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A Nintendo Switch for PC games

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The Nintendo Switch ($299 at Walmart) has become something like the platonic ideal of gaming hardware. But what would happen if we could combine the Switch’s format with the power and versatility of PC gaming? Dell‘s Alienware Concept UFO prototype appears to be doing just that.

The basic idea is this: You start with a handheld Windows 10 ($143 at Walmart) tablet, essentially a smaller version of a Microsoft Surface ($243 at Amazon), or any other Windows slate. But then you slide two paddle-like controllers onto the side and suddenly you have something that looks and feels a lot like a Nintendo Switch.

The very fact that it’s being shown off at the CES trade show here in Las Vegas makes it unusual. Some companies like to come to CES with a truckload of concept pieces and prototypes, showing off exotic experiments that may or may not ever reach store shelves. Dell has long stayed away from such showmanship, instead relying on a steady stream of updated and upgraded XPS, Inspiron, Latitude and Alienware laptops, desktops and displays to fill CES with.

 

 

This year, however, all bets are off, and Dell is showing off a series of prototypes, including-flexible screen and dual-screen laptops, and this handheld, dockable gaming PC.

There’s a lot we don’t know about the Concept UFO, and it may never be an actual for-sale product. But, compared to a lot of other prototypes we’ve seen, this hardware looks and feels finished, with a high degree of polish. So who knows?

Except, instead of Switch games, it runs Windows games. That gives you access to a much larger library, with titles from different developers, and available at non-Nintendo prices. During a hands-on gaming session before the start of CES 2020, I played the (frankly not very good) World War Z PC game, and found it to be surprisingly playable on this hardware.

 

 

06-alienware-concept-ufo-gaming-device06-alienware-concept-ufo-gaming-device

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Concept UFO can stand up on a kickstand (yes, also like the Switch). Its paddle controllers can attach to a small central unit to make a standard-looking gamepad.

You can also output the signal to a bigger display and use the UFO as a small desktop.

What exactly is inside the Concept UFO? How much will it cost? When will it be available? We don’t have answers to any of these questions, but that’s par for the course with a concept piece or prototype.

So yes, there are unanswered questions. But in an era when alternative forms of gaming — from subscription services like Apple Arcade to streaming platforms like Google Stadia — are challenging the supremacy of game consoles and traditional gaming PCs, it’s important that we all break out of our comfort zones and try new things.

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Google-backed groups criticise Apple's new warnings on user tracking – CNA

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SAN FRANCISCO: A group of European digital advertising associations on Friday (Jul 3) criticised Apple’s plans to require apps to seek additional permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites.

Apple last week disclosed features in its forthcoming operating system for iPhones and iPads that will require apps to show a pop-up screen before they enable a form of tracking commonly needed to show personalized ads.

Sixteen marketing associations, some of which are backed by Facebook and Google, faulted Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules. Apps will now need to ask for permission twice, increasing the risk users will refuse, the associations argued.

Facebook and Google are the largest among thousands of companies that track online consumers to pick up on their habits and interests and serve them relevant ads.

Apple said the new feature was aimed at giving users greater transparency over how their information is being used. In training sessions at a developer conference last week, Apple showed that developers can present any number of additional screens beforehand to explain why permission is needed before triggering its pop-up.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook is among thousands of companies that track online consumers to pick up on their habits and interests and serve them relevant ads. (Photo: AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

The pop-up says an app “would like permission to track you across apps and websites owned by other companies” and gives the app developer several lines below the main text to explain why the permission is sought. It is not required until an app seeks access to a numeric identifier that can be used for tracking, and apps only need to secure permission once.

The group of European marketing firms said the pop-up warning and the limited ability to customize it still carries “a high risk of user refusal.”

Apple engineers also said last week the company will bolster a free Apple-made tool that uses anonymous, aggregated data to measure whether advertising campaigns are working and that will not trigger the pop-up.

“Because it’s engineered to not track users, there’s no need to request permission to track,” Brandon Van Ryswyk, an Apple privacy engineer, said in a video session explaining the measurement tool to developers.

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Here's How the iPhone 6s Runs on iOS 14 [VIDEO] – iPhone in Canada

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Brandon Butch on YouTube has released a video showing how Apple’s iPhone 6s (2015) runs iOS 14 beta.

Apple’s iPhone 6s is the oldest iPhone to support iOS 14 and Butch goes through how the device handles new widgets, picture in picture video, new messages features, camera controls, Safari tracking, performance, battery life and more.

The iPhone 6s running a fresh install of iOS 14 beta looks relatively smooth when it comes to widgets and accessing the App Library. Picture in picture does take up a lot of real estate on the smaller iPhone 6s display, but the demo shows it does handle it fine.

[embedded content]

Apps open up fairly quickly in iOS 14, which Butch says is “pretty impressive”. But performance is “not bad” and the only lag is related to some apps hanging and the keyboard lagging in Messages, as Apple’s A9 chip and 2GB of RAM struggle to keep up.

As for battery life in iOS 14, it’s pretty bad due to widgets using background data. Of course, iOS betas have been known to have less than stellar battery life. Usually, battery life does include in the later betas.

Overall, it’s impressive Apple is still supporting iOS 14 for an iPhone that’s five years old. Android devices that are five years old are unable to get the latest version of its own software.

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Tencent launches new U.S. game studio for global appeal – Reuters

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Tencent Holdings, China’s biggest social media and video game company, launched a new California-based studio this week, as it looks to further expand its presence overseas.

FILE PHOTO: A Tencent sign is seen at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, Oct. 20, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

The new studio, LightSpeed LA, will be led by former Rockstar veteran Steve Martin and will focus on the development and publishing of AAA titles, Tencent Games’ LightSpeed and Quantum Studios said in a statement to Reuters.

“We’re ushering in a new era of game culture by combining world-class development with a stress-free work environment,” Martin said in the statement.

Tencent is trying to build an array of studios overseas with the goal of creating content with original intellectual property that has global appeal.

The launch is also the firm’s latest move in a strategy to derive half its games revenue from overseas, a category that accounted for about 23% of its fourth-quarter online game sales.

The company has most recently hired Halo 4 lead designer Scott Warner to head another newly-minted new studio grouped under TiMi Studios, the maker of Arena of Valor and Call of Duty: Mobile.

Tencent is also the owner of League of Legends creator Riot Games, and has majority control of Clash of Clans maker Supercell.

The new studio in Orange County has hired creative talent from Rockstar Games, Sony VASG, Respawn Entertainment, 2K Games, and Insomniac.

Last week, Tencent unveiled plans for more than 40 game products, from a release of Mobile Dungeon & Fighter to an unnamed Metal Slug mobile game in partnership with SNK Corp.

It also announced a cross-platform Pokemon team battling game running on Nintendo Co Ltd’s Switch console and on mobile.

Shares of Tencent Holdings soared more than 8% this week to a historic high of HK$521 after the announcement of the new games.

Reporting by Pei Li; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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