It’s been a while since our last tech round-up, and as you know technology moves fast so we’ve got plenty of exciting developments to share with you. So what’s new in the world of tech, as seen by Plusnet?
Well, Windows 8 is now available. As a result there are Windows 8 reviews which are, on the whole, very positive. It looks like a lot of the niggles that led to the initial love it or hate it reception have now been ironed out, though there are suggestions that the admittedly somewhat radical changes to the user interface may mean a slow takeup by businesses and other large purchasers. It’s interesting to see this change in perspective and we’ll enjoy seeing what happens now it's been launched, especially in the longer term where we see what impact Microsoft’s new approach will have on other operating systems in the market. We wouldn’t be at all surprised to see influence spreading across other desktop operating systems such as OSX and even Linux alongside tablet operating systems like Android – provided it’s a success. Having said that it’ll likely be a fair while before we see the upgrade spreading across the machines here at Plusnet Towers.
Will Microsoft's Surface be smoother than the iPad?
Of course we couldn’t bring up Windows 8 without mentioning the flagship hardware that’s been released to show it off. Surface is priced to rival, though apparently not undercut, the big boy in the tablet market – Apple’s iPad. How do you think this will go? Will gamers want the tie-in with Xbox Live services? Will the surface be a full on laptop replacement? We’re not sure about tablets to be honest. They definitely have their market, but we think it’ll be a hard sell to people who are used to having a fully functional laptop which isn’t much bigger or heavier than a tablet in the first place. If you’re interested to see how Surface stacks up against the latest iteration of the iPad, well, so are we.
And to complete our Microsoft hat trick: Smartglass
We'll be honest. This looks absolutely awesome. For those who aren’t aware, Smartglass is a smartphone app made by Microsoft that allows users to control their Xbox 360 from their mobiles - and it's available on Windows Mobile and Android too. iPhone users, don't despair, a version of Smartglass for iOS devices is also in the pipeline. This may seem to be Microsoft taking its lead from the iPhone’s built in remote control of other Apple devices (provided you have the full orchard in your home of course) but there’s more. With certain games you can get extra content on your phone’s screen while you play - similar to the up and coming Nintendo Wii U. It may not seem original but using equipment that a lot of people already have to enhance a gaming or media experience does seem a smart move to us.
New Game Releases
So what software will be coming out in the near future to test out this new hardware? Well, right now it’s all about the FPS (first person shooter) battle with the new Call of Duty game facing off against the new Halo 4 and the latest Medal of Honor game, Warfighter. Call of Duty Black Ops II is now the most pre-purchased game in history, but PC gamers (unfortunately a dwindling market – if only because so many households have a console now) may be disappointed given that they won’t be able to rent or administer their own servers. Medal of Honor Warfighter does offer this opportunity, but the previous game simply titled Medal of Honor didn’t really set gamers aflame with lust. The Halo series has always been big though hasn’t been available for the PC community since the first game. Nontheless the Halo franchise has a large following and no doubt this one will be the same. It’s been a while since Halo 3 and while there have been a couple of games in the series since, with Halo 4 we return to the Master Chief as main protagonist and he brings a new swathe of multiplayer games with him. Perhaps this will be enough to take the coveted Christmas No. 1 spot?
Ooh yeah, it’s the Ouya
From software to hardware, and the new pocket friendly sized (and priced) Android based Ouya console. It’s a very attractive looking cube designed to let you play a host of games on your TV – and all for free, once you’ve bought the unit itself. The Ouya started through Kickstarter.com and there’s still a few limited edition packages available if you feel like getting in early, whether as a gamer or an independent developer. The Ouya is aiming itself at independent developers and offering a friendly and most importantly easy to access platform for people who find the terms of the Android, Apple or Xbox live platforms difficult to work to which will hopefully lead to a large amount of content available on its release. All in all it’s an exciting prospect, we hope you’ll agree!
Femto Photography - a frame every trillionth of a second
You’ve probably seen the split-second photography pioneered by Dr Harold Edgerton that captured a bullet as it bisects various pieces of fruit or playing cards in the 1960s, and if not then we’d recommend it – there’re some breathtaking images to be seen. In order to capture something moving that fast the image has to be taken in around one millionth – 1,000,000 – of a second. This has been taken to the next (dare we say it, perhaps even ultimate?) level by Professor Ramesh Raskar. We realise ultimate is a very big word to use in this context, but with his team at MIT he’s created a camera that can take a picture in a femto second. That’s one trillionth of a second – 1,000,000,000,000. At this speed, the movement of light can actually be captured and seen, hence the use of the word ultimate – what else is there to capture, until something is discovered that moves faster than light? There's a Femto Photography video– for an incredible example of what the camera is capable of, start at around two minutes in but if you have ten minutes to spare it’s well worth watching the whole thing. Has any of this got you excited? Can't wait for Black Ops II? Why not sign up for the Plusnet Community forums and come and have a chat about it?