Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


TP-Link ACes Wi-Fi at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 6:22 AM on April 18, 2014

Like many families now, it’s not unusual for everyone to be using the wi-fi network at home at the same time. Game consoles, tablets, media players and smart TVs all take their share of the data stream, and with the potential for multiple HD streams, the wireless takes a real hammering. In response to this demand, 11ac wireless uses dual frequencies and multiple antennae to get gigabit class data speeds, while still being backwards compatible with the older standards.

TP-Link Stand at GSL14

Under the Archer brand, TP-Link have a range of 11ac routers and modems, starting with twin antennae 750 Mb/s Archer C2 up to the three antennae 1750 Mb/s Archer C7. TP-Link has kindly sent one of the latter to GNC for review, so I’ll be taking a look at that later.

At The Gadget Show, I caught up with Simon from TP-Link who told me a little about their design philosophy and what they’re aiming for with the new 11ac routers.

Safe Games for Kids by Toca Boca at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 12:45 AM on April 16, 2014

Toca BocaAs a a parent with a tablet-loving daughter, I’m always worried that she’s either playing inappropriate games or else building up whopping a credit card bill via in-app purchases. Being tech-savvy, I can easily rectify the latter by controlling the password to my account, but this doesn’t always negate pester-power. The former is still a concern and I’m not alone as these two issues are relevant to parents everywhere.

To help mums and dads, Swedish outfit Toca Boca, “a play studio that makes digital toys for kids” have created a range of open-ended, non-competitive games that appeal to children where the initial purchase cost is the only time you need to flex the credit card. There are over 20 apps available for Apple, Android and Amazon devices, and include games for young hairdressers, chefs, doctors, vets, chemists, scientists and drivers. The themes are very similar to some of the popular “free” games that are out there; the Toca Boca versions usually cost US$2.99 but there are no subsequent in-app purchases.

I chat to Sonia about the Toca Boca apps and how parents can be more confident in what their children playing on their tablets without the worry of an enlarged credit card bill.

MSI has Two New Ultra-Portable Gaming Notebooks

Posted by JenThorpe at 8:27 PM on March 31, 2014

MSI SteelSeries keyboardMSI has announced two new thin and light notebooks that are designed for serious gamers. They are the GS60 Ghost and the GS70 Stealth gaming notebooks. Each comes in either a 17-inch or a 15-inch model. Both are part of MSI’s GS Series.

The GS60 Ghost is the lightest 15-inch notebook to hit the market. It is the first gaming notebook to use Mg-Li alloy in its design. Both the GS60 Ghost and the GS70 Stealth use NVIDIA GeForce BTX 860M/870M Graphics. They come with 4th Gen Intel Core i7 processor.

For sound, these gaming notebooks use Sound Blaster Cinema, Dynaudio speakers and MSI Audio Boost technology. They are able to output to 4K displays and can connect to multiple independent monitors simultaneously using the Matrix Multi-Monitor Display.

Both the GS60 Ghost and the GS70 Stealth have the SteelSeries full-color backlight keyboard with Anti-Ghosting capabilities. They have the SteelSeries Engine which allows gamers the ability to personalize their playing style with over a billion customization options.

You won’t have to worry about these gaming notebooks getting too loud or too hot. They have two ultra-slim fans and a better and more intelligent air flow design that works with ultra-slim builds. Both the fan and temperature control performance have been improved, resulting in faster reduction of temperature and less noise. MSIs GS70 Stealth and GS60 Ghost are available at $1,699.99.

Say Goodbye to the Diablo III Auction House

Posted by JenThorpe at 4:52 AM on March 18, 2014

Blizzard LogoBlizzard Entertainment has officially shut down the Auction House in Diablo III. This includes both the gold Auction House and the real-money Auction House. A controversial concept right from the start has been removed from the game – forever.

For those who are unaware, the gold Auction House enabled players to take the items that they found in game and put them up for auction. Doing so could result in the sale of the item and some gold for the player who sold it.

The real-money Auction House functioned in a similar way. Players can take the items they found in the game and put them up for auction. The difference, though, was that instead of gold (the in-game currency) the items sold in the real-money Auction House allowed the seller to earn some real world money.

The real-money Auction House in Diablo III was the first time that Blizzard Entertainment created an auction house that could be used to earn real money (instead of in-game currency). I remember people being really excited by the idea of selling enough items to pay for their subscription to World of Warcraft (one of Blizzard Entertainment’s most popular games).

There were both positives and negatives to the Auction House system. On the one hand, the Auction House was a great way for players to obtain the items they were hoping to find in the game, but could not. Previous to a recent patch, the “loot” system in Diablo III was problematic. On the other hand, there were those who felt that the Auction House allowed players who had money to “pay to win”. They could buy the best items, and gain an advantage over players who didn’t have the real-world money to spend.

Love it or hate it, I think all players of Diablo III benefited from the Auction House (both types). For example, I’ve never used the Auction House. Several of my friends have, though, and they used it to buy some really awesome items. When they “outgrew” those items, they shared them with other players, including me. The removal of the Auction House is an “end to an era” in Diablo III, and it comes shortly before the Reaper of Souls expansion is released. Good times are ahead!

Rovio teases upcoming Angry Birds Stella

Posted by Alan at 6:19 PM on February 13, 2014

Rovio, the wildly successful game studio behind Angry Birds, has begun to tease a new offering. With the first Angry Birds Star Wars now complete — yes, there will be no more updates — the company needed a “latest and greatest” to get the attention of the masses again.

Today the company teases “Angry Birds Stella”. “Get ready to meet Stella and her friends! Stella may be pink, but she’s definitely one of the Angry Birds, a fierce and a feisty character with a great group of friends. Of course no story is complete without some interesting (fr)enemies”, Rovio announces today.

The Finnish company give precious little in the way of detail, but did provide a screenshot to get everyone’s imagination working. You’ll have a while to wait, as the game won’t hit app stores until the fall of 2014.

angry-birds-stella

Ouya gets an operating system update

Posted by Alan at 7:38 AM on February 5, 2014

Ouya, the Android gaming console that was once the darling of Kickstarter, has largely sunk into anonymity since its actual launch. However the little device continues to launch new games and update its operating system to improve both performance and user interface.

Now the company is rolling out its latest update, this one taking the OS to a version known as “Jackalope”. The update contains a number of improvements, including a new 5-star rating system for all games, the ability to postpone system updates, altered functionality of the “O” and “U” buttons on the controller, better support for navigation with Bluetooth and IR remotes, rank numbers for the “Now Trending”, and a number of bug fixes.

If you don’t get this update right away, please go to MANAGE -> SYSTEM -> SYSTEM UPDATES to grab it. You can also watch the video below to get an idea of what to expect.

Roccat Woos Gamers at CES

Posted by Andrew at 7:41 AM on January 3, 2014

Roccat LogoHardware outfit Roccat Studios are dropping a whole bunch of new toys at CES  for the hardcore gamer, including headphones, mice and keyboards. Known for their signature Kone gaming mouse, the new products look the business.

First up are two additions to the Roccat range of mice. On the left, there’s the new Kone XTD Optical which has a 6,400 dpi optical sensor. If my maths is right, that means you can move the mouse just 4 micrometers and the movement will be picked up. That’s tiny – a piece of paper is about 90 micrometers thick. On the right, it’s the Kone Pure Military, coming in three different designs – Desert Strike, Naval Storm and Camo Charge. I like the look of these! The Pure Military “only” has a 5,000 dpi optical sensor. Both mice have Roccat’s tracking and distance control unit (TDCU) for more precise gaming and greater accuracy.

Kone XTD Optical Mouse      Kone Pure Military Mouse

 

Next are two additions to the Ryos keyboard range, the TKL and TKL Pro. Both are compact keyboards without the numeric keypad and the Pro version comes with per-key illumination and effects such as “breathing” and four different switch colours. As you’d expect from any serious gaming keyboard, keys can easily be programmed with macros and there are three additional programmable thumbster keys below the space bar.

Ryos TKL Keyboard

Finally, two new Kave XTD headsets have been announced – the 5.1 Analog and the Stereo. The 5.1 Analog is the successor to the original Kave 5.1 and is made for gamers who already have a 5.1 soundcard, with both audio jacks and USB connectors to power up the in-cable remote and LED lighting. Weight has been reduced by 25% while improving comfort and build quality.

The XTD Stereo has same design and build, with a pair of driver units giving rich gaming stereo sound. The noise-cancelling microphone can be removed when not required and the mute LED can silence the microphone at inappropriate moments.

Kave XTD Headset

 

Prices were not disclosed at time of announcement, but you can learn more at Roccat’s showroom in the Venetian Hotel during CES 2014.

 

Atari 2600, Colecovision Comes to the Internet Archive

Posted by J Powers at 10:13 AM on December 28, 2013

xenophobeThe Internet Archive is a database of websites, media and more to try and preserve the past. The archive houses a lot of content you might not be able to find otherwise. Now you can add arcade games to the list as the Internet Archive is bringing console gaming to your computer.

The archive has added 70′s and 80′s video games from Atari, Colecovision, and Magnavox Odyssey. It’s part of Archive.org’s Console Living Room. The games currently don’t have sound, but Archivist Jason Scott stated that will be added shortly.

Don’t throw away your MAME console just yet. The archived games are only home-console versions. So Pac Man and Donkey Kong will look and run like your Atari 2600 system version.

Still, there were a lot of games I played a lot in my younger days which never went past those gaming systems. These games on the archive fell into disarray, which puts the game into a grey area – legally. Tablets and smartphones can run these emulated games, which can bring new life into what we played as kids.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just have to find that one game I played on the Coleco as a kid but don’t remember the name…

 

Angry Birds Star Wars gets final update

Posted by Alan at 1:39 PM on December 17, 2013

Rovio has rolled out version two of its Star Wars iteration of the popular Angry Birds game. With that now firmly in the market, and receiving updates, it seems the company is going to be killing off the first version. Today the Finnish game maker has released what it claims is the final installment for the first game.

Thirty new levels were pushed out, with the final fifteen of them including battles fought at the Death Star. “Fight through the Death Star and engage in the biggest ever multi-level boss fight against Darth Vader and the Emperor that builds up to the dramatic reveal: who’s behind Darth Vader’s mask?” the company announced.

Beyond this news, Rovio has also announced it will be closing down Angry Birds Star Wars on Facebook on March 3rd, 2014. Don’t worry, though, you can still get the game for your mobile device.

Gaming Channels on YouTube are Being Deluged With Takedown Notices

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 8:52 PM on December 11, 2013

Copyright violation In the last couple of days there have been thousand of takedown notice issued involving gaming footage on Youtube. There are now a number of reports that both individuals and companies that upload gaming footage are being deluged with copyright claims. The claims don’t appear to be coming from the gaming developer in fact many of them including Capcom and Blizzard has offered to help those effected. Many takedown claims are being issued by the companies that own the copyrights to the background music for gaming videos, companies such as IDOL which is a music distribution firm and Bafta (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts). In fact to make things worse many of the take down notices appear to be coming from companies that don”t have the copyrights or companies that are no longer in business. The takedown notices are being issued through the Automated Content ID system, which was recently updated. The system is now flagging videos which previously had been missed. Most of these videos involve cut scenes, game play, outtakes and in-game music.

Many of the companies and individuals that are being effected including major player such as TheRadBrad, GhostRobo and Machinima depend on these Youtube videos for their revenue when videos are pulled no revenue is coming to them. While the takedown occur automatically an appeal can take days even weeks to be settled. The videos may still visible to the user, but the revenue is now going to the copyright holders instead of the individual or companies that uploaded and created the videos. Some people think that this is related to the changes that are supposed to be coming in January in relationship to Affiliates and Managed users and the monetization review process, although that is yet to be confirmed.

Google’s response appears to be less than adequate, basically stating if you don’t like it appeal. This is going to take a while to sort out, it appears there are very few winners in this story. The people who are producing the videos are losing revenue, the game developers are losing free advertisement and viewers maybe losing the ability to see well-developed and useful gaming videos. In my opinion this appears to be another case of copyright enforcement gone amuck.