Monday, September 12, 2011

3DS to be relaunched with right analog stick?

So far the 3DS has not lived up to the hype of previous Nintendo handhelds. A slow start is not a disaster as the DS can attest, but Nintendo dropping the price just a few months after launch and then apologizing to 3DS “Ambassadors” with the promise of 20 games next month, is definitely not what Nintendo intended when it was developing the device.
A price drop coupled with some much-needed new games could be enough to get things back on track, but there’s a rumor coming from French-language site 01net that some bigger changes are going to happen with the 3DS hardware next year.
We stress this is a rumor, but it comes from a site that leaked the Wii U two months before Nintendo officially unveiled it.
Apparently the 3DS is set to get an update in the form of a $10 right analog stick attachment. Nintendo is currently figuring out how to attach this to the existing 3DS on the right side below the buttons. The problem is it needs to tightly grip the case so as not to fall off as well as somehow plug into the 3DS.
The thinking behind the second stick is it would allow more games to be ported from other hardware that have controllers with dual analog sticks, so PS3, 360, PS Vita. It also opens the way for new types of game to be created specifically for the hardware that need the finer control of two sticks.
The second part of the rumor involves Nintendo rethinking the 3DS because 3D isn’t working out. Parents aren’t sure about letting their kids use it for fear of poor eyesight, and 2D games are allowed on the system which shows even Nintendo aren’t 100% on the idea otherwise they’d insist developers use it.
The redesign would steer away from pushing the 3D aspect and may even have a new name. In other words, the redesign would become more DS-like with two 2D displays and most likely include the new right analog stick by default.
Read more at NeoGAF and 01net, via GameSpot

AMD accidentally leaks 1.7 million DiRT 3 keys

For a number of years now it has been possible to purchase a new graphics card with the promise of a free promotional game. Inside the box with your new card will be a code that can be entered on a website along with your personal details in return for access to a digital copy of a particular game for free.
AMD offers such a freebie with some of its ATI graphics cards, but due to a lack of security some 1.7 million promotional keys for Codemasters’ DiRT 3 have been accidentally leaked.
The reason access to all these keys has been granted is due to a lack of .htaccess on AMD’s site. .htaccess is a directory level configuration file commonly used for restricting access to particular directories on a server. Without it, anyone can gain access to the directory that holds all the keys as a big list in several text files (see image above).
The keys AMD uses are for Steam, so copy pasting one into the appropriate section of your Steam client should unlock the game if that particular key hasn’t been used before. However, if you do find a link to the keys we suggest you don’t try and use one. AMD will no doubt ask Valve to kill all these codes once it has realized what happened. Valve in turn could decide to ban any account that has used such a key.
This, like many other recent episodes, demonstrates how important it is to get the security right on a website and associated servers. These games were meant to be free, but only after you spent a few hundred dollars on another product. Now there’s 1.7 million copies of the game available for free, but luckily easily blocked through Steam if AMD chooses to go that route.

BlackBerry Bold 9980 spotted, shrouded in mystery

The recently-released BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900 has generated some much-needed buzz for RIM. From the improved user experience of BlackBerry 7 OS and 1.2GHz processor  to the generous keyboard and 640×480 touchscreen, the Bold is a solid option for today’s smartphone shoppers.

Now, a device that might be a snazzed-up version of the Bold 9900 has appeared running on China Mobile’s network. It’s been labeled as the BlackBerry Bold 9980, and the PCB code shown in teardown photos doesn’t match that of 9900. BlackBerry 7 OS is onboard, and the Wi-Fi, 3G, and NFC hardware looks virtually identical. Port placements on both phones are also similar, the 9980′s overall design is a major departure.
Its silver front and textured, rubberized back are a stylish upgrade from the more standard-issue RIM gloss black found on the Bold 9900. Engadget has also confirmed that the device is going to be hitting the streets of Beijing in limited quantities very soon — including an iced-out version.
The word “Proceeding” emblazoned on the mystery phone’s front has raised some eyebrows and lead to speculation that it could be some sort of prototype. I’m going to lean towards a slip-up in translation, however. Proceeding has several English synonyms, including move, action, and progress — all of which sound like pretty snappy monikers for a smartphone. It’s not a stretch to say that whoever put the finishing touches on this BlackBerry simply kicked this one off the goalpost when picking the label text.
If nothing else, it’s a bold (sorry) design move for RIM and a handsome departure from the other handsets in their line-up. The sharp edges and edge-to-edge keyboard give it an attractive, modern design that will ensure it stands out from the rest of the boring bankers’ phones out there.
So what do you think? Is it a prototype, the next BlackBerry smartphone, or something else entirely?
More at CrackBerry and MaxPDA (translated)

HTC buys controlling stake in Dr. Dre’s Beats Electronics

HTC has today announced a strategic partnership with Beats Electronics, best known for the Beats by Dr. Dre audio solutions. That strategic partnership is actually a $300 million investment and controlling stake in the company.

Beats Electronics was created by Dr. Dre with a focus on delivering better sound through headphones and speakers and providing playback of music much closer to what the artist intended. The Beats audio solutions have also found their way into laptops through a deal with HP and the Envy line, but will now also be added to HTC’s range of devices.

By bringing Beats on board HTC will gain both a marketing and a feature advantage over other smartphones and tablets on the market. Its gadgets will be able to boast better audio output either through the included speakers or headphones, if you are using a Beats set of course, and can carry the well-known and easily recognized Beats branding.

In taking a controlling stake HTC can use the Beats technology as it wishes, but has chosen to allow the company to continue working “autonomously.” That means existing relationships with Monster Cable products and HP will be maintained, but any new relationships will come under scrutiny by HTC who will no doubt want the focus on its own products going forward.

Read more at the HTC press release and The Register

HTC considers acquiring a mobile OS

Most of the mobile OS acquisition talk in the last two months has been about Samsung, whose misgivings about the Google-Motorola deal were thought to be sparking interest in an alternative to Android. An alternative besides its own Bada OS, which seemed somewhat unlikely. With Samsung flat out denying that it had any interest in acquiring an OS, the spotlight is now on HTC.
Chairwoman Cher Wang has told reporters in China that the company had “given thought” to buying a mobile OS. That would line HTC up with the likes of RIM, Samsung, and now the Motorola Mobility/Google tandem.
Which OSes was HTC considering? It’s safe to assume that HP’s webOS was most talked about, but Meego and Symbian could have been options as well. All three have been part of a swirling maelstrom of mobile uncertainty this year.
But HTC is in no hurry to drop a ton of cash on an operating system. They did, after all, just shell out big bucks for a controlling stake in Dr. Dre’s Beats Electronics to secure exclusive access to Beats Audio tech for their phones and tablets, and Wang feels that HTC’s strength currently lies in “understanding an OS.” She likely means the OSes they already ship: Android and Windows Phone.
Wang states that HTC has the ability to differentiate on a “second or third layer,” meaning via software like HTC Sense and tech integration like Beats.
More at Focus Taiwan and TNW

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