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Sep
27
2017

Atari reveal first information about Ataribox’s specs

The Atari Logo and registered trademark

The Atari Logo

Atari raised a number of eyebrows earlier this year when it suddenly announced it was getting back into the hardware game and working on a brand new console, called the Steambox. Teaser trailers, a preview of the console's planned appearance, and a statement from the company – emphasising that they were "taking things slowly" and revealing information gradually to ensure they get everything right – soon followed; but it's fair to say that we still don't know much about exactly WHAT the Ataribox is… that is, until today.

In a newsletter to subscribers, Atari has finally let loose some information on exactly what the Ataribox is planned to be. The console will be based on PC hardware and offer "a full PC experience for the TV, bringing you streaming, applications, social, browsing, music, and more", as well as the games. The system will run a customised, lightweight Linux distribution "with a customized, easy-to-use user interface", not unlike a Steambox.

Atari explained the decision to use Linux with the following statement:

Most TV devices have closed systems and content stores. Linux lets us be more open; you can access & customise the OS, & you can access games you've bought from other content platforms (if compatible with the OS and HW).

On the topic of games, Atari have confirmed that the console will come preloaded both with classic Atari titles, and with current-generation titles "from a range of studios". The company hopes to reveal information on the titles in the coming weeks.

Atari's announcement also put heavy emphasis on the company's desire to have the Atari community "be part of this launch. We want you to have early access, grab special editions (& pricing) and to have you as active partners in the rollout of Ataribox." To this extent, the company has announced that the console will undergo an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign, planned to launch "very soon". Atari claim that the Ataribox is currently planned to retail for an expected price range of $249-$299, depending on "specific editions and memory configurations". Fans fawning over the previously-announced Atari 2600-homaging wood-based design will also be pleased to hear that this edition of the console will be made with "real wood".

The Ataribox is planned to ship in late Spring 2018. We'll have more news as it gets revealed.

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Acknowledgements: Atari Logo and some quoted text (C) Atari
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    Jun
    26
    2017

    Nintendo confirm SNES-flavoured sequel to Nintendo Classic Mini line

    Nintendo made waves last year when, near the holiday season, it released the NES Classic Mini – a miniaturised facsimile of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, with 30 classic games built-in. Though the console was only available for a few months – with most selling out – before being discontinued by Nintendo as a "limited edition product", even before its discontinuation, rumours were swirling about a potential sequel based on the NES's successor console, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System – often shortened to "Super NES" or just "SNES".

    Well fans, the wait is over. Nintendo has confirmed the rumours, announcing that a SNES-flavoured sequel IS indeed in production and will be hitting European and American Nintendo fans very soon!

    Official banner showing off the European Super Nintendo Entertainment System, courtesy Nintendo UK.

    Like the NES Classic Mini, the Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System is a miniaturised replica of the Super NES console, seemingly with the localised styling for its region. For us Europeans, that means the sleek and svelte curved chassis embellished on its top-right corner with the four-colour Super NES emblem; Americans will receive the blocky, squarish design with purple buttons that was released in that region. It's not yet clear if the controllers – of which two will be included in every pack – will follow suit. Also included in the package will be a HDMI cable, allowing the classic games to be enjoyed in Full HD for the first time; and a USB cable for power. Annoyingly, the European package will NOT include an AC Adaptor in the box, meaning that if you don't have a powered USB port on your TV, you will need to pay extra for an adaptor to plug it into the mains.

    The less sleek, but still attractive US Edition of the SNES Classic Mini, alongside its controllers (courtesy Nintendo of America)

    But what about the games? While the SNES Classic Mini will feature a smaller software library to its predecessor – containing just 21 games compared to the NES Mini's 30, the titles on offer still give a diverse range of single- and multi-player games comprising many of the original console's favourite titles. All but one of these titles will be available straight off the bat, and all of the titles will be based on their original 60Hz American releases – even in the European edition. For example, Contra III: The Alien Wars, which was remade in Europe as Super Probotector: Alien Rebels, will go back to the original US version for both region's consoles. Star Fox (originally released as Starwing in Europe) and Final Fantasy III (which is actually Final Fantasy VI in the original Japanese numbering scheme, as the actual 3-5 were not released in US originally) also keep their US names.

    Games available from the start:

    • Contra III: The Alien Wars
    • Donkey Kong Country
    • EarthBound
    • Final Fantasy III
    • F-ZERO
    • Kirby Super Star
    • Kirby's Dream Course
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
    • Mega Man X
    • SECRET of MANA
    • Star Fox
    • Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
    • Super Castlevania IV
    • Super Ghouls'n Ghosts
    • Super Mario Kart
    • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
    • Super Mario World
    • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
    • Super Metroid
    • Super Punch-Out!!

    While all the games listed above are available out of the box, Nintendo has also tucked in one final tasty treat. By playing one level of Star Fox, a twenty-first, exclusive game will be unlocked: Star Fox 2! This sequel to the original Star Fox, also originally intended for the SNES, was cancelled just prior to its original launch in all regions, and although it has since been leaked and made available illegally online as a ROM, the game has never been officially released by Nintendo – until now!

    The SNES Classic Edition will hit both Europe and America on September 29, 2017 with a suggested retail price of $79.99 in America; while Nintendo UK has it listed at £69.99 at time of writing. Other European prices are still to be confirmed.

    Apr
    11
    2017

    Privacy Conscious? Don’t Be Too Hasty To Download Windows 10 Creator’s Update

    A white Windows 10 Logo on a blue background

    The wait is nearly over for Windows users. On April 11th, the long-awaited "Creators Update" will launch for Windows 10, bringing with it such useful features as a new "night light" mode that reduces the amount of blue light emitted by your screen so that you an sleep better; a new Windows Defender Security Centre, where users can tweak their security options in one place; and a Game Mode for better performance while gaming among lots of other tweaks. People who do not want to wait for the update to be offered to them through Windows Update can get ahead of the game by downloading Microsoft's upgrade tool to apply the update right now – but a recent report suggests privacy-conscious users may want to hold off from jumping on the bandwagon early.

    According to an article by Tom's Hardware, which has been backed up by numerous less patient users, Microsoft's Windows 10 Update Assistant may not honour your Privacy Settings if you use it to upgrade to the Creators Update yourself. Instead, the Assistant tries to use default settings – whether or not you choose to upgrade or clean install the new version – meaning that if you changed your privacy settings when you installed Windows 10 and subsequently use the Assistant, you may need to keep a close eye on just what is being set, or you may find Windows suddenly gathering more data about you than you originally intended.

    Those default settings encourage you to share your location and provide full diagnostic data to Microsoft to fix issues and improve future iterations of Windows 10. The default options also encourage enabling Cortana and receiving targeted ads rather than generic ones. The good news here is that Microsoft is being much more transparent about the data it collects – and when applying the Creators Update, the privacy options offer up clearer descriptions of what they do and the effects enabling or disabling them will have.

    If you're not looking forward to going back through all those checkboxes, however, Microsoft state that when the upgrade is made available through Windows Update some time during April 11th, existing privacy settings WILL be honoured. We'll know for sure if this is the case soon enough – but as always, it's wise to look before you leap.

    This article first appeared on Sanitarium.FM under the title Windows 10 Creators Edition Available Now – But Keep An Eye On Your Privacy Settings.

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2017
    Acknowledgements: Windows 10 Logo Courtesy Microsoft / more...
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    Apr
    05
    2017

    IndieGoGo Review: Sobro Connected Coffee Table

    The humble coffee table. One of the most recognised pieces of furniture there is. Everyone's living room has one, I'd wager; and whether it's used to put your coffee and biscuits as you watch TV; as a decorative item; or as something to put your paperwork and other junk on, it's fair to say that they're not the most inspiring parts of a room or the most useful. Now, a New York-based firm called StoreBound thinks it's time the coffee table got a 21st-Century upgrade.

    A promotional picture for Sobro, showing off the product's uses and features

    "Designed for a digital lifestyle… the furniture of the future." Thus starts the IndieGoGo pitch for Sobro, a smart coffee table designed to support your connected lifestyle, which at the time of writing has already thrashed its modest $50,000 funding goal, raising $838,055 at the time of writing with a month of the campaign still to run. "We've elevated the coffee table from a piece of wood that props up unopened large-format books, to an all-in-one center that connects your powered up life."

    So what IS Sobro?

    Sobro's list of features include a Refrigerator Drawer, Bluetooth speakers, LED Lighting, both USB ports and actual electrical sockets, and more.

    A list of the features offered by a Sobro coffee table.

    At its heart, Sobro is a coffee table with an integrated refrigerator drawer, designed to allow you to keep beverages chilled and snacks fresh while still allowing you to use it as an actual surface like a regular table. There are also two side drawers, for storing items that don't need to be chilled. The top surface of this chunky furniture item is tempered glass, which StoreBound claims is durable and easy to clean, making coasters a thing of the past. But Sobro is more than just a glass-covered work-top with a fridge – this is a true techy delight.

    To the left and right sides, the Sobro is equipped with dual Bluetooth-connected speakers, allowing you to pump music into the room from any Bluetooth-connected device with a rich bass and high-quality sound. This can be combined with configurable LED lighting on the underside of the Sobro in order to create a real sense of atmosphere, or bring life to a party. Speaking of configuration, the bottom-right side of the Sobro's top surface features touch-sensitive controls, through which one can control the Sobro's audio, lights and drawer temperature; and its Bluetooth connections right from the tabletop – no need for a smartphone and companion app.

    Speaking of which, do you find that your smartphone or tablet runs out of juice far too quickly? The Sobro has you covered. With two USB ports on its side, the Sobro can charge two USB-powered devices at the same time. The Sobro also contains two standard power outlets, so even traditional electronics can be plugged in – why not keep your laptop plugged in while you use it? The Sobro gets all its power from a single plug which can be plugged into a wall socket and concealed underneath, allowing you to split a single socket into four separate power solutions.

    Sobro's dimensions

    StoreBound claim the Sobro’s dimensions and stylish appearance will allow it to fit in wherever you might normally find a coffee table.

    Unfortunately, because the Sobro uses 110-Volt American-style outlets, the Sobro is currently only planned to ship to America and Canada. This restriction, however, doesn't seem to have hampered the product's reach, with the connected coffee table being backed by almost 1200 IndieGoGo users at the time of writing. Currently, a pledge of $649 or more will buy you one Sobro, but slots are already filling up and once 200 people have claimed this perk, the price will rise to $899 for everyone else. Even this, however is still a 40% saving on the product's expected retail price of $1499 – so if the sound of a connected coffee table appeals to you, and you live in the USA or Canada, don't miss your chance!

    Sobro on IndieGoGo

    This article first appeared on Sanitarium.FM

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2017
    Acknowledgements: Pictures taken from Sobro's IndieGog more...
    Some Rights Reserved
    Jan
    05
    2017

    #CES2017: LG Unveils Range of Robots That Will Clean Airports, Mow Lawns…

    Ever since robotic technology became a mainstream thought, people have imagined a future where robots would deal with all of the housework in the home, or even help clean up in the office environment, so that us humans wouldn't have to. LG Corporation wants to make some of these dreams a reality, today unveiling a trio of intelligent robots at CES in Las Vegas, which together offer attendees a glimpse into a future where robots can help you around the house, make sure you catch a flight on-time, mow your lawn, or clean-up trash at the airport.

    The trio of robots are part of the company's movements in developing Internet of Things objects; and are designed to showcase LG’s advancements in artificial intelligence. Leading the pack is the Hub Robot, a robot designed to interact with a household through voice-recognition technology and an anthropomorphic design. Hub's "face" is an interactive display which can show a wide variety of information; and even express emotions using a digitised face.

    The LG Hub Robot

    The LG Hub Robot (Image Courtesy LG Newsroom)

    The Hub Robot connects to other smart appliances you own; then, using Amazon’s Alexa voice recognition technology, the robot can be instructed using simple voice commands to perform tasks such as turning on air conditioning, setting a washing machine, or any other task made possible by the smart gadgets in the home. The robot can also "speak" to guide you through recipes or provide you with information in addition to what's on screen; and the robot can even respond using simple body language like nodding. The Hub Robot also contains a built-in camera; and can be programmed to recognise different family members and respond to them in different ways, for that more personal touch.

    But LG isn’t just interested in building robots to help you around the house; and for the second part of its technology triple-punch, the company has unveiled two robots designed for use in the Airport. The Airport Guide Robot is exactly what the name suggests – already being prepared for deployment in Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, this robot is designed to help travellers by answering their questions in English, Chinese, Japanese or Korean; and can offer directions, provide detailed flight information like boarding times or the gate location, scan a passenger's ticket or escort you to the gate itself. It can even tell you what weather to expect when you arrive at your destination.

    Joining it is the Airport Cleaning Robot, which LG describes as "a super-sized robot vacuum". Using a combination of smart light sensors, multiple cameras, and sensitive bumpers, the Airport Cleaning Robot offers enough cleaning power to clean everything from carpeted floors to tiles – all while avoiding obstacles and passengers to provide the most effective performance in crowded airports.

    On a very similar tangent, the company's final offering is the Lawn Mowing Robot, which uses the same advanced sensors and bumpers as the Airport Cleaning Robot to map out a user's garden and avoid obstacles, hedges and trees as it trims the grass. According to LG, this robot is ideal for all types of yards and uses its fast-moving blade to trim grass safely and accurately.

    All of these robots are now on display at LG's CES booth in Las Vegas, alongside other gadgets such as a smart refrigerator with Amazon Alexa voice-recognition tech and a razor-thin television set. Needless to say, 2017 may prove to be a stellar year for technological advances.

    Nov
    08
    2016

    Is Pokémon GO About To Expand Its Pokédex?

    Pokémon GO has proven popular with nostalgic Android and iPhone users worldwide, and Niantic has shown a strong willingness to maintain that popularity with special events, daily rewards and other updates – but for many players, one thing has held back the game's fun. With the game's Pokédex currently limited only to Pokémon from the original crop of 151 First-Generation species (and no Legendaries or Ditto), many Players have already exhausted all there is to catch. However, there's evidence this is finally about to change.

    Data miners from The Silph Road, looking at the most recent v0.45.0 release of Pokémon GO on Android, claim to have found references to the names of all 100 Pokémon from the franchise's Second Generation – from Chikorita to Celebi. However, while the Pokémon may be referenced, the game currently lacks models for the additional 100 Pokémon or any data for their movesets, suggesting that a full Johto-flavoured update is still a while away.

    There may be one Pokémon coming in even sooner though: Ditto. The only non-legendary from the first 151 not available in-game, Ditto has so far been held back from Pokémon GO due its single attack, Transform. After all, coding a Pokémon that can transform into other Pokémon is a tough job. However, v0.45.0 introduces new code for the move, complete with its own in-battle animation, suggesting that Niantic may be planning to introduce Ditto's special move – and possibly Ditto itself – very soon. If so, it would mark the first new move since the game's release.

    Would the introduction of Johto-era Pokémon to Pokémon GO excite you? And what about Ditto? Sound off in our comments!

    Apr
    27
    2016

    Nintendo announce planned launch date, Zelda game for NX

    Over a year since it was first teased, we still don’t know what it looks like, plays like, or even what its final name will be – and Nintendo don’t plan to spill the beans until later this year. But now, thanks to a Tweet by Nintendo of America (based on information discreetly hidden in Nintendo of Japan’s annual financial report), we DO finally have one piece of concrete information about the upcoming Nintendo “NX” console – it’s launch date:

    March 2017. Just under a year away from the date of this article’s publication. For Nintendo, however, the launch likely can’t come soon enough. The Wii U has failed to resonate with players, with the GamePad being seen as a gimmick and games such as Splatoon and Bayonetta not doing enough to pull people on side; and the console’s lack of power compared to the XBox One and PS4 has seen its third-party support dwindle into near-nothingness. That Nintendo has taken a hit for the console’s failure was apparent in the annual fiscal report, revealing that Nintendo as a whole made 45.3 billion yen less in the last 12 months than the previous financial year, though this still equates to 504.5 billion yen or roughly £3.116 billion British Pounds.

    Importantly, however, Nintendo’s operating income came in at 32.8 billion yen last year, an increase of 8 billion yen. The company predicts that its move towards smartphones, combined with the launch of the NX, will pay off in the next year and aim to hit 45 billion yen in operating income by the end of the 2016/17 financial year.

    Of course, Nintendo may also have another ace in the sleeve to get people back on-side – a dynamite launch title. Nintendo also announced today, in a separate announcement to the fans, that the long-awaited Zelda Wii U title has once again been delayed to 2017, for “further quality testing”; and that the game will now launch simultaneously for both the Wii U and the NX – meaning that a new Zelda title may well be a launch title for the next console as well as a swansong for the current generation, paralleling the launch of Twilight Princess for Wii and GameCube ten years ago. 2017 may well be an interesting year for Nintendo fans.

    This article first appeared on Sanitarium.FM

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    Apr
    19
    2016

    Ditch QuickTime on Windows – Apple Drop Support for Vulnerable Plugin

    A recent version of the Quicktime logo.

    A recent version of the Quicktime logo.

    Apple are dropping support for Quicktime, a plugin for viewing and streaming video, on Windows on account of no longer being useful.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has confirmed it'll no longer update or support Quicktime 7 for Windows.

    Way back when, QuickTime was a requirement to run iTunes, as the Quicktime code was used in part to provide the music streaming capabilities of the software, which resulted in many people who had iPods – and later, the iPhone – installing the plugin to their Windows PCs when they wanted them to properly work with their computers. As Apple notes on its support page, however, this situation changed in later versions of iTunes, and Quicktime has not been a requirement to run iTunes since October 2011.

    Despite not being relevant for iTunes any more, Quicktime continued to be useful to serve up video on the web. However, with HTML5 encouraging browsers to support video directly as part of the standard language of the internet, having a separate plugin for the ability now appears redundant. The combination of these two factors appears to have encouraged Apple to have made the decision to no longer support the plugin on Windows.

    The announcement comes a week after the Department of Homeland Security recommended Windows users uninstall Quicktime because of potential security holes, making Quicktime potentially vulnerable and use of it on Windows PCs a major security risk (these flaws do not affect the Mac OS version, which remains in support). Given its status as a potential security threat and the lack of any updates coming from Apple, many sources, including us at Technically Motivated, now recommend that Quicktime is removed from all Windows PCs as soon as possible.

    For those who are unsure how to, Apple's official support pages offer a guide for how to remove Quicktime from Windows PCs. Apple have been reached for comment to confirm the Wall Street Journal's report.

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2016
    Acknowledgements: Quicktime and The Quicktime Logo is a more...
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    Jan
    17
    2016

    Fixstars launch the highest-capacity SSD yet – and it holds 13TB

    Time was that Solid State Drives were a bit of a compromise. What you gained in speed and safety due to the lack of moving parts and general snappiness of a fully chip-based approach, you lost in capacity – Solid State Drives simply couldn't hold Terabytes of data like classic Hard Drives. Well, thanks to the latest offering from Fixstars, that may soon no longer be the case.

    Fixstars SSD-13000M

    Introducing the new Fixstars SSD-13000M, a new 2.5-inch Solid State Drive capable of holding a whopping 13TB of capacity, making it the biggest SSD in the world at the time of writing. To give some perspective of just how much data that is, you could fit 2,800 full-size DVDs on just one of these monsters, though the company also offers a less-expensive model released at the same time with a slightly lower 10TB capacity.

    Both drives offer read speeds of up to 540MB/s and sequential writes of up to 520MB/s, which means theoretically you could fill just one of those Terrabytes in just 33 minutes and 37 seconds if you've got huge amounts of data to store at once.

    Of course, writing huge amounts of data to a drive at once can severely reduce it's lifespan. However, Satoshi Miki, CEO of Fixstars, commented: "The Fixstars SSD series has been highly regarded for their distinct reliability on steady read/write performance that lasts over time." To this end the drives are temperature-controlled to reduce the amount of heat typically generated when a drive is put under heavy load, preventing heat damage; while the drives offer an optional high durability mode that allows users to cut the storage in half in return for a claimed three times the longevity (so you end up with just 6.5TB usable space, but it will live far longer).

    Naturally, a drive like this is going to be expensive; and the target market for this high-capacity SSD is more tailored towards the enterprise; and for tasks such as heavy-duty video processing. The SSD-13000M's expected retail price in America, where it launches by the end of Febuary 2016, is an eye-watering $13,000 – that's a grand a Terrabyte! This equates to about £9,000 for us British folk, although everything Hardware tends to command a higher premium when it reaches these shores, so take that estimate with a pinch of salt – especially as prices and availability outside the US are yet to be confirmed.

    Join the forum discussion on this post
    Aug
    21
    2015

    Spotify Rolling Out New Privacy Policy That’s Anything But

    Spotify Logo

    The Spotify Logo

    Wow, Spotify. How and why does a service mainly geared around music streaming become one of the most intrusive around? With the latest Spotify update, there’s a new privacy policy going into effect – and the TL;DR version is that if you’re at all concerned about data privacy, now may well be the time to jump ship, because this new policy definitely isn't.

    Here are just some examples of the type of snooping Spotify wants to get up to with the latest policy:

    Use Spotify on your mobile? Hope you're okay with sharing your Contacts, Photos and Media…

    With your permission, we may collect information stored on your mobile device, such as contacts, photos, or media files. Local law may require that you seek the consent of your contacts to provide their personal information to Spotify, which may use that information for the purposes specified in this Privacy Policy.

    Tracking Your Location

    Depending on the type of device that you use to interact with the Service and your settings, we may also collect information about your location based on, for example, your phone’s GPS location or other forms of locating mobile devices (e.g., Bluetooth). We may also collect sensor data (e.g., data about the speed of your movements, such as whether you are running, walking, or in transit).

    Third party services – well, at least you can disconnect Facebook…

    You may integrate your Spotify account with Third Party Applications. If you do, we may receive similar information related to your interactions with the Service on the Third Party Application, as well as information about your publicly available activity on the Third Party Application. This includes, for example, your “Like”s and posts on Facebook.

    (To be fair, this is really only saying that Spotify will do what anyone on Facebook can do anyway – look at the things you've posted publicly; as well as anything related to Spotify itself. If you've integrated your Spotify with Facebook, you pretty much already accepted this was going to happen anyway; but if you find it creepy, you might want to disconnect Facebook from Spotify via your Preferences)

    Storing (and Sharing!) Your Credit Card Information

    If you sign up for a Trial (as defined in the Terms and Conditions of Use), purchase any of our Paid Subscriptions (as defined in the Terms and Conditions of Use), or make other purchases through the Service, your credit or debit card information (such as card type and expiration date) and other financial data that we need to process your payment may be collected and stored by us and/or the payment processors with which we work. We may also collect some limited information, such as your postal code, mobile number, and details of your transaction history, all of which are necessary to provide the Service.

    Spotify claim that they collect personal data from users primarily to improve the overall experience for people using the service; but it's clear that not all of the data being gathered is to benefit the service itself. Indeed, if you look more closely at the paragraphs explaining how they intend to use the data, the real purpose becomes clear – advertising:

    We may use the information we collect, including your personal information….to provide, personalise, and improve your experience with the Service and products, services, and advertising (including for third party products and services) made available on or outside the Service (including on other sites that you visit), for example by providing customised, personalised, or localised content, recommendations, features, and advertising on or outside of the Service

    So, if you love music but also love privacy, maybe it's time to ditch Spotify and look for a new streaming service instead.

    [Via Sanitarium.FM]

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