Monday in CE: NVIDIA Wants to Elevate VR/AR Experience, Google Home Max is a Beautiful Blob
The road to our current iteration of VR products has been a seemingly wild one. It started with just a handful of companies flirting with the idea, followed by a massive disappointment in price points, a wave of imitators, and ultimately a saturated market of bulky headsets and limited content.
It was a hurry-up-and-wait kind of moment that consumers probably won't forget... or maybe NVIDIA's newest design will make them forget about all their past grievances.
Known for their domination in the custom computer market, NVIDIA wants to not only retool the way VR interacts in our lives, they want to break off into an entirely new direction. A new article published by their research group is an optimized experience that interfaces "all computing." That means smartphones, laptops, TVs, hell even radios will get some form of their streamlined and target VR interface.
"We’re inventing new headset technology that will replace modern VR’s bulky headsets with thin glasses driven by lasers and holograms," Dr. Morgan McGuire says in the article. "They’ll be as widespread as tablets, phones, and laptops, and even easier to operate. They’ll switch between AR/VR/MR modes instantly. And they’ll be powered by new GPUs and graphics software that will be almost unrecognizably different from today’s technology."
It's an interesting read, and they obviously address the most popular pipeline in gaming, but beyond that it all seems like science fiction. But then again, it sort of felt unattainable right before we had the Oculus Rift in our hands.
Google Max Getting High Marks... If You Sport Android
The year of the smart speaker is upon us!
The $399 watermelon-sized smart speaker is finally rolling out and the initial reviews are pretty positive. Wired gave it a 8/10, citing great acoustics and a slightly steep price tag. Digital Trends followed suit with much of the same, great sound, harsh price, and knock for not being a sound bar. Android Central thinks it rounds out the top end nicely, but doesn't address the flaws in Google Home's ecosystem.
So what is the take away? This speakers bumps. It has a ton of bass and is the only smart speaker of the big three that has stereo sound capabilities. Two 4.5-inch woofers and two 0.7-inch tweeters hide behind a fabric screen, making its presence whenever it is turned on. Volume touch controls on the top are clever, if not a bit clunky.
The biggest pain point, the $399 price point, will actually run against some very interesting competition when Apple gets ready to roll out their $350 smart speaker. Amazon doesn't even have an answer to their premium quality introduced by their two biggest competitors.
Another interesting narrative Google is creating is their machine learning capabilities. By no means is a smart speaker correcting its EQ based on internal microphone listening to the acoustics of the room, but Google is ready to be the first to make it fashionable. Google would rather leverage a computer to make your sound better, not raw hardware.
Either way, the Google Home Max is starting a trend we've seen with smartphones over the past year or so; great technology isn't coming cheap these days.
I bought a Google Home Max and can attest it is loud enough to drown out my terrible guitar playing when I am playing along to actual music.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) December 17, 2017
The Best of the Rest of the Net
- Facebook is cracking down on engagement-baiting articles. In a Facebook blog post, the company explains it will demote engagement bait posts and pages starting this week.
- Amazon’s latest Echos show the smart home space is finally hitting its stride.
- New rumor offers some exciting news about Samsung’s boring Galaxy S9 upgrade.