Lyft Removed Surge Caps But Didn’t Tell Its Users

In this day and age taxis are facing more and more competition from the likes of apps such as Uber and Lyft, where users can order up a “ride” through their smartphone with everyday people picking you up in their cars. Part of the new system is the “surge” calculation, something that Lyft removed from their fares without telling a single user.

The surge system is an automated system which increases the prices of rides when the system is swarmed with people ordering rides. Uber recently stated that it wouldn’t raise their prices more than 3.9 times when the DC metro was shut down, a policy that Lyft has had for a while, capping their prices at 3x the standard rate. This policy is now gone, with Lyft removing the surge back in February, but not everyone was aware.

Lyft told its drivers that its caps would be removed, but failed to disclose the information to its users. The argument is going that higher prices would encourage more drivers to pick up users, possibly increasing the number of people offering lifts via the app.

Trying to support drivers is always a nice move, but if it’s going to cost users money they may find the services less appealing and instead go back to classic taxi services.

Netflix to Increase Prices For 37 Percent of US Customers

Netflix has rapidly become a legitimate rival to traditional Television broadcasts and revolutionized the way we all watch video content. Instead of having to view your favourite programmes based on their pre-arranged listings, you can instantly access a huge library without adverts. Furthermore, exclusive programming such as House of Cards showcases the quality content, and value when subscribing to Netflix’s service. While there is competition from Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and others, none of these really compared to Netflix’s ability to offer a massive range of blockbuster films.

Unfortunately, price increases have been occurring on a regular basis which might deter some users from continuing their subscription. Furthermore, the company recently clamped down on users accessing the US library with a DNS or VPN. Annoyingly, consumers outside of the US often have to put up with a fairly restricted selection of TV shows which is down to licensing agreements. Once again, this is another reason why certain long-term subscribers might feel inclined to cancel.

Some time ago, Netflix announced that they would be increasing prices gradually and freeze the cost for current users for a limited time. The ‘grandfathering’ period has now expired which means that almost 17 million US subscribers protected by this scheme will face a price increase from $7.99 a month to $9.99. This follows a 50p price hike in the UK and it looks likely that the company will continue with this strategy especially for those purchasing the HD tier. Of course, acquiring the broadcasting rights to expensive programming is bound to cut into Netflix’s profit margins. It’s clear they want to offer the best possible library and form the new instant form of Television.

However, if the prices continue to rise and eventually cost more than a cable service, I’m not sure how many subscribers they will lose. In the USA, I don’t think it’s likely, but disgruntled customers outside of the US market might feel they’re receiving poor value due to the smaller library while paying a similar price.

Uber CEO Faces Lawsuit Price Fixing Allegations

Uber is a popular app that allows people to act almost like taxi’s for others, with one person pressing a button to request a ride and minutes later a driver arriving to provide the transport at a cost. With the concept of pricing, a key part of the system, Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick may want to be careful as he faces a lawsuit of price fixing allegations relating to the app.

Uber is no stranger to legal troubles, with people in Jakarta staging violent protests over the app and one driver even claiming that a demon convinced him through the app to commit murder, the app has seen its fair time in the spotlight for legal issues. During the recent Metro shutdown in New York Uber decided that it wouldn’t raise prices to more than 3.9 times their normal rate, a kind gesture that could certainly see people put off using the service. A US District court judge in New York has stated that Kalanick must face

A US District court judge, Jed Rakoff, in New York has stated that Kalanick must face the lawsuit that states he conspired with drivers to set the fares the app provides using an algorithm, including its well-known progress of increasing rates during peak hours through its “surge pricing” model.

In his comments, Rakoff states that the plaintiffs had “plausibly alleged a conspiracy” which ultimately drove out rivals for the app. It will be interesting to see how a company as well known as Uber faces charges over something some would call a “feature” within their software while others would claim it takes money from those desperate in times of need, such as those escaping from attacks or when other transport systems are shut down.

New 4-Inch iPhone is Apparently Much Cheaper

There’s been a deluge of rumours regarding Apple’s upcoming 4-inch handset, and its purpose in the current market place. Theoretically, the “iPhone SE” is designed to be a replacement for the iPhone 5s launched in 2013. It’s not a major change, but a basic revamp to offer more options to consumers who prefer a smaller model. Sources indicate that the new device will sport an almost identical aesthetic design to the iPhone 5s with slightly curved edges. However, the internals have been enhanced and should include an A9 processor, Apple Pay and Live Photos functionality.

According to KGI Securities, the iPhone SE incorporates an impressive 12-megapixel camera, and targets the $400-$500 price point. This is a surprisingly affordable price and suggests Apple is trying to forge a position in the mid-range sector. This would greatly broaden the device’s appeal and allow consumers with a smaller budget to own a brand new iPhone. Apple also intends to drop the iPhone 5s price by a whopping 50 percent to help shift units. KGI estimates 131 percent growth in 4-inch iPhone shipments to around 37 million units in 2016. Although, they predict most of these sales stem from the iPhone 5S after large discounts. Apple is expected to launch the iPhone SE at an event on March 16th as well as a new 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

Apple devices always have a price premium and their previous attempt to offer a budget-orientated model with the iPhone 5c was flawed. This is because the 5c’s price wasn’t significantly cheaper and evoked a poor feel. To be successful, Apple needed to create a large pricing gap between the two handsets. On the other hand, the iPhone SE looks very interesting and suggests a change in attitude from Apple. Despite this, there’s a huge amount of competition from Samsung, HTC, LG and other Chinese manufacturers. Although, Apple has this knack of enticing large numbers of people to purchase their products.

HTC: The Vive is “Not Just About Gaming”

Virtual reality technology is commonly perceived as the future of gaming, and theoretically provides truly unique experiences. However, it’s not limited to the gaming sector and could be deployed to broadcast sports events in a more immersive way or help trainees to learn new skills. Unfortunately, being an early adopter of VR is a costly endeavour and requires a very capable PC. The Oculus Rift’s price point of $599 seems extremely high until HTC announced the Vive would retail for a staggering $799. This is bound to alienate a large proportion of the device’s possible user base and makes it a niche product. Despite this, the company defended its pricing policy via a post on the official HTC Vive blog. The statement reiterates that the Vive isn’t just for gaming purposes and reads:

“But it’s not just about gaming,” 

“In addition to these launch titles, HTC is working with developers to foster the creation of content that spans multiple sectors including entertainment, retail, education, design, healthcare and automotive that will ultimately transform people’s lives.”

Cher Wang, chairwoman and CEO at HTC proclaimed:

“From the beginning, Vive has been at the forefront of virtual reality, with HTC pioneering several ground breaking technologies,

Since announcing Vive this time last year, we have worked tirelessly with Valve to deliver the best VR experience on the market, winning multiple awards and receiving critical acclaim from media, consumers and the industry. With the Vive consumer edition we are now able to realize our ultimate vision; bringing Vive into homes around the globe so that people can experience immersive virtual reality in a way that fires the imagination and truly changes the world.”

It’s important to remember that the first models of any new technology usually involves a hefty price and eventually becomes more mainstream. The Vive is a no-compromise approach to create the best possible VR experience. On the other hand, its price is very high and might frustrate users who want to see what the VR revolution is all about.

HTC Vive – Eye Watering Price Revealed

There’s a great deal of anticipation surrounding the possibilities of virtual reality equipment in the gaming industry and other entertainment forms. Not only that, VR could be deployed to train new recruits in essential practical skills and help surgeons perform complex operations. Clearly, virtual reality has a huge potential but it’s going to take a considerable amount of time before the technology becomes mainstream. Recently, the $599 price point of the Oculus Rift shocked users expecting a significantly lower price point. This is well beyond the reach of most consumers especially when you take into account the cost of hardware to drive virtual reality headsets. Currently, VR manufacturers are focusing on producing the best possible experiences to encourage hardware sales. In theory, the pricing should reduce over time and become more accessible but the time frame for this is still unknown.

The HTC Vive’s retail price was confirmed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and leaked by a number of publications prior to the official embargo. UploadVR reports that the Vive will cost a whopping $799 and ship with a controller for each hand and a pair of “Lighthouse” laser base stations designed to track movement. The device will also come with an internal microphone, and have Bluetooth functionality to communicate with various smartphones. Pre-orders for the unit will begin on February 29th, and the first shipments should commence in April.

It will be interesting to see if the higher price point affects sales compared to the Oculus Rift. Competition in the marketplace is great for consumers though and helps progress technology forward. 2016 is often described as the year of virtual reality, and this prediction looks set to be coming to fruition. Sadly at $799, the HTC Vive will remain a very niche device for those with big wallets, and this is a shame.

G.Skill Announces RIPJAWS KM780R Keyboard Models

G.Skill’s latest two RIPJAWS mechanical keyboards aren’t actually new ones, but rather the current ones with a reduced accessory package and thereby also a reduced price. There might be quite a few people out there that wouldn’t mind saving a few bucks on the hardware and not get the parts that they don’t need or want on the side.

The two new G.Skill keyboards are the RIPJAWS KM780R RGB and KM780R MX keyboards and they are just the same as the KM780 versions when it comes to the keyboard itself.

The KM780R models offer highly responsive and extremely durable Cherry MX key switches that are rated for 50 million keypresses without losing the same mechanical feel, a military-grade aluminum plate in a brushed black anodized finish, and the full suite of extra macro keys, onboard keyboard profiles, and media control keys with the digital LED volume display. These keyboards will also be available with the choice of Cherry MX red, brown, and blue flavors.

So what is the difference between the KM780R and KM780 series? As previously mentioned, it is the accessory pack. With these reduces version you don’t get the gaming keycaps, the puller tool, and the keycap box. All things that one can go without or already might have extra from a previous keyboard. Let’s face it, you only need on puller tool to remove your keycaps. It saves money, it saves resources, and it saves you the hassle of finding a place to put all the extras. In return, you get a keyboard that is $10.00 cheaper on the recommended retail price.

These new G.Skill RIPJAWS KM780R RGB and KM780R MX models are currently available on Amazon.com, but they will be sold via G.Skill authorized partners worldwide at a later unspecified date.

What do you think about these reduced package models? Is it a good or bad thing? Are the savings enough for you to let go of the extras or would you still get the full product version? Let us know in the comments.

Uber Lowers Prices In US And Canada Due To Low Demand

Uber gets in the news a lot. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has called it out for being breaking the law, three cities in Germany no longer have the service and French Uber drivers even created a rival app. Amongst all of this Uber can’t be having too good a time, even though popularity and usage of the app are growing? Not in the U.S it would seem as Uber lowers their prices to help pick up usage in the new year.

It’s a new year, it’s still cold and we still have to get around. Seems like people aren’t using Uber as much as they expected as Uber posted explaining that people staying indoors to keep warm and save money means that this time of year, people tend not to use the service. In order to get usage of the service up, in over 100 cities in the US and Canada, the service will cut prices for riders and stating that they are “guaranteeing earnings for drivers to ensure that no one is disadvantaged”.

With them continuing on to say that the percentage cut to prices will be different from city to city, and no exact figures on what each location will receive or even what the  guaranteed earnings for drivers will be users may be skeptical. If you’re in the US or Canada though, now might the right time to pop out and do that little bit of shopping you’ve been putting off so far.

Sony Denies PlayStation VR Price Leak

We’ve recently seen the Oculus Rift become available for pre-orders and the first batch of them was gone very quickly, so there is a market for these virtual reality devices despite their somewhat high price for some people. While the Oculus Rift will set you back $600 as a pre-order, you also get a controller and a couple of games included in the bundle. With that in mind, a lot of people that have both a PC and a PlayStation 4 had hoped that Sony’s PlayStation VR might be a cheaper option. That might or might not be the case, but if Amazon’s recent price leak was real, then it will cost more than the Rift.

Amazon Canada has started to list Sony’s PlayStation VR on their website and for a short while it had a price attached to it. The listing is still active at the time of writing this article, but the price has since been removed again. Amazon Canada had the Sony PlayStation VR headset listed for $1125.35 CAD which is about $800 USD, making it $200 more expensive than the Oculus Rift. Forbes was first to report on this, but Sony was quick to come out with a statement to the outlet. “This was an error by Amazon, we haven’t announced a price for PlayStation VR.”

While it is natural for Sony to come out and deny the leak right away with a phrasing that doesn’t really deny the leak itself, it is most likely just a price holder set by Amazon and one that shouldn’t have been shown. This is common practice and we’ve seen the PS4 being listed for $1000 before it officially became available – again just as a placeholder. We should also remember, as mentioned a few times already, that Oculus already revealed the price for their Rift headset. Sony will naturally try to compete with this price as much as it is possible for them. This will be the year where virtual reality really starts and it could make a lot of difference down the road who secures themselves the biggest userbase from the start.

While this $800 Sony PlayStation VR price leak might have been a letdown, I’m sure that we will know the real price very soon. After all, the PSVR headset is set for a Q1 2016 release.

AMD Announces Large Price Drop on Radeon R9 Nano

When AMD launched the Radeon R9 Nano mini-ITX graphics card back in September 2015, the card gained a lot of popularity for several reasons. It was one of the smallest graphics cards available and at the same time delivers a punch that is similar to other high-end cards. The performance is thanks to the HBM memory and Fiji GPU while the small size was made possible by the use of optimal clocking of both the GPU and memory for both power consumption and heat. However, the card did have one fault and that was the price. At a price of $649, the AMD R9 Nano was a hard pill to swallow.

It is now January 2016 and it looks like AMD wants a larger cut of the GPU market. Maybe the manufacturing process has caught up and has been refined for cheaper productions costs, or something else. We don’t know why, but that doesn’t matter anyway as long as the result comes in. And it does and AMD announced a price cut from $649 and all the way down to $499. The $150 price cut equals about 23 percent which is quite nice.

There is no doubt that this price cut on the AMD Radeon R9 Nano will convince quite a few people to get this card that previously wanted it but thought it was too expensive. I am sure there will be quite a few more hardcore mITX gaming builds out there this coming time, and most of them will be powered by this little marvel of a graphics card.

After all, the R9 Nano has a peak power draw of 175W and only measures 6-inch while delivering a level of performance that are on par with larger and more power-hungry GPUs. It also blows the GTX 970 Mini-ITX away with up to 30 percent better performance.

Is this enough to convince you to switch to an AMD Radeon R9 Nano graphics card? $499 is still a respectable price and it might not be in everyone’s budget. Oh, and we should naturally consider that these are the manufacturers suggested retail prices. We have previously seen the cards drop in price at various outlets.

AMD Hints Possible Price Drops for Current-Gen Consoles

We have already seen some price drops on the current generation gaming consoles, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but it hasn’t been anything that major up until now. Consoles have a scheduled lifetime before the next generation of 5 to 7 years, so they’ll still be around for a while. We do however see optimizations along the way as it also happened in the past, the PS2 and PS3 both got upgrades along the way.

AMD has now hinted that there at least are opportunities in the current generation’s lifetime to develop new technology that will allow for a price drop without any impact on performance. This is most likely based on optimization of the production line and process along with the initial development costs starting to get back home and not have as big an impact as when a product is freshly launched. This news came out during a round-table talk where AMD’s CEO Lisa Su attended.

“The consoles work on a five to seven year strategy, that’s the lifetime for these consoles,” said Lisa Su. “Without talking about any particular party’s console; there will be opportunities to cost-reduce.

While Lisa Su didn’t mention any timeframe on this, it is pretty safe to assume that it won’t be far in the future. We are also approaching the mid-life of the current generation consoles that were launched roughly three years ago now and that was about the time where we saw upgrades in the previous generation Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

While some might argue that PC gaming is superior to Consoles, and it probably is, consoles have their merit and there is no doubt why they keep such a high popularity. A price drop on said consoles could further boost the sales by convincing more people to get it. A cheaper price is something we all like and I’m sure that they’ll quickly make up for the lost profit in that regards with the higher sales numbers and thereby more sales of games and peripherals too.

Oculus Rift Boss Explains The Price Confusion

We first speculated, then we got the confirmation but had to wait for a little while before we could place our pre-orders on the final Oculus Rift. Yesterday was the big day and the pre-order queue was opened up to the public. At the same time, we also got the pricing that so far had been down to speculations and vague statements. However, the price tag of $600 did confuse quite a few people as we’ve previously heard of a price that should be in the “ballpark of $350”. That is quite a bit of difference and Palmer Luckey, the Oculus boss and founder, took it on to answer the confusion in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA).

Luckey apologized for the misleading information and went on to explain how it came to be. At the time where the statement was made, quite a few people believed that the $1500 estimated price floating around was for just the headset, but it was actually for a VR ready PC system. And compared to $1500, $600 is more in the ballpark of $350, hence the confusion.

“I handled the messaging poorly,” Luckey said. “As an explanation, not an excuse: during that time, many outlets were repeating the ‘Rift is $1500!’ line, and I was frustrated by how many people thought that was the price of the headset itself. My answer was ill-prepared, and mentally, I was contrasting $349 with $1500, not our internal estimate that hovered close to $599 – that is why I said it was in roughly the same ballpark.”

Luckey went on to explain the costs. It looks like they aren’t making much if any profit from this first consumer version of the Oculus Rift. It is being sold at cost. This is great for both the consumer and the technology itself, we need it to stick and stay around. It’s time for a shift in our virtual experiences.

When compared to the DK1 and DK2, the final Oculus Rift uses hardware that’s a lot more advanced and made just for this headset rather than off-the-shelf parts. If it had been released with DK2 hardware, the price would still have been $400 or more. With all this in mind, I think the consumers will be happy that Oculus didn’t take any shortcuts but opted for the best possible hardware right away.

“DK1 and DK2 cost a lot less – they used mostly off the shelf components. They also had significantly fewer features (back of head tracking, headphones, mic, removal facial interfaces, etc.) For Rift, we’re using largely custom VR technology (eg. custom displays designed for VR) to push the experience well beyond DK2 to the Crescent Bay level.”

Considering that most people don’t have any trouble throwing $600 after a new fancy smartphone or TV, it’s not that bad at all. I do however think that I might hold back a little myself and wait for a price around the $450 before I join the world of virtual reality.

LG Unveils An Enormous Television Screen At CES

Televisions are becoming thinner and thinner yet bigger and bigger, more homes are adopting at least a 40-inch screen and above with the aim of enjoying a wide variety of entertainment on a Full HD or even a 4k screen. LG have noted this and might have taken it to slightly over the top heights after unveiling a 98-inch Television screen at CES 2016 which is being held in Las Vegas, (and eTeknix are there, yes I know)

The South Korean electronic manufacturer has unveiled this mammoth screen that boasts a 98-inch UHD with 8K resolution, below is an image to demonstrate this, it looks imposing and it feels as if it could provide a fantastic experience if you played Call of Duty or GTA on it, only pity is you might be playing it in the garden when you consider the size.

Understandably, there has been no word concerning the official price, my guess is it would be very expensive when you consider Sharp’s 98 inch offering at 2015 CES had a price of over $130,000 dollars (£88,591.77)  Content is also slightly limited on the 8K front when you consider consumers are not exactly overwhelmed by a vast array of 4K TV let alone 8K.

Only time will tell whether this TV will be a viable product if it is, my guess is the price will be for those who have enough room in their house for such a gadget.

Image courtesy of androasia

Developers Increased Steam Game Prices Before Autumn Sale!

The Steam Autumn Sale has finally begun and it can be extremely tempting to purchase a huge array of games across various genres. Bizarrely, the current sale doesn’t feature any flash or daily deals and critics have argued this could be a result of Steam’s Refund Policy. Arguably, Valve is concerned about people purchasing something at a specific price, using the Refund Policy and re-purchasing 24 hours later at a cheaper rate. As with any promotion, it’s important to be skeptical and realize the majority of sale events are a marketing exercise. You only need to look at Black Friday to see the tricks employed to make people overspend.

According to Steam Spy, a number of games have increased their base price just before the sale began. As a result, the discounted percentage is larger and makes the consumer feel they are getting a better deal. It also explains why 75% off doesn’t equate to £2-3 anymore.

While this is pretty dishonest, it’s been going on for some time and I cannot see it changing anytime soon. Developers are implementing every possible trick to maximize profits from each purchase. It’s a sorry situation, but you have to take into account the poor discoverability on Steam and huge quantity of games. This means it’s very difficult for smaller studios to remain in business.

On the other hand, honesty is always the best policy and developers should respect consumers more by avoiding these sort of marketing tricks. It once again shows how Steam is simply becoming a client to play games while a huge number of people purchase codes from third-party resellers.

Dying Light Season Pass And Expansion Get Price Increase

Dying Light sees players running through a zombie filled world using both their skills, weapons and parkour movement to fight and outrun their enemies. That is until night time when the creatures suddenly empower and hunt the player, quickly turning the tide on their attackers. The developers for the game at Techland have recently announced that their latest expansion may have been a little more than they expected, as a result, they will be raising the price to match the expanded size and features of the expansion this December.

The reason for the price increase, from £9.99 to £15.99, was given as follows:

“Over the past weeks Dying Light: The Following has almost reached its final stage: main quests, side quests, new skills, and driving challenges are ready. Looking at it, it’s clear how big the expansion pack has grown – it would be a stand-alone title, but since it would mean a launch delay, we decided against it”

With the expansion being part of the season pass, that will also receive a price increase from £15.99 to £23.99. The price changes won’t come into effect until December 8th so you still have a chance to grab the game at a discounted price.

Dying Light is currently on sale till December 1st on Steam for 66% off (£39.99 to £13.59).

AMD Cutting Graphics Card Prices – Including Fury X, Fury and Nano!

AMD are in a really strong position right now, with a new series of graphics cards that may not have toppled all of the Nvidia flagships, at least not in every test, but it’s certainly put them back on the map in terms of high-end gaming. Their 3xx series of cards are knocking Nvidia down the charts, with better performance and lower prices than their competitor across a wide range of performance brackets, the new Crimson drivers and now it seems the battle is about to heat up even more, as AMD cards are seeing a range of price cuts.

Everything from the 300 series of cards, as well as the new Fury series which feature HBM memory are currently sporting some exciting deals at major retailers. Of course, it won’t be long before Nvidia play a similar price-cut game, but for now, AMD are tempting peoples wallets a little more.

R9 Fury X was originally $649, but that’s down to $589 and even down to $569 after a rebate! The R9 Nano, dropping from $649, down to $569, $549 after rebate. The R9 Fury, $549 down to a very tasty $499.

What about the 300 series? The R9 390X and 390 are down from $429 and $329 to $359 and $259 after a rebate. That’s exceptional value for money giving the performance of these cards! The R9 380 2GB and the 4GB model are down to a wallet friendly $169 and $179, or even lower with rebate at $139 and $159.

Most major retailers are already honouring these new prices, although Newegg and Amazon are currently the best deals I’ve seen, but it’s certainly worth shopping around and who knows, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, maybe we’ll see even lower prices.

Virgin Media Increases Broadband Prices by 5.4%

Virgin Media recently implemented a significant speed increase for customers on 50Mbps, 100Mbps and 152Mbps connections to 70Mbps, 150Mbps and 200Mbps. Initially, the speed boost appeared to be a free promotion to encourage more customers to join Virgin Media. However, Virgin Media has admitted there will be a price hike by up to £3.99 per month. Additionally, the line rental fee will also increase by £1 which signifies a 5.4 percent change. The company explained on social media why the higher prices are necessary and said:

“The price changes are put in place to sustain and build on our network to give you even better quality”.

Virgin Media’s managing director, Gregor McNeil, told The Register:

 “We are doing everything we can to keep prices as competitive as possible. Through the continuing investment in our network we are again upgrading our customers’ broadband speeds and providing unlimited downloads – meeting the growth in data consumption we see.” 

Unhappy customers can cancel their Virgin Media subscription as the increased prices are technically a breach of contract. I think the company has to be extremely careful as consistently increasing the package prices will result in mass cancellations. Faster broadband speeds are vital when you consider the huge data demands with modern gaming, and 4K video streams. However, the packages need to remain affordable or people will simply go for a cheaper, slower option.

Overwatch Pricing Model Announced

The information from Blizzcon just keeps flowing. Hot on the heels of new Overwatch heroes being revealed, an interview with the director of Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan brought Blizzard’s future plans for the game and the Overwatch pricing model to light.

The full notes of the Q&A session conducted by members of the Overwatch subreddit can be found here, and cover a number of topics regarding the game. And while many people’s hopes that Blizzard would use the free-to-play model for Overwatch were dashed as Blizzard opened pre-orders for the game yesterday, the topics of new heroes, potential DLC and microtransactions have been subject to mass speculation.

Firstly is the now-obvious bar to entry for Overwatch, the initial price. The base game itself starts at £29.99 for the standard edition, £39.99 for the Origin edition, featuring exclusive skins and unlocks in other Blizzard games and the currently unpriced Collector’s Edition. This physical release features a statue of hero “Soldier 76”, an artbook, soundtrack and the digital bonuses from the Origin edition. Unfortunately for those yet to get into the beta, pre-ordering Overwatch at any level will not grant you access to the beta.

For those willing to purchase the game, all of the current heroes will be available out of the gate at launch, with no intentions of including a ‘hero store’ using either real or in-game currency. It is also currently uncertain as to whether new heroes will be added at all, let alone whether they will have a price attached, instead wishing to wait for community feedback on the state of the game. All this just leaves one real concern in my mind: cosmetics. The Overwatch team are supposedly working on a third version of a progression system that may tie into the cosmetics, hopefully hinting at them being available through play. That just leaves skins up to debate, as all of the currently known skins are paid for, albeit through pre-ordering the game or purchasing the Origin Edition.

I think for many of us now, desire to get into the beta has grown, as it’s no longer just about playing the game early, but a chance to see whether the game is worth Blizzard’s asking price. Are you pleased that Blizzard seem to be avoiding the now-common freemium or pay-to-win models, or are you put off at having an upfront cost when other similar games such as Team Fortress 2 are now free?

Prisons Get Capped Phone Rate as Prices Hit $14 Per Minute

People often complain about how much they pay for their phone, be it a monthly bill or a subscription we tend to buy what we think is a good deal, often unaware of the hidden fees or the limits we easily pass. This isn’t the case for all, and if you thought your bill was bad try being in prison where the prices were said to have reached even $14 a minute.

The Federal complaints commission is facing a lawsuit regard the prices some prisons have charged $14 a minute, roughly £9 per minute. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn stated that “None of us would consider ever paying $500 a month. where calls are dropped for seemingly no reason”. With a vote deciding that all rates within prisons should be capped at a mere 11 cents per minute (7p per minute), not everyone, however, is happy with this decision.

Securus, a company involved with the running of several prisons has warned that this move could end up harming more than it helps with the medium and smaller sized prisons ending up more damaged by the decision.

With the vote winning at a 3-2 ratio it is clear that this is something the FCC want to put in place, although more lawsuits may come with many arguing with how the final cap was calculated.

Image courtesy of Telegraph.

Microsoft Discloses Hololens Development Price

Whenever Microsoft showcases its Hololens technology, the world rightfully responds in awe due to the vast number of visual effects and huge potential. Yesterday, Microsoft demoed a game entitled, ‘Project X-Ray’ which revolves around menacing robots emerging from a wall. This neat in-house development is incredibly immersive as you employ a ray-gun to fend off the hordes of devastating enemies. This is all possible through the Hololens headset which could revolutionize gaming in the future.

Virtual Reality is certainly the next major technological innovation and the exuberance and tactile nature of Microsoft’s Hololens is difficult to beat. Developers are already working in tandem with Microsoft to create new and unusual experiences. Also, the headset could be used for non-gaming purposes to train apprentices in a more practical manner.

As with any pioneering technology, the initial cost is quite high and only really aimed at development studios. Microsoft has set the Hololens developer pricing at $3000 which is surprisingly affordable given its financial potential in games and other software. Clearly, in the next 10 years, Hololens will become more accessible to consumers in terms of price of availability. During the presentation, members of the public expressed their feelings on social media and it was overwhelmingly positive. As a software company, Microsoft took a risk to enter the hardware market and it seems to be finally paying off.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3rNIxMlKmI

What do you think of the Hololens?

Apacer Reveals Pricing on 3000MHz NOX DDR4 Laptop Memory

Apacer promised to release the final pricing for their new NOX DDR4 memory when we could report about it a little while ago and they’ve kept that promise. Apacer’s NOX DDR4 SO-DIMMs are quite impressive on several fronts and they could quite easily be described as the most advanced laptop memory to date.

With 64GB capacity and up to 3000MHz, we can imagine that these modules aren’t going to be cheap, but it is probably not as bad as you might have imagined. For $299, the 3000MHz version can be yours. The slower modules in the same series are a little cheaper and the 2800MHz SO-DIMMs can be yours for $239, 2666MHz for $219, and 2400MHz for $139. Availability for all four types is set for the end of November, so you might have to pack a little more patience before you can upgrade your mobile gaming station with these modules.

The label on the front isn’t just decoration, it is manufactured in detail by Z511 Lab team and it is able to stand 120°C heat with metalloid material. The well-developed front label helps the system stay within thermal limits during the regular use, and even during those marathon gaming sessions. This allows NOX to provide its highest performance possible under narrow and hot environment within the laptop. The low power consumption of just 1.2V is another thing that laptop users will benefit from, extending your battery time.

Oculus Rift Outlines Cost For Release Model

The oculus rift has taken the world by storm, offering virtual reality to a wide range of people for a whole series of uses. With the CEO, Brendan Iribe, stating that the headset and a computer powerful enough to drive it would cost roughly £1000, people are now looking forward to a release date that could soon be announced. In another released statement the company founder, Palmer Luckey went into discussing the price of the headset itself.

At the Oculus Connect Conference Luckey was asked about if the release price for the oculus rift would come in at around the same as the developer kits that are currently being sold. Priced at 350$ (around £230) it is not a small price, but not a huge one. This was however before this little gem,

“You know, I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. We’re roughly in that ballpark…” said Luckey, “but it’s going to cost more than that. And the reason for that is that we’ve added a lot of technology to this thing beyond what existed in the DK1 and DK2 days.”

Meaning that the rough ballpark of £230 could go out the window very quickly, with it later being stressed that a lower price point wasn’t of concern to the development team and they were instead more focused on making sure the quality wasn’t compromised.

Are you interested in the Oculus Rift? Do you own one or have you got a development kit? What are your thoughts on it?

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

 

Lian Li Launches ROG Certified PC-Q17 Chassis In The UK

It has been a little over a month since Lian Li introduced us to the ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) certified PC-Q17 chassis, but at the time we didn’t get a release date nor a price. The good news is that we now have both these details and can provide them to you. All that’s left now is for you to decide whether you want one of these and if it will be worth the asking price.

The UK availability of the ROG certified Lian Li PC-Q17 chassis is set to early October where you’ll be able to pick one up from our friends at Overclockers UK. The initial retail price is set to £159.90, a hefty price for such a small chassis.

The small chassis has just as a unique shape on the outside as it has on the inside. The side panel is basically just one large piece of tempered glass while the rest of the case comes in Lian Li’s trademark aluminium with a brushed front. You’ll find two USB 3.0 port and audio jacks at the bottom of the case and not on the top as usual and that is because that’s where you can mount a slot-in optical drive and make it pop the disks directly up.

The top-mounted drive bay doesn’t just work for optical disk drives, it also works for 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch hard disk drives and solid state drives. Very few people still want to retain the optical drive, but most people would probably rather use it for a normal storage drive. The place behind the ODD bay is designated for the power supply and that also explains why the bay is upwards. The PC-Q17 uses a default ATX power supply that can be up to 150mm long.

You can mount two 3.5-inch drives at the bottom of the chassis, two 2.5-inch drives on the side of the PSU and one 2.5-inch on the bottom of it. The motherboard tray has a large cut-out for easy assembly and maintenance. There is clearance for GPUs with a length up to 270mm and CPU coolers up to 140mm. These are values that you should watch carefully when building in a case like this. Nothing worse than ordering a fancy GTX 980 Ti card, only to find out that it doesn’t fit into the chassis.

There isn’t much room left on the insides for liquid cooling, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible. The top panel can take up to 240mm radiator that will be mounted on the outside of the chassis. A clever design also allows AIO coolers to be used, just remove the top plate and the tubing can be passed through.

Product Features of the PC-Q17

  • Removable acrylic side window displays lit ROG logo and hides the PSU
  • Water cooling: 240mm on top pop off panel with mouse ears for AIO support
  • ROG Certification
  • Sloped and angled front compartment for looks, options and airflow.
  • ATX type PSU, GPU and CPU cooling support
  • Accommodates longer VGA card – up to 270mm
  • Accommodates larger CPU cooler – up to 140mm
  • Accommodates larger PSU – up to 150mm Long

iPhone 6 To Start At $199 But Do You Want That Price?

Everyone likes a little upgrade to their every technology, and it can be argued that the most everyday technology we all use is the phone you have in your pocket that you’ve probably checked at least once since you started reading this article. With the reveal of the iPhone 6 at their big event people are already cheering for the new unit, but should we be careful with which new phones we buy?

With prices starting at $199 for the iPhone 6 and $299 for the iPhone 6S they are not the most expensive starting phone on the market, but these two little prices come with a cost. The built in memory of the phone is only 16GB.

I know this may sound bad, but I recently upgraded my phone and I have found that not having enough memory (be it on the actual phone or a big enough memory card ready) has meant that everything from your pictures to your music must be controlled before you get the warnings about “low memory”. With $100 adding to each level of memory, making it $299 and $399 for the iPhone 6 128GB and 256GB phones, it’s clear that some users may want to save that little extra before finally replacing your current phone.

How much memory do you have on your phone? Are you looking to upgrade your phone and if so does the amount of memory you have matter to you?

Image courtesy of Apple.

Huawei Honor 7 Smartphone Now Only £209.99 For a Limited Time

The Huawei Honor 7 is an astonishingly powerful mid-range handset and legitimate alternative to the highly-acclaimed One Plus 2. This particular device features a 1920×1080 5.2-inch IPS screen with a pixel density of 424 ppi, Quad-core 2.2 GHz Cortex-A53 and quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, 3GB RAM, 16GB ROM and HiSilicon Kirin 935 GPU. Unlike the One Plus 2, the Honor 7 contains NFC functionality, a microSD slot allowing up to 128GB of storage and a 20MP 5152×3888 rear camera.

Additionally, the camera’s phase detection autofocus and dual-tone flash works to improve image clarity in low-light conditions. The front camera is relatively impressive for the price-point and adopts an 8MP sensor. This is more than enough to capture high-quality selfie shots or sudden action photographs. In terms of video capabilities, the handset can record up to 1080p at 30fps using HDR. According to the press release, the Non-removable Li-Po 3100 mAh battery provides up to 48 hours of battery life. However, I highly doubt normal usage involving social media communication, video watching and other tasks makes the battery last more than 12 hours.

Perhaps the most glaring concern surrounding the Honor 7 is its software package. By default, the OS is a heavily modified version of Android 5.0 and not 5.1. Furthermore, Hauwei’s previous devices like the Honor 6 haven’t been updated and still running Android 4.4.2.

On a more positive note, the mobile has a fingerprint reader on the back where you usually rest your index finger. This means you can unlock the device extremely quickly as the sensor detects your fingerprint in under a second. Also, the build quality on the Honor 7 feels surprisingly premium for such an affordable mobile and uses a metallic body.

At £249.99, the Honor 7 is very good value-for-money but in a similar price range to the One Plus 2. Although, getting hold of a One Plus 2 is an impressive feat due to a long waiting list. To tempt users into purchasing the Honor 7, there is a promotional discount available between the 27th-31st which brings down the price to £209.99. When using the checkout, enter the code, “H7BRAVE40UK” to apply the discount. While the device has some flaws, there are very few alternatives which offer the specification, 24-month warranty and build quality near £200.

In the coming days, we are hoping to receive a sample to conduct a detailed review.

Get Ready for a Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge Discount

If you were looking to buy a Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge, you might consider waiting until next month. Samsung may be dropping their prices for the latest flashgrips soon, so hang in there for a month and get it at a discount.

All facts point to the company trying to get out of their Q2 sticky situation. Their profits fell four percent this year compared to the same time last year and as Apple is getting ready to reveal their latest iPhones, things are not looking so good. The predictions don’t look so good either, falling 3 million smartphone sales prediction short by the end of the year. Oh year, they have teased an event planned for mid August where they plan on announcing a bigger and better S6 Edge, but will they be able to make up for the demands this time?

The whole things started after they announced the S6 and S6 Edge, who had a bigger than anticipated success. This led to a short supply and high demand, thus the company missing their targets right now. However, with this kind of pressure on them, the only practical solution is to make ‘adjustments’ to their latest handsets on the market. This means that the S6 and S6 Edge will see a price drop in the near future, something that Samsung thinks will get them back in the high-end smartphone game by the end of this year.

In the end, people could get to buy their long-awaited S6 or S6 Edge at a lower price and Samsung could see more numbers of smartphone sales added by the end of the year. However, let’s just see how much Samsung is willing to slash off the latter handsets’ price tags. Excited? I know I am!

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus Prices Leaked

Apple is right on schedule with their yearly release of a new smartphone and this year it will be the iPhone 6S duo that consists of the 6S and 6S Plus. The launch is set for September which is Apple’s normal time for their smartphones. Apple’s iPhone 6 has seen a massive popularity and Apple’s profit has skyrocketed thanks to it, but they aren’t resting on that.

The new flagship fruit phone will come with a row of upgrades where the most prominent probably will be the Force Touch feedback feature which already is used in the MacBooks and Apple Watch.

The news today is the leak on the pricing and as you might have expected, it will not come cheap. But Apple fans don’t seem to mind the price, so that shouldn’t not hinder the success of the phone. The leak comes from Apple’s supply sources in Hong Kong and the prices are converted from Chinese RMB.

The iPhone 6S will see a similar price to the iPhone 6 where the 32GB is said to retail at $850, the 64GB for $980 and there will also be an all-new 128GB version without a price set. The 32 GB iPhone 6S Plus will apparently be coming with a retail price of $980, the 64GB variant with a price tag of $1110 and the 128 GB iPhone 6S Plus for $1254.

Thank You WCCFtech for providing us with this information