The Analogue Mega SG wins the retro gaming console war – Engadget

The Analogue Mega SG wins the retro gaming console war – Engadget

The Mega SG is a small, sleek console about the size of a stack of CDs, almost exactly the same size as the Super NT. The build quality is similarly premium: it consists of a matte-finished plastic frame and a rubber footpad, with a subtle design that takes cues from the original Sega hardware, seen in the color scheme of the power and reset buttons. But like the Super NT, it’s really all about the Mega SG’s guts.

The device uses FPGA technology (that’s field programmable gate arrays, in case you were wondering) to reproduce the original console on the hardware level. This means that, unlike with a software emulator, you are not running software that pretends to be the original console and has to be modified to work on a game-by-game basis. With FPGA, Analogue has recreated the Genesis experience from the hardware level up. For all intents and purposes, this is as good as the original hardware itself. It has played every one of the two dozen plus carts I’ve thrown at it as flawlessly as possible, with absolutely none of the lag that emulators are famous for.

And herein lies the real selling point for the Mega SG: it does all this on a modern flat-panel TV (even 4K TVs) right out of the box, with zero messing around.

Anyone who has spent time tinkering with retro games knows that you can quickly get lost down a wormhole of cables and compatibility. Check out all of the options and features on the best Genesis emulator out there for a PC (Gens maybe, or Kegan Fusion) — a lot of these settings aren’t just for fun, optional tweaking — you need to program them for each game you’re trying to play.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you want to hook up an original console to a modern TV, you’re going to need an expensive upscaler and custom-built cables, which easily will eclipse the price of the already high price of the Mega SG ($190). The other option is some kind of Raspberry Pi setup, but again, this will require emulator tweaking on a game-by-game basis. The Mega SG eliminates all of this complexity right out of the box — you just plug it into your HDMI port and it is ready to play on your flat-panel, automatically upscaled and set to mimic the 4:3 proportions of old-school CRT TV sets.

Now, that’s not to say that Analogue doesn’t give you options to tinker with. Indeed, it is a tinkerer’s dream. Like with the Super NT, you can customize video output and smooth pixels. You can enable scan lines in a variety of ways. Analogue advises “using hybrid scan lines at default depth with vertical interpolation enabled and make sure the vertical resolution is at an integer scaling (4x or 5x, not 4.5x which is default).” If that’s the kind of sentence that gets you stoked, then yes, this is the console for you.

Of special note is the audio quality on display here. The Sega Genesis was derided for having shitty audio due to some models using low-quality mass market components. But here, Analogue’s audio quality surpasses even what the best the Genesis was capable of, outputting audio on the full frequency range (you can also limit the frequency range to match the original hardware). There’s even a 3.5mm audio jack on the front of the console, like the Genesis had, if you want to plug in high-end headphones and sink into full-on chiptune nirvana.

The Mega SG has ports for old Genesis controllers which will also support anything that fits into that hole, including all bluetooth-enabled Genesis controllers on the market. But note that the console does not ship with a controller, so plan to be out at least another $10-25 for controller expenses. As they did for the Super NT, Analogue has once again teamed up with controller maker 8BitDo, this time to market their wireless Genesis controller, the m30 2.4g — it’s $25 and I highly recommend it.

If you’ve come this far in the review, you’re probably wondering if the Mega SG supports the range of Sega peripherals and hardware add-ons that gave rise to the “tower of power” meme. The answer is yes and no.

Yes, the Mega SG works flawlessly with all models of Sega CD, so you’re into ’90s full motion video capture cheese, you’re golden here (though it does look a little physically inelegant when connected). But no, the Mega SG does not work with the Sega 32X. And yes, there’s a cartridge adapter for Master System games included, and yes, there are more adapters promised to come soon, including a Game Gear adapter. And yes, absolutely of course you can snap Sonic 3 into Sonic and Knuckles — “lock on” technology achieved and preserved.

Analogue MegaSG adapters

The Mega SG is $189.99 without a controller. This is without a doubt a high price to indulge a retro gaming hobby, but I believe there’s more of a value proposition here than there is with the similarly priced Super NT console.

Unlike Super Nintendo games, Sega Genesis carts are very cheap right now. I spent $60 at a neighborhood retro store and walked away with 10 carts, including classics like Sonic 2 and 3, Ecco the Dolphin, Altered Beast, Shinobi 3, and Streets of Rage. Carts are plentiful by the batch on eBay, OfferUp and local Goodwills. Sure, there are rare collector’s items that run up expensive prices, but even some of the best games to ever grace the Genesis are cheap — Gunstar Heroes is $50 on eBay and ToeJam & Earl can be acquired for $20. Also, the Super NT was “jailbroken” shortly after release, enabling you to boot ROMS from an SD card. We can probably expect the same treatment for the Mega SG too, which means Sega’s deep library will soon become very accessible. Suddenly, $189.99 is not as expensive as it seems at first blush.

Unlike Super Nintendo games, Sega Genesis carts are very cheap right now.

The Mega SG does come with one final surprise — a built-in, unreleased Genesis game from Battlefield developer DICE. Once thought lost forever, “Hardcore” (or “Ultracore” as it’s known here for licensing issues) is a Euro-style run-and-gun shooter that a small team of dedicated developers salvaged from a single dead hard-drive and have saved from obscurity. The game, a sci-fi themed shooter fest, oozes ’90s aesthetics — though it feels somewhat half-baked. The devs claim the game is 99% complete, but it feels a little anemic on the conceptual stage. There’s almost no framework or context for why you’re killing tons of robots, but the shooting is decent twitchy action. Regardless, it’s a fascinating piece of retro history that comes built into the Mega SG. It’s no Super Turrican Director’s Cut, which came installed on the Super NT — but it’s a great thing to have.

At the end of the day, the question remains — who is the Mega SG for? Yes, it is for nostalgic Sega enthusiasts, and yes, it is for retro gaming historians, though some of them would no doubt prefer to run original hardware on old CRT televisions (like the Super NT, the Mega SG does not output to old televisions — only to HDMI-ready sets).

But I would argue that, even more so than the Super NT, the Mega SG is more accessible to those who have been intrigued by retro games but don’t know where to start. The Mega SG might just be the ultimate “retro” gaming console on the market right now for one key reason: Sega games are cheap, abundant and easy to acquire. With Super NT, you’re bound to the Super Nintendo cart marketplace, which is in a bit of a price bubble. But the Sega library is deep, plentiful, and affordable. As the console wars stand today, perhaps because of its failures, Sega once again does what Nintendon’t.

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tvOS 12.3 beta now available for Apple TV HD and 4K, Apple TV 3 picks up new 7.3 software beta – 9to5Mac

tvOS 12.3 beta now available for Apple TV HD and 4K, Apple TV 3 picks up new 7.3 software beta – 9to5Mac

iOS 12.3 beta isn’t the only new developer software release out today. Apple TV beta testers can test drive tvOS 12.3 starting today as well. Curiously, if you have an old third-generation Apple TV, you know the model before the Apple TV HD, there’s a new beta release of that software today too.

Apple currently sells the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K. Both streaming boxes run tvOS, an iOS-like operating system that features Apple’s latest software including an App Store.

Apple’s previous set-top box, the third-generation model, has long been discontinued and doesn’t run tvOS. Instead, it runs a stripped down operating system with no App Store. Channel apps on the old Apple TV model rely on Apple manually deploying updates.

It’s likely that the new Apple TV software update will be used to support Apple’s new streaming video service efforts. Apple unveiled Apple TV Channels and Apple TV+ earlier this week.

Apple also has a new version of its Apple TV app coming to Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and starting this fall on the Mac. Smart TVs from Samsung will also gain the new Apple TV app, followed by smart TVs from LG, Vizio, and Sony. Roku and FireTV will work with the new Apple TV app as well.

Update: Release notes for the Apple TV 3 software update:

Apple TV Software 7.3 beta provides support for testing AirPlay from your apps to Apple TV (3rd generation) only.

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Apple Card FAQ: Interest rates, rewards, sign-up and everything else you need to know – Macworld

Apple Card FAQ: Interest rates, rewards, sign-up and everything else you need to know – Macworld

Among the TV shows, magazines, and games services unveiled at Apple’s “Show time” event was a surprise entry into a category that couldn’t be further outside Apple’s wheelhouse: a credit card. Dubbed Apple Card, it’s not a traditional plastic credit card that gives you points on things you buy. Rather, it’s a whole new way to shop online and offline. Here’s everything you need to know about it:

What is the Apple Card?

The Apple Card is an Apple-branded credit card from MasterCard. Unlike the current Barclaycard Visa with Apple Rewards, which is a partner card, the Apple Card is owned and operated by Apple.

When will it be available?

Apple says the Apple Card will be available this summer.

How do I apply for the Apple Card?

With your iPhone, of course. Applications go through Apple Pay in the Wallet app, which means you’ll probably be periodically bothered to apply if you don’t already have one. Just remember that it’s a credit card, so the application will probably still ask for your work history, social security number, etc.

So I have to have an iPhone?

That’s right. The card information is stored in the Wallet app, and you need an iPhone to get it.

Will my old iPhone work?

Probably. Any iPhone that supports Apple Pay and the Wallet app will work, so unless you have an iPhone 5s, you’re good.

apple card payApple

The Apple Card can be used anywhere, but the best benefits are when purchases are made using Apple Pay.

What about the iPad?

You can’t download the Wallet app on the iPad, so there’s no way to apply, and it doesn’t have NFC so you can’t use it in stores. You will be able to use it for Apple Store app and online Apple Pay if you sign up on your iPhone, however.

Can I get a physical card or is it virtual only?

Apple is also offering a laser-etched titanium card for those times when Apple Pay isn’t available. In true Apple fashion, the card is minimal and gorgeous, with no numbers, expiration date, or CVV code to muck it up.

What if I need my card number or expiration date?

You’ll find that information in the Wallet app.

What if I lose my Apple Card?

Apple will provide a button in the Wallet app so you can freeze your card and order a new one.

What bank is issuing the card?

Apple has partnered with Goldman Sachs. Of note, this is the bank’s first consumer credit card.

How quickly will I be approved?

Apple says approval takes minutes, so the whole process probably takes about as long as it would when applying for a store card.

apple card balanceApple

You balance and due date are front and center when you launch the Apple Card tab inside the Wallet app.

When can I start using my Apple Card?

Since all of your card information is stored on your phone, you’ll be able to start using your new card as soon as you’re approved.

How do I make purchases?

Just like you would with any other card. When you buy something at a store that accepts Apple Pay you’ll be able to hold your phone near the contactless reader or double-click the home or power button (depending on your iPhone model) to quickly bring up the pay screen, and authenticate using Touch ID or Face ID.

Can I use the Apple Card with my Apple Watch?

Of course. Since it’s a regular credit card, it’ll work the same way as any other card.

Can I schedule payments for things like recurring bills and utilities?

Since you’ll have a standard number, expiration date, and CVV in the Wallet app, you’ll just need to input that information in the payment page for whatever bill you want to add.

Are there any sign-up bonuses?

Apple didn’t mention anything about sign-up bonuses during the Apple Card announcement, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be sporadic offers to entice new users.

Is there a rewards program?

Yup! Apple’s rewards program is called Daily Cash. Rather than a complicated points system, it simply pays you cash back for every purchase you make.

apple card daily cashApple

Apple Card rewards are tallied each day and delivered via a cash card.

What’s the Daily Cash rewards rate?

The Apple Card will pay you 3 percent back on Apple Store purchases and iTunes downloads, and 2 percent back on all other purchases made using Apple Pay. When you use the physical Apple Card, however, you’ll only get 1 percent back.

Is there a limit to how much Daily Cash I can get?

Nope, Apple doesn’t set a ceiling on how much Daily Cash you can earn, but the amount you earn is based on how much you spend, and there is a limit on that.

Can I spend my Daily Cash immediately?

That’s why it’s called Daily Cash. Instead of waiting a month or a year to get a rewards check, anything you’ve earned will be automatically deposited into your Wallet in the form of an Apple Pay Cash card. From there, you’ll be able to transfer it to your bank account, send money to a friend, or just use it to buy something at any store that accepts Apple Pay.

What if I need to return something that I’ve already received a reward for?

That’s not entirely clear yet, but presumably Apple will either charge your card the amount that needs to be reversed or deduct it from your Daily Cash balance.

Where can I see a record my transactions?

Everything that you need to see will be right inside the Wallet app, including payment due date, transaction and payment histories, and spending analyzers. Apple will also color-code spending categories so it’s “easy to spot trends in your spending. … See a lot of orange? That’s things like lunch and coffee. Green? Must be those tickets to Miami.”

Are there any annual fees?

Nope.

Are there any late fees?

Also nope.

What about foreign transaction fees?

Again, nope. Apple says there are no fees at all for the Apple Card, even if you accidentally go over your spending limit.

apple card interestApple

Apple’s smart spending analyzer will tell you how much interest you’ll owe based on your payment.

What are the interest rates?

Apple boasted that their interest rates are among the lowest in the industry, but they’re not exactly friendly. On the Apple Card site, Apple says the variable APRs range from 13.24 percent to 24.24 percent as of March 2019, so that could change by the time the card launches.

What about cash advances?

We don’t know what Apple’s terms for cash advances will be, but generally they carry extremely high interest rates.

How can I see my interest rate and penalties?

Before you submit your payment, Apple will show a smart payment suggestion wheel that lets you know how much interest will accrue based on how much you pay.

Is the Barclaycard Visa with Apple Rewards going away?

It’s unclear whether Apple will continue to offer or support the Barclaycard Visa for Apple Store purchases after the Apple Card launches.

Will Apple see all of my transactions?

Apple says transaction history and spending summaries are all generated on your iPhone, so Apple won’t be able to see any of your card data.

What about Goldman Sachs?

Since they’re the ones lending you money and securing each transaction, Goldman Sachs will have a record of every purchase and payment you make with your Apple Card.

Will Goldman Sachs sell my data?

Apple says Goldman Sachs has agreed to “never share or sell your data to third parties for marketing or advertising.”

apple card screensApple

Apple makes it easy to see your transactions and spending inside the Wallet app.

What if I need to contact support?

Apple has baked Apple Card support right into Messages via Business Chat. Instead of calling an automated service, however, you’ll simply send a text and a person will respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When will my bill be due?

Instead of a flexible due date, Apple is making all card payments due on the last day of the month, regardless of when you applied.

How do I make a payment?

You’ll make payments inside the Wallet app using a Pay button.

Can I make more than one payment a month?

Yes, in addition to standard monthly payments, Apple will also let you set up “weekly or biweekly payments to match when you get paid.”

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PS Plus Games for April 2019 Announced – IGN

PS Plus Games for April 2019 Announced – IGN


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Featuring The Surge and Conan Exiles

Sony has revealed the April 2019 games coming to PlayStation Plus members, featuring The Surge and Conan Exiles.

Announced on the PlayStation Blog, The Surge is a sci-fi action RPG considered to be a spiritual successor to Lords of the Fallen. Conan Exiles is a survival action game set in the world of Conan the Barbarian. Both games will become available to download starting April 2.

In our review of The Surge, we called the game “Good” saying it “struggles to present a compelling campaign, but delivers a fun new take on a familiar genre.”

In our review of Conan Exiles, we called the game “Okay” saying it “captures the brutality of the source material, but weak combat and grindy crafting make it an often slow and arduous survival game.”

March 2019’s PS Plus lineup featured Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered and The Witness, both of which are still up for grabs until April 1.

Yesterday, Microsoft revealed its Games With Gold offerings for April 2019, which includes The Technomancer, Outcast: Second Contact, the original Xbox version of Star Wars Battlefront II and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2.

Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to newstips@ign.com.

Colin Stevens is a news writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.

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Microsoft exec bans company from pulling any dumb April Fools’ pranks – Ars Technica

Microsoft exec bans company from pulling any dumb April Fools’ pranks – Ars Technica
Microsoft exec bans company from pulling any dumb April Fools’ pranks

April 1 has long been a spectacularly annoying day to be alive, with brands falling over themselves to be “funny” and usually revealing themselves to be anything but. This was almost tolerable in the days when we were talking simply fake advertisements in print media, but it has taken on a new dimension online, as companies have actually modified the services that we rely on daily in an attempt to be “funny.”

This was particularly striking in Google’s 2016 mic drop feature on Gmail, where clicking the “mic drop” button sent a recipient a gif of a Despicable Me minion—a vile affront to humanity in and of itself—and then muted and archived the conversation, thus hiding any responses to it. Cue widespread complaints from users who clicked the button by accident, denying themselves jobs and offending their bosses.

Microsoft, for one, wants no part of this. In a move that can only be welcomed, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela sent a company-wide e-mail (leaked to the Verge) imploring staff to refrain from creating any public-facing April Fools’ Day stunts. Capossela writes that according to the company’s data, the stunts have “limited positive impact” and can result in “unwanted news cycles.”

While Microsoft has thus far avoided any Gmail-esque April Fools’ debacles—instead preferring jokes like 2015’s “MS-DOS for phones” app—it’s clear that Capossela wants to avoid any risk of needlessly tarnishing the company’s image.

Now, we can only hope all the other brands will follow suit and endeavor to give us an April 1 that passes just like every other day.

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