PAX AU 2014 - I have just stepped back into my hotel room after a hectic first day at PAX Australia 2014, which was held in the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, with the highlight of the day being the 'A Chat With Chris Roberts, The Original Wing Commander', the guy behind Star Citizen, which has raised close to $60 million through crowdfunding so far, with no signs of stopping.
Chris had some great things to say during the speech, with that 1-hour chat available right here. But, we organized a chat with the man himself after the talk with the PAX AU crowd, where he had some interesting things to say. We talked about the state of PC gaming, where we have people like Alex Hutchinson, the Creative Director of Far Cry 4 saying that resolution in games is "not something" he "cares about". Roberts on the other hand, had the total opposite to say.
He said that the team is working on 4K and 8K textures, pushing the boundaries of the APIs in DirectX 11 and Mantle, where he said that Mantle and DX12 are going to provide some performance improvements to Star Citizen. This is because the game is quite CPU bound, something that DX12 should help out with when it launches next year. He finished the chat with a few great quotes, where he said: "I don't care about consoles" as he is really gunning for a true PC exclusive game in Star Citizen, something that pushes the entire PC gaming world forward in leaps and bounds.
The global tablet market grew 11.5 percent year-over-year during the third quarter, topping 53.8 million units, according to the IDC research group. Ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and what is expected to be a busy Christmas holiday season, the US market should continue to prop the tablet market up yet again.
Apple remains the No. 1 tablet manufacturer, shipping 12.3 million units, though saw a shipment decline - and Samsung remains in the No. 2 spot. Apple controls 22.8 while Samsung currently has 18.3 percent of the market, ahead of ASUS, Lenovo and RCA, according to the IDC 2014 Q3
"Not only is the US market one of the largest for tablets, but third quarter results also indicate that this is where the growth is," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC Research Director for Tablets. "We saw Verizon continuing to sell connected tablets at a fast pace, a strategy that we believe other carriers will replicate in following quarters."
Microsoft publicly announced its 'Band' wearable, a new health-focused device that contains 10 sensors for accurate tracking of footsteps, heart rate, sleep patterns, and other biometrics. The built-in UV sensor can also track sun exposure, in addition to a galvanic skin sensor able to determine stress levels.
Band also includes a GPS, 3-axis accelerometer/gyro, gyrometer, light sensor, skim temperature sensor and microphone. All collected health data is wirelessly sent to the Microsoft Health app, compatible with Windows Phone, Google Android, and Apple iOS products.
The wearable market is booming at the moment, even with casual consumers still sitting patiently on the sidelines, but analysts expect continued segment growth in the coming years. Microsoft's decision to set initial pricing at $199 should help generate additional interest, as many other devices start at $249, with prices routinely topping $300+.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) don't want movie patrons to have wearbles in the theater with them. Not surprisingly, both trade groups want a zero-tolerance policy that prevents the use of any recording device, even when recording isn't taking place, because of piracy concerns.
"As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters, however, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown."
If movie goes do not comply with the new rules, they could be asked to leave the theater - and law enforcement will be notified if suspected piracy is taking place. There is particular concern of Google Glass, but with other wearables featuring video recording ability, all similar devices will also be banned.
Lenovo has finalized its $2.9 billion acquisition for Motorola from Google, as the Chinese tech company hopes to expand its smartphone offerings. Lenovo said it plans to make Motorola profitable in four to six quarters, while trying to break the stranglehold on the smartphone market currently held by Samsung and Apple.
Lenovo has done exceptionally well when purchasing assets from other companies, including IBM's low-end server and PC/laptop business - and purchasing Motorola provides the company with the flagship Moto X, Verizon Wireless Droid lineup, Moto G and Moto E.
"We are ready to compete, grow and win in the global smartphone market," said Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo chairman and CEO. "By building a strong number three and credible challenger to the top two in smartphones, we will give the market something it has needed: choice, competition and a new spark of innovation."
Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg was found guilty in the Danish Court of Fredriksberg, after facing charges of hacking and serious vandalism. Warg and a 21-year-old co-defendant broke into servers hosted by CSC in April 2012, and kept control of the mainframes until August. He accessed hundreds of thousands of records of Danish residents, including Social Security numbers, extradition agreements and criminal records, along with additional private data.
Since this is Warg's second high-profile, significant hacking conviction - he was already serving a one-year sentence for hacking a different IT consulting firm - Danish prosecutors hope for a minimum five-year prison sentence.
Luise Høj, Gottfrid's attorney, had this to say before the ruling: "My recommendation has always been that the investigation has focused on finding clues that point to my client, even though the tracks have also pointed in another direction. I have recommended that the court dismiss the case based on the remote access argument. It is clear that my client's computer has been the subject of remote control, and therefore he is not responsible."
MSI has unveiled the GT80 Titan gaming laptop with a SteelSeries mechanical keyboard, becoming the first gaming laptop to include a mechanical keyboard. It's a unique product because mechanical keyboards tend to have better feedback, prevents key jamming and helps increase durability.
The GT80's keyboard has a keycap just 27mm of thickness - and the laptop itself is the world's slimmest and lightest 18-inch laptop, 17 percent thinner and 22 percent lighter than rival products.
"Performance is key for gamers and the GT80 Titan will forever change the mobile gaming experience," said Andy Tung, MSI Pan America President. "We are proud to be at the forefront of the gaming evolution and will continue to provide solutions that deliver the most outstanding gaming experience in the world."
BlackBerry CEO John Chen hopes the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" principle will help the Classic smartphone, previously known as Q20, generate new interest in the struggling phone manufacturer. The company has struggled to try to innovate and keep up with Apple, Samsung, and other phone makers, as consumers jumped on touchscreen-based phones in recent years.
"You don't reinvent yourself every day; you take what you learned yesterday and sharpen it today," Chen said in his letter. "We are committed to earning your business - or earning it back, if that's the case. In the weeks ahead, BlackBerry will be sharing more details about Classic that we think you'll like."
BlackBerry Classic features a full QWERTY keyboard and a trackpad - long-time staples of the BlackBerry phones - but also includes a 3.5-inch touchscreen. The phone will be released before the end of 2014, but an official release date hasn't been confirmed.
MRAM has the ability to fundamentally change the way we use memory by combining the speed and endurance of DRAM with the data storage characteristics of NAND. ST-MRAM (Spin-Torque Magnetoresistive Random-Access Memory) retains data without power, which removes the need for complex capacitor arrangements and the associated firmware enhancements. MRAM has already been used in small quantities as data buffers in some cutting-edge SSDs and other applications. In spite of billions of dollars in research by several industry heavyweights, Everspin Technologies is the only company in full commercial production with MRAM.
The only thing holding MRAM back from wider acceptance is density. Higher density allows for wider application and also reduces cost. Everspin has over 600 patents and has been in production for over five years at their own facilities, but bringing Global Foundries in as a manufacturing partner is sure to speed advancements in the technology. Global Foundries will initially produce ST-MRAM on 300mm CMOS wafers with a 40nm lithography, but plans are already in place to move to a 28nm process soon, underlining the accelerated advance of ST-MRAM products. Other competitors are falling further behind Everspin at this point, with other manufacturers slated to begin production of MRAM in 2018.
Apple CEO Tim Cook became the most prominent public company executive to come out of the closet, saying he is "proud to be gay" in a recently published essay. The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights activist group, applauded Cook for making such a "courageous" decision - and noted he is the first openly gay Fortune 500 company CEO.
"Let me be clear: I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me," Cook said in his essay. "Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world - and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them."
Cook has never necessarily denied being gay with others, but wanted to make a public announcement to try to help others be comfortable, saying if it "can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it's worth the trade-off with my own privacy."