Playing on a whole new field: Here is The Nvidia Shield

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When I encountered the idea of PC gaming coming to a gaming handheld, I thought about all of the possible problems that could come up. Hardware issues would be one and software and memory space could be another. PC games are known to pack more than a punch when it comes to power hardware requirements that affect even power management. How can a handheld possibly deliver exceptional graphical textures and control all of its features in the palm of my hand? Furthermore, not just any PC game – MY PC games – without being just another PlayStation or Nintendo based handheld.

At The CES 2013, Visual computing technology giants Nvidia sought to answer that question with their PC dedicated handheld system called Nvidia Shield which, according to reports, would be available in The United States and Canada by the end of July this year after it was slated for earlier. But is it something indeed to look forward to ?

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The Nvidia Shield will house a 5 inch, 720p (1280X720 @ 294ppi) multi-touch, retinal display touchscreen attached to a game controller. Honestly, it feels so much like an Xbox 360 controller (just bulkier) with an Nvidia home button and a few other design differences. The screen actually looks good till you place it side by side with a full 1080p screen though. So it should make you wonder why you would want this somewhere around your PC screen which could deliver much crispier images. Then again, having a wireless handheld that runs your PC games could prove convenient on specific occasions. It’s got Android too; so you can play tons of available games for Android from Google Play store which seems cool with the touchscreen and controller. 

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It will run the Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean mobile operating system with a custom 72-core Nvidia GeForce GPU, a 1.9GHz quad-core cortex A-15 CPU and 2Gb of RAM. So it’s clear that Nvidia did their best to pack a lot into the hardware. All of these translates to  beautiful graphics that should maintain snappy movements and lag-free gameplay for PC favorites such as Borderlands 2, Batman: Arkham City, Resident Evil 6, Metro: Last Light, Dishonored and others.

As at now, not just any game can be streamed to the Nvidia Shield. Only selected games on Steam, the online multiplayer communications platform can be played via PC streaming with 802.11n-2009 2X2 MIMO wireless connectivity. This aims to provide high-bandwidth and ultra-fast wireless for seamless game streaming so, the Nvidia Shields ability to stream games live from your PC is not the possible issue to contend with. The real issue is that there are PC system hardware requirements that must be met before the device can stream from the PC. Nvidia announced these requirements to be:

  • GPU: GeForce GTX 650 or higher desktop GPU (Notebook GPUs are not supported at this time)
  • CPU: Intel Core i3-2100 3.1GHz or AMD Athlon II X4 630 2.8GHz or higher
  • System Memory: 4GB or higher
  • Software: GeForce Experience application and latest GeForce drivers
  • OS: Windows 8 or Windows 7
  • Routers: 802.11a/g router (minimum). 802.11n dual band router (recommended). A list of recommended routers will be provided at launch.

Nvidia will use the H.264 encoder built into GeForce GTX 650 or higher GPU along with special streaming software integrated into an upcoming version of GeForce Experience to stream games from the PC to the gaming handheld over the user’s home Wi-Fi network with ultra-low latency. Gamers will now be able to use the Nvidia Shield as the controller and display for their favorite PC games as well as for Steam Big Picture; enabling gamers to get a GeForce GTX PC gaming experience anywhere in their home Wi-Fi network.

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Besides its wireless abilities, the Nvidia Shield will feature mini-HDMI output port, micro-USB 2.0, a MicroSD storage slot and a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack with microphone support. It will also have 16Gb internal flash memory, a 3-Axis gyroscope and accelerometer. It boasts of a rather good battery life lasting for about 20 hours  while streaming.

As a gaming handheld with such abilities, do not expect the game to come for cheap (it’s announced to be at $349) so low end PC users who have not yet met (and don’t exactly plan to meet) the PC system requirements would be buying an Android device with an Xbox lookalike controller for quite a lot of money. Surely, mobility does come with a price but playing the games only in one’s house or around it using a wifi connection is not really the idea of mobility to many. The Nvidia Shield is indeed a daring new entry on a new field and we are more than excited to see how this entry influences technology today.

Laughing last, laughing best: Here comes the Xbox One

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Today, Microsoft tears down all of the rumors of the next generation Xbox console called “Xbox One.” It features a brilliant glossy hardware finish that is sleek and catchy. It is geared to take what you love and make it even better.

The ideals of the next generation console is to light up the bare essentials of television and entertainment which are simplicity, instant response and complete immersion. The Xbox One does not fail to produce world class software innovation and interactive applications to make the overall user experience pleasant. Very unlike Sony, Microsoft has gone all the way to blur the lines between a gaming console and a media center and created the all in one box for all of your living room magical needs.

 

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It is amazing; you talk to the Xbox One to turn it on and control all of its applications with integrated voice commands. Imagine switching between television and game in a second just by saying: “Xbox, play game” or “Xbox, watch television.” The new Kinect is bundled with every Xbox One which gives a new dimension to motion capturing technology and even conference calls on Skype with its 1080p HD Camera. From the start, your Xbox One remembers everything you did last and well, you can snap applications just like on Windows 8 on the Xbox One with full motion based or voice commands! It is stated that it would NOT require an internet connection to function. Seeing is believing right?

It packs quite a handful on the tech specs. 8GB RAM, 8 Core CPU power, 500GB Hard Disk and Blu-ray drive. It also has an 802.11n wireless device with Wi-Fi Direct, USB 3.0 ports and HDMI out.  Microsoft’s Marc Whitten stated clearly that “Variable power states” ensure a “practically silent” operation. The console is engineered to last “well into the future,” which, of course, is an obvious reference to the company’s engineering struggles with the Xbox 360.

Imagine a console with 3 operating systems. One for your gaming on Xbox, a windows kernel and a specific operating system that covers instantaneous switching between multiple running applications. With the newly designed Xbox controller and Xbox Smart Glass technology, users can choose various ways to control their console to provide a truly complete user experience.

Microsoft has partnered with Electronic Arts for new and exclusive innovations to their ongoing sport series, The NFL for custom sporting integration and is planning to host about 15 new exclusive titles for the Xbox One on release later this year. A new, most impressive Call Of Duty is also to be released so we can be sure that it would kick off to a good start.

So there we have it for now on the new Xbox. Rest easy till E3 later on in a couple of weeks.

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PlayStation 4: When great development leads to greater questions

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February 20 2013 was a day like no other in the world of technology; and though its prime significance was centered around building the necessary expectations to usher in another great day in the world of technology, the day did spark off well… some other great things.

Video game consoles are nothing like they used to be. Gone are the days where you bought a console for the sake of gaming. “Buy the game, then the cartridge or CD, insert, power on and play” is old news. Video game consoles have taken on several tasks that give even the non-gamer good reasons to get one. With the fact that they also provide hours of great gaming entertainment for both the kids and the adult minded, owning a video game console has finally become a set standard for modern homes. On February 20 2013, the PlayStation 4 was officially announced with Sony, giving presentations of several good things to come concerning various breakthroughs in video entertainment technology.

The PlayStation 4 was billed to be released by late 2013 so, it would be quite a long wait for many. The wait might be worth it though; Sony’s fourth console entry to the PlayStation brand packs more than a punch in making sure “nothing is between you and the game.” It boasts of an 8 core Accelerated Processing Unit, 8GB GDDR5 RAM and 1.8 teraflops of processing prowess of which, even if you have no idea of what these mean, you just have a hunch that it must be powerful enough to deliver what you are expecting.

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Coming along is the PlayStation 4 eye which is a newly developed camera system that utilizes two high-sensitivity cameras equipped with wide-angle lenses and 85-degree diagonal angle views. There are also lots of comments about the new PlayStation 4 DualShock controller which comes with an “Option” button that replaces the traditional Start and Select buttons, a three axis gyroscope and touch panel. Will the DualShock 3 be compatible for the PlayStation 4? The answer is most likely a big no.

A number of issues come up whenever you give a closer thought on the anticipated Sony pacesetter. One of these would be backward compatibility. Some people would not find it very palatable spending money on great PlayStation 3 games just to spend even more for PlayStation 4 games which also come on blu-ray discs. A single console that could run pre-owned games would be extremely user cost effective. Having acquired Gaikai, a cloud based service, Sony plans to render older PlayStation games and stream them to the PS4. Cloud based services play a very integral part of the PlayStation 4 concerning games and this could mean that without a good internet connection, you may not even have access to the games you may have bought on the online store. Worse still, you may end up paying again for a game you already own since you can only play older games through the cloud service. Is that really okay?

Whether or not the PlayStation 4 would support blu-ray movies on 4K ultra high HD is still being rumored but having that would certainly do well to promote other offline functions of the console. The relationship between the still young-in-the-market PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 is unclear as well – if this remains, and no relationship is established, PS Vita owners might be headed for a level of heartbreak. The PlayStation 4 is estimated to cost about $400 – $600 which seems decent enough for its abilities.

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One other thought that comes to mind is what the future of console gaming would be. The PlayStation 4’s active social media integration involves a SHARE button on the DualShock 4 controller that allows the player to cycle through the last several minutes of gameplay to select a clip appropriate for online sharing. Videos can be uploaded directly from the console, either to websites or other PSN users. Players also have the chance to access their PlayStation online account using a PlayStation app available on the iOS AppStore and Google PlayStore. This App, is also mentioned to even support games as a second screen on compatible tablets and phones.

With all these features, it is sure that Sony has done a rather impressive job in presenting a working entry to this current technology demanding age. But whether it would be the next big thing in gaming compared to its rivals is another question for another post.

Available homebrew hacking puts a green light on PS Vita

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The PS Vita is not as flexible as the older PSP by Sony. This is not an uncommon argument. Not-so-many yet expensive games and a custom memory card type are just some of the letdowns that comes with having a PS Vita. It does have it’s good sides though, but honestly, anyone with a PSP would have a bit more to do on the overall. It doesn’t take that much time for anyone to realize that the PS Vita does have the potential of playing older PSP games and those custom applications that made the PSP a one-of-a-kind love affair. Could it be possible to just have my old PSP games to run on the PS Vita?

For a variety of people who are having a PS Vita and you just cannot do much with it, you don’t have to get dissatisfied just yet as there are now a myriad of available hacks. The height of PS Vita hacking has already been here for a while and as you may have already guessed, you can actually run homebrew on your PS Vita.

Just in case this homebrew thing seems to be a new term to you when it comes to Sony’s handheld and gaming in general, here is a simple way to put it: video game homebrew is a term gamers use to describe the installation or fixing of any software on usually hardware restricted devices. In other words, it’s when someone installs a software that the hardware manufacturer didn’t, and probably wouldn’t put there. These consumer installed programs are usually used to perform user-desired tasks which includes playing user-developed games and software, and hacks that allow game dumping on memory cards like in the case of Sony’s PSP series. However, it is worthy to mention that although it is common practice, hacking your device is liable to void your warranty and could alter the normal functionality of your device. So please consider so before you embark on the great “adventure.”

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The PS Vita first was first hacked successfully using an exploit on Gameloft’s UNO. It was probably the greatest new year gift for anyone who had guessed that it was very possible to play your PSP games on the PS Vita. It is not a bad idea; many had been fed up with the big and bulky PSP-1000 of which most models came up with analog stick issues. The PSP-2000 and 3000 were much lighter than the 1000 but the analog issues still continued nevertheless even though on fewer models.

But the bad news is that Sony quickly reacted to this exploit hack by removing the game from the online store and patching up the kernel exploits with firmware 2.05. Hence, only those who did get a copy of UNO could use the exploit and hack their PS Vitas and till this day, although several hackers have posted possibilities of new exploits for Sony’s new firmware, nothing official has been released.

So, if you have a PS Vita with a firmware lower than 2.05 and you can get a hold of Gameloft’s UNO somehow, here is a good place for you to start if you are interested in hacking. Others would just have to wait however; and be sure that we would let you know as soon as any is released 🙂

Buy the PS Vita? Maybe…

If you are yet to buy a Playstation Vita and you need to know the facts to consider, then this is for you.

When the Playstation Vita (popularly known as PS Vita) initially entered the Nigerian market in the second half of 2012, it did not have much of a warm welcome for many had already spent a lot on Sony’s four older editions of the PSP. As others had not even finished with their PSP devices, it would be only consequential that a majority saw it as a “wish list” device than a comfortable replacement for their existing handhelds. Of course, another issue was the pricing and availability of the device in the local market. It penetrated rather slowly and with the introduction of its new-found media and connectivity options, it looks like more money would be spent to ensure maximum use of the relatively powerful device.

The PS Vita comes with either just Wi-Fi or along with 3G for an extra cost. With two analog sticks (much better than the former and rather annoying PSP nub), two cameras, a front touch sensitive screen and rear touch pad, microphone, a “Six-axis” motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), three-axis electronic compass, built-in GPS receiver (only for the 3G version) as well as Wi-Fi, 3G, and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR connectivity, it is clear that the PSP Vita does show off some very impressive abilities. The two cameras bring to life face and head detection and a very solid array of customization options. Internally, the device features a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 Mp-Core processor (3 of the 4 cores are usable for applications) and a quad-core GPU. The PlayStation Vita has 512 MB of system RAM and 128 MB of VRAM which can support cross game chats.

The 3G PSP Vita is carrier locked to very few networks across the world. Hence, the 3G option is not very relevant on Nigerian soil for the time being… well… until a hack or unlock or something of such sort is released or a contract has been signed. For those wondering if former PSP games would be playable on their PS Vita, the answer is yes. However, at the moment you would only be able to play games that are downloadable via the Playstation Store. PS One games compatibility is also enabled on the PS Vita; available on the Playstation Network. So i hope you have your wifi internet ready for some serious downloading. Reports surface that the PS Vita has been hacked by a reverse engineer named Yifan Liu to run source code and “homebrew”. This is usually the first step before everything else in that direction. Trust us to keep you posted on this development.

Good news would be that the PS Vita is equipped with a storage media slot in addition to the PS Vita card slot, so that users can choose their memory capacity based on their use. But the very bad news is that it is also not compatible with standard memory cards, such as SD cards, and instead stores data on more expensive proprietary PS Vita memory cards, which are available in sizes from 4 GB to 32 GB. Software for the PlayStation Vita is distributed on a proprietary flash memory card called “PlayStation Vita game card” rather than on Universal Media Discs (UMDs) as used by the PlayStation Portable. Some media applications and games require a proprietary PlayStation Vita memory card inserted to be used. 5–10% of the game card’s space is reserved for game save data and patches. You may also be interested to know that the PS Vita only supports mp4 based formats (precisely MPEG-4 Simple Profile (AAC) and H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High/Main/Baseline Profile (AAC)). Yes! No .avi and .mkv for those who understand what that means. A PS Vita is considerably large for a handheld and could be a bit heavy. We don’t recommend you to be very fond of dropping the device – get it? Of course you do!

The PlayStation Vita web browser does not support the proprietary Adobe Flash. However, HTML5, cookies, and Javascript are available. Sony also has put in the PlayStation Vita official Recovery Menu to solve common firmware based problems. As a new feature of PlayStation Vita’s Live area, latest game information such as downloadable contents are shown on the game LiveArea. In addition, by scrolling down the game LiveArea, the “Activity” of other users who are playing the same game can be checked instantly.

A truth is that there really isn’t any device that can give everything that everybody wants. But whether the PS Vita would be a device that is worth your saving money to buy immediately or not would be a choice that we hope this post would at least equip you to decide.

MG – Android Gaming solution for kids

PlayMG has announced the sure release of a dedicated Android gaming handset which they call the MG. The device features full access to the Google Play Store.
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The MG is an Oval-shaped device which features a single-core 1GHz cortex A5 processor, 1GB of system RAM, a 4-inch Corning Gorilla Glass display screen, a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera used for facial recognition, 4GB of internal storage (expandable to 32GB via microSD), a wifi radio and some amount of standard sensors like the gyroscope, compass, accelerometer and more.

The device is powered by Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. A 1,880mAh battery which yields 3.75 hours of playtime and more than five days of standby. PlayMG says the device is lighter than a standard Android handset due to the fact that it lacks mobile phone internals.

The MG device will come preloaded with a suite of games like Need for Speed Hot Pursuit and NBA jam (allows your kids to play with the device as soon as they unbox it), if they want other Games, they’ll have to visit the Google Play Store and spend some of their parent’s cash. This is where the MG‘s exclusive apps come in. PlayMG has created a family collaboration app that ties in closely with a service called BillMyParents, which provides families with a refillable debit allowance system for kids. The service itself isn’t exclusive to MG, but the in-app management system is. A widget on the device’s home screen keeps kids updated on how much money they have available, and an automated notification system keeps parents informed on how their kids are spending. For example, if Ade (kid) buys something inappropriate, his account can be locked down instantly via text message. The collaboration app also updates parents on how often the device is being used, what games are being played and more. The idea, is to trust, but verify that your child is making good decisions.

The MG is built and design for the purpose of satisfying kids. It’s also an alternative gaming device to other portable games like the PlayStation Vita or Nintendo’s 3DS. Many thanks to Sean Buckley and Shawn knight for making this article a success.

Angry Birds going Jedi!

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Rovio has impressed us again with the release of a brand new Angry Birds series. This time, with Lucasfilm Ltd. Both of them combining the Classic Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space with the characters, stories and settings of the epic space fantasy, Star Wars.

All Angry Birds series has been interesting…from the Classic Angry Birds to Angry Birds Seasons to Angry Birds Rio to the recent Angry Birds Space. This time around, with the collaboration of Rovio Entertainment and Lucasfilm Ltd, Angry Birds Star Wars should be the best Angry Birds game.

“This is the best Angry Birds game we’ve ever done. It’s the best parts of Angry Birds with all new cutting-edge gameplay set in a galaxy far, far away” said Peter Vesterbacka, the Mighty Eagle and CMO of Rovio. “As a big Star Wars fan myself, I’m really excited abbout this new universe. The Force is definitely strong with this one”. The game will feature our furious feathered friends assuming the likenesses of characters from the epic saga, with our ever trusty Red Bird taking on Luke Skywalker’s role. The big question is: where will the Pigs feature in this series? If you’re a fan of Star Wars you already know about the Rebel Alliance, so, our Rebel Alliance would be useless without a dark side to fight! This is where the Pigs fit into the storyline. The theme song and levels for gravity-based play will always remind us of the movie. For me, I would like to see Skywalker’s (Red Bird) reaction when he notices his porcine family history! ( that’s if they follow the original storyline). The Game will be released on the 8th of November for Android, IOS, Kindle fire, Computers and Windows Phone.

Reference:
Jamie Rigg