Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Guidemaster: Finding the best gaming monitors you can buy in 2019

August 23rd, 2019
The LG 34GK950F, our favorite ultrawide gaming monitor.

Enlarge / The LG 34GK950F, our favorite ultrawide gaming monitor. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Welcome to Ars Gaming Week 2019! As a staff full of gamers and game-lovers, we'll be serving up extra reviews, guides, interviews, and other stories all about gaming from August 19 to August 23.

Any monitor can work for gaming, but a good gaming monitor will make your virtual exploits more polished. With their high refresh rates and adaptive sync, they can bring your games to a new level of fluidity. But since the market is flooded with confusingly-named choices, it can be tough to find the ones worth buying.

So for Ars Gaming Week, we set out to help. After spending the last three months researching dozens of gaming monitors and ultimately testing 14, we’ve come up with a few recommendations that should suit players of all kinds, whether you’re more into fast-paced online shooters or contemplative stories.

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Posted in Ars Gaming Week 2019, buying guide, Features, gaming monitors, guidemaster, Monitors, Tech, video games | Comments (0)

Guidemaster: The best keyboards, mice, and more for your gaming PC

August 23rd, 2019
A person whose head is cropped from the photo poses with 6 computer keyboards.

Enlarge / So many fingers have been typing and clicking in the name of journalism... (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Welcome to Ars Gaming Week 2019! As a staff full of gamers and game-lovers, we'll be serving up extra reviews, guides, interviews, and other stories all about gaming from August 19 to August 23.

Creating the best PC gaming environment to suit your needs is more complicated than just building the ultimate PC from scratch. Once you have your dream machine, you'll need a mechanical keyboard, a gaming mouse, a high refresh-rate monitor, and other accessories. But deciding on the peripherals to invest in has become more difficult—sure, you have more options now than ever before, but the other side of that coin has birthed a congested world of PC gaming devices.

PC OEMs have embraced gaming with open arms, so much so that most PC companies have their own lines of gaming devices, and those often include desktops and laptops in addition to keyboards, mice, and the like. These new participants, along with the well-known gaming device OEMs, have made the pool of potential peripherals so large that one person alone could not sift through all of it.

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Posted in Ars Gaming Week 2019, Features, Gaming & Culture, gaming headset, gaming keyboard, Gaming mice, gaming monitor, gaming mouse, Gaming Week, mechanical keyboards, PC gaming, Tech | Comments (0)

Guidemaster: The best gaming headsets for your console or gaming rig

August 21st, 2019
Just an armful of the gaming headsets we tested.

Enlarge / Just an armful of the gaming headsets we tested. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Welcome to Ars Gaming Week 2019! As a staff full of gamers and game-lovers, we'll be serving up extra reviews, guides, interviews, and other stories all about gaming from August 19 to August 23.

Most people can meet their gaming audio needs with a good pair of headphones. But if you play lots of multiplayer games or frequently use your console/rig to chat with friends, a good gaming headset and its included microphone will make more sense. Unfortunately, the market for gaming headsets remains riddled with junky hardware.

So for Ars Gaming Week, we're getting you some help. We spent the last three months testing 30 gaming headsets to find the ones most worth buying. Below you can find our current favorites, including options for those on a budget, those with cash to burn, and those who want to go wireless. And, like with all of our Guidemasters, you can consider this a living guide—we’ll be sure to update it as new standouts arrive.

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Posted in Ars Gaming Week 2019, audio, buying guide, Features, gaming headsets, guidemaster, headphones, Tech | Comments (0)

Guidemaster: The best Nintendo Switch accessories you can buy in 2019

August 21st, 2019
You can do a lot with this little guy.

Enlarge / You can do a lot with this little guy. (credit: Jeff Dunn)

Welcome to Ars Gaming Week 2019! As a staff full of gamers and game-lovers, we'll be serving up extra reviews, guides, interviews, and other stories all about gaming from August 19 to August 23.

The Nintendo Switch is one of the most inventive pieces of consumer tech in recent memory, but a few good accessories can make it more practical on a daily basis. And to prepare for Ars Gaming Week, we've spent the past couple of months researching and testing various controllers, chargers, adapters, and all sorts of additional gadgets to figure out which of those accessories are most worth buying.

Note that all testing was done on an original Switch console, not the newer model with improved battery life (and few other significant upgrades) or the forthcoming Switch Lite, which has Joy-Con controllers that are not detachable. We'll upgrade this guide in the future as more standout accessories hit the market (I’m still waiting on a worthwhile Switch headset, for one), but here's how to optimize everyone's favorite handheld right now.

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Posted in accessories, Ars Gaming Week 2019, buying guide, Features, Gaming & Culture, guidemaster, nintendo switch, Tech | Comments (0)

Guidemaster: Navigating the hazy world of gaming laptops in 2019

August 19th, 2019
Amid the chaos of the Ars Gaming Week testing lab, we took a moment to snap a photo of <em>some</em> of our preferred gaming laptops. But are they right for you? Not necessarily! Hence, here's our careful guide on the topic.

Enlarge / Amid the chaos of the Ars Gaming Week testing lab, we took a moment to snap a photo of some of our preferred gaming laptops. But are they right for you? Not necessarily! Hence, here's our careful guide on the topic. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Welcome to Ars Gaming Week 2019! As a staff full of gamers and game-lovers, we'll be serving up extra reviews, guides, interviews, and other stories all about gaming from August 19 to August 23.

Putting together an ideal gaming desktop computer isn't always the easiest task, but at least it's a controlled kind of chaos. When building a PC, we can individually rank each component type—from CPUs to GPUs, from speakers to monitors—and aspiring builders can feel out their options for each within hearty system-builder guides. Barebones budgets, small form factors, pricey beasts: we can offer tips for each, then let shoppers mix and match those recommendations as they see fit.

The same cannot be said for gaming laptops. There's no simple way to break out and individually test laptops' big-ticket components, and singling out one gaming laptop is tough in a sector that has often suffered from bulk, heft, expense, and ugly designs. When you buy into one good thing in a gaming laptop, you're buying into its every other element, good and bad, with no ability to swap. How much worse does that get when you're stuck with a firm budget?

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Posted in Ars Gaming Week 2019, Features, gaming, Gaming & Culture, gaming laptops, guidemaster, Tech | Comments (0)

Turning the Nintendo Switch into Android’s best gaming hardware

August 15th, 2019
Android on the Nintendo Switch. Just think of all the Nintendo apps you're missing out on.

Enlarge / Android on the Nintendo Switch. Just think of all the Nintendo apps you're missing out on.

The Nintendo Switch is, basically, a game console made out of smartphone parts. The quad-core Nvidia Tegra X1 ARM SoC would be right at home in a smartphone or tablet, along with the 4GB of RAM, a 720p touchscreen, and a 4310mAh battery. Really, the only things that make the Switch a game console are the sweet slide-on controllers and the fact that it is blessed by Nintendo, with actually good AAA games, ecosystem support, and developer outreach.

With such a close relation to smartphone hardware, it only makes sense that people would eventually load some smartphone software onto the Nintendo Switch—and around Ars, we've recently made everyone's favorite handheld run Android. Such a thing might sound like a hardware hacker's pipe dream, but thanks to work from a group called "Switchroot," you can now get a pretty good build of Android up and running on Nintendo's console.

A project like this is only possible thanks to two of the Internet's biggest hacking communities joining forces—you've got the best of the Nintendo Homebrew scene combining with the best of the Android custom ROM community. And as we recently discovered, getting Android running on the Switch is a whirlwind tour of huge community projects and discoveries all in the name of doing whatever you want with hardware you own.

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Elon Musk’s Neuralink: Both an evolution and a plan for radical change

August 13th, 2019

When Elon Musk first started talking about launching a brain-computer interface company, he made a number of comments that set expectations for what that idea might entail. The company, he said, was motivated by his concerns about AI ending up hostile to humans: providing humans with an interface directly into the AI's home turf might prevent hostilities from developing. Musk also suggested that he hoped to avoid any electrodes implanted in the brain, since that might pose a barrier to adoption.

At his recent public launch of the company (since named Neuralink), worries about hostile AIs did get a mention—but only in passing. Instead, we got a detailed technical description of the hardware behind Neuralink's brain-computer interface, which would rely on surgery and implanted hardware. In the process, Neuralink went from something in the realm of science fiction to a company that would be pushing for an aggressive evolution of existing neural-implant hardware.

Those changes in tone and topic are a sign that Musk has been listening to the people he hired to build Neuralink. So, how precisely is Neuralink pushing the envelope on what we can already do in this space? And does it still veer a bit closer to science fiction in some aspects?

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Posted in Biology, brain-computer interface, Elon Musk, Features, neuralink, neurobiology, science | Comments (0)

The hottest new board games from Gen Con 2019

August 10th, 2019
A sea of gamers prepares to storm the hall to snatch up the most coveted games before they sell out at Gen Con 2019.

Enlarge / A sea of gamers prepares to storm the hall to snatch up the most coveted games before they sell out at Gen Con 2019. (credit: Aaron Zimmerman)

INDIANAPOLIS—If it's early August, you can count on one thing: we're gonna be in downtown Indianapolis with 70,000 other board gamers, forgoing sleep, food, and general wellbeing to play a truly ridiculous amount of new tabletop games at Gen Con, the self-described "Best Four Days in Gaming." Gen Con is America's largest and longest-running tabletop games convention. 2019 was the con's 52nd year, bringing with it a record-breaking 538 exhibiting companies and a truly impressive 19,600 ticketed events. (If you want some sense of what that cardboard chaos looks like, our Gen Con 2019 image gallery is a good place to start.)

And then there are the games—more games than you could play in a lifetime, all being released at once. We sifted through the chaos to bring you a big list of games we think you should be paying attention to going into the last few months of the year. With such a massive amount of games on offer, we couldn't get to everything we wanted to—your correspondent is just one man!—but we think our list has something for everyone on it. Roleplaying games were sadly outside the scope of this article, so be sure to check out our coverage of perhaps the most anticipated roleplaying title at this year's Gen Con: Pathfinder. Developer Paizo debuted the game's second edition at this year's conference more than a decade after the beloved RPG debuted.

But back to our list—these games should largely be available soon. If a specific title catches your eye, make sure to check in with your favorite local or online game store in the near future for info on when they'll be getting it in. And if you're really one to plan out your play in advance, it's never too early to consider it: next year's Gen Con returns to Indy and runs July 30 through August 2, 2020.

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Guidemaster: Smartwatches worthy of replacing your favorite timepiece

August 8th, 2019
Apple Watch Series 2.

Enlarge / Apple Watch Series 2. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Update: Our Smartwatch Guidemaster was originally published in February 2018. But we've been testing the newest smartwatches ahead of fall back-to-school and tech event season, so we've now updated our recommendations to include some of the best and newest devices available in 2019.

If you hate looking at your smartphone all day, you should consider getting a smartwatch. While it may seem counterintuitive to get a new gadget to lessen your dependency on another, it's more effective than you think. Smartwatches take the most crucial parts of a smartphone—call and text alerts, app notifications, and quick controls—and put them on your wrist.

That means no more fumbling with your smartphone during a meeting to silence a call, no more checking Twitter or Facebook every two minutes for the newest post. Instead of absentmindedly staring at your smartphone's display, the most important information hits your wrist as it happens. As wearables, smartwatches can also track daily activity, and some even double as high-end fitness watches equipped with heart rate monitors, GPS trackers, music storage, and more.

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Posted in Android Wear, apple watch, Features, fitbit versa lite, fossil q, garmin forerunner 45, garmin vivoactive 3 music, guidemaster, samsung gear sport, smartwatch, Tech, Tizen, watchos | Comments (0)

Elon Musk: “Anyone relying on lidar is doomed.” Experts: Maybe not

August 6th, 2019
Elon Musk: “Anyone relying on lidar is doomed.” Experts: Maybe not

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Lots of companies are working to develop self-driving cars. And almost all of them use lidar, a type of sensor that uses lasers to build a three-dimensional map of the world around the car.

But Tesla CEO Elon Musk argues that these companies are making a big mistake.

"They're all going to dump lidar," Elon Musk said at an April event showcasing Tesla's self-driving technology. "Anyone relying on lidar is doomed."

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Posted in cars, Features, lidar, self driving cars, Tesla | Comments (0)