Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Watch 20 minutes of The Elder Scrolls Online gameplay

TESO_04
QuakeCon 2013 wasn’t just a gathering of gamers eager to listen to John Carmack talk about next-gen consoles or discussions about what’s happening with Doom 4development. id Software’s parent company Zenimax used the event to show off the first MMO in The Elder Scrolls series of games, entitled The Elder Scrolls Online.
As well as letting gamers play the game in its booth, Zenimax Online Studios gave a presentation along with 20 minutes of live gameplay so we could all get a look at how the game is shaping up. If you want to get right to the gameplay jump to the 4m 20s mark below:
The video shows off a number of aspects of the game, starting with both first-person and third-person camera views. The controls are very similar to an FPS, and it’s nice to hear that as well as being able to dual wield weapons and use ranged attacks, the weapons and armor available to your character are not limited by type. The game is also meant to ship with a fully-voiced cast of NPC, which is no small undertaking.
Those of you bored with how much time you spend traveling around in other MMOs will be pleased to hear about the teleportation system. Every way shrine you discover on your travels gets logged and you can instantly teleport back to it in the future. The same is true of groups. If you join a group who is fighting on the other side of the world, you get to teleport to a safe location near them, making the gameplay much more immediate.
TESO_03
We also get to see an extended section of group combat through a dungeon, which shows off how good the game looks as well as how open and flexible the combat system is. The enemy AI also looks to be quite advanced. They fight in a range of ways and have their own healers just to make defeating them that much more difficult. It will certainly add a nice dose of strategy to any hostile situation.
There’s very few online games that have the potential to be as big asWorld of Warcraft, but I think The Elder Scrolls Online is one of them. That’s due in no small part to just how popular the non-MMOElder Scrolls games are already, combined with the fact the gameplay will remain pretty similar. By July of last year Skyrim had sold over 10 million copies, so what’s to stop The Elder Scrolls Onlinematching that, at least initially? Even half of that total subscribing to the online game would be a massive success.

Talking Moto X, Nvidia Shield, and Rymdkapsel on Geekout 17

Geekout
This week we’ve gone hands-on with the phone that was made for everyone and the portable gaming rig made for the geekiest among us. We’ve played indie strategy space games in real-time and braved the frontiers of Kingdom Rush. It’s time to Geekout.
Motorola’s press meetings have come and gone, and the Moto X has officially arrived. While I work on a proper review of this new phone, it seemed right to take a few minutes to talk about some of the things we liked and didn’t like about the phone. One thing is for sure: Motorola has done something interesting here. While it may not be the very best phone on the market today, the Moto X is every bit as big a deal as the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One. Hard to believe? Check out Ryan and I as we compare the new Moto flagship to the latest from Samsung and HTC, in those those links.
Would you buy a $299 Nvidia Shield? That’s going to be the big question for a little while, it seems. This bulky little game system is an impressive feat of manufacturing and performance, but it is not exactly pocketable. The big impressive feature, being able to stream games from your PC to the Shield, is still in beta testing phases. That doesn’t mean that you cant have some fun with Android games that are controller friendly, but if you play a game that forces you to use the touch screen you had better be ready to violate everything you have ever been told about holding a laptop by the screen in order to play the game. Since most of the weight for the Shield is in the controller, it’s a little awkward to feel the weight imbalance by picking it up from the screen.
If you’re looking for something new to do this weekend, you may consider checking out a super-minimal RTS called Rymdkapsel. It’s available on iOS, Android, and PS Vita. We’ve got a few tips for success if you get stuck somewhere along the way.

Oculus Rift is immersive enough to horrify someone who fears roller coasters

Roller coaster
The Oculus Rift has seen a real turnaround in public perception since it was first shown off on Kickstarter. People who try the head-mounted virtual reality system are usually blown away by the impressive sense of immersion and depth it offers. It’s so good, that it can apparently terrify someone that’s deathly afraid of roller coasters. Don’t buy it? Here’s rather convincing video proof.
Meet Jacob. Jacob is probably a regular guy with a job and hobbies, but he has terrible friends. Knowing that Jacob does not like roller coasters, they strapped the Oculus Rift on his head and queued up a roller coaster demo. It starts off okay, but the stereoscopic 3D effect really makes you feel like you’re there, which is a problem in Jacob’s case.
As the virtual roller coaster starts to drop down the first hill, he gets a little wobbly. The Oculus Rift tracks head movements and pans the UI accordingly. The experience can be a little disorienting, and it’s not easy to get out of the simulation if it gets to be too much. That’s why there’s a spotter behind Jacob to catch him when he tips backward. Okay, his friends probably aren’t that terrible, and there was reportedly some alcohol involved.
The Oculus Rift is is not up for sale yet, but you can pre-order the development kit for $300. Games need to be designed with Oculus Support, but some game devs have opted to include support. Orders are expected to go out next month.

BBC will reveal new Doctor Who star today

Who
Doctors come and Doctors go, but the BBC will reveal the identity of the next Doctor Who star in a special live event later today. The current Doctor, Matt Smith, has filmed his last Doctor Who special, which will air later this year. Unlike most roles in television, the mantle of The Doctor is passed from one actor to the next every few seasons, and it’s been going on for a long time.
There have been 11 different Doctors over the years, stretching all the way back to the early 1960s. The show ran more or less continuously until 1989, when it took a long hiatus. There was a TV movie in the mid 90s, but we don’t like to talk about that. Doctor Who was revived in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston playing the main role.
Within Doctor Who mythos, The Doctor is able to generate a total of 12 times, becoming a totally different person. This allows the show to continue on with a different actor in the starring role, but The Doctor is fast running out of lives. Occasional suggestions that there is no limit have been laughed off as jokes by showrunners. When the new actor (whoever it is) takes over the show, that will be the 12th Doctor. Meaning the BBC only has one more regeneration after that, if it wants to stick to the original rules.
Matt Smith took over the show from the much beloved David Tennant in 2010. He was at first seen by many fans as too young for the role, but seems to have won most Whovians over. Quite a few names have been floated as possible choices for the new Doctor, with 55 year-old Peter Capaldi emerging as the odds-on favorite. Ben Daniels from the BBC series Cutting It and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men) have also been rumored.
We’re going to find out soon who gets to take the Tardis for a spin. Whoever it is, they’ll have some big shoes to fill (and they’re bigger on the inside). The announcement will be broadcast on BBC and BBC America at 7PM London time, or 2PM ET.

EA reinvents Tetris on iOS by adding monsters

tetris_monsters
Tetris is one of the most popular games of all time, selling over 70 million copies on various consoles and handheld devices, as well as over 100 million copies on cell phones. So it makes sense that whoever owns the publishing rights at the moment wants to continue releasing new games carrying the Tetris name.
That company is EA, and their new take on the series is calledTetris Monsters.
Tetris Monsters has just been announced for release in Japan. It’s set to be a free-to-play title on iOS and is currently only confirmed for Japan this summer. It differs from previous Tetris games by adding a monster-collecting/battling element to the gameplay.
Although details are sparse, it looks as though EA has decided to copy the formula that has made GungHo Online Entertainment’sPuzzle & Dragons game so popular. In P&G, the gameplay combines a monster fighting rpg with a match 3 gem game. Basically, you progress through dungeons by using your match 3 skills to defeat any enemies you encounter. In the case of Tetris Monsters, EA has swapped out the gem matching for Tetris.
It’s understandable why EA has chosen to take this route and target Japan first. Puzzle & Dragons is currently the number one grossing app on both iOS and Android and counts 16 million downloads in Japan alone.
The money P&G generates is through in-app purchases that require the player regularly spend about $1 in order to retain any rewards, stamina, and progress they have made over the past hour or more of play. Using the tactic of “if you don’t spend you lose a lot” clearly works as P&G is thought to generate upwards of $62 million a month. I expect EA will attempt to use the same tactic for Tetris Monsters.

EA reinvents Tetris on iOS by adding monsters

tetris_monsters
Tetris is one of the most popular games of all time, selling over 70 million copies on various consoles and handheld devices, as well as over 100 million copies on cell phones. So it makes sense that whoever owns the publishing rights at the moment wants to continue releasing new games carrying the Tetris name.
That company is EA, and their new take on the series is calledTetris Monsters.
Tetris Monsters has just been announced for release in Japan. It’s set to be a free-to-play title on iOS and is currently only confirmed for Japan this summer. It differs from previous Tetris games by adding a monster-collecting/battling element to the gameplay.
Although details are sparse, it looks as though EA has decided to copy the formula that has made GungHo Online Entertainment’sPuzzle & Dragons game so popular. In P&G, the gameplay combines a monster fighting rpg with a match 3 gem game. Basically, you progress through dungeons by using your match 3 skills to defeat any enemies you encounter. In the case of Tetris Monsters, EA has swapped out the gem matching for Tetris.
It’s understandable why EA has chosen to take this route and target Japan first. Puzzle & Dragons is currently the number one grossing app on both iOS and Android and counts 16 million downloads in Japan alone.
The money P&G generates is through in-app purchases that require the player regularly spend about $1 in order to retain any rewards, stamina, and progress they have made over the past hour or more of play. Using the tactic of “if you don’t spend you lose a lot” clearly works as P&G is thought to generate upwards of $62 million a month. I expect EA will attempt to use the same tactic for Tetris Monsters.

Doom 4 didn’t feel like Doom, so id Software started again

doom_logo
There’s very few game developers that have the luxury of making a game, realizing it isn’t good enough, and scrapping it to start all over again. But id Software is one of those developers, and that’s exactly what they have done with Doom 4.
The 4th game in the Doom series was originally announced back in 2009. It was (and still is) expected to use the id Tech 5 engine and see a release on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. However, in 2011 theproject was restarted, and id Software’s studio director Tim Willits has now explained why during QuakeCon 2013.
When they looked at the state of Doom 4 in 2011, when the art was in place and most of the programming done, the team realized it just wasn’t Doom. By that Willits means it, “did not have the spirit, it did not have the soul, it didn’t have a personality.” There was nothing wrong with any specific aspect of the game, it just didn’t feel like a Doom game and id weren’t prepared to release it in that state.
It’s nice to know that id Software is willing and able to look at a game, realize it isn’t good enough, and go back to the drawing board. If they had released it anyway, the Doom name would have still ensured millions of sales, but the name would have quite probably been tarnished. Now, we can hopefully expect a much better version, and probably a much larger game as it’s unlikely they’d throw away the art and level design from those first two years of development.
Right now, Doom 4 is the only major project id Software is working on, but as ever there’s no set release date. It will be ready when it’s ready, and hopefully it will be a game we enjoy playing over and over again just like the original.

Jeff Bezos just bought the Washington Post for $250 million in cash

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, otherwise known as the founder of Amazon, just bought the Washington Post for $250 million in cash. For fans of the Washington Post, Amazon won’t have anything to do with the company, and the only influence Bezos will have on a day-to-day basis is that The Post Co. will change to a new name, which is currently undecided.
Amazon will not be involved because this was a personal purchase by Bezos, who made clear that he will not be leading the Post on a daily basis, and that the current team of leadership will remain on-board. The Post will continue life as a publicly traded company, just under that new, currently undecided name. Donald Graham, chief executive of the Post said that his family — who owned the Post for four generations — would not have dreamed of selling, but quietly shopped the organization around and began to think differently when Bezos was a potential buyer. Graham cited a long life as the reason to sell to Bezos, but explained that the Post could’ve continued living on its own. Selling to Bezos, however, gives the Post a greater chance at success.
Bezos, having never run a newspaper before — and quite frankly, running a business that sells a popular device that contributed to the decline of print — said that he is wading into uncharted territory, and that the Post will require some experimentation for a little while. He did note, though, that the values of the Post don’t need to change, so you don’t have to worry about the storied paper publishing lists featuring the best 26 moments from last night’s episode of New Girl.
Bezos will become the Posts’s only owner when the sale is completed, which is estimated to be around two months from now.

What it looks like to be flung into space away from Earth

Flung from Earth
If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the Alfonso CuarĂ³n helmed thriller about being trapped up in space all alone with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, Gravity, but have been wondering what it’d be like for real, then this time-lapse video of NASA should do the trick.
The Messenger spacecraft, which provides scientists with oodles of detailed information about Mercury, captured a great deal of imagery as it was flung away from Earth on August 2, 2005. The spacecraft’s camera, the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), snapped hundreds of images during a gravity-assisted swing-by of Earth. The images were pieced together, forming a short video of what it looked like being flung from Earth.
The video is composed of 358 frames shot over a full 24 hours, and showcases a full rotation of Earth. When the camera began snapping photos it was 40,761 miles above South America, and when it the final image was captured, the camera was 270,847 miles from Earth, which is farther than the Moon’s orbit.
As NASA notes, the Earth is so bright, that the background stars aren’t visible in the images.
Though different from Sandra Bullock’s dramatic wild ride through space, seeing the Earth quickly shrink in size as it moves into the distance, surrounded by nothing but black, is certainly nerve-racking. Messenger doesn’t even have George Clooney’s dulcet tones to calm it down. In fact, when Messenger completes its mission, it will crash into the surface of Mercury — something even George Clooney couldn’t save.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

10Gbps USB 3.1 spec finalized, compatible gadgets expected next year

superspeed_plus_usb31
Back in June we reported that the USB Implementers Forum and Intel were working on the spec for USB 3.5. That would see data transfer speeds increased to 10Gbps compared to the 5Gbps USB 3.0 currently offers. Less than two months on and the revised spec has been finalized, albeit with the name USB 3.1 rather than 3.5.
USB 3.1 (also known as Superspeed+) will remain backwards compatible with existing USB equipment, however, you are going to have to invest in new equipment to take advantage of those 10Gbps transfer speeds. Devices offering support should appear next year once the developer days in August, October, and December have been completed. Taiwan’s ASMedia is expected to be the first company to offer a USB 3.1 host controller early next year.
USB 3.1 is being viewed as a stop gap solution on the way to USB 4.0, but one that was required to try and keep pace withThunderbolt, which offers both 10Gbps and 20Gbps data transfer speeds. USB does hold the advantage though, with so much more support on the market for the standard.
For now, know that USB 3.1 kit will be arriving next year and we should learn more about the new standard once the developer days kick off later this month on August 21. Also don’t forget that the USB 3.0 spec is being improved to allow up to 100 watts of power output to be handled, meaning you may be able to ditch a few power leads in the near future.

Hands on with the Samsung Ativ Book 8

Features Ativ Book
VIEW PHOTO GALLERY
In a continued effort to chase down the elusive “no compromise” design for a laptop, Samsung’s Ativ Book 8 offers power and touch with impressive battery life and a nice display.
Ultrabooks are a great way to accomplish portable computing, but you inevitably sacrifice something with that design. The light and thin designs are amazing for sliding into your bag and heading out to work, but rarely are you able to do so without also packing your power cord. If you are able to go without your power cord, you’re probably stuck with a 128GB or smaller SSD with not enough RAM to perform complicated tasks. Samsung has made a laptop that packs the right amount of storage, processing power, RAM, and an 8 hour battery that adds up to a machine that is a little too heavy to truly be an Ultrabook.
Samsung’s 5.6 pound laptop comes with a 10-finger 1080p touch display that is fantastic as long as you are alright with reflecttve surfaces. Outside of being a serious fingerprint magnet, the laptop previously known as the Series 7 Chronos isn’t quite bright enough to use outdoors. You’ll be fine in brightly lit rooms, but in direct sunlight the laptop dowen’t stand a chance.
The 1TB 5600 RPM drive in the Ativ Book 8 causes it to feel a little sluggish on startup compared to its SSD wielding siblings, but the obvious trade off there is the significant boost in storage. Anything else you go to do with this laptop is nice and fast, the 2.4GHz Core i7 and 8GB of RAM deliver more than enough power for most serious tasks and casual gaming.
The Ativ Book 8 fits squarely in the desktop replacement category. It’s just enough hardware that you can do anything with it, and just heavy enough that you have to think about it before picking it up and hefting it around. It has 4 USB ports, an SD card slot, an HDMI slot, and an ethernet port. As long as you don’t need an optical drive, there’s no reason this couldn’t replace a desktop for most productivity users.
The touch pad and the touch screen both respond to Windows 8commands, allowing you to take advantage of the Modern UI however you choose. The 15.6-inch form factor makes it just small enough that it is still comfortable to reach out and touch the screen, but just big enough to deserve a full sized backlit keyboard.
Despite being slightly heavier than a 15-inch Macbook Pro, the Ativ Book 8 feels like a great machine. Its very clearly targeting users who want just a little more than an Ultrabook can offer, and at $1,100 it’s priced to compete with most of the devices in that category.

Waiting for Haswell? Here are the 6 laptops you should consider

Haswell
Intel officially announced the 4th generation Core processors — code named Haswell — back in June. Here we are over a month later and Haswell ultrabooks are just starting to arrive.
If you’re in the market for a new Windows laptop, Haswell is the way to go. Intel has worked out moderate performance gains, but a substantial increase in standby battery life. Don’t just buy the first ultrabook you spot, though. Here are six Haswell laptops you should look at picking up this year.

Dell XPS12

Dell’s newest ultrabook is going to ship on July 29th, and it has some distinctive features that set it apart from other ultrabooks. The first thing that’ll catch your attention is the crazy rotating screen. Lenovo cornered the market on wacky ultrabook design last generation with the Yoga, but the new Dell XPS 12 has finally made its flip-hinge something to consider.
xps12
All you have to do is unlatch the screen, flip it, and close the lid. Boom — you have a Windows 8 tablet. Yes, it’s going to be bulky as far as tablets go, but the screen is all Gorilla Glass and supports 10-point multitouch. On the subject of the screen, this is a 12.5-inch 1920×1080 LCD. These higher resolution screens are becoming standard. Thankfully, 1366×768 is slowly going away.
The Dell XPS12 is a bit chunkier than some competing ultrabooks because the flip-hinge prevents the extreme taper toward the front edge. This laptop will start at $1199 for the model with the Core i5 U4200.

Sony Vaio Pro 13

Sony’s new Haswell ultrabook is a real beauty. Made from carbon fiber, it’s one of the lightest small laptops on the market at just 2.4 lbs. The Sony Vaio Pro 13 uses that MacBook Air-inspired front taper to make the device seem a bit thinner than it is. Although, the front corners are actually a bit sharp.
Vaio Pro 13
The 13.3-inch display is another 1920×1080 panel with touch built in. Sadly, it doesn’t do any crazy gymnastics to become a tablet. Sony is using its experience in TVs to pump up the colors and depth of the screen on this laptop — it’s said to be one of the better 1080p laptop screens you can find.
This is one to consider because of the lovely design, low weight, and the fact that you can buy it right now. The Sony Vaio Pro 13 launched a few weeks ago, starting at $1249.99

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus

Samsung made some of the best ultrabooks in 2012 with the Series 9. The Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus at least gives the Korean company a shot at continuing that trend. This 13.3-inch ultrabook has a sleek overall design, but the screen is what sets it apart. No, it doesn’t have some sort of crazy hinge — it’s just staggeringly high-resolution.
samsung-ativ-book-9-plus-alternate-800x600
Samsung has opted to go with a 3200×1800 touchscreen LCD, which it calls QHD+. At this size, the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus has higher pixels-per-inch (PPI) than the Chromebook Pixel (276 vs. 239). There will also be a 1920×1080 resolution panel available if you want to save a few bucks.
The entire frame is a mere 0.53-inches and weighs in at 3 lbs. It’s a bit heavier than some of the other new ultrabooks, but the difference might be negligible. Samsung hasn’t announced a price or firm release date for this device, despite announcing it almost a month ago. It’s just, “in the coming months.” The price is expected to be high on the flagship model with the insane display and Core i7. A 1080p screen paired with a Core i5 Haswell should put it in the same range as the Sony Vaio Pro.

Review: Halo: Spartan Assault on the Lumia 928

Halo Spart Assault Featured
Translating Halo from the console to a handheld sounds impossible. Even if you could figure out how to create a similar look-and-feel, and even if you could make holding a phone or a tablet as comfortable as holding a controller, you’ve still only got half of the equation. You need to have a story that ties into the existing franchise, and enough in-game options that the player wants to own their character.
When you look at a game like Mirror’s Edge for iOS, you see a game that meant well. Hardcore fans will appreciate the extension of the title, but in no way is it anywhere near as great as the original. 343 Studios delivered the Halo experience to mobile hardware in a unique and compelling way, while breaking the game up just enough to make it possible to play when you are out and about.
UNSC Commander Sarah Palmer is the main character in Halo: Spartan Assault. While playing, you are learning about the missions your commanding officer completed right after she transitioned from ODST to Spartan-IV armor. If you’re familiar with Halo 4, these are essentially Palmer’s Spartan Ops.
The game is set between Halo 3 and Halo 4, with 25 mission broken out into five sections. The missions, including story cinematics that explain in greater detail what is happening in each part of the story, feel very much like Spartan Ops.
In our preview of Halo: Spartan Assault, I noted that the on-screen game controls feel as close to an Xbox controller as you could possibly get with digital joysticks. Because the joysticks on the screen are not in a fixed position, you can place your thumbs anywhere on the left or right and get the desired movement effects as you slide across the screen. This becomes useful in jungle situations, with enemies hiding behind trees or running at you with a pair of plasma grenades. In a Wraith or a Ghost, this means the right stick will also control the nose of the vehicle, since that’s where the weapons are located. In a Scorpion, it means the right stick controls the top part of the tank exclusively.
Weapon loadouts are preselected at the beginning of each round, but you can choose to purchase new weapons and armor upgrades. The experience credits you earn from gameplay can be used to purchase certain items, but everything else requires game currency. Using an In App Purchase, you can trade in real money for temporary use of weapon upgrades. You get to use your purchased item during the mission you have signed up for, but lose it as soon as the mission is completed or you move on to another mission. IAP starts at $2.99 for 500 credits and moves all the way up to $39.99 for 10,000 credits. In no way do you need weapon upgrades to complete a level, but in some cases it will certainly help out your score.
If you’re familiar with the weapons in the Halo franchise, you’ll notice a bit of a balance issue with some of the guns in their current state. The UNSC pistol will give you flashbacks of the original game as you one hit kill every Grunt that isn’t armored. At the same time, the shotgun’s maximum effective range is rarely far enough to make the weapon worth it, and there doesn’t seem to be a charged shot option for the plasma pistol which is also noticeably overpowered. One mission in particular saw the return of dual-wielding SMGs, though it is only the pre-configured weapon option in a couple of levels. Most of the time you rely on your trusty Battle Rifle, and whatever Covenant tech you pick up along the way.
Rather than roll the game out to their entire audience simultaneously, Halo: Spartan Assault will first be available on Windows Phone. If you decide to play on Windows Phone first, and then move up to your Windows 8 tablet later on, everything you do in the game is synced. When you log in, you’ll pick up right where you left off on the phone. Additionally, all 40 achievements and the experience points earned in this game will be applied to your Spartan Career. This will be useful for anyone who participates in Halo Waypoint or the Halo 4 Spartan Career features.
Halo: Spartan Assault isn’t just a good game, it’s a milestone in the evolution of mobile gaming. It’s a testament to the result of constant growth in an industry that was previously dominated by Sony and Nintendo, and has now merged in this really strange way with smartphones and tablets. As a member of the Halo franchise, as an example of high quality gaming on a mobile device, and as proof that Windows Phone hardware is more than capable of delivering a quality entertainment experience, this game is a terrific creation.

Internet Explorer 11 Preview brings better browsing to Windows 7

ie11-webgl
Until now, if you wanted to try out Internet Explorer 11 you needed to be running a copy of the Windows 8.1 Preview . That’s changed today: Microsoft has released a standalone download of the Internet Explorer 11 Preview that you can install on a Windows 7 system.
It’s been about 8 months since Microsoft released Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7, so it’s about time for another big update. Don’t forget, Microsoft has accelerated the pace of its browser releases too — just not quite as much as Google, Mozilla, and Opera. There’s not going to be a 20-month lull like there was between IE9 and IE10.
What’s new in IE11 for Windows 7? It’s faster, as new browser releases typically are. As it did with IE9 and IE10, Microsoft has continued improving hardware acceleration in IE11. JPEG decoding is now fully accelerated, as is text rendering — which makes many website load up more quickly.
Standards support has also improved. IE11 supports SPDY, HTML5 prefetching, pre-rendering, and W3C Resource Priorities, all of which will contribute to better overall performance — once the websites and apps you use start taking advantage of them. HTML5 video has been enhanced, too, with support for captioning and full screen standards.
ie11-windows-7
Unfortunately, those HTML5 media extensions that enable plug-in-free Netflix playback on Windows 8.1 aren’t included in IE11 for Windows 7. They may arrive at some point, but they’re not part of the preview build.
You may be wondering how IE11 benchmarks on Windows 7. Like most browsers, it does really well in some places and poorly in others.
In a quick run through Sunspider 1.0 on my Core i7 test system, IE11 turned in an overall time of 85.5ms. Chrome 28 lags way, waybehind  at 171.2ms. Chrome 30 doesn’t fare any better, posting a yawn-inducing 169ms.
On Google’s updated Octane benchmark, however, IE11 can’t keep up. It does, however, come out on top on the Gameboy Emulator test — which seems to indicate that whatever Microsoft has done to IE11 has made it a very solid performer in terms of JavaScript-powered 3D.
In general, sites load very fast in IE11. Microsoft has very clearly been hard at work squeezing every last drop of performance that it can out of the new browser. It’s another solid step in the right direction from the crew in Redmond, and confirmation that Microsoft isn’t about to sit idly by while Chrome and Firefox leave IE in the dust.

Xbox One to run silent, designed to be switched on for a decade

xbox_one_console_02
One of the facts Microsoft would rather forget about the Xbox 360 is how unreliable it has been over its lifetime. Early models were so unreliable the term Red Ring of Death (RRoD) became a popular term. Later generations of the console slowly got more reliable to the point where you hardly ever hear about RRoDs anymore, but those faulty machines cost Microsoft a lot of money and reputation points.
With the Xbox One, Microsoft seems determined to ensure that doesn’t happen again, and it’s part of the reason we are getting a larger console.
When you position the PS4 next to an Xbox One you can see their is a clear difference in size. The Xbox One is larger, but that’s apparently been done on purpose in a bid to not only make the next Xbox more reliable, but so that it can sit silently switched on under your TV for the next decade.
Eurogamer has spoken to Microsoft insiders and developers using the Xbox One dev kits to confirm that the larger console design is on purpose. It has allowed Microsoft to build in much better heat dissipation while at the same time keeping the machine silent. And according to developers it really is completely silent. Without the power light you apparently can’t tell if it is powered on or not, and as the disc won’t be spinning when you play games, at least not very often, that should remain the case for the consumer units.
Power use is also expected to fall well below the previous generation of consoles. The Xbox 360 started out using over 200W and then dropped down to as low as 115W as Microsoft released new hardware revisions. We could see the Xbox One draw at the lower end of that scale from launch.
Regardless of what you think about Microsoft’s decisions to advertise an always-connected console and controlling used games sales (andsubsequent u-turns), this time it looks as though they may have got the hardware right from the start. Anyone who has suffered through several RRoDs on Xbox 360s will certainly hope they have learned from past mistakes, at least.

Microsoft set to change the name of SkyDrive worldwide

skydrive_vs_sky
Microsoft has spent the last six years turning SkyDrive into a service that can compete with the likes of Dropbox andGoogle Drive. But now it looks as though the company will have to start again, at least, with regards to the name of the file hosting service.
The problem is, by naming the service SkyDrive Microsoft upset BSkyB, which runs the popular pay-TV service Sky across Europe. BSkyB decided to file a trademark infringement back in 2011 claiming that Microsoft was causing confusion in the marketplace.BSkyB won the court case and Microsoft vowed to appeal, but it seems they have now had a change of heart.
Instead, Microsoft has confirmed that it is set the change the name of SkyDrive. BSkyB has also stated it will allow Microsoft a reasonable amount of time in which to make the transition to a new name without taking further action against them.
Although the infringement only covers Europe, Microsoft has decided to change the name of SkyDrive worldwide. That way it can maintain consistent branding and remove the complexity of referring to the service by different names depending on where you are in the world. Imagine accessing SkyDrive in the US, then flying to a destination in Europe, and loading up the service again to find totally different branding. That would be a nightmare to manage.
With the decision to change names now made, the question turns to what the new name will be. Obviously Microsoft needs to be very careful in its selection so as not to cause another lawsuit with another company. Maybe they will build on an existing name they have? Would BingDrive fit the bill?

Oculus Rift and Kinect combine to create virtual reality Paperboy game

Oculus rift - hi-res
Oculus rift
Although the Oculus Rift is a great piece of kit on its own, it is fast becoming apparent the VR headset becomes even better when combined with other bits of tech. The Omni treadmill can be used to make moving around easy, and Atlas will enable holodecks to be a reality. Now creative tech company Globalcore has taken Oculus Rift in another direction by combining it with an bike and a Kinect sensor.
Globalcore’s ultimate goal was to create a virtual reality version of the classic game Paperboy. They have fittingly called it PaperDude VR. The game was made possible by combining four pieces of tech. The Oculus Rift, Kinect, KickR, and a bike.
The KickR sensor is used in conjunction with an iPad to tell how fast the bike is traveling, which is then relayed to the 3D world being viewed through the Oculus Rift. The Kinect is used to track the position and motion of the player’s arms. When they make a throwing action, it throws a paper in the given direction in the game. As for the 3D world of the game itself, it was created using Unity, with Minecraft-style blocky graphics.
I think it’s the addition of Kinect that really makes this work as you can actually see your own hands and arms moving around without actually having to hold a controller. It must be weird at first, but it’s a really natural interface because you are doing the exact same actions as you would on a real bike throwing real papers.
PowerDude VR certainly isn’t cheap to setup, and that’s mainly because of the $1,100 the KickR sensors costs. Add in the Oculus Rift, Kinect, and iPad, and this becomes a pretty expensive game ofPaperboy.