E3 is Changing: But is it for the Better?

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has long been held as the mecca of gaming events around the world each year. Since the very first E3 back in 1995, it has been the place for game developers to show off what they have been working on the past year, meet other developers, and invite the media to cover all the biggest gaming news the industry has to offer. While E3 was never the only outlet for companies to share their news, since its inception, E3 has grown to become the largest event, becoming the time for the biggest names to show off and make the biggest announcements while everyone is gathered together. Taking place each June, E3 takes place right in the middle of the year, also making it a good time to promote products coming out for the Fall, but also to tease new products or services which may come out beyond this time.

E3 has long been the place for companies to share their biggest announcements, but in the past few years, this has started to wane. There are several reasons for this. The first reason is the changing landscape of technology and how the ways of communicating have changed. In the past, before the internet became mainstream, the way news was disseminated was different. Exhibitors would come to trade shows such as E3 to share their new announcements and products, and they would then rely on professional press to record, review, and disseminate the information to consumers through traditional media channels such as magazines, newspapers, and television broadcast. Now, with the advent of the internet, companies can directly disseminate their own messages through online channels such as their own websites, social media, and through media such as press releases, social media posts, and video broadcasts. With the advent of online influencers taking prominence over and becoming just as important as professional press, consumers have stopped listening to just the media for information, but their favorite influencers as well. YouTube stars like iJustine, Lamarr Wilson and Pewdiepie, Twitch streamers such as Dr. Disrespect, have all become go-to channels for gaming fans to discover new games through their gameplay, and also to make informed decisions. The general gaming public is also more likely to trust some of these influencers more than professional gaming publications, since they appear more personal and personable than the lesser known writers at publications like IGN, Polygon, and GameSpot. This has not directly affected media coverage or attendance to E3, but it has affected how consumers have come to expect to get their media and when. With more and more influencers reviewing games more and more throughout the year, there has been less of a reason to invite as many professional journalists and have them come to a central event in person.

Another central reason E3 has become less prominent recently, is companies starting to host separate events to dissemninate information to target audiences. Since 2011, E3 exhibitors have realized that E3 is no onger the end all, be all event for gaming. In 2011, Nintendo started this trend by hosting its first digital media event, titled Nintendo Direct. In the Nintendo DIrect, hosted online to viewers around the world separately from E3, Nintendo proudly claimed that they were going to use the platform to communicate with fans, “Directly!” By utilizing Nintendo’s website and YouTube to stream presentations, Nintendo was utilizing a new platform to dissemninate information directly to its fans, completrly bypassing initial media review, and allowing Nintendo to completely cntrol the message and presentation. In the Nintendo DIrect, Nintendo announces exciting new products, games, and services, and also uses it to announce more information about upcoming projects, such as release dates and availability. E3 and a handful of other trade shows used to be the best place to share information with consumers, but now Nintendo has realized it is no longer necessary. Nintendo has now given itself the capability to announce new information to consumers at any time of year, multiple times of year, at the time that works best for the company, and can control the message in doing so, letting fans have the privilege of being the first to know when new products come out. Nintendo still values E3, saving some of its biggest announcements of the year, and reserving a large amiunt of floor space for the event. However, it is no longer the only place to share all of its biggest announcements. Now it can do so, and share other smaller announcements, together at other times during the year, in a way that works best for the company.

Other companies have stafrted to realize the same, and have also started to host their own separate events outside of E3. One barrier that companies have realized they wre facing was that E3, being a closed event, meaning the public is not able to attend. In the past, gamers used to dream of coming to E3 to play all of the latest games and try out new products, but only media were allowed, thus making it a prestigious event in the minds of consumers. Electronic Arts saw the opportunity to share the excitement with the gamiung public, and decided to bypass E3 and host its own separate event outside of E3, called EA Play. With this event, EA decided to follow Nintendo’s lead, and host their own public event, where gamers could attend and interact with the new products at the same time as the media, thus eliminating the need for information to be shared by the media, and simultaneously allowing EA to control its message more, as well. EA Play has been a huge success, with the event being largely overbooked each year, and has shown the effectiveness of brands hosting their own events in today’s climate. SInce hosting EA Play outside of E3, although EA plans its event to cooincide with the special week of E3, EA no longer has an actual presence on the E3 show floor. Other companies such as Ubisoft and Activision have also followed suit, hosting their own presentations and events for fans at E3, and bypassing the media to directly target these consumers.

WIth the success of events such as EA Play leading large companies to abandon the restrictions of the E3 event itself, E3 has been left with less and less attendance. This has become a large problem for the organizers, as less attendance to the event means less funding to host the event each year. So the organizers of E3, in a move seen by some as desparate, but many as exciting, have decided to open E3 to the public. In a convention center already crowded with over 10,000 unique professional individuals registered each year, the expo halls were already very crowded. However, in an effort to retain its prominence as the premiere event for gaming, and to reinforce in gamers minds that it is also the premiere event for gamers, E3 has decided to open its doors to 15,000 members f the public. The beginning of this push to shift its image from media-centric to gamer-centric, came in the form of E3 Live, a new public event that aimed to give gamers a taste of what E3 offered in the LA Live square. I personally attended this event, and was somewhat disappointed. The event only offered a handful of companies, with a few notable experiences, like a new LEGO videogame and VR experiences, but I was still left missing what I really wanted out of E3. The reason gamers envy E3 is to experience the exciting new game and products offered only behind closed doors, and it felt as though E3 Live played it much too safe, offering no experience as important or exciting as what was still behind closed doors. I would have been just fine staying home, and that is not what you want to hear as the host of an event.

Thankfully, next year they opened the doors to the public for the first time. Of course, with 15,000 extra attendees, it was very crowded. I attended, which you can read about here. However, it was not as bad as I thought it would be. There was some disorganization because of media and fans mixing too much. So in 2018, E3 has learned and created a new approach, further evolving the rules. Whereas previously, the show ran from 10am to 5pm all 3 days, with fans being able to attend at the same time as media, in 2018, likely in response to complaints, E3 has taken a new approach and changed the schedule. Now, at E3 in 2018, the show will run from 10am-7pm all 3 days, and will host the first two hours for media only. This allows media the time without extra fans before the show, which will be much appreciated by them, with less crowds and fans taking up their deserved spots for demos. However, some exhibitors have taken issue with the extra two hours being added. Presumably, the extra two hours are added so the public doesn’t lose any time compared to before, which is good for the public, but according to a Nintendo employee who regularly runs the shows, it will add extra logistical issues and stress to 3 days that are already the longest days of the year.

One way to improve this is to just keep the schedule the same as last year, but lessen the time the public gets at the show. However, it is likely there are many factors which influenced this decision.

Overall, the fact that E3 has changed over the past few years is undeniable. It makes sense that the Entertainment Software Organization who runs the show is accommodating the public more to keep the show relevant, and it is definitely a win for fans. However, with ticket prices for a 3 day pass at $250, it begs the question of the shows worth. Surely the show will still sell out, as the amount of gaming fans is enormous and the show still offers good value, and maybe it will cause more companies to come back now that E3 is open to the public. but I foresee that more and more companies, may also see the value in the benefits of hosting heir own show and leave the exhibiting table itself. Now make no mistake: I believe the week of E3 will remain a mainstay for a long time, as will the name referring to it. The k E3 is cognized by gamers as holiday of sorts, and gamers have come to expect the great announcements from all companies we see each year. It’s too much good marketing and press to give up. But as more companies leave the show floor and host their own exhibits and presentations elsewhere, I do believe when we talk about E3 in the future, it may become more about the week of events, and not the show itself.

What do you think? Is the E3 show here to stay? Or do you agree that the industry is ever so gradually moving away from the show for more freedom? Leave us a comment below.

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GeChic On-Lap 1305H – The Perfect Portable Monitor?

Today, we are reviewing the GeChic On-Lap 1305H Portable Monitor.

Before we begin, let’s talk about how I came across the product. Upon getting the Nintendo NES Classic (and later the Nintendo SNES Classic,) I loved the item. It lets me play classic retro games I played in my childhood, and discover new ones I hadn’t played before. A crisp high definition resolution and nifty saving features make the game experience even better than the original.

However, I hadn’t played the mini-consoles much since I got them, because part of the concept just… didn’t make sense to me. A tiny, palm-sized console displaying 8-bit retro games didn’t beg to be played on my large-screen 4K TV. I already have several consoles and other devices taking up precious space in my home AV setup, as well. I’m the type of guy that tends to be much more willing to play games if they’re portable, rather than needing to be tied down to my TV to play them. So I decided, I wanted to play these portable consoles, well… portably. So the search for a suitable portable screen came up. After looking through several wonky and sub-par solutions on YouTube and Amazon, I have finally come across, undoubtedly, the best portable monitor available on the market.

Read on my for my detailed impressions and review.

Introduction

The GeChic 1305H is a 13.3-inch portable monitor designed to be taken anywhere. It is thin and light, with a spacious screen, and runs on mere USB power, meaning it can be powered by a portable battery bank, like the ones commonly used to charge phones and tablets on the go. The screen is a novelty in the market, being one of the only ones to boast full HD resolution, and FFS screen technology.

GeChic is an interesting company. Based in Taiwan, the company specializes in making portable monitors. When a company’s entire product lineup is composed of portable screens, you expect them to be of good quality. Thankfully, the screen did not disappoint. This review aims to cover all of the bases necessary for one to make an informed purchase decision.

Visual Appeal

First off, we need to discuss how good this thing will look when you’re using it on your desk. No one wants to use something that just sticks out like a sore thumb. With this screen, you’re in luck. The GeChic 1305H is sleek, thin, and light. The screen measures only 7mm thick, with bezels at 1.3cm, and weighs in at only 1.51 lbs (or 2.01 lbs with stand). With a matte screen texture, fairly-sized bezels, and a gunmetal gray finish, this screen fits right in to a modern room setup. When on the go, the screen doesn’t make you feel like the geek in the room, so to speak. You’ll feel comfortable taking this one to your local coffee shop for a meeting, and feel stylish doing it.

Product Features

This product is unique in the market, in that it is one of the few portable screens to actually feature a full 1080p resolution. Most other portable screens in this market segment, from the likes of Asus, GAEMS, and Hori, run at a meager 720p HD, barely passable in today’s market where 1080p is the standard and 4K the new king. So, with a sizable 13.3-inch screen, you expect 1080p. Here you get that and more.

In addition to a stellar true 1080p resolution, you also get a FFS display (no, not that FFS). If you’ve heard of IPS, you know it is the display of choice for non-HDR displays, because of its wide viewing angles and great color accuracy. FFS, being an improvement to IPS, takes things a step further, and improves the contrast of colors even more (1000:1), along with 178 degree viewing angles, so images look even more vivid and lifelike on the screen.

In terms of connectivity, the screen is stripped down from the company’s previous models, offering just two HDMI inputs (one for horizontal and one for vertical placements), and a headphone jack that supports optical audio and 5.1 surround sound. Neat.

The product does not offer built-in speakers, so the audio output jack is the only option for outputting sound from the screen. Bring those headphones if you need to listen to your content on the go.

In previous models, there would be separate ports for USB power and HDMI inputs. The 1305H does away with these and instead introduces proprietary ports which combine HDMI and USB into a single cable port going into the screen. It certainly helps keep the screen looking sleek, without too many cables getting in your way.

On the other end of the proprietary cable are a standard HDMI connection and USB-A connection for power. Also included in the box is a USB to AC adapter for plugging directly into a wall, if needed.

The screen features a detachable back cover that doubles as a kickstand, allowing you to adjust the angle of the screen. The kickstand uses a unique proprietary mechanism involving a magnet, which you can remove and reposition, then slide up and down to achieve the desired angle for the screen.

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All of the physical features are very well thought out, from the size of the screen, to the visual aesthetic of it, to the layout and design of the ports and included kickstand case. This design is testament to the company’s experience developing portable screens, culminating in a very evolved and well-thought out product design that is easy and intuitive to use.

Once using the screen, you will find standard TV options in the software menus, such as brightness, contrast, color saturation, color tint, and sharpness. Other nice options are also included, like color temperature and multiple viewing modes.

The viewing modes consist of options such as “Standard,” “Sports,” “Cinema, “Photo,” and “Game” modes.

Navigating the menus was not so fun. Have you ever lost a TV remote and had to use the buttons on the TV itself to navigate the menus? Remember how frustrating that was, and how much you missed having that remote? That’s exactly the experience GeChic opted for to control the menus on this screen. Once you learn how to navigate with the Settings, Volume, and Up and Down buttons, it’s fine, but you wish they would have included a remote or smartphone interface to control the screen settings. Luckily, if you’re like me, you will just set it and forget it, not needing to touch the settings again for a long time.

Overall, GeChic threw a lot into the package here, and it all works cohesively, which is not to be taken granted in the world of tech.

Performance

What good is a product if it doesn’t perform its intended functions well? Thankfully, this product not only does the job, but exceeded my expectations.

The screen’s buttons feel solid to touch, and are well placed. The detachable back cover works well, and is easy to attach and remove quickly. The movable locks are a great feature, making sure the screen doesn’t fall out when being moved. The kickstand’s design takes some getting used to, but once you’ve learned how to reposition it, it makes changing the screen angle a piece of cake. I do wish the tilt angle was more, given it only offers 40 degrees of variability, but it is sufficient for most cases.

Using the cover stand with the screen in vertical mode works, but not as well as in the horizontal mode. Taking the screen out and putting it back into the case vertically makes it stick out, which not only looks a bit awkward, but doesn’t offer the same stability as in the horizontal mode either. Most people don’t need to use a screen vertically, but for those that do, this may be a letdown, as the included kickstand only works horizontally. At least, the cover stand case can hold the screen vertically if you remove and replace it vertically, but I think the company could have done more and incorporated a second kickstand that works vertically into the design.

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Image courtesy of GeChic

Once the product is set up properly, powering up is quick and simple. A press of the power button boots up the screen and displays whatever HDMI signal is being fed to it. If there is no signal, the screen will automatically turn it’s display off after a few seconds, but the screen will remain powered on. Turning the screen on for the first time was pretty awesome. The screen was actually exceedingly bright, so once I turned the brightness to my ideal level, all the settings were perfect from the get-go. The color settings were already perfect as they were, so after messing with other settings, I found I didn’t need to change any other settings.

I tested all of the settings on the Nintendo Switch, and found the only picture mode options that looked accurate were the “Standard” and “Game” modes. The other options, surprisingly, left color tints that were too saturated, or made the image look too blue or orange. However, testing on the SNES Classic, other screen modes actually looked better. Likewise, your preferred screen mode may depend on the input source.

Adjusting the other settings also yielded unsatisfactory results – not because the options didn’t work, but actually, because the screen was already most accurate with the default settings.

This is a testament to the quality of the product, in my opinion, as it appears the screen’s colors are already most accurate (and perhaps calibrated) out of the box. The only setting I had to change, then, was Brightness. Once I adjusted the brightness to my ideal level (around 40 for me, down from the default of 50,) I was set and the screen was ready to go.

Once the screen was set up, the viewing experience was great. Coming from a high-end 4K HDR TV, the black levels don’t get as deep, meaning you can still slightly notice the backlight in dark scenes. However, the black levels are still better than most laptop screens I have seen, minus exceptional screens such as Microsoft’s Surface line.

The colors were very natural and vivid, and actually made me enjoy playing my Nintendo Switch more than I ever have before in such a short period of time. What was initially meant to be a short testing session turned into a few hours of me playing Breath of the Wild on my Switch, and then watching a few episodes of TV on Hulu. It may be that the native 1080p presentation of the Nintendo Switch with no upscaling makes the Switch content look better, or maybe the smaller screen size, but even without adding any sharpness to the screen, the Switch looked better than it ever had on my high-end TV. That’s saying a lot.

The viewing angles were also great, as promised. I could look all the way to the side of the screen, and the image was still highly visible. The anti-reflective screen texture also helped, as even with my bright studio lights, there was only a small reflection.

Testing the headphone jack yielded decent audio quality. Not as good as my dedicated headphone DAC/amp combo, but just fine if you’re used to standard headphone jacks in any other product. The headphone jack also doubles as an optical audio jack output, which is very nice if you have some compatible audio hardware to use it with.

Input lag on the device seemed minimal, even with the HDMI input going through two adapters and several short cables. The stated response time (different from input lag) is 12.5ms, so that is better than the average screen, and very snappy. Once I was playing my games, everything seemed very snappy and playable. This screen gets a solid A in the input lag department, so pro gamers or anyone sensitive to input lag/latency on screens should rest assured the screen feels very responsive.

Price

All of these features come at a cost, however. The screen is currently sold for a retail price of $299.99 as of this writing. Is it worth it? To me, you’re getting the best portable monitor on the market, so I believe the price is well justified. For those on a tighter budget, however, it may be worth checking out the company’s cheaper options.

Final Thoughts

Overall, GeChic has put together a very compelling product here. The possibilities with owning a portable screen are endless. Portable screens offer a wide array of use cases, whether it be for portable photo or video monitoring, using them as second computer screens, presentation screens, or for portable video or gaming uses.

Once you see the need for having a portable screen to complement your devices, you need one that’s the best quality. After using the screen extensively, I can safely state that the GeChic 1305H is the best portable screen on the market. With great functionality, an attractive design, and excellent image quality, this screen not only matched my initial expectations, but exceeded them. I can’t imagine myself needing another portable screen again, as it pretty much ticks all of my boxes in terms of functionality and image quality. If you’re in the market for a portable screen, look no further than the GeChic 1305H.

Link to purchase:

GeChic 1305H at Amazon

Other Recommendations

If you need a cheaper option, with a similar screen size, GeChic is still selling the previous model of its 13-inch screen, the On-Lap 1303H.

Alternatively, if you need a touch screen option for making the screen a Windows or Android tablet, GeChic sells the On-Lap 1303i.

If you need a larger or smaller screen option, GeChic sells 11-inch and 15-inch versions of their screens.

Keep in mind, if buying another of the company’s screens, you will be getting a standard IPS display over the 1305H’s slightly superior display. However, if the 1305H does not fit your needs, the other options still offer very good quality on their own.

Did you find this review helpful? Consider subscribing to our blog for more content like this, as well as news and discussion in the world of gaming.

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

Redout ‘Taking Longer Than Expected,’ Still On Track for Nintendo Switch

When the Nintendo Switch was announced, gaming fans the world over were promised a great proposition, being able to take a home console anywhere, playing full-quality console games on the go. Developing games for the system has been tough for some third parties, however, with games like RiME, WWE 2K18, and Yooka-Laylee being delayed due to optimization issues, and some still suffering performance issues upon release.

Redout, a fast-paced futuristic racer inspired by F-Zero, was initially teased to appear on the Switch with a snazzy one-minute trailer back at Nintendo’s Switch Presentation in January 2017, with a release window of Spring 2017. However, the Spring window passed, and the game did not show up. It was moved to Summer, and then October. Now, Amazon lists the game as releasing March 30, 2018, a full year after the initially proposed timeframe. The publisher of the game for Switch, Nicalis, still has 2017 as the release date for the game. However, this prospect is becoming more and more unlikely by the day.

When contacted by fans asking about the progress of the game, the studio stated that the Switch version is not cancelled, is taking longer than expected, but development is proceeding well. The company adds that it will post a release date once it has one for sure.

 

 

 

 

 

Most recently, the developers said they were “trying” to release the game by Christmas. However, it is unlikely it will now hit that goal.

Additionally, the company clarified that another company is handling the Switch version, and a physical version is something it would like to pursue.

 

We asked representatives from Nicalis and 34BigThings why the game is not ready yet, and what is holding it back from release, and if we can have a more firm update on the current state of the game. However, we did not receive a response.

For now, we just have the responses above to analyze. If the developer is to be believed, we should get a release within the next few months.

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

Goodbye Surface, Hello Pixelbook: How I Finally Settled on the Best Long-Term Portable

Ah , Windows. The operating system everyone knows, and many love. I grew up in a family who used Windows as their daily drivers. As early as I can remember, maybe 10 years old, I remember my dad had a huge white computer tower. It was there that I’d forge some of my first memories of using a computer. Besides in school, of course. After I’d learned computer basics in elementary school like using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel (ehh…), I came home and began using the internet. I discovered fun online games like RuneScape and AdventureQuest (though they ran pretty slow on that budget PC for the time). And always a musical one, it was where I made my first foray into music production by trying out programs like VirtualDJ to make my first remixes and mashups of my favorite artists. Ever since then, I’ve always been interested in PC’s, their applications, and how tech can be used to push them forward. I’ve come a long way since then, and so has technology.

That was in the late 2000’s. Skip to 2017, and the landscape for personal computing is totally different today. Now we have smartphones, devices we can now realistically do everything on (though not so conveniently), and tablets thrown into the equation. PC’s and laptops have, in proportion, begun to plateau and now decline in terms of sales, as more buy tablets and attach a keyboard to it, effectively making it their main PC. Still, though, many buy a laptop or PC to have a roomier experience – you get a more comfortable full-size screen and keyboard. And there are still certain applications one can only use best on a PC – niche audio or programming applications, serious video editing, hardcore gaming, etc. But the key word there is that it’s a niche – as much as you may like your use cases for a powerful PC or laptop, the general public doesn’t need it for more than general web-browsing, social media, video-streaming, and word-processing.

Chrome OS was introduced by Google just a few years ago in 2011. And it has surprisingly already taken over Macbooks in terms of laptop sales. At the same time, Android tablet sales have gone down, and so has the motivation to create them by manufacturers. The fact is, lkess people are using tablets now, unless they get an iPad. Even then, they probably also have Macbook and a phone. And maybe even a desktop PC. That’s a lot of devices.

Since the late 2000’s, I have had my own PC’s, and upgraded every few years. Each time has given me a good upgrade in power, allowing me to get more from my desktop programs, for music, video-editing, and just browsing the web. My first PC was a cheap eMachines Intel Celeron-based PC. Even then, it was apparent it was a budget PC. But it was what my family gave me, and it worked for me. Later on, I upgraded to my first laptop, an HP Windows 7 machine. It was a true upgrade. It had a dual-core processor. Later on, about half-way through high school, I was involved in the school’s broadcasting club. I needed more horsepower, as a one-hour long video with multiple camera angles and video effects took nearly an entire week to render. So I got a new laptop. Yet another upgrade, yet still budget. At this point, laptops worked for me and seemed more logical than a desktop. I’m getting a power increase every time I upgrade, and why have a desktop if a laptop is more portable and cohesive, right? My last laptop had an Intel Core i3 and a 17-inch screen. Yep. I think the premium we paid for it was for the screen. I used this until my first year of college, until it wasn’t enough for my uses (and when one of my professors asked me why I got such a big screen.)

So I got something new, this time for college. I got a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Seeing all of the flashy commercials and rave reviews got me excited for the device. I was excited about the portability, the pixel-dense screen, the pen, and the ability to use it as a tablet. As well as Microsoft promising it would make my student life easier. I shelled out over $1K on the device, as it was the first time I was truly investing in a PC for myself. The difference in speed was great. A video that took a few days to render on my old HP laptop took no more than a few hours on the new Surface Pro i5. I loved the Surface for the same reasons everyone else did: its color-calibrated display, its portability and transportability, and its upgrade in power ver other similar devices. The Surface served me well for 2 years. Last year, needing more power once again, and seeing the improved screen, I got the Surface Pro 4. It was the Surface I knew, but even better. The i7 version I got was even faster for video and music production, and I got good use out of it for a couple more semesters.

Alas, that brings us to today. I sold my Surface. I came to realize I bought the new version mainly for the upgrade in power once again. But at this point, I realized that portable power just wouldn’t cut it for me anymore. So I spent about three entire weeks researching what best to do about my situation, and I came out of the other end – happily. I built a gaming desktop. Being the creator of this website, it is obvious I love gaming. I had always dreamed of having a nice gaming rig, and now that 4K is in its primetime, and I have a nice 4K TV as my display, it made perfect sense to build a gaming PC for 4K, but also to finally have the power to edit video and produce music that even my Surface Pro 4 had begun limiting me to do. I thought about getting the new Surface Pro (5?) but I knew the upgrade would be incremental again, and that is why I decided to finally come back to where I started – in the desktop form factor. Only this time, the reason I built a desktop was to get the best power I could reasonably get, and be able to upgrade later on. Buying a killer laptop not only would have been more expensive (due to its portability, form factor, and engineering), but also because nearly all gaming laptops today cannot be easily upgraded. So when it’s time to upgrade, you need to buy a whole new expensive system (and the upgrade won’t be superb in terms of power, either.) So that is why the desktop PC was the best option for me to invest into for my main computer – maximum power, and the option for easier and more cost-effective upgradability. The PC was definitely a big investment,  but it’s good to know I have all the power I need now, and when it’s time to upgrade again, it will cost much less than buying a whole new system (like I did in the past with my laptops).

So since then, I kept my Surface, but wondered why I needed such a powerful laptop anymore with my killer desktop now. For this reason, I sold the Surface and invested in something I’ve needed for a long time – accurate headphones for doing audio mixing on (I ended up getting an HD600 and O2 + ODAC combo, by the way.) I used my extra cash to shell out on a cheap $200 Lenovo Y580 laptop. I ended up not liking it, as it was way too heavy, and I had gotten used to the Surface’s small, but beautiful and sharp screen. The 2012 Y580 was so much of a downgrade (the screen’s backlight grotesquely changes as you move the screen up and down, and the color balance is washed-out) that I immediately said, “Oh no.” The screen seemed too big too, even though just a few years ago, I thought I couldn’t go smaller than a 17-inch! At this moment, I realized that the size of the screen really doesn’t matter. It matters how close you are to it. This is why we can reasonably look at both a 65-inch TV, and a 5-inch phone screen – we just sit further away from the TV and put the phone screen much closer to our face (it’s also why 1080p or higher is equally as important on a phone as on a TV – we are seeing the same amount of pixels for the distances we’re viewing the screens at.)

I was enticed to my “new” used laptop because it had Nvidia graphics and a bigger screen. But it was heavy as hell (6 lbs in 2017!) and therefore not portable at all. I need to take it to school along with other things I carry in my backpack (a Nintendo Switch, battery pack, headphones, cables, notebooks, pens and pencils, snacks, etc.) so adding this laptop makes it too heavy for me and renders it useless. I simply won’t use my laptop at home, since I have my desktop PC there. So the quest was on to find a new laptop.

I actually didn’t want to go back to the Surface. I didn’t really need all the extra power, I realized. What I really needed was a decent screen, keyboard, and I needed it to be light. The Surface Pro had a downside in that it tried to be a tablet and a laptop, but failed on the tablet side compared to any other tablet (unless you really wanted to play one of the two Windows-exclusive tablet games on Windows Store). In all fairness, in terms of its hardware, though a compromise, it executed the 2-in-1 concept very well. The detachable TypeCover allowed the laptop to be a pure tablet when you wanted it to, and by reattaching the TypeCover, it could be a laptop again. However, this design compromised the Surface Pro being a true laptop in order to make it a better tablet. For example, using it as a “laptop” was a worse experience than any other laptop with a traditonal laptop design. The thin TypeCover and kickstand combo could easily fall off of your lap, compared to a much more stable traditional laptop would on your lap. Additonally, the TypeCover chose thinness over comfort, with keyboard keys that just were a bit harder to type on and thinner than most laptop keyboards.

Microsoft recognized the problem and came out with the Surface Book – it had more power, and a true laptop bottom base that replaced the TypeCover. However, it became too heavy to carry in a typical student’s backpack, and the tablet still wasn’t very useful. In other words, the design was still a compromise. Jump to 2016, and Microsoft unveils its (final?) attempt at fixing the problem – they drop the tablet gimmick entirely, and make a traditonal laptop. Dubbed the Surface Laptop, Microsoft created a normal laptop design, with no compromises other than doing away with the tablet portion entirely. It retains the Surface line’s sense of elegance and beautiful pixel-dense screen, while doing away with pen support and tablet mode support. In earnest, I did enjoy the fact that the Surface Line had the Surface Pen, and all of its possible uses in being a student with it. But the problem is, I just never ended up using these features. And the Windows Store’s lack of compelling apps other than OneNote made the tablet portion useless too. Alas, Windows is still better as a traditional laptop than a tablet, and maybe it should stay this way.

I was thinking of just getting one of these Surface Laptops, then. But I then ran into the same problem that I had before. Why would I invest in this, when I now have a powerful PC? Well, it was light, thin, and fast. I thought, “It might as well be the perfect one to get now, right?” But it cost too much for what I needed it for. At this point, I just wanted a cheap computer that could do what I needed it to on the go (simple things like web-browsing and working on Word documents), but still be light, thin, and fast.

So I considered a Chromebook. I actually considered getting a Chromebook at the same time I got my Lenovo laptop. My priorities for the device were out of whack, then, as I valued graphics over portability. That was until reality hit, and I realized I wouldn’t really be making use of those graphics much, and I wouldn’t be using it at all, since it was too heavy. So I was back to considering the HP Stream laptops and Chromebooks. Before I could ponder too much, in came the Pixelbook.

The Pixelbook, announced at Google’s Made By Google event on October 4, has finally made me truly consider the Chrome OS, not only as my main laptop/tablet, but as the laptop and tablet of the future. Before the Pixelbook’s announcment, I thought of Chromebooks as cheap devices that could mostly just browse the web and use a few proprietary apps. That was true a few years ago, but now with the addition of Android tablet and phone apps, as well as the new 2-in-1 designs of the hardware, I believe the Chromebook can now be the best OS for most people in the future.

Now that I have my desktop PC to run any PC apps or games I want, the only thing I want out of my laptop is the ability to more easily work on documents while at school, browse the web, and be fast, portable, and light. A Surface laptop would solve all of these things, but it took away the ability to use it as a tablet, and I felt I wasn’t sure it was worth its monetary value to me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great Macbook competitor and its design is very high-quality, but it’s taking away the tablet portion of the Surface (not an objection to me, as I already said it wasn’t useful with WIndows 10 on it), with the exchange of a better design – the standard laptop design. But now that the Pixelbook can do all of that – having a premium, portable design and performing all of the tasks I now demand from my computer away from home, the Pixelbook has trumped the Surface Laptop, and every other Surface for me, as well.

The Pixelbook’s 2-in-1 design, the Pixelbook Pen that’s even more responsive than the Surface Pen and the Apple Pencil, and the addition of access to the full library of Google Play Store apps designed for phones and tablets, as well as the seamless companionship it makes with Google’s Pixel Phone, makes the Pixelbook the best laptop, and tablet, on the market now. Adding Google Play Store app support means that the Chromebook, a great web-browsing device with an otherwise similar app-availability problem as Windows Store, is now many times better, and a true competitor to the Surface, Macbook, and iPad line. With all of the apps we now use to do everything we want to on our phones, like social media, web-browsing, document editing, gaming, music production, and even video editing now accessible through the Google Play Store and the Chrome web browser, in addition to processing increasingly moving from the local device to the cloud, the Pixelbook is truly primed to be able to do everything you would want it to do, and makes it a true competitor to every other operating system you would shell out $1K for. Its advantage and beauty lies in the fact that we can now fulfill the perfect dream of transitioning between every phone and tablet app we now use to do most of our work on the go, upgraded to one device with a desktop-like experience –  a device that due in good part to its design, can truly be both your laptop, and your tablet.

The Google Pixelbook, with its beautiful screen, its powerful Intel Core processors, its advanced pen, its seamless 2-in-1 design, and its now-vibrant app-store, fulfills the concept of a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet, better that the Surface Pro ever could. By focusing on being a laptop first, and a tablet second, and adding access to an app store much more developed than Windows Store’s, the Pixelbook allows itself to be a fully-featured laptop and tablet without compromise, and thus knocks the Surface Pro out of the park. For more niche usage cases like advanced video-editing, programming, and hardcore gaming, Windows may still be desired. But for most people’s uses, or for those like me who already have a Windows desktop to do more of the grunt-work, the forward-thinking Chrome OS with Android apps, paired with truly useful 2-in-1 designs like the Pixelbook, is now the most useful portable one can have.

For further reading:

4 crazy Chromebook myths, debunked

Time to call it: The Chromebook is the new Android tablet

Big Nintendo Announcement Coming Soon [Rumor]

Nintendo has had a big year so far. They launched the Nintendo Switch, the first home gaming system you can play anywhere. In a surprise announcement, they announced the New 2DS XL, coming alongside two new 3DS games. They wowed us at E3 with a big shocker: Metroid Prime 4, as well as showed other new games coming to the platform such as Kirby, Yoshi, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, and Super Mario Odyssey. And most recently, they continued their coverage with more at Gamescom 2017. However, if you thought Nintendo was done this year, they’re not.

We all know Nintendo produces news throughout the year, with some of its biggest announcements at E3. But Nintendo likes to surprise us when we least expect it. Though this year’s E3 was great, there was something still amiss.

As Reggie Fils-Aime said in several interviews, Nintendo will bring all of its major franchises to each platform. So what haven’t we seen on Switch yet? We have not yet seen Animal Crossing, F-Zero, Donkey Kong, Star Fox (though we are getting Star Fox 2 on the SNES Classic), Earthbound, and of course, Super Smash Bros. Additionally, we still have not seen Retro Studios’ new IP or anything from Next Level Games. So what’s coming next?

According to SupermetalDave64, a prominent Nintendo YouTuber with industry contacts, Nintendo is preparing a large announcement very soon.

He says the first announcement will not be from Nintendo, but it may be related. The second, he says, will be from Nintendo, and may come in the form of a mid-September Nintendo Direct.

Since the first announcement won’t be from Nintendo, we can only speculate it will be a big third party announcement for the Switch. Currently, it could be anyone’s guess, but if I were to bet on it, it would be a AAA third party game from 2K, Ubisoft, or Activision. Rumors have been pegging Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty WWII, and LA Noire for Switch, so we will find out.

PlayStation has a big press conference on September 19, so it may also be something announced here:

https://gematsu.com/2017/08/2017-playstation-press-conference-japan-set-september-19

As for Nintendo’s own announcement, it is also unknown at this point. However, it is slated to be coming soon after. Nintendo is holding a special panel on September 1 at PAX West to possibly talk about something that will be revealed just before it. It could potentially be about an already announced game such as Super Mario Odyssey or Metroid: Samus Returns. Or it could be about something brand new.

If we were to put any immediate bets on what would be unveiled next month, it would be Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch, or Retro Studios’ new IP. Or maybe even Metroid Prime 4? Virtual Console is also a good bet, with GameCube titles recently appearing on Nintendo’s websites.

What else could it be?

Additional speculation suggests Nintendo could be revealing a new console. Not only has SuperMetalDave hinted at this before, but our own independent developer source from previous interviews has stated that there were three parts to the NX: one portable, one docked, and… something else. And one has not been shown off yet.

We will see soon.

SuperMetalDave64, the rumor’s perpetuator, has been hinting at this for weeks, saying there are two parts to this, and plans to hold a livestream to discuss after each announcement. He also hints that Nintendo will hold a Direct or a special event in mid-September for the final announcement.

SuperMetalDave has gotten things correct before, such as two new Metroid games being announced at E3 2017. So there is reason to put faith into his presumptions.

He’s put together a rather interesting teaser trailer hinting at what is in store.

Stay tuned to Gamer Splash for the latest on this topic.

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

Inti Creates Anime Expo 2017 Panel Footage [Exclusive]

Anime Expo 2017 hosted a variety of great content, including a strong gaming presence, as well. Inti Creates hosted a panel titled “Publishing Japanese Games for a Worldwide Audience on Nintendo Switch” and we were in attendance to bring you exclusive footage from the panel on YouTube!

The developers went through their history as a company and explained how they came to develop games for worldwide release and get into the the American indie scene.

In a surprise no one was expecting, they also unveiled both Shovel Knight and Shantae as playable DLC characters for Blaster Master Zero and invited the original franchise devs to play the DLC live for the first time!

Additionally, they held a Q&A session where some interesting details were shared.

Check out the full panel (with exclusive footage of their Inti Creates history video) below:

Check out Blaster Master Zero Shovel Knight DLC gameplay with Nick Wozniak, the Pixelmancer from Yacht Club Games!

Check out Blaster Master Zero Shantae DLC debut live gameplay with Matt Bozon, the creator of Shantae, from WayForward!

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash

E3 2017 Highlights and Photos!

Hey there!

I went to E3 for the first time and in short, it was amazing! I have a very fun story to share about it, but I’ll keep it brief. While there, I visited the Nintendo, Xbox, and PlayStation booths, along with Sega’s.

Much of the show’s news has been shared online already. However, I will offer my impressions of my experiences and some great pics I took of each booth I visited. So without further ado, let’s get started!

Nintendo:

Like last year with Breath of the Wild, Nintendo put you into the world of Super Mario Odyssey for this year’s E3 booth. You walked into New Donk City as a Nintendo player, and were surrounded with friendly New Donk citizens (Nintendo employees), as well as many fans eager to try all the latest Nintendo games. Nintendo had a great range of titles to play, from Super Mario Odyssey to Splatoon 2 to ARMS to Pokken Tournament DX, as well as third party titles, such as Mario + Rabbids, FIFA 18, and Sonic Forces.

I got to play Splatoon 2 (both Turf War and Salmon Run modes) and Super Mario Odyssey. I played Odyssey several times and had a blast. I even got to try it in portable mode and do both stages! I love how it feels similar to Sunshine and 64 as a sandbox Mario game is my favorite type of Mario game. There was a lot to do in New Donk City and many hidden areas, which I really enjoyed. This was also something I live about Sunshine that was brought back, so it made me happy. The wall jumps and triple jumps were also a welcome return, and Mario and Cappy felt great to control with the JoyCons.

Splatoon 2 Turf War was also very fun, and I enjoyed playing with all the new weapons available. It felt great to play with the new Splatoon 2 Pro Controller on a TV, and I enjoyed winning with my team and getting a Splatoon 2 shirt and pin! I was most eager to play Salmon Run and finally got to on my third day (the systems kept glitching out at the end of day 2, so they told us to come back the next day.) Salmon Run was very fun, and we got a different Splatoon 2 pin for playing! It was played exclusively in portable mode. I enjoy the concept of Salmon Run and it feels like teamwork and communication is even more necessary to succeed in this one. It is longer than an average Splatoon match with employees saying each round would last 15 minutes. It still breezed by, however, and it was very fun and well balanced. It was worth the 2.5 hour wait.

Sonic Forces felt great on the Switch and the graphics weren’t too much worse than it’s counterparts on other systems. Did not notice a huge difference at 30fps. It was great switching from 2D to 3D and I found it surprising how much it felt like 2D Sonic but also was relieved that it felt there was a bit more to do in the 3D environment coming from a Sonic Adventure fan like myself. It is great on the Switch, and you can play it portably, which is the point.

Also played FIFA 18 with my friend, and it was a blast. The graphics were not too great, I could not see any detail on the characters faces. However, the gameplay was sharp and very responsive. It is a great GAME for Switch, even if the graphics aren’t as up to par as the other versions. Again, it’s also portable.

Booth pics:

 

Sega:

I went to the SEGA booth and tried out both Sonic Forces and Sonic Mania. I played on a PlayStation 4 console both times. Both were super fun, and I got to try out new levels and take home posters for both games! I played as Tails on the Saloon level in Sonic Mania and found it great to be able to nearly constantly fly everywhere. Great level design with a lot to explore. In Sonic Forces I played the second level and had a blast switching from 2D to 3D. The game is better than it looks once you play it! Also saw the other half of GameXplain in line!

Booth pics:

 

PlayStation:

The booth was blue as you’d expect. Gran Turismo Sport looked stunning on a 4K HDR TV. I did not get to play anything, though. I didn’t have the chance to take as many pics here, but here is what I have:

Booth pics:

 

 

Xbox:

Xbox had one of the best shows of E3 in my opinion (alongside Nintendo and Ubisoft) where they showed off the new 4K Xbox One X, and a ton of new games coming to the system! I got invited to a VIP after-hours party at the booth for ExpertZone members, and was able to try nearly all the games I wanted to! I played Dragonball FighterZ (super fun and a deep fighting game with beautiful hand-drawn art style), Forza 7 (looks sharp in 4K, but the detail looked about the same to me as Forza 6), Need For Speed Payback (graphics were beautiful, enjoyed how the game felt and played. Played a mission where we had to take down a truck and some cars), and Sonic Forces (tried custom hero level, Park Avenue. Could not beat it! Very difficult platforming.) I also got to hold the Xbox One X!

Here are my booth pics:

 

 

So there you have it! My first E3 was super fun, and I have to thank my friends Daniel and Juan for helping me go with them.  It wouldn’t have happened this year, otherwise!

Can’t wait to cover E3 next year in an even larger capacity!

Till next time,

-Noah Sanchez, Gamer Splash