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Surface

With our recent Surface demo experience, we were able to peel back that thin 9.3 mm layer just enough to come up with pros and cons of placing this device in the hands of gamers.

The Microsoft Surface tablet is poised to take on the iPad and add features like a keyboard, kickstand, and a free (not $50) cover; things Apple-hating trolls always complain when new iOS devices are announced. At this week’s press conference, we got a chance to test out the Surface hardware, albeit Microsoft kept our hands-on time to a minimum so our impressions remain “surface deep.” Appropriate, right?

The Good

360 Controller

A Tablet With A Keyboard And An Xbox 360 Controller Input

The reason iOS games “don’t work,” according to the mobile gaming naysayers, is because there are no tactical controls on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Enter the Microsoft Surface tablet. Not only does this Windows 8-powered piece of hardware have actual keys, it boasts a USB port. The Surface RT model has a USB 2.0 port, while the Surface Pro model has a USB 3.0 port. In either version, an Xbox 360 controller can be plugged directly into the machine and button-demanding genres like FPS, action, and fighting games can finally be realized on a tablet.

Wrap your brain around this idea: this gaming-capable machine and its 16:9 monitor are going to be the svelte tech, while the Xbox 360 controller is suddenly going to be the bulky item you hate carrying around. That’s quite a switch. On top of that, it’ll certainly beat tapping, sliding, and swiping your way to victory on completely unresponsive Gorilla Glass.

Both RT and Pro Surface models will include 2x2 MIMO antennas so that Microsoft doesn’t fall into Apple’s “Antenna-gate” controversy. Sadly, the press conference didn’t hint at an integrated Xbox 360 wireless receiver, which means that a wireless Xbox 360 controller would still have to use the annoying dongle. Maybe that’s something Microsoft will squeeze into future models.

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Tags: Features, Tech

Earlier this week, Microsoft made an announcement that might change the tech game: Microsoft Surface is coming. Microsoft's tablet offers innovation and sexy design, but is it the iPad killer Microsoft would like? 

Attack of the Show's Matt Mira sat down with CNET Sr. Editor Seth Rosenblatt, who got his hands on the device, to get his opinions on the ins-and-outs of Surface.

Microsoft's Surface Tablet »


Tags: Tech, Videogames

Microsoft Surface Tablet Announced

Moments ago, Microsoft announced it is putting out its own, Windows-based tablet: The Microsoft Surface. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer described it as "a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft."

 

"We designed Windows 8 for the world we know, in which most computers are mobile," said Ballmer at a hastily announced Microsoft press event for the tablet. "Today we want to add another piece to that Windows 8 story."

The Surface features touchscreen and gesture technology, a scratch-resistant case and even a built in stand. You will be able to access familiar Windows programs like Office, as well as Xbox and Netflix.

The cover for the device is also a multi-touch keyboard, when combined with the case/stand, the Surface looks pretty much like the tiniest, skinniest laptop in existence. The device's stylus is magnetic, so it attached to the side or top of The Surface. The Surface supports digital ink, allowing you to mark up documents with a stylus (and presumably your finger.)

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Smart Glass Announced - Official E3 2012 News

Microsoft is making some sort of major announcement next Monday, June 18, 2012, and multiple sources indicate that the company will be revealing its first tablet device. Some say that the intent is to directly compete with Apple's iPad while others suggest something more in line with the more budget-friendly Kindle Fire. It's all speculation for now.

The report first popped up at The Wrap, noting that Monday's "secretive event" scheduled for 3:30pm PST would include some sort of undisclosed "major" announcement. The site was then told by "an individual with knowledge of the company" that Microsoft would be revealing an in-house manufactured tablet. AllThingsD later corroborated the report, noting that its own sources had been saying pretty much the same thing "in recent weeks."

I think that between the SmartGlass reveal at E3 2012 and the shifting focus in the market toward more portable computing technology, not to mention the cross-platform focus in Windows 8, it's only a matter of time before Microsoft introduces its own tablet to the market. Next Monday seems like a great time to do so, so sure, why not? 

Tags: Mobile, Tech

E3 2012 E3 2012 Homepage Hero

We got our hands on the hottest tech, controllers, and headsets allowed by law at this year’s E3 2012. The booths this year flowed with some of the most amazing hardware that will surely be on your wish list just in time for the holidays. But you don’t have to wait for the weather to turn cold to start working on your list of needful things.

Here’s just a rundown of all of the wonderful tech we got our hands on this year at E3 2012.

Mad Catz Accessories Hands-On: Mad Catz brings some of the hottest products around to the show floor as well as a new game, Damage Inc.

Razer Accessories Hands-On: Razer gives you the tools you need to gain the edge in any competition with their new Taipan mouse, headsets, and experimental Mechwarrior controller.

Nyko Accessories Hands-On: Take your gaming on the go with new controllers just for your iPad, 3DS charger, and new fightstick.

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Official E3 Preview of Oculus Rift VR Headset »


 

I had the great fortune of kicking off my week at E3 2012 with a bucket list moment: a one-on-one chat with id Software's John Carmack followed by some head-on time with the Oculus Rift VR headset that he's been tinkering with.

Let's back up a bit. Carmack has long been a hobbyist in the realm of VR display technologies. The Oculus Rift is only his latest project. When we first sat down in a small room at Bethesda's show floor booth he handed me a Sony HMZ-T1 head-mounted display, referred to by many as the "Headman." The $800 piece of tech creates the sensation of being in a private movie theater, with built-in dual HD OLED displays creating what amounts to a floating 2D/3D screen in front of your eyes.

Unfortunately, the Headman turned out to be a less-than-adequate choice for Carmack's goal of immersing the player entirely within the game world. The display creates the illusion of a floating screen but it doesn't actually fill your entire field of vision. There were other issues too, but the biggest problem for Carmack with the Headman as a VR platform was the limitation placed on the user's field of view.

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Microsoft and Mad Catz Launching Wireless Branded Xbox 360 Headphones

Mad Catz came to E3 2012 with a lot of things to prove to a lot of people. Especially now, with game publishing joining peripheral development in the company's business plan. It's been a wild year for Mad Catz so far, with big wins on the hardware and software side both. That all amounts to a lot of stuff that gamers like us will be interested in.

In the realm of what's coming soon, Mad Catz will be supporting the Wii U with a range of officially licensed products. The literal centerpiece of this collection is the duo of a Wii U GamePad Charge Dock and a new Wii Remote Charge Dock. These two base stations are modular and can be linked together, back-to-back. They've also got a few unique and entirely welcome design quirks.

Mad Catz

On the Wii Remote dockside, you get two protective sheaths for your controllers and two batteries fitted with magnets. The magnets allow your charging Wii Remote to simply attach to the surface of the charger; there's technically no "dock" for your controllers to sit in, they just sort of hang there. As for the GamePad dock, it uses the same charging cable for the device that you'll get with your console. The GamePad itself will also sit on a pivoted hinge, allowing you to angle it for easier viewing while it's charging.

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Razer Accessories

Razer's mouse offering this year at E3 2012 was the ambidextrous Razer Taipan. The mouse is designed to, "enhance gaming prowess and take out the competition mercilessly." On top of its svelte shape, perfect for any gamer's grip, it's equipped with an 8200dpi 4G dual sensor system so that it can accurately calibrate on any surface and sustain excellent z-axis tracking.

The most impressive thing about the mouse is its z-axis functionality. If you happen to be a gamer that plays with low sensitivity and you pick your mouse up a lot to drag it, you'll love this mouse. It keeps your pointer in the exact location you want it to be in, without jerking your cursor around too much. I can see first-person shooter fans adoring the Taipan.

Additionally, the Taipan's got nine buttons and they're all totally programmable. Plus, the mouse support Razer Synapse 2.0, Razer's cloud software so that you can save your mouse settings and load them up on the go on any computer. This is great for anyone participating in tournaments.

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Project Gaems G155 Sentry

You may not have heard of Project Gaems…if you haven’t, feel free to get the chuckles out of your system…and if they aren’t quite on the radar, it’s because they have a stealth bomber. The company claims to have sold over 50,000 units just last year, and their newest offering manages to impress still further.

The company’s baseline product, the G155 Sentry, is essentially an “all-in-one” package for mobile Xbox 360 gaming: a 15.5 inch 720p screen, speakers, and powered case that connect up to an Xbox 360. The screen boasts an extremely low lag-time (approximately 5 ms), and retails for $249.99 over on Gamestop.com. The screen’s viewing angle was a bit on the weak side, and the 3.5-watt speakers relatively unpowered, but both weren’t major complaints. The average player, after all, is playing alone on his or her machine, and uses headphones to amplify the sound.

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Official E3 Preview of Nyko's PlayPad Controllers »


 

Nyko, champion of useful accessories-we-wanted and useful accessories-we-didn't-know-we-wanted alike, had some new hardware to show on the E3 floor. Let's take a look at their three major pieces:

Nyko Free Fighter

- The Nyko Free Fighter was a professional-grade arcade stick, boasting the added quality of ambidexterity via a compact modular design. The joystick component and button components could be detached and then switched, and could even remain in a separated position via use of an included cable. Extra features included four programming macro buttons, as well as speed-programmable turbo operations. The components were as high-quality as one would expect given the significant asking price, a solid $179.99. You'll be able to get your hands on the Free Fighter in the fourth quarter of 2012.

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Microsoft Logo

Both Sony and Microsoft have applied for top level internet domains. If the applications are put into place, you might be visiting Majornelson.xbox instead of Majornelson.com.

Befor that happens, though, the applications need to be approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the it costs at least $185,000 to even apply for the top level, so there go my dreams of ".stevejohnson."

Microsoft also applied for .live, .bing, .skype, and .windows, and Sony applied for .sony, and .xperia. Reportedly, Microsoft put up $2.035 million for its 11 name bids, and Sony put up $555K, according to New Statesman.

Other interesting TLD applications include Hasbro international bid for .transformers, that cost them $185,000, and a company named Uniregistry, corp bid on 55 names including .sexy, .hiphop, .christmas, .pizza, .tattoo and .yoga. It cost them $10.175MM.

We'll find out in another 9 to 20 months if the applications went through. That's how long it will take ICANN to evaluate them.

 

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Game Center

Cross platform play is coming to Apple's Game Center. Game Center, Apple's online multiplayer social gaming network, will support Mac-to-Mac and cross-device gaming, so you can play from your Mac against someone on an iPhone or iPad and any of them can push that over AirPlay to their Apple TV. It's an Apple world, everyone.

Not only that: Apple just announced the addition of "Challenged" to the Game Center, which are basically like Xbox Live Achievements, except for Apple games.

Game Center is available for iOS devices capable of running iOS 4.2 or later, and will be  integrated into the latest version of Mac OS X, Mountain Lion, set for a summer 2012 release.

Apple LogoAccording to Apple, speaking at their World Wide Developer's conference, Diablo 3 will be updated to take advantage of the higher definition, "retina" displays of the company's new line of MacBook Pro computers.

"You are going to see a gaming experience unlike any you've seen before," Apple CEO Tim Cook said.

For the tech-minded: The new Pro features a 15.4-inch display with a pixel density of 2880 x 1800, four times as many pixels than the previous generation of MacBook Pro display.

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Five iPhone Game Developers React To Apple's iPad Announcement

According to Apple president Tim Cook speaking at WWDC 2012, an important milestone has been reached for Apple: Customers have downloaded over 30 billion Apps. The Apple CEO says there are now 650,000 apps on the App Store, 225,000 of them are i-Pad-specifically designed.

"This compares to just a few hundred for our competition," Cook added to the assembled journalists and Apple insiders. Ooh, that's a burn!

Tags: Apple, iPad, iPhone, Tech

Unreal Engine 4 Interactive Demo E3 Video »


An Unreal Engine 4 tech demo video has been released by Epic Games, showing off the engine that will may power your Xbox 720, PS4 and next-generation PC games. In the video, the company’s Sr. Technical Artist, Alan Willard, takes you on a jargon-filled walkthrough of what Unreal 4 is capable of. Previously, the engine was only shown behind closed doors at GDC 2012.

Don’t worry if you can’t understand terms like “dynamically-lit particle systems” and “vector displacement fields.” The ten-minute video contains beautiful environments and special effects, including fire, ice, lava, smoke and, yes, next-generation lens flares. These visual effects help translate what Willard is saying into terms everyone can understand.

In addition to previewing the Unreal Engine 4 engine, this video goes into detail about how the new technology will make it easier for developers to create games. One way is by allowing programmers and designers to more easily edit while simulating the game. “I can make these kind of changes while I’m playing the game, while I’m in the editor, while I’m making changes to my environment and my tools and everything - all in real-time, as you can see.”

A revamped UI, a cleaner classification system and new tools like dynamic eye adaptation should help raise the bar for the development community. Moving through these realistic-looking rooms with pitch-perfect lighting is almost enough graphical eyecandy to make you wish Sony and Microsoft had announced the PS4 and Xbox 720 at E3 2012. Almost.

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