Speedlink Releases Nintendo Switch Chargers, Screen Protectors, And More

Nintendo wants its upcoming Switch console to be used everywhere. Want to connect it to a TV and use it like a normal console? Go for it! Have a hankerin’ for some Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the go? That’s why it also works as a handheld device. The only problem is that portability doesn’t come without risks–which is where Speedlink and the various Switch accessories it’s releasing alongside the console are supposed to come in.

Carrying a device like the Switch around introduces two concerns: keeping it safe and making sure it doesn’t lose its charge. Speedlink plans to address both problems with its accessories, which includes the Glance Screen Protection Kit with a bundled cleaning cloth and squegee for hard-to-reach spots.

Those tools will be available in two bundles. The first is a four-piece that includes a screen protector with squegee; a screen-cleaning cloth; silicone analog stick caps; and a “rugged carry case” that can hold up to four of the Switch’s itty-bitty game cards. The second is a seven-piece bundle with…

  • Screen protector with squeegee
  • 2 x sets of silicone analog-stick caps
  • Rugged carry case for four game cards
  • High-quality screen-cleaning cloth
  • Charging cable for any USB port (3m)
  • In-ear headphones with 3.5mm jack for great stereo sound

Either bundle–or just the screen protectors themselves–might appeal to Switch owners worried about scratching up the console. Nintendo’s products are durable (the original NES controllers were nigh indestructible) but carrying around a 6.2″ tablet with detachable controllers is brand new territory.

Switch owners might also worry about the console’s battery running out in the middle of a play session. Nobody wants Link to be killed by some Bokoblins in Breath of the Wild simply because they forgot to charge the Switch before hopping on a plane or heading to a nearby café or something.

Speedlink tried to address those concerns with the Rod USB Car Adapter, which will charge the Switch via a vehicle’s 12V socket, and the Stream Play & Charge USB Charging Cable that allows for simultaneous charging and gaming. Both could make it easier to keep the Switch’s battery topped off.

That problem might be a bigger deal than some people think. Nintendo said in the console’s spec sheet that battery life in handheld mode depends on the game that’s being played. Breath of the Wild, for instance, can be played for “roughly three hours on a single charge.” Given that the Switch’s battery can’t be removed, gamers will have to find creative ways to make sure they can play the Switch’s flagship launch title for more than a few hours.

Speedlink isn’t the only company getting into the Switch accessory game a little early. Snakebyte did the same in January. As we reported at the time:

The company announced two accessories–a foldable headset with 40mm drivers that’s meant to provide decent sound quality while using Switch as a handheld device, and a “starter kit” filled with accessories. That bundle includes game cases, a screen protector, stereo earbuds, a cleaning cloth, control caps, and a carry bag to “allow for an enhanced gaming experience” and protect the device.

The Switch will make its debut on March 3. Pre-orders have been sold out at various retailers for months, but GameStop said that it will have a limited supply available to walk-in customers, provided they make it to one of the company’s midnight launch events. Speedlink said the accessories will be available from Amazon and “retail stores” by the end of February but didn’t say how much they’ll cost. (A quick Amazon search didn’t turn up anything.)

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HTC Offers Vive Financing, Expands Availability To 9 More Countries

HTC’s announced a new monthly financing plan for the Vive system and said that it will sell the device in nine more regions this Spring.

Cost is the biggest factor preventing many people from adopting high-end VR. But for others, the problem isn’t money so much as it’s the fact that in many places, they simply cannot buy a Vive system. HTC’s trying to solve both of those problems with these announcements.

In North America and China, the company is now offering financing options to let prospective Vive owners spread out the system’s cost. North American customers can choose 6-month or 12-month 0% financing or 24-month financing at 7.99%. The financing plans split the purchase into monthly payments of $138, $66.58, and $40.13 per month, respectively, all of which are easier to stomach than a one-time payment of roughly $800.

Chinese customers get different financing terms to choose from, including a ¥2,296 per month 3-month term, a ¥1,148 per month six-month term, and a ¥574 per month 12-month term. All three options are offered at 0% financing. HTC said that select European retailers would soon offer similar financing programs but didn’t offer a specific timeframe. Vive purchases can be financed through Vive.com in North America and JD.com in China.

HTC is also increasing the scope of the Vive’s distribution channels. Starting today, the company will accept orders from customers in Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cypress, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The first shipments to these nine new regions will begin on March 1.

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LG Is Making A ‘Next-Gen’ VR HMD, Details At 11

LG made a non-announcement announcement concerning a new “next-gen” VR HMD it’s developing. The announcement, in full, is below:

LG Electronics will unveil its first VR HMD prototype at this year’s GDC in San Francisco, CA. Being shown in Valves GDC booth, the LG HMD prototype is designed to deliver a high fidelity, next generation VR experience.

During the show, LG will be meeting with developers to collect feedback and impressions as part of its effort to define the first commercial units. Pricing, launch dates, and territories will be announced at a later date.

Couple things: First of all, this is not LG’s first VR HMD. That honor goes to the LG 360 VR, a rather disappointing device that nevertheless offered a unique phone-connected setup. LG debuted the LG 360 VR HMD along with the LG G5 smartphone almost exactly one year ago at Mobile World Congress.

Second, the announcement offers virtually no details; all one can extract from this is that it’s VR, not AR or MR. Probably. (We don’t even have an image to include with this article.)

Pictured: NOT the new LG VR HMDPictured: NOT the new LG VR HMD

Third, although we’re going to have a chance to have an up-close and in-person look at this mystery HMD this week, we expect a rough prototype.

Why “rough?” When it comes to hardware, we see prototypes all the time, but often companies are showing us products that are mostly finished and just need a little polish before they launch to the public. We always give feedback, and sometimes companies use tradeshow time to hear what the lot of us in the tech media think, and sometimes they alter the final product a little.

In LG’s case, though, if you examine the language of the announcement, it sounds like the company is not that far along in the process. This is the telling bit: “LG will be meeting with developers to collect feedback and impressions as part of its effort to define the first commercial units.“

The “first commercial units” are not yet “defined.” That could technically mean anything, but we presume it means that LG may still be deciding on which components and features to implement. Eye tracking? External trackers for hands? Passthrough camera? And so on and so forth.

LG is hanging out in Valve’s booth at GDC, so that tells you something, and we know that it supports SteamVR.

However, again by parsing the language of the note, it appears that we’ll see the device in action. We assume the “impressions” LG is seeking will be about the demos we see, not about whether we think the mocked-up headset looks neat or not.

In other words, the LG VR HMD could be just about anything. The biggest question is whether LG is taking the Wintel VR route or if it’s throwing its lot in with the Qualcomm VR initiative. Given that LG is experienced with Android more than Windows, we would bet on the latter.

We’ll know more later this week. Stay tuned.

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Twitch Plans To Take On Steam With Twitch Games Commerce

Your favorite streamer is about to become the game industry’s favorite salesperson. That’s because Twitch announced a new game marketplace, Twitch Games Commerce, that will give streamers 5% of the revenues generated when their audiences purchase a title after watching their videos about it.

Twitch Games Commerce is based on the simple idea that many people will decide to buy a title after they watch someone else play it. Right now those people have to watch a stream on Twitch, buy the relevant game from another company, and then head back to Twitch for their own streams. This new marketplace will simplify this process by allowing people to discover, purchase, and stream games on the same platform instead of bouncing around.

Here’s what Twitch said about its decision in a blog post:

Viewers have always used Twitch as a way to ‘demo’ games before they buy. Now we’ll be giving them a way to close the loop and buy a game or in-game items they’re interested in, when and where they discover it. It works like this: an offer to purchase will appear below the video when a streamer is playing a game that’s available through Twitch. Partnered streamers who opt in will receive a 5% rev share for these purchases, and viewers who buy will receive a digital Twitch Crate that contains a randomly generated reward like an emote, badges, or Bits for Cheering. That’s pretty much the definition of a win-win-win.

Twitch said that Twitch Games Commerce will debut this Spring with games from Paradox Interactive, Ubisoft, Vlambeer, and other developers. Partnered streamers will receive 5% of the revenues drawn from sales originating on their pages, while developers will receive 70%. That leaves Twitch with 25%–less than the reported 30% cut taken by Steam and GOG, though developers simply have to share the remainder with streamers instead.

Twitch Games Commerce Announcement

The company said games will be downloaded and launched via the Twitch launcher and will be discovered on streamers’ pages. Those pages will contain links to “a game detail page that includes trailers, description, hardware requirements, etc.” where people can buy the game. Twitch Games Commerce will globally debut later this year, and sales will be processed via Amazon, which acquired Twitch for approximately $970 million in cash back in 2014.

Twitch’s announcement comes shortly after it published a gamified Year In Review that revealed that 2016 was a banner year for the service. It had record streams, added more than 1 million Twitch Prime subscriptions, and introduced new tools to help streamers manage their communities. Now it’s getting into the commerce game (pun intended) to take on Steam, GOG, and other marketplaces. Looks like it’s officially part of Amazon’s flock.

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HTC Announces Release Dates, Pricing For Vive Tracker, Deluxe Head Strap

Just about two months ago, at CES 2017, HTC announced that it’s doubling down on the Vive ecosystem and revealed the Vive tracker for developers and Deluxe Audio Head Strap for consumers. Now, at GDC we’ve learned that both products are coming out soon, and they’ll both cost $100.

HTC’s Vive Tracker device will hit the market first, but it is for developers only at this stage. The Vive Tracker is a universal Lighthouse-tracked device that you can attach to anything. HTC is encouraging developers to use the tracker to bring peripherals and accessories into the virtual space and to come up with creative ideas that leverage the robust 6-degrees of freedom (6DoF) tracking that Lighthouse offers.

“We see an incredibly strong future for VR, and have created an entire ecosystem around Vive. The Vive ecosystem is evolving, adaptable and will continue to grow to drive the industry forward,” said Daniel O’Brien, GM VR, US, HTC Vive. “The Vive Tracker is a key piece of that strategy and when paired with Vive technology and programs such as Viveport and Vive X, represents a significant opportunity for us and our partners to make the Vive ecosystem synonymous with the growth of VR.” 

HTC is donating the first 1,000 trackers to developers with unique and promising ideas. Demand is high; HTC said in mid-February that it had received more than 2,300 requests for free trackers. The company shipped trackers to some developers already, but it’s still deciding who will receive them.

Steve Bowler, President of Cloudgate Games, started experimenting with full body awareness in Island 359 using a second set of Vive controllers before the trackers were available. In early February, Bowler announced that Cloudgate would show off the full body tracking system at GDC.

HTC told us it doesn’t have plans to increase the number of giveaways, but developers will be able to buy trackers soon. The Vive trackers will go on sale on March 27. They will be available through Vive.com, and each unit will set you back $100. HTC is waiting for the developers to fill the content and accessory ecosystem before releasing the trackers to consumers; the consumer launch is coming later this year.

Vive owners can get excited about a different accessory, though: The Vive Deluxe Audio Head Strap, which features attached over-the-ear headphone on a rigid strap system with a dial to tighten the strap on your head. This deluxe head strap ought to simplify putting on and taking off the headset.

The Deluxe Audio Head Strap is still a few months out. HTC said it will begin accepting pre-orders on May 2 and that deliveries should begin in June. The head strap upgrade will also set you back $100. Corporate customers won’t have to wait as long, though, as HTC said that “going forward, all new Vive BE sales will include the Deluxe Audio Strap with every purchase.” The company didn’t say whether or not it increased the price of the Vive BE.

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Alienware 13 Gaming Notebooks Discounted Up To $169 For a Limited Time – Deal Alert

Alienware’s first 13-inch VR gaming laptop features up to 7th Gen Intel Quad Core H- Class processors and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10-Series graphics. For a limited time various configurations have been discounted up to $169, with free shipping. See the various configurations and discounts now on Dell

This story, “Alienware 13 Gaming Notebooks Discounted Up To $169 For a Limited Time – Deal Alert ” was originally published by TechConnect.

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SilverStone Announces LED Light Strip Control Box

SilverStone announced a new RGB light strip control box with an eight-port signal control, the LSB01, to help enthusiasts manage their rig’s lighting.

The LSB01 “expands the amount of lighting that one can control and solves the problem of insufficient RGB 4pin connectors,” according to SilverStone. It’s made for SilverStone’s LS02 RGB LED light strips and is compatible with Asus’ Aura Sync, Asrock’s Aura RGB LED, and MSI’s Mystic Light Sync, among other management tools.

SilverStone packaged two of the LS02 flexible light strips with each LSB01 control box. The company didn’t say when it will debut, but it did say the MSRP is 33€ excluding VAT, and a placeholder on Newegg’s website says the device will cost roughly $35 whenever it’s released in the U.S.

Model No. SST-LSB01
Material Plastic outer shell
Included Parts 2 x SST-LS02 RGB LED strip

2 x Extend Y cable

1 x RGB 4pin signal cable

1 x 4pin peripheral cable

Signal Input Via RGB 4pin host (+12V, G, R, B) or built-in IC control
Signal Output SilverStone custom RGB 4pin x 8
Net Weight 30g
Dimensions (W x H x D) 46 x 19 x 85mm
1.81  x 0.75  x 3.35 in.

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