Product Page
Lords of the Fallen is an action-RPG, but think Dark Souls more than Diablo. In fact, looking at the first gameplay footage courtesy of IGN, it certainly has a very Dark Souls look and feel to it. Tomasz Gop, executive producer at CI Games, says that the comparison to Dark Souls is fair, but Lords of the Fallen is a bit faster-paced. There's a bit of an arcade-y feel to the game, but this isn't a button-masher – tactics are key to success. Along with showing some general combat, the video below also shows off the game's first Lord (aka. boss), known as First Warden.
Lords of the Fallen is coming this Fall to Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Details on Rebellion's Sniper Elite 3 surfaced last week alongside an impressive gameplay video, but development hasn't been as smooth as Rebellion would have liked for the Xbox One version compared to the PlayStation 4 (the game will also be coming to Windows PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360). Speaking to GamingBolt, Sniper Elite 3's senior producer, Jean-Baptiste Bolcato, explained that the Xbox One's eSRAM made it difficult to achieve the coveted 1080p at 60 FPS.
According to Bolcato, "It was clearly a bit more complicated to extract the maximum power from the Xbox One when you're trying to do that. I think eSRAM is easy to use. The only problem is...Part of the problem is that it's just a little bit too small to output 1080p within that size. It's such a small size within there that we can't do everything in 1080p with that little buffer of super-fast RAM."
Bolcato said his team is on fine ground now, learning to handle things in chunks and utilizing a few tricks like tiling, but that the first few months were hell. That being said, he does see it improving in the future and mentioned that Microsoft is already planning on releasing a new SDK "that's much faster" - while he was worried six months ago, he's not anymore. While the Xbox One does have 5GB of DDR3 available for games (8GB overall), the much faster eSRAM is a mere 32MB. On the flip side, the PlayStation 4 has 8GB of DDR5, which Bolcato says is "almost as fast as eSRAM" when it comes to bandwidth, and has thus made the PlayStation 4 easier to work with. Bolcato sees it evening out in the near future though, so no need to ignite a flame war over this news.
Regardless of the current differences between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Rebellion is still targeting 1080p at 60 FPS for Sniper Elite 3 on both consoles. Or you can always just grab the PC version and not be limited ;).
Vanadium dioxide is an intriguing material with special properties, and is currently used in infrared sensors. Researchers at North Carolina State University have recently managed to incorporate a single crystal of the material into a silicon chip, creating a smart sensor.
In typical infrared sensors, the actual sensor and devices for processing the data are separated. This means there is a little bit of extra time for data to be sent between them and that more energy is needed for that transfer. By integrating the sensor directly onto the chip though, the data can be immediately processed, creating a smart sensor. This will also allow the infrared sensor to be lighter than conventional ones.
Using a high-powered nanosecond laser pulse, the researchers were also able to make the vanadium dioxide magnetic, creating a smart spintronic sensor. Spintronics are a field of technology that could come to dominate computing in the future.
Source: North Carolina State University
Let's face it, if you're a guy who remembers the good ol' days of arcades, you've probably dreamed about adding an arcade cabinet to your man cave at some point. But how do you choose which game to get? Enter the X-Arcade Arcade2TV Showcase, which has been available for a few months, but I just learned about it and it was too good not to share.
The Arcade2TV Showcase not only comes with 250+ built-in classic arcade games, but can also hook up to any HDTV. It includes two joysticks with eight buttons each for all your two-player action, as well as double pinball buttons and a 3" trackball for games like Marble Madness. If those 250+ games aren't enough to satisfy your gaming needs, it also supports open-source emulators and even allows you to connect up to ten different game consoles, allowing you to enjoy modern fighters with classic arcade controls. There's also a lockable access panel with storage space for a keyboard and gamepads.
While the $2500 USD price tag may seem a bit steep, just a single classic arcade cabinet can cost that much or more, so the value is outstanding. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, so while the Arcade2TV Showcase is built like a tank and tested for ten million uses, if you happen to give it more than it can handle, X-Arcade will fix it or send you another one free of charge (including covering the shipping charges within the USA). There's also an industrial-grade TV stand you can add for $500 USD, which supports 40-65" HDTVs.
I will certainly be adding the Arcade2TV Showcase to my man cave wishlist. Check out the images below.
February 8, 2014
The Dying Light YouTube channel posted a video entitled "The Outbreak Will Change Everything", asking us if we're prepared and telling us to save the date of February 11, 2014. While that can mean anything from a new trailer to a release date announcement, a tweet by the Dying Light Twitter account implies something else:
Does the word "trial" imply a playable demo will be released on Tuesday? We do know that the game has had a playable demo at trade shows, so this could indeed be the public release. Still, it's all speculative at this point, but if Dying Light is on your wishlist, be sure to check back Tuesday.
February 7, 2014
If you happened to visit the Steam front page today, you may have noticed a new section nestled between the "Featured" section and "New Releases" section, entitled "Recently Updated." "Designed to give developers more ways to communicate with gamers about their products on Steam, this public release was matched with a tools release that lets developers elect when to add their update to this product area and what to say about the contents of their latest update."
Along with the "Recently Updated" section, Steam has also added a new "Recently Updated" page that includes a filter so users can easily see the updates to the games and software they currently own. While the new section on the front page may take a little time to get used to, I certainly welcome the new page because discovering updates for games I own has never been easy in the past.
Yesterday, it was revealed that Sniper Elite 3 will be taking the series to a brand new location (Northern Africa), focusing on non-linear gameplay, adding new weaponry and customization options, and improving the X-ray kill cam. Thanks to VG247, we can now take a look at some of those new features in action via a Debut Gameplay Reveal video. While the video is "pre-beta", it's certainly already impressive. The video is narrated by Tim Jones, head of creative at Rebellion Developments, and shows off the new experience system, more detailed X-ray kill cam, the new "disable vehicle cam," and of course, the gorgeous Northern Africa setting.
As stated yesterday, Sniper Elite 3 will be coming to Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, but no release date has been mentioned yet. Two other videos are available to watch at the link below.
Announced through Twitter, Beats Audio has confirmed that its team is working with Google in order to add its music service to Chromecast. Rdio has provided much of the same announcement through Twitter, and has stated that its team is already in the process of developing support for Chromecast. Although both music services have confirmed that support is coming to the popular streaming device, no solid dates have been revealed as to when users can expect to experience the services through their television by using Google’s Chromecast.
It is worth noting that music rival Spotify has revealed that the company has had discussions about supporting Chromecast, but that the service has nothing to publically share. Although Spotify does not seem to be coming to the Chromecast quite yet, Beats Audio and Rdio will not be the first music services available for the Chromecast once they are released. Pandora and Vevo are already featured on the device and have been since late last year.
Source: PC Magazine
When building a home theater PC (HTPC), the criteria are usually a small size, low noise production and longevity. MSI's new J1800 aims at fulfilling those criteria.
The low TDP is achieved by using a Intel Celeron J1800, which has integrated graphics. This chip allows for passive cooling to reduce noise production. The board supports up to two sticks of DDR3 RAM, and it can handle up to a total of 8 GB at speeds of 1066/1333 MHz. The audio is handled by a Realtek ALC887 chipset; however, if that is not good enough, the board has a PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slot available for a sound card. There are two SATA 3 Gb/s ports to handle storage. This might be a bottle neck for some SSDs, but it should not make a world of difference, and since this board is not meant for insane performance it does make somewhat sense. Connectivity on the inside includes a 4-pin CPU fan connector even though the chip is passively cooled as well as a 4-pin system fan connector. So if one is not sure about only using passive cooling, it is possible to add a couple of fans. On the back there is both a PS/2 keyboard and mouse port, a USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, and 3 audio jacks. As for graphic outputs, there is a VGA port that supports a maximum resolution of 2560x1600, a DVI-D port that supports a maximum resolution of 2560x1600, and an HDMI port that supports a maximum resolution of 1920x1200.
To ensure the longevity of the board, MSI has used its Military Class 4 components, which include dark chokes for better power stability and effeciency, and solid CAPs for longer lifetime, lower ESR, and low temperature.
It should be noted that this board only supports Windows 8 and 8.1, which may deter some potential buyers, but Windows 8 and 8.1 offers Fast Boot, which can prove to be quite nice for an HTPC.
TRENDnet, founded in Torrance, California, has launched its new HomePlug AV2 Powerline adapter. The TRENDnet Powerline 500 AV2 adapter includes a high performance Gigabit port, auto-connect technology, a power save move that reduces electrical consumption by 80 percent, and double the performance compared to the first generation Powerline 500 adapters. TPL-408E, which is the specific model number for the the new TRENDnet Powerline 500 AV2 adapter, is also pre-encrypted for security purposes.
The TRENDnet HomePlug AV2 Powerline adapter includes a three year limited warranty and is available for immediate purchase. A single TPL-408E costs $59.99 MSRP, and a twin pack costs $104.99 MSRP.
Source: Press Release
Adding to its Urban series line of cases, which are geared towards builds that are ideal for limited space environments, Thermaltake has released the new S1 and SD1 Both cases are designed for systems that make use of Micro ATX and Mini ITX motherboards. The Thermaltake Urban S1 comes with multiple features to include a compact design that includes easy to access I/O ports like USB 3.0, optimized ventilation that includes removable filters, superior expansion capability, and convenient support for special devices. The Urban SD1 includes its own set of specialized features as well, to include a fully modular concept, a unique design that provides a retractable motherboard tray, easy installation of additional hardware, and an aesthetically pleasing design.
Source: Press Release