3 million people still using AOL dial up

It seems like an absolute age ago when dial up was the most common form of internet, times have moved on leaps and bounds since then with fibre optic broadband packages offering 20/50/100 mbps and Google’s latest 1 gigabit internet package for Kansas city just showing how far the internet has really come.

Yet for some, no progress has been made at all. In fact for the 3 million people are still using AOL dial up – it must be like living in the dark ages for those select few. AOL’s second quarter earnings report shows 3 million customers still on the subscriber list for its dial up service, while this is down from AOL’s record figure of 25 million, 3 million is still a staggering amount for such an appalling service by today’s standards.

The figures show that AOL lost just 84,000 from the prior quarter and 400,000 from a year ago. Now everyone knows that the dialup industry is obviously in permanent decline, but AOL’s subscriber losses last quarter were less than half what they were a year ago.

Although we can only speculate why AOL still has so many customers, it seems likely that it is due to the elderly or technophobic not wanting to change because something is better than nothing.

As Fudzilla describe it, AOL’s dial up service is “slower than an asthmatic ant with a heavy load of shopping.”


GTX 560 and 550 cards to be discontinued soon

Nvidia plan to give the GTX 560 Ti, GTX 560, GTX 555 and GTX 550Ti all the End Of Life status once the GTX 600 series replacements have been launched.

The three sub GTX-660 GK106 graphics cards to replace them are expected in the August-September time frame. They will probably come in the form of the GTX 650, GTX 660SE and GTX 650Ti.

Whilst the market waits for these new 28nm replacements Nvidia hopes the remaining 500 series based stock is digested by the market in the meantime. There is still currently a lot of stock, hence why Nvidia introduced the GTX 560SE in order to offer a lower price point of card to shift stock faster.

Once that process of market digestion  is mainly complete Nvidia is expected to issue an End of Life status on the above cards.

“A product discontinuation notification (PDN) is a formal notice to existing and prospective distributors that the company intends to discontinue a product, specifying a last date of accepting orders for it. After the very last of the orders are fullfilled (shipped), the product attains “end of life” (EOL) state.”


More than one third of Android apps have Malware

British Telecommunications, or BT, has been doing some interesting research with Android apps. The security branch of the Telecoms giant has reported that over 1 third of Android apps contain some form of malware.BT bases their statement on tests that the firm itself has conducted, where they examined more than 1,000 Android apps.

According to BT the fact it has discovered so much malware, means that most of the Android devices we use are compromised in some way – so be safe and careful with what kind of data you store and transmit on them. At a security conference the panel moderator pointed out that he had found malware in an application whilst reviewing Samsung’s latest Galaxy S III, with BT’s representatives detailing the company’s findings.

BT didn’t detail where it collected the sample of Apps from. Some think the figure would be significantly lower had BT sourced all 1000 apps from the Google Play Store. But the reality of the scenario is that security on Android devices is a growing problem, and irrelevant of where the malware comes from – it still exists.

BT have urged for increased security throughout the entire mobile computing sector, and have said they’ll be testing other operating systems for malware over the coming months.

How long until we see anti-virus and anti-malware programs become mainstream across mobile devices? An interesting prospect.


Samsung working on a display to beat the Retina

As is traditional with Apple, when they have something else no one else does they just love to market the hell out of it. You probably can’t make through a day’s worth of TV without seeing an Apple Retina display advert somewhere. The irony is that Samsung and LG actually manufacturer these Retina displays for Apple. But Samsung isn’t just going to take the Retina display it makes and chuck it onto its own tablets (especially since Apple would probably cry patent/design theft for something they don’t even own). Samsung plans to go one better and developer a display to be superior to the retina, then they will implement it on their own devices.

News is circulating that Samsung is preparing an AMOLED display with 350ppi. Now Samsung is reportedly ready with functioning samples of 350ppi displays that are better than the retina display. This is thanks to the advancements in the Fine Metal Mask production technique.

Samsung has not announced any time frame when we can expect to see this 350ppi displays, but hopefully they will come soon and save us from any more marketing drivel from the team over at Apple. With 350ppi the new AMOLED displays from Samsung easily beat Apple’s (or should that be Samsung’s) 326ppi display on the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPod touch.


Gigabyte shows off 2000W Intel CPU socket power delivery

Gigabyte’s main marketing focus in recent times has been to show off the massive advances they have made in power delivery, notably through the use of R3550 PowIRstage ICs to deliver more clean power at lower temperatures. All this has culminated in a rather outrageous demonstration from Gigabyte which shows their Z77X-UP7 motherboard delivery 2000W of power through the Intel LGA 1155 socket.

The test system, consisting off two 1200W power supplies, a Z77X-UP7 and three DC load testers was required to send such a large amount of power through the board. To some this shows just how overkill modern motherboards really are, 32 phases can delivery 2000W of power and Gigabyte says that is enough to power 25 Core i7-3770K CPUs. However, to others having such a large amount of power potential is great for extreme overclocking and more efficient power delivery – not to mention it being really cool in a nerdy way.

This wasn’t just an opportunity to big up the R3550 PowIRstage ICs, Gigabyte also wanted to show off the finalised Z77X-UP7 design that we last saw at Computex 2012. The boards has had a change of colour scheme and of heatsink assembly since Computex 2012.



AMD 1090FX chipset arrives with SteamRoller

As we predicted in a earlier news story AMD will launch the next generation of chipset with the SteamRoller platform. That means the next generation of AMD desktop CPUs, codename Vishera, will continue to utilise the same 990FX/990X/970 and AM3+ platform.

AMD’s SteamRoller platform should bring 10-15% increased CPU performance over Vishera, which should also bring 10-15% increased CPU performance over Bulldozer. SteamRoller will be paired with the 1090FX chipset, this will be the flagship chipset for SteamRoller but we currently do not have any details on whether AMD will release other chipsets like 1090X, 1070 and so on.

The socket of SteamRoller is not known, it seems equally as likely that AMD might continue with the AM3+ desktop socket or change it to a new socket. AMD normally uses each socket only for one generation of CPUs, so it is quite possible that we could see socket AM4 in Summer/Autumn 2013 along with SteamRoller and the 1090FX chipset, as AM3+ has already served its time.

We expect the 1090FX chipset will bring added USB 3.0 ports, maintain its SATA III port offering, offer 4 way SLI/CFX and add more PCI express lanes – currently it only offers 4 PCI express lanes at generation 2 speeds.


OCZ sold to Seagate for $1 billion

Edit: Seagate say they will not be acquiring OCZ, OCZ have stated a similar thing. OCZ’s shares have plummeted with this financially “bad” news – consumers can count themselves lucky this time.

We reported a while back that Seagate were looking to get their hands on OCZ. The value of the deal was not known, just that OCZ were valued at $300 million and Seagate were to have to pay considerably more than that for the acquisition,

An unofficial Seagate report has confirmed the deal has been finalised, for a staggering $1 billion – more than 3 times the market value of OCZ. This is great news for OCZ’s CEO, Mr. Ryan Petersen, who has managed to take OCZ from a DRAM memory module manufacturer worth $150 million per year to a successful SSD company worth more than $700 million each year.

However for consumers this is a deal that is going to be bad news. We’ve seen what both Seagate and Western Digital are doing in the hard drive market – artificially maintaining prices at high levels to keep revenue abnormally high. Now it seems Seagate will probably do something similar with OCZ. OCZ has always been the company to lead the market with the cheapest price SSDs, setting the SSD “bang for buck” standard. With Seagate at the helm, expect OCZ’s market leading price cuts to slowly fizzle out.

All that aside, hats off to OCZ and Ryan Petersen for making one of the most successful SSD companies in the world in the space of a few years.



Sharkoon DarkGlider Gaming Mouse Review

Not that many people know about Sharkoon and their peripheral products, as they are known more for their cases and accessories, but recently Sharkoon have been expanding their product portfolio with a whole host of gaming orientated peripherals. Known for their great value, we will expect to see a lot from Sharkoon in terms of features for the price paid, but will their be a trade off on quality? Well today we get to find out with their latest gaming mouse – the DarkGlider.

Gaming mice are one of the most important peripherals when it comes to gaming, as having the right mouse can make a world of difference. Many people don’t realise this, so will make do with a bog-standard generic mouse and miss out a great deal of extra frags. However, the market for gaming peripherals is saturated with mice offering gimmicky features, dozens of additional buttons, different sensors and many other aspects that have been crammed into the product to make it stand out from the others. Most of time all these additional features are unnecessary, as they increase the cost and may not even offer that much of a benefit. With the DarkGlider, there are many features packed into the mice, from an LCD screen that displays the DPI, to a weights management system, will these be of any use?

Before we take a closer look at the DarkGlider and how well it performs, lets check out the specs to see what we should expect.


  • Avago 9500 V2 Pro Laser sensor
  • 10 programmable buttons
  • Omron switches for left and right mouse button
  • Programmable 4-way scroll wheel
  • 5 lenticular ceramic slide pads
  • LCD display for DPI indication
  • 256 KB internal memory for user profiles
  • Gold-plated USB connector
  • Cable with textile sheathing
  • Weight Tuning System
  • Ergonomic design
  • Rubberized surface for maximum grip
  • Configuration software included
  • Supported operating systems: Windows XP/Vista/7 (32 and 64 bit)


Max. DPI 6,000
Max. acceleration 30 G
Mouse weight max. 150 g (w/o cable)
Dimensions (L x W x H) 130 x 82,4 x 42 mm
Sensor Laser (16 bit data channel)
Connector USB2.0 (gold-plated)
Cable length 180 cm (textile sheathing)
Max. FPS 11,750
Button reaction time 1 ms
Onboard memory 256 KB
Number of buttons 10
DPI indication LC display
Scroll wheel left/right yes
Illumination yes, configurable via software
Mouse slide pads 5, ceramic, lenticular
Chip Avago ADNS-9500 v.2 (72MHz)
Lifting sensitivity 1-5 mm
Weight Tuning System 4x 3,1 g / 4x 3,7 g

Package contents:

  • DarkGlider
  • CD with software and manual (as PDF)
  • Additional slide pads: 5x ceramic, 5x Teflon®
  • Weights: 4x 3,1 g and 4x 3,7 g
  • Transport bag
So as you can see, there certainly is a lot of features crammed into the mouse, so lets take a look to see how they managed to fit them all in.

GTX 660Ti and GTX 660 specifications confirmed

Edit: The GTX 660Ti features 1344 shaders, 192bit bus and the same clocks as mentioned below. As a consequence of that the GTX 660 will probably feature 1152 shaders since it is a lower card, the same clocks as below and a 192bit memory bus.

We brought you the news only a few days ago that the GTX 660Ti would be identical to a GTX 670 except with a 192bit instead of 256bit memory interface. Well it appears that particular source was slightly wrong. The latest screen shots of a GTX 660Ti and GTX 660 GPU-Z show that both the cards feature 1152 CUDA cores, not the 1344 previously anticipated for the GTX 660Ti. Both the GTX 660Ti and GTX 660 are based off the same GK104 GPU that the GTX 690, GTX 680 and GTX 670 are made from, except these particular GK104 cards come with more CUDA cores fused off.

The GTX 660Ti will feature 1152 CUDA cores across a 256bit memory interface whilst the GTX 660 features 1152 CUDA cores across a 192bit memory interface. Clock speeds for the cards are identical too, 980MHz core, 1033MHz boost and 6GHz memory. The GTX 660Ti is lavished with the full 2GB of GDDR5 whilst the GTX 660 gets short changed slightly with just 1.5GB.

The GTX 660 features a TDP of just 130W whilsts the GTX 660Ti TDP is expected in the 150W region.Pricing is not known yet but sensible estimates can be made such as around £240 for the GTX 660Ti and around £180 for the GTX 660.

The GTX 660Ti stock cooler has also been pictured courtesy of Expreview and it looks remarkably similar to the GTX 670.



PEGI ratings become UK’s single video game age rating system

30 July 2012 – London, United Kingdom – PEGI has today become the single video games age ratings system, under which it is illegal for a retailer to sell a video game with a PEGI age rating of 12, 16 or 18 to someone below that age. Up until today, the UK had two age ratings systems for video games, BBFC and PEGI, but from now on, PEGI (which stands for Pan-European Game Information) will become the single age rating system for all video games in the UK. The change is aimed at helping consumers, and especially parents, to make informed decisions about which video games to choose for their families, by clearly giving the suggested minimum age that you must be to play a game due to the suitability of its content.

These changes have been introduced by the Government as part of its commitment to better protect children from exposure to inappropriate video game content. Tanya Byron’s “Safer Children in a Digital World” and Reg Bailey’s “Letting Children be Children” reviews for Government have been instrumental in identifying ways in which industry, Government and retailers can work together to ensure children only access material that is suitable for their age.

The announcement comes as Ukie (The Association of UK Interactive Entertainment) reveals results of a poll of over 1,000 parents of children under 18, highlighting that:

  • Nearly all parents (92%) recognise the benefits that playing video games can have on their children, including educational benefits (58%), that they allow children to be creative (53%) and that they provide entertainment (77%).
  • Other benefits cited include increased co-ordination, strategic thinking and team-work.
  • Parents would benefit from guidance on which video games are suitable for their families. Over 1 in 3 parents (34%) admit to having given in and bought a video game that was unsuitable for their child, with 86% saying that the new PEGI system is required and almost a third already believing the PEGI ratings will help them choose which games are suitable for their children.
  • The survey also found that over a quarter of parents (26%) never play video games with their children, with mums and dads both equally unlikely to join in with the potential for family fun.

Professor Tanya Byron, consultant clinical psychologist, independent government advisor on children, young people and digital media, as well as mother of two, said of the findings: “It’s great to see that parents recognise that playing video games can form a positive part of their children’s activities. Video games can be a great educational resource that can also fuel children’s creativity. It would be great to see parents taking an interest in their children’s video game playing. This can involve taking direct control of what games their children play at home, how they play them and for how long through taking note of the PEGI ratings, as well as using parental controls which are in-built on all modern video games consoles. What’s more, it would be great to see more parents joining in the fun of playing video games together as a family.” 

To mark the change in legislation, Ukie has launched the Control.Collaborate.Create. campaign, which includes the re-launch of the www.askaboutgames.com website, a resource for parents and the industry providing further information about video games ratings. It also offers real family stories and suggestions on how video games can be a creative and collaborative experience for all the family.

Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, added: “As we mark the start of PEGI as the single video game age rating system, we’re delighted to use the opportunity to help parents to make informed decisions about which video games to choose for their family. A key way we’re doing this is through the re-launch of www.askaboutgames.com. We’d urge parents to use this really helpful tool to ensure that playing video games has the biggest positive impact on their children and family as a whole.  

“We very much believe that the sole adoption of PEGI will provide clear and consistent direction on age ratings for parents and will be a vital tool in helping them to understand the types of games that their children should be playing.”

As part of the campaign, a video for parents has been created, presented by TV and radio presenter, and mother of four, Jo Whiley. The video features information about the PEGI rating system and what the ratings mean. It aims to help empower parents to take direct control over what games their children play at home and how long they play them for, through checking the PEGI rating and making use of controls on video games systems.

Jo Whiley says: “My family and I love playing video games together, but as a parent I know it can sometimes be hard to know the best games to choose. That’s why I’m pleased to be supporting the Control.Collaborate.Create. campaign. This campaign, and the implementation of PEGI as the single age rating system for video games in the UK, will make it easier than ever for parents to make the best video games choices for their whole family.”

Today also marks the start of the role of the Games Ratings Authority (GRA) as the operating name of The Video Standards Council. The GRA will be responsible for rating games to PEGI’s specifications and the VSC will use this name in dealing with all matters concerning the age rating of video games.

Laurie Hall, Director-General of the VSC says: “Although the VSC has been rating games using the PEGI system since 2003, our role as the UK statutory video games regulator provides a new and challenging dimension to our work which, as always, places child-protection and parental information at the forefront of what we do. We look forward to our new role with relish using a proven games ratings information system.”

Retailers also welcomed the announcement of the implementation of PEGI as the single video game age rating system today:

Kim Bayley, Director General of the Entertainment Retailers Association, said:“Entertainment retailers are well used to administering ratings schemes, having worked for many years with the Video Standards Council on age rated video and games products. We are delighted that the new PEGI games ratings regime has come into effect today.

“Retailers have worked hard with their suppliers to ensure a successful introduction of the new system, which we believe will provide greater clarity for consumers and in particular reassurance to parents that the games their children play are appropriate to their age.”

Anna-Marie Mason, Marketing Director at GAME Retail Ltd added: “GAME and gamestation apply rigorous training and audit standards to make sure that PEGI is understood by colleagues and customers alike. The framework is very clear and ensures that we guide customers correctly and responsibly. We’re hugely supportive of PEGI in this new era.”

For more information about the PEGI ratings and the benefits of gaming, visit www.askaboutgames.comwww.pegi.info and http://www.videostandards.org.uk/GRA

Source: PR

Nvidia back “Miracast” open wireless display standard

Miracast is an open standard for the wireless broadcasting of video signals, much like Apple’s AirPlay and Intel’s WiDi except not having the pitfalls of being a closed proprietary standard. Nvidia is the latest company to back the Miracast open standard which is set to go very far in the market as mobile devices grow in popularity.

The standard, which was formed by the WiFi alliance, is set for release soon and Nvidia has announced software that will enable it to take advantage of Miracast along with full backing. In addition the 4+1 core design of Nvidia’s Tegra 3 has been optimised to provide high performance and low latency streaming through the Miracast standard.

Nvidia joins Marvell, Texas Instruments and Broadcom in signing up to this new standard. It will probably be a while before the standard catches on but with such big names behind it, the prospects look good.


“Miracast is based on Wi-Fi Direct technology, which can be implemented on any device featuring modern wireless capabilities, without the need for a wireless network. The WiFi Alliance claims that the technology is inherently low-latency and efficient, as it’s direct and, with less consideration to multiple MAC addresses reducing overhead.”


US Govt. can keep Megaupload’s assets even if case is dismissed

Even if the motion to dismiss the Megaupload case is passed and they win their case against the U.S. government – which seems like a likely outcome, the government claims it will still keep Megaupload’s assets frozen. This is because it claims that Megaupload’s assets are as a result of criminal activity (even though the court ruling surely proves that it isn’t…) and hence they cannot be given back.

The government can retain control of the frozen assets whilst it awaits the outcome of the extradition case. Clearly keeping the assets frozen, thus preventing access to sufficient legal fees for Kim Dotcom, is the main tactic being deployed by the U.S. government in order to drag out this unjust case until they can find a way of manipulating justice in their favour.

U.S. attorney Neil MacBridge, argued that by giving Megaupload’s assets back they would essentially be returning stolen money to bank robbers.

“The Government’s interest in forfeiture is virtually indistinguishable from its interest in returning to a bank the proceeds of a bank robbery; and a forfeiture-defendant’s claim of right to use such assets to hire an attorney, instead of having them returned to their rightful owners, is no more persuasive than a bank robber’s similar claim.”


Ouya console to feature OnLive support

The $99 Android gaming console, Ouya, is to get an optional OnLive service integrated into its design. The company that makes Ouya, FuseProject, has agreed a deal with OnLive to bring the online game streaming service to the console.

This will mean that the Ouya console will be able to shoot well above its weight in terms of the games it can let users play, for a monthly OnLive subscription cost. Users will be able to pick from the full OnLive library of blockbuster games starting as soon as the Ouya console officially launches.

OnLive has also promised instant demos with up to 30 minutes of gameplay for nearly every game that will be supported, including Ravaged and Darksiders II title. Currently the Ouya project has $5.5 million of funding, but there are still 40,000 Ouya consoles available for $99 should you want to get involved.

With OnLive offering a “traditional” level of console class gaming and lots of free to play Android games it really does look like an even more attractive proposition.

In case you aren’t aware of what OnLive is, you can check out our review of the OnLive system here. 

In addition to announcing OnLive integration, FuseProject also unveil some new pictures of the console and its controller. You can see those below:



Google to launch 1000 megabit internet service

Google has launched an internet service that is a whopping “100 times faster” than the internet most people have. Based on the fact most people utilise a 10 megabit connection, Google’s 1000 megabit or 1 gigabit (128MB/s) is 100 times faster.

Lucky citizens of Kansas City, Missouri are initially the only people eligible for this new service. Given most ISPs only offer 2/8/10/20/50/100 megabit packages, the 1000 megabit offered by Google is just mind boggling.

Downloading a 1GB file over a 10 megabit connection would take roughly 13 minutes 40 seconds. The same 1GB file on Google’s internet would theoretically take 8 seconds.

The service costs $70 per month without the TV package and $120 per month with the TV package. There is also a small $10 pre-register fee required for eligible customers. A free 5 megabit service will be offered to ensure that everyone in an area has internet access, but that free service costs an initial $300 to set up. That fee is cancelled for subscribers to either of the two higher packages ($70 or $120 per month).

On September the 9th Google will select the “fiberhoods” with the most desire for high-speed internet to install first. Other areas will get the service too, if the demand is there.

Although Google’s package is theoretically brilliant, straight away it is worth pointing out that most people would never reach these speeds because of the fact most people do not possess the required hardware.

To get the speeds you would need a 1000 megabit capable wireless (gigabit) or wired router, with a 1000 megabit capable wireless adapter or wired ethernet port, a hard drive capable of writing at 128MB/s and the fiber optic infrastructure around your phone line and street to allow you to reach those speeds.



Blizzard Entertainment are the latest Windows 8 dissenters

We have already seen Valve’s Gabe Newell tear into Windows 8, describing it as a catastrophe for the PC Platform. Blizzard Entertainment are the latest company to make a similar move. Blizzard executive vice president, Rob Pardo was the man who announced Blizzard’s disdain for the upcoming operating system.

“I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space—not awesome for Blizzard either.”

With gaming giants Valve and Blizzard now both anti-Windows 8 this marks an important point in time for the gaming community. Although there is still no viable alternative to Windows right now, there have been attempts to shift gaming towards the free linux OS Ubuntu in recent times by Steam.

It is no secret that the ability to play almost every game has kept Windows alive. As Gabe Newell has stated:

“People don’t realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior.”

Gaming is perhaps one of the main reasons why Linux has never been able to take off, even though it is free and just as usable as Windows.

Microsoft’s Windows 8, although something new, lacks a unique PC identity. Trying to cater for the world of tablets and desktops at the same time sees it failing to do either that well.

This could be the beginning of a paradigm shift in the way games are developed, distributed and played. Or this could force Microsoft to rethink Windows 8 before it launches it to the PC platform on October the 26th.


Pirate Bay gets into the Olympic spirit

The Pirate Bay is continuing its trend of staying topical to world affairs whilst successfully managing to irritate supporters of copyright protection. The latest move sees the world’s number one torrent finding site successfully rebrand from “The Pirate Bay” to “The Olympic Bay”.

The International Olympic Committee has criticised the Pirate Bay in time for the Olympics and as a result the Pirate Bay are returning the favour. Even though the IOC states the games will be available to everyone, they won’t because of Broadcasting rights and other issues of that nature. As a result the Pirate Bay wants to make sure the Olympics will be available to everyone and so has taken up the duty of uploading all the televised Olympic events and ceromonies. The most popular of the Olympic themed torrents is the opening ceremony.

In July 2005 the site rebadged itself as “The Pear Bay” when Apple’s OSX x86 was leaked, and in that same month it changed its name to the Grand Theft auto-inspired, “Grand Theft Bay.”

To complete the Olympic look, The Pirate Bay took it upon themselves to redesign the Olympic logo with a pirate theme and steal the Olympic tagline “this is for everyone”. So if you’re looking for a way to catch up on the Olympics, then we definitely didn’t imply that you should head on over to The Olympic Bay to catch up.


Wii U to cost 250 pounds

Nintendo’s next generation console, the Wii U, still remains a mystery to most when it comes to the price it will retail for. Different sources have been reporting different prices as expected, and different regions will probably be getting different prices as is normally traditional with international products.

According to Japanese sources the Wii U will cost 30,000 Japanese Yen. That translates into £250, $400 and €325, although since those prices are based on a basic exchange rate conversion expect them to vary a bit. £250 is roughly £50 more than most people expected. Initially, retail giant Amazon listed the Wii U on pre-order for £199 but then later had to pull the pre-order and refund buyers since the £199 price was not correct.

In a separate report, a UK based anonymous source told of the price “definitely be[ing] less than £249”. So all in all this leaves the ballpark region for the Wii U price to fall into at £199-£249.

Until Nintendo officially announce the price of the console it cannot be truly known what the cost is, but given the fact it is a launch price and Nintendo will want to capitalise on this launch hype we would expect that the higher price seems much more realistic. This gives Nintendo room to chop the price down a bit later on in the product’s lifespan as demand starts to tail off.


Gran Turismo 6 on the way

Polyphony Digital CEO Kazunori Yamauchi aka founder of the Gran Turismo racing game series, has hinted that Gran Turismo 6 could be on its way soon. Yamauchi has stated that his company Polyphony Digital have been working on the Gran Turismo 6 framework since the release of Gran Turismo 5 – which was way back on November the 24th 2010.

“We’re always aiming for the latest technology and the latest expression,” he added.

If his comments on the latest technology are anything to go by then we can probably expect to see Gran Turismo 6 arrive on the next generation of Sony console, as the current PlayStation 3 not only is fading in popularity but also lacks the graphical power to take the game to the next level of realism.

Yamauchi also commented on the possiblity of bringing Gran Turismo to PlayStation Vita, stating connectivity would be the most essential design factor:

“If we were to make it, we’d like to make use of the ability to play anywhere and the ability to use 3G at any time,” he said.

Since Gran Turismo has been one of the PlayStation flagship game series since its early release, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if GT6’s launch coincided with the launch of the next gen PlayStation console. Arguably it makes more sense for Sony to do this as the dedicated following Gran Turismo has would surely tempt many into buying the new console just to play Gran Turismo 6.


Guns of Icarus Online PC Review

This week I have been spending some time with the wonderfully unique airship based online shooter, Gun of Icarus Online, a game currently in Beta and heavy development at Muse Games, an indie studio based in NYC, utalizing the increasingly popular Unity engine.

Some of you may have heard of Gun of Icarus before, since Guns of Icarus is the spiritual successor of the previous title, as opposed to a direct sequel, with a primary focus on cooperative online multiplayer death match and objective scenarios.

While the game is still in Beta, ever receiving updates, even as we speak as the developers prepare the title for yet another beta weekend with even more updates and features to present, but with the time I spent on the game and the time I am still spending when ever the servers are up and running there was still plenty to look at, so come and take a look at the next few pages where I will be taking a look at what this game has to offer, what we can expect in the future and why you should, or shouldn’t be playing it.

Minimum system requirements:

  • Windows 7 or Mac OS X 10.6 or later
  • 2 GHz processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • Dedicated video card with 256 MB VRAM
  • 3 GB available HD space
  • Broadband Internet connection
  • Keyboard and mouse
System used for this review specification:
  • Windows 7 Pro 64bit
  • AMD Phenon II X4 955 BE @ 3.6Ghz
  • 4GB Ram
  • EVGA GTX 460 (Super-Super-Clocked Edition)

Or as the developers put it “as a general rule of thumb, if you can run a recent game like Portal 2, you can run Guns of Icarus Online.”


Steam post 2012 hardware and software survey results

Every year Steam conduct an extensive survey of its users showing the latest hardware and software trends. This year’s results as usual make for very interesting reading.

In terms of the graphics card department – Nvidia prevails. With a 47% share of GPUs, AMD/ATi 35% and Intel had 11%. The most common amount of VRAM was 1GB, with 38% of gamers having that much. The most popular graphics solution across Steam gamers was the GTX 560, followed by Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics and with the GTX 460 coming in at a respectable third. AMD’s most popular card was the HD 5770 which scraped in at 5th place.

The processor department sees the dual core still being the most popular option with 50.75% of the steam market share, quad cores had 37% and 6 cores had just 2.5%. Intel had 72% of the market whilst AMD had 28%. The majority of gamers had clock speeds of between 2.3 and 2.69GHz whilst only 0.46% had clock speeds over 3.7GHz.

The trend with system RAM is interesting, the majority of Steam users (31%) packed 5GB or more of RAM whilst the next most popular option was 4GB with 23%. An indication that people have been taking advantage of extremely low RAM prices.

Windows 7 was by far the most popular operating system accounting for 70% of systems, XP accounted for 15% and Vista for 10% – the other 5% is mainly made up of Mac operating systems.

The most common resolution was 1080p with 25%, followed by 1366 by 768 at 18% and 1680 by 1050 at 10%. 2560 by 1600 resolution uptake was very low – only 0.16% and multi-monitor set ups were even rarer. The most common multi-monitor resolution was 3840 x 1080.

35% of users had a hard drive between 250-500GB in size and 70% of users possessed a Microphone.

The most common applications, other than Steam of course, were Adobe flash player, followed by Adobe acrobat and Mozilla Firefox.

You can read the full and very detailed report here.


Razer launch Ouroboros $130 gaming mouse

Razer’s latest addition to its peripheral family is the super-expensive Ouroboros gaming mouse. Perhaps one of the most extravagant designs we have seen aesthetically for Razer in a while, with some commenting they seem to have ended up designing a Cyborg Rat9-style mouse.

This mouse is designed for all hand sizes, is ambidextrous and supports all grip types. The impressive 8200 DPI setting is sure to be enough to quell the thirst of even the most enthusiastic gamer.

The Ouroboros offers both wired and wireless connection, under wireless mode a single AA battery will provide up to 12 hours of usage. The wireless provides a 1ms response time whilst the award-winning 4G Dual Sensor System provides solid all round responsiveness.

“Designed for excellence and total ownage, the Razer Ouroboros was intended to be wielded by all serious gamers looking to win any FPS, RTS or RPG with custom-made dominance,” said Robert “RazerGuy” Krakoff, president of Razer USA. “We are proud to introduce it as Razer’s first gaming mouse that features optimized, customizable, ambidextrous ergonomics that better fit the curvature of any and every hand size and personal grip style by delivering ultimate comfort, control, power and built-in intelligence to ascend to gaming immortality.

The included cable is braided and 2.1m long, whilst this mouse supports Razer’s Synapse 2.0 cloud software. The mouse has 11 programmable Hyperesponse buttons.

Pricing is $129.99 for the North American market and €129.99 for the European market.

Razer have created a mini site for the new mouse if you want more information.


Facebook stock falls 13% after first earnings report

Facebook cannot seem to catch a stroke of good luck these days, since its IPO launch onto the stock market its shares have continually fallen. The company’s first earnings report has seen shares fall a further 13% to $23.40, the company’s lowest ever share figures should the market close at that level. Facebook’s lowest close as of today is $25.52, so if today closes lower than that it will be a new unwanted record.

The reason behind Facebook’s decline on the stock market is all to do with their first earnings report. Whilst managing to meet the lower end of analyst predictions, generating $1.2 billion in revenue, the company still posted a $157 million loss for Quarter 2 of 2012. For context, this time last year Facebook posted a profit of $240 million.

The initial IPO listing of Facebook saw its shares come in at $38, a figure that is $15 higher than where Facebook’s share prices currently sit. Even though the news isn’t great for Facebook it hasn’t done worse than expected and hopefully it will be able to pick up its figures in Q3 – providing it doesn’t splash any more cash on acquiring other companies.

It is almost imperative that Facebook posts a good third quarter, to avoid discontent among shareholders and investors spreading and further devaluing the social media giant.


Instagram passes 80 million users

Instagram have announced that their service has now surpassed 80 million users. The instagram service allows users to take photos, edit them and share them with other friends on instagram or on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Instagram has had a 60% increase in its user count over the past 12 weeks helping it to surpass the 80 million mark. Instagram infrastructure engineer Rick Branson wrote in a tweet “we now have >5.7m users per employee”, with Instagram having only 14 employees, the math is simple, Branson adds “We’re hiring :)”.

Instagram has been around since October 2010 and took just a year and a half to reach 50 million users, a milestone achieved back in April 2012. By that maths it took Instagram just 3 months to add 30 million users to its total, working out at 10 million a month, 330,000 a day, 14,000 an hour, 231 a minute and nearly 4 every second. Their growth is quite substantial and its anyone’s guess if they can sustain such a rapid rate of growth.

Up to now, the 80 million or more Instagram users have shared more than 4 billion photos. Facebook recently acquired Instagram back in April 2012 in a deal worth $1 billion, the takeover seems to coincide nicely with the massive growth Instagram has seen.


Google, Facebook and other sites found the Internet association

The world’s biggest websites from all over the world have banded together to create the Internet association. Currently the list is still under negotiation between the biggest members who have founded the group, the “big shots” include search engine giant Google, social networking superstar Facebook, auction site eBay  and retail mammoth Amazon.

The Internet Association (IA) is an American group that has been set up in order to lobby the US government, its influence may spread to other nations governments as time goes on but the initial focus is for America. The launch date for the IA is planned in Washington for September, the IA expects to announce a much longer member list when the launch arrives.

Michael Beckerman, former adviser to the chairman of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, is to take leadership of the new group. He has said that his main aim is to educate legislators about the internet, how it works and more importantly what will restrict its growth.

Political lobbying is big business in the USA, $3.3 billion was spent on it last year. Google is one of the biggest spenders on lobbying, with $5.4 million paid out this year so far, while Facebook has spent a still sizeable $650,000. The companies involved have previously spoken out against issues such as SOPA and by unifying under one banner they hope to pack more clout in the political arena.

Of course they aren’t here just to defend internet freedoms, they want to negotiate more favourable tax policies and strengthen cyber security among many other issues.


ASUS preparing 27 inch 144Hz 3D monitor

The current generation of 3D Monitors work at a refresh of 120Hz which translates into 60Hz per eye as the 3D signal has to be generated for each eye in the 3D set up. Naturally, a lot of gamers haven’t been happy with only 60Hz per eye – many use 72Hz and 75Hz displays for greater responsiveness but 3D up until now has only been available in 60Hz per eye for the mainstream gamer.

Now ASUS is preparing its VG278HE 3D display. Operating at 144Hz, which translates into 72Hz per eye when using 3D mode this monitor offers a much more responsive stereoscopic 3D gaming experience. The LCD LED backlit panel supports up to a 1920 by 1080 resolution with a 2ms response time at a 27 inch size.

The monitor includes HDMI, VGA and Dual Link DVI but ASUS recommend using the dual link DVI port for 144Hz 3D gaming as the dual link DVI port provides the most bandwidth to accommodate the demanding application.Digital transmission of 1920 x 1080 at144 Hz equals the bandwidth needed for 3840 x 2160 at 72 Hz.

The VG278HE will support Nvidia’s 3D Vision 2, but as always you need to purchase Nvidia’s 3D Kit separately. It features some 6 watt integrated speakers but most people are unlikely to use those. Its mounting system allows for height and tilt adjustments and ASUS are yet to release the monitor’s pricing details.


Nvidia GTX 660Ti specifications and launch date released

Nvidia’s Kepler line up currently progresses like this: GTX 690, GTX 680, GTX 670, GT 640, GT 630, GT 620, GT 610.  Meaning there are still quite a lot of models missing from that middle-ground placement. The GTX 660Ti which is going to be the next card down in the series from the GTX 670 (providing Nvidia doesn’t release a GTX 670 SE) has now had its specifications and launch date confirmed by industry sources.

The GTX 660Ti is derived from the same GK104 silicon that the GTX 690, GTX 680 and GTX 670 use. It will have the same number of CUDA cores as the GTX 670, that is 1344, and identical clock speeds – 915MHz Core, 980MHz boost and 6GHz effective memory.

The single difference between the GTX 670 and GTX 660Ti is the memory interface, by shrinking from a 256bit memory interface to a 196bit interface memory bandwidth is reduced by 25%. Four memory chips will get 32bits of bandwidth each while the other four memory chips will have to make do with 16 bits – essentially meaning whilst 1GB or less of VRAM is being used there will be no difference in terms of memory bandwidth so there should be no performance differences at all. 2GB of GDDR5 will be present in total.

The launch of the GTX 660Ti will take place on August the 16th at GamesCom Germany, although it is expected AMD will release its HD 7990 around then too based on the latest speculation – meaning GamesCom will be a fight for the spotlight between AMD and Nvidia.


AMD preparing more Athlon II processors for FM2 platform

AMD’s Athlon II line up was phased from the mainstream AMD platform, the AM3/AM3+, after the introduction of Bulldozer. They were initially transfered to the FM1 Llano platform with the Athlon II X4 641, 645 and 651 being the main new Athlon II processors. These Athlon II FM1 parts were simply Llano APUs without the integrated graphics.

The next series of APUs, Trinity, will also get a similar Athlon II product line. Again it appears AMD has scrapped everything but quad core Athlon II processors, so no more Athlon II X2 or X3 since they just can’t compete in terms of performance anymore. FM2 will get three Athlon II processors all without integrated graphics. The three processors will be as follows:

  • Athlon II X4-730: quad-core, 2.80 GHz, 4 MB total cache, 65W TDP
  • Athlon II X4-740: quad-core, 3.20 GHz, 4 MB total cache, 65W TDP
  • Athlon II X4-750K: quad-core, unlocked BClk multiplier, 3.40 GHz, 4 MB total cache, 100W TDP

AMD adding an unlocked Athlon II processor is a bit of an unprecedented move from AMD. Athlon II processors have traditionally allowed overclocking but through bus speed increases which wreak havoc on memory, north bridge and hyper transit frequencies. Now with an unlocked multiplier Athlon II processor, you can expect to overclock as easy as you would on the Bulldozer or Phenom II platforms – except without the premium price point.

What is worth noting is that since these processor do not come with integrated graphics, and neither does the A75 chipset, you will need a discrete graphics card solution in order to run a system from these processors.

Pricing wise the Athlon II X4 730 will probably hit the £65 price point,  the Athlon II X4 740 is likely to be £75 and the Athlon II X4 750K should be £85 as not to put too much price pressure on the Trinity APUs.