The Steam Deck docking station might be subject to an extended delay, but fans of the handheld gaming system have taken measures into their own hands, creating their own 3D-printed variations of the accessory that work just as well as the peripheral promised by Valve.
Most recently, a Reddit user by the name of Hannover2k shared images of their own Steam Deck docking station rig, detailing that the accessory is based around a Dock-Teck DD0003 USB-C hub. The user also added two USB 3.0 slots, an SD/MicroSD slot, an HDMI and LAN ports, and a 45-watt USB C-Charge port passthrough, TechRadar noted.
No problem. I created my own docking station with the 3D printer + a template from Thingiverse + a USB C 8in1 hub. 👍 pic.twitter.com/3gLWd7PaMR
This Reddit user isn’t the only Steam Deck fan to get creative by fashioning their own docking station for the Steam Deck while waiting for the real Steam Deck, which became available in February.
Valve announced in early June that it had once again delayed the launch of its docking station peripheral to an unspecified time, due to “parts shortages and COVID closures at our manufacturing facilities.”
During that time, Twitter user @Nerdpfleger shared images of their Steam Deck docking station iteration, which is based on a template from Thingiverse and powered by a USB C 8-in-1 hub.
In comparison, the actual Steam Deck docking station will include one USB 3.1 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI 2.0 port, a DisplayPort 1.4, and a USB-C port to connect to the Steam Deck console.
Fans’ ability to 3D print a Steam Deck label for their USB hubs to get the look and feel of a Valve-branded product without any wait could pose serious competition for the gaming company, considering the accessory has been delayed for most of this year. The Steam Deck docking station was originally set to release in February as a main accessory for the Steam Deck when the gaming system first became available.
For those who are not as handy, there are options such as shopping for ready-made docking stations on Esty. Or you can simply use a multiport USB hub, which, of course, won’t have Steam Deck branding.
Google’s cloud-based gaming platform Stadia has received a small update that will make playing games with friends much easier going forward. In an updated support document, the company revealed that Google Stadia players can now join their friends’ games without first receiving an invite, mirroring the option available on traditional gaming consoles.
The Stadia change was rolled out quietly and first spotted by9to5Google, which points to an updated Stadia support document with the new feature details. Put simply, Stadia players can now join multiplayer games their friends are playing without asking them to send an invite. This feature is only supported by some games, however.
Anyone who has played games on Xbox and PlayStation is likely very familiar with this sort of feature. A Fortnite player, for example, can view and join their friends’ existing matches without requesting an invite as long as their friend doesn’t have the match set to private. Stadia, as exciting as it is, launched without these sort of arguably basic features.
According to Google, the ability to join supported multiplayer games without an invite is disabled by default. Players who want to enable the feature will need to open Your Activity > Current Game > “Join your current game.” Enabling this feature will make it possible for friends to join the match even if you don’t send them an invite.
Google offers some control over this feature, however, by allowing players to decide whether they want to limit invite-free gaming sessions to only friends or make the opportunity available for all players. Users who aren’t in the mood for random multiplayer sessions can set their game to “Only You,” “Private,” or toggle the “Join your current game” feature off in the same menu used to enable it.
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You’ll find many laptop deals online, but you’ll have to do your research if you want to end up buying a reliable machine. If you want a device that’s powerful and dependable, you should be on the lookout for Dell laptop deals, and Dell XPS deals in particular. Fortunately for you, Dell, one of the most trusted names in the computing industry, is selling the XPS 13 with a $150 discount, bringing its price down to $800 from its original price of $950.
The Dell XPS 13 is the top choice in Digital Trends’ best laptops in 2021, as it continues to improve in its latest iteration with a 13.3-inch Full HD screen that uses a 16:10 aspect ratio, for a bigger display without increasing the overall size of the device. Dell also introduces a larger keyboard and touchpad, with bigger keycaps and better spacing for the keyboard plus quieter clicks for the touchpad for a more comfortable experience.
In terms of performance, the Dell XPS 13 also won’t disappoint. It’s powered by the 11th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and Intel Iris XE Graphics, which makes it more than capable of running the latest productivity apps with ease, and it can even multitask between several apps that are open at the same time. The laptop also comes with a 256GB SSD for storage, an extremely durable construction, and dual fans and heat pipes that work together to keep its temperature low.
You can’t go wrong with the Dell XPS 13, one of the best laptops that you can buy right now. It’s an even better choice with Dell’s $150 discount, lowering its price to just $800 from its original price of $950. If you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to purchase a laptop like the Dell XPS 13 for cheaper than usual, here’s your chance. It’s unclear when the deal will end though, so you should click that Buy Now button as soon as you can.
More Dell XPS deals
The Dell XPS 13 is one of the best choices that you can make if you’re planning to buy a new laptop, but you might want to take a look at other models in the Dell XPS line to check if there’s something else that’s a better option for you. Here are some of the best Dell XPS deals that are currently available, so you have an idea what’s out there.
We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.
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Last month, we heard a rumor which claimed that one of Battlefield 2042‘s unrevealed modes was actually a sandbox mode that would let players combine different Battlefield eras. Today at EA Play Live, EA and Ripple Effect – the new name for DICE LA – revealed exactly that. The new mode is called Battlefield Portal, and it’s described as “a love letter to fans and creators.”
EA and Ripple Effect have published a lengthy blog post to the Battlefield website with details on Battlefield Portal, but the short and sweet of it is that Battlefield Portal is a mode that will let you customize most things about a match. For example, you can pit different factions against one another, customizing their weapons and vehicles. You can also change movement settings and remove things like going prone or aiming down sights.
Battlefield Portal will pull components from three different games from the franchise’s past: Battlefield 1942, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3. In addition to those three classic games, you’ll also have the content in Battlefield 2042 available to you in Battlefield Portal. Players will create “experiences” using components from all four games that other players can join. When creating those experiencing, players can run either custom matches or use preset modes like Conquest, Team Deathmatch, or Rush.
You’ll be able to follow creators you like and hop into their games when they’re hosting them, while creators will have some admin tools available to them that let them ban usernames across all of the experiences they create. Ripple Effect even says that it will feature popular experiences in official playlists, so if you make a good one, it could end up in front of a lot of eyes.
For those who have experience with visual scripting logic, there will even be a Logic Editor they can use, allowing for more granular changes that the settings menu can’t accomplish on its own. So, for those who want a lot of control over what happens in their custom game modes, it sounds like they’ll have the tools to get there.
Ripple Effect says that there will be six fully reimagined maps launching with Battlefield Portal. From Battlefield 1942, we’ll see Battle of the Bulge and El Alamein. The two maps from Battlefield: Bad Company 2 are Arica Harbor and Valparaiso, while finally, we’ll see Caspian Border and Noshahr Canals from Battlefield 3. In addition, Ripple Effect will be bringing back various weapons, gear, vehicles, and soldiers from those games, including the M1 Garand, the M416, the Spitfire, and the B17 Bomber.
While EA and Ripple Effect confirmed a lot of details about Battlefield Portal today, there’s still more to come, as the two companies say that progression will be detailed at a later time. For now, hit the link above to read everything that’s been revealed so far. We’ll let you know when more is announced, so stay tuned for that.
Today, one of the largest chipmakers in the world, Intel, said that it might take a couple of years for the worldwide chip shortage to settle down. Pat Gelsinger, the CEO of the company, emphasized severity of the problem yet again during a virtual session of the Computex conference after highlighting it first in April.
Intel’s not the first or only company to raise the alarm about this global crisis. In April, South Korean tech giant Samsung noted that this problem is hitting its smartphone and appliances business. The company said that it has to “rebalance” its production plans to manage its sales demands. Fellow Korean tech company LG has also voiced similar concerns.
This seems like a serious problem. So let’s take a look at what’s causing it, and how it will impact you?
What’s causing the global chip shortage?
There are a couple of major reasons surrounding this issue. First, we’ve been using more chips than ever. Your car, your speaker, your phone, your microwave, and probably your hand-wash dispenser also has some kind of chip. So, to make all these devices and meet the demands of production, chipmakers have had to buckle up.
The second problem is of course the coronavirus pandemic. Companies in various parts of the world have had to shutter their factories in compliance with local regulation to stop the spread of the deadly virus. That means they’ve had to cancel several bulk orders of hardware components from different companies, and leave their product launch and marketing plans in disarray.
Glenn O’Donnell, vice president of research at the advisory firm Forrester, noted that pandemic has also accelerated demand for work-from-home products with meetings and events being conducted over Zoom calls all over the world — leading to an increased demand for chips.
How’s this affecting companies and you?
The simple answer is that your devices will get delayed. Last year, Apple had to delay the launch and availability of the iPhone 12 series by few weeks past its usual shipping dates after its annual September launch event. Earlier this year, the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, noted that production of the new iMac and new iPad Pros will be delayed because of this global problem.
It’s not just electronics manufactures that are struggling. The auto industry is one of the most affected verticals because of this crisis. Some manufacturers such as Nissan and BMW are leaving out features like the navigation system from cars as a result. In April, Jaguar Land Rover shut down two factories temporarily citing chip shortage.
What’s more, the global chip shortage is also hitting cryptocurrency miners: manufacturers are trying to fulfill big orders for more critical components, rather than those that will find use in mining rigs.
How are companies solving it?
A report from Gartner published earlier this month said that this crisis will last till the second quarter of 2022. Chip companies are already taking steps to counter it.
My Mercurial romance with virtual reality just got a dungeon‘s worth of kindling to relight the flame.
The game’s called Demeo and it was developed and published by Resolution Games. It’s a dungeon crawler that’s played from a first-person perspective. The player oversees the movement of miniatures (think: 3D models made to look like the physical figurines people use to play tabletop roleplaying games) in digital dungeon that sits on top of a virtual table.
That might sound complex, but the best thing about Demeo is that the only thing you need to know how to do to dive right in is how to pick up a toy with your hands and play with it.
The premise is simple: pick from one of four characters and move your token around the dungeon. You’ll encounter treasures with items and spells you can equip. And when it’s time for combat, you’ll fling out card-based magics by hand and roll virtual dice to resolve conflict yourself.
In essence, it’s a VR game that tries to emulate the experience of playing a tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) with a few of your buddies. You take turns, roll dice, laugh, and try to win.
It’s so simple that it’s brilliant. I can only swing a weightless sword or wield an unsubstantial assault rifle so many times before my ability to get lost in a virtual world butts up against the very real limitations of the current generation of VR hardware.
Those full-out experiences that try to blitz the player with action like a Hollywood blockbuster have their place – sometimes living out our Rambo or Neo fantasies in VR can be a cathartic experience.
But, ultimately, they’re pale imitations of popular console/PC games that simply play better on a 2D screen.
The VR experiences I’m most interested in are those that only work better in the real world. Demeo is one of those experiences.
Okay, glancing up at that feature list doesn’t make this seem like the most robust game ever made. But we’re not talking about Skyrim here. We’re talking about something arguably better for fans of old-school tabletop roleplaying games.
Demeo feels like the start of a beautiful friendship. I spoke with Revolution Games’ CEO Tommy Palm and he told me the game was very much based on the developers’ shared love for early tabletop roleplaying games.
VR, Palm says, is the perfect medium for this kind of game. Having made a deep impact in mobile gaming (ever heard of Candy Crush Saga?) he’s decided that VR is the next big thing.
I asked him why the mainstream still seems reluctant to fully embrace VR and he told me it had a lot to do with making good on the promises of virtual worlds:
VR has been one of these technologies that’s stuck in the future. It’s always five minutes away … I think we’re going to see a very exciting time going forward as people experiment with genre.
And that’s exactly what Demeo does: it experiments with genre. Decades of RPG development has taken us from early RPGs such as Atari’s Adventure, a startlingly good representation of TTRPGs for such an early console:
All the way to modern era games such as Skyrim that attempt to place you in the shoes of an adventurous character in a seamless world.
Rather than try to imitate 2D games in a virtual reality environment, Resolution Games decided to recreate the experience of playing roleplaying games with dice and figurines with Demeo and it’s a clear winner.
Palm told me the game had sold half a million dollars in the first 48 hours after launch and they were experiencing an average play time that far exceeded the VR-baseline of 30 minute sessions. This is incredible, but it’s not hard to believe once you’ve played the game.
The act of reaching out with your gloved hand to physically pick up your pieces and move them around fixes a lot of problems with VR. You can resize your game table and dungeon environment to view the action from nearly any angle, so this helps with neck fatigue, eye fatigue, and makes it easier for old people with failing vision such as myself to see what’s going on.
Furthermore, it solves the “too much happening at the same time and I don’t know where to look issue” because you’re physically initiating everything that happens. Nothing sneaks up on you or happens when you’re trying to figure out how to use your abilities – you don’t need a pause button because you control the action.
And, finally, because your head is the camera and your hands control the zoom, rotation, and angle of view, this is a very comfortable game to play. Without hesitation, I highly recommend this game as the first VR game you ever play if you’ve never donned a headset.
That being said, Demeo is a bit of a thin experience. If I hadn’t spoken to the developers’ CEO personally to confirm they planned on supporting the game with a lot of additional content, I might be tempted to withhold my enthusiasm for a sequel or the inevitable clones that’ll run away with this idea. But Palm seemed pretty excited at the prospect of continuing to develop Demeo and expanding its world.
Currently, there’s a single-player skirmish mode that’s a ton of fun for a few hours. The game’s very much focused on the fun-factor of playing what’s essentially a very well-made board game. But it’s really only scratching the surface when it comes to roleplaying.
First off, there is experience and progression, but levelling up only unlocks new cosmetics. That’s pretty cool for a while, but essentially you realize you can’t “grow” in this game – you just get new toys.
Where things get cool is in the multiplayer. You can link up with up to four of your friends, or you can try to match up with randos for a group experience if you’re looking to get social. It feels like you and your friends are gathered around the old kitchen table chatting and strategizing, and that’s pretty awesome.
These experiences are fun – to the game’s credit it’s very smooth and suitable to multiplayer and the community seems to be quite friendly. But the only thing that keeps me coming back is the novelty and nostalgia of it all.
I can’t believe I’m going to write this, but: I kind of wish there were some carrots or at least a repetitive grind that slowly pays off to keep me slogging forward. Cosmetics are nice, but the TTRPG player deep inside of me wants to unlock new abilities, skills, and titles that make me feel more and more powerful as I play.
Still, even with a rather shallow overall gameplay experience, this is one helluva game. There’s a reason why reviewers such as ArsTechnica’s Sam Machkovech are gushing over this game in weird ways, such as proclaiming it’s so good it made them sad.
That’s not an insult, I get it. It’s the best version of something I didn’t know I wanted, and now I want it to magically have four-decade’s worth of D&D or Rifts baked in.
I want to make my own Demeo levels. I want to collect figurines to debut inside the game and dive-in for full-on campaigns. I want this game to be more than it could possibly be right now because, at the end of the day I’m so excited it exists that I’ve fallen back in love with VR.
The Microsoft Office for Android app now has a dark mode, one with a pleasing black background surrounded by dark grey menus and borders. Users have two different options for enabling the dark mode, one that mirrors their device settings and the other that can be toggled on and off depending on your needs at any given time.
Dark mode has become increasingly popular and many platforms have added dark themes to their products based on user feedback. There are multiple benefits to dark mode — it removes the blinding white backgrounds that are uncomfortable to stare at in low-light environments, for example, and it can save battery life if your phone has an OLED display.
According to Microsoft, a dark mode for its Office mobile app has been a ‘highly requested feature,’ one now available to Android users. The app will present the dark theme if you have your device set to dark mode, but you can also open Settings and manually turn it on and off.
Microsoft says you’ll need to download the latest version of the Office app for Android to use this new feature. Compared to some other dark modes offered by various platforms, Microsoft’s dark theme is aesthetically pleasing and truly embraces black as its primary color.
The design makes it possible to easily discern different elements from each other while maintaining the overall black background. This same black background appears when you, for example, open a document; the text is presented as white.
New Pokemon Snap is still a couple of days away from release, but today, some of the reviews have started landing. New Pokemon Snap is in an interesting place, because it’s a sequel to a game that came out more than 20 years ago, when the gaming landscape looked vastly different and Pokemon was still coming into its own as a franchise. Can New Pokemon Snap tap into the nostalgia people have for the first game while at the same time giving those gamers something new?
It turns out that maybe it can. A quick look at Metacritic right now shows the game sitting at an 80 rating based on 42 reviews, which is probably higher than some might have expected for a title that, by most accounts, is a fairly simple spin-off. Still, the original Pokemon Snap was a simple and straightforward game that is beloved by many, so perhaps simplicity isn’t a bad thing.
Looking through a number of the reviews contributing to Metacritic’s score, it seems that many critics believe that New Pokemon Snap successfully keeps what made the original such a winner among Pokemon fans while building upon it to offer more. While the original game was a fairly short affair, even if you made a point of looking for secret paths and hidden Pokemon, it seems that New Pokemon Snap has the potential to be quite a bit longer, particularly for the completionists among us who might want to see everything the game has to offer.
Of course, one man’s replayability is another man’s repetition, and if there’s one major complaint these reviews have, its that New Pokemon Snap can be a repetitive experience in its later stages. Snap veterans are already primed for that as there are certainly people who ran the original’s levels over and over again just to get the perfect shot.
Still, it is important to keep in mind that a number of these reviews mention that the game does get grindy at points, and without that grind, it feels a little on the short side. That much is true of the original as well, but one thing to consider is that New Pokemon Snap costs a full $60 up front, and if you’re not willing to go through the grind to see everything there is to see, you may not feel like you got your money’s worth by the time you put it down.
For those who have been waiting for a Pokemon Snap follow-up for more than two decades at this point (like me), it sounds like New Pokemon Snap won’t really disappoint. It also sounds like it’s a good jumping off point for anyone who may be new to Pokemon Snap. and we’re assuming there are quite a few people in that boat since it’s been 22 years since the last game.
Pokemon fans have proven in the past that they can be a tough crowd to please, so it’ll be interesting to see how they react to the game when it releases later this week. New Pokemon Snap is out for Nintendo Switch on April 30th.
Apple might have just updated its 13- and 15-inch laptops with better processors and a tweak to the much-maligned butterfly keyboard, but there might be a completely new model arriving later this year. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to afford it.
Echoing a previous report by Ming-Chi Kuo, IHS Markit analyst Jeff Lin says that Apple is planning to release a 16-inch MacBook Pro in September, marking the first new size for Apple’s flagship notebook since the 13-inch model was introduced in 2009. It would also represent the biggest MacBook since the 17-inch MacBook Pro was discontinued in 2012.
Little is known about the new model, but Lin says it will be using a 3072×1920 LCD display, higher than the 15-inch model’s 2,880×1,800 screen but not OLED as has been rumored.
As Kuo previously suggested, the 16-inch MacBook Pro will likely be more than a larger version of the current laptop. The new Mac will reportedly have an all-new design and occupy a higher tier in Apple’s product matrix. Since the current 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,399, the new model’s entry will likely top $3,000, and possibly touch $3,500 depending on the base model’s configuration.
But if that brings the long-overdue changes to the keyboard, pro users will be happy to buy one at any price. The current Mac Pro’s butterfly keyboard has been the subject of much consternation, from their lack of travel to loud noise, and dust and debris issues. Apple has issued a Keyboard Service Program for 2016-2019 MacBook Pro models to fix unresponsive and overly responsive keys as well as several fixes to the design, but it’s stopped short of completely overhauling the butterfly keyboard.
A redesigned MacBook Pro would also presumably bring slimmer bezels, a smaller frame, and better battery life. Based on Lin’s timeframe, the new model will likely launch at the same time as macOS 10.15 Catalina.
OnePlus is supposed to reveal the OnePlus 9 series during a event next week, but you wouldn’t know it judging by how much the company has confirmed over the last few weeks. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking that these devices have already been revealed and the OnePlus marketing machine is just ramping up, given all of the teases and images the company has shared recently. Today, the company is back at it again, revealing the look of the OnePlus Watch.
Technically, it was Unbox Therapy that revealed the look of the watch on Twitter, but considering that OnePlus was tagged in that post an ultimately retweeted it, it’s safe to say that Unbox Therapy had the company’s blessing in publishing this image. OnePlus says that it has “a lot more to show on March 23rd,” which is when that OnePlus 9 reveal event is slated to take place.
That Unbox Therapy is sharing this image today isn’t much of a surprise. We’ve been expecting OnePlus to reveal the OnePlus Watch alongside this new phone lineup, not only because of leaks, but also because OnePlus itself started teasing it earlier this month. It’s really starting to seem like OnePlus gets too excited for its own good in the lead up to these reveal events.
It was just a couple of days ago that OnePlus chief Pete Lau confirmed that the smartwatch won’t be running Google’s Wear OS when it arrives, which is a pretty bold move. OnePlus hasn’t made a smartwatch before, so the decision to go in a different direction in terms of operating systems is one that could make it difficult for it to find a sizable audience.
Of course, it might turn out that the OS Oneplus is developing for its smartwatch is actually a really great one that draws people in regardless. Time will ultimately tell on that front, and we’re definitely looking forward to seeing what the OnePlus smartwatch has to offer on the 23rd. The OnePlus 9 reveal event is slated to happen that day at 7 AM PDT/10 AM EDT, and we’ll be covering the show as it happens so be sure to check back here for our coverage.