StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty Is Now Free-To-Play, Here’s How To Get It

StarCraft fans now have a free to play version of the popular Blizzard game StarCraft II. Blizzard announced that StarCraft II would go free-to-play back during BlizzCon and as of yesterday that game has debuted at no cost. If you want to get in on the free gaming action, this is how you do it. You need a compatible computer running either Windows or Mac OS. You will need a Battle.net account. If you have one you are golden, otherwise you need to create one here. You can sign up using your Facebook account. Hit up the Battle.net Shop and look for the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty landing page....

NVIDIA SHIELD TV, Google Assistant And Samsung SmartThings Form A Powerful Smart Home Trio

If you're a frequent reader of HotHardware, then you're well aware that we've been quite impressed with the NVIDIA SHIELD TV. Not only is the pint-sized device a competent Android gaming console, but it also serves as an Android TV hub, a media streamer (for services like Netflix and Hulu), and can even function as a Plex Media Server. Finally, it can serve all this gaming and video content with the help of Google Assistant to search and provide key information all via voice command. Today, NVIDIA SHIELD TV is also gaining the ability to be the focal point for your smart home efforts now,...

NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Powered In-Car Infotainment System DIY Project Guide

Buying a shiny new car is an easy way to get the latest in-car technologies, but it’s not the most economical. I've had my fair share of new car purchases in the last decade – a 2008 Chevy HHR SS, 2011 Volkswagen Routan SE, 2014 Mazda 5 Sport and a 2015 Nissan Leaf – and driven hundreds of press cars featuring the latest technologies and infotainment systems. Despite new cars being technically superior on paper, the average age of vehicles on the road in 2016 was 11.6 years old, according to IHS Markit. We’ve seen substantial upgrades to the car stereo and infotainment systems in the last decade,...

Nintendo Switch Review: Buying Advice And Tips For Maximum Fun

When I first heard about Nintendo's plan to build a hybrid console, I thought it was a long shot. And truthfully, it was. But I also reckoned the response to a 2-in-1 console (or 3-in-1 if you count tabletop mode, as Nintendo does) would ultimately be lukewarm. Having now spent the past couple of weeks actually playing with the Nintendo Switch, I can say I was (mostly) wrong in my original assessment, and certainly in my expectations. We'll get to my own thoughts in a little bit, but first let's talk about the Switch's reception. Despite the skepticism by myself and many others leading up to the...

Google Launches $35/Month YouTube TV Streaming Service For Discerning Cord Cutters

Do you love television content but are ready to cut the cord from big cable providers tapping your wallet dry? YouTube might be your answer. Google has just launched YouTube TV, their own streaming service, in select markets. According to Google, YouTube TV is the answer to the following questions: “How long do we have to wait until we can watch live TV on the go, on all our devices? When will we have DVRs big enough to handle all the things we want to record? And when will we be able to get the channels we care about, at a price we can afford, without all the commitments, equipment fees,...

NVIDIA SHIELD TV (2017) Review: Smart Home, 4K HDR, And Game Streaming

NVIDIA announced an updated SHIELD TV bundle back at the Consumer Electronics Show, which offers a host of new features thanks to some fresh hardware and an Android Nougat based OS upgrade. The updated SHIELD TV, however, isn’t totally new. Internally, the device was still packing NVIDIA’s Tegra X1 SoC like the original, which, even after a couple of years on the market, is still an exceptionally strong performer. The new SHIELD TV also has the same memory and base storage configurations, and the SHIELD Remote is similar too. However, NVIDIA significantly shrunk down the chassis by eliminating...

Namco Founder And Pac-Man Pioneer Masaya Nakamura Dies At Age 91

The gaming community has lost a legend. Masaya Nakamura, founder of Namco and pioneer of arcade hits such as Pac-Man, one of the most iconic characters in the history of gaming, passed away at the age of 91. Namco-Bandi recorded his death as having occurred on Wednesday, January 22, though decided to wait until today before issuing a press release (PDF) on its Japanese-language website.Nakamura served as an engineer in the Japanese Navy before founding Nakamura Manufacturing in 1955. He started off with two mechanical horses that he purchased for $3,000, while renting space on the roof of a department...

Building Your Own Classic Game Console, A DIY RetroPi Project With Raspberry Pi

Retro gaming made a major resurgence this past holiday season, with the release of Nintendo’s ultra-hyped NES Classic, a scaled down clone of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Out of the box, the NES Classic has thirty preloaded game titles, though some recent hacks exposed a method for uploading more if you're willing to mess with it. That's all well and good, but if you weren’t able to get your hands on one this past holiday season -- like the majority of people -- getting your retro-gaming fix isn't happening any time soon, unless you fork out an unreasonable sum, paying hundreds to...

NVIDIA Reboots Shield TV As Powerful 4K HDR Video Streamer And The Best Set Top Box For Gamers

If you have been looking for a new media streamer, now may be the time to take the plunge. The Android-based SHIELD TV is now available for pre-order and NVIDIA claims that it “delivers unmatched experiences in streaming, gaming and AI”.NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang remarked, “SHIELD TV is the world’s most advanced streamer. Its brilliant 4K HDR quality, hallmark NVIDIA gaming performance and broad access to media content will bring families hours of joy. And with SHIELD’s new AI home capability, we can control and interact with content through the magic of artificial intelligence from...

Experiencing NVIDIA's SHIELD With Plex Media Server Streaming Prowess

As we’ve detailed a number of times here at HotHardware, the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV console is a powerful media streaming and gaming device that features a beefy Tegra X1 processor and an integrated 256-core Maxwell-based GPU (check out Marco’s full review here). While we’ve seen plenty of streaming devices come to the market with potent quad-core SoCs before, none of them are packing the kind of graphics hardware and Android TV polish lurking inside the SHIELD. To that end, NVIDIA thought that it could use the standard SHIELD (16GB) and the SHIELD Pro (500GB) as a centerpiece for Plex Media...

YouTube Gains In-App Messenger For Mobile Chatting And Video Sharing

One evening you are chatting with that cutie you swiped right on, and suddenly you remember the perfect YouTube video to share with them. How should you share the video? Should you copy and paste the link? Should you post it on their Facebook or Twitter? Should you email it to them? Now you don't have to make these tough decisions. Google recently released native sharing for a small percentage of YouTube users. These users can invite friends into conversation threads. Friends can chat about the shared video right inside YouTube’s mobile app and reply with another video. The message threads...

Valve Inks Game-Changing Deal With Lionsgate Entertainment Adding Over 100 Movie Titles To Steam Platform

Valve took a major step in growing its Steam digital distribution platform today by adding movie rentals to the mix. The addition of movies to Steam's catalog is a first, and it was made possible through a deal with Lionsgate Entertainment that immediately fleshes out the service with more than 100 flicks. This is a big deal for Valve and its Steam platform, one that hints at the company's plans of expanding Steam into an entertainment juggernaut. Steam is already the biggest digital distribution platform on the planet for games, and while it has a long way to go before it can claim the same for...

Netflix Is Quickly Pushing Subscribers Away From Network TV Cites Report

Much to the chagrin of every major TV network out there, Netflix continues to rise at a solid rate and eat into its wary competition. According to research conducted by Michael Nathanson, of MoffettNathanson, cable TV viewing dropped 3% in 2015, and half of that is directly attributed to Netflix. It's being predicted that by 2020, 14% of household TV viewing will be through Netflix, highlighting that the service's growth isn't about to slow down. Nathanson's research hits on some rather specific stats regarding how much airtime Netflix subscribers give to network giants. During 2015, those subscribed...

NVIDIA SHIELD Updates And Climbing Mount Everest With The HTC Vive 2nd Edition VR Kit

NVIDIA held a press conference last night where it unveiled its latest autonomous driving technologies, like the next-gen Tegra and Pascal-powered Drive PX 2, but representatives from the company were also setup off-site talking about updates to their SHIELD Android TV device and various VR initiatives. We’ve got video from the press conference posted here, and Paul covered the details of NVIDIA’s new VR Ready program. We can report that the SHIELD Android TV will be receiving an Android Marshmallow update in the not-too-distant future, complete with an updated and more customizable UI, better...

Hands-On Video Preview With Acer Predator X34 Curved G-SYNC Monitor Is Pure Gaming Glory

One of the first times we laid eyes on a curved monitor in the flesh was back at CES 2015 where Dell was showing off this 34-inch bad boy to the masses. Since then curved monitors have been cropping up all over the place, and even a few curved all-in-ones have made a showing here in Q4. Acer recently stepped up with its Predator line of displays including the 34-inch curvaceous Predator X34 that we immediately sat-up and took note of. The Predator X34 is not only a 34-inch curved panel targeted at gamers with refresh rate overclocking up to 100Hz, but it also comes with two flavors of Adaptive...

Amazon Fire TV (2015) Second Generation Review

Not long ago, Amazon announced a revamped Fire TV with a handful of new and upgraded features including 4K Ultra HD video support and Alexa functionality. Although the original Fire TV which we reviewed last year had voice capabilities, those voice controls were limited to searching for content and applications. With Alexa built in, the second-generation Fire TV now has additional features, such as the ability to provide sports scores, weather and traffic information, or play music. As you’ll recall from our review of the Amazon Echo, we were impressed by the Alexa functionality and its utility...

Logitech Harmony Elite Review: The Ultimate Universal Remote?

On the surface, there's nothing particularly glamorous about a universal remote. It's simply a device that controls multiple electronic gadgets, like your TV and Blu-ray player, so you don't have to keep track of and juggle multiple remotes. No big deal, right? If that's what you think, then you haven't encountered Logitech's Harmony line.Like regular universal remotes, Logitech's Harmony models consolidate your electronic controllers into a single piece of hardware, only they do it in spectacular fashion. They're also far more capable than the no-name models that places like K-Mart peddle in the...

Comcast Takes A Stab At Youtube And Facebook With 'Watchable' Streaming Video Service

Media giant Comcast has a cunning plan to develop a new video platform, infiltrate tens of millions of homes with it by 2017 using its existing infrastructure, and seduce customers and content publishers along the way. It's called "Watchable" and it could launch within a matter of weeks. According to Business Insider who cites several anonymous individuals familiar with the plan, Comcast wants to tap into the creativity of digital-video producers like The Onion, AwesomenessTV, Vice, and more established brands like NBC sports and roll it into a service that will be watchable on Comcast's XFinity...

Amazon Echo Review: Introducing Alexa, Your Digital Assistant

In November, Amazon announced the latest addition to its hardware line-up, the Amazon Echo. The Echo smart speaker doubles as a digital assistant and home entertainment device. It’s an always-connected, always-available Siri or Cortana-like device designed for your home that can provide answers to common questions, play music, provide traffic updates, control your lights, read audiobooks, and much more. Because it’s tied to your Amazon account, the Echo can also be used to reorder products you’ve previously purchased from Amazon. Although the Echo was announced in November, it was available for...

NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Reviewed: Gaming And The Ultimate 4K Streamer

Over the past few months, we’ve covered a number of details related to today’s launch of the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV device. It was back in March during GDC that we were first able to show you the Tegra X1 powered SHIELD Android TV (then refered to as the SHIELD Console). And it was earlier in the year at CES when NVIDIA unveiled the Tegra X1 SoC itself, along with a number of X1-based automotive products. To recap a bit, the Tegra X1 features a Maxwell-derived GPU and eight CPU cores; four ARM A57 cores and four A53s. The A57 cores are 64-bit, out-of-order designs with multi-issue pipelines,...

GTA V PC Performance, 4K And 3 GeForces

Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series has been wildly successful for many years now, offering some of the edgiest story lines, game play tactics and objectives the gaming industry has ever seen. With psychopathic main characters, you are left in the depraved communities of Los Santos and Blaine County, to walk a path few would dare choose in real life, committing nefarious acts, robbing and pillaging to complete your objectives. In short, it's rather entertaining that you're tasked with leaving a virtual world worse off than you found it, consequences be damned. But if you're reading this, you're...

Tone Deaf Audiophiles Defend Crazy-Expensive Ethernet Cables, And They're Still Wrong

The audio industry is filled to the brim with magical devices that are capable of reshaping the reality of those that dare tread within its realm. There is often utter bewilderment at the expressions some people use to converse with each other on the subject. What is the color of sound, 'clarity', 'warmth', 'coarseness'? These are also the same people that will take out a mortgage to buy a sound system, and even spend $10,000 on a single cable - yes, we're back to this chestnut again. (Update, 3/30/15: Pricing has been falling dramatically for these cables since the time the original article was...

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