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Valve Index — It was the best of VR, it was the worst of VR

Tags: gaming

Valve Index VR

Despite the giant “Not available in your country” splashed all over its launch page when viewed by us plebeian Aussies, Valve have in fact made their first official VR headset available for pre-order.

The whole kit and caboodle well set you back US$999, which certainly ain’t cheap when you compare that to yesterday’s newly announced Oculus S at US$399 from Facebook but the Index is a whole lot more VR machine. Or is it?

The Index despite having cameras mounted on its mask aren’t there for inside-out tracking like the Oculus S, they’re there to provide passthrough of the environment to the wearer, meaning that you’ll still be sticking up sensors around the room so it can tell where you are.

The Index too makes use of an older tech for its display, opting for an LCD panel instead of the shiny new darling of the display world, OLED. Their reasoning behind this is the ability to ramp up its refresh rate running the larger 1440 x 1600 per eye displays at 120Hz and currently testing pushing that further to 144Hz.

Another bonus of the Index’s display system is a much larger field of vision said to be 20 degrees larger than its 3rd party step bro the HTC Vive. This varies however as a result of the headset being about to adjust based on the distance between your eyes.

Reportedly, the Index is one fo the most comfortable and best at preventing light leakage even whilst the user is wearing glasses and can function with two base stations to cover a large 10m x 10m space.

You are still tethered (as you are with the Oculus S) and it will require setup, placing the base stations in the corners of the room as well as a beefy PC behind it all to power those high res displays.

Source: Valve Index

Facebook’s F8 conference was a cringe-worthy PR exercise to reclaim privacy

Watching Zuckerberg crack jokes about Facebook’s ongoing privacy issues sends shivers up your spine. Not even the “whoop, whoop” crowd paid to be there could save some of the side-handed “jokes” that leapt from his lips to fall upon a stunned and deafeningly quiet crowd.

“The future is private”, or so the text says as it’s emblazoned on a 50″ screen towering behind Zuck on stage and with each repetition of the word by Zuck and his department cohorts, its meaning lessoned.

“I get that a lot of people aren’t sure that we’re serious about this.”, Zuckerberg says early on. Damn skippy we aren’t and you’ve lost the right to expect anyone would at this stage, which is a shame because amongst the rhetoric were some actual promising developments in areas such as VR, cyber bullying and a real contender for a truly platform agnostic, single messaging service, so let’s focus on those. (more…)

Samsung’s made a vertical TV for millennials

Tags: tech

The latest addition to Samsung’s TV range is the Sero, a 43-inch TV that was designed with the millennial generation in mind and therefore pivots between horizontal and vertical orientations.

Millennial’s aren’t buying a US$1,600 rotating panel to show off their Insta thirst-traps on. They can barely afford the smartphone that generates them all let alone lash out on that, and I doubt they’d want to?!

“Hey mum, come watch me slide into this girl’s DMs with this…”

Meanwhile the TV is in landscape mode so you have the wonderful wait time of however long it takes to rotate.

I mean, I’m no millennial but, urgh, no thanks.

 

Source: Samsung thinks millennials want vertical TVs – The Verge

Samsung pumps the brakes on its now infamous Galaxy Fold lemon

Tags: tech
Image: CNBC

…we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold.

In what appears to have been a race to market with the  first foldable smartphone, Samsung have once again produced a product sub-par in quality and functionality.

Short of exploding whilst in use as per their last faux-pas with the Galaxy Note 7 the Galaxy Fold highlights the manufacturers continued issues with production and quality control.

In the case of the Fold reviewers and influencers have effectively worked as the company’s quality assurance teams highlighting the phone’s issues ranging from it’s plastic cover, which many have tried to remove thinking it was a screen protector for shipping, to a non functioning screen after mere hours of use.

Many, if not most, Fold’s have had one or both of their foldable display stop working with Samsung now believing the issue lies in their heavily promoted hinge design.

At this stage Samsung are saying the Fold is only delayed however training for employees in some of the company’s biggest regions has been cancelled whilst they revisit the well in search of a solution.

Samsung aren’t scared to pull a product from market, as we’ve seen with the Note, but whether they’ll do that for a “groundbreaking” new product or think their mobile division can weather yet another battering remains to be seen.

Source: Samsung to Postpone the Launch of the Galaxy Fold – Samsung Global Newsroom

Aston Martin delivers promised EV – Rapide E

Tags: tech

What’s a few extra hundred-grand when you’re already spending A$120+ on a Tesla right?

Aston Martin’s Rapide E is the delivery of a promise made years ago by the UK sports car manufacturer before being tangled up with LeEco and having their promised delivery date of 2018 skip on by.

Today they set things straight, announcing the limited run of 155 Rapide E’s will begin production through a new partnership with Formula 1 manufacturer Williams.

The Rapide E, which is heavily designed after its combustion counterpart, is rear drive and powered by twin electric motors that produce a lazy 950Nm of torque.

It’ll go from 0 – 60mph in just under 4 seconds, which at the price tag expected to adjoin it, pales in comparison to a P100D equipped Tesla Model S that’ll do it in just over 2. But then a Tesla is no Aston Martin and they’ve gone and included CarPlay and Android Auto when Tesla wont touch that so might be worth it after all.

Source: Rapide E – The first All-Electric Aston Martin | Aston Martin

Sony reveal PS5 details ahead of notable E3 absence

Tags: gaming, tech

Don’t expect it anytime in 2019, but the next PlayStation console is well on its way—and it’s packing ray-tracing support and a loadtime-killing solid-state hard drive.

The console wars are about to fire up for another generation kids.

With E3 just over a month away and details of one of Microsoft’s new consoles coming out less than 24 hours ago Sony have deemed it time to offer an exclusive to Wired detailing just how fantastic their yet to be named (it’ll be the PS5) console is going to be.

Mark Cerny, the PS4’s system architect cum game designer (he’s behind Knack & Marble Madness – one of those was good) is returning to spearhead the PR train revealing details most people could’ve surmised themselves.

The new PS5 will include backwards compatibility, a true first for the Sony console, 8K support (if you can throw A$10k at a TV), an AMD Ryzen 7nm Zen 2 based CPU as well as an AMD Radeon Navi GPU, a new 3D audio system and faster SSD system (probably PCIe 4.0 based) that was demonstrated loading a previously 15 second long section of last year’s Spider-Man in 0.8 seconds.

It seems like one of the major points Cerny was making centred around the new console’s ray-tracing abilities that he attributes to only being available in US$10k+ systems and a first for consoles when it comes to the PS5. Raytracing is a hard sell and something that engine makers will need to incorporate and support, which I’m sure Sony are working hard on to achieve, but just ask Nvidia how well that marketing tactic has gone with their RTX 20 Series launched last year. (Spoiler alert – not well)

Lastly the console is definitely not coming out until 2020 and even then not likely until October/November for the holidays. It will still have some form of physical media and for those of you thinking Death Stranding is coming out soon, they make a strong point it’s likely to be a PS5 launch title but you’ll get a shittier PS4 version as well to make you want to upgrade.

Source: Exclusive: What to Expect From Sony’s Next-Gen PlayStation

Recent Changes Spell Trouble for Australia’s Tech Sector

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Over the past year, the technology industry in Australia has seen growth that has outpaced the expectations of citizens and analysts alike, fed by startups tapping into the nation’s underutilized labour force and reskilling them via the wide availability of online courses in the marketplace. The burgeoning sector is reshaping an economy long dominated by old-line industries like mining and manufacturing. For a while, it seemed that the sky was the limit, but now a slew of legal and regulatory changes imposed by Parliament threatens to undercut much of the progress made in recent years. Here’s what’s happening to Australia’s tech sector, and what the results may be.

New Encryption Regulations

In December, Australia’s Parliament passed a bill that would compel technology companies to create a backdoor into their encrypted communication services. In the run-up to the bill’s passage, nearly every major global technology firm came out in opposition to the new law, arguing that it was unnecessarily vague and broad. The fear was that it would create fatal flaws in encryption that malicious actors would then exploit. Recently, tech industry group StartupAUS asked the government to reconsider the law, in a submission to Parliament backed by big-name players Atlassian, Canva, Blackbird Ventures, and others. They insist that the law is loaded with the potential for harm to the local industry, and could create unintended consequences beyond what lawmakers intended.

Tax Incentive Crackdowns

The encryption bill isn’t the only recent government-dealt blow to the tech sector. Around the same time, the government began a crackdown on technology businesses that take advantage of a tax scheme meant to fuel research and development. Some of Australia’s biggest tech firms have been issued demands for repayment of previously claimed tax breaks, amounting to millions of dollars in clawbacks and fines. Already, the move has caused business groups to warn that it could prompt a mass exodus of tech R&D operations from the country, harming future growth.

The End of the Innovation Ministry

In another sign of waning support for tech, the government also eliminated the minister of innovation from the cabinet. That robs the tech industry of high-level advocacy in the government, which some fear will allow for even more harmful changes to occur. So far, industry leaders have decried the move, and analysts see it as yet another blow to the nation’s short-lived and poorly-received innovation agenda of 2015.

What’s Next

Judging by the steady drumbeat of bad news for Australia’s tech sector, it seems as though much of the optimism generated over the past few years has dissipated. It’s still too soon to tell how badly the government’s recent moves will affect the sector as a whole, but the outlook isn’t exactly great. That isn’t good news at a time that the broader Australian economy seems to be slowing, and will need growth engines like the technology industry to keep it afloat. Unfortunately, for Aussies who depend on the new innovation economy, only time will tell.

Google’s “Wing” drones start delivering products in Canberra

Tags: australia, tech

Today, we are excited to be launching our first air delivery service in North Canberra . Our service allows customers to order a range of items such as fresh food, hot coffee or over-the-counter chemist items on our mobile app, and have them delivered directly to their homes by drone in minutes.

Initially a Google X-Moonshot project like Waymo & Loom, Wing has been running trials for over 18 months and completed nearly 3000 test deliveries.

Available to residents in Grace, Palmerston & Franklin Wing drones will embark on a world first in delivering goods after receiving CASA approval today.

Initially product offerings will be slim, with launch partners including Bakers Delight, Guzman Y Gomez, Drummond Golf and Capital Chemist. More are expected and a callout to local businesses has been raised as the service continues to grow to other ACT suburbs such as Harrison and Gungahlin.

Interestingly the drones flightpath and a large part  of the approval by CASA require them to avoid major roads and aren’t allowed to cross them or get too close to people whilst flying, hence the extravagant winch system.

Customers whom sign up to use the service will also be required to undergo training on how to receive a delivery as a part of the regulatory requirements.

Source: Wing launches commercial air delivery service in Canberra