MSI Gaming Storage Card Allows You To Mount SSDs In To A Cool Looking Board

The MSI Gaming Storage card may look like a graphics card with a fancy cooler shroud but, as its name suggest, it’s actually a PCB that’s designed to accommodate two M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs in a RAID 0 configuration.
The card, which even comes with its own blower-style fan, was showcased during an MSI live event in the Netherlands. MSI says that the card was designed for consumers on the Intel Z370 platform to who wants their SSDs to interface directly with a CPU’s PCIe lanes instead of the motherboard’s Platform Controller Hub (PCH).
To be fair, this isn’t the first time that MSI has debuted this card; the card first made a quiet appearance during COMPUTEX 2017 last year. Back then, the component was merely a prototype, and therefore was technically not ready for production.
The card, as it first looked like when it first appeared during COMPUTEX 2017. (Image source: eTeknix)
In a live demo, the Gaming Storage card was fitted with dual Samsung SM961 SSDs; the configuration saw the SSDs achieving speeds as high as 6.6GB/s in sequential read speeds and close to 3GB/s in sequential write speeds.
To translate those speeds in real-world applications; loading a 48GB 4K video file on a single M.2 PCIe SSD takes five minutes and 40 seconds. With the Gaming Storage card, that process was cut down to just one minute and 59 seconds.
Unfortunately, MSI has no plans on selling the card on its own; the Gaming Storage card will only be available in selected Aegis 3 and Aegis Ti desktops. In regards to latter desktop model; MSI’s last configuration of the Aegis Ti featured an Intel Skylake CPU inside of it, so this announcement could possibly be interpreted as MSI updating the desktop to the latest components.
(Source: KitGuru)
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Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact Unleashed in Malaysia; Prices Start From RM2899

Less than a month after their debut at MWC 2018, Sony Malaysia has officially launched its new Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact flagships in the country. The new design of the Xperia XZ2 series take a departure from Sony’s previous generation Loop Design language, which was widely used in it Xperia XZ and XZ1 series.
The back of both phones are now heftier; in the case of the bigger XZ2, it’s designed to accommodate the guts of the new Dynamic Vibration System, which provides rumble feedback when you’re playing any form of media on the phone, including videos, music, and even games.
The displays on the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact are of the Full HD+ variety, and both use the 18:9 display ratio instead of the usual 16:9 ratio. The insides of the XZ2 and XZ2 Compact are impressive; both models are rocking a Snapdragon 845 SoC, 4GB of RAM, and a 64GB UFS internal storage capacity, which can be expanded by up to 400GB via microSDXC card support. But, the biggest absence from the phone is the 3.5mm audio jack. In its stead, both phones will ship out with a USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter.

The main camera array of the phones are still using the same 19MP f1/2.3 Motion Eye sensor that first debuted on last year’s Xperia XZs and XZ Premium. As before, you can still capture super slow motion video at 960 fps with it, but unlike its predecessors, the new Xperia XZ2 series can now capture super slow motion video at 1080p, compared 720p. The front-facing cameras have also been bumped down to 5MP; compared to 13MP on the Xperia XZ1 and 8MP on the XZ1 Compact.

Pre-orders for the Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact will start from today until 4 April 2018. The new phones will retail at RM3299 for the Xperia XZ2 and RM2899 for Xperia XZ2 Compact, and they will be available at all official Sony stores and authorised resellers, as well as on 11street.
In conjunction with the launch, Sony is also offering pre-order bundle gifts worth up to RM1088 for every purchase of the XZ2. The gifts include a pair of ZX770BN Wireless ANC heaphones, a hardshell premium backpack, a Sony exclusive Touch ‘N Go Card (pre-loaded with RM100), a phone case, and a screen protector.
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Limited Edition LG V30 Plus For JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure 30th Anniversary Announced

A special edition LG V30 Plus has been announced in Japan in time to celebrate Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure’s 30th anniversary of publication. The titular character is centre stage in the special edition device, complete with limited-edition skins and icons adorning the home screen.
Set to be released for NTT Docomo customers, the special edition LG V30 Plus has similar specs with the standard V30 Plus model, but with a smaller battery rated at 3060mAh. In comparison, the standard V30 Plus comes with a 3300mAh battery.
Underneath the glass construction is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, dual-camera at the rear, and a large 6-inch 18:9 screen clocking in at 1440 x 2880 pixels. Other goodies that LG and NTT bundled in together includes special JoJo themes, an augmented reality app to snap photos with characters from the manga, and a JoJo manga editor app.
NTT Docomo will only issue 10,000 set of the limited edition LG V30 Plus from 23 March onward. If you are interested in getting one (in Japan), you can head on to NTT Docomo’s page to pre-order the device now for 125,000 yen (about RM4,620).
(Source: GSMArena)
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Rumour: Google To Acquire Lytro To Bolster Its VR Capabilities

Google is said to be in talks with Lytro to acquire the company. Lytro’s knowledge of light-field and depth technologies is said to be the reason behind the purchase, allowing Google to strengthen its VR capabilities.
Lytro’s proprietary technologies capture light-field information, where data on where light falls onto an object is captured from all angles. This is a supplement to standard depth information in capturing 3D information. The final result gives 2D images a 3D-like effect as the data from the light field can be interpreted into 3D-space data points.

The deal is said to be worth around $40 million (about RM156 million) and may just involve ‘assets transfer’ rather than the whole company. In recent months the company has been struggling to stay afloat, laying off some of its staff. An assets transfer purchase would make sense, which naturally would include the related patents to light-field technology.
What Google intends to do with Lytro is still a mystery, but this will be something to look out for in the coming months.
(Source: TechCrunch)
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PUBG Mobile Lightning Review: Surprisingly Good Mobile Port

Mobile ports are usually considered “inferior” to their full-blown PC version, but PUBG Mobile isn’t one of them. Of course, it’s still a more simplified version of the game – that’s a given – but as a whole, PUBG Mobile is quite a fun battle royale game that offers a similar experience as the PC counterpart.
What Is It?

PUBG Mobile is the mobile version of one of the hottest PC games today, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). It is developed by Tencent and PUBG Corporation, and attempts to offer the same battle royale experience to a smaller screen. You’re still dropped onto an island with 99 other players, and the selection of weapons and vehicles are very similar to the PC version. Even the vaulting mechanic – which wasn’t introduced on PC until the 1.0 update – is implemented in the mobile version.
But there are a number of tweaks to the game. The graphics are not quite as impressive or detailed, and certain elements of the game (especially the environment) are simplified. Not only will you automatically pick up items by simply walking over them, there are less doors and obstacles too.

Of course, these tweaks are meant to make the game easier to play on mobile, and I imagine other players will appreciate these simplified elements.
Is It Any Good?

Compared to early versions of PUBG on PC, the mobile port runs like a dream. The frame rate is consistent, there’s no noticeable delay when I pick up items, and it’s a really smooth experience throughout. It’s worth noting that I played the game on a Huawei Mate 10 Pro – older devices may have trouble running the game as smoothly.
Aside from that, PUBG Mobile makes it much, much easier to hit your opponents too. Once you’ve aimed down on the sight with any given weapon, simply shooting around your opponents is enough to hit – or even kill – them. The game’s aim assist definitely makes it much easier to land kills.

If you’re new to the game, don’t worry: PUBG Mobile seems to add bots to make it easier for players to get into the game. This isn’t entirely confirmed, but it’s something many players have noticed. It’s not hard to notice either – bots usually have terrible aim and almost always stand in one place.
The inclusion of bots may be a way for the developers to make the game easier for new players. It isn’t uncommon to see lots of casual players sharing their achievements of winning the game on their first try, and based on our experience, the game does gradually get tougher with more human players in a single match.

According to The Verge, the ratio of real players to bots will increase as you play more often. It’s a really smart way to implement a form of difficulty curve to an otherwise unforgiving battle royale game.
The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.

As with most games like PUBG Mobile, the on-screen controls can get quite frustrating. Not only are your fingers obstructing your view of what’s going on in the game, using a virtual joystick means movement isn’t as sharp and concise as it is on the desktop. On top of that, it’s also quite difficult to aim down sight and start shooting at an opponent in the heat of battle.
Aside from that…there are not many aspects of PUBG Mobile that are particularly bad. If I were to nitpick, I’d say the length of a match can be shorter to make it more “mobile-friendly.” As it is, you can expect to spend upwards of 30 minutes for a match to conclude, which isn’t really an issue, so to speak – depending on who you ask.
Should I Play It?

Considering the fact that PUBG Mobile is free (unlike the PC version), you should definitely give it a try. After all, it’s currently one of the most refined and popular battle royale-style games for mobile devices.
That is, until Epic Games starts rolling out the mobile version of Fortnite to a wider audience. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the two games stack up to each other then.

Photography by Soh Li Jin and Leon Lam.
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Ubisoft Partners With Tencent; Stops Vivendi Takeover

Ubisoft has officially formed a partnership with the Chinese internet powerhouse, Tencent. The latter company, which is the owner the widely popular messaging platforms WeChat and QQ, now owns 5% of the video game developer and publisher; and also helped Ubisoft to stop French conglomerate, Vivendi, from continuing its “hostile takeover” of the company.
“We are honored to start this new chapter of our relationship with Ubisoft, and to be able to bring many of Ubisoft’s creative and renowned titles to our Chinese customers,” Martin Lau, president of Tencent said.
As a point of reference; Vivendi currently has a 27.27% stake in Ubisoft, making it the largest shareholder in the latter company. The deal will require Vivendi to sell that portion for a price of 2 billion Euros (~RM9.63 billion). Further, Vivendi will not be allowed to acquire anymore of Ubisoft’s shares for a period of five years following the closing of the transaction.
The new partnership would see Tencent help Ubisoft to release more of its title into already restrictive China.
Tencent isn’t the only long-term investor in this new partnership; the second investor is, surprisingly, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which is an independent organisation that doles out pensions for approximately 318,000 teachers in the Canadian province. It currently has a 3.4% stake in Ubisoft.
Having said that, the partnership between Ubisoft and the two entities is actually pretty restrictive, if not limited. According to the contract, both companies will not be given a seat on Ubisoft’s board of directors.
Tencent is responsible for bringing the popular battle royale shooter PUBG to the mobile space.
In Tencent’s case, the contract prohibits the Chinese company from “transferring its shares or increasing its voting right (or ownership) stake” in Ubisoft. In hindsight, this condition could’ve been put in place to prevent another hostile takeover in the future.
Moving forward, The contract between Ubisoft and Tencent is also a beneficial to both parties, as Ubisoft will seek Tencent’s help in proliferating some of its games into the Chinese gaming market.
(Source: Polygon, Forbes, Ars Technica)
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This Is What The Inside Of Intel Hades Canyon NUC Looks Like

Back in early November 2017, Intel and AMD shocked the world by announcing their partnership that led to the birth of 8th Gen Core processor with built-in Radeon RX Vega M graphics which was eventually announced at CES 2018. Among the first device to be equipped with the chip is Intel’s own Hades Canyon NUC mini-PC which is claimed to be powerful enough for virtual reality application.
Three months have passed since that took place and there was no further update regarding the device from Intel. This is despite the fact that a Korean hardware and gaming site Playwares has published a review (no longer online at the moment) of the NUC kit based on an engineering sample unit.
Closer look at the heart of the Intel Hades Canyon NUC: the 8th Gen Intel Core processor with AMD Radeon Vega M graphics.
However, Intel broke the silence earlier this week by publishing a photo that depicts the kit’s motherboard. While this is not the first time that the contents of the upcoming NUC have appeared online since it was also included in Playwares’ review, this is the first time that Intel itself released such photo to the public.
There is one thing that seemed rather odd regarding the photo though: why there is an Apple keyboard pictured next to it? While Intel does supply processors to Apple for its Mac products but NUC is certainly not part of the deal which is why the appearance of the keyboard in the image intrigues us.
Hello there, Apple keyboard. What you doing here?
Meanwhile, the Intel Hades Canyon NUC kit which is also referred to as Intel NUC 8 VR machine is scheduled for release in Q2 2018. The company has yet to reveal the official price tag for the new mini-PC but initial information suggests that it might start from around USD 799 (about RM 3,135) onwards.
(Source: Intel)
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Supercell’s Clash Royale League Offers RM784,000 Prize Pool For Asia

Supercell, the developer of Clash Royale has launched its official Clash Royale League eSport league. The competition has already completed the first phase of selection professional players to join one of the teams that will make up the league.
The league starts with teams competing in one of the regional leagues (North America, Europe, Asia, and Mainland China). The top four teams from each region will then move on to compete at the worldwide championship later this year. What is interesting is that there doesn’t seem to be a fixed number of players in each team, with the announcement claiming that there will be between four to six members per team.
Southeast Asia has been allocated four team slots for the Asia region, where it will compete against teams from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. The league will follow a round robin format, with the winning teams advancing to the playoffs. The league will start with “Clash Royale League Challenge” where players will play at the In-game event before selected player will be chosen to advance.
A total of USD 200,000 prize (RM784,000) is set to be offered as the prize pool for the top teams of the Asian region.
The announcement of the professional players is scheduled to take place in mid-April, with the season of the league starting in late April. A second season will be held in August before the World Championship in the winter.
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Rumour: Huawei Developing Budget Smartphone With 18:9 Display

Huawei is supposedly developing a low-end smartphone with an 18:9 screen and Android Oreo 8.1. The new smartphone carries the codename DRA-L22 and is expected to target emerging markets.
The information was provided to XDA Developers by FunkyHuawei; who runs a support site for Huawei and Honor devices. According to firmware files obtained by the site, the smartphone will be using a MediaTek MT6739 SoC, which can support displays up to 1440 x 720. This presumably means that Huawei will be making the most of this limit.
The chip also supports up to 3GB of RAM, a minimum of 16GB of internal storage, a rear camera with up to 13MP sensor and LTE connectivity thanks to its Cat4 radio.
The firmware also reveals that the smartphone will have Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box. A situation that means it will have Project Treble support, a Google initiative to allow faster software upgrade for OEMs by adopting modularity in in updates rather than a single install.
No information about the release or potential price of this device has been shared.
(Source: XDA Developers)
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Bandai Namco Unveils Dragon Ball Legends Mobile Game; Focuses on Multiplayer PvP

Bandai Namco just introduced Dragon Ball Legends, a new mobile game. As with most Dragon Ball games, Legends is a fighting game with simplified controls, and it seems to sport pretty decent graphics too.
The main appeal of Dragon Ball Legends is multiplayer PvP, and using the Google Cloud Platform, the game can supposedly deliver seamless, low latency multiplayer experience. This being the core feature of the game, it’ll be interesting to see just how well the multiplayer PvP will run.

Controls for the game seem simple enough: there are three characters on each team, and players can tap on cards with different abilities to chain combos. The announcement trailer also makes it pretty clear that you only need “one finger” to play the game. Heck, even the game’s genre is “one finger card action battle.”
So far, Bandai Namco has revealed some of the characters that will be in Legends. These include Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Frieza, Nappa, and even Pan. What’s particularly interesting is the addition of an original character too, which was conceptualised by Akira Toriyama himself.

Dragon Ball Legends is slated to be released sometime in Summer 2018. If you’re interested to check out the game, you can pre-register for the game on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Interestingly enough, Bandai Namco will also be giving out some pretty interesting in-game items depending on the number of pre-registrations. More details on the game can be found here.
(Source: Dragon Ball Legends, Trusted Reviews)
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