Tech Bytes: July 2021

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.

June’s big E3 2021 blowout has come and passed, taking up a big focus for the month.  But the summer continues to roll along in July 2021, and that brings promises of more news in the tech and gaming landscape. So check out what’s been rocking right up till now!

Microsoft boots up Windows 11

Windows 11 Logo

Windows 10 was once thought to be the final full-fledged OS release from Microsoft, but it seems it will indeed have a successor; making the straight-forward jump numerically to the upcoming Windows 11.

At first glance, Windows 11 doesn’t seem to be so different from its predecessor — indeed not as radical as the change seen from Windows 8. But there are a few fundamental changes that have been made for the new release.

For one, it comes with a new Start Menu which has elected to forgo the tile system for a more standard launcher interface seen in things like Android. Accompanying that change is the shift of the location of the Start Button and taskbar, which is now centred to the screen. Additional small aesthetic changes have been made to the overall look of the OS, such as having rounded corners featured instead of the sharp edges from before.

A new feature called Snap Layouts also accompanies Windows 11. With this feature, snapping apps to different screen areas now gets much easier with various modes available to pick out from. It is also handy for those who use multiple displays, with the OS remembering which screens your apps were situated at if you plugged out your device. Previously this wasn’t the case, and people had to re-organise them manually.

The last big talking point about Windows 11 is that it now supports Android apps, but not in the traditional sense. To get them on your system, you’ll have to download them through the Amazon Appstore, which itself is found in the new Windows store. It’s perhaps a few extra hoops to jump through, but now you’ll be able to access your favourite apps on your computer.

Windows 11 is currently scheduled to release near the tail end of this year, though no exact date has been announced. Once it does arrive, we’ll see if this will be another success like Windows 7 or be tossed aside like Windows 8.

Nintendo reveals their new Switch OLED

Tech Bytes July 2021: Nintendo Switch OLED

Rumours have swirled since last year about Nintendo debuting an upgraded Nintendo Switch system. Given the system’s popularity, expectations were sky high over the potential of this new Switch console. Now that the company has lifted the lid on this new device, its reality is much less exciting.

The newest entry to the Nintendo Switch lineup is a new version that has an OLED screen. With OLED, players will see more vibrant colours and contrast in games for a better visual experience. Alongside that, the OLED Switch will also feature an upgraded wide kickstand which makes it more sturdy when playing in Tabletop Mode. Finally, the dock has been equipped with a built-in LAN port to better connectivity for online play. 

This new OLED Switch is currently scheduled to launch on 8 October 2021 for US$349.99 and will feature a new white colour scheme to go along with the release. Those interested in the new dock with LAN support can also get it separately for their old Switch systems.

But that’s the gist of what the OLED Switch will be. No improved performance power or increased 4K resolution when connected to the TV like the rumours have suggested. Whether Nintendo still intends to release a more powerful Switch console remains to be seen, but right now, this looks like the only new version of the console that fans can expect.

Valve goes portable with Steam Deck

Tech Bytes July 2021: Steam Deck

Speaking of the ‘Switch Pro’ — or the lack of one thereof — Valve seemingly fills that void with the reveal of their new device: the Steam Deck.

So what is the Steam Deck? Well, it is essentially a portable gaming system like the Nintendo Switch, but there are other bells and whistles about it that separates the both of them. For one thing, Valve’s system is more powerful. It’s equipped with an AMD APU, which provides Zen 2 and RDNA 2 capabilities and can run Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on high settings without performance issues.

Another key thing about it is that it is basically a PC. Valve was keen to stress that the Steam Deck doesn’t have a closed ecosystem, and you can do many things with it as you would with a regular computer; things such as using a mouse and keyboard, plugging in a monitor with it, using other digital game stores like the Epic Games Store or Origin, and you can even install Windows on it if you want. 

Valve’s Steam Deck is available in three different storage variations — 64GB (US$399), 256GB (US$529) and 512GB (US$649) — with the bigger storage options also featuring faster speeds. It does support SD cards as well to store and play your games. The United States, Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom will be the first places where you’ll be able to get a Steam Deck when it releases in December 2021, with more regions to come in 2022. 

This represents an exciting time for portable gaming, with Nintendo’s Switch console has dominated the space since its release in 2017. Now, the Steam Deck could become a real competitor to shake up the market.

Binge on gaming with Netflix

Tech Bytes July 2021: Netflix

The Netflix model of binging content is set to include another category in addition to TV shows and movies. Now games are set to be another thing that subscribers can look forward to adding to their list. The company confirmed this piece of news during an earnings report after speculation arose from them hiring former EA and Oculus exec Mike Verdu to lead their expansion into gaming.

But don’t expect to be playing the latest blockbusters on the service, at least not yet. Instead, the company will focus on games made for mobile devices to be included with user’s subscriptions. The inclusion of those games will also come at no additional cost to members, which will be great news to subscribers.

No information has been revealed about when this will be rolled out and what games will be included, but should this become popular with people; it could mean more games and bigger titles to be added in the future. We’ll be adding this development to our ‘watch-list for sure.

PRISM+ launched its Q Series PRO Android TVs

PRISM+ Q Series Pro

Homegrown tech brand PRISM+ has grown steadily over the last few years. Initially selling only computer monitors, they have since expanded to offer televisions to consumers; all at a value cost. And their latest launch of their premium range Android TV line is the biggest one the company has done yet.

PRISM+ aims to bring the cinematic experience to Singapore homes and their new Q Series PRO TV models. Headlining the new series is the Q86-QE PRO, a massive 86-inch 4K TV that is the largest that the company has made thus far. It is flanked by two other models, the Q65 PRO Quantum Edition and Q55 PRO Quantum Edition, which are also 4K and come in at 65-inches and 55-inches, respectively.

The Q Series PRO line boasts many key features, including Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos, hands-free voice control with Google Assistant, and new Quantum Color Backlight Technology, bringing brighter and more vibrant visuals on screen. 

PRISM+’s new Q Series PRO line is available right now, and their largest Q86-QE PRO will be priced at S$3,199. Meanwhile, the Q65 PRO Quantum Edition will come in S1,239, and the Q55 PRO Quantum Edition is priced at S999. In addition, people who purchase the new TVs will also receive up to 12-months of free subscription to streaming platforms like meWATCH, Viu and iQiyi. 

So if you’re looking for a new TV for the home, perhaps you can take a look at the new Q Series PRO line from PRISM+.

Sony boosts their first-party studio list

Tech Bytes July 2021: Sony Housemarque

Up until now, Microsoft has been the one making headlines with their big purchases as they gear up to compete with PlayStation after losing steam during the Xbox One era. Sony has thus far been idling by, twitching their fingers. Now, they have pulled the trigger, and in quick succession as well, with two new acquisitions into their first-party lineup.

The first is Housemarque, a studio that has long been acquainted with Sony and also just released their PS5 exclusive Returnal this year. Returnal’s success seems to have convinced them to take the studio under their umbrella, and they will be joining the PlayStation Studios family. This marks Sony’s first studio acquisition since they bought Insomniac Games in 2019.

A mere two days later, they added another to that list — Dutch studio Nixxes Software. Theirs is a purchase that is not as high profile as Housemarque, mainly specialising in port work to PC for titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Marvel’s Avengers. Still, it does point to a concerted effort by Sony on having an eye on the PC space.

Incidentally, we could be expecting news of another acquisition soon. When news broke out on Sony acquiring Housemarque, a blunder by the official PlayStation Japan Twitter account has seemingly revealed that Bluepoint Games has also been purchased. Bluepoint has likewise had a long history of working with Sony, and their latest game, the Demon’s Souls remake, launched alongside the PS5 as an exclusive. Their acquisition is a matter of when rather than if, and we’ll be sure to update when it does happen.

Dead Space revived by EA

Tech Bytes July 2021: Dead Space Remake

The Dead Space series appeared to be dead and buried. Despite revitalising the survival-horror genre in the PS3/Xbox 360 era, its trajectory has gone downhill. Dead Space 3 was the last entry, but it received poor sales on release. The developers behind the series, Visceral Games, has also since been shuttered — a return looked to be very unlikely, but it seems that the franchise isn’t dead after all.

At the EA Play event for July 2021, the publisher announced that they are bringing back Dead Space, and it will come in the form of a remake of the first game. Developers EA Motive will be handling the game, and it is being built from the ground up using the Frostbite engine, with improvements expected for the story, characters and gameplay mechanics, among others.

Other than being confirmed for the new generation of game consoles and PC, no further details were revealed during its unveiling. Whether this revival means that we’ll be getting a continuation of Isaac Clarke’s story from Dead Space 3 remains to be seen. Still, with this new remake, fans can now look forward to jumping back into the world, and newcomers have a chance to experience an iconic franchise from the last decade.

This marks 2021 July’s edition of Tech Bytes, and we hope this roundup gives you a little insight into tech to be excited about. Check with us again in August 2021, as we bring you more byte-sized news every month!

Visuals courtesy of Microsoft, Nintendo, Valve, Netflix, PRISM+, Sony and EA.

Russell Matthew Loh

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

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