Fresh Off The Block


Dec
02
2014

The ZX Spectrum is returning – as a retro gaming device

Back in the 1980, when computers were expensive, far more basic and far less capable, a number of computers that tried to keep everything simple gained cult followings. The landmark of these was the ZX Spectrum, a simple plug-in-to-your-TV affair which was inexpensive (for its time), but had a wide variety of uses and many additional options such as modems and printers. It also was easy to develop for thanks to its simple BASIC programming language, which caused it to turn a number of children, teenagers and adults working in their bedrooms overnight into game and software developers; and the ZX quickly gained a following in Britain as an early game console with classic home-grown hits such as Elite, R-Type and Manic Miner.

A 3D model of the ZX Vega Controller, which may not be the final design. Image courtesy IndieGoGo.

A 3D model of the ZX Vega Controller, which may not be the final design. Image courtesy IndieGoGo.

Flash forward to today, and now – thanks to efforts by Retro Computers – the Spectrum is being reintroduced to a modern audience. The Sinclair Spectrum Vega is an all-in-one controller and console that's styled after the original, but uses modern advancements to reduce the cost and streamline the design. While designed to look similar to the most well-known and iconic of the original Spectrum designs, with that classic rainbow motif in the corner, the Vega's design is focused solely on playing those classic Spectrum games of old, to the extent that the full QWERTY keypad of old has been simplified to just the five most commonly-used buttons – R, F, S, 1 and 2 – plus a brand new D-Pad for directional control and a dedicated "Reset" function.

Retro Computers – a startup backed by Sinclair Research, the company founded by ZX Spectrum inventor Sir Clive Sinclair – are pitching the new computer on IndieGoGo after successfully completing a prototype model of the device. The company are aiming for an initial production run of just 1,000 of the new devices, and are asking for £100,000 ($157,115 USD) to begin work; with pledges of £100 ($157 USD) or more bagging one of the first models. Retro Computers says it'll come with 1,000 games pre-installed and support additional Spectrum titles loaded from an SD card, plus further free games are planned to be added down the line.

What Our Visitors are Talking About


Latest CommentsOn Twitter Right Now
  • “Unlock” Dialogue for Clone System tool in Aomei Backupper 2.5 by William Sims
  • Microsoft gets 561 million euro fine for missing browser ballot “oversight” by Gamer Repulic's Dorthea
  • Microsoft gets 561 million euro fine for missing browser ballot “oversight” by Sherman Moya
  • Microsoft gets 561 million euro fine for missing browser ballot “oversight” by Microsoft gets 561 million euro fine for missing browser ballot “oversight” | The Sanitarium.FM
  • Valve’s Steam Gaming Computer: What we know so far by Valve's Steam Gaming Computer: What we know so far | The Sanitarium.FM
  • Tweet to @TMWeb to have your comments appear here!

    Previous Articles


    Aug
    30
    2014

    Nintendo reveal upcoming NEW 3DS and 3DS XL models with Amiibo, more buttons, better battery life and more!

    When Nintendo came out with the Circle Pad Pro accessory for the original Nintendo 3DS – which added a second Circle Pad and extra buttons to the 3DS which allowed for even more control; and which Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate made good use of – many asked why a second Circle Pad could not have been a standard feature of the 3DS. When the 3DS XL was released and also lacked the second pad, the complaints became even more vocal.

    New3DSColours

    Colour choices at launch for the New 3DS and New 3DS XL

    Today in Japan, Nintendo have not only finally heeded the call, but have gone even further. The company announced all new models of their popular hand-held game consoles, the Nintendo 3DS and the 3DS XL (called the 3DS LL in Japan), which along with extra controls, make a number of other additions and improvements over the previous models.

    3DSXLsizecomparison3DSsizecomparison

    If you actually care that the new models are a few mm bigger in most directions, you probably have an Apple device and/or no shame (click pictures to enlarge)

    The real big news of the announcement, however, comes in the form of a small toy.

    New 3DS XL / Amiibo Stylised Logo

    If you’re wondering why this pic shows just the Amiibo logo instead of an actual Amiibo, blame Nintendo.

    With the new consoles including an NFC Reader, the new 3DS and 3DS XL will come with built-in support for Amiibo, Nintendo’s upcoming range of NFC-enabled figurines. Previously thought to be exclusive to the Wii U, the new addition enables future 3DS games to also offer the ability to allow select Nintendo characters to be stored and shared across compatible games or to use the toys for special in-game functions; and use of the feature in the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. is already confirmed – what it consists of is yet to be announced, but if one is to make a guess, imagine something like the sticker mode in Brawl, but with an actual physical toy to enhance and make your own character with.

    New3DSButtonColours

    Those colourful SNES-like buttons.

    As to the controls, the new 3DS and 3DS XL will add a splash of colour to the A/B/X/Y button. The new 3DS gets the more significant facelift with fully-coloured buttons, while the XL simply gets coloured button labels. The colours are the same as those originally used on the Japanese SNES controller, in a nice homage to Nintendo history.

    New3DSC-Stick

    …But that’s not what you care about, is it? The bigger news is both devices finally feature a second Circle Pad – well, kind of. Dubbed the “C-Stick” by Nintendo in another homage (this time to the yellow analogue stick of Nintendo’s own GameCube controller), the new stick is much smaller than the main Circle Pad – in fact, it’s roughly the same size as one of the four A/B/X/Y buttons. This isn’t accidental – according to Nintendo’s own Satoru Iwata, while the new control will function like a stick, it’s also designed to be used as though it were a button itself. Iwata also claims the new C-Stick “is easy to use”; with Nintendo releasing a picture showing that the size and positioning of the button should make it easy to control with the same thumb used to press the lettered buttons – it remains to be seen if this turns out to be the case. The new C-stick will be used in Dragon Quest X: Online, Final Fantasy Explorers, and Monster Hunter 4G to control the in-game camera function, and in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS to unleash Smash Attacks.

    The back of the 3DS now has ZL and ZR buttons next to the L and R, but the game card slot is no longer found here.

    The back of the New 3DS XL. Notice anything different?

    The new 3DS models will also include ZL and ZR buttons on the back beside the existing L/R buttons, thus making the Circle Pad Pro accessory entirely redundant. Because there is no longer space for the game card, the game card slot is now found on new 3DS and XL’s bottom-left side, which seems poorly thought out – surely it’ll be right underneath your left palm thus making it easy to accidentally push the card in and eject it? The space at the top previously occupied by the game card slot now houses the charging port, which has been moved from its original off-centre position.

    3DSXLbatterycomparison   3DSbatterycomparison

    Battery life comparisons (given in minimum to maximum expected time between charges) for the New 3DS XL (top) and New 3DS (bottom) compared to their predecessors (click to enlarge)

    Nintendo claim that the new 3DS and XL models also make small improvements on the battery life, with their rated maximum life up half an hour on the XL to 7 hours; and up a whole hour on the regular 3DS to 6 hours. Part of the reason for these gains are due to a new adaptive brightness feature, where the screen will automatically brighten or darken depending on the currently displayed picture, which is also aimed to improve colour quality. Another big reason for the small improvement is a new, more efficient processor – which also grants the new models a small speed boost to make downloads and loading times quicker – though exact specs are not yet known. Speaking of downloads, you’ll also now be able to use Micro SD cards with both new 3DS models, with a new slot located under the bottom covering.

    The new Nintendo 3DS models also have an improved 3D function. With the original 3DS and XL, if you viewed the 3D effect from the side and didn’t stay in the “sweet spot,” the graphics became all blurred. However, the New 3DS has improved 3D, enabling players to continue to see the 3D effect even if viewed from an angle. Using the device’s cameras and gyroscopes, the new 3DS and 3DS XL actually track your face to work out the angle the screen is being viewed from – and will adjust the 3D effect to what’s best for your view. Clever!

    New3DSPrices

    Though the international launches of the new 3DS and 3DS XL models is still to be announced, both will be out October 11 in Japan. The New Nintendo 3DS is priced at 16,000 yen (approx. £92.75 at time of posting) and the New Nintendo 3DS XL is priced at 18,800 yen (approx. £109 at time of posting) – given the usual mark-ups, however, I’m personally predicting prices of £129 and £159 when they hit the UK. Sorry, that’s business.

    [Via Sanitarium.FM]

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2014
    Acknowledgements: Images courtesy Nintendo and the Publ more...
    Some Rights Reserved
    May
    30
    2014

    Wii U recieves support for Gamecube Controllers!

    An official Nintendo Gamecube controller

    Many hardcore players of Nintendo’s long-running, franchise-merging beat-em-up, Super Smash Bros, will attest that the only way to properly play the games is with a proper, chunky controller with plenty of buttons to enable the widest range of moves and tactics. It’s no surprise really: having started on the N64 and then moved on to the GameCube for the subsequent sequel, Melee – both consoles whose controllers could be described as chunky and button filled – Smash Bros. was a game that took advantage of every single button to provide plenty of attacks, taunt options, grabs and – for the wusses – defensive moves. That Nintendo had to simply every character’s movesets for the Wii follow-up, Brawl, due to the Wii Remote having just four buttons and a D-Pad was seen as sacrilege to many fans of the previous two titles, who felt reducing the immediately available attacks and using two-button combinations for most moves just didn’t offer the level of control they were used to.

    Luckily, the Wii offered something that catered to those fans: Gamecube backwards-compatibility. Realising that there would be those craving the greater control of the previous games, Nintendo allowed people who had plugged Gamecube controllers into the Wii to use them as controllers for Super Smash Bros. Brawl, letting them play the new game with their old, familiar controllers even though they’d still be subject to the simplified move sets. That players familiar with the previous generation could fight again using the ergonomic, full-featured controllers they’d gotten accustomed to was a godsend; and so, when the Wii U removed Gamecube compatibility and the Gamecube ports, many wept that they’d not get the same option in the next Super Smash Bros. title.

    Well, dear fans, weep no longer:

    That’s right! Nintendo UK and Nintendo of Europe took to Twitter today to announce that Gamecube Controller support will be hitting the Wii U; and will feature in the next Smash Bros. title! From the picture posted, it appears the support will be added via a new accessory which will plug in to the Wii U via USB and offer the standard four Gamecube controller ports like on the original ‘Cube and the Wii. Given the nature of the accessory, it seems unlikely this will be used ONLY for Smash Bros. – many Wii games and WiiWare / Wii Virtual Console titles supported the Gamecube and the Wii U is backwards-compatible with those, so we may see Gamecube controls returned to those games; but what’s stopping Nintendo also baking Gamecube controller support back into the Wii U Virtual Console or even into future Wii U titles? The prospect is tantalising.

    Interestingly, the picture appears to show the Wii U with both front USB ports in use, though the connectors are different colours. This begs the question as to whether the Gamecube add-on will require one or two USB ports to use. What’s more, the plugged-in Gamecube controller in the picture features a Smash Ball decal – just a decorative touch, or will whole new, special-edition Gamecube controllers hit the stores once again? There’s a lot of questions still to be answered; but one thing’s for sure. Those of you who’ve kept hold of your Gamecube controllers for the last couple of years or more, now have even more reason to feel smug.

    [Via Sanitarium.FM]

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2014
    Acknowledgements: Tweet text: @NintendoUK
    Images: @Nin more...
    Some Rights Reserved
    Apr
    29
    2014

    Add physical, customisable buttons to your Android phone with this sticker!

    Touchscreen phones are all the rage these days; and while they may do the job of giving you greater interaction with the phone; and haptic feedback is helping to bring back the feeling you get of actually "pressing" buttons etc. – sometimes there's just no substitute for real, physical buttons. As well as always knowing where they are – because they can't be moved or replaced by something else like on a screen – physical buttons often provide short-cuts to the parts of a phone you want to use, letting you get to them in one press even when trying to do the same through the phone itself would take multiple touches, gestures or flicking through different screens.

    Dimple on the bank of a Nexus phone; and a simulation of the app.
    Image Credit: Dimple.io

    Most Android phones lack any kind of physical button – even a Home button like on the iPhone – choosing to utilise virtual ones instead. If you found yourself nodding in the last paragraph and wishing you could add some physical buttons to your Android phone, let me introduce you to Dimple. As described on their website dimple.io, Dimple is "a small NFC™ sticker with four buttons for Android™ devices. You are the one who chooses the button functionality. It makes doing everyday tasks quicker and saves your precious time."

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Jan
    25
    2014

    Apple may be working on a new Apple TV Box with Native Gaming Capabilities

    Rumours by several sources suggest Apple may currently be working on a whole new set-top box as a successor to current Apple TV boxes, with updated hardware and software to support many more types of content and improve the slickness of the whole experience. But a separate report out today from iLounge says that Apple also plans to cater for the growing number of app developers and iOS users using the boxes as pseudo-game consoles, with plans to introduce native gaming support to the Apple TV, along with direct support for game controllers.

     

    With Apple’s AirPlay technology allowing not just video and music, but also direct streaming of anything that happens on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch onto a TV Screen via an Apple TV box, many users have started taking advantage of the feature to show their small-screen games on TV while they play them on their iDevice. And with Apple allowing iOS app developers to build experiences that employ the Apple TV in specific ways; and iOS games taking advantage of this more and more to provide multi-screen gaming experiences (not unlike the Wii U combining TV and Gamepad), Apple TV is quickly turning into a games console in its own right – but there’s a problem. Streaming games from screen to screen adds a noticeable lag – around a tenth of a second – between the two devices, which for high-action gaming like shooters; or games that require fast reactions like racers, can completely kill the game play. Also, even for games with direct Apple TV support, using controllers other than the iDevice running the game requires those controllers to be paired with the device, not the Apple TV itself, introducing further lag.

     

    Now though, it’s been suggested that Apple are looking into furthering the ability of Apple TV to play games, with sources such as iLounge claiming that planned software updates will introduce the ability to install games directly on the Apple TV box itself, as well as direct support for game controllers. 9to5Mac, who have a high level of accuracy regarding Apple rumours, claim knowledge that Apple may be planning to directly implement the Apple iStore into a future Apple TV refresh, lending some suggestion as to how the former may be achieved – but stop short of suggesting the updates are anything to do with gaming, instead suggesting the new hardware will be a refresh with a focus on improving the speed and user experience.

     

    Apple have declined to comment on any of these rumours.

     

    The current Apple TV last received a significant update in March, 2012, so it’s due for a refresh. Though no date for the supposed new Apple TV has yet been suggested – either by Apple or by rumourmongers – the suggestion from the latter is to expect a launch in Spring or Summer 2014. With Apple generally preferring Autumn for major announcements on the iPhone/iPad side of things these days, that timing would make a lot of sense as a way to keep up interest in Apple throughout the year.

    Jul
    24
    2013

    Canonical Tout Android/Ubuntu Smartphone, Asks For Tons Of Money To Make It Happen

    In the development of their mobile platform, it seems the people over at Ubuntu have discovered something about the smartphone industry: every smartphone in production is “consumer grade”. Noting that Formula 1 cars are used a commercial test-bed for new automotive technologies, the people at Ubuntu wanted a similar product for the smarphone industry. So they decided to build one.

     

     

    The Ubuntu Edge is indeed a powerhouse of a phone. With a 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a multicore processor to be named later, this phone is more powerful than many PC's. And the chips aren't the only impressive things on this phone. With a casing crafted from a single piece of textured metal, and a sapphire crystal screen, this phone will be incredibly durable. Rather than focusing on just having a higher ppi, which is wasted on most phones today, the 4.5 inch screen will sport greater clarity through color enhancement and improved brightness. The battery life will also be improved, utilizing a silicon anode battery, in place of the more standard lithium-ion of today's phones.

     

    edge-2-large

    edge-1-large

     

    On the software side, the Edge will be running both the Ubuntu mobile platform and Android side by side.

     

    To finance this project, Ubuntu is reaching out to technology enthusiasts to donate a whopping $32,000,000 on Indigogo. If the campaign succeeds, it will shatter all previous crowd-funding records. To receive one of the new devices, supporters will have to donate at least $830, and wait until the project is finished in May of next year. Participating in the campaign will be the only way to receive one of these phones, as Ubuntu is only planning to make 40,000 of the phones.

     

    The full pitch can be read on the Indigogo page here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ubuntu-edge

    [Via Sanitarium.FM]

    Jul
    08
    2013

    Corning working on new, self-disinfecting Gorilla Glass smartphone screens

    Corning, makers of one of the most popular types of glass used to make screens on modern smartphones, is apparently planning to make it even better. Already famous for the Gorilla Glass that offers tough, highly impact-proof screens which can be curved to provide an ergonomical form factor for phones against the ear, Corning are now reportedly working on a new iteration of Gorilla Glass with an anti-microbial layer.

    By "anti-microbial", what Corning mean is the glass will contain a chemical that acts as a constant disinfectant on the screen. Supposedly able to kill 99.9% of common germs found on a phone, the chemical is always reacting with the screen's surface and, so Corning claim, can completely disinfect a typical smartphone screen in two hours, meaning a phone could be left on a table for a while and then could be picked up and be clean and safe to use without ever needing to touch a disinfectant wipe or cleaning cloth. Given the wide variety of places a smartphone is used nowadays – many people never allow it to leave their hands for long and constant exposure to one's hands – plus the added bacteria that could be picked up if a person regularly uses it near food or takes them to less hygenic places such as toilets – phones can easily get dirty surprisingly quickly, so a technology that can help to clean a phone screen by itself is incredibly clever.

    Corning aren't stopping there, however. Also on the agenda for the next iteration of their glass screen technology, the company apparently want to improve the clarity of the glass so as to make the screens as transparent as possible, which would help to improve colour and visibility of what's on the screen. Reports from the company suggest that they already expect the new screens "to be as transparent as purified water" – which, if true, would be some amazingly clear glass indeed.

    While Corning are giving no words as yet as to how close the screens are to being shown off or when they'll go into mass production, people are already highly excited and eager to see it on the next wave of smartphones. The real question though, is how much of a premium will have to be added to the cost of each phone to subsidise what is unlikely to be a cheap new technology, for which only time will tell. More news as we get it!

    Jun
    19
    2013

    Microsoft U-Turn on XBox One Plans

    When the XBox One was revealed at E3 earlier this month, many details were revealed about the console that caused widespread criticism of the console by both players, press and gaming journalists alike. I'm sure by now you've read the myriads of articles about it; but if not, here's a quick recap: The console would require an internet connection every 24 hours to check validity of licences to play any games stored on the console (possibly being unusable for gaming if a connection could not be established); used games could only be transferred to a new owner once; reactivating a third-hand game would cost a fee and games could not be resold for less than 90% of their original value (meaning buying used games could end up MORE expensive than buying them new); and so on.

    After soon being followed by Sony's announcement of the PS4 allowing full sharing of disk-based games just by giving the game away like you would do today, lack of online requirement and £100 lower price tag, Microsoft were looking like real losers in this year's "console wars" (an endearing term given by the media to explain the concept of gaming consoles battling for control of the market by selling the most consoles). Even Nintendo got a pot shot in, with Satoru Iwata revealing in an interview his view on controlling the trade of used games:

    "The best possible countermeasure against people buying used product is making the kind of product that people never want to sell. Taking as an example Mario Kart or Smash Bros., even though you might think, 'I’ve done enough with this,' you’ll still have second thoughts. 'Wait a minute. If one of my friends comes over, I might need this again.' You’re never going to want to sell these games. That’s something that always occupies our minds. We need to make software that players don’t want to sell."

    It seems Microsoft have finally thrown in the towel and admitted their plans to control usage of their console AND trade of used games just isn't going to work. Today, in an official posting on XBox Wire, Microsoft announced a complete reversal of their strategy, ditching the online requirement and removing control over used games.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Jan
    17
    2013

    Video leaks BlackBerry Z10 details before RIM official announcement

    Previously, Technically Motivated briefly covered BlackBerry 10, Research in Motion's attempt to modernise it's once-popular BlackBerry range of phones and other devices and the proprietary BlackBerry OS system running on them; and to make BlackBerry relevant to the modern generation once again. We also know that BlackBerry plan to launch two models of phone at first to run this system: first, a fully touchscreen model recently officially named the Z10; and then, a month or two later, a keyboard-equipped model akin to its popular Bold line, tentatively known as the T-Series.

    RIM have been keeping very mum over the new system and phones, choosing not to reveal any major details until the official launch announcement of BlackBerry 10, still two weeks away. However, with regular leaks from RIM's manufacturing partners; and tech reviewers getting prototype models, there has slowly been a number of details being released about both.

    A new video making the rounds, however, might be the best look we’ve had yet. German newspaper Telekom Presse, after a hands-on with a prototype model of the Z10, recently released two YouTube videos detailing both the software and hardware of the upcoming BlackBerry phone quite extensively.

    The first seven-and-a-half minute video, which has been given English subtitles to be easy to understand by those who don't speak German, describes almost everything the phone has and does; and assuming RIM doesn’t make any substantial changes to the model that hits markets, you may well be looking at the final product here, albeit without the official explanations and highlighting that RIM will be doing when it’s announced.

    With that said, what are your views on this potential new phone? Do you think RIM has a chance with this new model and system; or are they too far down to be saved? Let us know in the comments!

    Jan
    08
    2013

    unuTM The World’s First All-in-One Tablet, Gaming Console and Smart TV System at CES 2013

    Originally Posted at Sanitarium.FM

    The multifaceted device that first greeted the world at gamescom 2012 under the name “snakebyte eins” is now celebrating its world-premiere at CES 2013 in Las Vegas, as well as a new name, “unuTM”. The pre-release version will be playable for the duration of the event.

    What is unu ™ ?

    unu™ is entertainment. unu™ is gaming. unu™ is different. Unlike previously announced and currently available Android-based gaming platforms, unu™offers a truly multifaceted experience. Whether in your lap as a tablet, in the docking station on the TV or right in front of you on the table, unu™ goes where you go, ready to be used wherever and however you want. Games, videos, music, apps, mobile surfing and email – unu™ provides the total package. Developed and designed entirely in Germany, unu™ draws on fifteen years of experience in the games industry.

    With perfectly balanced components, unu™ enables users to experience their familiar media and games in totally new ways. The heart of unu™ is the tablet and its custom-coded user interface. But there’s more to the package: unu™ comes with a docking station, a game controller and an air mouse, opening up optimal gaming, media and smart TV experiences. Thanks to the docking station, the unu™ tablet can be quickly connected to the TV so that users can enjoy movies and music as well as games on the big screen. With the tablet docked, the user interface can be operated by the game controller or the air mouse.

    The unu™ air mouse makes it possible to intuitively and comfortably interact with the user interface while sitting on the couch, just as easily as if you had the tablet in your hands. No other smart TV manufacturer has been able to offer that kind of ease of use. Touch-based games like Angry Birds can be comfortably played on the TV while relaxing on the couch. A full-fledged keyboard for surfing, writing email and posting to social media is integrated on the back of the unu™ air mouse.
    When it comes to intense gaming experiences, the unu™ game controller has all the bases covered. Games optimized for controllers can be played as though they were real console games. snakebyte has been designing and manufacturing gaming peripherals for more than fifteen years and that wealth of experience shines though, reflected in the high-quality components employed. There are already many games with controller support and the number is continually growing. Thanks to an integrated button mapping app, games without native controller support can also be enjoyed with unu™ and the game controller.

    Tablet. Gaming Console. Smart TV.
    unu™ unites the worlds of tablets, gaming consoles and smart TVs. The heart of the unu™ concept is diversity. unu™ isn’t just a stationary gaming console like its competitors, unu™ is also a tablet that can be used while on the go, out in the back yard or curled up on the couch. But unu™ isn’t just a tablet. With its docking station and game controller, unu™ delivers a 100% authentic console experience on the TV. And thanks to its multimedia features and the wealth of digital content providers, like Netflix and Maxdome, unu™ is the television of tomorrow – a truly smart TV.

    unu™ at CES 2013

    Every day during CES 2013 in Las Vegas, unu™ will be playable at the snakebyte booth (LVCC, South Hall 2, Booth 25200). Appointments for personal presentations are also available.

    You’ll find more info on Facebook on the official unu™ page:
    www.facebook.com/Unutablet

    Watch the CES 2013 trailer on youtube:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqwlOHVP9q4

    • You are currently browsing the archives for the Hardware category.