The New Twitch App Is Pretty Great!

I know I was bemoaning all the apps we need to download so we can play computer games in an earlier post, but if Twitch/Amazon wants to be successful in the PC video game business, they needed to update their very bare bones app.  Thankfully their new desktop app is a like fifty steps in the right direction.

You can watch streams, have video chats, manage and add to your game library, and of course stream your games all from the same Twitch app.  Instead of some random launcher for just games, this app does it all.  It is still missing a few features, with cloud save syncing being chief among them, but they have assured me they are listening to their consumers, and that they want to make the Twitch Desktop App as feature rich as possible.  Apparently they already have save syncing working internally, so it shouldn’t be long until we see it out in the wild.  I mean it isn’t like Amazon doesn’t have the server space.

If you are a fan of Twitch, or just want Steam to have an actual competitor to keep it honest, it is nice to see Amazon making their service and the tools for that service better.  Now all Twitch needs is for a few major AAA games to launch on its store and we could have an actual competitive digital PC sales marketplace.  I am all for that!

Is AMD’s Vega Too Late?

Yesterday AMD FINALLY announced their Vega lineup of cards.  Their top end card will be the Radeon RX Vega 64, starting at $499 US, and their slightly lower end card is called the Radeon RX Vega 56, starting at $399 US.  As an AMD fanboy I was excited to see their new cards, and even more excited that they should be hitting stores soon, August 14th, but the sad news was that they were merely going to go toe to toe with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 and the GeFore GTX 1070 respectively.

Coming out a year later and not being faster than those cards is a real bummer.  Don’t get me wrong, Nvidia needs the competition, but considering Nvidia already has their ultra fast GTX 1080ti out, and it easily bests the Vega 64, that means Nvidia’s next round of cards that are coming out soon will be even faster than Vega without even trying very hard.

Granted AMD will be able to compete on price like they always have, and they are promising to keep the supply chains stocked to keep crypto-miners from driving the price up, but it just would have been fun to see a fight for the high end graphics market again.  If Vega would have come out even six months ago maybe would we be talking about some sort of Super-Vega to compete with the 1080ti, but that didn’t happen, and now if you want super high-end graphics Nvidia is still the company you should turn to.

I Bought A Mechanical Keyboard And Now All Other Keyboards Are Ruined…

I have wanted a mechanical keyboard for quite some time, but I could never justify the price for one with real Cherry MX switches.  Not to mention my Microsoft Natural Elite has held up great for its more than fifteen year tour of duty, and if Microsoft would have made a mechanical variant of that keyboard I would have bought it in an instant.  Thankfully Corsair ran a deal on its refurbished STRAFE keyboards.  Now I can never go back to a rubber dome keyboard.

I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference, but it is night and day.  Every keyboard press is registered properly and with 100% accuracy.  No more, “did I push that or didn’t I?”, no more squishy feeling.  It immediately made a difference in my response times in games too.  I was still terrible, but at least now I was terrible with my character doing exactly what I was telling him to do when I told him to do it.

It was keyboard bliss until my ‘O’ and ‘Y’ keys started sticking.  I have never had a problem with refurbished hardware before.  I was devastated.  I was worried that my refurbished kit was buyer beware, but after a very quick phone call my new keyboard was being overnighted to me.  A+ for customer service.

Anyway.  Now I hate all non-mechanical keyboards.  I hate them so much.  Yes moving to a mechanical keyboard costs some dough, but it is well worth it.  Just look out for those deals.

Xbox Scorpio Is Beast!

It is clear that Microsoft doesn’t like being the less powerful than the PS4 Pro, so they went all out to beat it.  12GB of DDR5 memory, 4GB more than the PS4 Pro, and it bests PS4 Pro’s memory bandwidth by more than a 100GB/s at 326GB/s.  They boosted the core CPU clock speed by almost a full 1GHz.  Then on top of that they went up from 12 compute units on the standard Xbox One GPU to 40 on the Scorpio, so that is 28 more graphics threads, and 4 more than the PS4 Pro.  What does that mean to us?  It is pretty dang fast.  Fast enough to compete with the PC fanboys that is for sure.

Microsoft has also said that all games will get a boost, not just ones that program for it, so that will be interesting to see.  It will also be interesting to see if they can hit their native 4K resolution promise.  With this kind of power I am sure that they can, but will games’ FPS be able to keep up?  Now all we need know is how much all this power will cost?  I am guessing it will have to launch somewhere around $500, but any more than that and it could be DOA.  Especially since there are no Scorpio exclusive games.  All games should work on both the Scorpio and the Xbox One.  Microsoft should have an interesting E3.  I will be watching that is for sure.  Until then I am going to dream about compute units!

Watch the full reveal below!

I Am Now A Google Pixel User

I have been a long time Windows Phone/Mobile user, so it was hard for me to make the switch to something else.  In the end Verizon made the switch for me, since there are no longer any good Windows 10 Mobile devices on their network.  It was time to branch out anyway, so I am now a Google Pixel user.

There are things I love about this phone.  The fingerprint reader on the back is perfectly placed, so every time I pick up the phone it is instantly on.  The Pixel is fast and responsive.  It takes decent pictures extremely quickly, so there is no waiting around for focusing or anything like that.  Then of course there are the multitude of apps to play around with which I never had on Windows Mobile.  Thankfully Microsoft has Android versions of all my favorite Windows apps.

There are downsides as well.  It looks like a bad iPhone knockoff, but then to keep from getting sued they put a plastic square on the back, and an ugly flat plastic cover on the front.  Which is even more maddening since there are no buttons on the front of the Google Pixel.  It is all wasted space.  My other problems are just normal Android problems.  Like the fact that all the settings are not centrally located, so you have to hunt around to change something (I just want Gmail to stop making noise!!), or that Facebook and Android no longer sync photos.

In the end the speed and the apps make up for just about all of its shortcomings.  The Google Pixel is a good phone that works well.  I just miss Windows Phone’s flare and live tiles.  One thing I didn’t get to try, but I want to, is Google Daydream VR, but since I don’t have $80 to spare, that will have wait until a later date.  If you are on Verizon and want a fast phone with a good camera, the Google Pixel might be just what you are looking for.