Posts Tagged 2013

An Xbox Surface Tablet for 2013?

Microsoft is barely escaping the headlines for a day as of late, which is of course to be expected with the likes of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and the company’s first tablet PC hitting the shelves. However, it is of course the third of these three that hold the most appeal for the hardcore gamer with an affinity for all-things Microsoft, as the Surface Tablet is expected to take Microsoft gaming in a whole new direction to say the least.

Having so far only received a lukewarm reception at best, the Microsoft RT Tablet has proved itself as something of a middleweight competitor, which although delivers the goods in some way still falls short in others. Its bigger brother in the form of the full-fat Windows 8 Surface Pro Tablet is expected to land in the next month or so, which has the potential to bring full-on Windows PC gaming to the tablet PC gamer like never before.

However, rumour has it that Microsoft’s ambition for the Surface Tablet range does not in fact come to an end with the elusive Surface Pro. Far from it in fact as over the course of recent weeks, stirring and whispers have grown into shouts about the prospect of a dedicated Xbox Surface Tablet arriving in the very near future.

The concept in its own right is far from a ludicrous one to say the least. According to those behind the stirrings, the Xbox Surface Tablet will make an appearing in the first half of next year and essentially bridge the gap between tablet and console gaming. The tablet itself is likely to be something of a lower-end model than the Surface Pro and perhaps even below the spec of the Surface RT Tablet, given the way in which it will in any case become one of the most expensive console accessories ever offered.

On the other hand, it may come to pass that the Xbox Surface Tablet arrives as a slightly modified version of the current Surface RT tablet, sporting tweaked and honed software as opposed to a full and frank redesign.

If any of the above proves to be accurate, Microsoft may be looking to take a leaf from the book of Nintendo following the so-far successful launch of the Wii U. Since its first appearance several months ago, the Wii U has been attracting both praise and curiosity for its tablet pc-style controllers which can enhance gameplay considerably.

If Microsoft goes one step further to offer an Xbox Surface Tablet which functions as an advanced gaming controller AND a tablet PC AND a mobile gaming device in its own right, the reception could be huge.

There is of course a big question mark hanging over the head of the idea as a whole, though it is entirely possible that the Xbox Surface Tablet may be being lined up to launch alongside the fabled Xbox 720 – also rumoured to be landing sometime during 2013. Now is clearly the time to make the most of the mobile gaming revolution and all signs are pointing to Microsoft doing exactly that.

Now may also be the time for me to prepare to sell my Xbox 360 and get ready for the next big thing.


This post was brought to you by Lisa Morton, who loves blogging about all things electronic and occasionally writes the odd food review.

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ReWack Blog Awards 2013: Nominate

Nominate your own or favorite blog at ReWack Blog Awards 2013. The winners will get a badge and some other giveaways. The finalists will get a badge.

If you wish to sponsor it, please contact us at here.

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Grand Theft Auto 5 Release Confirmed

Grand Theft Auto 5 is confirmed to launch worldwide this coming spring for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Rockstar Games announced Tuesday.

Created by Rockstar North, the company’s Edinburgh, Scotland-based subsidiary, the latest GTA game takes place “in a re-imagined, present-day Southern California.”

According to its official website, GTA 5 is “the largest and most thriving game-world we have ever created set in the sprawling city of Los Santos and for miles beyond — from the tops of the mountains to the depths of the ocean.”

As of next week on Nov. 5, GTA 5 will be available for pre-order. Rockstar will also release more information about the game next month.

Rockstar said, “We’re currently focused on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game and don’t have any details to share about a PC version at this time.”

Are you going to buy it? Let us know in comments.

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Facebook hoping to release its own smartphone by next year

This past week, Google completed its acquisition of the hardware maker Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, which could lead to the search giant’s making its own smartphone. But another software titan might be getting into the hardware game as well: Facebook.

Employees of Facebook and several engineers who have been sought out by recruiters there, as well as people briefed on Facebook’s plans, say the company hopes to release its own smartphone by next year. These people spoke only on condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing their employment or relationships with Facebook.

The company has already hired more than half a dozen former Apple software and hardware engineers who worked on the iPhone, and one who worked on the iPad, the employees and those briefed on the plans said.

This would be Facebook’s third effort at building a smartphone, said one person briefed on the plans and one who was recruited. In 2010, the blog TechCrunch reported that Facebook was working on a smartphone.

The project crumbled after the company realized the difficulties involved, according to people who had worked on it. The website AllThingsD reported last year that Facebook and HTC had entered a partnership to create a smartphone, code-named “Buffy,” which is still in the works.

Now, the company has been going deeper into the process, by expanding the group working on “Buffy,” and exploring other smartphone projects too, creating a team of seasoned hardware engineers who have built the devices before.

One engineer who formerly worked at Apple and worked on the iPhone said he met with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, who then peppered him with questions about the inner workings of smartphones.

It did not sound like idle intellectual curiosity, the engineer said; Zuckerberg asked about intricate details, including the types of chips used, he said. Another former Apple hardware engineer was recruited by a Facebook executive and was told about the company’s hardware explorations.

When asked Friday, Facebook did not deny or confirm that a project to build a smartphone existed, but pointed to a previous statement it gave to AllThingsD last year that said in part, “We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers.”

For Facebook, the motivation is clear; as a newly public company, it must find new sources of revenue, and it fears being left behind in mobile, one of the most promising areas for growth.

“Mark is worried that if he doesn’t create a mobile phone in the near future that Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms,” a Facebook employee said.

Facebook is going to great lengths to keep the phone project a secret, specifically not posting job listings on the company’s job website, but instead going door-to-door to find the right talent for the project.

But can a company that is wired as a social network learn how to build hardware? Mixing the cultures of hardware and software designers is akin to mixing oil and water. With the

rare exception of Apple, other phone makers aren’t very good at this.

The biggest names in consumer electronics have struggled with phone hardware. Hewlett-Packard tried and failed. So did Dell. Sony has never done very well making phones.

“Building isn’t something you can just jump into,” explained Hugo Fiennes, a former Apple hardware manager for the first four iPhones who has since left Apple and is starting a new hardware company, Electric Imp. “You change the smallest thing on a smartphone and you can completely change how all the antennas work. You don’t learn this unless you’ve been doing it for a while.”

He added, “Going into the phone business is incredibly complex.”

Facebook also faces hurdles, often of its own making, on mobile. Twitter, for example, is fully integrated into the Apple iPhone and allows people to seamlessly send Twitter messages with photos or article links. Facebook, which has had a contentious relationship with Apple, is still not integrated into iOS.

One Facebook employee said the phone project had been rebooted several times because Facebook originally thought it could figure out hardware on its own. The company has since learned that it needed to bring in people with previous phone-making experience, several people said.

So it is hiring hardware engineers to work with a phone manufacturer and design the shape, style and inner workings of a Facebook phone. Despite the difficulties, Facebook seems well positioned in certain ways to enter the smartphone market.

It already has an entire operating system complete with messaging, calendar, contacts and video, and an immense app store is on its way with thousands of highly popular apps. There’s also that billion-dollar camera app, in the form of Instagram.

If Facebook fails with its own team of engineers, it could buy a smartphone maker. The company took in $16 billion from its bumpy IPO.

It could easily scoop up an infirm company like Research in Motion, which is valued at less than $6 billion, and drop a beautifully designed Facebook operating system on top of RIM’s phones. HTC is upset with Google for buying Motorola, which is worth about $11.8 billion and becoming cheaper by the day.

Facebook would not necessarily challenge Apple if it enters the smartphone marketplace. Instead, it could be Facebook vs. Google, which makes the Android operating system, with both companies going after a huge number of buyers of lower-priced smartphones.

“When you offer an advertising-based phone, you’re targeting all the users on prepay that are budget-conscious of their communications costs,” said Carolina Milanesi, a vice president and analyst for the Gartner Group.

Milanesi said that at a mass market level, both companies could take the same approach as Amazon, offering low-cost hardware, like the Kindle, and subsidizing some of the costs through advertising.

After all, both Facebook and Google make their money through advertising. If the companies have the opportunity to continually put ads in front of people on a smartphone screen, you would think the only question left would be to pick the right ringtone that makes that ka-ching sound.

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