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AI

Don’t lift a finger: AI-driven voice commands are the future of the smart home

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Among the fastest growing verticals in the smart home space is the smart appliance market. However, much of this growth hinges on adding voice control technology. Voice-controlled artificial intelligence assistants — where the consumer uses their voice to direct, control or engage with technology — are on trend to become the primary method for communicating with devices. 

Don’t lift a finger: AI-driven voice commands are the future of the smart home

Voice control: Give the people what they want 

Consumers, who are used to having answers at the tip of their fingers, have easily (and eagerly) adjusted to using their voice. The addition of artificial intelligence (AI) has made the transition seamless. Like web and mobile, voice is now transforming from just another interface into a distinct consumer channel. It is estimated that by 2024 the number of voice assistants will reach a staggering 8.4 billion, overtaking the world’s population. Further, the Voice Consumer Index 2021 surveyed technology users and found that one-third use voice technology daily. It is clear that voice technology is increasingly becoming an essential part of our day-to-day lives. The addition of voice user interfaces (VUIs) to appliances, such as washing machines and refrigerators, will only further accelerate the trend within the home.  

AI around the home

Homes and devices are becoming more sophisticated and thus more difficult to operate seamlessly. Many appliances have deep feature sets that most users never access, thanks to the difficulty of the interface. With voice control, users don’t have to struggle with the microwave’s touchpad; they can simply say what they’re cooking and even save presets for favorite dishes. Users can tell the washing machine to be careful with delicate items, tell the kitchen faucet to fill a glass with water, and even tell the trash can to open itself when their hands are full.

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While voice control is present today mainly on smart speakers and mobile devices, voice is prepared to go beyond that. Hardware and software advancements are making voice control practical for virtually any type of product. Industry efforts to increase voice service interoperability, or a device’s ability to support multiple voice assistants, can also be supported through design. Discreet or even invisible systems can be embedded into appliances, and new systems have immediate response times without cloud latency. 

The next iteration of voice control products will see increased integration of voice into standalone products that operate in different areas around the home. Some of these devices will utilize cloud technologies for their back-end intelligence, while others will keep interactions local at the edge. A new generation of sophisticated use cases awaits.  

Voice control for everyone

While every product is ready to host voice technology, there are still hurdles VUIs need to conquer before becoming equally useful for absolutely everyone.

One such hurdle is the need to accurately and consistently respond to people of different ages, with different dialects or speech disabilities. Thanks to machine learning, edge devices will become even more intelligent and useful over time. New systems will be able to better distinguish between different household voices, opening up new levels of personalization and security. Professional organizations like Black in AI, Women in Machine Learning and Women in Voice are working to increase the representation of diverse voices in AI, voice technology and machine learning. Organizations such as these will ultimately lead to greater innovation and inclusivity.

Users also need more support from brands in order to learn all that voice technology can do for them. Most users are simply stumbling upon voice experiences. Per the Voice Consumer Index 2021, many figure out how to have voice work for their household through basic trial-and-error, followed by tapping into relatives and friends, and then checking product packaging and websites. People want to do more with their voice assistants but are limited. Education is key to giving consumers what they already desire. 

AI-powered voice brings it all together 

Voice is the unified method of control that helps all of these various devices work “together.” Voice makes the smart home smarter and easier to manage. Artificial intelligence, combined with machine learning, empowers devices to make an entire home ready to answer a user’s every beck and call. All that’s needed is a simple wake word or detectable sound. 

Algorithms are often the “secret sauce” that differentiates one voice control product from another, but this also leads to lack of interoperability. Devices that fail to work well together make simple tasks more difficult and are a top reason for consumer frustration. As the market matures, consumers will choose devices that can offer an integrated experience. To answer this demand, manufacturers will need to choose components, dev kits and SDKs that support voice service interoperability to allow customers to seamlessly talk to the service of their choice.

The alignment of market groups to a single standard, such as Matter, will facilitate the deployment of smart devices in the home. Standards give users the confidence that their chosen smart devices will reliably work together while taking the guesswork out of the purchasing process. Ultimately, any consumer will have the option of a connected home that is secure and seamless. 

The future of voice control will bring the freedom to speak voice commands without needing a smart speaker nearby. With the right support, voice technology will easily become a primary method of communication.  

Brian Crannell is Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Audio Solutions for Knowles Corporation.

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Computing

What is AMD Smart Access Memory?

It’s been a tumultuous few years for finding new graphics cards for your gaming machine upgrades, but if you’re still planning on an AMD GPU or have recently upgraded your system, then you should know about a not-so-little feature called Smart Access Memory, sometimes abbreviated to SAM.

If you’ve been looking for ways to improve your game performance without too much tedious overclocking, upgrading to an AMD card with Smart Access Memory is an easy way to do it. Here’s how the feature works and why it makes such a difference.

What is Smart Access Memory?

This is a memory technology that AMD officially introduced in 2020 with its RX 6000 line, although it’s based on Resizable Bar technology, which has been around for a while. Basically, it’s a new design that allows the CPU in a computer to access much more of a GPU’s RAM than it previously could.

That means Smart Access Memory can help fix slowdowns and other problems that resulted from the CPU not being able to handle all the operations that the GPU threw its way. Essentially, with Smart Access Memory, a CPU can now utilize a much larger portion of memory from the GPU when needed, helping to get rid of bottlenecks that might otherwise occur with particularly demanding settings.

How is AMD Smart Access Memory an improvement?

Let’s look at some numbers. All GPUs need a certain amount of VRAM, dedicated memory to help them perform tasks. CPUs have the ability to access that memory in order to communicate with the GPU, making sure they’re on the same graphical page and performing all necessary calculations to get that sweet, smooth gameplay displayed on your screen.

However, CPUs generally default to using 128MB to 256MB of VRAM. While gamers can push this somewhat higher, it has become ridiculous in comparison to GPUs that come with 6GB of VRAM or lots more. CPU usage is so small that it can struggle to handle more demanding games, especially as games have continued to push the limits of what’s possible.

AMD Smart Access Memory is the big fix for this problem, and it’s a must-have feature if you are thinking about upgrading to a current GPU.

AMD Smart Access Memory test results.

Can it have a significant impact on my gaming?

It’s time for more numbers! And these are even more exciting from a gameplay perspective because Smart Access Memory really does show significant results, similar to those you could get with overclocking except without all the tweaking and monitoring that process requires.

According to AMD, on a Radeon RX 6800 XT running at a 1440p resolution, games like Forza Horizon 4 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla saw up to a 15% performance increase. Gears 5 saw up to an 8% increase. World of Warcraft: Shadowlands got up to a 6% boost. For just a single new feature, that’s not bad at all.

What do I need to enable Smart Access Memory?

Here’s where things get a little tricky. AMD Smart Access Memory requires proper compatibility with both the GPU and CPU, and that’s a little limited right now. Originally, Smart Access Memory was only available with the Ryzen 5000 line of CPUs and later, and AMD added a BIOS update so that Ryzen 3000 CPUS will also be able to benefit, but beyond that, you’ll need a CPU upgrade to take advantage of it.

On the graphics card side, Smart Access Memory is supported by Radeon RX 6000 GPUs with RDNA 2 architecture, so you’ll need one of these or later to enjoy any related performance boosts.

Smart Access Memory will no doubt become a default feature on AMD cards, and now that it’s been a couple of years, purchasing a new AMD GPU (here are the best AMD graphics cards) should guarantee that it comes with the technology.

Enabling SAM on AMD card.

I have a compatible graphics card — how do I make sure that Smart Access Memory is enabled?

Enter your Ryzen system BIOS, and go to the Advanced menu. Here, look for two key features — Above 4G decoding and Re-Size BAR support. Both need to be turned on to use Smart Access Memory.

What if I don’t use AMD components?

Remember when we said that AMD’s Smart Access Memory was based on an older technology called Resizable BAR? That’s good news: Nvidia is using the same technology to add similar benefits to its GPUs, starting in 2021 with its GeForce RTX 30 series — all of which now support Resizable BAR on desktop (check individual models if you have a laptop since that can still vary). Update your GeForce driver to make sure the support update is applied, and you should be good to go. Resizable BAR is not available on other Nvidia GPUs like RTX 20, GTX 16, or earlier.

There’s a catch, though: This Nvidia Resizable BAR tech requires a Ryzen 5000 CPU to function properly. Some Intel chips are supported, but not quite as many. Intel 10th-generation i3 though i9 CPUs support it, as do 11th-gen chips from i5 to i9, and while Nvidia doesn’t have much info on 12th-gen chips, Intel has indicated that they too are made for Resizable BAR. Nvidia is adding support for Resizable Bar to individual games as well, so you’ll need a game that supports it — newer games from 2021 onward are your best bet, and support has also rolled out to titles like Gears 5, Borderlands 3, Battlefield V, Horizon Zero Dawn, and so on.

This means your options for compatibility are slightly limited right now, although in time the technology will be rolled out to many more gaming machines and titles.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Samsung’s new Odyssey monitors have its Gaming Hub and Smart Platform built in

We’re starting to see Samsung’s Gaming Hub pop up on more TVs and monitors after the company . Its new Odyssey gaming monitors are the latest models to include the feature, which allows for swift access to a host of cloud gaming services. In fact, the Odyssey G70B and G65B are the company’s first monitors with both Gaming Hub and Smart Platform baked in.

Samsung says the displays offer a way to set up a home office environment without necessarily having a PC on hand. They’re compatible with and . You can also mirror a smartphone to the displays and stream shows and movies from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. Both monitors have a far field voice microphone and voice assistant functions.

The G70B will be available in 28- and 32-inch formats. It has a 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time, with a Ultra HD resolution and flat IPS display. It’s certified as and it supports . The G65B also has FreeSync Premium Pro to go along with its QHD curved display. It will have 27- and 32-inch options, a 240Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time. Both monitors include , which offers features such as a zoom-in mode and easy access to YouTube walkthroughs for part of a game you may be struggling with.

Samsung notes that the giant Odyssey Ark monitor also includes Gaming Hub. You’ll from the likes of , NVIDIA GeForce Now, Google Stadia, Utomik and Amazon Luna (the latter’s only available in the US) without any additional hardware other than a compatible controller. The rotatable, 55-inch curved display allows you to view three different apps and inputs simultaneously, so you can stream a game while watching YouTube at the same time.

The Odyssey Ark, which starts at $3,500, is available to pre-order now. Samsung will start offering the G70B and G65B later this year. If you happen to be at , you can check out the displays in person at Samsung’s booth.

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Categories
Computing

Samsung M8 Smart Monitor review: the display ultimatum

Samsung M8 Smart Monitor

MSRP $700.00

“The Samsung M8 Smart Monitor is packed with features, but they all seem to live in separate worlds.”

Pros

  • Works as a smart TV or a monitor
  • Supports Samsung Gaming Hub
  • Attractive design
  • 65W USB-C power delivery
  • Good SDR image quality

Cons

  • Limited HDR performance
  • No VESA mount and limited stand adjustment
  • Webcam features aren’t available on a PC

Samsung is on a mission. It’s a mission to redefine what makes the best monitors the best, and Samsung’s gambit is to blur the lines between TVs and monitors. That’s what the Samsung M8 is. It’s not solely a monitor or a TV — it’s both.

It’s rife with features bolstered by Samsung’s TV operating system, including Samsung SmartThings, AirPlay, and a magnetic webcam. It looks like the complete package, but in most cases, the M8 makes you choose between if you want a monitor or a TV without a lot of wiggle room to blur the line between them.

Samsung M8 specs

 
Screen size 32 inches
Panel type VA
Resolution 3840 x 2160 (4K)
Peak brightness 400 nits
HDR Yes (HDR10+)
Response time 4ms GtG
Refresh rate 60Hz
Curve None
Speakers 2.2-channel speakers
Inputs 1x Micro HDMI 2.0
USB ports 1x USB-C 3.0, 1x USB-C (65W PD)
Adjustments 130mm height, 15 degrees tilt
USB-C charging power 65W
Wireless Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 4.2
Dimensions (WxHxD) 28.1 x 22.6 x 8 inches
List price $730

A splash of Samsung color

A colorful image on the Samsung M8 Smart Monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Samsung has made an excellent-looking monitor with the M8. It gives off heavy M1 iMac vibes, with a screen that’s less than half-an-inch thick and superthin bezels. The biggest similarity comes in colors, with Samsung offering Warm White, as well as the muted Spring Green, Sunset Pink, and Daylight Blue options (the last three come with a $30 upcharge). I tested Sunset Pink, and the contrast between the soft pink and textured white backing looks fantastic.

You get a height-adjustable stand that matches the color of the monitor in the box, but it only has 130mm of height adjustment, without swivel adjustments, and a negligible 15 degrees of tilt. That’s usually not a big deal, but the M8 doesn’t have any VESA mounting holes. You can’t use it with a monitor arm without picking up a 3D-printed adapter on Etsy.

Around the back of the monitor, you get a mini HDMI connection, DisplayPort over USB-C, and a USB-C port with 65 watts of power delivery. We’re seeing 90W hubs now, but you’ll still be able to hook up something like the MacBook Air M2 to the Samsung M8 with a single cable.

TV or monitor? You decide

The M8 is a TV and a monitor, but switching between those modes isn’t as easy as it could be. You’re getting the Tizen operating system that’s available on Samsung TVs like the S95B OLED, so you can use all of your media apps like Netflix, YouTube, Apple TV+ — the list goes on. And due to the fact that the M8 has a remote and its own Wi-Fi connection, you can use all of these apps free of a PC.

Samsung TV OS running on the M8 Smart Monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

That’s great, but the more exciting aspects of the M8 lie elsewhere in software. It includes Samsung Gaming Hub, which allows you to use cloud gaming services like Xbox Game Pass, Google Stadia, and Nvidia GeForce Now. Like the normal apps, you can use all of these separately from a PC, hooking up a keyboard and mouse or a controller via the monitor’s Bluetooth 4.2 connection.

It also supports Samsung Workspace, if you’re willing to hassle through it. Workspace allows you to remotely connect to a PC, use some Microsoft 365 programs (and only Microsoft 365 programs), and take advantage of Samsung DeX if you want to work off of your phone.

DeX works, but remoting into a computer or using a Microsoft app is like trying to run Windows apps on a smart TV processor; in short, it’s not good. All of the media and productivity apps are a big selling point of the M8, but I’d take using the apps on a PC any day. The bundled apps are just a bonus.

This isn’t a TV and a monitor. It’s one or the other. Although you use Samsung Multi-View to see a built-in app and your computer at the same time, it’s not the best experience. Multi-View is laggy, and it’s a hassle to transfer control between windows. Multi-View works, but I wasn’t inclined to use it on the M8 like I was on Samsung’s Odyssey Ark. Still, the M8 supports proper picture-in-picture if you don’t mind your cursor lagging a bit behind.

Taking control of the M8

Remote on the Samsung M8 Smart Monitor stand.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The TV/monitor duality of the M8 struggles when it comes to changing settings. You can control the monitor with the included remote, a four-way joystick on the back, or Bluetooth peripherals. Samsung leaned into the TV side of the display, though, so you don’t have a typical OSD or fine control over picture settings like the Acer Predator X28 offers.

You can still adjust the picture, with settings for brightness, contrast, sharpness, etc. My main issue is how long it takes to access these settings. You have to navigate to the home screen, go down to settings, tab over to picture settings, and finally adjust what you need. A dedicated settings button would go a long way here, as it takes a good 30 seconds to even find the setting you want to tweak.

A great picture, but not for HDR

A video of a paintbrush running on the Samsung M8 Smart Monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The M8 looks fantastic, given you’re not dead set on HDR. It’s better than budget-bin monitors but still a decent bit below the quality of premium 4K displays like the Dell UltraSharp 32 4K. A big reason why is color coverage. You get 100% of the sRGB spectrum based on my test results, as you would expect from a $700 monitor, but 83% of AdobeRGB and 89% of DCI-P3.

Those are great results, but they’re just short of providing a true wide gamut for impressive HDR. HDR on the M8 just doesn’t do much, similar to cheaper DisplayHDR 400 monitors like the HP Omen 27c. You have solid contrast with the VA panel the M8 uses (2,860:1 based on my testing), but the display never managed to crack the 400 nits ceiling Samsung advertises. I topped out at 396 nits with HDR on.

The screen doesn’t get bright enough to support HDR, and it doesn’t have a local dimming feature (much less Full Array Local Dimming like the Sony InZone M9 offers).

HDR aside, the screen is solid. The darkest parts of the monitor never washed out while I watched YouTube videos and played some Destiny 2, suggesting a global dimming feature. Although the screen can wash out a bit at low brightness, the backlight is still strong enough to combat heavily lit rooms. I had no issues with glare even with direct sunlight pouring into the windows in my office and with the backlight cranked up.

The thing is that you can get the same screen for less. The Dell UltraSharp U2720Q and LG 27UK850-W offer similar image quality for around $150 less than the Samsung M8 (and they’re among the best 4K monitors you can buy). You get a lot of extra goodies with the M8, sure, but you can get a monitor with the same raw image quality for less, or a monitor with better image quality for the same price. And that’s especially true when it comes to gaming.

Color accuracy isn’t a concern, with the M8 hitting a Delta-E (difference from real color) of just over 1. That’s suitable for video or photo editing, but a calibrated display like the Asus ProArt PA329CV offers a wider color range for around the same price.

Gaming on the Samsung M8

Destiny 2 running on the Samsung M8 Smart Monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The M8 isn’t a gaming monitor, but Samsung still includes several features tailored toward gamers: Gaming Hub, a dedicated 21:9 ultrawide mode, and a low-latency game mode.

Gaming isn’t great on the M8, though. The obvious hurdle is that the monitor is locked to 60Hz, so you can’t take advantage of a high refresh rate like most gaming monitors offer. Playing in 4K at 60 frames per second (fps) is still demanding for even the best graphics cards, though. I played Destiny 2 and bit of the recently released Rollerdrome on a PC, and I didn’t have any issues. While 60Hz isn’t ideal, it works for gaming on a 4K monitor.

Given how many ways you can use the M8, it’s disappointing that it doesn’t have a more robust port selection.

The real limitation comes in the port selection. You have the choice between mini HDMI and USB-C, which vastly limits the possibilities for gaming. You’ll need a USB-C connection on your GPU if you’re using a PC, and HDMI 2.0 if you’re using a current-gen console. Given how many ways you can use the M8, it’s disappointing that it doesn’t have a more robust port selection to hook up several devices and toggle between them.

I also tried out Gaming Hub with Xbox Game Pass for a bit, giving Outriders another go after abandoning it. The low-resolution stream doesn’t look great when blown up on a 32-inch, 4K display, but the real issue is the Bluetooth connection. You’re locked to Bluetooth 4.2, which feels laggy when combined with the latency cloud gaming already imposes.

The M8’s tricky webcam

A hand installing the webcam on the Samsung M8 Smart Monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Outside of all of the bundled apps, the other killer feature of the M8 is its magnetic webcam. You get one in the box, which attaches directly to the back of the monitor through a USB-C pogo connection. It’s completely magnetic, too, so you can throw it on the back of the display out of sight, as well as store the included metal privacy shield.

It has features like face tracking and auto-framing, but they only work with Google Duo. In fact, the included webcam only works with Google Duo if you’re connecting directly to the monitor. Video calls without a computer is a plus, but you need to unhook the webcam from the display and plug it into your PC if you want to use Microsoft Teams, Discord, or any other video chat app. And you can’t use the face tracking or auto-framing in that case.

The quality is great in a well-lit room, though it tends to get grainy when you turn some lights off. That doesn’t make a huge difference — an external webcam is still the best for quality — but the usability hurdles sting. A built-in webcam like the Dell P2418HZm offers makes so much more sense so you don’t have to change up your connections to let Windows take control of the webcam.

Our take

The Samsung M8 will be the exact monitor that a small group of people want. If you want one screen that can pull double duty as a monitor and a TV, there’s nothing else quite like what Samsung is offering.

Most people are in the market for a TV or monitor, though. In that case, the M8 is either too expensive or slightly lacking in quality, as the extra smart TV features make up about $100 of its price tag.

Are there any alternatives?

There are a few alternatives to the Samsung M8:

  • $4330 Samsung M7 — You get basically everything you get with the M8 with the M7, including the apps, a 4K resolution, and a 60Hz screen, for $370 less. However, the stand is much worse without any adjustments, and you don’t get the magnetic webcam.
  • $766 Asus ProArt PA329CV — It’s a bit more expensive than the M8, but it offers much wider color coverage and accuracy for content creators. It also includes a 90W USB-C hub.

How long will it last?

Assuming Samsung will continue updating its TV operating system, you can use the Samsung M8 for several years without issues.

Should you buy it?

Yes, but only if you need the various features the M8 offers. Solely as a monitor, there are better options for less. The M7 is a great alternative, too, assuming you don’t need the webcam and can pick up a monitor arm.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Amazon Luna arrives on Samsung’s latest smart TVs

Earlier this year, the Samsung Gaming Hub brought Xbox Game Pass, NVIDIA GeForce Now, Google Stadia and other gaming services to Samsung smart TVs and smart monitors, promising to add new services like Amazon Luna “soon.” Soon, it turns out, is today: Amazon’s cloud gaming service is now available on 2022 Samsung smart TVs.

Samsung says that with Luna, the gaming hub now has more than 1000 games available to play. Most of these games will require an extra subscription fee, though if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you already have access to a small library of games. Very small. Right now Prime users can play four games (Steel Assault, MYST, Control: Ultimate Edition and Garfield Kart: Furious Racing) included with their subscription.

The selection of free with Prime games changes every month, but users can subscribe to additional channels to expand their library. Luna Plus, for instance, includes games like Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Mega Man 11, Ghostrunner and Resident Evil VII. Luna’s Retro Channel has a collection of classic games, from Centipede to Street Fighter II. Users can also subscribe to channels featuring Ubisoft and Jackbox game packs, all priced between $4.99 and $17.99 a month. If you do subscribe, your games won’t be locked to your TV: Luna games are playable on PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones.

How well all these games work, however, depends on your connection speed. Amazon Luna and Xbox Game Pass both recommended minimum internet speeds of 10Mbps to 20Mbps on a 5GHz WiFi connection — and of course, you’ll also need the aforementioned 2022 Samsung Smart TV and a Bluetooth gamepad. If you have all that, Luna’s Free with Prime games are a great way try game streaming on your TV.

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Categories
Game

Xbox Game Pass comes to new Samsung smart TVs on June 30th

Xbox has been talking about bringing the Game Pass Ultimate library to smart TVs for at least a year, and it’s finally happening in 2022. The Xbox app will hit this year’s lineup of Samsung smart TVs and monitors on June 30th, allowing Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to play titles from the cloud with no additional hardware, aside from a Bluetooth-connected gamepad. Even a PlayStation controller will do the trick.

Some 2022 Samsung smart TV models already support game-streaming services including Google Stadia and NVIDIA’s GeForce Now. Samsung launched a new Gaming Hub for its TVs in January, putting these cloud services front-and-center, and the Xbox app is set to join them. Xbox is one of the biggest forces in cloud gaming, with more than 25 million Game Pass subscribers – though not all of these are at the Ultimate tier, which unlocks streaming capabilities.

The Game Pass Ultimate library has hundreds of games available to stream and Xbox has made it a point to release its big first-party titles on the service on day one. On Samsung devices, the Xbox app will support Bluetooth headsets and gamepads including the Xbox Wireless Controller, and PlayStation’s DualShock 4 and DualSense.

There’s no update for now on the dedicated streaming device that Xbox said it was working on last year alongside the smart TV app.

Xbox Game Pass 2022 updates

Xbox

Xbox has more big plans for Game Pass in the coming months. Later this year, the company plans to add the ability for Ultimate subscribers to stream select games that they purchase outside of the Game Pass library. It’s unclear exactly how this will break down – it likely applies to titles that leave the Game Pass catalog but remain in the Xbox ecosystem, but it could include games from third-party distributors.

In response to a request for clarification, an Xbox spokesperson said, “Later this year, it’s our intent to roll out the ability for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to play select games from the cloud that you already own or purchase outside the Xbox Game Pass library. We’ll have more to share on the specific games that will be supported via Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) over the next year.”

Xbox is bringing cloud gaming to two new countries, Argentina and New Zealand, on June 9th. This includes access to the Xbox streaming library and Fortnite. Xbox partnered with Epic Games to bring Fortnite to Xbox Cloud Gaming in May, and it’s available to play there for free without a subscription. At the time, Xbox said it was interested in adding other free-to-play titles to its cloud network.

Over the coming year or so, Xbox plans to test out a system that allows for multiple profiles to play at the same time under a single Game Pass subscription. That’ll be tested in Colombia and Ireland, and Xbox executives are positioning it as a “potential addition” to Game Pass.

Xbox Game Pass 2022 updates

Xbox

Finally, game demos are on their way to Game Pass. Within the next year, Xbox will start rolling out curated, bite-sized bits of upcoming games in Game Pass, allowing subscribers to test these titles for free and provide feedback to developers. The program will focus on independent titles at first, and Xbox said developers will be compensated for participating, meaning all the work that goes into building a demo won’t go unfunded. The demo program is called Project Moorcroft. There’s no word on if a Minecraft Project Moorcroft demo will ever drop, but it’s fun to say that regardless.

Time-limited, free game demos are one of the perks of the new PlayStation Plus subscription service, which will be competing directly with Game Pass. The new PS Plus goes live on June 13th and its most expensive tier, Premium, includes access to about 700 games in the PS Now library, plus cloud play for some games from past PlayStation eras. Sony’s subscription plan doesn’t support native streaming on mobile devices, as Xbox’s does, and it won’t include any new, first-party games at launch.

Sony received negative press in April after reports surfaced that the studio was making it mandatory for developers of certain games to build and release two-hour demos for PlayStation Plus Premium, with no apparent plans to compensate them for the work. Xbox, of course, made sure to highlight its plans to pay developers for building demos.

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Categories
Computing

LG’s first OLED gaming monitor matches its smart TVs in price

LG has finally revealed the price for its LG UltraGear 48GQ900 OLED gaming monitor and made it available for pre-order, three months after its initial March announcement.

The monitor appears to be available only in the U.K. at the moment, where it will sell exclusively at Overclockers UK for 1,400 pounds ($1,724). The peripheral stands as LG’s first OLED gaming monitor, and is priced comparably to the LG C2 Smart OLED TV in the U.K. NotebookCheck pointed out.

The 48-inch UltraGear 48GQ900 is LG’s first OLED gaming monitor.

The availability of the gaming monitor outside of the U.K. remains unknown.

In comparison, the LG C2 Smart OLED TV sells for $1,400 in its 42-inch option in the U.S., however, it also comes in 48-inch, 55-inch, and 65-inch options, which quickly exceed that price. OLED panels are much more common in the TV market, and the LG C2 series uses advanced OLED evo panels, the publication added.

The LG UltraGear 48GQ900 features a 47.5-inch panel with a 4K 3,840 x 2,160 resolution and a 120Hz minimum refresh rate, which can be overclocked to 138Hz. There is still no word on what kind of OLED technology is being used on the monitor, which is still not overly expensive given its size.

Traditional OLED is known as an expensive technology, which is likely why its rollout to monitors has been so slow and many brands have opted for cheaper alternatives. The popular Alienware 34 monitor sells for just $1,300 and features a Samsung QD-OLED panel, for example.

Other specs for the monitor include a 10-bit panel, HDR support, an antiglare coating, 1-millisecond gray-to-gray response time, a DCI-P3 color gamut with 98.5% coverage, built-in speakers, and a purple design in the rear. It also features two additional HDMI ports, a DisplayPort, and a headphone jack, as well as AMD FreeSync Premium and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility.

There is no word on an exact release date for the LG UltraGear 48GQ900, however, Overclockers U.K. said it expects to receive stock in the August time frame.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

LG smart TVs finally get Google Stadia support, but only certain models

Google’s cloud-based gaming platform Stadia is now available on certain LG smart TVs. The new support eliminates the need to purchase and use a separate device for accessing one’s Stadia library, though it’s important to note that only newer LG models running specific versions of the company’s webOS support Google’s gaming service.

Ascannio/Shutterstock

LG smart TVs join the Stadia lineup

LG Electronics USA

Unlike a regular “dumb” television, a smart TV features more robust hardware that powers a built-in operating system. Some manufacturers like TCL and Westinghouse bundle their smart TVs with third-party operating systems like Fire TV and Roku OS, while other companies like LG sell smart TVs that feature the company’s own operating system.

LG’s smart TV platform is called webOS; it provides users with direct access to popular streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, apps that provide information on things like the weather, and more. In an announcement today, the South Korean company said some of its smart TVs also now offer Google Stadia (via PRNewswire).

Stadia subscribers can download the app in the LG app store on their smart TV, but only if the model runs webOS 5.0 or webOS 6.0. This means only newer smart TV models support the cloud-based gaming platform — if your model was made before 2020, there’s a good chance it isn’t included. The native support is available in all 22 markets where Stadia is available.

What is Google Stadia?

Google Stadia on devices

Google

Google Stadia is one of a growing number of cloud-based gaming platforms. Rather than purchasing typically expensive hardware like a console to play games, cloud-based services like Stadia allow users to stream content over a high-speed Internet connection.

Because the heavy-duty work takes place on Google’s servers, players are able to fire up their favorite titles — including AAA games — on a huge variety of devices otherwise incapable of running high-end games. Gamers can, for example, play Stadia games on an Android smartphone or tablet, their existing laptop using Chrome, or with the Chromecast Ultra, a 4K HDR streaming dongle that costs $109 USD.

Assuming the gamer has access to high-speed Internet service, Stadia is a great way to play the latest games without spending a bunch of money — and it is particularly great for consumers who already own smart TVs, but only if those models are supported. By adding native Stadia support, LG has given some of its customers the option of joining Stadia at minimal costs, requiring them to merely buy a compatible controller and the games they want.

Beyond Stadia

NVIDIA GeForce NOW on phone

Nikkimeel/Shutterstock

While Stadia is a great platform, it’s not the only cloud-based game streaming service on the market. Last month, LG announced a GeForce NOW app beta test for select 2021 webOS smart TV models, paving the way for access to NVIDIA’s own cloud gaming platform. The GeForce NOW service is particularly useful for gamers who have already purchased a number of titles because the platform connects with existing PC gaming stores.

Consumers who aren’t concerned with native LG smart TV support can also check out PlayStation Now, Sony’s own cloud-based game streaming platform. PS Now provides access to a huge library of PlayStation games dating back to the PS2 era, though they can only be streamed on the PS4, PS5, and Windows PCs. There’s also Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming platform offered as part of the Xbox Game Pass subscription, providing customers with access to more than 100 console games on mobile devices and Windows PCs.

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Categories
AI

What it takes to become a smart enterprise

Hear from CIOs, CTOs, and other C-level and senior execs on data and AI strategies at the Future of Work Summit this January 12, 2022. Learn more


We have smartphones, smart cars, even smart cities. In fact, there aren’t many things left that aren’t becoming smarter by the day.

But what about smart enterprises? With digital transformation well underway and artificial intelligence quickly making its way into the IT stack – in part to support smartphones, smart cars, and smart cities – how can we expect the enterprise itself to become smarter? And will we even be able to pinpoint the moment in which it becomes smart?

Smart actions, not words

Clearly, smartness is more than a mission statement or press release touting things like data science and intelligent analytics. As tech consultancy Plekton Labs noted recently, a smart enterprise is defined more by the way it uses these and other technologies, both strategically and operationally. To be considered smart, the enterprise will have to display a range of capabilities that it doesn’t have now, or at least cannot leverage to make an appreciable impact on the business model. These include the following:

  • Continuous availability
  • Employee empowerment at all levels
  • Collaboration inside and outside the organization
  • Deployment of user-centric tools and services
  • Improved innovation through next-gen networks, operations, and processes
  • New levels of productivity and creativity
  • Support for rapid digital transformation in both processes and practices.

While this transformation doesn’t depend solely on AI, it’s fair to say that it will play a leading role. As more tasks become automated, the enterprise becomes more responsive to the demands of a digital economy, in part by focusing its human capital on key tasks that cannot be automated so easily.

But as Kumar Singh, research director at SAPInsider, notes, it’s not like a day will come when an enterprise becomes smart at the flip of a switch. Instead, we’ll see gradual steps in maturity as organizations embrace these new capabilities.

A freshmen enterprise, for example, is still charting out the potential for intelligent operations and data-driven decision-making to alter the business model. Meanwhile, sophomores are starting to implement cultural changes to create new processes and streamline operations, while juniors are taking this to the next level by focusing on the creation of new revenue streams and business models. Finally, senior organizations have converted their operations to rapid, iterative experimentation with an eye toward building customized AI toolchains and developing in-house talent around the new data ecosystem.

The smart (data-driven) plan

None of these milestones will be achieved without a plan, however. Salesforce recently posted four key pillars that organizations should strive for to become a data-driven organization. The first key step is to develop adequate data management, focusing not just on markets or customers but employees, operations, and virtually everything else. Secondly, organizations should choose their data analytics technology carefully. While it may be tempting to deploy out-of-the-box solutions, a more effective strategy is to focus on lower-level tools and programming languages to preserve high levels of flexibility.

From there, you’ll need to upskill your workforce in the use of AI and then embed these new talents directly into business units rather than spin them off into their own department. This provides the fastest, most accurate turnaround for data-driven decisions. Finally, the smart enterprise requires a cultural shift that embraces change. This can only come about through proper leadership and a clear strategic roadmap that incorporates all aspects of the company.

To become truly smart, however, tools like AI must integrate seamlessly into the operational model, says BMC’s Ali Siddiqui. This is why AIOps has become a key strategic imperative for enterprises making this transition. Like with DevOps, AIOps strives to create a more proactive and predictive IT environment in which machines can resolve their own issues using Big Data and advanced analytics. By putting IT at the forefront of digital transformation, it can then accelerate the deployment of smart capabilities across the rest of the enterprise.

As with people, however, smart is a relative term. More than likely, organizations will become very smart at some things and not so smart at others. And no matter how smart you become, there are always ways to become smarter.

Ultimately, the smartest enterprises will be those that recognize how much they have to learn.

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Categories
Game

LG WebOS Smart TVs will soon have an NVIDIA GeForce NOW app

LG is clearly dead-serious about expanding its smart TV kingdom, not just in terms of hardware but also software. In addition to adding new apps and services to its smart TVs, like Apple TV+ and support for AirPlay 2, LG has also started licensing its WebOS platform to other smart TV manufacturers. Most of those new features have revolved around “passive” entertainment, but this newest feature treads into the realm of interactive content, with the upcoming arrival of NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW game streaming to select LG smart TVs.

There are two or three major game streaming platforms these days, but NVIDIA was actually playing around with that possibility long before Google revealed its own take with Stadia. GeForce NOW did go out of beta a bit later, but it also has one of the largest numbers of supported devices to run. In addition to mobile, computers, and consoles, GeForce NOW is also coming to smart TVs, at least those running LG’s WebOS.

Select 2021 models of LG’s 4K OLED, QNED Mini LED, and NanoCell TVs in 80 markets will soon be able to test out a beta version of the GeForce NOW app that’s coming this week. Of course, availability still depends on whether the service is actually available in particular countries, but US owners need not worry about that at all. They also don’t need to worry about their TV’s hardware capabilities because the whole point of game streaming is to offload the heavy processing to remote computers.

Those remote computers happen to be using NVIDIA’s beefy RTX graphics card to stream smooth 1080p games running at 60 fps, complete with ray tracing effects. That said, this particular feature requires a paid subscription.

LG naturally promotes features of its TVs, like deep blacks on its OLED sets and fast 1 ms response times to combat input lag. It will be curious to see how the image quality will end up since they will have to be upscaled on 2K and 4K TVs. LG also isn’t saying if this app will be exclusive to LG smart TVs or if it will eventually find its way to third-party WebOS sets.

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