If we’re being civil, Japan’s relationship with the Xbox could be described as “tenuous” at best, and the release date for Microsoft’s latest game console probably won’t do much to change that. Come this September 4th, gamers in the country will finally be able to claim an Xbox One for themselves. Yes, that’s around 10 months after it launched in the US and other “first tier” countries, and seven months after the PlayStation 4′s Japanese debut. Redmond’s Eastern wing hasn’t mentioned pricing just yet (what, one announcement isn’t enough?), but with E3 on the horizon it likely won’t remain unknown for too much longer.
Source: Microsoft (Japanese)
When a company sends you a tablet buried under a half foot of sopping-wet turf, you can be reasonably sure that the hardware’s going to be sturdier than your average kit. Xplore Technologies makes computing devices for the harshest of environments, including warzones, so we thought we would spend some time with the company’s latest slab. The XC6 is the most powerful unit the company has ever released, packing Intel’s Haswell internals and a 1,300-nit display. Like Lady Gaga, the XC6 likes it rough, so we grew out our beard, grabbed a sledgehammer and did some extreme computing for our enjoyment.
If the most that you do with your tablet is check Twitter while sitting in a restroom stall, then it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the XC6 is a tad overkill. Since it’s been designed to be used by oil-rig workers, soldiers, census takers and civil engineers, among other dangerous professions, it’s designed to take a lot of rough treatment. Weighing in at 5.4 pounds, it’s got a magnesium-alloy chassis, coated with liberal amounts of rubber over the port bays and corners. It’s rated for IP67 and MIL-STD-810G, so it should be able to handle being submerged into a meter of water for half an hour, as well as hot, cold, sand and extreme humidity. What we were able to do is leave this machine in our freezer for a few hours, only to find it still cheerily working, as well as take it into the shower with us for a casual spot of surfing while we rinsed ourselves clean. Reportedly, this unit is able to withstand drops from seven feet onto concrete, something that we tested with glee. There’s a 5-megapixel camera on the back with a fixed focal length that’s great for taking pictures of barcodes, and useless for anything else. There’s a 720p front-facer, which is perfectly acceptable for Skype chats, but not much else.
Despite the austere construction, there are a few surprising additions to the input list, with Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI-out alongside the usual complement of a fingerprint scanner, a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. In order to ensure that the device can withstand gloves and extreme temperatures, Xplore has eschewed a capacitive touchscreen in favor of a heavy-duty resistive one. Thankfully, there’s a pair of styluses available that’ll help you navigate around the device, and while it can work with gloves, it’ll require a hefty press. We did find that gestures in Windows 8 (for the Charms Bar) didn’t work unless we used the stylus, unfortunately. That 1,300-nit display is also strong enough to hold its own in direct sunlight, making it much more visible than the average laptop in similar conditions — although it’s by no means comfortable if you’re without shade for long periods of time. Another thing that we noticed is an odd amount of ghosting, with the previous screens lingering on the display as we flicked between various applications.
We didn’t have time to run any in-depth battery life tests, but were able to run the XC6 through 3DMark 11 to offer us some indication of its ability to handle tasks. You may be surprised to learn that it managed to crank out benchmarks of E1,801, P898 and X299 — figures that put it very close to Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro. Given that it’s packing a 1.9GHz Haswell Core i5-4300U with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD, we can be sure that while it may look like a piece of farm equipment, it’s certainly no tractor. It’s launching today, with the base model setting you back a whopping $5,299 — and more if you want to add in a Core i7 or other accessories like a card reader, or, who knows, maybe a rocket launcher.
Let the wedding bells ring! Microsoft announced this morning that it finally has something we’ve been curious about since September: the actual date the company will complete its proposed acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services business. In a blog post, Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith explained that all of the legal hurdles have been cleared and that the merger will officially take place this Friday, April 25th. “We look forward to introducing the next billion customers to Microsoft services via Nokia mobile phones,” Smith said.
Microsoft will manage the Nokia.com domain and the company’s social media presence for up to a year, and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will be in charge of Microsoft’s devices group, reporting directly to CEO Satya Nadella. Aside from this, Microsoft has been pretty tight-lipped on details about what the post-acquisition world will be like, mainly due to legal restrictions. After this Friday, however, we hope the company will open up a bit more about what we can expect going forward.
Source: Microsoft Blog
The battle between modern chat services like LINE and WhatsApp is fierce, but it has nothing on the war between Microsoft and AOL (Engadget’s parent company) at the turn of the century. Former Microsoft developer David Auerbach has revealed that his MSN Messenger team fought hard for compatibility with AOL Instant Messenger in the summer of 1999, all in the hopes of attracting some converts. At one point, Auerbach was in a daily struggle — AOL would break MSN support by the morning, and he’d have a fix in place by the evening.
A stalemate came relatively quickly: AOL introduced a security flaw in August that Microsoft couldn’t work around, forcing the two services to remain separate. Of course, we know in hindsight that the conflict was for nought as chat shifted from PC software to mobile apps and social networks. However, the story shows that Redmond was determined to lead the instant messaging space from the word go — its acquisition of Skype was really just the culmination of efforts that began more than a decade earlier.
[Image credit: Nicki Varkevisser, Flickr]
Source: N+1 Mag
If a Windows Phone app disappoints you, it’s probably right that you call out its failings and warn others to steer clear. Don’t be surprised, however, if the minds behind the software start responding to your gripes directly. Microsoft is slowly rolling out a program whereby developers can comment on your reviews of their handiwork. Fortunately for you, however, the devs won’t get access to your personal details, and, if they overstep the mark, you can report them for poor conduct. Still, the notion that coders will now get the chance to openly gain feedback from users seems like a step in the right direction — just as long as everyone remains civil.
Via: The Next Web
Sony and Microsoft’s console sales were neck and neck for awhile, but the gap is starting to widen: according to the latest NPD numbers, Sony is winning the race. Yesterday, the Japanese hardware manufacturer announced that it has moved more than seven million PlayStation 4s worldwide — today Microsoft countered with a total of five million, trailing Sony in both monthly and lifelong sales. A stark difference, sure, but it’s not all bad: the Xbox exclusive Titanfall is the industry’s top-selling title right now, and the second highest selling for the platform overall. The new console is also outpacing the Xbox 360′s first-year sales by more than 60 percent; it’s doing well, it’s just not top dog. The latest inFamous game (a PS4 exclusive) ranked the second highest selling game for the month of March, followed by multiplatform titles like South Park: The Stick of Truth, Call of Duty Ghosts and Dark Souls II.
One of the big promises that came out of Microsoft’s Build conference this year were apps that’d work across a number of Windows devices with a single purchase, and Redmond is using Halo to lead that charge. The first group of applications includes Halo: Spartan Assault and Skulls of the Shogun, both of which recently made the conversion to universal games — making them playable across Windows Phone, Windows 8 and RT devices for one price. If you’d rather not pay for your entertainment, though, Microsoft also converted the likes of Wordament, Minesweeper and Hexic too. However, as Windows Phone Central notes, buying the universal version of Skulls doesn’t grant access to the Xbox 360 version, nor does Spartan Assault’s universal purchase unlock the Xbox 360 or Xbox One versions. Given that the Xbox division is still pretty separate from everything else though, that isn’t exactly surprising.
Source: Windows Phone Central
Don’t despair that Windows Phone 8.1′s signature virtual assistant, Cortana, doesn’t officially work outside of the US — as it turns out, there’s a fairly easy way to try it in other countries. Pocket-lint notes that early adopters can chat with Cortana by choosing US language, region and speech in their phone settings. Provided you can live with American spelling across the interface, everything works as expected — you can find local shops, call friends and set reminders using only your voice. You’ll still have to wait until later in the year to get a truly localized version of Microsoft’s digital companion, but you can at least see what all the fuss is about right now.
This fall marks 20 years that Microsoft has been making keyboards (make that “computer hardware,” as it was quaintly called back in 1994). Ironically, though, as the company approaches this milestone, it’s now making accessories not just for PCs, but… Smart TVs? Yes indeed. The company just announced the All-in-Media Keyboard, and while you could use it with a computer, it was designed to help you navigate your TV or media streamer from your couch. Chiefly, it features a built-in touchpad — something we’ve seen on other devices — meaning you won’t need to balance a standalone mouse on your La-Z-Boy.
In addition to the pad, there’s a dedicated left-click button, along with volume and mute buttons, allowing you to hold the device almost as if it were a tablet, or a giant remote. Otherwise, the spill-resistant keyboard has all the features you’d expect (except, perhaps, a numpad), with three programmable keys and various Windows 8 shortcuts. As with some other Microsoft keyboards, it doesn’t use Bluetooth but rather, a 2.4GHz wireless technology that requires you to plug in a USB transceiver. So long as your smart TV/media streamer is USB HID-compliant, though (and it probably is), you should be good to go. As a bonus, the battery door on the back has an extra cubby-hole for the transceiver, which should hopefully reduce the chances of you losing the thing. Intrigued? We’ve got hands-on photos above, and you’ll be able to buy one tomorrow for around $40.
Apple and Samsung are duking it out in court yet again, but there’s at least one thing they (and a host of their smartphone making rivals) agree on: users shouldn’t be helpless when their phones are stolen. That’s why, starting in July 2015, all of the smartphones those companies sell in the United States will come with an anti-theft tool meant to help keep your data out of the wrong hands. The full list of backers includes the usual heavyweights: besides Apple and Samsung, there’s Google, HTC, Huawei, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, along with the country’s biggest wireless carriers. Those parties in total represent a tremendous chunk of the American wireless industry, so your next (or next next) smartphone will almost certainly let you stick it to the sticky-fingered.
And what, pray tell, would such tools do? According to the CTIA, users will be able to remotely wipe and restore their devices (say, from a cloud backup), and prevent them from being reactivated or used by unsavory types. That seemingly simple move wouldn’t just save us all anguish, it could save us a collective total of $2.5 billion a year in replacement costs and insurance fees. It sure sounds like a win for consumers, but some — like Senator Mark Leno, who sponsored a bill to create a kill-switch for connected gadgets in the Golden State — think such tools should be on by default rather than requiring users to opt-in. He’s probably on to something, but at least all these companies have a few months to iron out the details.
Filed under: Mobile