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 dinner and drinks.
It is a gaming-centric month for news in March 2023, with information on new games and upcoming events, with some tech announcements to be excited about. Check out the biggest news here with our Tech Bytes round-up!
Lenovo introduces new budget-friendly gaming laptop line LOQ
Lenovo’s Legion line is a popular choice for gamers due to its performance capabilities, but it can be rather costly. Luckily, the company is introducing a new gaming laptop range for people who want to take advantage of Lenovo’s gaming prowess at a more affordable price.
Meet the Lenovo LOQ line. Pronounced as “lock”, the new uniquely-named range is aimed at beginner gamers that want a budget-friendly machine as their gateway into gaming that still provides a capable performance.
There are two models within the line, one that is 16-inch and another that is 15-inch. In addition, powerful specs are available on these laptops, such as the 13th Gen Intel i7-13700H/AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS for the processor and an NVIDIA RTX 4060 as its GPU.
The new line is set to launch around May this year, though prices will come at a later date. For more details on the new LOQ gaming laptops and the refreshed Legion line for 2023, be sure to check out our preview piece.
Xbox Games Showcase 2023 to come in June
Xbox is setting the stage early for the games-focused period of June by announcing the date of their next big showcase. The Xbox Games Showcase 2023 will be held on 11 June 2023.
This showcase is typically their biggest of the year, where gamers can look forward to seeing new footage of highly-anticipated titles and the unveiling of new games. Last year saw fresh looks and reveals for games like Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty and Redfall.
While we don’t know what will happen at the Xbox Games Showcase this year, we know that one game will appear — Starfield. To be more specific, the game will have its own Starfield direct event after the showcase to give fans a deep dive into the game. This will provide much reprieve considering it was just announced to be delayed to 6 September 2023.
The announcement of the showcase also confirms that Xbox will not be making a physical appearance at E3 2023, first rumoured last month.
OpenAI announces next generation GPT-4
ChatGPT is all the rage these days, with users taking advantage of its AI applications for both professional work processes and humourous opportunities. But now, people can do more with the new upgrade it just received.
OpenAI, the company behind the AI powering ChatGPT, has announced GPT-4 — its next-generation AI language model. With the new model, GPT-4 is now better at creative tasks, so you can ask more specific questions, like summarising an article using only words with the letter “h”. And it can process much more text from before, enabling more use cases.
But the biggest feature of the new model is its ability to parse through images. Previously, it could only do so with text, but now GPT-4 can also analyse contents within an image. That means you can show it a picture of ingredients and ask it to recommend some meal options; it will promptly come up with a few suggestions.
GPT-4 is already available for the public, provided you subscribe to the US$20 ChatGPT Plus. You can also find it powering other things like Microsoft’s Bing chatbot and Duolingo Max.
Counter-Strike 2 announced
Counter-Strike, specifically Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO), has been a perennial presence in the gaming sphere — highlighted by its still massive player base and continued popularity for esports. And now more than a decade after its launch, it will be getting a sequel.
Counter-Strike 2 is a reality and is set to be the most transformative title in its history. The game will see an overhaul to its systems, content, and experience. Some of the new things that fans can look forward to are updates to the core mechanics. One example is the smoke grenade, which now reacts more realistically to the environment and other factors like bullets and grenades.
Maps have also been revamped and rebuilt from the ground up using the Source 2 engine. Though the environments will be getting a new look, Valve assures that experienced players will be able to migrate their skills over easily. Also receiving upgrades are the visual effects, UI, and audio.
The best thing about the announcement is that you can play it right now. A limited test is available for select CS: GO players as Valve attempts to iron out issues before its launch. Speaking of launch, Counter-Strike 2 will come in the Summer of this year, and it will be a free upgrade to CS: GO. More details will be revealed closer to its release window.
Persona 5’s mobile spin-off game formally unveiled
Persona 5 is a massive success, and fans will be getting even more Persona goodness with a new mobile game based on the world.
Previously teased back in April 2021, the game has now been formally revealed — called Persona 5: The Phantom X (or Phantom of the Night). It is developed by another studio, Black Wings Game Studio, but Atlus and series designer Shigenori Soejima are also involved in its development. While mobile games sometimes get a bad rep (from me included), this new game looks to be very faithful to the original experience.
Persona 5: The Phantom X follows a new protagonist Wonder in an original story as he forms a new band of Phantom Thieves. He is joined by classmate Arai Suwa and an owl creature named Luffy. The series’ iconic daily life gameplay is in the game, with players able to take part in school classes or do fishing. Most importantly, there are Social Links — fans can connect with various people in the world to learn their stories and garner new abilities.
Palaces are back as a feature in the game, with Wonder shown exploring themed environments and fighting eccentric boss characters. The Metaverse dungeon also makes a return in Persona 5: The Phantom X. Also teased is the appearance of the original Phantom Thieves team.
While the series staples are present here, Persona 5: The Phantom X will also have item-based in-app purchases as part of its free-to-play model. It’ll be playable on iOS and Android, but no release date has been announced. Similarly, no details have been revealed on where it will be available — only a China release has been confirmed — but considering the popularity of the franchise, there is a good chance it will see a worldwide release.
Jabra reveals the new Jabra Elite 4
The entry-level Jabra Elite 3 will receive an upgrade in the form of the new Jabra Elite 4, taking over as the new baseline for the company’s TWS buds and providing people with a more compelling budget-friendly option for wireless earbuds.
A key highlight of the Jabra Elite 4 is the inclusion of active noise cancellation (ANC), previously unavailable in the Elite 3. Another added feature is Bluetooth Multipoint, allowing users to easily switch audio between multiple devices. Support for Microsoft Swift Pair and Google Fast Pair is also available.
The Jabra Elite 4 will retain the same 6mm speakers, and users will get 5 and a half hours of use with ANC, or a total of 22 hours with the case. It will be launched on 24 March 2023 for S$160 — available on Jabra’s official store platform at Shopee and Lazada.
Razer reveals unique glass gaming mouse mat
Razer has done some different things with its mouse mats — like an RGB mat — and their latest one is certainly in the same unique direction, introducing a new tempered glass gaming mouse mat.
The Razer Atlas is the company’s first foray into a mat with a glass-based design. Crafted with premium tempered glass, it gives gamers more speed and accuracy for mouse movement with its ultra-smooth surface, giving them an extra advantage for competitive gaming.
Having a glass design also means that the mat is low-maintenance and can be easily cleaned with a warm damp cloth. Razer has also equipped the Atlas with a scratch-resistant surface that repels dirt and dust for additional longevity and durability.
The Razer Atlas gaming mouse mat is available right now on the Razer official website. It comes in Black and White and is priced at S$159.90.
This marks March 2023’s edition of Tech Bytes, and we hope this round-up gives you insight into tech to be excited about. Check with us again in April 2023, as we bring you more byte-sized news every month!
Photo of Lenovo LOQ laptops by Glenton Weng and Russell Loh of the DANAMIC Team. Additional visuals courtesy of Xbox, OpenAI, Valve, Atlus, Jabra and Razer.