Not all 4K LCD TVs offer this resolution

If you never watched anything but 720p and 1080p content, something that still applies to a great number of people, you would probably never notice that your new 2017 LG UJ6300, UJ6500, UJ7700, or SJ8000 LCD TV does things a little differently. Note those are models reported by HDGuru—I’ve witnessed only the UJ6300 and UJ6500. If you put said TV next to your neighbors non-LG 4K UHD TV, and then fed some 2160p (4K UHD) video through it, you would most definitely notice something amiss. Details wouldn’t be quite as sharp on the LG, and the overall image just wouldn’t quite seem—well, 4K. There’s a reason for that: Your TV is only 4K by LG’s dubious definition. By most definitions, including the one that really matters, the eyeball test, these TVs are 2.8K. As they were when we first covered this phenomenon at the behest of a concerned reader just over a year ago. It’s all about the subpixels Most people today have heard of RGB, and most probably know that by combining those colors you can make all sorts of other colors. That’s how TVs work—varying the intensity of the red, green, and blue subpixels that comprise each pixel to to create the desired color. Most 4K UHD TVs have 3840 pixels per row, each having the standard three RGB subpixels for a total of 11,520 of these smallest elements. But with some implementations, that can leave something to be desired in the way of brightness and contrast. To increase brightness, some panel manufacturers add fourth white subpixel: RGBW (red, green, blue, white). Done the kosher way, this means 3840 pixels each consisting of four subpixels: one red, one green, one blue, and one white for a total of 15,360 subpixels. Indeed, this is the way LG’s OLEDs do it. Done the way LG does with its RGBW LCD TVs, there are still only 11,520 subpixels, as with RGB, but every fourth subpixel is changed to white.This results in only 2,880 distinct RGBW subpixel groups, or pixels, or possible full color points in each row. We call it subtractive RGBW. By any reasonable definition, including your eye’s when viewing 4K UHD content on such an arrangement, that’s 2.88K, or using the display industry’s loose math—2.8K. Buy or don’t buy, just know what you’re buying I’m not saying the UJ6300, UJ6500, UJ7700, or UJ8000 are bad TVs, nor am I saying you shouldn’t buy one. The models I’ve seen on display actually look pretty nice with 720p and 1080p content, especially at the price. But what they are not, is 4K UHD. There’s a simple test you can do with a magnifying glass to see if a TV uses subtractive RGBW. Put a white image on the screen, and simply observe if every fourth pixel is white. If they’re not groups of four, and the white changes position in the group, something like the image below, then it’s the 2.8K, subtractive version of RGBW. The bottom line is, If you want to view the 4K UHD content that’s likely to take off in the next year in its full-detailed splendor, then buy something else. Perhaps from a company that doesn’t misrepresent the technology in its TVs. Source: TechHive


Amazon Alexa

Amazon Alexa isn’t only found on Echo devices. Third-party hardware makers have released their own take on hardware that supports the voice-controlled assistant. Amazon Alexa in the office and home Out of the box on an Echo device, Amazon Alexa is super useful for everyday life tasks such as making to-do lists, setting timers and alarms, shopping Amazon and more. But thanks to third-party integrations of Alexa into other hardware not made by Amazon, the voice assistant can also make your work life much easier with optimal gadgets for different situations. Here are the best devices that support Alexa you might consider in the 2018 holiday shopping season…

microsoft surface2

Microsoft’s high-end Surface Book 2

Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 is the most powerful mobile Surface device yet. It easily blows away the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop and, of course, the old Surface Book. It’s also one of the odder devices in the lineup, though. It’s not just a Surface Pro with a rigid keyboard. It’s a relatively heavy base with a powerful processor and graphics card and a big battery — and it has a surprisingly light removable screen that turns it into a tablet and that features a less powerful processor and graphics chip.There surely a world of difference between the performance of these low-end and high-end machines, so you get what you pay for. But Microsoft’s message here is pretty clear: the Surface Book 2 is basically a mobile workstation for those who want to edit videos and photos, play games on the road or just need a really powerful mobile machine to crunch numbers or compile a Linux kernel or two. It’s Microsoft’s challenger to the MacBook Pro and it’s not shying away from the comparison.

Bitcoin mining

The lives of bitcoin miners in Mongolia

A decade ago, after a speculative coal boom fizzled, the once-thriving desert city of Ordos, in Inner Mongolia, became China’s largest ghost town, littered with unfinished or empty buildings and desperate for another way to make money. Blessed like most of China with cheap labor, land, and, most important, cheap electricity, Ordos threw open its doors to all-comers, including bitcoin, the stateless digital currency whose total market value has more than quadrupled this year to $70 billion, and whose ability to act as a kind of digital gold has captured the imaginations of governments, big banks, and small entrepreneurs. Continue with the original article HERE Source: https://qz.com/

IT-Dienst.at Remote Control

Turn any object into a TV remote

Imagine changing the channel of your TV simply by moving your cup of tea, adjusting the volume on a music player by rolling a toy car, or rotating a spatula to pause a cookery video on your tablet. New gesture control technology that can turn everyday objects into remote controls could revolutionise how we interact with televisions, and other screens – ending frustrating searches for remotes that have slipped down the side of sofa cushions. In a paper – ‘Matchpoint: Spontaneous spatial coupling of body movement for touchless pointing’ – which will be presented at the UIST2017 conference in Quebec City this October, researchers from Lancaster University show a novel technique that allows body movement, or movement of objects, to be used to interact with screens. The ‘Matchpoint’ technology, which only requires a simple webcam, works by displaying moving targets that orbit a small circular widget in the corner of the screen. These targets correspond to different functions – such as volume, changing channel or viewing a menu. The user synchronises the direction of movement of the target, with their hand, head or an object, to achieve what researchers call ‘spontaneous spatial coupling’, which activates the desired function. Unlike existing gesture control technology, the software does not look for a specific body part it has been trained to identify – such as a hand. Lancaster’s technology looks for rotating movement so it doesn’t require calibration, or the software to have prior knowledge of objects. This provides much more flexibility and ease for the user as it works even while hands are full, and while stood or slouching on the sofa. Users also do not need to learn specific commands to activate different functions, as is the case with some gesture controlled televisions on the market, and the user is able to decouple at will. When selecting volume adjustment or channel selection, sliders appear. The user moves their hand, head, or object, in the required direction indicated by the slider to change the volume or to find the desired channel. As well as televisions, the technology can also be used with other screens. For example, YouTube tutorials, such as mending bikes or baking cakes, could be easily paused and rewound on tablet computers without users having to put down tools or mixing bowls. Multiple pointers can be created to allow more than one user to point at drawings or pictures on interactive whiteboards simultaneously. Matchpoint also allows users to manipulate images on whiteboards by using two hands to zoom in and out, and rotate images. In addition to short-term couplings, users can also link stationary objects to controls, which even when left for prolonged periods will retain their control function. For example, a mug sat on a table could change a track on a music player when moved left or right, and a rolling toy car could be used to adjust volume. Objects can lose their coupling with controls simply by removing them from the camera’s field of view. Christopher Clarke, PhD student at Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications, and developer of the technology, said: “Spontaneous spatial coupling is a new approach to gesture control that works by matching movement instead of asking the computer to recognise a specific object. “Our method allows for a much more user-friendly experience where you can change channels without having to put down your drink, or change your position, whether that is relaxing on the sofa or standing in the kitchen following a recipe. “Everyday objects in the house can now easily become remote controls so there are no more frantic searches for remote controls when your favourite programme is about to start on another channel, and now everyone in the room has the ‘remote’. You could even change the channel with your pet cat.” Researchers believe Matchpoint is also suitable to be used as an accessibility tool for people who are unable to use traditional pointers, such as remote controls and a mouse and keyboard. The researchers on the paper are Christopher Clarke and Professor Hans Gellersen, both of Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications. Source: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/news/articles/2017/revolutionary-new-gesture-control-tech-turns-any-object-into-a-tv-remote/

Is BMW’s futuristic new concept motorbike a scooter?

This looks like a scooter, but it’s actually the BMW Motorrad Concept Link, the latest in BMW’s series of exhaustingly-named Motorrad concept vehicles, which imagine a not-so distant future in which we all travel around in angular, sci-fi style. The Link offers an electric drive, which makes possible the lower seat that BMW says facilitates easily getting on and off the vehicle. It has a reverse gear, which is not typical of many motorcycles, letting you negotiate city spaces more easily. There’s onboard storage under the seat bench, and it has cutaways that let you see the technology powering it within. There’s no instrument cluster on the Link, but that’s because it projects information like speed, remaining charge and navigation information right onto the windscreen. The windscreen can also be swapped out for other options for greater personalization. There’s also a secondary display below the handle bars that offers touchscreen input, and the handlebars have built-in touch sensitive controls for easy access to favorite features while en route. BMW goes beyond the bike to include a design for rider equipment, including a lightweight jacket with hidden protection. There’s also motion controls built in that let you open the luggage door with a wave of your arm. These Motorrad concepts aren’t likely to enter production anytime soon, but instead provide some insight into where BMW thinks the industry is headed. I could go for a flash future scooter, so this one makes sense to me. Source: techcrunch.com

USB Type-C Dell Dock

Want to be able to connect all of your peripherals to your shiny new laptop with a single cable? Today, Dell is selling a USB Type-C laptop dock for 35% off the list price. And when you buy now, you’ll get a $50 gift card to boot. In terms of connectivity, this box features a USB Type-C port, two USB 2.0 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, a speaker output, a combo audio port, gigabit ethernet, an HDMI port, a DisplayPort, and a VGA port. Connect your laptop to this dock, and you can easily connect to two 1080p displays or a single 4K display (limited to 30Hz). With the Dell Dock, you largely get the best of both worlds. You get to keep your thin, lightweight laptop for travel, but you’ll have full access to your entire setup when you’re at your desk. And since it all funnels through a single cable, connection and disconnection is a snap. Best of all, this tiny box doesn’t take up much space on your desk. It only measures .83 by 6.1 by 4.3 (HWD), so you’ll still have plenty of room for all of your accessories. While this doc sells at retail for upwards of $199.99, entering coupon code “DEAL35” in your shopping cart will save you 70 clams. Add in Dell’s free shipping, and you’re only left paying $129.99. Source: extremetech.com

The growing of the smart cities

The adoption of smart city technology to manage traffic, water supplies, air pollution and other needs will see an upswing this year in U.S. cities, according to AT&T’s smart city executive and a market research analyst. IBM and Cisco have been pitching the themes of a smarter planet and the internet of everything for more than five years. Now, city governments nationwide are pushing pilot projects of these efforts and seeking ways to raise revenues for tech deployments by issuing bonds and imposing sales taxes to pay for them. “2016 was when a lot of cities and their leadership got active around wanting to become smarter, but 2017 is the year we’ll see cities move from the project phase to building out a holistic framework for smart technology,” said Mike Zeto, general manager of the AT&T Smart Cities business unit, in an interview. “2016 was a test year, and 2017 really will see cities looking at ways to fund that technology, while late 2017 will be when cities make choices around implementations. Then in 2018, we’ll see projects deployed. We are still at the beginning of a journey, but a lot of progress has been made,” Zeto added. IDC analyst Ruthbea Clarke largely agreed. Since 2011, her team has tracked smart city projects and the technology that is sold to cities globally. “We do feel there’s smart city growth, although it’s never as fast as some people want it to be,” Clarke said in an interview. “Cities have viciously slow procurement processes, but we do feel there was a big [upward] change late last year, and it’s not just in Singapore, New York and Barcelona.” The uptick in city interest and funding started in late 2016, which means there will be big announcements of pilot projects and even deployments in 2017, Clarke added. “In Chicago, there’s a huge smart lighting conversion underway,” she noted. In that project, 270,000 outdoor street, alley and park lights will be upgraded to more reliable LED technology. It also will include a lighting management system. AT&T on Wednesday announced it has partnerships or active smart city proof-of-concept tests in eight U.S. locations, with the newest in Portland, Oregon. The other seven are in Atlanta, Chapel Hill, N.C., Chicago, Dallas, Miami-Dade County, Montgomery County, Md., and at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Both Atlanta and Miami-Dade are testing a vehicle-to-anything (V2X) advanced communications platform that AT&T has developed with Ford and Delphi to be used with autonomous buses, taxis and cars, as they communicate with traffic signals, lane sensors and other infrastructure, Zeto said. Miami-Dade County launched a Smart Cities Operations Center to give government leaders a central hub for monitoring traffic and other conditions in the area. A similar concept is being evaluated in a number of cities globally, including Singapore. While AT&T’s focus so far has been on U.S. cities, Zeto said the company soon plans to announce a smart city collaboration with a European city and has plans to work in Mexico where it is already expanding its cellular network capabilities. Zeto said many cities outside the U.S. have embraced smart technology in so-called green field locations often outside of city centers. That approach has helped some Asian and European cities get a leg up on U.S. cities, he said. “More U.S. cities by now have a designated point person for smart city technology, such as a CIO or CTO. They are helping break down the silos in city governments,” Zeto added. AT&T is hopeful that an expected Trump administration effort to improve U.S. infrastructure will allow cities to take control of smart city projects, instead of having tight control at the federal level. City officials are better suited to direct and monitor smart city investment to make it more efficient, Zeto argued. “Instead of just adding concrete to install a new bridge or replace one in disrepair, it would help to monitor it remotely,” Zeto said. Today, for example, sensors are used to monitor vibration on a bridge, he said, and artificial intelligence technologies are emerging that use digital images to spot minute shifts in bridge spans or to detect when a bridge has sunk slightly over time. Zeto said Atlanta has been progressive in coming up with funding for smart technology. A successful city bond referendum will raise $250 million to upgrade traffic signals with communications that are designed to decrease congestion. A sales tax increase will also be used to expand the city’s mass transit system. “Atlanta has roused its community,” Zeto said. “It’s taken a while, but it’s happening. Public-private partnerships are coming because the private shareholders realize improvements will benefit their employees.” Another positive step toward smart cities technology is the adoption of open data policies in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles, Zeto said. With this concept, a city can “open up” data it has on the location of various resources for public use, such as parking areas. With that data, a private software developer can build an app that drivers can use to find available parking spaces or to offer another service. One example is in Montreal, which opened up its data to a developer who built an app called Prkng that helps drivers find open parking spaces. Another app in development uses publicly available data to help parents find the least crowded emergency room among local hospitals where a sick child could be treated soonest. Zeto said AT&T has an advantage over smaller vendors in smart city projects because it has built partnerships with many cities over 60 years in providing communications infrastructure and services. “We’ve had quite a start in the U.S. amongst our direct competitors,” he said. Clarke said prior to 2017, a lot of positive momentum around smart city tech was voiced by vendors like AT&T. Lately, cities are starting to sing the same tune. “A lot of the talk is marketing, but there’s lately been a big change in spending, even if it’s incremental,” she said. “You see a lot more funded pilots.” Source: computerworld.com

Uber tests self-driving cars in San Francisco

A standoff between Uber and the State of California became more serious on Friday when Uber rejected a demand to get permits for its self-driving car program and the state fired back with a threat of legal action. The spat began earlier this week when Uber launched a fleet of self-driving cars in San Francisco. The company had not obtained autonomous driving permits for the cars, and California’s Department of Motor Vehicles asked the company to stop the service until they were issued. On Friday, Uber said no. “We respectfully disagree with the California Department of Motor Vehicles legal interpretation of today’s autonomous regulations, in particular that Uber needs a testing permit to operate its self-driving cars in San Francisco,” Anthony Levandowski, vice president of Uber’s advanced technologies group, told reporters. He said Uber believes the technology in its self-driving cars is akin to the autonomous mode in a Tesla. California law expressly excludes from the permit process cars with “collision avoidance or other similar systems.” Levandowski also said that self-driving Uber cars are not capable of operating without “active control or monitoring” of a human operator. “It’s hard to understand why the DMV would seek to require self-driving Ubers to get permits when it accepts that Tesla’s autopilot technology does not need them,” he said. The state was not amused. On Friday evening, DMV lawyers shot back, demanding Uber “immediately” remove its self-driving cars from state roadways until it has the required permits. If the company doesn’t comply, “the Attorney General will seek injunctive and other appropriate relief,” California’s Department of Justice wrote in a letter to Uber, which it shared via email. What comes next is not clear. Uber has stared down lawmakers before in California and elsewhere and defiantly continued to operate in the face of demands that it recognize local rules and regulations. Source: itnews.com

Playstation 4, Xbox One or Wii U: which should you go for?

Buying a new games consoles is one of those most vitally important decisions you can make in life – we’re only partially joking. Choose correctly, and you’re guaranteed years of fun and entertainment; make a bad call, and you’ll have a useless black box under your TV, endlessly incurring the disappointment and embarrassment of your children and the mockery of your friends. So let’s say you’ve committed to buying at least one shiny new machine. Which should it be? Here is a quick guide to where the big consoles are right now. The technology We’re not going to list all the tech specs here, so click through the official PlayStation 4, Wii U and Xbox One information at your leisure – or IGN has a big comparison chart while Trusted Reviews goes into lots of technical detail. In terms of power consumption, Xbox One and PS4 have both been criticised for the amount of juice they get through, especially if you’re leaving them in standby mode, or using one of the sleep modes to allow seamless downloads of game updates. A report last year found that the Xbox One can use up to 253 kWh per year, with PS4 on 184 kWh per year. Although Sony’s machine consumes more power while gaming, Xbox One is more greedy in standby mode. Both companies say they are addressing power consumption in firmware updates. Wii U is much more power efficient, on 37 kWh/year. All three machines have proved reliable so far, with Microsoft particularly determined to make up for the technical issues that plagued the Xbox 360, providing vastly improved cooling systems. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Sony and Microsoft’s machines are essentially moderately powerful desktop computers with very similar technical specifications – the only real difference being the type of RAM, or memory, they use, and the rendering power of the graphics processors (PS4 has more teraflops). For a while, developers were getting better performance out of the PlayStation 4 and many still think it has the superior architecture, though Xbox One titles are catching up. The important thing is that both machines are considered to be around 8-10 times more powerful than the PS3 and Xbox 360. You can expect to get true high definition (1080p) performance out of most games – and, on a big full-HD display, titles like Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid 5 look gorgeous. Wii U Nintendo never competes on technology, so Wii U is much less powerful than the other consoles and games don’t look quite as beautiful as their Xbox One and PS4 counterparts. However, if you’re buying this thing, you’re not getting it for flashy multiplatform titles like Fifa, you’re getting it for exclusive Nintendo games, which have a visual charm of their own – and many run in full 1080p HD. Hardware features Both PS4 and Xbox One come with chat headsets so you can talk to friends online, and both have features that let you record and share video online, either streaming live or uploading to YouTube (though it takes time to figure out). All have wireless controllers. PlayStation 4 The DualShock 4 controller offers an innovative touchpad (which hardly any developers use, apart from as an extra button), as well as the usual analogue sticks, six-axis motion controls (again, hardly used), shoulder buttons and all that. There’s also a share button for uploading videos and screenshots of your gaming, a headphone socket and a built-in speaker which allows certain game noises to pop out at you unexpectedly. It’s comfortable and familiar to PlayStation veterans. A PlayStation Camera is available separately, offering voice control, facial recognition and picture-in-picture video footage of yourself if you like streaming games. The camera will also be an essential component in Sony’s virtual reality plans. Its PlayStation VR headset (previously known as Project Morpheus) is due out next year. Wii U The biggest “unique selling point” of the Wii U is its GamePad, essentially a sort of tablet computer, with its own touchscreen display and joypad controls. This allows you to continue playing your games even if someone else is hogging the TV. It is also used by certain titles as an extra display, perhaps showing a game map or inventory. Some initial games, such as Nintendoland, offered asymmetrical multiplayer, so one participant using the GamePad did different things than other players using standard controllers. But everyone seems to have forgotten about that. Xbox One The machine used to come with a new version of its Kinect motion tracking camera as standard, but it was expensive, games didn’t use it much and everyone was fed up with it, so now Microsoft has largely ditched it – you can still buy it if you want to use facial recognition and voice commands to control your console though. The controller is a refined version of the familiar Xbox pad; it’s chunkier than the PS4 equivalent, but has super comfortable analogue sticks and really accurate rumble effects so you get excellent tactile feedback. There’s a new Elite version coming out with interchangeable parts for pro gamers who like to interchange things. The games Most of the big blockbuster “multiplatform” games (Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, Fifa) will come to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, usually at the same time and price. Sometimes publishers work out timed exclusivity deals so that a big title will appear on one machine first – this is happening with Rise of the Tomb Raider, which will be on Xbox One before Christmas, but not PS4. Publishers may also tie up deals with Sony or Microsoft to offer exclusive content – like multiplayer maps or weapons – to one machine. Try not to be swayed by timed exclusives though – for the sake of getting a single title a few weeks early, you may be saddled with a machine you don’t want. For a while, PlayStation 4 was getting visually superior versions of many multiplatform games, with smoother framerates and support for Full HD, but this seems to be equalling out. Eurogamer has a good analysis of this. PlayStation 4 exclusives Sony has a worldwide network of “first-party” studios that produce games only for its hardware. It has also tied up exclusivity deals with publishers on key games. So far, however, its exclusive titles haven’t been Earth-shattering with only the dark adventure Bloodborne and the smaller indie titles Resogun and N++ really hitting the heights. It has relied on remasters of great PS3 games, such as Last of Us and God of War. Coming up, however, are Uncharted: A Thief’s End, the enchanting adventure Last Guardian, vast space epic No Man’s Sky and prehistoric role-playing game Horizon: Zero Dawn. It’s a big, intriguing line-up. Wii U exclusives The best Wii U titles tend to be the ones Nintendo makes itself, or that have been designed by one of its very close development partners in Japan. The current line-up (Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros, Splatoon) is skewed toward kid-friendly local multiplayer, but no one on earth does this like Nintendo, and there’s always enough tactical depth for older players. On the way we have Mario Tennis, Star Fox Zero, a new Zelda title, retro platformer Mighty No 9, a survival horror sequel and Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water. There are not as many releases as for the other machines, but the really good Wii U titles will occupy you and your family for months. Xbox One exclusives Like Sony, Microsoft has its own studios all over the world (though it has every little developer support in Japan). As with PS4, the Xbox One hasn’t exactly been overloaded with legendary exclusives so far, relying heavily on the motor sport titles Forza and Forza Horizon, and giant robot blast’em-up Titanfall. However, crazed shooter Sunset Overdrive, and beautiful indie titles Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time and Ori and the Blind Forest are worth a look. Coming up we have Halo 5: Guardians, interesting sci-fi adventure ReCore, 1940s-inspired platformer Cuphead, Gears of War 4, open-world epic Crackdown 3 and giant monster-slaying fantasy Scalebound. It’s a very strong slate, especially for veteran Xbox fans who’ve waited patiently for some old favourites to return. The services All three consoles allow you to connect seamlessly to the internet via Wi-Fi or ethernet cable (the Wii U requires an extra peripheral for wired connections). Each one offers access to an array of video services such as BBC iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube, though the exact line-ups are different from machine to machine. PS4 and Xbox One both play Blu-ray and DVD movies, Wii U won’t play either. PlayStation 4 If you want to play PS4 games online you’ll need to join Playstation Network, which costs £35 a year and also gives you access to free games through the excellent PlayStation Plus service. Along with all the usual video-on-demand services, PS4 has its own version of Spotify, which lets you play your own music choices in the background while gaming. PlayStation 4 is not backwards compatible with older games so you won’t be able to put in a PS2 or PS3 disc and play it. Instead, Sony has a service called PlayStation Now which lets you rent retro titles for between £2.99 and £7.99. You can also buy a PlayStation TV box which costs £45 and lets you stream your PS4 content to other TVs in your house, as well as download a handful of classic PlayStation titles. Wii U Nintendo’s machine has a modest range of video apps and services, as well as a really friendly and nicely designed online community called Miiverse, which lets players share content and ask for gaming advice in a safe way. You can also download lots of classic titles via the Virtual Console digital shop. But it’s very much a games machine rather than a multimedia hub. Xbox One Xbox Live Gold is the service you’ll need to subscribe to in order to play against others online – like PlayStation Network, this also offers monthly free games. It’s still a more robust infrastructure than Sony’s, which has suffered a series of hacker attacks over the past two years. Again, there’s a big list of apps and entertainment services. Xbox One offers HDMI throughput, which lets you plug in your satellite or cable box, then view it all through your console without having to keep unplugging all your leads. It has the capacity to watch live TV, too, so it’s very effective as a multimedia “set-top box” that you can put in your living room and use to run all your screened entertainment. The console also integrates closely with Windows 10, so you’ll be able to keep up with your Xbox Live friends via your PC and even try cross-platform online multiplayer games between consoles and computers. The price The price of all three consoles has fallen since they first arrived and you should shop around for the best deals. Look especially for special bundles that may well throw in a game you really want with the machine at no extra cost. All come with at least one official controller and the leads you need to plug it into your TV. PlayStation 4 A basic PS4 package with a 500GB hard drive will cost about £280, with a 1TB model at about £299. It’s worth looking out for game bundles – there are Fifa, Batman, Destiny and Uncharted Collection versions around right now. Wii U The basic pack is £180 making this the cheapest current generation console available. However there are premium packs (with 32GB hard drives instead of 8GB) complete with Mario Kart 8, Super Mario Maker, Splatoon or Super Smash Bros. These make it £240-£260. Xbox One A basic Xbox One with 500GB drive comes in at £270, or £350 with the 1TB drive. There will be a range of bundles to accompany the release of Halo 5 at the end of October. Conclusion So which console is best for you? Before you decide there’s one important factor to consider. “Follow your friends,” says Oli Welsh, editor of Eurogamer. “It’s more important than ever to be on the same platform as people you know in order to get the full online, social experience”. Indeed, there are so many titles nowadays that offer compelling cooperative and competitive multiplayer gaming (Destiny, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Star Wars Battlefront, Tom Clancy’s The Division), you’ll want to have the same machine as your mates. With that in mind … PlayStation 4 is best for: People who want to play a wide range of games, from blockbusters to indie titles, with the best visuals and with decent multiplayer components. It is selling better than Xbox One, making it the target platform for many studios. There’s also the potential to experience virtual reality soon courtesy of the PlayStation VR headset. Wii U is best for: Families who want to sit and play bright, accessible and compelling games together on the sofa. You won’t get all the big blockbuster titles such as Call of Duty and Metal Gear Solid, but this is the only place you’ll get the latest games from one of the best design studios in the world. The machine hasn’t sold brilliantly, though, and there’s a chance Nintendo may announce a successor, currently codenamed Nintendo NX this summer – maybe even for a winter release. Xbox One is best for: People who want a games machine that’s also a powerful multimedia hub able to control all of their entertainment from video-on-demand to satellite TV. The online infrastructure is comparatively secure and the Windows 10 implementation may interest PC users. There’s also a great range of exclusive titles. “Come Christmas, Xbox One will a different proposition to the machine that launched two years ago,” says Official Xbox Magazine editor, Matthew Castle. “The Windows 10-powered ‘New User Experience’ will replace the clunky panelled interface of today – a hangover from its original Kinect dependency – with a faster, simpler home page and the option to bark commands at Cortana. More importantly, it has actual new games to play – Halo 5, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Forza 6, Fable Legends – and where it does lean on re-releases, it does so generously, such as Rare Replay’s tasty 30 games for £20.” Our recommendation: right now, PlayStation 4 is in a very strong position as a pure high-end gaming machine. Xbox One is improving all the time, but Sony’s console has a big head start, with 25m machines sold compared to around 14m Xbox Ones, putting it at the forefront of publisher development plans. If you can afford it, Wii U is a lovely second machine. Source: theguardian.com