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2021-10-21 17:27:38| Engadget

You finally have a way to upgrade the high-speed storage in your Xbox Series X or S with more than 1TB of extra space. Seagate has introduced a 2TB Storage Expansion Card that, for the Series X, effectively triples the capacity for next-gen games. It will cost $400 when it arrives in early December nearly as much as the console itself but might be worthwhile if you bristle at the thought of deleting games to make space.There's also an option for those who need just a slight bump. Seagate is launching a 512GB card in mid-November, with pre-orders open now for $130. That's still not a trivial expense, but it could be compelling if you either have an Xbox Series S (and want to keep costs down) or just want a little more breathing room on a Series X.The high prices are, for now, difficult to avoid. As with the PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X/S requires external storage as fast as the built-in SSD if you're going to run the latest games. That leaves vendors like Seagate little choice but to use cutting-edge NVMe drives. It won't be surprising if prices drop as the costs of the technology come down, but that might not happen for a while yet.


Category: Marketing and Advertising

 

2021-10-21 17:15:05| Engadget

Beyond a special-edition Xbox Series X and controller, there's more Halo Infinite-themed hardware on the way, this time for PC players. Not only have Microsoft and AMD teamed up to add ray-tracing to the game sometime after launch, they created a limited-edition Radeon RX 6900 XTHalo Infinite graphics card.The GPUs design is based on Master Chief's Mjolnir armor, and it features a reflective, iridium gold border around a fan, a blue light that mimics the Cortana AI module on the character's helmet and the 117 Spartan call sign. Microsoft notes that the graphics card uses the same RDNA 2 architecture as the Xbox Series X/S consoles.Here's the rub: you won't be able to buy the GPU. Microsoft, AMD, developer 343 Industries and some of their partners will be giving away the graphics card in the coming weeks. If you're interested, it's worth keeping an eye on the Halo and AMD Radeon Twitter accounts for more details.AMD is 343 Industries' exclusive PC partner for Halo Infinite. Theyve been working together for the last couple of years to optimize the game for AMDs GPUs and Ryzen processors. For one thing, theres support for AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, which reduces screen tearing and boosts HDR visuals on compatible monitors. Elsewhere, Microsoft released a video showcasing what the Halo Infinite experience will look like on PC. Its the first time the company is bringing a Halo game to consoles and PC on the same day. From the outset, there will be support for ultrawide displays and old-school LAN setups, as well as framerate customization and triple keybinds. Microsoft is also promising deep integration with Discord and in-game events that sync with lighting on Razer Chroma RGB devices. There are some Halo InfiniteRazer peripherals too.Halo Infinite will hit Xbox consoles and PC on December 8th. As with ray-tracing, the campaign co-op and Forge modes won't be available at launch. 343 Industries will add those features later.


Category: Marketing and Advertising

 

2021-10-21 17:00:50| Engadget

The modern world has grown around steel bones everything from tools and home appliances to skyscrapers and airplanes use the versatile material in their construction. But the process of making steel is a significant contributor to global warming and climate change. In 2018, reportedly every ton of steel produced generated 1.85 tons of carbon dioxide, accounting for about 7 percent of global CO2 emissions that year. This poses not just environmental challenges for our ever increasing world, it could also impact steel producers bottom line, which is why the industry is developing a fossil-free means of making the alloy, one that relies on renewable-sourced hydrogen rather than carbon coke.Steel is an alloy composed of iron, which in its pure form is relatively soft, with a small amount of introduced carbon, usually about 2 percent of its total weight. This improves the materials strength and reduces its propensity for fracturing. The process starts by combining iron ore, before coking coal and limestone (which remove impurities) in a blast furnace to create pig iron.That molten pig iron is then poured into a furnace and high pressure air is introduced via a water-cooled lance. The oxygen chemically reacts with the molten iron to purge impurities as well as produce significant amounts of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. The oxygen also forces impurities like silicates and phosphates present in the pig iron to react with limestone flux, trapping them as waste slag. Today, per the World Steel Association, some 1,864 million metric tons of crude steel are produced annually with China producing a vast majority of it.While the WSA points out that in the last 50 years, the steel industry has reduced its energy consumption per tonne of steel produced by 60 percent and notes that steel is infinitely reusable, and that new steel typically contain 30percent recycled steel on average the traditional methods of iron and steel production are becoming untenable at least if we want to mitigate its impacts on climate change. Whats more, the International Energy Agency estimates that global steel production will grow by a third by 2050, which will only compound the industrys environmental impacts. Thats where fossil-free steel comes in.Take HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology), for example. This process has been developed as a joint venture between three Swedish companies: SSAB, which makes steel, energy company Vattenfall, and LKAB, which mines iron ore. Rather than using coking coal and a blast furnace to convert raw iron ore into metallic iron, the HYBRIT method uses hydrogen generated from renewable energy sources and a technique known as direct reduction, which lowers the amount of oxygen contained within the ore without heating it above the metals melting point, to create sponge iron.HYBRITLike pig iron, sponge iron is an intermediary material in the steelmaking process (itll get shipped off to SSAB to be turned into steel slabs), but in HYBRITs case, its production results in the creation of water vapor rather than carbon dioxide.The first fossil-free steel in the world is not only a breakthrough for SSAB, it represents proof that its possible to make the transition and significantly reduce the global carbon footprint of the steel industry, Martin Lindqvist, CEO of SSAB, told reporters in August. We hope that this will inspire others to also want to speed up the green transition.The HYBRIT coalition opened a pilot direct reduction plant in Lule, Sweden last year and has announced plans to increase production to an industrial scale by 2026. The team claims that eliminating fossil fuels from the steelmaking industry in Sweden could drop the countrys total CO2 emissions by at least 10 percent. However, they are not the only group looking into fossil-free steel production. The H2 Green Steel company has announced its intent to open a large-scale plant in northern Sweden by 2024 and expects to produce 5 million tonnes of the material annually by 2030.In June, Volvo announced that it would be partnering with SSAB to develop fossil-free steel for use in its products both passenger cars and industrial machines. Last week, Volvo unveiled the first vehicle to be made with fossil-free steel, an 8-plus ton load carrier designed to operate within mines. Not only is the load carrier powered by a fully electric drivetrain, it can autonomously navigate across a worksite as well. Granted only about 3 of the vehicles 8 tons were made from fossil-free steel (the drivetrains steel components, for example, were made through traditional smelting means), this marks an important first step towards a carbon-neutral transportation future.When we have been talking about fossil free in the transport sector, we have been focusing a lot on emissions from the vehicles in use. But it's clear to us and to everyone else that we also need to address the carbon footprint from the production of our vehicles, Volvo Groups Chief Technology Officer Lars Stenqvist told Forbes. That's why it's so important now to team up with everyone in the value chain and collaborate in order to drive out all the fossil fuel also used in the production of components, parts and also running our production facilities.Volvo expects the autonomous load carriers to enter real-world operation by next year, though the company concedes that its ability to ramp up production of fossil-free vehicles will depend largely on SSABs ability to deliver sufficient quantities of the material.


Category: Marketing and Advertising

 

2021-10-21 16:39:01| Engadget

You won't have to pay for quick Polestar 2 charges at least, not for a while. The automaker has struck a deal that will give Polestar 2 drivers two years of free fast charging at Electrify America stations. You'll be limited to 30-minute sessions, but that won't matter so much when a 150kW charger can give you a healthy top-up (though likely not a full one) in that time frame.The offer applies to both existing and future Polestar 2 owners. Electrify America is keen to highlight the potential advantages, including simpler payments and an easier time finding stations.The Polestar deal isn't as sweet as the three years Electrify America creator VW gives its own brands. It also doesn't address the coverage and reliability issues that EV charging networks sometimes face. Electrify America is rapidly expanding its network, but it might take years before the infrastructure is robust enough that you could assume a fast charger is reasonably close by. Still, this could make the Polestar 2 an easier choice if you were anxious about recharging away from home.


Category: Marketing and Advertising

 

2021-10-21 16:30:08| Engadget

With the COVID pandemic still upon us, a monitor is one of the most important computer buying decisions you can make. Luckily, theres never been more choice, and weve seen vast improvements in color accuracy, size and resolution since our last update.Its great to have lots of choice, but it can also make your buying decision a challenge. For example, do you need HDR, and if so, how bright should your monitor be? How important is color accuracy, refresh rates and input lag? What size do you need? Should it be curved or straight?Luckily, weve done the research and can help you figure all that out depending on your specific needs and, most importantly, budget. Read on to see exactly what to look for in a monitor and which makes and models to choose.The basicsScreen size, resolution and display formatIn this day and age, screen size rules. Where 24-inch displays used to be more or less standard (and can still be useful for basic computing), 27-, 32-, 34- and even 42-inch displays have become popular for entertainment, content creation and even gaming these days.Nearly every monitor used to be 16:9, but its now possible to find 16:10 and other more exotic display shapes. On the gaming and entertainment side, were also seeing very wide and curved monitors with aspect ratios like 21:9. If you do decide to buy an ultrawide display, however, keep in mind that a 30-inch 21:9 model is the same height as a 24-inch monitor, so you might end up with a smaller display than you expected. As a rule of thumb, add 25 percent to the size of a 21:9 monitor to get the size you need.4K is nearly a must for content creators, and some folks are even going for 5K or all the way up to 8K. Keep in mind, though, that youll need a pretty powerful computer to drive all those pixels. And 4K should be paired with a screen size of 27 inches and up, or you wont notice much difference between 1440p. At the same time, I wouldnt get a model larger than 27 inches unless its 4K, as youll start to see pixelation if youre working up close to the display.One new category to consider is portable monitors designed to be carried and used with laptops. Those typically come in 1080p resolutions and sizes from 13-15 inches. They usually have a lightweight kickstand-type support that folds up to keep things compact.  HDRHDR is the buzzy monitor feature to have these days, but be careful before jumping in. Some monitors that claim HDR on the marketing materials dont even conform to a base standard. To be sure that a display at least meets minimum HDR specs, youll want to choose one with a DisplayHDR rating with each tier representing maximum brightness in nits.However, the lowest DisplayHDR 400 and 500 tiers may disappoint you with a lack of brightness, washed out blacks and mediocre color reproduction.If you can afford it, choose a model with DisplayHDR 600, 1000 or True Black 400, True Black 500 and True Black 600. The True Black settings are designed primarily for OLED models, with maximum black levels at .0005 nits.Where televisions typically offer HDR10 and Dolby Vision or HDR10+, most PC monitors only support the HDR10 standard, other than a few (very expensive) models. That doesnt matter much for content creation or gaming, but HDR streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other services wont look quite as punchy. Refresh rateRefresh rate is a key feature, particularly on gaming monitors. A bare minimum nowadays is 60Hz, and 80Hz refresh rates and up are much easier on the eyes. However, most 4K displays top out at 60Hz with some rare exceptions and the HDMI 2.0 spec only supports 4K at 60Hz, so youd need at least DisplayPort 1.4 (4K at 120Hz) or HDMI 2.1. The latter is now available on a number of monitors, particularly gaming displays. However, its only supported on the latest NVIDIA RTX 3000- and AMD RX 6000-series GPUs and requires a very powerful PC.InputsThere are essentially three types of modern display inputs: Thunderbolt, DisplayPort and HDMI. Most monitors built for PCs come with the latter two, while a select few (typically built for Macs) will use Thunderbolt. To add to the confusion, USB-C ports may be Thunderbolt 3 and by extension, DisplayPort compatible, so you may need a USB-C to Thunderbolt or DisplayPort cable adapter depending on your display.Panel typeThe cheapest monitors are still TN (twisted nematic), which are strictly for gaming or office use. VA (vertical alignment) monitors are also relatively cheap, while offering good brightness and high contrast ratios. However, content creators will probably want an IPS (in-plane switching) LCD display that delivers better color accuracy, image quality and viewing angles.If maximum brightness is important, a quantum dot LCD display is the way to go those are typically found in larger displays. OLED monitors are now available and offer the best blacks and color reproduction, but they lack the brightness of LED or quantum dot displays. Plus, they cost a lot.The new panel on the block is MiniLED. Its similar to quantum dot tech, but as the name suggests, it uses smaller LED diodes that are just 0.2mm in diameter. As such, manufacturers can pack in up to three times more LEDs with more local dimming zones, delivering deeper blacks and better contrast. Color bit depthSerious content content creators should consider a more costly 10-bit monitor that can display billions of colors. If budget is an issue, you can go for an 8-bit panel that can fake billions of colors via dithering (often specd as 8-bit + FRC). For entertainment or business purposes, a regular 8-bit monitor that can display millions of colors will be fine.Color gamutThe other aspect of color is the gamut. That expresses the range of colors that can be reproduced and not just the number of colors. Most good monitors these days can cover the sRGB and Rec.709 gamuts (designed for photos and video respectively). For more demanding work, though, youll want one that can reproduce more demanding modern gamuts like AdobeRGB, DCI-P3 and Rec.2020 gamuts, which encompass a wider range of colors. The latter two are often used for film projection and HDR, respectively. Engadget picksBest monitor around $200Acer KG241QAcerWhether you need a monitor for gaming, entertainment or work, Acers 24-inch KG241Q offers a lot of value. Resolution is limited to 1080p, but it delivers a 144Hz refresh rate and comes with AMD FreeSync support. Other features include a 1-millisecond lag time, 300 nits of brightness, HDMI and DisplayPort inputs and a tilting stand. The downsides are tricky access to the ports and a TN display that looks dim at an angle, but its a heck of a steal right now at $155.Buy 24-inch Acer KG241Q at B&H Photo - $180Best monitors around $300ASUS ProArt PA278QV


Category: Marketing and Advertising

 

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