Monthly Archives: June 2017

Graphical Chip

Power to the Gamer

With a price point of nearly $700, the GTX 1080 Ti is clearly aimed at the power gamer, and it will give those who invest in this hardware serious gaming power, according to the reviews.

“Nvidia’s new card offers over a thousand more CUDA cores than its cousin — 3,584 versus 2,560 — as well as 24 additional ROPs and 40 percent more texture units,” wrote Brad Chacos for PCWorld.

“The vanilla GTX 1080 was the most badass graphics card ever created when it launched less than a year ago and the GTX 1080 Ti blows it away on paper,” he added.

The card also delivers — mostly — in actual performance, but doesn’t quite meet the hype of the specs, reported GameSpot’s Jimmy Thang.

“The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti performs 30 percent better than the GTX 1080 in this synthetic DirectX 11 test,” Thang noted in his review.

“While this represents the largest lead that the Ti has over the GTX 1080 at 1080p, it falls short of Nvidia’s 35 percent improvement claim,” he pointed out.

The Gee-Whiz Factor

The reviews generally seem positive, but early testers discovered a few issues.

“In all but memory capacity, which sits at an odd 11GB, the GTX 1080 Ti is a carbon copy of the Titan XP with a slightly higher clock speed,” wrote reviewer Mark Walton for Ars Technica.

While the card is indeed faster and more powerful, it hasn’t advanced graphics power by leaps or bounds, game testing also revealed — and the testing did include games in which characters do plenty of leaping.

“In the Tomb Raider benchmark at 1080p, the Ti outperforms the GTX 1080 by three percent, which is underwhelming,” wrote Gamespot’s Thang.

However, Nvidia could emerge as the winner of the graphics war with rival AMD — at least, for now — and this card actually is less expensive, so it could benefit gamers who want to take graphics to the next level.

“With competition at this end of the market some months away — AMD has pencilled in a Q2 2017 release for Vega — there’s little to stop Nvidia continuing to charge a premium for its top-of-the-range graphics cards,” added Ars‘ Walton

The Fast and the Affordable

What could be a bigger factor for the success of the GTX 1080 Ti than its slight improvement in performance is the fact that it is a lot more affordable — and thus potentially accessible to a larger market than the previous flagship card.

“These days, when you have virtually unlimited choice in graphic cards, aggressive prices can be a key differentiator as customers are increasingly value-minded,” said Scott Steinberg, principal analyst at TechSavvy Global.

“There is a segment of the gaming market that will always step up to pay premium, but far and away the trend is getting the best value for the dollar,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“The really good thing about the GTX 1080 Ti is that it improves on the Titan X performance and yet is a fraction of the cost,” noted Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.

“This moves the price point down significantly — and while it is not yet a mainstream product, it’s positioning top end cards to be more accessible,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“It makes everyone who paid a premium for the Titan X to look silly, as now [GTX 1080 Ti users] have more capability and at less money,” Entner explained. “The pace of advances and falling price point is accelerating and is actually becoming staggering.”

Power to the Gamer

With a price point of nearly $700, the GTX 1080 Ti is clearly aimed at the power gamer, and it will give those who invest in this hardware serious gaming power, according to the reviews.

“Nvidia’s new card offers over a thousand more CUDA cores than its cousin — 3,584 versus 2,560 — as well as 24 additional ROPs and 40 percent more texture units,” wrote Brad Chacos for PCWorld.

“The vanilla GTX 1080 was the most badass graphics card ever created when it launched less than a year ago and the GTX 1080 Ti blows it away on paper,” he added.

The card also delivers — mostly — in actual performance, but doesn’t quite meet the hype of the specs, reported GameSpot’s Jimmy Thang.

“The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti performs 30 percent better than the GTX 1080 in this synthetic DirectX 11 test,” Thang noted in his review.

“While this represents the largest lead that the Ti has over the GTX 1080 at 1080p, it falls short of Nvidia’s 35 percent improvement claim,” he pointed out.

The Gee-Whiz Factor

The reviews generally seem positive, but early testers discovered a few issues.

“In all but memory capacity, which sits at an odd 11GB, the GTX 1080 Ti is a carbon copy of the Titan XP with a slightly higher clock speed,” wrote reviewer Mark Walton for Ars Technica.

While the card is indeed faster and more powerful, it hasn’t advanced graphics power by leaps or bounds, game testing also revealed — and the testing did include games in which characters do plenty of leaping.

“In the Tomb Raider benchmark at 1080p, the Ti outperforms the GTX 1080 by three percent, which is underwhelming,” wrote Gamespot’s Thang.

However, Nvidia could emerge as the winner of the graphics war with rival AMD — at least, for now — and this card actually is less expensive, so it could benefit gamers who want to take graphics to the next level.

“With competition at this end of the market some months away — AMD has pencilled in a Q2 2017 release for Vega — there’s little to stop Nvidia continuing to charge a premium for its top-of-the-range graphics cards,” added Ars‘ Walton.

The Fast and the Affordable

What could be a bigger factor for the success of the GTX 1080 Ti than its slight improvement in performance is the fact that it is a lot more affordable — and thus potentially accessible to a larger market than the previous flagship card.

“These days, when you have virtually unlimited choice in graphic cards, aggressive prices can be a key differentiator as customers are increasingly value-minded,” said Scott Steinberg, principal analyst at TechSavvy Global.

“There is a segment of the gaming market that will always step up to pay premium, but far and away the trend is getting the best value for the dollar,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“The really good thing about the GTX 1080 Ti is that it improves on the Titan X performance and yet is a fraction of the cost,” noted Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.

“This moves the price point down significantly — and while it is not yet a mainstream product, it’s positioning top end cards to be more accessible,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“It makes everyone who paid a premium for the Titan X to look silly, as now [GTX 1080 Ti users] have more capability and at less money,” Entner explained. “The pace of advances and falling price point is accelerating and is actually becoming staggering.”

 

Getting Real With a Virtual Do-Good Game

MarySue Hansell: We saw that there was a lack of kindness, a lack of empathy, and negative thinking, and we thought it would be nice if we could use technology to do something about it.

We thought Facebook offered a wonderful opportunity to use a large technical platform to create a virtual world that would have a big impact, with a game that emphasizes positive thinking and good habits.

Basically, we wanted to combine the popularity of video games and the Facebook platform, and we were all avid followers of positive psychology, which is a science that shows that you can increase your well-being by doing things like altruism and expressing gratitude. We wanted to use those basic scientific principles.

The activities in A Better World increase happiness and improve well-being. You might ask, why gaming? Studies show that games form habits, and they influence behavior. Unfortunately, a lot of the game offerings are negative, but games can support positive values — especially when they’re fun.

We wanted to put good habits — expressing gratitude, being charitable, saying positive things — at the center of our game. We wanted to harness gaming for good

What are some of the activities in A Better World?

Hansell: In the game, you do good to feel good and have fun. There are many different venues. You can post what you’re grateful for today, and you can see what your friends are grateful for. You can post a photo, or put a personal message in the Gratitude Grotto. All the different do-good venues earn you positive energy.

To do some of the jobs in the virtual world, you earn do-good gold, and with the do-good gold you can purchase items in our stores. We have many stores in our game. In those stores, there are also things that cost real-world dollars. You can have fun, and have a positive impact.

To date, we’ve had great traction. We’ve had 4 million players do 40 million good deeds, and they’re not only virtual. There are also real-world good deeds that people are posting. They can send letters to sick kids.

We have an API with CURE International with hospitals all around the world. Our players can actually send children notes and get-well wishes, and they can be presented to the children in their beds via an iPad.

Every month we assign a do-good goal for the player population, and every month we have a charity of the month, and when the players meet those goals, A Better World donates to that charity. We have about 24 charities that we partner with to date.

Who is playing A Better World? What are the demographics?

There are players in over 100 countries. We’re mainly on Facebook, but we are raising funds to expand, and we want to internationalize.

The lower limit of the age range is 13, and it goes up to 65-plus. Grandparents enjoy playing with their grandchildren. We, as mothers and grandmothers, want to promote it because there is no violence — these are good habits that you want your children and grandchildren to have.

 

The CES Spectacular Edition

CES is over for another year, and with so much to discuss from the event, I’ll get right to it.

As always, these are not reviews. The ratings reflect only how much I’d like to try each product, just as soon as I stop rolling around giggling at some of the more ridiculous items from this year’s show floor.

Razer Sharp

Trust Razer to come up with something completely ridiculous that I need in my life immediately. Trust Razer to bring along two such concepts in the same year.

The first is Project Ariana, a projector that incorporates Razer’s full-spectrum lighting system, Chroma (pictured above).

It uses a wide-angle lens to project images, but it seems there’s no lengthy setup process required here.

Ariana uses 3D depth-sensing cameras to detect objects in a room and adjusts for them accordingly so that it still projects a flat image.

You can use Ariana as a regular 4K projector when you’re not playing games.

It looks incredible, and as someone looking to make the switch from a hulking TV to a projector down the line, particularly for gaming, its feature set is impressive.

I love that it can connect with the Phillips Hue system to paint your entire room to match the onscreen colors.

The other product to escape from Razer’s weird science laboratory is a laptop that goes big when it comes to screen real estate. The wonderfully absurd Project Valerie packs in three (yes, three) 17.3-inch 4K displays that automatically slide out to create a 180-degree viewing area.

It’s packed with power, too, and should have no problems running Oculus Rift and HTC Vive content. The machine weighs 12 pounds. While a far cry from modern ultralight laptops, that’s mighty impressive, all things considered. Razer somehow has managed to pack all of this into a 1.5-inch thick casing.

While there’s not much detail on the specs or pricing of Ariana or Valerie, it’s safe to say that each will make more than a little dent in your wallet. I’ve got a kidney I don’t really need. Just need to find out where my local black market is operating and I’m all set.

Super Speaker

I don’t have a great deal to say about Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay M5 speaker other than it’s another thing I need to have in my life immediately. It’s gorgeous, assuredly sounds great, and has all the connectivity you’d expect from a modern wireless speaker.

Controlling the music is a matter of pressing down on the top to play or pause, and rotating it to adjust the volume. It’s already available to purchase and costs US$599. I’m sure I can find a mechanical heart to replace mine once I sell it to pay for this lovely noise machine.

Ways to Waste

There’s a local composting program where I’ve lived for the last six months and I’ve yet to take part. I am a terrible person, I know. But hey, CES offered up a device to make composting easy, so there’s hope I’ll have lots of top-notch fertilizer by the time planting season rolls around.

After making sure the Whirlpool Zera Food Recycler has a carbon filter installed and a plant-based additive to help the breakdown process, dump your food scraps (other than bones and pits) down the chute. In around a week, you’ll have some fertilizer. Of course, it’s Web-connected so you can monitor and operate it remotely.

The device will retail for $1,199, though crowdfunding backers can still grab one for $899. That seems like a lot for a composter, even a smart one, so as much as I appreciate the idea and want to be more environmentally conscious, I’m not quite sure I’m prepared to sell an arm and a leg for it.

Vibration Station

I make regular trips to the movies and yet have never tried one of the 4D seats. I don’t much see the point in paying an extra $5 to feel some vibrations in my seat at the theater.

It seems odd then, that I’d welcome Immersit’s Vibes into my home. It’s a pair of pads you place under your couch and connect to your TV or other audio source. When those bass tones and high frequencies hit, you’ll feel them as the pads vibrate.

The Nintendo Switch handheld gaming

 On Thursday announced the Nintendo Switch handheld gaming console, its long-awaited successor to the poorly received Wii 2.

The US$300 Switch will hit the streets March 3. Purchasers will get the console, two Joy-Con controllers, a Joy-Con Grip, a set of Joy-Con wrist straps, a Nintendo Switch dock, an HDMI cable and an AC adapter.

The Switch has a 6.2-inch capacitive multitouch screen and a kickstand.

The Switch can be used as an independent handheld player. Battery life ranges from 2.5 to 6 hours.

Up to eight Switches can be connected over a local WiFi network for multiplayer games.

However, Nintendo will need to sell a lot of Switches for this feature to be useful, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

Ready to Rumble

Both Joy-Con controllers include advanced HD Rumble technology, which gives players haptic feedback for increased realism.

The controllers can be used separately — one in each hand — or together as one game controller attached to the Joy-Con grip. Players can attach them to the main console for use in handheld mode, or share them with friends for use in two-player games.

Each Joy-Con has an accelerometer and gyro-sensor, giving players independent left and right motion control, and each can act as a standalone controller.

The left controller has a Capture Button for taking screenshots to share on social media; the right one includes an NFC touchpoint for interaction with Amiibo figures, and an infrared motion camera that can detect the distance, shape and motion of nearby objects in specially designed games.

“The Joy-Con controllers seem to be [the Switch’s] best feature,” said Christine Arrington, senior analyst for games at IHS Markit.

“The demonstration of in-person, face to face competition brings back that paradigm that was so compelling to users with the original Wii,” she told TechNewsWorld.

Games Lineup

Among the games slated for the Nintendo Switch:

  • MarioKart Deluxe 8 — available April 28;
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and 1-2-Switch — available March 3;
  • Just Dance 2017 and Has Been Heroes — March 2017;
  • NBA 2K18 — September 2017;
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — fall 2017; and
  • MinecraftFIFAUltra Street Fighter II: The Final ChallengersDisgaea 5 CompleteDragon Ball Xenoverse 2 and Puyo Puyo Tetris — to be determined.

Nintendo Switch software won’t be region locked, so it will be available pretty much anywhere.

New Online Service

Nintendo also announced a new online subscription service available for free trial March 3. It’s full rollout is slated for the fall.

The service includes a smart device application that will let users invite friends to play online, set play appointments, and chat with each other.

How the Switch Stacks Up

The Switch is available now for preorder, but “sadly, I’m not tempted,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld.

The Switch’s best feature is that it’s “a tablet designed for games, so it has a really decent gaming interface,” he said. “This is likely what the Wii U should have been but wasn’t.”

However, it lacks content and is “the only consumer tablet that doesn’t support key services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, severely limiting its overall utility,” Enderle pointed out.

Still, the Switch “is an important evolution of Nintendo’s vision with the Wii U of making a console that can transition from TV gaming to tablet-style gaming,” observed IHS Markit’s Arrington.

The Wii U “did not take it far enough. There wasn’t really a compelling argument to spend more on the Wii U when consumers had a Wii and a tablet,” she added.

Nintendo likely will sell 4 million Switch units this year, based on current estimates.