Tech Bytes: Part 2 of September’s big tech reveals

Welcome to Tech Bytes! In this series, we bring the biggest news hitting the Tech and Gaming fields, getting them into a simple brief for you to quickly catch up on, so you’re up to speed over that dinner and drinks.

The first half of September brought about several huge announcements, and there’s still more news coming out for tech and gaming before we say hello to Halloween. Let’s jump right in, and check these out!

Driving AI Life with Huawei’s Six New Products

Tech bytes: Huawei 6 new products

Huawei kicked off the second phase of September’s tech news extravaganza with the announcement of six new products at their Huawei Seamless AI Life New Products Global Launch event.

New additions to their Matebook laptop line come in the form of the Huawei MateBook 14 and Huawei MateBook X

The Huawei MateBook 14 comes with a 2K FullView Display that allows for a 3:2 aspect ratio, leaving you with more space to see. It is also equipped with AMD’s Ryzen 4000 H Series processor as well as up to 16GBs of RAM and housed in a sleek package.

Huawei’s flagship line also gets a refresh with the Huawei MateBook X. Weighing as light as 1kg, the laptop offers a display with a 90% screen-to-body ratio and supports 3k resolution. Alongside 10th Generation Intel Core processors, up to 16GB RAM can be included, and it also supports the latest Wi-Fi 6, which gives speeds up to three times its predecessor.

New pro variants were also announced for its audio products line — the Huawei FreeBuds Pro and the Huawei Freelace Pro. These Freelace Pro now offers noise cancellation in addition to its great sound. At the same time, the Freebuds Pro not only improves its ANC performance but also features the world’s first dynamic noise cancellation tech system, which intelligently detects your environment and adjusts the noise cancellation experience.

Finally, fitness enthusiasts may be interested in their new wearables tech. The Huawei Watch Fit comes in a unique rounded rectangular face design and features animated fitness courses, 96 workout modes and also scientific health tracking. They also have the new Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro, improving upon its predecessor with up to two weeks of battery life, more than 100 workout modes and pro-grade fitness data tracking features.

Play the Next Generation in November with the Announcement of PS5’s Launch Details

Tech bytes: PS5 Prices

Following Microsoft’s announcement on their launch plans for the Xbox Series X and Series S, Sony finally broke their silence on 16 September 2020 with an over 40-minute long showcase.

In that showcase, Sony underlined their exclusive line-up for PlayStation 5 with closer looks at their previously announced first-party games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls, but also unveiled that the newest entry in the seminal Final Fantasy franchise — Final Fantasy XVI — will also be exclusive to the system. Finally, they ended the showcase with a tease for the sequel to 2018’s God of War to come in 2021.

But just before it ended, Sony unveiled both the price and release dates for the console. The PS5 and its digital edition will cost S$729 (USD$499) and S$599 (USD$399), respectively. It will also launch first in select regions (US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea) on 12 November before coming to the rest of the world a week later on 19 November.

Such was the enthusiasm from the public for the PS5 that when pre-orders were listed shortly after, stocks were completely sold out almost immediately. 

Thankfully, Sony has announced that more stock allotment will be given to retailers soon, so be sure to keep an eye out for when local sellers are re-opening their pre-orders again!

Apple’s new iPads and Apple Watches Arrive

Tech Bytes: Apple Air

Usually, this period sees the announcement of Apple’s new iPhone line-up. But instead, Apple dedicated their recent tech event to details over their iPad and Apple Watch line-up.

The first big reveal was the new Apple Watch Series 6, which comes with an all-new health feature — blood oxygen measurement. With this new feature, users can now track how well-oxygenated blood is being delivered throughout their body. Improvements were also made to the processor, which now allows apps to launch 20% faster. Additionally, the watch now can be charged quicker, completing a full charge in under 1.5 hours, and sees improved battery life for workout tracking. You can get it with a price starting at S$599.

And their watch series is taking a cue from their iPhone line-up with the announcement of the Apple Watch SE. This is a more affordable Apple Watch, starting at S$419. but still has compelling features like the same accelerometer, gyroscope, and always-on altimeter from Apple Watch Series 6.

For their tablets, their entry-level iPad, which is the most popular in their line-up, will see a refresh with the announcement of the eighth-generation iPad. It will now come equipped with the newer A12 processor chip, allowing for a 40% faster CPU performance and twice the graphics capability; all at the same affordable price of S$499 to start.

Finally, they’ve also announced their newest iPad Air. It will come in five colours and now has a larger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, featuring the same all-screen design from their iPad Pro line. The most exciting news about the new iPad Air is that it will have Apple’s most powerful chip yet, the A14 Bionic, delivering a boost in performance to tasks like editing, gaming and art creation. It will be available at a starting price of S$879.

Except for the new iPad Air, which is coming out in October, all the devices mentioned here should be available today for purchase. If you are looking for a new tablet or smartwatch, Apple has you covered.

Microsoft works on its purchase of Bethesda Softworks

Tech bytes: Microsoft Bethesda

Just before the pre-orders for their newest consoles went live, Microsoft dropped a bombshell in announcing that it will be acquiring ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks.

Bethesda is a major player in the games industry, overseeing multiple big successful franchises such as Doom, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. 

The acquisition, which cost Microsoft USD$7.5 billion, will see all of Bethesda’s studios join the Xbox family, which will now grow to be 23 studios large. It would also seemingly see Bethesda’s games line-up launch exclusively on Xbox platforms for consoles, though Xbox head Phil Spencer says for now that it will be on a “case-by-case basis.” 

More importantly, this will see a massive win for subscribers of Xbox Game Pass, with the company known for placing its first-party games on the game subscription service on the day they launch. This will see upcoming highly anticipated titles like Starfield appear on the service on the same day that they release.

Formalities are still yet to be sorted, with the deal only set to be closed in 2021, but this marks an exciting change within the video game industry.

Amazon announces its own Cloud Gaming Service, Luna

Tech bytes: Amazon Luna

Google’s cloud gaming service has been out for less than a year, receiving a mixed reception from the public. But it looks like it will have a competitor very soon in the form of Amazon.

Their version of the service is called Amazon Luna, and will feature a catalogue of games through different individual channels within the platform. Luna’s own channel, Luna+. Will feature more than 100 games including Resident Evil 7, Control, A Plague Tale: Innocence, GRID and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, among others. 

Ubisoft will also partner with Amazon to launch their own channel that has access to the company’s own titles including new ones which will also come on as they release.

There is also Twitch integration within the service with Amazon teasing that people using the platform “will see Twitch streams for games in the service, and from Twitch, they’ll be able to instantly start playing Luna games.”

Luna will support 4K resolution as well as 60fps gameplay for select titles and will come first to PC, Mac as well as Fire TV devices before expanding to Apple and Android devices. Though it is playable with keyboard and mouse, you can also grab their Alexa-enabled Luna controller that was announced alongside the service USD$49.99 during the early access period.

No details on early access have been revealed, but you can request to sign up now, and it will be available for an introductory price of USD$5.99 per month though that is only for its Luna+ channel; other channels will have to be bought separately.

Amazon joins the increasingly crowded space of cloud gaming, with Google’s Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud tech in the mix. It will be interesting to see what the landscape looks like in a few years.

Visuals courtesy of Huawei, Sony, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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