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Sony’s new gaming brand merges the best of its PlayStation and consumer gear

Engadget - Tue, 2022-06-28 17:00

I've always wondered why aside from a handful of peripherals like the Pulse 3D headset and that weird 3D display, Sony never really tried to expand the PlayStation brand outside of consoles. And while you won’t find any PS logos on its new line of headsets and monitors, with Inzone it really feels like Sony is finally bringing its wider tech expertise to gaming.

Now the reason we haven’t seen a ton of PlayStation-branded peripherals before is because the Sony most people think about is actually a conglomerate of several companies that make everything from medical diagnostic tools to camera sensors. And in the case of Inzone, its new gaming gear isn’t being made by the same Sony that produces its iconic consoles (Sony Interactive Entertainment) but instead by the Sony that makes everyday consumer gadgets (Sony Corp/Sony Electronics) like TVs and headphones including the excellent WH-1000XM5.

The first three new headsets part of Sony's Inzone gaming line are the $99 H3, $229 H7, and the $299 H9.Sam Rutherford/Engadget

That’s important because, while these devices have design cues borrowed from the PS5, including their black and white color scheme and sleek sci-fi lines, much of the tech inside has trickled down from a range of Sony Electronics' devices. And after using a handful of Inzone’s new peripherals for about a week, it really feels like you’re getting a great mix of tech from two different branches of Sony.

Let’s start with Inzone’s headphones which consist of three different models: the entry-level $99 H3, the mid-range $229 H7 and the high-end $299 H9. As the cheapest of the three, the H3 are incredibly simple and straightforward. Unlike their more expensive siblings, they don’t support wireless audio and instead rely on either a 3.5mm cord or a USB cable for connecting to your console or PC. On the bright side, the thick padded headband and cloth earcups make the H3 a joy to wear, even during marathon gaming sessions.

The top-end Inzone H9 headset features dual wireless connection modes along with built-in digital noise cancellation, RGB lighting and up to 32 hours of battery life. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Another bonus is that due to cooperation between two arms of Sony, all Inzone headsets, including the H3, support the PS5’s Tempest 3D audio engine just like you get on the official Pulse 3D headphones. That means you get spatial audio and customizable sound profiles that make it easier to hear things like the footsteps of someone trying to sneak up behind you. That said, with the Pulse 3D also costing just $99 for wireless headphones that are just as comfortable as the H3, I think they’re probably the better buy for anyone on a budget.

Where things get really interesting though is when you move up to the H7 and H9, which feature dual-mode wireless connectivity (Bluetooth and a dedicated 2.4GHz wireless dongle), a slightly more streamlined design and strong battery life. On top of that, the H9 also feature digital noise canceling using the same tech as Sony’s 1000X line, and it shows.

Unlike the cloth earcups you get on the H3 and H7 headsets, the flagship H9 features soft fit leather earcups just like you get on Sony's WH-1000XM5 headphones. Unlike the cloth earcups you get on the H3 and H7 headsets, the flagship H9 features soft fit leather earcups just like you get on Sony's WH-1000XM5 headphones. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Now I should mention Sony was only able to send out the H3 and H9 for testing, so I’ve been using those for my comparisons. But the H7 and H9 are fairly close in terms of specs, with the main difference being the H7’s lack of exterior RGB lighting, no support for digital noise canceling and the use of cloth earcups instead of the soft fit leather padding you get on the H9 (which is the same material Sony uses on the WH-100XM5). In return, because they don’t have built-in noise canceling, the H7 offer slightly longer battery life (around 40 hours) compared to the H9 (around 32 hours).

Regardless, my time with the H9 so far has been great, and in a lot of ways, they feel like a pair of WH-1000XM5 that have been tuned for gaming. The noise cancellation works wonders for drowning out background sounds, and the super supple leather makes wearing them feel like putting a cloud around your head.

Sony's first monitor under the Inzone brand will be the 27-inch M9 which features a 4K resolution, 144Hz refresh rate and full-array local dimming with 96 lighting zones. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

I also really appreciate some of the small details Sony added to the H9. On a lot of headphones that offer two modes of wireless connectivity, you can typically only use one type at a time. But with the H7 and H9s, you can connect to two different devices simultaneously. This means you can use the wireless dongle to connect to your PlayStation or PC, and then use Bluetooth to get audio from your phone. And because the PS5 doesn’t have native support for chat apps like Discord, this makes it much easier to talk to your friends regardless of what platform you’re on at the moment.

Additionally, the H7 and H9 are the only other headphones besides the Pulse 3Ds that can use the PS5’s on-screen status notifications, which means you can see stuff like volume levels, battery status, mic mute, and game/chat balance all at glance. So while they aren’t the PS5’s official headphones, they behave like they are, while also offering even more features and better audio quality. And just like the WH-1000XM5, you can even use your phone to take a picture of your ear, to tune their sound even further.

The back of the M9 has similar design elements to the PS5 along with customizable RGB lighting and a height and tilt-adjustable stand. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

As for Inzone’s new monitors, there’s the $529 M3 and the $899 M9. However, since the M3 won’t be available until sometime this winter, I’m going to focus on my time with the M9. Featuring a 27-inch 4K IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, the M9 isn’t the biggest or fastest gaming monitor around. But for the money, it packs a ton of features compared to similarly-priced rivals. Not only does it support VRR and NVIDIA G-Sync, it also sports a strong one millisecond gray-to-gray time, DisplayHDR 600 certification and a gamut that covers more than 95 percent of the DCI-P3 spectrum. In short, colors are bright, rich and vivid while also being largely immune from the ghosting you often see on less sophisticated displays.

However, the M9’s biggest advantage is its full-array local dimming (FALD) which is made up of 96 different lighting zones compared to just eight or 16 on competitors like the LG 27GP950 or the Samsung S28AG700. And after seeing the results side-by-side, I was kind of shocked at how much of a difference the M9’s FALD makes. A lot of gamers can spot bloom in games when something bright moves quickly across a dark background, which often produces ring of light around the object. But not only does the M9 almost completely eliminate halos, the ability to adjust lighting zones with greater precision also gives the monitor improved dynamic range. So in games like Elden Ring, I saw backgrounds that were much darker and atmospheric compared to the washed-out gray tones I saw on other monitors. This allows you to get much better contrast and black levels without needing to upgrade to more expensive QD-OLED displays like Alienware’s $1,300 AW3423DW.

Sony says it intentionally designed the M9's stand to protrude towards the rear to give gamers more room to position their keyboard close to the monitor. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

And just like its headphones, Inzone’s first monitor has a lot of really thoughtful smaller features. It has a built-in KVM switch, which is extremely useful if you have multiple PCs connected to the same display. It also has a native FPS counter so you can easily keep tabs on performance, while the monitor’s Auto Genre Picture Mode can switch between settings like Cinema Mode and Gaming Mode depending on the content coming from your PS5. And in addition to being height and tilt adjustable, Sony even designed the M9’s stand so that its feet stick out towards the back, which means PC gamers who need to place their keyboard as close as possible to their monitor like Dafran totally can.

But perhaps my favorite little touch, is the software that allows you to navigate the monitor’s on-screen display with your mouse, instead of having to fumble around with the joystick on the back of the panel. The M9 even comes with built-in stereo speakers, so you can plug in your PS5 and get straight to gaming without worrying about audio. And thanks to two HDMI 2.1 ports, one DisplayPort 1.4 jack, support for video over USB-C (DP Alt mode) and a built-in USB Hub, there’s a wealth of connectivity.

All of Inzone's new headsets and monitors will be available this summer except the M3 display, which will go on sale sometime this winter. All of Inzone's new headsets and monitors will be available this summer except the M3 display, which will go on sale sometime this winter. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

So aside from the H3 which is somewhat basic, I’ve come away quite impressed with Inzone’s first batch of PC and console gaming peripherals. That said, looking at the pedigree of these two faces of Sony, that probably shouldn’t be a surprise. It might not say so on the box, but in a lot of ways, this feels like the marriage between PlayStation and the tech from some of Sony’s best gadgets. But what might be the most promising part is that while Inzone hasn’t shared any future plans just yet, after talking to some of its reps, it’s clear Sony has big plans for its new gaming brand going into 2023 and beyond.

Sony InZone M9 Gaming Monitor Review: A Bright Spot for PC, PS5 Dualists - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-06-28 17:00
The flagship 27-inch monitor from Sony's new InZone gaming line shines in HDR mode.

Sony InZone H9 Gaming Headset Review: Great for PC and PS5, for a Price - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-06-28 17:00
Sony's flagship headset for its InZone gaming accessories launch stands out in a crowded field.

Mozilla Releases Firefox 102

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-06-28 16:53
williamyf writes: Today, Mozilla released Firefox 102. New features include:* Tired of too many windows crowding your screen? You can now disable automatic opening of the download panel every time a new download starts. Read more.* Firefox now mitigates query parameter tracking when navigating sites in ETP strict mode.* Subtitles and captions for Picture-in-Picture (PiP) are now available at HBO Max, Funimation, Dailymotion, Tubi, Disney+ Hotstar, and SonyLIV. This allows you to view video in a small window pinned to a corner of the screen while navigating between apps or browsing content on the main screen. But do not get fooled, the most important feature is that this release is an ESR, this is super-important of a host of reasons: * Firefox ESR is the basis for KaiOS (an evolution of BootToGecko), an OS for Semi-Smart Phones very popular in India (100milion+), SE Asia + Africa (~60Milion), so, whatever made the cut in 102 will define the base capabilities for KaiOS for the next year. * Firefox ESR is the basis for Thunderbird, so, if you use Thunderbird or a derivative, whatever made the cut in 102 will underpin Thunderbird for the next year. * Many popular Linux distros (like Debian or Kali) use Firefox ESR as the default browser. * Many companies and organizations use Firefox ESR as their default browser, and many SW development companies certify Firefox ESR as an alowed browser for their SW. So, 102 is a very important release, becuase it brings a year of advances to ESR.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Makes Earth Engine Available To All Businesses and Governments

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-06-28 16:10
For the past decade, researchers in academia and the nonprofit world have had access to increasingly sophisticated information about the Earth's surface, via the Google Earth Engine. Now, any commercial or government entity will have access to Google Cloud's new enterprise-grade, commercial version of the computer program. From a report: Google originally launched Earth Engine for scientists and NGOs in 2010. One of the world's largest publicly available Earth observation catalogs, it combines data from satellites and other sources continuously streaming into Earth Engine. The data is combined with massive geospatial cloud-computing resources, which lets organizations use the raw data for timely, accurate, high-resolution insights about the state of the world. That means they can keep a near-constant eye on the world's forests, water sources, ecosystems and agriculture -- and how they're all changing.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pokemon Go Events for July 2022: Go Fest, Starly Community Day and More - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-06-28 16:00
Here's what's happening in Pokemon Go next month.

Apple Rumored Struggling to Make 5G Modems, Will Rely on Qualcomm - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-06-28 16:00
A well-known analyst and leaker's report on Apple's efforts to build its own 5G modems sent Apple shares down and Qualcomm shares up.

'Harvestella' is a Square Enix farming sim with a dark twist

Engadget - Tue, 2022-06-28 15:52

Square Enix is moving into the farming sim world with Harvestella, which is coming to Nintendo Switch and PC on November 4th. While this is a 3D game with a distinct art style, you'll surely recognize some elements if you're one of the tens of millions of Stardew Valley players out there. You'll till land, sow seeds, water crops, collect items for cooking and crafting, go fishing, take care of pets, explore dungeons, slay monsters and so on.

You'll be able to visit other towns and get to know their residents. In Nemea Town, cherry blossoms bloom all year, while Seaside Town Shatolla has a vibrant bar scene. There are multiple jobs to choose from as well, including mage, fighter and shadow walker. Each of those will offer different abilities in battle. You'll also be able to explore some of the ocean in a submarine.

The overworld will change based on the season, but there's a catch. Four crystals called Seaslight usually ensure there's a stable transition between seasons. However, the game starts amid some abnormalities. Between each season is a period called the Quietus, when crops die and people are unable to go outside due to deadly dust. Even worse, these Quietus spells are lasting longer every year. You might have to do something about that.

NASA's CAPSTONE Mission Launches To the Moon

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-06-28 15:30
A small NASA-financed spacecraft launched from New Zealand on Tuesday, kicking off the space agency's plans to send astronauts back to the moon in a few years. From a report: The spacecraft, called CAPSTONE, is about the size of a microwave oven. It will study a specific orbit where NASA plans to build a small space station for astronauts to stop at before and after going to the moon's surface. At 9:55 p.m. local time (5:55 a.m. Eastern time), a 59-foot-tall rocket carrying CAPSTONE lifted off from a launchpad along the eastern coast of New Zealand. Although the mission is gathering information for NASA, it is owned and operated by a private company, Advanced Space, based in Westminster, Colo. For a spacecraft headed to the moon, CAPSTONE is inexpensive, costing just under $30 million including the launch by Rocket Lab, a U.S.-New Zealand company. The first two stages of Electron rocket placed CAPSTONE into an elliptical orbit around Earth. For this mission, Rocket Lab essentially added a third stage that will methodically raise the altitude of the spacecraft over the next six days. At that point, CAPSTONE will head on its way to the moon, taking a slow but efficient path, arriving on Nov. 13.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook is testing Discord-like audio channels in Groups

Engadget - Tue, 2022-06-28 15:00

Facebook is experimenting with a new audio feature for Groups. The company is testing audio channels, which will bring Discord-like voice chats to Groups, Facebook shared in a blog post.

Facebook has already had audio features for Groups with rooms. But unlike that feature, which is meant for one-time audio chats, audio channels are dedicated spaces where group members can speak with each other at any time, much like Discord.

The change is one of several updates the social network is testing. The company is also experimenting with other types of “channels,” essentially sub-groups within each Facebook Group, where members can discuss specific topics. There are community chat channels, which organize group message threads around topics relevant to a given group; as well as community feed channels, which are topic-based spaces within the group.

Facebook is also testing a new sidebar that will make all users’ Groups more prominent in its app (and have dedicated shortcuts for creating new channels). For now, all of these features are tests that will only be available to a small subset of users, but the company intends to roll out the changes more broadly over time.

The updates come as Facebook is eyeing bigger changes for its main app. The company is working on a broader redesign that would reorient users’ feeds around AI-driven recommendations more than their existing social graphs. At the same time, the new sidebar is meant to ensure that Groups remain prominent and easily accessible once the app’s main feed changes.

Return to Monkey Island's first gameplay trailer is a swashbuckling trip of nostalgia

Engadget - Tue, 2022-06-28 14:53

When Return to Monkey Island arrives later this year, players will finally discover the secret of Monkey Island. That’s the pitch series creator Ron Gilbert made in the game’s newest trailer, which premiered today during Nintendo’s latest Direct showcase. “My name is Guybrush Threepwood, and this is a story about the time I finally found the secret of Monkey Island,” voice actor Dominic Armato declares at the start of the clip.

As you might imagine, the trailer is full of allusions to past Monkey Island games, including some of the series’ best gags. At one point, Guybrush drifts to the floor of the Caribbean, a sign pointing to Monkey Island and noting it’s only a six-minute walk away. Good thing our hero can hold his breath for 10 minutes. 

Many fan-favorite characters also make an appearance in the clip. Among others, I spotted used ship salesman and garish dresser Stan S. Stanman locked in the brig of LeChuck’s ship. Coincidently, you can chat to Stan on Return to Monkey Island’s updated website where he explains he’s in jail for “marketing-related crimes” that may have involved selling non-fungible items.

If you missed the news in April, Return to Monkey Island marks the, well, return of Ron Gilbert to the series he created back in the late ‘80s. Gilbert wrote and directed The Secret of Monkey Island, and went to work on the second game before leaving LucasArts in 1992. Fellow Monkey Island veteran Dave Grossman is also working on the new game, which will take place after the first two games. On consoles, Return to Monkey Island will arrive first on Nintendo Switch.   

Bored Apes Creator Sues Conceptual Artist For Copying Its NFTs

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-06-28 14:50
The company behind Bored Ape Yacht Club has sued conceptual artist Ryder Ripps for selling duplicates of its Bored Ape non-fungible tokens or NFTs. From a report: The lawsuit, filed in a California court this weekend, accuses Ripps of a "calculated, intentional, and willful" scheme to damage BAYC while promoting his own copycat work. Ripps and Yuga Labs have been at odds for months, in part because of Ripps' RR/BAYC NFT series. The series used BAYC images but connected them with a different crypto token and sold them for the equivalent of around $200 apiece, a bargain compared to the real thing, which currently sell for around $100,000 on the low end. "This is no mere monkey business. It is a deliberate effort to harm Yuga Labs at the expense of consumers by sowing confusion about whether these RR/BAYC NFTs are in some way sponsored, affiliated, or connected to Yuga Labs' official Bored Ape Yacht Club," says the lawsuit. The suit accuses Ripps of false advertising and trademark infringement among other offenses. It asks for financial damages and a court order demanding he cease infringing on BAYC's work, including a ban on using "confusingly similar" domain names like apemarket.com.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife Sequel Gets December 2023 Release - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-06-28 14:29
The next installment of Ghostbusters has a release date.

Get $50 off Sennheiser's CX or CX Plus True Wireless earbuds - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-06-28 14:15
The Sennheiser CX and CX Plus true-wireless earbuds, which feature excellent sound, return to near their low prices.

Pokemon Go Developer Niantic Working on New AR Basketball Game - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-06-28 14:14
From Bulbasaurs to basketballs, Niantic is taking augmented reality to the courts.

Biotech Wizard Left a Trail of Fraud -- Prosecutors Allege It Ended in Murder

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-06-28 14:10
Serhat Gumrukcu faces trial in a purported plot to kill an associate who could have exposed him and derailed a drug-development deal worth millions. From a report: Even as a teenager back in Turkey, Serhat Gumrukcu dazzled audiences. In a 2002 video, he opened one of his magic shows dancing with a cane that appeared to be levitating. He was introduced as a medical student and went by the stage name "Dr. No." A little more than a decade later, not long after Mr. Gumrukcu arrived in the U.S., he had his hand in multimillion-dollar oil and real-estate deals. Yet his best-known venture was in medicine. For a time, he thrilled investors with ideas for groundbreaking treatments and drew special notice from the government's top infectious-disease official, Anthony Fauci. In America, the magician had found a new, more lucrative audience. Enochian Biosciences co-founded by Mr. Gumrukcu in 2018, paid more than $21 million to companies controlled by Mr. Gumrukcu and his husband for consulting, research and the licensing of potential drugs to treat influenza, hepatitis B, HIV and Covid-19, company financial filings show. "Dr. Gumrukcu is one of those rare geniuses that is not bound by scientific discipline or dogma. He sees connections and opportunities often missed," Enochian Vice Chairman Mark Dybul, now chief executive, said in a 2019 news release about Enochian's licensing of a hepatitis B drug from a company controlled by Mr. Gumrukcu. Mr. Gumrukcu's success as a biotech entrepreneur afforded the purchase last year of an $18.4 million office complex in North Hollywood, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, and, earlier, a $5.5 million house in the Hollywood Hills. Yet much of what people saw in Mr. Gumrukcu was an illusion he cast, misrepresenting himself and his credentials, according to state and federal authorities, court records, former colleagues and those who have sued and won judgments against him over fraudulent medical and financial dealings. Prosecutors now allege that Mr. Gumrukcu arranged the murder of a business associate, Gregory Davis, who threatened to expose him as a fraud. Such a revelation would have put at risk the 39-year-old entrepreneur's deal with Enochian, they said. Mr. Gumrukcu has been in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles since his arrest on May 24. A federal grand jury indicted him on murder conspiracy charges, an offense punishable by death.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Arm Immortalis GPU Brings Hardware-Based Ray Tracing to Mobile Gaming - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-06-28 14:05
Arm adds ray tracing on the hardware level for better lighting and performance while you're gaming on the go.

Best 2-Player Board Games - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-06-28 14:00
Trying to pass the time with a roommate or partner? Try these board game gems.

Arm's Immortalis GPU is Its First With Hardware Ray Tracing for Android Gaming

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-06-28 13:45
Arm is announcing its new flagship Immortalis GPU today, its first to include hardware-based ray tracing on mobile. As PCs and the latest Xbox Series X and PS5 consoles are all gradually moving toward impressive ray-traced visuals, Immortalis-G715 is designed to be the Arm's first GPU to deliver the same on Android phones and tablets. From a report: Built on top of Mali, a GPU that's used by the likes of MediaTek and Samsung, Immortalis is designed with 10-16 cores in mind and promises a boost of 15 percent over the previous generation premium Mali GPUs. Arm sees Immortalis as the start of a transition to ray tracing on mobile following its success with the 8 billion Mali GPUs that have shipped to date. "The challenge is that Ray Tracing techniques can use significant power, energy, and area across the mobile system-on-a-chip (SoC)," explains Andy Craigen, director of product management at Arm. "However, Ray Tracing on Immortalis-G715 only uses 4 percent of the shader core area, while delivering more than 300 percent performance improvements through the hardware acceleration." It's not clear if a 3x speedup over software-based ray tracing will be enough to tempt game developers, but when Nvidia introduced hardware accelerated ray tracing in its RTX 2080, it advertised a 2x-3x boost at the time. "It's the right performance point for now to get this technology into the market," says Arm's Paul Williamson, adding that it may also come in handy in augmented reality applications where RT could be used to match virtual lighting to the real-world environment around you. Arm is already delivering software-based ray tracing in last year's Mali-G710, but the promise of hardware support means we will start to see flagship smartphones with this chip at the beginning of 2023. Samsung also announced its Exynos 2200 chip with hardware-based ray tracing earlier this year, so manufacturers are getting ready for the games to arrive.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Niantic is making an augmented reality basketball game with the NBA

Engadget - Tue, 2022-06-28 13:35

Pokémon Go developer Niantic is creating a new augmented reality mobile game with more big-name partners: the NBA and its players' association. NBA All-World will task you with exploring your neighborhood to find some of the league's stars such as Chris Paul, Steph Curry and James Harden. You can challenge and compete against virtual players in mini-games like three-point contests before recruiting them to your team.

NBA All-World players will be able to deck out their NBA stars in custom apparel. Polygon notes that you can also improve your squad with items you find out in the wild at places such as sporting goods stores and convenience stores. You'll have the chance to battle others in one-on-one matches with swipe-based commands too. These encounters will be available at various locations, including real-life basketball courts.

Following Pokémon Go and Pikmin Bloom, Niantic has a few other games in the works. Transformers: Heavy Metal is in beta, but it's only available in a few countries for now. The same goes for Peridot, a modern AR take on Tamagotchi.

It's not yet clear exactly when Niantic will release NBA All-World, but the game will soon enter a soft launch period. You can sign up for updates if you're interested.

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