OUYA hits the gaming market for real

Since Nintendo released WiiU, Microsoft announced its new gaming console XBOX ONE and Sony is ready to deliver the new PS4, new developers are ready to hit the market with new gaming consoles. And what better way to become a well known competitor but to release a console using Android. This means low hardware requirements, a very active community that is eager to develop new games for any Android gadget and free to try products that offers the user a complete view of their quality. Boxer8 is the company responsible for the first gaming console based on Android operating system called Ouya.

Everything started as a Kickstarter project back in 2012 when Julie Uhrman decided it’s time for a change in the gaming industry. Along with designer Yves Béhar and Muffi Ghadiali as product manager, the project became an immediately hit in the Kickstarter community becoming the second highest-earning project. As a result, Ouya became reality and is already being shipped to the first costumers for the price of $99.

ouyascreen

The great value of this gadget comes from its simplicity. A single gamepad and a small block almost the size of a Raspberry Pi brings your TV back to life in 1080p. The ‘free to try’ philosophy promoted for each game released on Ouya’s own marketplace means that you can try the game for free for a limited period of time and if you like it only then you can buy it. All you’ll need is a valid credit card, debit card or redeemable code. Flexibility is another strong point of this console. They are offering a free developing kit in order to give the chance for any game aficionado to develop and publish their own creations.

From the technical point of view, Ouya features a NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage (expandable via USB), WiFi and Ethernet. You can download games, stream videos or music from Twitch.tv, Crunchyroll, iheartradio, TuneIn, XBMC, Plex and Flixster in Full HD quality. An interesting fact is that the company encourages the user to unscrew the device and do some modding without losing the warranty.

The Ouya controller is similar in design with the Xbox controller featuring dual analogue sticks, a directional pad positioned under the left stick, 4 buttons (labeled O, U, Y and A) and the usual back bumpers and triggers. The single-touch touchpad in the center of the controller is the thing that differentiate both gamepads. It may be possible to use alternate controllers but only for compatible games.

On a market ruled by titanic black boxes Ouya is a small ray of light. It is the most user-friendly console on the market with an open minded character giving the user the chance to modify and even root it without voiding the warranty.

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The Steam Starts Rising – Valve Set to Release the Steam Box this Year!

steam_powered1If you play computer games, you’ve more than likely know of Steam, and the impact it’s had on the gaming world over the last few years. Steam, developed by Valve, is a digital distribution platform. It is used for distributing games and other related media online. The games vary from small independent developers to larger software houses. With Valve’s share of the gaming market constantly rising, it was only a matter of time before they would release their own games console. At CES 2013, Valve showcased prototypes of what will be known as the “Steam Box”. Following is everything you need to know about Valve’s steam box.
What is Steam Box?

 
The Steam Box is primarily designed to play PC games, specifically it’s designed to play games downloaded from Steam. The early prototypes of the Steam Box seem much smaller than a PC, but it is a PC – even though it might not be running windows. What Prototypes are Under Development? Several prototypes are currently under development. This includes the Xi3 Piston and Nvidia’s Project Shield. The Xi3 piston has received investment from Valve to continue developing the Piston, which is based on it’s existing X7A series. The Piston is reportedly set to be optimized for Steam’s big picture mode.Nvidia’s Project Shield is set to take the handheld gaming world by storm. Featuring a new Tegra 4 chip, the device contains, what looks like, a large Xbox 360 controller, along with a 5-inch 720p display screen. The device will run on Android and is Nvidia’s first project outside of the graphics card world.

What Operating System will be Supported by Steam Box?

The Steam Box is rumored to run with a Linux-based architecture, and will have the ability to run all the games currently available on Valve’s Steam platform. Although according to CEO Gabe Newell, the Steam Box won’t be limited to a single operating system. This means that although the unit will be shipped with Linux installed, the user could easily install another operating system, such as Windows.

Steambox

What Hardware Configuration will be Featured?

Rumours are still circulating about the features of the Steam Box, but at this time it seems that the console is modelled around the existing X7A line of miniature computers. Reports have surfaced that the console will contain up to 1TB of internal storage, with other options available to purchase faster CPUs and RAM. The prototype at CES 2013 contained four eSATAp ports, four USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet as well as one full-sized Display Port and two Mini Display Ports. What Input Device Will it Feature?Newell has reported that the input device for the Steam Box, will be unique, potentially utilising biometrics and gaze tracking. Newell also stated that he has no intention of making Wii-like or Kinect-like controllers.

When Will it be Available?

It’s likely that the Steam Box will be released this year, although no precise date has currently been released. The console is set to be tested around July, so it’s likely that any release date would be nearer the end of the year – perhaps just in time for Christmas.

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JPCSP – The Java PSP Emulator

Programming a console emulator is a tricky proposition, especially for a relatively more recent console such as the Playstation Portable. The Java-based open-source JPSCP emulator is however a strong piece of software, suitable for both playing existing games and testing out your own projects.

As an open-source project there is a strong community behind the software, so any problems can be brought to the attention of the project’s forum for swift advice and help. However, more documentation with the download would be helpful, as it can take time to trawl through forum posts to find the information you are looking for.

The download is compact and the emulator is easy to install and set up, with controls and compatibility features easy to tweak, even for those without technical knowledge. The interface itself is basic but functional, with a graphical control allocation feature making assigning controls basically idiot-proof. You just click on the PSP graphic to assign controls.

The major downside is that the list of compatible games is small, however the range is growing. Some games may run a bit slowly, especially on older hardware.

JPCSP is certainly worth having if you want to play one of the games on its compatibility list or test your own projects. While it is relatively easy to use, more documentation would be helpful.

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Last week’s highlights #3

It’s Monday and time to recap the highlights from the last week:

Safari for Mac and PC: fast and elegant

While Internet Explorer may hold the top browsing seat in the Windows environment, it’s not the only browser choice available.  The browser wars may or may not be over, and choices now abound. If you’re looking for an alternative for your Windows platform, or have made a switch to OS X, then you’re going to want to take a look at Apple’s Safari browser. It’s one of the best browsers around, and like most, it’s free.

Safari is a great browsing alternative, and offers a great deal of features and functionality. The only down side that I’ve seen is that not all features are available to Windows users, though it is the default browser on all Apple Mac systems. On the Windows side, its security features and speed make it a worthy choice in replacement, or in addition to, any other browser you may currently use.

Download Safari for Windows | Download Safari for Mac

Internet Explorer drops below 50% of web usage

Even by the most generous estimates, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is used by barely 50% of Internet users worldwide, meaning that we are approaching or even past the point where most people aren’t using the browser. It’s been a shocking decline from the mid-1990s when as many as 95% of people were on IE. But the big story now isn’t Microsoft’s losses, but rather that it’s Google picking up much of the slack.

It’s important to note that the methods used to create browser market share figures vary from source to source. Most involve using website traffic logs which record the browser used by each visitor to a site. Some of the leading market share figure reports come from web analysis companies who get data from hundreds of thousands of clients, making a reasonably representative sample of the entire web, but this can vary. Still, even while the figures vary (and most sources already have Microsoft below 50%), the pattern is consistent

Microsoft XBOX 360 Kinect is 1 year old

Microsoft’s Kinect system was designed simply to be a way for the Xbox 360 games console to compete with the Nintendo Wii for a family audience. But one year on it is among the fastest selling consumer gadgets ever as well as being adapted for a wide range of non-gaming uses.Kinect, originally known as Project Natal, came about after Nintendo revolutionized the gaming industry with its Wii motion control system that brought a whole new meaning to “pick up and play.” Suddenly TV news reports on gaming were no longer of stereotypical greasy-haired teen loners mastering intricate control systems: instead we had families playing together and even nursing home boxing contests.

10 years of Windows XP

It has now been a decade since Windows XP revolutionised the world of computers and on October 25 of this year the world’s most popular operating system turned ten years of age. Although the world has been flooded with wave after wave of new technology since the initial launch of Windows XP, the simple fact remains that Microsoft’s most successful and longest lasting operating system is not going anywhere, anytime soon. It is still the computer software of choice amongst millions of people and companies worldwide, and despite the hype and marketing surrounding Windows 7, Windows XP will still be used by many of us another ten years from now.
Let’s take a look at the beginnings of Windows XP, why it became so immensely popular, and why only a fool would bet against it still ruling the roost by the time it turns 20.

Nexus Prime – First Ice Cream Sandwich Smartphone

The Galaxy Nexus had the working title of Nexus Prime, taken from a backstory for the Transformers movie series. It’s an appropriate name as Google is hoping the device will continue to help Android transforming the smartphone market. The Nexus is produced by Samsung but will be specifically marketed by Google itself, following on from the Nexus One and Nexus S.

One of the key elements of the Galaxy Nexus is that it will be the first commercial phone to run Android 4.0, the latest edition of Google’s mobile operating system, with the odd marketing name of Ice Cream Sandwich (previous updates included Cupcake, Eclair, Gingerbread and Honeycomb.)

 

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Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinetic is 1 year old

Microsoft’s Kinect system was designed simply to be a way for the Xbox 360 games console to compete with the Nintendo Wii for a family audience. But one year on it is among the fastest selling consumer gadgets ever as well as being adapted for a wide range of non-gaming uses.

Kinect, originally known as Project Natal, came about after Nintendo revolutionized the gaming industry with its Wii motion control system that brought a whole new meaning to “pick up and play.” Suddenly TV news reports on gaming were no longer of stereotypical greasy-haired teen loners mastering intricate control systems: instead we had families playing together and even nursing home boxing contests.

Microsoft wasn’t alone in wanting to target the Wii-market: Sony came up with its own system for the PlayStation 3, known as Move, with the selling point being more accurate controllers that could be used in traditional gaming. Microsoft didn’t try to create a better controller however: instead it decided that “you are the controller” with a hands-free gaming experience.

The Kinect system is a single horizontal bar that contains a wealth of technological features. As well as a full-scale video camera and a microphone with voice recognition technology, there’s also an infrared projector that is able to detect 3D images and thus track the player’s movements.

The system proved a major hit with players and Microsoft’s investors alike. Within five months of its debut, Kinect had sold 10 million units and was officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the “fastest-selling consumer electronics device” in history, pipping even the iPad and iPhone. Revenue in Microsoft’s gaming and gadgets division rose by 60 percent year-on-year, which was enough to boost the company’s overall takings despite a drop in PC sales and thus potential Windows customers.

Kinect hasn’t been without its controversies though. Within weeks of its release enthusiasts were adapting the technology to work with computers, coming up with uses as diverse as motion-controlled Internet surfing to even Kinect-powered banking. At first Microsoft appeared unhappy with the amateur adaptations, citing licensing restrictions and threatening to involve police. Later it decided to go with the flow and made the technology behind the Kinect officially available for non-commercial adaptation.

In another incident, a Microsoft executive appeared to suggest the company might be able to offer advertisers the opportunity to deliver targeted ads based on what the camera could see of the players, specifically giving the example of showing ads to viewers wearing a particular American football shirt. Microsoft later denied it used any of the data collected by Kinect for advertising targeting purposes.

Despite the controversies, the Kinect system remains a confirmed success. It remains far behind the estimated 88 million sales of the Wii, but has truly wiped the floor with the PlayStation Move. It appears to have pulled off the tricky task of attracting new “casual” gamers with interactive sports and dance games while also appealing to the hardcore Xbox audience. One year on there are more than 100 Kinect titles either available now or scheduled for release, and if Kinect achieves nothing else, it will always be remembered for making it possible to play Hole in the Wall in your own living room!

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Playstation Vita launch date delayed by Sony in US and Europe

Sony officially confirmed that their new handheld console will miss this year’s holidays. The launch date for Playstation Vita will be rescheduled in US and Europe, while the initial launch date for Japan will remain the same.

Kazuo Hirai, gaming chief at Sony, didn’t mention a reason for this delay, but rumors say that the natural disaster that hit Japan this Spring, may have caused to Sony some supply limitations.

Anyway, sooner or later we will get the new Playstation Vita which comes in two models with Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi+3G. The handheld machinery will mock the 3DS from Nintendo with a strong hardware configuration: quad-core ARM processor and GX 543MP4+ graphics processor. The OLED touchscreen, with rear-mounted touchpad support and six-axis motion sensors complete the new gaming experience delivered by Playstation Vita.

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New Xbox 360 accessories announced

Microsoft announced two new accessories for XBOX 360 that will debut this year’s holiday. First product is wireless Bluetooth headset with double usage. You can connect it to the Xbox console using radio frequency or you can answer your phone calls by switching to the Bluetooth standard. Using the Bluetooth 3.0 technology the headset will have no problems in being detected by any new smartphone in order to be used. The device will be available in November for $59.99.

The second accessory is the new Media Remote that brings additional control to the playback functions in the XBOX 360 media content. Again, this device has double function by operating either the console or the TV. For the TV control you need to enter its brand’s code in order to connect the remote to it. The new Media Remote comes also with A, B, X, Y buttons, D-pad navigation, so that the user can easily navigate through the console’s dashboard. In case you want it, you have to pay $19.99 in November.

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