Starting on Black Friday, and only available while supplies last, Samsung is offering a free Far Cry 4 download with any purchase of an 840 EVO SSD. The offer is only available from participating retailers, most notably Best Buy, Amazon, Newegg, Microcenter, Fry's, and Tiger Direct. Users will be able to download the game at a Samsung-hosted web address (Samsung.com/fc4) until September 1.
The 840 EVO is a value SSD that delivers tremendous performance. Our resident SSD expert, Chris Ramseyer, recently took a look at the 840 EVO in his Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SSD Review - An SSD with a Good Price and Performance article. Chris found the 840 EVO to offer a great mixture of price and performance, and the EVO won the TweakTown Editor's Choice award. The 840 EVO is currently selling at roughly 45 cents per gigabyte, and adding in the free Far Cry 4 game is the cherry on top.
It's an even better time for console gamers, as Sony also joined the pre-Black Friday fun for gamers. The Japanese electronics company has cut prices for numerous PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 game titles ahead of Black Friday.
There are more than 30 game titles discounted in the Sony's Co-Op Gaming Sale, including Arcana Heart 3: LOVE MAX!!!!, Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse, LEGO: The Hobbit, EA Sports UFC, and Soul Sacrifice Delta.
Gamers looking for a new console will be able to purchase the PS4 and Xbox One this year at discounted prices.
Amazon gets a lot of things right, but the launch and promotion of its Fire Phone certainly wasn't one of them. The company initially didn't price the device properly when it launched earlier this year, and now has cut the price of the 32GB unlocked Fire Phone to just $199 with no contract required.
In addition to the phone itself, new customers will also receive one year of free Amazon Prime membership - a $99 value - as the company desperately tries to rid itself of current inventory of the device.
The phone originally cost $449, but the $250 price cut shows how intent Amazon is with its current effort to sell the device. AT&T previously offered the Fire Phone for $199 on a two-year contract, but previously cut the price down to just $0.01 with a two-year contract.
The 4K TV market is finally expanding rapidly as we enter the holiday shopping season. The total sales figures for retail 4K TV's year-to-date weighs in at 6.4 million units, but over 3 million of those TV's shipped in the last quarter alone. Retailers are obviously stocking up for huge Black Friday sales, and the continued price reductions for ultra-high definition TV's are obviously fueling the healthy sales figures.
Surprisingly, China has led demand and has consumed 60% of the shipments thus far. Samsung occupies the leadership position, but low-cost panels from relatively unknown manufactures, such as Hisense and Changchong, are creating more competition in this space. Plasma TV's aren't faring as well, and several companies have ceased manufacturing them entirely. The overall TV market has been somewhat sluggish and only grew at a 4% rate last year. The growth is fed largely by 1080p LCD panels, but most consumers have already upgraded to 1080p at this point, and the catalyst for future growth will likely be yet another transition period as we move to 4K televisions.
Baidu, the Chinese technology company, has teased the Internet with its new connected DuBike smart bike. The bike has multiple sensors that can collect rider data, heart rate, velocity, foot pressure, and seating pressure. DuBike also has the ability to convert kinetic energy into electricity, GPS, and a custom operating system that provides riders with updated routes and nearby users.
All collected data can be sent to PCs and mobile devices for further analysis, with more connected features possible in the future.
Baidu was careful not to add noticeable sensors on the outside of the bike, so hopefully bike thieves won't be drawn to the bike. Pricing information and scheduled release date weren't made available to consumers.
Do you want to be a drone pilot? There is increasing need for private drone pilots, with salaries often starting at $100,000 per year - and the demand for these specially-trained workers is only increasing. The market is expected to create around 100,000 new jobs over the first 10 years, with a growing number of drones entering private US airspace.
Even with potential Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) problems, Amazon, Facebook, and other companies are interested in utilizing drones for various reasons. Some companies are already paying $50 per hour, and salaries will only increase even further above $100,000 per year, according to Al Palmer, University of North Adkota Unmanned Aircraft Systems director.
Expect more university programs dedicated to helping groom the next generation of drone pilots.
Audiophiles, rejoice! Windows 10 Project Manager Gabriel Aul has announced via Twitter that Microsoft will offer native FLAC support in their latest operating system. FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is a commonly used lossless audio format that provides a more accurate reproduction of recordings. In other words, it sounds better than other formats, such as MP3, which compress recordings down to a more manageable size but lose quality in the process.
FLAC audio files are very large, but the audio quality is superb. Windows has long forced users to turn to downloadable third-party audio codec packs to support FLAC, along with several other codecs. Microsoft has finally seen the light and is integrating FLAC directly into Windows Media Player 12 and the music app. Microsoft has also pleased the world at large by finally supporting MKV as well, so perhaps there will be less third-party codec downloads with insidious bloatware installers in our future.
Home Depot is now facing at least 44 lawsuits related to its massive data breach that it suffered earlier in 2014, along with several state and federal agencies investigating the incident. The data breach hit 56 million customers, with debit and credit card information at risk.
The company expects "significant legal and other professional services expenses" from the breach, while also facing lawsuit problems in the United States and Canada. The lawsuits were filed almost immediately after the breach was publicly disclosed, and it is possible others will be filed in the near future.
The breach was likely orchestrated by state-sponsored Russian hackers, with all of its retail stores impacted.
The floods in Thailand in 2011 sent a tidal wave of high prices through the HDD market. The ripples of the flood are just receding and HDD prices are finally rebounding. Black Friday sales are going to feature HDDs for roughly $25 a terabyte, and expect many of these great deals to come without the normal mail in rebate programs. External drives are also going to be exceptionally low priced and feature speedy USB 3.0 interfaces.
After years of declining sales the PC market is also finally improving. Storage devices are somewhat of a litmus test for the PC market. When sales of PC are bad the HDD market declines. Users seem to be turning back to their home computers. Sales of tablets, which helped eviscerate the PC space, are also starting to decline. The personal storage category has rebounded with a 4.8% increase in overall units shipped last quarter, according to IDC.
Consumers and retailers both took a beating in 2014, with a number of significant data breaches hitting millions of victims. A recent survey found that consumers are uneasy when shopping online, along with some customers avoiding retailers because of data breach concerns. Sixty-two percent of consumers are worried about online shopping, while 23 percent said they are making less online purchases, according to information from the International Data Group and NCC Group.
Even more frightening, more shoppers expect to be victimized, with 64 percent believing they will be compromised in a data breach at least once in the next year.
"The data suggests that this could continue," said Stephen Boyer, BitSight CTO. "It's going to take some time for retailers to right this ship. If everybody had cleaned up we would see very different results. I hope that we don't see another Target-like breach this year, but when we look at the sector we see that they are actually worse off."