Tag Archive | "Gaming"

Acer Graphics Dock Hands-on. Thunderbolt and GTX 960M goodness.

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It feels I’ve waited years for a consumer-grade docking solution that includes a graphics card. The Acer Graphics Dock a, theoretically, universal Thunderbolt USB-C graphics dock (Nvidia GeForce, details below) brings it all together and while 300 Euro sounds expensive, it’s a good start for a consumer-grade docking station and shows the way for the future of dockable ultramobile PCs. Acer Graphics Dock hands-on at the end of this article.

Update 15 March: I quoted a GTX 940M in the video. That information is incorrect as there is no GTX 940M. We’re currently trying to confirm leaked information that shows a GTX 960M inside. That makes more sense and could take it from ‘low settings’ to ‘medium settings’ PC gaming.

Update: Confirmed by Acer: It’s a GTX 960M inside.

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The Surface 3 can Minecraft

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When I was reviewing the last generation Intel Atom-based low-cost laptops and tablets there was one question that I got more than anything. “Can it run Minecraft?” The same question now applies to the Surface 3.

Can the Surface 3 run Minecraft?

The answer, on devices like the HP Stream 11, Acer E11 and ASUS X205 wasn’t very positive. At low settings you could get 30 FPS but there was a lot of stuttering.  The Atom X7 processor, as found on the Microsoft Surface 3 not only has improved Turbo Boost clockrates but also has an improved GPU. In 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited tests I’m seeing a 50% improvement (based on other people’s benchmarks) over the 2014 generation mid-range processors and have already indicated that this might be enough to take it into Minecraft territory and that’s been confirmed by Sean Ong in a YouTube video that he’s posted. You’ll also see some Steam and Steam In-Home network streaming action in the video. (Update: I just found out that Steam In-Home Streaming supports Quick Sync which is part of the Atom X7 platform.)

The Surface 3 is never going to be the ultimate gaming machine but with this video I can see potential for some low-end desktop gaming and of course, great support for all the Windows Store games and that’s really going to help convince the target audience.

 

Dell Venue 8 Pro – 15 Minutes Deep-Dive Video

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Dell Venue 8 Pro snapOur Dell Venue 8 Pro has already been unboxed and reviewed but today we’ve got more detail for you. This 15 minutes video deep-dive into this ultra-mobile PC includes  browsing performance,  split keyboard usage, YouTube playback, Store app install, Desktop usage, Microsoft Word demo, Bluetooth Keyboard Demo and Steam Gaming Demo with Civ V. We’ve got another video on the Miracast / WiDi feature coming up too so stay tuned!

Specifications, more videos, images and all you need to make your decision on our Dell Venue 8 Pro information page. 


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Ultimate Coder Challenge Week 4 – Four Minutes of Minority Report

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7 teams are competing in the Ultimate Coder Challenge where showcase applications are being built for a Lenovo Yoga 13 to demonstrate the Intel Perceptual Computing hardware.

I’m involved with the judging of the Ultimate Coder event and every week you’ll find an update from me as I analyze the teams progress. This is week 4 and this week there are some great videos, interesting artwork, honesty and a ton of coding to enjoy. Some, however, are still to incorporate any use of gesture control in their apps. Do they have time?

You can find all our Ultimate Coder posts here

Our Ultrabook software developer resources are here

All our Perceptual Computing posts here

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Subway Surfers – Touch Enabled App for Ultrabooks and Intel Tablets

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As part of our continuing co-op with Intel to highlight interesting and useful Ultrabook software resources I’ve got a demo of a touch-enabled game from Appup running on the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga Ultrabook Convertible for you, gamers and developers alike.

Related articles in this series:

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Civilization V Optimized for Ultrabooks, and Touch. Coming Soon (Video)

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Congratulations to Firaxis Games who are about to release a touch-enabled version of Civ V. I got a few fingers on at IDF2012 and put together a video demo for you.

Civ 5 Ultrabook

This Ivy-Bridge optimised version will be available to everyone as an update in Steam in Q4 and it works well. Firaxis have worked around the issue of hover/tooltips b implementing scrolling using a two-finger gesture. It’s not natural at first but to be able to get the tooltips easily is welcome.

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How to Optimize Your Ultrabook for Maximum Performance

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Ultrabooks might not be able to play the latest blockbuster titles at max settings like a full blown liquid-cooled gaming desktop, but there’s still a heck of a lot of great titles that they can play. I’ve been using the Asus UX31E (Core i5 Sandy Bridge with Integrated HD3000 graphics) to happily play Minecraft, Tribes Ascend, Half-Life 2, Day of Defeat Source, Bit Trip Runner, League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, and plenty more. Having my Ultrabook running at peak performance means I get a competitive advantage and the most enjoyment thanks to my games running smoothly and responsively.  This guide will tune up your Ultrabook to run at maximum performance and will benefit your graphical applications even if you aren’t a gamer!

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Nvidia GTX 680M Launches for Ultrabooks, Laptops

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Using Nvidia’s Keplar Core, the GTX 680M is looking to break some new ground in Ultrabooks.

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Nvidia had just made an announcement about the GTX680M, the next-step in their ultra mobile gaming graphics range.

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How To Update Your Ultrabook’s Intel or Nvidia Graphics Drivers

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If you’ve got an Ultrabook, it likely has either integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics or discrete Nvidia GeForce graphics. Recently we gave you 6 excellent game suggestions for your Ultrabook. Now we’ve got a suggestion to make sure your Ultrabook is running those games as well as possible. One of the best ways to keep the graphical capabilities of your Ultrabook performing at maximum capacity is to ensure that you’re using the latest driver for your graphics card. Intel and Nvidia regularly update their GPU drivers to address bugs and other problems. Sometimes there are game-specific fixes, and other times there are general performance-enhancing changes. In this article I’ll show you how to quickly and easily update your Ultrabook’s GPU drivers in order to maintain maximum graphics performance.  Note that this guide will also apply to Intel HD4000 graphics when Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks are released later this year.

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6 Great Games for Ultrabooks and HD3000/HD4000 Graphics, Demos to Test Before You Buy

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Genuine Ultrabooks use integrated graphics which, while not as powerful as a ‘discrete’ GPU, allow the systems to be slim and power efficient. Even though the graphical capabilities of current Ultrabooks won’t satisfy those looking to play the latest blockbuster titles at full settings, there are still plenty of excellent games that will run perfectly on an Ultrabook. I’ve got six great games to share with you that will run great on your Ultrabook and offer hours of entertainment (all together hardly more expensive than a single blockbuster title!) For reference, the current generation of Ultrabooks use Intel’s HD 3000 integrated graphics. The next generation (using Ivy Bridge), which we’ll see launch this year, uses HD 4000 graphics which should offer a significant increase in graphical horsepower. For now, my recommendations and performance-evaluations are based on an Ultrabook using the current-gen HD3000 ‘GPU’ and Core i5 processor. Also note that your experience may vary depending upon the processor that your Ultrabook is equipped with (Core i3, i5, or i7), amount of RAM, whether or not you have up-to-date drivers, and your power settings (check back with us at UltrabookNews for a guide to optimizing your Ultrabook’s power configuration).

image credit: Marshall Block

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Gesture Support Coming to Ultrabooks

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In the Intel Ultrabook press event this morning at CES we heard how user interface changes will be coming to Ultrabooks. Windows 8, touch and gestures were mentioned and we managed to capture a demo of a gesture based game on video. This is not something you’ll see on all Ultrabooks and this really is just a demonstrator but it’s interesting to think about how gestures could be applied to the standard Windows user interface.

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Check out the video below.

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Hands-On With the Sony Tablet P Android Clamshell

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From Sony Tablet P

Thanks to Al Sutton of Funky Android at Droidcon NL in Holland this week I got a lot of hands-on time with a retail version of the Sony Tablet P that has just arrived on the shelves in the UK. It’s the Psion 5-like dual-screen Android clamshell that I found quite exciting at IFA in Sept. It may look strange but there’s some nice mobile usability features tucked inside. Sony have done a reasonable job of optimizing Sony apps and gaming capabilities for the screen but there are some issues with standard apps and text input which mean the Sony Tablet P may only be interesting for people wanting the Sony media and gaming experience.

Obviously the clamshell form factor brings a natural screen protector into play which improves ruggedness. There’s also an interesting 12wh removable battery, a fantastic screen, a fast processor, Honeycomb build (with possible, not promised, upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich) and a useful 5-row on screen keyboard.

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From Sony Tablet P

In terms of size and weight it feels a little bit dense but it’s about the same weight as a Samsung Galaxy Tab. It fits into most pockets for short term transport but it’s very thick indeed. Its design certainly doesn’t shout ‘manly’ either.

Although there’s a gap between the screens I found myself ignoring it when reading content. It was great to see a full readable version of Carrypad across the screens and the Tablet P could make an interesting page-per-view reading device. The split screens bring a little issue when dragging across two screens. When the contact is lost the dragged item gets dropped.

From Sony Tablet P

Thumbing is possible in portrait or landscape but I didn’t find it as easy as the Galaxy Tab in portrait mode and the sharp corners dig into your hand. Angling the screen closer to 90 degrees allows a level of table-toppecking but there’s no haptics and its a little hit-and-miss. You certainly won’t enjoy inputting large amounts of text in this way. Again, I find a 7″ portaint-mode Thumbing experience to be much more comfortable.

From Sony Tablet P

I tested a number of apps and was impressed with the amounts of content being presented to me but many apps default into a single screen view. Using Honeycomb’s stretch feature apps are encouraged to spread across with screens. This isn’t always successful though. Google Reader refused to expand and crashed at every attempt. I saw other apps doing this too. This is a critical problem.

From Sony Tablet P

Having a removeable battery is a real advantage to the ultra-mobile user. Battery life looked, after a few hours of testing, very similar to that of the Galaxy Tab 7 – 6hrs screen-on usage over an active period of 12 hrs. It’s not quite all-day capable if you’re relying on this for some productivity.

From Sony Tablet P

Other notes:

  • The Sony Tablet P is not phone-capable but 3G version (4Gb storage) is just under 500 UK pounds
  • Speaker quality is very poor
  • Brightness and viewing angles on screen are excellent
  • No games tested – this is a key feature of the device.
  • Content catalogue not available from on this UK model tested in NL – This is another key feature of the device.

Summary

The Sony Tablet P is an interesting mobile device with some unique and useful features but text input was a little clumsy due to an uncomfortable thumbing grip and lack of haptics. Desktop-pecking is possible, but not efficient.  It seems that gaming could be the only serious unique feature here and I haven’t tested it. If that part of the device works well it’s the entertainment user that is the only type of user that really needs to take a close look at the Sony Tablet P. The reading experience was good and the Tablet P is easy to hold but the weight needs to come down a bit to match some of the best reader-capable tablets. Others looking for a more mobile all-round Android experience may find more pleasure in the Samsung Galaxy Note or 7″ Android slates.

 Gallery

Sony Tablet P