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Here's why Microsoft's upcoming Surface Duo lacks NFC – MobileSyrup

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Microsoft’s new Surface Duo is now available for pre-order in the United States and will release on September 10th. While the dual-screen smartphone looks undeniably cool, it lacks 5G, wireless charging and even NFC support.

Without NFC, users won’t be able to use tap and pay or even add money to cards that support the technology, including Presto, for example, a Greater Toronto Area transit card platform. Additionally, NFC is sometimes used for accessibility accessories and to connect to wearable devices.

Microsoft released the following statement regarding why the Duo doesn’t support NFC:

“Surface Duo does not currently offer NFC. The role of any first-generation design is to focus on fundamental scenarios that solve customer challenges. Surface Duo is purpose-built for mobile productivity and giving people new ways to complete complex tasks while away from their computer. With this core priority complete, we will listen to customer feedback and apply that lens to future iterations of the product.”

Microsoft’s goal with the first-generation Duo seems to be to make it more than just a consumer prototype, as well as a device actually worth buying. Likely, the tech giant will bring features like wireless charging and NFC to the Surface Duo 2.

The Microsoft Surface Duo is only available for pre-order in the U.S. for $1,399 (about $1,860.95 CAD).

Source: Android Central

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Why is so hard to order a PS5, Xbox Series X, or RTX 3080? – The Verge

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Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Series S preorders went live on Tuesday, capping a rough week of product rollouts that included similarly messy situations for preordering Sony’s PlayStation 5 and buying Nvidia’s RTX 3080 graphics card. The next two months are, without a doubt, the most pivotal hardware launch season the video game industry has seen in almost a decade. But for some reason, the biggest names in interactive entertainment can’t seem to solve the simple task of giving consumers an easy and straightforward way to exchange their money for a product.

Why, in the year 2020, are companies as large, experienced, and well-funded as Microsoft, Sony, and Nvidia still failing at preorders? It’s an especially puzzling question when companies like Apple, Samsung, and even Facebook-owned Oculus seem to have figured out how to properly manage expectations and sell a new in-demand device without turning it into a stress-inducing scramble.

We still have no idea how many units any of these companies intended to sell, how many they allocated to each retailer, or to what extent they plan to restock at any point this year. Right now, if you don’t have a confirmation email in your inbox for a new PlayStation or Xbox, or receipt for an Nvidia RTX 3080 card, you may not get your hands on one until 2021. Everything is “sold out,” with little to no information on when the situation may change.

Why these companies can’t seem to competently sell their most important products is a more complex question than it seems, as it’s not explained by sheer incompetence alone. These are major brands that have been selling products for decades with long-standing retailer relationships, supply chain management expertise, and vast amounts of data to source from when trying to predict consumer demand and manage global inventories.

Yet, as we’ve seen in the last week, this would not appear to be enough for console makers and major PC gaming players like Nvidia to solve the puzzle. The aftermath of preorders for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S going live, as well as the initial wave of sales for Nvidia’s RTX 3080 graphics card online and in select stores, has been nothing short of a disaster. It’s created confusion and disappointment at a time when businesses like these should be celebrating such robust consumer interest in their products.

Even Microsoft, which watched Sony and its retailer partners completely fumble the initial batch of PS5 preorders, had a somewhat rough go of it on Tuesday, although it was a far cry from the chaos of Sony’s initial batch. Microsoft prepared fans well in advance with proper timing for when Xbox Series X and Series S preorders would go live in their region, throwing shade at Sony all the while. But when the pages went live, errors and other hiccups began to skyrocket.

Many consumers reported issues securing orders from Best Buy and Target, with Xbox consoles disappearing from shopping carts and issues processing payments during crucial slivers of time before the product pages listed the items as “out of stock.” Others said the Microsoft Store was experiencing similar problems before also reporting “out of stock” messages across the entire Xbox lineup, including the new Xbox All Access subscription. Many of these problems are the same issues that plagued Sony.

Stranger still is that these companies seemed to be surprised by the sky-high demand, even though they should have been well aware. Nvidia publicly apologized for its disastrous RTX 3080 launch, saying, “We were not prepared for this level, nor were our partners.”

The company claims its website received 10 times the traffic it did on its previous-generation launch of the RTX 20 series and that some of its 50 or so retail partners saw more interested buyers visit their websites than on Black Friday, causing all manner of issues with order processing and site crashes.

Nvidia’s new graphics card also seemed to be uniquely targeted by automated bots run by apparent scalpers eager to turn around and flip the newly available product on eBay and other marketplaces, forcing Nvidia to go so far as to manually review orders to ensure they went to legitimate customers. We may see a similar rush to hawk overpriced PS5s and new Xbox consoles come this November when both devices officially launch.

Sony apologized, too. “Let’s be honest: PS5 preorders could have been a lot smoother. We truly apologize for that. Over the next few days, we will release more PS5 consoles for preorder – retailers will share more details,” the company announced after the initial wave of preorders, which some retailers pushed live a day ahead of schedule and sold out immediately. “And more PS5s will be available through the end of the year.”

But ignoring the fact that retailers haven’t meaningfully restocked those consoles, Sony’s statement alludes to perhaps the most frustrating element of this fiasco: the lack of transparency. With record demand, companies like Microsoft and Sony could very easily implement a lottery system or any other manner of fairer preorder processes. Or they could allow retailers to disclose how many consoles they have, among other ways of helping manage consumer expectations.

For instance, the Oculus Quest 2, which went on sale last week and starts shipping on October 13th, is simply backordered by about a month in the US and Canada. Instead of telling people a product is “sold out” and hoping they’ll check back at the right time without any idea when that might be, Oculus is transparent about when it expects the product to arrive and is still taking orders. Apple does the same every year when it launches new iPhones, smartwatches, tablets, and other devices.

Instead, the video game industry and its intense culture of corporate secrecy means consumers don’t know when anything will happen. Sony claims “more PS5s will be available through the end of the year,” without offering any concrete details as to what that means — including how many, through which retailers, and whether those units will arrive on or around launch day or perhaps weeks or months after. Microsoft did the same on Wednesday morning, saying “more consoles to be available on November 10th” without any indication of where, including whether Microsoft means limited in-store options or more consoles for online retailers.

The primary issue at play may be one of misaligned incentives. The video game industry is fiercely competitive, and a primary motivator for even companies as large as Microsoft and Sony is getting to signal to investors, analysts, and consumers that a product is flying off the shelves and almost impossible to find. Immediate sellouts for these companies is a positive development because it means demand is higher than supply, and they don’t have to worry about producing units that sit unsold on store shelves or retailer warehouses.

Creating a narrative of scarcity also helps build excess consumer demand, even when the intention is not to outright restrict the number of people who can buy the product. Brands like Nintendo, to which a prolonged sense of scarcity is core to its business model, are able to drive interest in products by signaling that they may be hard to find for months or years to come.

We’ve seen time and again how Nintendo would rather produce too few of an item, even a major console like the Switch or the retro-fueled NES and SNES Classic, than produce too many or try to accurately predict demand. Nintendo is even being openly blatant about the short time frame in which you can buy its new classic Mario bundle, Super Mario 3D All-Stars. You have until around March 31st, after which Nintendo will presumably remove it from its eShop, and physical cartridges will become pricey collectors’ items.

Meanwhile, retailers just need to sell all of the units they can, and there’s not very much incentive for those companies to fix their websites or try to implement a proper digital queue when a website that works only some of the time during a mad preorder rush is sufficient to make that happen. GameStop seemingly tried a virtual waiting line with Xbox preorders, but savvy onlookers discovered its queue wasn’t even real. The company was just telling consumers not to refresh the page in hopes it would keep their servers from melting, all while an automated script refreshed the page every 30 seconds.

Soon enough, we’ll no doubt see the console bundles, the doorbuster deals, the Black Friday flash sales, and all manner of other retailer tricks that try to get you in the door and sell you stuff you don’t need. Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Target, and Walmart don’t have a good reason to care whether they have enough units to satisfy demand — and demand is great enough that they won’t for many months. The next priority is making the most of the situation. When people keep checking back online or visiting physical retail stores because they don’t know when units will arrive, each time is an opportunity for a retailer to sell other products.

Beyond the misaligned incentives is a lack of communication. We don’t know how many units these companies intended to produce, whether they will be more or less than the last console or graphics card launch, or whether that’s the result of shoddy logistics and planning or deeper issues like supply chain roadblocks and COVID-19-related manufacturing and distribution delays.

We don’t know if the companies or retailers anticipated situations like the ones that played out this past week or if they were all as genuinely surprised as they tried to sound in tweeted-out apologies. It’s hard to believe a megacorporation when they say they’re sincerely sorry you had trouble giving them money in exchange for a product.

Nvidia is promising it will continue to manufacture and ship new RTX 3080 GPUs to its partners and that it is “increasing the supply weekly.” But the RTX 3070, a slightly less powerful and less expensive version, goes on sale starting on October 15th, when the same ordering disaster might repeat itself. The same may be true in November when the new consoles launch and retailers inevitably reserve some for doorbusters and perhaps Black Friday deals to incentivize consumers to pick one store over another.

In an ideal world, this would be a solved problem, just as Apple has streamlined the process of selling as many iPhones as it can every year. But the video game industry doesn’t have much to say about how it intends to fix this, and it’s not clear these companies even care to try.

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Samsung announces colourful Galaxy S20 Fan Edition – MobileSyrup

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Following several weeks of rumours, Samsung has announced the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition (FE).

The South Korean company’s new version of the Galaxy S20 feature’s mostly high-end specs and is available in ‘Mint,’ ‘Lavender,’ ‘White,’ ‘Navy,’ ‘Orange’ and ‘Red’ colour variants, all with a hazy tinge to them.

Galaxy S20 Fan Edition offers a flat 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display and a 1080 x 2400 pixel resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. The phone’s front-facing display hole-punch is 3.4mm, which is smaller than any other of Samsung’s flagships, according to the company. Size-wise, the device fits between the S20 and an S20+ and offers a pixel resolution lower than both.

The handset also sports Android 10 and One UI 2.5 and a Snapdragon 865 processor, up to 256GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. Only the 128GB model seems to be available in Canada.

Additionally, the handset features a triple rear-facing camera with a 12-megapixel f/1.8 aperture, an 8-megapixel f/2.0 telephoto shooter with 30x digital zoom and a 12-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide camera. Furthermore, there’s a 32-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture on the front.

The phone also packs the same size battery as the S20+ with a 4,500mAh source capable of 25W charging and reverse-wireless charging.

In Canada, the S20 FE starts at $949.99 outright through Samsung’s website pre-orders start October 1st and the phone goes on sale on October 16th. In the United States, the phone is available to pre-order right now. Samsung says the phone will also be available at Canadian carriers.

Samsung says it plans to launch more Fan Edition smartphones in the future.

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We are in possession of a working Xbox Series X – Ars Technica

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It’s a busy week for all things Xbox. On Monday, Microsoft confirmed its acquisition of the Bethesda and ZeniMax game-dev family to fuel the Xbox ecosystem going forward. On Tuesday, the company launched preorders for this November’s Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

And today, Microsoft topped all of that off by shipping us a “non-final” Series X of our own—and I have immediately begun testing it.

As the above gallery shows, Ars Technica received a package from Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, containing a “non-final” Xbox Series X console, the brand-new Xbox gamepad, and a 1TB “storage expansion” card, as built to the Xbox Velocity Architecture spec and made by Seagate. Nothing else came in this box (besides an HDMI 2.1 cable and a power cord, anyway).

Microsoft sent us this package under severe conditions, and the biggest is that, as of today, we cannot preview or describe any of the above contents beyond showing you photos. You likely have a lot of questions about them. My colleagues sure did, as evidenced by the explosion in Ars staff-chat activity as soon as the package arrived.

In the meantime…

For now, I can point to prior coverage to catch you up, since some of your brand-new questions may already have answers:

The data-transfer standard of Xbox Velocity Architecture is meant to unify “next-gen performance” across Series X and Series S, which means any locally installed games on your next-gen Xbox must be installed on an NVMe 4.0-rated drive. Should you wish to expand either system’s built-in storage capacity (1TB for Series X, 512GB for Series S), you’ll need to purchase a proprietary NVMe 4.0-rated expansion card. The card in the above gallery is the previously revealed 1TB model made by Seagate. We do not yet know pricing for this card or if other manufacturers are on board to produce and sell similar drives.

Microsoft has previously confirmed that external drives connected via USB Type-A 3.1 connections will be compatible with both Xbox Series models. These will only boot previous generations’ software; Series-gen games can be stored on older, external drives, but they won’t boot until moved back to the system’s NVMe drives. Microsoft has not yet publicly confirmed how classic games loaded on older drives will compare to the same games loaded on NVMe 4.0 drives, but at the very least, Microsoft has assured fans that their older Xbox One add-on drives are compatible (and will leave precious space open on the built-in drive).

In addition to the new, proprietary “expansion card” port, Series X’s ports include the following: three USB Type-A 3.1 ports; one HDMI 2.1 port; and one Ethernet port, rated 802.3 10/100/1000. Unlike all Xbox One models, Series X and S skip the “HDMI-in” port that worked with set-top boxes. In terms of wireless features, Xbox Series X supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity and the dual-band Xbox Wireless protocol.

Controllers, display shells in the wild

In August, a white version of the mildly updated Xbox gamepad landed in some consumers’ hands. We’d already seen the controller when Series X emerged in late 2019, particularly its new “share” button, but impressions of the share functionality have yet to leak. The updated d-pad, which now has additional plastic framing around its corners in a style resembling the Xbox Elite, was described by one of the August leakers as “one of [his] favorite parts” of the new controller.

In March 2020, Digital Foundry’s Richard Leadbetter explained how Series X’s array of ventilation dots—and fans directly beneath them—figure into the new console’s cooling system:

Air gets pumped in from the bottom, goes through the system… in a PC, airflow isn’t just defined by having inlets and outputs so to speak. You want physical air space in it. But there’s nothing in this. It’s airtight. Everything goes through the design, and it’s packed in there. Then [air] reaches the top to a 130mm diameter fan and goes straight out of the top. We also had [Series X] on its side, [airflow] seemed to work just fine going out there.

Empty shell “display” versions of both new Xbox Series models went out to select members of the press last week, at which point Microsoft confirmed one detail about the Series X design: the round “base” on one of its sides is not removable by default.

Last of all, the disc drive on the front of Series X supports 4K UHD Blu-Ray, which it has in common with Xbox One X and Xbox One S. It’s also compatible with existing Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One discs, and loading older, compatible games into the Series X disc drive will prompt some form of file download to your system’s local storage. How exactly that works on Series X, on the other hand, has yet to be seen.

Stay tuned

If you have additional questions after seeing this hardware, there’s a 5-percent chance we can point you to other existing information or coverage to answer them. Otherwise, if we don’t reply, please do not fret. We’re listening. And as soon as we’re allowed to tell you more (on dates we can’t publicly confirm just yet), we will.

For now, here’s a cheeky peek at me holding all 9.8lbs of the Xbox Series X.

Listing image by Sam Machkovech

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