Steam Link hands-on: Valve’s best shot at the living room costs $50

Steam Link 1

In November 2015, Valve is finally making its big push into the living room with more than a dozen Steam Machines from hardware partners including Alienware, Falcon Northwest, and Origin. Those Steam Machines range in price from $500 into the thousands. They’re fully-fledged PCs, but I wonder if anyone who already owns a PC will want to buy one. Especially because Valve itself will be releasing a device in November that, for $50, will be able to stream any game from your PC to your living room at 1080p, 60 fps. It’s called the Steam Link, and it may be the exact device we’ve been hoping for ever since Valve debuted Steam In-Home Streaming.

Streaming has gotten much, much better since it debuted in January 2014. Valve’s programmers have reduced latency, improved compatibility, and added hardware encoding and decoding (using a graphics card to offload some work from the CPU) to maintain a fast and steady video stream. While it takes a beefy host PC to run a game and transcode that game into a 60 fps video stream, the client device, theoretically, doesn’t need much in the way of hardware to handle 1080p60 video decoding. $100 Apple TVs and Rokus are easily up to the same task.

Steam Link may well become the ubiquitous device of SteamOS: a cheap, stripped-down Linux box that can play any game from Steam’s ballooning 4000+ library, so long as you have a powerful gaming rig on the other end. Valve plans to offer the Link in a $100 bundle with a Steam controller, but it has two USB ports on the back, along with Ethernet (and 802.11ac wi-fi) and HDMI, that will support a USB controller or wireless dongle. If anything gives Valve a foothold in the living room, I think it will be the Steam Link, not the $500+ Steam Machines.

I don’t know what hardware Valve has inside the Steam Link, and it’s possible it’ll change some between now and November. But I did get to see a demo in action, and Steam In-Home Streaming did work with the Link at what looked like a consistent 60 frames per second. Really, nailing the hardware of the Link is the easy part. Ensuring that In-Home Streaming works as efficiently as possible is the make-or-break challenge for the Steam Link.

Steam Link 2

When Valve demoed the Steam Link for me, I was sitting about three feet away from a 50-inch-or-so 1080p TV—much closer than I’d ever sit in my own living room. At that range, the compression artifacts from the video encode were noticeable. It wasn’t a pristine picture, but it was considerably better-looking than the Doko, a similar $100 streaming box. I also didn’t notice any lag between my controller movements and actions in-game. And Steam In-Home Streaming’s options can be adjusted for quality versus speed; depending on the power of your computer and your home network, it may be possible to maintain a 60 fps stream with a cleaner picture.

The Steam Link hardware itself is heavy. Heavier than it looks given its size, which is like an Apple TV smooshed into a flatter box that still fits in the palm of your hand. According to Valve, that weight comes from the heatsink on the bottom, which serves the dual purpose of keeping the system cool and keeping an errant cable yank from tossing it across the room. Whether it’s actually necessary or not, I find the presence of the heatsink reassuring—it makes me think the hardware will most definitely be powerful enough to 1080p60 decoding without dropping frames.

At $50, the Steam Link is half the price I expected for the first great living room PC streaming box. I’m eager to see the final product land this November, open it up, and see exactly what’s inside. I’m also a bit worried that Valve is going to cannibalize interest in the machines its hardware partners are building because the Steam Link is so cheap, but we’ll have to thoroughly test it with Steam In-Home Streaming to see if it’s truly PC gaming’s living room killer app.

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Nvidia’s 12GB GTX Titan X

GPU-maker Nvidia dropped a 12GB bomb on GDC last week when it unveiled the GTX Titan X, a 12GB GPU with 8 billion transistors that’s likely to be the fastest card around when it launches.

As for when it launches, well, I can’t say just yet. And as for specs outside of transistors and VRAM, well, I can’t talk about that yet either. And while I don’t know the price yet, this is probably one of those things where, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

Still, judging by the demos from Oculus, Weta, Valve, and Crytek that that GTX Titan X powered at GDC–as well as Epic’s beautiful real-time Kite demo–I expect this thing’ll fly 4K games at the highest settings.

To tide you over until our full review, check out the hot gadget pr0n shots of the card splayed lovingly over a crisp white bed hotel bed–just as nature intended.

În sfârşit este posibil: aplicaţia care îţi învaţă telefonul să îţi răspundă atunci când îl rătăceşti

Mereu pe fugă, te repezi spre uşă, îndeşi iute portofelul şi cheile în buzunar, îţi aduci aminte de telefon – ah, telefonul! Iar l-ai rătăcit. Îţi întrebi iute colegii unde este, dar ştii şi tu că este mai mult o întrebare retorică, poate un tic verbal în timp ce cauţi deja pe sub hârtii şi pe toate birourile vecine.

Te-ai gândit vreodată cum ar fi să îţi poţi găsi telefonul rătăcit prin apropiere bătând pur şi simplu din palme sau fluierând? Ei bine, acest lucru este posibil dacă ai un telefon cu sistem de operare Android (versiunea Android 2.3.3 sau o versiune ulterioară). Telekom Romania Mobile Communications a lansat aplicaţia „Unde îmi e telefonul?”, disponibilă gratuit în Google Play, atât pentru abonaţi, cât şi pentru cei care folosesc o cartelă preplătită, indiferent de reţea.

Mecansimul este simplu: mai întâi instalezi aplicaţia pe telefon, o activezi, după care alegi sunetul de comandă „Fluierat” sau „Aplauze” şi stabileşti numărul de acţiuni pe care aplicaţia să „le asculte” înainte să răspundă. Dacă doreşti, poţi face şi alte setări suplimentare, cum ar fi vibrare, aprindere ecran sau pornire la startup.

Rezultatul? Aplicaţia nu te va ajuta să îţi găseşti cheile – pe care, de asemenea, ştim că le rătăceşti des –, dar data viitoare când nu îţi găseşti telefonul, este suficient să baţi din palme sau să fluieri şi el îţi va răspunde imediat cu celebrul logo acustic al Telekom!

 

RCS&RDS îmbunătăţeşte vitezele conexiunilor de internet mobil în Bucureşti şi alte 25 de oraşe

RCS&RDS îmbunătăţeşte vitezele conexiunilor de internet mobil în Bucureşti şi alte 25 de oraşeRCS&RDS a anunţat creşterea vitezelor de acces pentru conexiunile 3G de internet mobil în reţeaua Digi Mobil la 21.6Mbps pentru download şi 5.8Mbps upload, în Bucureşti şi alte 24 de oraşe din ţară.

Cel puţin pe hârtie, sporul de viteză anunţat este unul considerabil, ţinând cont de faptul că vitezele la download promise până acum erau de numai 7.2Mbps (banda de 900MHz), sau 14.4Mbps (banda de 2100Mhz), respectiv 384Kbps sau 1.9Mbps la upload.

Creştere vitezelor de transfer este valabilă atât pentru conexiunile 3G în banda de 2.100 MHz, cât şi în banda de frecvenţă de 900 MHz.

“Creşterea vitezelor la internet în reţeaua Digi Mobil ce permite viteze de descărcare de până la 21,6 Mbps şi de 5,8 Mbps pentru încărcare, va fi disponibilă, în prima etapă, în oraşele Constanţa şi staţiunile de pe litoralul românesc, Iaşi, Galaţi, Brăila, Piteşti, Arad, Drobeta Turnu Severin, Bacău şi Vaslui. În a doua etapă, care se va încheia până la finalul lunii martie, noile viteze vor fi accesibile şi în Bucureşti, Ilfov, Braşov, Cluj, Timişoara, Craiova, Oradea, Sibiu, Târgu Mureş, Baia Mare, Satu Mare, Râmnicu Vâlcea, Hunedoara, Ploieşti, Reşiţa, Slatina şi Târgu Jiu”, se arată într-un comunicat al RCS&RDS remis MEDIAFAX.