Steam Dev Days Goss: New Vive Controllers, Steam Link In TVs

Valve invited our mate Ian Video Games to their Steam Dev Days conference this week because “they recognise his genius potential”, or so he’d have you believe. Suspicious sorts have observed that the never-before-mentioned ‘twin brother’ housesitting to water Ian’s plants looks just like him, down to the same red wine stain on his jeans, with a stick-on moustache. Other say that the tweets and photos he’s ‘sending back’ from Seattle look suspiciously like tweets from actual developers who are actually there. No matter. Either way, Valve have been gabbing about prototype new Vive motion controllers, Steam Links included with Samsung televisions, and other Steamstuff. Read the rest of this entry »

Nvidia’s GTX 1070: The 1440p Graphics Card Of Choice?

Hello. Good evening. And graphics. After a brief excursion into the delights of HDR screens, it’s back to This Week in Graphics in which I deliver my subjective, benchmarkless verdict some months behind almost everyone else in the Alpha Quandrant. Being first is so easy, so obvious, after all. This time around we’re filling in the final slot in Nvidia’s new Pascal family of GPUs. If you discount the crazy money Titan X, at least. Yup, it’s the GeForce GTX 1070. As it happens, the 1070 neatly fills what is normally my favoured slot in the overall hierarchy of any given GPU family, namely one rung down from the top graphics chip that’s actually bought in significant volumes. Except, Nvidia’s Pascal family isn’t entirely normal…

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Too Good To Be True? A 4K VR Headset That Supports SteamVR For $300

Oh, virtual reality. So much promise, so many drawbacks. Stick your hand into the Tombola Of VR Woes and see what you grab. Headaches and nauseau? High system requirements? Too many cables? Screen door effect? Apparent low resolutions? Gimmicky games? Problematic prices? Your face in a box? I could go on, but I won’t because, er, that is most of them. Both Oculus Rift and the Vive offer a real jolly good time for initial forays into lifesize 3D wonderlands, but come up short when it comes to longer term usage, for reasons we’ve opined about at length here and here. But those constitute just the first consumer generation of hardware.

The tech will be refined over time (unless the market totally loses faith in the concept), but whether that is achieved by Oculus, Valve/HTC or someone else entirely is very much up for grabs still. In the interim, here’s Chinese outfit Pimax, who are selling what they label as the first 4K VR headset for PC, which works with SteamVR. It’s also $350 (or $300 without headphones), compared to the Rift’s $599 and Vive’s $799. Two questions, then. 1) Can it really solve the image quality problem? 2) Can it really do what it needs to at half the price of the big boys of VR? I’ve been testing the Pimax for the last few days, and here’s what I think.

Read the rest of this entry »

HDR Gaming And The PC: It’s Complicated

There was a time when all you had to worry about with an LCD display was whether you cared enough to pay extra for a monitor with an IPS panel. Well, that and its size. And resolution. And maybe its native colour depth. And brightness. And contrast. And pixel response. And inputs. OK, it was never that simple. But it’s certainly not getting any simpler: the last few years have added further unfathomables including frame syncing, higher refresh rates, new display interconnects and the 4K standard.

Now there’s more for you to worry about in the form of HDR. Or should that be UHD Premium? Or Rec. 2020? Or BT.2100? Maybe SMPTE 2084 or HDR10? Whatever, it’s mainly about colours, lots and lots of lovely colours. This is already a big thing in HDTVs. It’s coming to the PC. But what’s it all about and is there any chance of making sense of what is, currently, a bit of a mess?

Read the rest of this entry »

Get Gogged: Oculus Rift Hits European Retail Today

Mate, no wonder cybergoggles didn’t bring an overnight revolution: they weren’t in the shops here. Digital distribution is great for games but you can’t download goggles, can you? Think it through, yeah? No one’s going to pay a few hundred quid for an e-mail with a small picture of a black plastic box. What kind of mug do they take us for?

At long last, Oculus Rift is now officially in Europe as something you can touch with your face. The physical edition is now in shops in boxes, and a fair few places are hosting demos so you can try jacking your face in.

Read the rest of this entry »

Logitech Buys Saitek’s Sim Controller Business For $13m

Saitek, the makers of a great many switch-covered peripherals for controlling planes, trains, and and automobiles, have been sold for $13 million (about £10 million) in cash. Saitek was owned by fellow controller company Mad Catz, who bought them in 2007, but now they march under the banner of peripheral giants Logitech. (I recommend Saitek’s Pro Flight™ Rudder Pedals for marching simulators – the differential braking really sells the footfeel.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Hardware Hotness: AMD’s Zen CPU, Gaming Monitors, More VR And The Silliest Laptop Ever

What with the sober-suited Euro foil to CES that is the IFA consumer electronics show, Intel’s IDF shindig, a new console or two from Sony and new version of the smartphone that dare not speak its name, it’s been a busy week or two in tech. But has there been any joy for the good old PC? You know, that dessicated old thing that just so happens to be by far the best gaming platform, period? There’s certainly been some startling new PC-gaming kit, including surely the most preposterous gaming laptop ever. But also some newness of genuine relevance, including an update on AMD’s new Zen CPU, some very interesting screens, plus a few further potentially PC-related oddities that are hard to gauge for now.

Read the rest of this entry »