Article note: As a happy owner of an Anbernic RG351p running AmberElec, the "Android" part isn't important, and frankly the "streaming" part isn't that important either, but a convenient device with a physical controller that can emulate our now-vast cultural heritage of "older" video games is a lovely thing. Especially in the sub $200 range.
It's not every day that you see the attempted birth of an entirely new category of video game hardware. But it feels like that's what we're seeing this month with the announcement of the Logitech G Cloud and the Razer Edge 5G handheld gaming systems.
While these devices (and somewhat similar emulation-focused handhelds like the AYN Odin) have their differences, they share Qualcomm SnapDragon internals, an Android-based OS, and vaguely Switch-like hardware designs. And while these devices can natively run games designed for Android phones (for whatever that's worth), the main focus seems to be streaming portable versions of high-end console and PC games through various cloud-gaming providers or in-home streaming options.
It's too early to know how well these handhelds will serve their stated purpose, or how much actual market demand there is for dedicated portable devices that primarily play games hosted on remote servers or platforms. Still, we can't help but compare and contrast this new hardware design trend with the last major (failed) attempt to create a new category of gaming hardware: the microconsole.
Article note: Least surprising announcement ever.
I got one of the freebie controller + Chrome Cast Ultras they offered to YouTube Premium customers, half to play with it and half because I expected it to be short-lived and turn into a collector's item. The system is a _staggering_ technical accomplishment with tons of (unnecessary) complexity... and basically no realistic use-case, especially since everyone suspected it would get shut down in short order.
Impressive (and surprising) that they're refunding everyone out instead of leaving them in the lurch - maybe the bean-counters determined the liability for the rug-pull would cost more than the refunds since they were actively denying shutdown as recently as July.
The moment everyone saw coming is finally happening. Google has officially confirmed that it's killing Stadia, the company's troubled game-streaming service. Phil Harrison announced today in a blog post that Stadia "hasn't gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service." Stadia will be laid to rest on January 18, 2023.
The good news is that the true Armageddon situation for Stadia customers is not happening. Google is issuing refunds, which will save dedicated Stadia players from losing potentially hundreds of dollars in lost games. The post says: "We will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, and all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store." That notably excludes payments to the "Stadia Pro" subscription service, and you won't get hardware refunds from non-Google Store purchases, but that's a pretty good deal. The controllers are still useful on other platforms, too.
Article note: The fact that the norm is platform churn that requires constant adjustment, security issues that require constant fixes, feature maximialism that requires constant addition, and UI hipster-ism that requires constant shuffling is so much the norm that it is an expectation is a serious indictment against the state of computing.
Article note: Every now and then I investigate the personal health data gadget market looking for something that you can reliably use to collect basic metrics (and extract that data from) without going through some third party on the Internet for no good reason.
There are some devices hacked by the GadgetBridge folks, but it seems like the entire market is built around sucking every user's data into the manufacturer's servers.
Google's acquisition of Fitbit closed in early 2021, but we haven't seen much in the way of changes yet. 9to5Google spotted a big upcoming change posted on Fitbit's help site: account migrations! A new Fitbit help page has outlined the plan for the coming Google account migration. If this goes anything like the Nest account migrations (done by the same Google Hardware division), Fitbit users are in for a wild ride.
Google's support page says, "We plan to enable use of Fitbit with a Google account sometime in 2023" and that at that point "some uses of Fitbit will require a Google account, including to sign up for Fitbit or activate newly released Fitbit devices and features." That means optional account migrations for existing users in 2023. Google also says, "Support of Fitbit accounts will continue until at least early 2025. After support of Fitbit accounts ends, a Google account will be required to use Fitbit. We'll be transparent with our customers about the timeline for ending Fitbit accounts through notices within the Fitbit app, by email, and in help articles."
Article note: That's not even a cost-of-doing-business fine, it's below the noise level on what they're making from their behavior.
The first-party toner cartridges for my M254DW, which is still a better deal than any inkjet, are $70 for a 202A "standard capacity (read:half-full) or $100 for a 202x that is actually full. The third-party ones disabled by after-sale firmware update are like $20.
HP continues to pay for abruptly blocking third-party ink from its printers and has agreed to pay compensation to additional customers impacted by the company's use of DRM to prevent third-party ink and toner from working in its printers. The settlement pertaining to customers in Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Portugal comes after the company already agreed to a settlement in the US and was fined in Italy.
HP printer owners were annoyed, to say the least, in 2016, when HP introduced Dynamic Security, a firmware update that prevented ink and toner cartridges lacking an HP chip from working in HP printers. Customers who already owned these printers suddenly faced error messages preventing them from printing with cartridges that were fully functioning before. At the time, HP claimed that the move was about helping customers avoid counterfeit and subpar ink and protecting HP's IP. However, it largely felt like a business tactic aimed at protecting one of HP's biggest profit-drivers at the time, which was tied to a declining industry.
As reported by Bleeping Computer on Monday, Euroconsumers, a European consumer group, announced on September 7 a settlement with HP that would seek to financially compensate customers located in the aforementioned regions. HP agreed to set up a $1,350,000 (about 1,351,147 euro) for "compensation to certain HP printer owners for losses allegedly suffered as a consequence of being unaware that their printers were enabled with Dynamic Security," according to Euroconsumers' announcement. Individuals can receive 20–95 euro, depending on their printer model and consequences suffered.
Article note: Better let a company with a long record of shipping broken garbage install a rootkit on the machine I do my work and banking on, to make it marginally harder for people to cheat at video games /s
EA announced its latest salvo in the endless cat-and-mouse battle of PC gaming cheat detection on Tuesday, and the effort prominently features one term sure to raise a red flag for some users: "kernel mode."
The new kernel-level EA Anti-Cheat (EAAC) tools will roll out with the PC version of FIFA 23 this month, EA announced, and will eventually be added to all of its multiplayer games (including those with ranked online leaderboards). But strictly single-player titles "may implement other anti-cheat technology, such as user-mode protections, or even forgo leveraging anti-cheat technology altogether," EA Senior Director of Game Security & Anti-Cheat Elise Murphy wrote in a Tuesday blog post.
Unlike anti-cheat methods operating in an OS's normal "user mode," kernel-level anti-cheat tools provide a low-level, system-wide view of how cheat tools might mess with a game's memory or code from the outside. That allows anti-cheat developers to detect a wider variety of cheating threats, as Murphy explained in an extensive FAQ:
Article note: Ooohhh. Gonna waste some time with this.
The sequel to The The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is called Tears of the Kingdom and it's due to hit Switch on May 12th, 2023. Nintendo revealed the release date, name and a short teaser for the game during today's Direct showcase.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild debuted in 2017, the same year the Switch came to market. It was a huge critical and commercial success, and the sequel has been hotly anticipated since. The new game was originally announced with a release window in 2022, but in March, Nintendo delayed it into spring 2023.
It wasn't the only major game to be pushed out of 2022. A handful of titles from big publishers, including Starfield, Redfall, Hogwarts Legacy and Forspoken, were delayed into 2023 this year.