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Weekly Tech Update #386 - Nokia Launches Like it's 1999

We have just posted up Episode #386 of Weekly Tech Update. In this episode we are discussing wireless earbuds are not ready for primetime, Nokia makes a comeback and the PC still isn’t dead. We have those stories and more at the links below...


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Stanford University Produced a "Self-Extinguishing" Li Battery

While we all may want to poke fun at Samsung as being a big customer of the "self-extinguishing" Lithium Ion battery, the fact is that there were a lot of device this past year; including hoverboards - that had fire related issues caused by poor batteries or poor overall design. The batteries use a polymer shell in the heart of each battery that melts when it gets too hot. Inside this shell is a fire retardent chemical. Poof. Problem solved. It's actually so simple it's ridiculous.

Similar solutions using TPP within lithium-ion batteries have been trialed before, though in those cases TPP was mixed directly with the electrolytes inside the battery itself, degrading performance to an impractical level. In this latest example, it's unclear how much space is used inside the battery at this stage, and whether this will have a significant impact on battery performance, possibly making it an impractical solution in small form devices like mobile phones or tablet computers.

Source: Neowin

The Heart of the Switch is the Goofy Joy-Cons

It's true. The Nintendo Switch really isn't anything all that special in terms of a gaming handheld. There are many companies with tablet ideas that are designed for gaming, and when handheld, the Switch delivers no more than a 720p experience. Plugged into the dock, it ups that game to 1080p, but the real heart of the new console are the two included controllers. Both are motion sensitive, can be used together or separate for two player games, and are actually very comfortable and intuitive to use - unlike the Wiimote.

They're equal parts peculiar and cool. The original Wii was a hit because of its brave attempt to reinvent the games controller, adding smart responsive new control options that coaxed non-gamers into playing. The company is now hoping to repeat that same trick.

Source: Engadget

Microsoft CEO's Idea for AI

Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO, has recently taken to the stage to talk about AI, the future and Microsoft's direction. In terms of AI, Nadella cautions people not to celebrate things too early and his real goal of AI is to help people maximize their time - not replace people at all. Science fiction, and even the early application of AI, has not followed his idea. People think because AI can work tirelessly, it should be used instead of people. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft can help shape the future of this growing trend.

Nadella is pushing Microsoft into consumer and industrial applications of software that can make inferences about its environment. He cautioned his own company and competitors about "parlor tricks" that show AI’s power without preserving workers’ dignity.

Source: Bloomberg

Kaby Lake vs Sandy Bridge

Companies like Intel put a lot of effort convincing you in subtle ways - and some obvious ways - just how much you need to upgrade. Sometimes, the upgrade seems totally justified and worth it, but sometimes a fresh install of Windows is really what makes your system faster. In an interesting twist, some guys have take a 5-generation old Core i7-2600K (Sandy Bridge) and put it up against Intel's shiny new Core i7-7700K (Kaby Lake). The results may surprise you - and you may start looking to find a 2600K.

The fact of the matter is that Kaby Lake does not reflect that past performance bump, even six years later. I have a before-last-gen system Haswell 5820K in my personal system running at 4.4GHz and Kaby Lake does nothing to make me want to buy a new processor.

Source: HardOCP

ROCCAT Cross Multi-Platform Gaming Headset

We have just posted up our review of the ROCCAT Cross Multi-Platform Gaming Headset. This headset will set you back around $70 and promises compatibility with your consoles, mobile phone and PC. At the end of the day, it's not bad value, but it's not perfect either. To catch all the details, make sure you check out our full review.

The first thing I did with the Cross headset was to plug them into my gaming rig and start playing. I generally played combat games and I must say the sound was great. There is not an overwhelming amount of bass, but that is a good thing; the sound remained clear and distinct even in the heat of battle...


PC Gaming Leads GDC 2017

We often hear about how PC Gaming is dead, but not according to people that are making video games. According to a recent survey at the Game Developers Conference, PC gaming still leads the entire gaming platform with 53% of survey responders developing for that platform. That is good news - not only for PC gamers, but also for the hardware industry as console hardware doesn't drive advances in software or game engines. The PC does.

In addition, GDC 2017’s survey revealed that 61% of the surveyed developers are not currently developing VR titles, but among those who are, 24 percent are currently making games on HTC and Valve’s Vive headset, 23 percent are supporting Oculus Rift, and 13 percent are supporting Sony’s PlayStation VR.

Source: DSOGaming

A Closer Look at the Nintendo Switch

With only about a month and a half until the Nintendo Switch launches, it has been capturing headlines around the web. I was all set to pre-order it up here in Canada until I saw our inflated price of $400. For that, I won't be pre-ordering, but I'm still interested to see what Nintendo is actually going to deliver. The guys and gals over at the Verge have a look at the upcoming console and give us some details on what we can expect the first week of March.

The console consists of a 6.2-inch 720p display, with the ability to attach two Joy-Cons to either side of the tablet portion. It’s tablet hardware that’s designed to be used at home in a special Switch Dock, or on the road with the Joy-Cons either attached or detached for wire-free play. There’s even a Joy-Con Grip to house both the sections into a single controller.

Source: TheVerge

Android Creator Working on "Essential" Phone

Andy Rubin is the creator of the Android operating system and since his leave from Google a couple years back, he has been working hard on other projects. Now we know what he's been up to. It seems that Andy is about ready to bring into light his new "Essential" smartphone that aims to be the center of an AI-infused future. AI and machine learning are making huge steps to "make our lives better" (or take over  the world), and now you can fit all that evil power in your pocket... or glorious power - if you prefer serving our robot overlords. It might not be as grim as that, so view the optimistic details below.

The centerpiece of the system is a high-end smartphone with a large edge-to-edge screen that lacks a surrounding bezel. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, Rubin discussed the smartphone with mobile carrier executives, including some from Sprint Corp., people familiar with the talks said.

Source: Bloomberg

Windows 10 Gets High Performance Game Mode Soon

Microsoft has been rumored to be working on a high performance game mode, and the rumors are true. In fact, this feature will be coming very shortly in the "Creators Update". You have to be signed up as part of the Windows Insider program to get an early taste, but it might be best to wait for a bit anyhow. Still, this update doesn't specify that the game has to be a Universal Windows App in order to take advantage of the performance boost. I still think it will be though as Microsoft wants people to purchase games through their store, and if the performance is top-notch, it may drive some people to switch from Origin or Steam in order to get free performance.

Our goal is to make Windows 10 the best Windows ever for gaming. With the Creators Update, we’re introducing a new feature called Game Mode. Windows Insiders will start seeing some of the visual elements for Game Mode this week, with the feature being fully operational in builds shortly thereafter. Our vision is for Game Mode to optimize your Windows 10 PC for increased performance in gaming.

Source: Xbox News

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