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Last August, Microsoft launched the Xbox One S: A leaner, meaner update to 2013’s original Xbox One console that packs a little extra juice into a 40% smaller shell.
It’s a huge step over the original Xbox One in just about every way. Normally, I’d say you should buy it without reservation.
But at last year’s E3 video game conference, Microsoft made the extremely atypical move of pre-announcing a new, mysterious Xbox console, codenamed “Project Scorpio,” to be launched in the holiday of 2017. We finally learned the first real details of Project Scorpio on Thursday.
Project Scorpio is promised to be “the most powerful console ever,” bringing a lot more graphical horsepower to the table. We don’t know what it looks like, what it will cost, or which games are coming to it, but we do know that it’ll deliver ultra-high definition gaming in full 4K resolution, among other graphical feats.
That leaves people considering getting an Xbox with a difficult choice: Buy an Xbox now, and risk being left in the cold when Project Scorpio comes out later this year? Or wait for more details on Project Scorpio but miss out, in the interim, on upcoming Xbox-exclusive games like Gears of War 4 and Scalebound?
Here’s what you need to know when choosing between buying an Xbox One S now versus Project Scorpio later.
Seriously, don’t stress out here: Microsoft has promised that Project Scorpio and the Xbox One will share a games library.
That means it will play all your Xbox One games, past, present, and future. It’ll also play those select two hundred-plus Xbox 360 games that are currently playable on the Xbox One. All your Xbox One controllers will still work with it, too.
And Microsoft has given strong indications that any games for Project Scorpio will also work with all models of the Xbox One. We don’t know exactly how that will work, but Microsoft has hinted that certain newer games simply won’t look as good when played on an older console.
So no matter which Xbox One you choose to buy, there’s still going to be a steady stream of games. You won’t be left in the cold. Plus, Microsoft is pushing a new initiative where buying a copy of an Xbox One game will also net you a copy for Windows 10, so you’ll be able to play wherever you’d like, on either PC or console.
“No one gets left behind,” said Xbox boss Phil Spencer when Project Scorpio was announced.
Even going on the few details we have available, Project Scorpio definitely has the major edge in graphical horsepower: To judge by Microsoft’s specs, it’s six times as powerful as the original Xbox One.
What this means for you is that you’ll be able to play (certain) games in full, glorious, “true” 4K/UltraHD resolution, the next huge step up from our modern and more common HD technologies. And in general, it’ll be able to support yet more gorgeous graphical effects than we see on the modern Xbox One.
That also means Project Scorpio has enough juice to support high-end virtual reality headsets, like Facebook’s Oculus Rift. And while Microsoft hasn’t specifically announced Oculus Rift support, the two companies are tight enough that it seems like a safe bet something is in the works.
The Xbox One S supports 4K/UltraHD, too, but only for movie playback from specially-marked Blu-Ray discs, not for games. That said, it does support high-dynamic range, or HDR, a technology for displaying super-vivid colors that Business Insider’s own Antonio Villas-Boas thinks is actually better and more noticeable than UltraHD.
Of course, if you don’t have a cutting-edge 4K/UltraHD TV, or a $599 Oculus Rift headset, and you don’t have any plans to get either, you won’t get the most out of Scorpio’s phenomenal cosmic power.
Which brings us to the next point…
The Xbox One S is clearly the value option here, with lots of options for bundled-in games and hard drive storage space.
According to Amazon, the best-selling Xbox One S model is a $349 configuration with 1 terabyte (as in, one thousand gigabytes) of storage, and a copy of Madden NFL 17. Other configurations include a $399 model with 2TB of storage, or a $299 version that comes with Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo 5: Guardians and 500GB of storage in a neat little package.
Meanwhile, Project Scorpio is being billed by Microsoft as a premium product, which is executive code language for “not cheap.” All of Project Scorpio’s power is going to come with a price tag, and it seems fair to assume it’ll cost significantly more than the Xbox One S when it launches later this year.
If it helps, you can think of the Xbox One S as the iPhone SE of the Xbox line: Powerful enough and cheap enough to be attractive to a lot of people, but not necessarily right on the cutting edge.
So, bottom line here is that if you really need that cutting-edge aspect, and you’re already investing heavily in the world of 4K and virtual reality, waiting for Project Scorpio is the thing to do. If you don’t care about any of that stuff and just want to play the latest games for cheaper on the latest Xbox available, you can’t go wrong with the S.
Amazon is a data juggernaut, but there are limits to how useful that is when deciding which movies and TV shows to make for Prime Video, according to Joe Lewis, who oversees Amazon’s comedy, drama, and VR.
Listening to audience data can be helpful but also hurtful if used in the wrong way, Lewis explained at a recent MipTV panel.
The big problem is that when you are making a TV show, you aren’t looking for what people want to watch today. It just takes too long from concept to full season. Instead, you are trying to answer the question, “What do people want to watch in a year or two?”
Often, in that quest, you have to look for something that might not be a slam-dunk in the moment. “If you can’t find anything risky about an idea, one to three years later it’s usually behind the curve,” Lewis said. That fact can mean it’s hard to use audience data to validate a particular idea.
The obvious exception to this is with reboots, which Amazon rival Netflix is pumping out at a staggering rate — “Full House,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Arrested Development,” and so on.
But when Amazon uses data, especially when commissioning an entire series versus a pilot, it’s often about assessing the strength of the writer-director, not the concept.
“There are just some people who are right more often than not,” Lewis said. “That’s the kind of data you can look at.”
What is Amazon looking for in that data?
Lewis came back a few times to the idea of “live plus 20 years,” or what people will want to watch over and over again, and will stand the test of time.
Lewis is “only interested in making things that people will watch, and watch for a long time,” he said. If Amazon can rack up a number of these types of shows, its back catalog will continue to get more valuable over time.
That perspective is useful in understanding some of Amazon’s shows that have gotten critical acclaim, like Golden Globe winners “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle,” but haven’t snagged the massive audiences of some of Netflix’s streaming hits.
Amazon is in the business of having people sign up and continue to subscribing to Prime, and there are many metrics the company looks at besides pure audience size. “Transparent” was not the most-viewed pilot for Amazon, but it had an “incredibly high completion rate,” the “re-watch rate was significant,” and the critical feedback was good, Lewis said.
When you are looking for a show that will continue to give you value for decades, those are the right signs.
The latest movie in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, “The Fate of the Furious,” is coming to theaters April 14, and this is already entry No. 8. Which means whether you’re a die-hard fan or a recent convert, you might be wondering if you need to go back and watch any of the seven previous movies to fully enjoy “Fate.”
In all honestly, you probably don’t. But if you want to catch the highlights of the franchise up until now, then this YouTube video from Burger Fiction has got you covered.
In under seven minutes, it perfectly touches on all the major points (mostly eye-popping stunts) from the previous movies so you are prepared for the certain insanity that’s to come with “Fate of the Furious.”
Sit back and watch the evolution of Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker), and their familia:
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The blockbuster sci-fi movie “Her” might not be as farfetched as some people thought.
A study of more than a thousand voice technology users found that 26% of them have had a sexual fantasy about a voice assistant, which include the likes of Alexa, Siri, and Cortana. What those sexual fantasies were isn’t clear, but it’s an alarming number of people all the same.
The “Speak Easy” study — based on the responses of over 1,000 UK smartphone owners aged 18+ and 100 Amazon Echo owners — was published on Wednesday by advertising agencies JWT and Mindshare. It’s not clear what percentage of respondents were men and what percentage were women.
The study also found that 37% of voice technology users “love their voice assistant so much that they wish it were a real person.” Clearly some humans are finding themselves very attached to their voice assistants.
The relationship between humans and voice assistants that are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to become even stronger in the coming years as Silicon Valley tech giants like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft spend hundreds of millions making their voice assistants as human-like as possible.
Tech companies have a tendency to focus on female voices and names in their personal assistants, possibly in a bid to make them more appealing to young, geeky men.
Voice assistants are expected to start taking on a more prominent role in people’s lives. From managing their diaries to filling their fridges, they’re quickly going to turn into “digital butlers,” according to the JWT and Mindshare study. Almost a third of the survey’s respondents said they are excited by a future where their voice assistants anticipate what they need and takes action or makes suggestions.
Elizabeth Cherian, UK director at JWT’s Innovation Group, said in a statement: “We are on the cusp of a new era in technology where voice is set to become mainstream. Our research shows that 88% of UK smartphone users have used voice technology or would consider doing so in the future.
“To successfully integrate voice into their offerings, brands need to understand how the technology can simplify everyday tasks by adding value and removing friction from their experience. This is not about tech for tech’s sake. Thoughtful and helpful interactions which genuinely enhance the experience will drive engagement and deeper relationships between consumers and brands.”
The federal government is doing something it has never done before: It’s encouraging people to file H-1B abuse complaints.
This week the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Labor each posted information about how to file a complaint against suspected H-1B abuse. It’s a clear signal that government scrutiny of H-1B use will intensify and that the U.S. may challenge employers.
But it creates a dilemma aptly summed up by Norm Matloff, a professor of computer science at the University of California at Davis, in a blog post titled, “American Victims of H-1B Get Their Chance—Will They Take It?”
The U.S. might add other airports to its ban restricting passengers from bringing laptops and other electronics into the cabin for certain flights from the Middle East.
“We may take measures in the not too distant future to expand the number of airports,” said Homeland Security secretary John Kelly on Wednesday during a congressional hearing.
Last month, the U.S. announced the ban, which affects ten airports, all of which are in Muslim-majority countries. Passengers flying to the U.S. are barred from bringing any electronic devices larger than a smartphone into a plane’s cabin, and must instead check them in as baggage.