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Google Stadia review: Gaming’s streaming future isn’t here yet – CNET

A world of YouTube portals where gamers can dive into games like doorways into parallel universes. Thousands of players in Battle Royales at once. An instant-streaming playground for all sorts of games. This is what Google Stadia promised earlier this year at a big, flashy GDC event in March that I sat through, hearing gaming…

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Google Stadia review: Gaming’s streaming future isn’t here yet     – CNET

A world of YouTube portals where gamers can dive into games like doorways into parallel universes. Thousands of players in Battle Royales at once. An instant-streaming playground for all sorts of games. This is what Google Stadia promised earlier this year at a big, flashy GDC event in March that I sat through, hearing gaming veteran Phil Harrison promise wild ideas. And none of that is here now.

Like

Stadia works streaming games to TVs, laptops, and Pixel phones

Google’s controller feels great

Game saves are resumed easily when switching devices

Don’t Like

Limited features at launch lack many of Google’s promised perks

Requires $120 hardware kit for TV play

Games are sold separately, at relatively high prices

Laptop/phone gaming requires wired controllers

Stadia’s launch day is Tuesday… sort of. Really, consider this the start of Stadia’s early-access beta period. Because Google’s big promises haven’t arrived, and at the price of the Stadia’s Founder’s Edition, I can’t recommend anyone jump onboard at the moment. Google’s experimental game streaming service, Stadia, launches without many of its promised features, and just a handful of games. It works, but there’s not much incentive to buy in.
We’ve heard about the promises of streaming games over the internet for a decade.

Yep, we’re streaming fine.
Sarah Tew/CNET
Stadia really does work as a way to stream games. I’ve only played a couple of the 12 games Google promised by Tuesday’s launch, though. That short list pales compared to what Microsoft already has on tap for its in-beta game-streaming service, xCloud. It’s no match for what Nvidia’s game streaming GeForce Now already has or what PlayStation Now offers. 
Game streaming, by playing games over the internet without need for a download, has been around for years, dating back to the ill-fated OnLive startup in 2010. It’s always been an idea just tantalizingly out of reach, thanks to bandwidth and latency concerns. 
What Google’s been talking about is a new idea beyond the competition: It promises a more powerful set of servers that can push multiplayer games of the future, and streamable YouTube experiences that blend broadcast and esports. I regret to say that I can’t determine the reality of any of that right now, because Stadia as it currently exists is just a way to stream a handful of slightly older games. The future possibilities are wild. But the present capabilities are functional but familiar.

Here’s what I’ve learned.
The controller is great, but the Founder’s Edition also includes a Chromecast Ultra, a cable, and a few months of service.
Sarah Tew/CNET
It’s expensive
It costs $120 to get the early edition Founder’s pack, which includes a Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra, a short USB-C-to-C cable, a Destiny 2 game download, and three months of a $10-per-month Stadia Pro subscription service needed to take advantage of all of Stadia’s online features. Also, you need to buy the actual games at their regular prices… even though you can’t download them. A more affordable Stadia play service is launching in 2020, though details are unclear. It all seems like a lot to pay for a “consoleless console.” In the UK, you can get the Premiere Edition with the same features. Stadia doesn’t yet appear to be available in Australia but the price converts to about AU$130.
Prices of Stadia games at launch in the US are below. They’re basically full retail game prices. This could get crazy expensive fast.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Normally $60 (about £45 or AU$85), but $30 with Stadia Pro
Gylt: $30
Just Dance 2020: $50
Kine: $20
Mortal Kombat 11: Normally $60, but $42 with Stadia Pro
Red Dead Redemption 2: $60
Samurai Showdown: $60
Thumper: $20
Shadow of the Tomb Raider: $60
Rise of the Tomb Raider: $30
Tomb Raider 2013: Normally $20, but $10 with Stadia Pro
Final Fantasy XV: Normally $40, but $30 with Stadia Pro
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Stadia Ultimate Edition: Normally $120, but $60 with Stadia Pro
Mortal Kombat 11 Premium Edition: Normally $90, but $63 with Stadia Pro
Red Dead Redemption 2 Special Edition: $80
Red Dead Redemption 2 Ultimate Edition: $100

Video quality is excellent (on my TV)
Stadia is meant to work on 5GHz Wi-Fi connections 10Mbps and up, scaling from 720p to 4K HDR at 60fps with 5.1 surround, over the Chromecast Ultra. Mileage may vary on laptops using Chrome, Chromebooks and Pixel phones, but Google’s only enabling that silky 4K on TVs for now.
I played over my home Fios connection with 100Mbps Wi-Fi. Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Destiny 2 and GYLT looked great. To me, they seemed good enough to seem like they were playing on a console. On a Pixelbook Go and Pixel 4, they were playable but had lower framerate and video quality.
If you want to be wireless, play on the TV right now.
Sarah Tew/CNET
TV is the best way to play, by far
The Chromecast Ultra setup is easy, provided you have a Google Home app ready to set it up. I then use the Stadia app to log in, pair the controller and buy games. Once I’ve done that, pressing the Stadia controller’s power button logs me in, Stadia pops up and I can launch games and play from where I left off. It feels like launching a console.
My first time playing quit out after a few minutes, which was concerning. But other sessions were fine, and everything was so smooth that I melted into the games and forgot they were streaming at all. 
TV is the only way to play wirelessly right now: Google requires a USB cable tether to phones (only Pixel phones right now) and laptops (running Chrome, or using a Chromebook), which is annoying. Between that and the TV’s better picture quality through Chromecast Ultra, I’d rather play on a big screen.
If you want to play on a phone, you need to clip the controller on and use a physical cable. Ugh.
Sarah Tew/CNET
Wow, there aren’t many games
Google’s 22-game launch lineup has Red Dead Redemption 2 as its biggest heavy hitter, which looks really good when played through Stadia depending on your home Wi-Fi connection. The handful of games I played were: Read Dead Redemption 2, Kine (a puzzle game that feels like an Apple Arcade
download), Just Dance 2020, Destiny 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, Mortal Kombat 11 Premium Edition, and Gylt (an emotional game about bullying from Tequila Works). 
Unless you’re dying to play Destiny, Tomb Raider, Grid, NBA 2K20, Wolfenstein: Youngblood or RDR2 on Google hardware, I can’t see why you’d be interested yet.
Google Assistant doesn’t work yet, so no opinions there
I pressed the Stadia controller’s dedicated Assistant button, and nothing happened. Support for Assistant is still to come, so it’s a dead button right now. It should work in a limited capacity from here on in, with features added over time.
In-game capture is fast and easy
I tapped the capture button to get screenshots and video, and it was a snap. Pressing once took a screen-grab, and pressing and holding back-recorded the last 30 seconds of footage. I launched the Stadia app on my phone, and there were the clips and pics.
But I can’t share them yet, or download them, because that’s not been enabled yet. So… yay?
This is how you pair a Stadia controller with a Chromecast Ultra, btw.
Sarah Tew/CNET
The Stadia controller feels great
Google’s gone way over the top comparing the controller to a chef’s knife, but it’s an excellent controller, seriously. It feels something like a blend of the XBox One controller and Nintendo Switch pro controller, with smooth analog triggers, solid rumble haptics, crisp analog sticks and d-pad. Playing with it feels effortless. I like how the Stadia button turns the platform on, and a solid rumble-throb kicks in to let you know the service has connected.
You could use other controllers (like the Xbox One controller, or even the Nintendo Switch Pro controller) via USB-C on a laptop/chromebook/Pixel phone playing Stadia, but only the Google Stadia controller works with TVs and Chromecast right now.
Shifting screens is fun
When I moved from my living room to an upstairs office TV, all I had to do was take my controller and the Chromecast Ultra (and the charger). Moving to a Chromebook or a phone does mean hard-wiring the controller via USB-C, but it’s fast enough otherwise. Resuming a game feels natural, and I was able to pick up where I left off in Tomb Raider, Destiny 2 or Gylt.
You can only buy games on the phone app
It’s weird that the Stadia interface — clean and clear-cut like the gaming equivalent of a Netflix or Apple TV — shows titles you already own, but you have to go to the Stadia phone app to buy more. I’d prefer to browse games anywhere. But once I’ve set up the controller and bought the games, I don’t need to use my phone again after that.
It’s hard to judge what comes next
Stadia has so few games right now, and I’m trying them with no one else online. It isn’t clear how things will work now that the service is going live, and what other features will kick in before year’s end. I’m curious, but I might lose interest. Others might, too. I have plenty of other great games to play right now: on Apple Arcade, VR and consoles such as the Switch. Stadia isn’t delivering new games yet, it’s just trying to deliver a new way to play through streaming. One that you can already get from other providers. Until Google finds a way to loop in YouTube and develop truly unique competitive large-scale games, Stadia isn’t worth your time yet. Yes, the future is possibly wild, and you can see hints of the streaming-only cloud-based playground Stadia wants to become. But we’ll see what it shapes into over the next handful of months and check back in.

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Technology

Miss out on PS5 preorders? There was one for sale on eBay for $25,000 – CNET

Preorders for the PlayStation 5 appeared to sell out shortly after they began on Wednesday. Sony When Sony announced the $400 entry price for its PlayStation 5 video game console Wednesday, it said preorders would start the next day. Many large retailers decided to start sales early, surprising fans who quickly surfed to websites only…

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Miss out on PS5 preorders? There was one for sale on eBay for $25,000     – CNET

Preorders for the PlayStation 5 appeared to sell out shortly after they began on Wednesday.
Sony
When Sony announced the $400 entry price for its PlayStation 5 video game console Wednesday, it said preorders would start the next day. Many large retailers decided to start sales early, surprising fans who quickly surfed to websites only to learn the device had already sold out. But not at eBay. The popular auction site was filled with listings for PlayStation 5 consoles ready to sell  on Thursday promising the seller had secured a preorder and would ship the device immediately after it arrived.

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“This is ** CONFIRMED PREORDER**,” one eBay seller wrote. “Updates will be provided all the way!” wrote another. The ordeal was an unusual hiccup for Sony, whose PlayStation 5 launch has been built on carefully planned slow reveals of various features like 3D audio, faster game loading times and the design of the device.Sony took to Twitter on Saturday to apologize to fans over the ordeal, though it appeared to be caused by retailers jumping the gun on preorders a day early, and promised more supplies would be made available.
Let’s be honest: PS5 preorders could have been a lot smoother. We truly apologize for that. Over the next few days, we will release more PS5 consoles for preorder – retailers will share more details.  And more PS5s will be available through the end of the year. pic.twitter.com/h1TaGsGBun— PlayStation (@PlayStation) September 19, 2020

Still, sellers on Sunday were attempting to offload preorders on eBay for between $750 and $1,000, about double the $400 starting price of the console without a Blu-ray drive, or double the $500 starting price for the PS5 that has it.  This eBay listing may set a record for the most expensive PS5. But that’s only if the buyer pays.
eBay
One seller’s auction though had risen to $25,100, after 11 bids and a starting price of $800 on Thursday afternoon.The eBay listings aren’t likely to last though. The auction site’s listing policies on pre-sale items require that the item must be delivered within 30 days of purchase on eBay. “Our Trust teams are aware of this issue and we are taking the appropriate action,” an eBay spokeswoman said.The buying and selling frenzy is one of the first public signs of how in-demand Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s $500 Xbox Series X and $300 Xbox Series S will be when they land on store shelves this November. 

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Technology

2020 Porsche Macan GTS review: Emphasis on performance – Roadshow

The GTS looks great in Carmine Red. Steven Ewing/Roadshow At this point, GTS in Porsche parlance should just stand for Get This Spec. The company’s GTS-badged cars strike the best balance between outright performance and daily drivability, and that’s as true in this 2020 Macan as it is in any 718, 911, Cayenne or Panamera.…

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2020 Porsche Macan GTS review: Emphasis on performance     – Roadshow

The GTS looks great in Carmine Red.
Steven Ewing/Roadshow
At this point, GTS in Porsche parlance should just stand for Get This Spec. The company’s GTS-badged cars strike the best balance between outright performance and daily drivability, and that’s as true in this 2020 Macan as it is in any 718, 911, Cayenne or Panamera. I’ve driven the S and I’ve driven the Turbo, but the GTS is the Macan I’d park in my garage.

LikeOutstanding chassis balanceSports car-like steeringSonorous sport exhaustRobust infotainment tech

Don’t LikeTwin-turbo V6 lacks characterGets expensive in a hurry

The GTS uses a detuned version of the 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 from the Macan Turbo. Here, the engine produces 375 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque — noticeable reductions compared to the Turbo’s 434 hp and 405 lb-ft. But on the road, you’d have a hard time noticing the difference. This engine lacks visceral drama, though I think that’s less egregious when the associated output numbers are lower. The GTS at least makes up for this somewhat with a standard sport exhaust, which adds some sonority to the powertrain’s buttoned-up demeanor.Porsche says the GTS can accelerate to 60 mph in as little as 4.5 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono package, which is 0.4 seconds slower than the Macan Turbo. I genuinely don’t believe that less-than-half-a-second discrepancy is something anyone can feel during daily driving on public roads. And since the engine’s torque is fully available from just 1,750 rpm, there’s never a lack of urgency to the GTS’ acceleration, whether pulling away from a stoplight or just trying to shoot the gap between slower cars on the highway.

The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is always up for an impromptu downshift via the steering wheel-mounted paddles, and the Sport and Sport Plus modes — the latter is part of the $1,360 Sport Chrono package — alter the throttle and transmission programming just enough to liven up the Macan’s character. You could drive the GTS in Sport mode all day, every day without it ever feeling high-strung, while Sport Plus is best left for tighter sections of winding roads where you’ll want to take advantage of its tendency to hold gears up near the engine’s redline.The GTS’ powertrain is fine, but the chassis, steering and brakes really make this Macan feel special. Porsche’s adaptive air suspension comes standard and can lower the Macan by 10 millimeters in Sport and Sport Plus modes. Porsche’s Active Suspension Management (PASM) dampers are a perfect match to the air-ride system, delivering a smooth ride on broken pavement while keeping the GTS taut and composed on smooth stretches of canyon roads. Even with my tester’s upsized 21-inch wheels and staggered 265/40 front and 295/35 rear tires, the Macan never feels too stiff or too floaty for any given scenario. Honestly, the ride quality might be the GTS’ single best attribute.

These 21-inch wheels and low-profile ties don’t ruin the GTS’ ride.
Steven Ewing/Roadshow
Porsche always gets its cars’ steering right, and the Macan GTS is no exception. The weight and communication on offer are more akin to that of a 718 Cayman than any other compact SUV, with a right-sized steering wheel adorned with only a few redundant controls. My tester has Porsche’s Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB), which were kind of bad when they first launched on the Cayenne, but have since been reworked with new pads, better pedal feel and a more progressive stopping experience. Now, these brakes are quite good and reduce dust buildup on the wheels. Whether they’re worth the $3,490 upgrade over the perfectly fine standard steel brakes, though, is hard to say.

One option worth adding is Porsche’s brake-based torque-vectoring tech, for $1,500. This ability to modulate power from side to side at the rear axle improves the Macan’s cornering reflexes, making this already-sharp little crossover even more entertaining. You’ll never feel it working, but you’ll find it easier to keep up with smaller, more powerful sports cars on mountain roads.Going for the GTS gets you the Sport Design exterior treatment, with black-painted exterior accents, LED headlights and a darker tint to the rear taillight bar. Inside, you get sport seats wrapped in leather, though you can have the whole cabin done up in Alcantara suede with Carmine Red stitching as part of the $4,790 GTS Interior Package. Like all Macans, the GTS is plenty comfortable for driver and passenger up front, but the rear seats are awfully small, even by compact SUV measurements.The PCM infotainment tech is new but the rest of the interior is showing its age.
Steven Ewing/Roadshow
The Macan got a welcome tech upgrade as part of a refresh in 2018 and now runs Porsche’s Communication Management infotainment software on a 10.9-inch touchscreen. PCM continues to impress with its quick responses to inputs, online search tools, bright graphics and reconfigurable home screen. A Wi-Fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay are standard, but Android Auto is still a no-go. Too bad.Look below the touchscreen, though, and you’ll find a sea of controls on the console — a reminder that the Macan is a bit older than Porsche’s other models. Sure, the rows of buttons are clearly labeled and easy to use, they just look outdated, especially compared to the flush, backlit designs of Porsche’s newer products.I’d love to tell you about all of the Macan’s standard driver-assistance features, but as is the case with every Porsche, all the good stuff costs extra and is available a la carte. A surround-view camera is $1,200. You can buy lane-change assist and lane-keeping assist for $700 apiece, or just spend $1,380 and get them as part of a bundle. Adaptive cruise control comes in for an additional $1,170, and if you want freaking keyless entry, that’s an extra $800, too. Sheesh.The Macan is hands-down the best-driving compact luxury SUV.
Steven Ewing/Roadshow
There are myriad options available for the Macan GTS, so its $73,450 starting price (including $1,350 for destination) is just that: the start. My Carmine Red tester is a German-spec model that Porsche flew over for testing, so I don’t have an exact price for the SUV you see here. Playing around to the best of my ability on Porsche’s configurator, I’m going to guesstimate an as-tested price of $94,000 out the door, give or take a few Benjamins.If you compare price tags, the Macan GTS is sort of a hard sell against competitors like the BMW X3 M40i or Mercedes-AMG GLC43, both of which can be nicely equipped for less than the Porsche’s starting MSRP. But the Macan — especially the GTS — is the best-driving, best-balanced SUV of the bunch and handily punches above its weight. If performance is a priority, you definitely get what you pay for. 

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Phones

Google Home: Two settings to achieve max smart home privacy – CNET

Keep your personal information private by setting up Voice Match on Google Home. Josh Miller/CNET Some things Google Home knows about you are obvious — what music you like, how bad you are at math — because those are the things you rely on it for the most. But Google Home ($130 at QVC) knows a…

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Google Home: Two settings to achieve max smart home privacy     – CNET

Keep your personal information private by setting up Voice Match on Google Home.
Josh Miller/CNET
Some things Google Home knows about you are obvious — what music you like, how bad you are at math — because those are the things you rely on it for the most. But Google Home ($130 at QVC) knows a lot more about you than you might realize. That’s because your smart home speaker is tied to your Google account, so it’s also connected to a deep well of personal information, like your email address and debit or credit card number. That means privacy and security settings are just as important with Google Home as with your Gmail account.A lot of the same steps you should take to protect your Gmail account, like using a strong password and checking your recovery contact information, will help secure Google Home as well. But you may not know how to get to those settings using the Google Home app, which may be the only Google app you have on your phone or tablet.

Our newsletter sends you the best tips for your Google Home smart speaker.

Here’s how to find and set the two most important privacy and security settings using the Google Home app.Facial recognition technology has come under fire from privacy advocates, but it can also be used to help secure your data.
James Martin/CNET
Secure your privacy with voice or face recognitionWhen you set up a Voice Match profile on Google Home, your smart speakers will listen for your voice and use it like a fingerprint to identify you. That way, only you can check your calendar, add to your shopping list or watch your YouTube playlist on Nest Hub smart displays. Other people can still use Google Home and can even set up voice profiles with their own Google accounts, but only you will have access to your information.That said, turning on Voice Match means possibly giving Google data about what you sound like. Google says that information is stored on your devices themselves and not in the cloud, although it may be “temporarily sent to Google to better identify” you. If you’re not OK with that, this feature is not for you.Here’s how to set up Voice Match with Google Home (the process is the same for Face Match, only it uses your device’s camera and your face rather than its microphone and your voice):1. Open the Google Home app, then tap your personal icon in the upper-right corner, then tap Assistant settings.2. On the horizontal menu bar, tap Assistant and then scroll down and tap Voice Match.3. Tap Add a device. The Google Home app will scan your current Wi-Fi network for compatible devices. Once it does, tap Continue. 4. Under Activate Voice Match on this device tap the box labeled I agree, then scroll to the bottom of the next screen and tap the next box with I agree.5. Follow prompts to teach Google to recognize your voice.Two-factor authentication isn’t foolproof, but it does add a layer of security that makes breaking into your online accounts more difficult.
James Martin/CNET
How to set up two-factor authentication on Google HomeTwo-factor authentication, aka two-step verification, isn’t a completely foolproof means of securing an online account, but it’s miles better than nothing at all. Having two-factor set up on Google Home means if anyone were to try to, say, set up a Google Home smart speaker using your stolen login info, they’d likely be thwarted unless they had also lifted your smartphone. The point is that it won’t hinder nor degrade your experience using Google Home, so there’s really no reason not to set it up.The first thing you need to do is different depending on your phone:Android: make sure you’re signed into the account you use for Google Home by opening Settings, then tap Accounts and then Add Account. Choose Google and sign into your account.iPhone: Download the Gmail app from the App Store, if you don’t already have it, and sign in with the account you use for Google Home, then Allow notifications when promptedTwo-factor authentication won’t impact how you use your Google Home smart speaker once you’ve set it up.
Chris Monroe/CNET
The rest is the same for every phone:1. Open the Google Home app, then tap your personal icon in the upper-right corner, then tap Assistant settings.2. Beneath the You menu, tap Your data in the Assistant then scroll to the very bottom.3. Under More option to manage your privacy, tap the box labeled Google Account.4. Scroll the horizontal menu bar at the top (the one that has Home, Personal info, Data & personalization) over and tap Security.5. Under Signing in to Google, tap Use your phone to sign in. On the next screen tap Set It Up then enter your password and tap Sign in.6. The screen should now say What you need with Your phone (with your phone listed) and Touch ID checked. Tap Next.7. Beneath Try it you should see the email address for your Google Account. Tap the button labeled Next beneath it.8. You should immediately get a notification on your phone asking Trying to sign in? (if you’re on an iPhone this notification will come from the Gmail app). Tap the notification and select Yes.9. If your phone asks if you want to use either facial recognition or fingerprint identification (whichever your phone has) select Yes.10. Go back to the Google Home app, which should now say It worked! Turn it on? and tap the box that says Turn On.Check out our full guide to shoring up your Google Home privacy and security settings here, or our even broader guide to securing your overall Google account here. For email-specific privacy settings, here are four Gmail settings to change right away.

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