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Nvidia Updates Shield Tablet, Shaves $100 Off Price
November 20, 2015
Nvidia this week revealed a refreshed Shield Tablet K1 and indicated that it isn't done updating the gaming slate. One of the biggest parts of the refresh is a cut of $100 off the price of the 16-GB tablet. The original Shield Tablet was available in a $299 16-GB version and a $399 32-GB variant. A new battery replaces the fire-prone cells that caused a recall of the original Shield Tablets.
Microsoft Retools Minecraft to Teach Kids to Code
November 18, 2015
Microsoft on Monday announced that its Mojang unit's Minecraft will star in's third annual Hour of Code event in December. A 2-D tutorial version of Minecraft will introduce players ages 6 and older to simple coding, encouraging them to mine and craft by using visual programming, Microsoft said. Players then can engage in a bundle of 14 challenges to reinforce what they've learned.
Halo Makes Month for Xbox One
November 18, 2015
The NPD Group last week announced that Halo 5: Guardians set atop the gaming charts for October, despite its Xbox One exclusivity. The latest installment of the long-standing sci-fi shooter has given the Xbox One a much-needed boost, but Microsoft's latest console is still well behind rival Sony's PlayStation 4. Overall, the console market saw marginal gains in October.
Microsoft Gives Gamers a New Xbox One Experience
November 16, 2015
Microsoft on Thursday began rolling out the New Xbox One Experience, delivering backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games and updating the user interface to a Windows 10 foundation. Support for legacy Xbox games is the headliner, but the roughly 1.15-GB update includes new social elements baked into a reworked interface. The refreshed interface is faster and more social, the company said.
Valve's Steam Gaming Hardware Hits Home
November 13, 2015
Valve this week rolled out the hardware phase of its road map from bedrooms and basements to living rooms and lounge areas with its long-awaited video game controller, PC link box and Steam boxes. Valve's road map to the living room began with Big Picture mode in 2011, continued with in-home streaming in 2014, and now includes the new Steam hardware.
Xbox Gamers Get to Replay 104 Older Titles on Xbox One
November 9, 2015
Microsoft on Monday announced that 104 catalog titles for the Xbox 360 will be fully compatible and playable on its "new" Xbox One video game system, which hit store shelves two years ago. The list of Xbox One backward-compatible games includes notable hits such as the complete Gears of Wars catalog, Assassin's Creed II, Fallout 3 and Borderlands.
Lytro's VR Camera System Promises Unprecedented Immersion
November 9, 2015
Lytro last week announced its Immerge concept, a virtual reality camera system that promises to plop people right in the center of an experience the company calls "six degrees of freedom." Lytro's Immerge harnesses the potential of light field technology. Light field enables Immerge to capture data from all points, and viewpoints, inside any given volume of space.
Live-Action Trailer Hypes Fallout 4 Release
November 5, 2015
Bethesda on Thursday released a preview trailer for its postapocalyptic video game Fallout 4. The game will be released worldwide next week for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One as well as the Sony PlayStation 4. Despite the title, it's actually the fifth major installment in the series. Bethesda has pulled out all the stops, including cross promotions, to build excitement for the release.
Activision Welcomes King Into Its Court
November 5, 2015
The deal isn't done, but Activision Blizzard already was calling itself a "crowned leader" earlier this week, as it anticipated acquiring Candy Crush publisher King Digital Interactive. Both companies' boards of directors are on board with the acquisition, and the two sides have signed a "definitive agreement" that entails Activision Blizzard picking up King's outstanding shares.
Is Apple TV a Worthy Upgrade? Sort Of
November 3, 2015
For Apple TV fans, the new Apple TV is the long-awaited upgrade we've been pining for, but I'm only half as impressed as I thought I would be. It comes down to this: The new Apple TV is an excellent set-top box, and it provides a foundation for the app-centric living room TV experience of the future... but damn, Apple, you spent how many years not getting this thing polished?
Airbnb Holds its Breath as San Franciscans Vote on Prop F
November 3, 2015
San Franciscans will vote Tuesday on Proposition F, also known as the "Airbnb Initiative," which seeks to restrict short-term rentals. Polls will open at 7:00 a.m. At first glance, it appears that the fight is about short-term rental aggregators such as Airbnb. However, the battle lines are muddy. On one side, landlords support Prop F. However, many tenants also support it.
Nintendo's Miitomo Smartphone 'Game' Fails to Charm Investors
October 29, 2015
Nintendo shares dropped 9 percent on Thursday, and partner DeNA's stock dropped 15 percent after Nintendo announced that it would wade into the mobile waters next year with social mobile app Miitomo. Based on the Mii digital avatars made popular by the Wii, Miitomo will seek to connect players through trivia, Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima reportedly said.
Sony Talks VR and 2016 Games in Paris
October 29, 2015
While Microsoft has been driving home the potential hits it has for the holidays, Sony has sat silent. That changed this week at Paris Games Week, when Sony set the tone for the next year or so by touting 21 games poised to redefine the PlayStation 4 experience. It put on a console-selling show that evidenced the potential of the latest PlayStation and the upcoming PlayStation VR headset.
SXSW May Put Online Harassment in the Spotlight
October 28, 2015
SXSW Interactive reportedly might include a daylong event on combating online harassment. The news followed SXSW's cancellation of two planned panels that were expected to focus on opposite ends of the Gamergate debate. Threats of on-site violence spurred the decision to cancel both panels, according to SXSW officials. However, that decision immediately drew fire.
Microsoft Opens Tony Fifth Avenue Store
October 27, 2015
Microsoft on Monday opened its flagship store in Manhattan. At more than 22,000 square feet, it's the company's largest store and its 113th brick-and-mortar retail establishment. It's also the first Microsoft store that's two stories high. The company gutted a 1930s building that was previously a Fendi store and replaced the street-facing facade with giant glass panes.
Apple Fans to Get Their Hands on New Apple TV This Week
October 27, 2015
Apple on Monday opened up advanced orders for the next generation of Apple TV. The set-top boxes are expected to hit homes between Oct. 30 and Nov. 3. It's offering two versions: A 32-GB version is priced at $149 and a 64-GB model is $50 more. With Apple TV losing ground to newcomers to the streaming hardware market, the company has given its set-top box a booster shot: a syringe containing Siri.
Magic Leap: Now You See It
October 22, 2015
There are no special effects in the augmented reality demo it shared on Tuesday, Magic Leap said. The video, which shows imaginary objects blended into a real-world setting, was shot using Magic Leap's augmented reality technology, the company proclaimed. Details about Magic Leap's AR headset have been sparse thus far, but CEO Rony Abovitz dropped a bit more this week.
System 76 Unleashes Wild Dog Pro
October 21, 2015
System 76 has announced its latest desktop release, Wild Dog Pro, with a range of high-end customizable configurations to enhance video editing and media creation, software engineering, CAD, and high-end performance for demanding games. It comes preinstalled with Ubuntu 15.10, and the default desktop environment is Unity. However, users can install other Linux distros and desktop environments.
NX Leaks Hint at Nintendo Comeback
October 20, 2015
Nintendo reportedly has started to distribute software development kits for its next game console. The company hasn't laid out in detail the ecosystem of third-party software that it plans to build around its upcoming console, code-named "NX," but it plans to integrate it with a digital platform for smartphones, tablets, PCs and its own hardware. The NX will employ "industry-leading chips."
Nintendo, Video Game Industry Rescuer, Turns 30
October 19, 2015
The Nintendo Entertainment System turned 30 years old on Sunday, and though it no longer leads the console pack, the entire video game industry owes a lot to its three decades of development. Its predecessor, introduced in Japan two years earlier as the Famicom, or Family Computer, was massively successful there. However, retailers in North America were leery of introducing a new gaming console.
Gadget Ogling: Smarter Smartphone Gaming, Modular Watches, and Vampiric Charging Cables
October 17, 2015
I don't enjoy playing complex games on a smartphone. Using the screen as both input and output device makes matters complicated, so I tend to steer clear of any game that requires more than single taps or simple swipes. There are a number of game controllers around for smartphones, however, and the Satechi Wireless Gamepad, a Bluetooth device, is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows phones.
Ingress Maker Niantic Scores $20 Million for AR Gaming
October 16, 2015
Niantic on Thursday announced that it was the beneficiary of a big bet pooled together by benefactors Google, Nintendo and The Pokémon Co. Niantic, which develops augmented reality games, will receive $20 million in the Series A funding round and could receive another $10 million if it realizes certain undisclosed goals. The company was founded by Google Earth cocreator John Hanke.
Sony Shears PS4's Price
October 12, 2015
Sony last week knocked $50 off the price of the PS4, putting it on par with the $349 Xbox. A cost cut also went into effect in Canada, where the price dropped from the recommended CA$449.99 to $429.99. Touting upcoming multiplatform games Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Star Wars: Battlefront, SCEA CEO Shawn Layden said there never has been a better time to pick up the PS4.
Samsung Gear VR to Test Virtual Reality's Mass Appeal
September 28, 2015
Samsung last week unveiled a consumer version of a virtual reality headset adapter that converts Samsung smartphones into head-mounted displays. The move represents a first strike -- ready or not -- as top tech industry players begin to push virtual reality hardware into consumer markets. Samsung and partner Oculus VR have imparted several improvements to the consumer version of Gear VR.
GameStop Swims Against the Digital Download Tide
September 22, 2015
GameStop has signaled resistance to the trend of bundling game consoles with digital downloads rather than physical copies of games. The company ships more than half of all PlayStation 4 and Xbox One software. GameStop worked with its partners to sell the physical version of Madden 16 in its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One bundles, Chief Operating Officer Tony Bartel recently told investors.
Gadget Ogling: Fresh Fires, Tablet Touches, and Underwater Drones
September 19, 2015
In case you didn't already know it, Amazon has designs on taking over your television, and Fire TV seems a strong competitor to the refreshed Apple TV. Fire TV's big advantage is that it can stream video in ultra high-def 4K, while Apple TV cannot. Nor can Roku or Chromecast. There already are some fine games available for Fire TV, and there's a gaming edition available with a controller.
Pokémon GO Steps on the Mobile AR Gas
September 17, 2015
Nintendo and The Pokémon Company teamed up with Niantic on an augmented reality project, complete with a wearable Poké Ball that just might be the next best thing to filling Pokédex with pocket monsters. Pokémon GO players will have the opportunity to catch, trade and battle Pokémon characters wandering the wilds of the real world when the game launches next year.
Devs Shine Light on Halo 5's Overhauled Engine
September 17, 2015
Weeks away from the launch of Halo 5: Guardians, 343 Industries and Microsoft have revealed some of the technical ingenuity behind what's expected to be the biggest Xbox One game of the 2015 holiday season. The game's developers have been raving about their playtime with the upcoming sci-fi shooter. For starters they're promising first-class digital tourism in Halo 5: Guardians.
Nintendo Inaugurates New President
September 15, 2015
Tatsumi Kimishima emerged as president of Nintendo, following a meeting of the board held Monday. Kimishima, 65, has taken up the positions of representative director and president. Taking the seat of beloved Satoru Iwata, who earlier this year died from cancer, Kimishima now holds the reins of a company that has been preparing to push several bold new initiatives.
Gadget Ogling: All About Apple
September 12, 2015
Apple's latest iPhones -- the 6s and 6s Plus -- are faster, stronger and smarter than the previous models. A zippier processor and faster Touch ID, LTE, and WiFi feature among the incremental upgrades. There are a couple of interesting new features with this generation, primarily 3D Touch. This makes the screen receptive to pressure beyond lightly tapping or holding one's finger on an icon.
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I plan to do my holiday shopping…
Online only -- I like the convenience and comfort.
Online only -- I'd shop in stores if their stock weren't so limited.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I like to see what I'm getting.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I enjoy the holiday shopping atmosphere.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I want to support local merchants.
Online and in stores -- I want the best of both worlds.
I'm not planning on doing any holiday shopping.