Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Google Stadia - Cloud’s the Limit


Google has just thrown their infinity gauntlet into the ring, specifically calling out PC, PS4 and the Xbox by name. To be fair, if anyone has a chance of standing up to them, it’d have to be a megacorp like Google, the people that already own all your info and browsing history. And why not? Sony was initially laughed at when they first pitched the Playstation around as an idea.

This isn’t the first time a cloud-based game streaming service has claimed to be the next big thing. Nvidia has tried this before with the Shield, and are about to give it another shot with newer hardware and then there was the ill-fated Onlive which ended up being bought out by Sony and integrated into PS Now. In Japan, Nintendo has cloud streaming on the Switch; running Resident Evil 7 and Assassins Creed: Origins.


Unlike these services that are still hardware reliant, Stadia (which is a really stupid name) will be fully run via 4500+ dedicated Google data centres around the world straight to any device, there’s no external box needed, meaning there is less interference for the signal to have to travel through. The fewer things a signal needs to jump through, the less lag is going to be an issue. Multiplayer could run on the same data centres, no more need for servers, eliminating the time it takes for all players systems to talk to one another. Everyone would already be connected, kind of like Lan but without the miles of cables snaking around the house. On top of this, it’s possible to use most current gaming controllers you may have laying around but Google’s own controller, that looks like a bad Switch pro pad and has an awful looking D-Pad, has built-in WiFi that connects straight to the same data centre to further cut out any input latency.

Games will load instantly. No install, no updates required. They just launch straight from the YouTube Client, be it a PC via browser, tablet, phone or even a Tv (using a Chromecast HDMI streamer). It’s then possible to switch what device you’re playing on and pick up right where you left off, seamlessly. Google already has many of the big name studios working to get their games running on the Stadia. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey was the main showpiece and id software have Doom Eternal running at 4k60 after just two weeks of work. Not only that, Google revealed their own Game studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment, headed by Jade Raymond (the producer behind Assassin’s Creed 1+2) but didn’t have any games to show at this time.


Google “promise” that at launch the Stadia service will be capable of targeting 4k at 60 frames per second and is future proofed for 8k at 120fps and upgradable beyond this when needed. I find this hard to believe as Google have trouble getting YouTube to stream at a proper 1080p, let alone 4k and their video compression doesn’t do content any favours either. Just look at the newest Unity tech demo to see how YouTube's compression can kill a video. Those poor crushed dark areas. Even Netflix only “targets” 1080p but is more likely to be closer to 720-900p. A lot of this is all very bandwidth dependent and relies on a consistent speed and connection rates, and right now I’m just not sure much of the world is up for this. Here in England, most of the country has access to fairly decent internet speeds but even in somewhere like America, unless you’re living in one of the big cities, a good broadband speed is hard to come by and much more expensive and with data caps. To receive 1080p60 the recommended speed is 25mps, that's eating a lot of data, fast. In four or five years however, when providers have got their act together and stopped ripping off their customers, streaming could well be a legitimate way to play.


Personally, I’m sceptical but very interested and still have many questions. The price of entry being the main one. Assuming it’s a subscription-based system are there multiple tiers for better quality gaming and how much are compression, artifacting, graphics settings, textures, scaling and resolution affected by bandwidth? Things like game mods will also be out of the question as you never have the files to tinker with. Not sure pc players could go back to vanilla Skyrim.

Google has more to reveal in the summer, so hopefully, this is all laid out than before the Stadia is set to launch later this year.


Bry Wyatt

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Monday, 18 March 2019

Samsung Galaxy M Series ★★★☆☆


Samsung's latest budget offerings are the M10 & M20 phones launching in India this week. Whilst reviewing the M20, I'll also be comparing it to the M10. Both the M series phones look & feel very different from any of the previous Samsung phones.  Plastic build with a glossy finish, “Infinity-V” dew drop notch and a massive battery are the features that are most noticeable. 

Both phones are dual SIM VoLTE enabled & have extra storage option available. The M20 has a 5000mAh battery & M10 has a 3400mAh one, both of which work pretty well, support fast charging, and last almost an entire day considering the massive 6.3” screens. Thankfully both variants still sport the 3.5mm jack, although there are no earphones bundled in the box.  

The major difference in the 2 variants, besides the battery size, is the missing Type C Charging port (has a micro USB) & fingerprint sensor on the cheaper M10 model. The Exynos 7904 CPU on the M20 is a new launch from Samsung and very similar to the Snapdragon 600 series of processors. 3GB RAM & 32GB storage or 4GB RAM & 64GB storage are 2 options available in the M20 with a colour choice of Ocean Blue or Charcoal Black.


The M20s dual rear camera setup has a 13MP & 5MP lens while the front is an 8MP shooter. The camera app is similar to what you see in most Samsung phones, with fast focusing speed. This is perhaps the first time ever the image and photo quality disappointed me on a Samsung device. They look decent on the phone but once you see them on a big screen the fine details were lost & it looked grainy. Low light shots were poor and looked blurry. Surprisingly, Live Focus mode for Bokeh effects, works only on a face and not on objects. Video recording maxes out at 1080p.

Device security includes Facial Recognition, which is a bit slow but more useful since the fingerprint sensor is not easily accessible on the 6.5” body when using the phone in one hand.
Overall usage does not show any lag and games run smoothly even with multiple apps open in the background. 

On the software front, both devices run on last year's Android Oreo 8.1 with Experience UI, possibly an update to Pie later this year & Samsung's own One UI. A huge turn off is the number of Ads placed on the lock screen and constant notifications coming from the My Galaxy app. This can only be disabled by selecting “wallpapers” on the lock screen rather than “wallpaper and stories”.

With the Galaxy M series, Samsung is challenging Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro, Asus Zenfone Pro M2, RealMe U1 all of which have some features better than the M20.
Both phones could've done a better job. 

★★★☆☆
Pritesh Khilnani



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February Phones Video Round UP!

Have you watched our February Phone review yet?

Lewis takes a look at the best phone releases and updates for last month. February brought us:

Moto G7 Series / Huawei P Smart / Huawei Mate 20 X
Enjoy!

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Sunday, 17 March 2019

WIN a Switch + 2 Mario Games!

Yes, you read right!


Want to win a Nintendo Switch with Mario Odyssey & New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe?

To celebrate Mario day (MAR 10) we are giving you a chance to win these amazing Nintendo goodies! Just leave a product review of anything on webuy.com between Sunday the 10th of March & Sunday the 17th of March. The winner will be picked at random from all published reviews and contacted to receive their prize. 

Participating countries are Australia, India, Ireland & United Kingdom. Only one winner will be picked between all regions.



To leave a review, head to webuy.com and search for the product you want to review. You can leave your review by clicking the “write review” button which is either found just below the product title (if it has been reviewed by others) or at the bottom of the page (if you’ve been lucky enough to get there first!).


TERMS
Your review must be approved by the BazaarVoice* moderation team. Product reviews will not be approved if:
  • There is no review of the product itself
  • Contains links to other sites
  • Contains foul language, threats of violence or illegality

It is important that your review is about the product in question, not about the service or the status of the product (for that there are other channels). If, for example, you want to review a movie, say "American History X", you should discuss the film in question (eg "the movie is too slow", "the movie is too violent", "the movie has a great script, accompanied by a great direction and an excellent performance by Edward Norton, highly recommended ", etc.). If in the review you do not refer to the product in question but to the state in which it has arrived or the time it has taken to arrive, then that review will not be included for the draw. And as always CeX's decision is final on all competition matters and whether a review is published.
Good Luck!


* BazaarVoice are an online review company.



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Februar TV / Movie Video Round UP

Have you watched our February  TV / Movie review yet?

February was the month of the Oscars and boy what a month it was! Sam looks at the winners and... not so winners that last month had to offer. In this video, we have:

The Hate U Give / First Man / A Star Is Born / Halloween

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Saturday, 16 March 2019

February Tech Video Round UP


Have you watched our February Tech review yet?

February was a good month for Samsung. This month, we saw the release of the:

Galaxy Buds \ Galaxy Tab S5e \ AMD Radeon VII

Enjoy!

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Monday, 11 March 2019

February Xbox Video Round UP

Have you watched our February Xbox review yet?

Time for the 3rd instalment and our list of the amazing games Xbox had to offer in February! This month, Lewis will be looking at:

Far Cry New Dawn /  Anthem / Metro Exodus

Which was your favourite game this February?

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Friday, 8 March 2019

International Women's Day - The women we want to talk about

Happy International Women’s day from all of us here at CeX! 


In the spirit of the day, we’ve made a list of inspiring women from the tech and entertainment industries that you should know about. These women have helped shape tech, gaming and entertainment today and we can’t wait to see what’s next!

Jameela Jamil


Star of The Good Place, Jameela Jamil started out as an English teacher and has now risen to fame as Tahani in NBC’s The Good Place. In 2015 Jamil launched Why Not People? An events and membership community dedicated to hosting accessible live entertainment events. In March 2018 Jamil started the social movement I Weigh and was subsequently named in BBC’s 100 Women. This year, she won Stylist’s Woman of the year. Jamil is unapologetically frank and we love it. Definitely, one to watch. 

Carol Shaw


One of the first female game designers makes our list. Carol Shaw’s the one to thank for retro classics like 3D Tic-Tac-Toe (Atari 2600), River Raid (Atari 2600, Atari 8-bit & Atari 5200), and Happy Trails (Intellivision). Her unpublished Polo is the first documented game programmed & designed by a woman. In 2017 she won The Game Award - Industry Icon Award. She was quoted by a colleague as being “simply the best programmer of the 6502 [an 8-bit microprocessor] and probably one of the best programmers, period.” She was so successful in her career that she was able to retire at 35 and along with Dona Bailey and Carla Meninsky, opened the door for women in gaming. 

Kim Swift


Previously noted in Forbes “30 under 30” influential figures in the video game industry, Kim Swift made her name as one of the developers for Valve’s Portal. Described as one of the most recognized women in the industry and “an artist that will push the medium forward”. Swift has also worked on Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Quantum Conundrum, Half-Life 2 Episodes One & Two and Star Wars Battlefront II. Still, under 40, she has achieved so much and is definitely a name to look out for. 

Amy Hennig


Video game director and script-writer Amy Hennig started her career with Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City on the NES. Hennig has a had a lengthy career and some highlights include Jak and Daxter, The Uncharted Series and Battlefield Hardline. Hennig has won a BAFTA special Award and is due to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards later this month. Hennig is a fantastic example of a successful woman in a male-dominated industry and we can’t wait to see what she does next.

Rana El-Kaliouby 


Computer scientist and entrepreneur Rana El-Kaliouby specialises in expression recognition research and technology development. El-Kaliouby is CEO of Affectiva, an emotion measurement technology company that has developed software to recognise human emotions based on physiological responses. The technology has a multitude of uses that range from helping brands improve their advertising - to working with games, enabling them to change user experience based on reaction. Affectiva has also developed a sensor to measure changes in emotional states via their skin. The technology has limitless applications and is ultimately looking to help on the autism spectrum.  El-Kaliouby was also part of the team that developed the “emotional hearing aid”, glasses that read emotion and was featured in the New York Times top 100 innovations in 2006. To see more, El-Kaliouby features in Do you trust this computer?


Happy International Women’s day to these trailblazers & to all women across the world! 



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February Nintendo Switch Video Round UP

Have you watched our February Switch review yet?

Our fab Feb roundups continue with a list of the amazing games Nintendo had to offer this month! Tom will be looking at:

Trials Rising /  Steins Gate Elite / Rad Rodgers Radical Edition / Origami Shadow Edition

Which was your favourite game this February?

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Thursday, 7 March 2019

February PlayStation Video Round UP

Have you watched our February PlayStation review yet?


Feb left us with another great list of games to try out this month! Jake takes us through the latest and greatest PlayStation has to offer. This month we had:

Jump Force / METRO: Exodus / FarCry: New Dawn/ Anthem

Which was your favourite game this February?

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The Grinch ★★★☆☆


It’s a familiar tale, but the latest return of The Grinch isn’t a carbon copy of Jim Carrey’s adaption of the Dr Seuss story. Benedict Cumberbatch’s distinctive voice sets the tone as his miserly Grinch decides to wage war against Christmas, with a subtle, sillier take on the miserly green monster who lacks a normal-sized heart. Pharrell Williams fills in as the narrator, following Cumberbatch and his loyal dog Max when they decide to ruin Christmas for everyone in Whoville.


Aimed at a younger audience, the CG-animated caper was an easy cash-grab during the festive season. The film reflects this visually, as the Grinch is soft and clean, fitting the inoffensive nature of the project as a whole. If anything, he’s a bit too cuddly, but it makes for more attractive tie-in toys that won’t scare the little ones away. It also made sense commercially, as it became the highest-grossing holiday film of all-time with a $508.6 million box office return from an outlay of $75 million.

Of course, lessons are learned, and the Grinch’s heart eventually swells to match his improved outlook on life thanks to the help of his new friends. It’s easier to empathize with the Grinch this time around, as he’s given better motivation and backstory in terms of why he hates the holidays in the first place. They had to stretch the poem somehow, but it does work well as a narrative device. Despite that, there’s really nothing new to see here for anyone who’s actually read the poem or seen the film, but it’s also worth remembering that adults aren’t exactly the target demographic. 

The Grinch is a highly polished product that will be eaten up by most children with no complaints. As for everyone else, we’re more likely to find it mildly amusing at best or akin to a dull form of minor torture at worst. There aren’t many layered jokes (a la Toy Story) for multiple ages, but the voice work is believable enough to keep little ones enthralled. Other positives include the animation, with vivid colours and good attention to detail which helps to build a richer world. The score was composed by the legendary Danny Elfman, so it’s no slouch when it comes to pulling at the heartstrings during tense moments.


Nearly 18 years after the live-action version, the retelling of the tale is an inoffensive experience which hits the right notes. If you’re looking for a new film to watch 100’s of times with the kids, you’ll probably end up hating it, but a younger version of me would have no doubt enjoyed it. In the present day, my heart didn’t swell at all, and I had half an eye on the clock throughout the 105 minutes it took for the film to finish.

★★★☆☆
James Millin-Ashmore



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Friday, 1 March 2019

Express iPhone Repairs in Harrow



Harrow Express Apple iPhone Service 

  • No Fix, No Fee Promise
  • 24-Month Warranty
  • 30-Minute Repairs
  • Accredited Technicians
  • 400,000+ Happy Customers
  • Screen and Battery Replacement Specialists
CeX Clinic's highly trained technicians are experts at replacing Apple iPhone screens and fixing battery problems in Harrow while you wait. Whether you iPhone won't turn on, has problems charging, needs a new battery replacement, has a scratched screen or the screen is cracked and broken we can solve it today, no fix no fee. We repair all Apple iPhone problems such as power buttons, volume buttons, cameras, signal, hardware and software issues for you at an unbeatable price in store today.
Express iPhone Repairs

CeX Clinic
282 Station Road (opposite Debenhams)
Harrow, HA1 2EA

Opening Hours
Sat: 9:00-18:00
Sun: 10:00-17:30 
Mon - Fri: 9:00- 18:00
Call our helpline: 01977 667000

Nearest station: Harrow-on-the-Hill tube/rail 0.26 miles 
Join over 400,000 happy customers and get your iPhone fixed fast at the CeX Clinic.


Why won't my iPhone turn on?
  • It could be that your battery needs an extended charge or your iPhone battery needs to be replaced.
  • Your iPhone needs a hard reset.
  • With water damage, it's best to get it checked quickly to prevent permanent damage.

CeX Clinic's experienced and accredited technicians are ready to fix your iPhone in Harrow today.




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CeX Deal £25 Red Dead Redemption 2


Wait no longer Cowboy! Red Dead Redemption 2 is only £25 at CeX! Don't delay, get yours today from 380+ CeX stores across the UK and online.* Limited time offer!



Get some Red Dead Redemption 2 today!

*£1.50 shipping applies to online orders.

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