Tag Archives: Gaming

Xiaomi Launches the POCO X3 NFC



Xiaomi today launched the POCO X3 NFC, the third generation of its POCO sub-brand after the F1 and F2. Aimed at the value-conscious gamer, the X3 has a couple of flagship level features that unquestionably set the X3 NFC apart at this price point. The moniker for the presentation was “Exactly What You Need” and I think they delivered.

Starting with the outside, the the POCO X3 NFC has a large 6.67″ LCD Gorilla Glass 5 display on the front and a lovely curved back which beautifully reflects the Shadow Gray and Cobalt Blue of the two colour options. It’s a polycarbonate back, rather than say, glass, but given the number of smashed backs I’ve seen recently, this is not a bad thing. The quad camera array (with flash) is arranged in a circle at the top, and physically the smartphone is 165.3 x 76.8 x 9.4 mm and weighs in at 215 g. There’s a power button with fingerprint sensor on the side.

Returning to the front, the display is FHD+ meaning 2400 x 1080 pixels, 395 ppi and a 20:9 aspect ratio. It’s described as 2.5D which I think means the display has curved sides, and there’s a tiny 3.8 mm hole for the selfie cam at top centre. Stealing from the flagships, the X3’s display has a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz and can dynamically switch from as 50 Hz though 60 Hz, 90 Hz and on to 120 Hz as circumstances demand. The 120 Hz gives that super smooth screen refresh when needed, but if the screen’s only showing a static picture, the display can fall back to 50 Hz to save on power and extend battery life. That’s pretty clever stuff.

For the edge in gaming, the X3 comes with 240 Hz touch sensitivity – that means it can discriminate between touches down to 0.004s. That’s four thousandths of a second, but when playing games at a high level, it can give an edge over another player who plays on a phone with 120 Hz touch sensitivity.

Inside the X3 NFC is the first appearance of Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G. It’s an enhanced version of the 720G and 730G 4G chipsets, comprising a Kyro 470 octa-core CPU and an Adreno 618 GPU. The Kyro is able to boost a pair of “gold” cores to 2.3 GHz for gaming performance and the Adreno GPU includes Qualcomm’s “Elite Gaming” extensions to minimise jank and stutter for smooth movement. The POCO X3 NFC will be available in two variants, 6GB+64GB and 6GB+128GB, and if that’s not enough storage, the phone can take a microSD card up to 256 GB.

The gaming experience is further enhanced with a powerful z-axis linear motor for haptic feedback with 150 different “feels” available. There are stereo speakers too, which have a cool dust blaster feature than clears the cruft and debris out of the speakers. Worth checking that out in slow-mo.

Heat dissipation is always an issue with gaming phones: if the heat can’t get away from the CPU fast enough, the processor’s going to slow down to reduce heat output. The POCO X3 comes with LiquidCool Technology 1.0 Plus which is a fat heat pipe to spread energy through the X3’s internal frame and aims to keep the phone about 6°C cooler than without it. If that’s not enough, Xiaomi have partnered with Black Shark to offer the FunCooler and FunCooler Pro with the X3. Funky lights!

To keep the X3 NFC speeding along, the phone comes with a 5,160 mAh battery which is expected to give 2 days of battery life for an average user. But who is average? To quantify in more detail the battery life, it’s 10 hours of gaming or 17 hours of video. The phone supports 33 W fast charging and it takes just 65 minutes to go from 0% to 100% with the included charger.

Round the back, the POCO X3 NFC comes with a quad camera configuration. The main lens is a 64 MP unit using the Sony IMX 682 sensor, along with a 13 MP 119° wide-angle shooter. A 2 MP macro unit and a 2 MP depth sensor rounds out the rear. On the front, it’s a 20 MP selfie cam. The X3 comes with some clever filters and effects including “gold vibes” that brings out and enhances the yellows, and a “cyberpunk mode” which enhances blues and pinks – both effects look great. There’s also some clever AI effects to add night-time effects to day-time skies. Stars, auroras…

Although there’s a fairly big clue in the name, the POCO X3 NFC supports NFC for swiping those credit cards at the till. Fan favourites, the X3 includes an IR blaster and retains the 3.5 mm earphone jack. Out of the box, the phone will be running Xiaomi’s MIUI12 flavour of Android and POCO Launcher 2.0 and the company is committing to 3 years of consistent system updates.

What about the price? Impressively, even the 128 GB version comes in under GB£250 – I think that’s a good deal given the features on offer here.

  • 6 GB + 64 GB is £199 / 229 €
  • 6 GB + 128 GB is £249 / 269 €

The X3 will be available from tomorrow globally, but will be coming to the UK from 17th September on both mi.com/uk and Amazon UK. For early birds, there’s £20 off the 128 GB version bringing the price down to just £229. That offer will last until 8th October 2020.

This looks like a very compelling offering for the value-conscious gamer and I’m sure it’ll get plenty of attention.

The launch event is available on YouTube below. Skip through to about 35 minutes in.


E3 Goes Online



It’s a big weekend for gamers as E3 goes online because of Covid-19 with Sony launching the PS5, the Gaming Show 2020 and the latest games from EA and Ubisoft.

Sony revealed the PS5 last night, and while the jury’s still out on the design, the games line-up looks pretty solid with a ton of games trailers – GTA V, GT7, Ratchet & Clank, Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Sony’s The Future of Gaming Show video is here and it starts with the upcoming games roster. For the hardware, jump forwards to about 69 minutes to see the new PS5 consoles which will be coming in two variants; the standard PlayStation 5 that will take 4K Blu-Ray disks and a slimmer diskless Digital Edition. It looks like a powerful console but the white design so reminds me of stormtrooper armour. It’s a noticeable departure from the largely black box of the PS2 through PS4. At this stage, availability is “holiday 2020” and there’s no news on price.

Also part of E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) online event, the PC Gaming Show will give everyone a chance to see the latest gaming news with over 50 games trailers over a promised two hours. It kicks off at 2pm EDT on a variety of social media platforms. I’ll be keeping an eye on the PC Gamer YouTube channel to see what’s coming to PCs over the next few months.

EA will be demoing their latest and greatest on 18 June and Ubisoft will be showing off their wares later in July. If you’re a gamer, there’s plenty to keep you busy over the next few days.


Eve Crowd-Develops the Spectrum Gaming Monitor



Eve have announced their new crowd-developed gaming monitor, the Eve Spectrum. It’s a stylish 27″ affair coming in three slightly different models with varying resolutions, refresh rates and brightness levels. Behind the Spectrum is the team that produced the successful Eve V 2-in-1 Windows portable device which broke Indiegogo records on launch.

Using their previous experience of developing the V, Eve have tapped into the gaming community and asked gamers what they want from a gaming monitor. Several thousand of them responded, providing a spec list that should satisfy enough gaming fans to make them put down a deposit pronto.

The Spectrum models use LG IPS panels for the screens but they come in three different configurations.

  1. 144 Hz refresh, 2560×1440 resolution, HDR400
    and 450 nits peak brightness.
  2. 240 Hz refresh, 2560×1440 resolution, HDR600
    and 750 nits peak brightness
  3. 144 Hz refresh, 3840×2160 resolution, HDR600
    and 750 nits peak brightness

All the screens have 1 ms response times and 98% DC-IP3 colour gamut. The screens rotate between landscape and portrait orientations. Full specs are here.

In addition to the glass, the Spectrum monitor double-up as communications hub with a plethora of ports, including two one HDMI, two DisplayPort sockets, two USB C ports (one with video), three USB Type A ports, a USB-B port for data back to the PC and a 3.5 mm audio jack.

People might recall that the original Eve V was a highly successful Indiegogo launch, raising 1300% of its target in just four days, setting a European crowdfunding record on the platform. As is often the case with such oversubscription, Eve did struggle to deliver but got there in the end offering a decent Surface Pro competitor.

This time, rather than going down the traditional crowdfunding route, Eve are using pre-orders, with a deposit of $100 securing a Spectrum monitor with the balance required once the unit is ready to ship. Deliveries are expected in Q3/Q4 2020.

The models will start at US$349, US$489 and US$589 (with the same pricing in euros) for the first 500 units. After that, prices will increase “corresponding to the ordered quantity”. Following Apple’s lead, the stand is extra but at a much more reasonable price of $99. As I write, I note that some prices have gone up already so get in quick!


S-Charge 10,000 mAh Portable Power for Nintendo Switch Review



The Nintendo Switch is unique among the current generation of gaming devices, morphing between a console and a handheld. It’s a novel idea implemented well and a key factor in my choice to buy one for Christmas last year. For gaming on the go, the internal battery lasts a couple of hours which is usually enough for a commute, but for long journeys the Switch will need a recharge and this is where InDemand Design’s S-Charge comes in. Let’s take a look.

The S-Charge is a 10,000 mAh battery case for the Nintendo Switch that combines extra power with card storage and a multi-angle kick-stand. Originally, an Indiegogo project, the S-Charge is now available direct either from S-Charge or from Amazon for GB£65. This price includes the S-Charge itself, a carry case that takes a Switch with the S-Charge attached, a 45cm USB A to C cable and a screen protector.

The Switch slots into the S-Charge much like it slots into the standard TV dock, connecting into the lower USB C port. The Switch is retained in the S-Charge by a top hinge which rotates round and clicks into place, holding the the Switch securely while still giving access to the buttons and vents along the top edge of the console. The card slot’s not realistically available but it’s not much effort to flip the top up and switch the game card over.

Once connected up, pressing a small button on the left side powers up the S-Charge and there are four small white LEDs which show the battery level. Next to the button is a standard USB A port for charging other devices, such as phones or Bluetooth earbuds. Finally, there’s a USB C port for recharging the S-Charge via the supplied cable.

The long and adjustable kickstand on the S-Charge addresses one of the Switch’s other weak points, namely the flimsy, offset and single position built-in stand. The one on the S-Charge runs the full length of the unit and will click into about five different angles to get the Switch just right. Underneath the kickstand is space for two game cartridges.

Using the Switch with the S-Charge attached in handheld mode takes a little getting used for two reasons. One, the S-Charge weighs 325g and two, where do you put your fingers? A Switch with joycons attached tips the scales at 400g, so once the S-Charge is added, it’s 725g all in, which is hefty enough to hold. Depending on hand-size, fingers can either curl behind the joycons or lie along the the back of the S-Charge, but it’ll take a little getting used to. Obviously, neither of these are an issue if primarily using the Switch in tabletop mode.

The carbon fibre effect carry case is good too. It’ll take a Switch with both the S-Charge and joycons attached and there’s space for an extra six game cartridges. In the lid, there’s a zipped pocket to keep the charging cable and any other extras, like a screen cleaning cloth. The only thing I’d say about the case is that the zipped pocket has a metal pull on the zip itself. For the sake of the left hand joycon, I would have preferred a plastic one or at least a rubber coating.

The battery in the S-Charge is a beefy 10,000 mAh – that’s over twice the capacity of the Switch which Nintendo says is 4,310 mAh. How much extra gameplay depends entirely on the games being played with Zelda burning through the standard battery in less than three hours. Starting with the Switch and S-Charge at full capacity, Breath of the Wild play time could be extended to ten hours.

I used the S-Charge extensively over a couple of weeks and while I never managed to fit in a whole day of non-stop portable gaming, my experience was very much in-line with expectations. Taking the console round to another family’s home over Christmas, there was some serious Mario Kart for a couple of hours with only the loss of one white LED.

The S-Charge isn’t a pocket money purchase at GB£65, but you do get a multi-functional unit with a carry case and overall I think it’s a very good solution. Not only does it extend gaming-on-the-go to at least ten hours, the stand is much better, there’s cartridge storage and the S-Charge can recharge other devices too. It’s the perfect travelling companion for the Nintendo Switch.

There’s more on my YouTube video.

Thanks to InDemand Design for providing the S-Charge for review.


Feel the Heat with Vortx from Whirlwind FX at CES 2018



The gaming experience has steadily improved since Pong. Each generation of console and processor brings more detailed graphics, faster framerates, improved sound, force feedback vibration, VR, AR…. They’re all designed to make games more immersive and realistic without actually injuring the player. The latest addition to the gaming word is Vortx from Whirlwind FX: Todd takes the heat with Timothy, Founder and CEO.

The Vortx brings greater realism to the player by blowing hot and cold air in reponse to on-screen action. Imagine a demon throwing fireballs. As the player dodges a fireball, the Vortx blasts hot breath at the player as the ball slips past. Or imagine an adventure game, climbing through frozen mountains. The Vortx chills the air as the player climbs higher. It’s impressive.

About the size of a desktop speaker (9″ tall), the Vortx connects to a PC via USB and works with the Whirlwind FX engine. It uses object recognition and analysis to automatically trigger heat or cold, so Vortx can be used with any PC game without modification.

The Vortx is available for pre-order now at US$119, with shipping expected soon.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Star Wars: Battlefront II Trailer Leaks Ahead of Official Release



Star Wars BattlefrontSince Lucasfilm sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney, the new owners of the Star Wars brand have been busy producing new media across the spectrum of movies, television, novels, comic books, and video games. The first big post-Disney video game based in the Star Wars universe was Star Wars: Battlefront, a game that allows players to experience a number of team-based combat scenarios based on events depicted in the Star Wars films.

The original Battlefront was a massive success, prompting the development of a sequel, Battlefront II. One of the big features fans felt was missing from the first Battlefront was a single-player story mode. A trailer for Battlefront II that recently leaked online will make those story-mode missing fans very happy. The trailer (which has since been taken down) appears to show a playable female character, believed to be a downed Imperial pilot. The implication of the short dialog snippet included in the trailer is that Battlefront II will cover this character’s story. It’s also believed that the events depicted in the game take place in the Star Wars timeline after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and before Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

No release date for Battlefront II has been announced. The first Battlefront game was released in November, 2015, just ahead of the release of The Force Awakens. It’s likely that Battlefront II will see a similar release window, as the next Star Wars movie, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, will be released in December, 2017.


SwiftPoint Z is an Award-Winning Gaming Mouse at CES



SwiftPoint logoFor most computer users, a mouse is a pretty boring input device that has probably two buttons and maybe a click wheel installed. But there’s a whole world of high-end computer mice out there, many of them aimed at the gaming market.

Todd spoke with Grant from SwiftPoint about his company’s latest gaming mouse known simply as Z. SwiftPoint’s Z Mouse has more buttons than a typical mouse, allowing for up to 50 different click-based actions. Z Mouse has a built-in gyroscope that makes it easy to control things like pitch and yaw used in flight-sim games, replacing the need for a joystick or other type of controller. Z Mouse is being brought to market thru a successful Kickstarter campaign. Once the campaign is fulfilled, the mouse is expected to make it to the retail market in March of this year, where it’ll retail for $229.

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