Friday Tech Roundup (20 December 2013): Steam Machine prototype in beta users’ hands

Steam Machine

By on December 20, 2013 at 10:17 am

Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is your weekly dose of some of the best tech news from across the Internet, rounded up for your edification and entertainment. Read on for all the details of Google’s acquisition of Boston Dynamics, photos of the beta Steam Machine hardware, and China’s unmanned moon landing.

Prototype Steam Machine shipped to beta users

The first prototypes of the Steam Machine, Valve’s console-esque living room gaming PC, have been shipped to 300 lucky beta testers, and thanks to Reddit user colbehr we have a fresh batch of photos over which to salivate. Like most everything Valve does, the Steam Machine prototype is all about presentation, with its heavy and fanciful wooden crate, and cryptic iconography. The machine itself is identical to that which was demoed to a few tech publications last month, save for a single stamped and polished ventilation hole on top of the machine, used to identify the device and its owner as one of the 300 beta testers. An interesting note: The booklet included with the device includes specific instructions for upgrading the system by replacing internal components.

Google buys Boston Dynamics, not officially a military contractor

Web search potentate Google announced the purchase of Boston Dynamics last Friday, the primarily DARPA-funded masterminds behind the terrifying BigDog, and the speedy WildCat, according to the New York Times. This is the latest in a recent series of robotics-related acquisitions spearheaded by ex-Android head Andy Rubin. Google has not announced its overarching plan for its robotics acquisitions, but executives said “the company would honor existing military contracts, but that it did not plan to move toward becoming a military contractor on its own.”

China land unmanned craft on the Moon

On Saturday, China joined the limited group of countries that have successfully soft-landed on the Moon along with the US and the Soviet Union. The unmanned Chinese craft, the Chang’e-3, performed a controlled landing on the surface of the Moon at just before 9:15pm Beijing time, according to Chinese state media. “It landed on the Moon, Chang’e has landed,” came the official announcement, along with video footage of lab-coated scientists clapping and embracing one-another. The craft will reportedly deploy a six-wheeled rover called Yutu (or Jade Rabbit) onto the surface of the Moon to photograph and study the Moon’s surface. It is unclear at this stage whether the project was primarily scientifically or politically devised, though these causes are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Google Glass update adds wink-to-shoot and extra features to Glassware

Google Glass update XE 12 is on its way and promises to add some new features, remove some old features, and tighten up security. XE 12 adds the ability for users to take photos by simply winking their eye, a far more surreptitious process than saying “Okay Glass, take a photo.” Glassware will also see some shiny new features, with the addition of Hangouts providing the ability to send SMS, instant messages, and voice and video calls. On the security front, Glassware now gives users the option to set a lock screen that will activate if the user take off their Glass or deactivate it. Guest mode has also been removed, with Google citing the amount of work required from its engineers to securely maintain the feature.

Oculus VR secures $75 million in funding to complete consumer release

Oculus VR has reportedly secured $75 million in funding to help finish off the consumer release of its eponymous head mounted display, the Oculus Rift. Venture Beat’s Dean Takahashi reports that the funding was provided by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which was founded in 2009 by Netscape founder Mark Andreessen and business partner Ben Horowitz. Oculus VR has stated that the money will be used to acquire more staff, and to build the commercial release of the device.

22 comments (Leave your own)

My god, that Steam Machine packaging looks amazing. If they all ship like that I will pay whatever it takes.

 

New google glasses, not recommended for those with a nervous tic. Or those who like photography, if you know what I mean? *wink wink*

 
Artful-dodgeR

Man, the OR is really picking up steam! Can’t wait for consumer model to come out!

 

Wow VR porn, I mean games – awesome!

 

Tim Colwill:
My god, that Steam Machine packaging looks amazing. If they all ship like that I will pay whatever it takes.

Valve are quite happy showing how doing it right means people will pay more for it, unlike the shoddy cheap crap from MS, or the usually heavily controlled Sony situations…

 

RSOblivion,

just HAD to have a dig at consoles, when none was necessary. well done.

 

I know I’m planning on getting my hands on an Oculus Rift kit when I can afford it as well as the Steam Controller.

 

sirgriggles,

I’m hoping it was a comment on the packaging that both brands use, not the consoles themselves. You have to admit, that crate with the Steam Machine looks pretty cool.

 

redshirt,

i think a giant wooden create is f’ing ridiculous. WTF are you going to do with it?

 

sirgriggles,

What, with a big wooden crate? If you can’t think of any uses for it then you’re not being too creative…

 

I still dont get all the hype, it’s just a small pc.

 

nekosan:
I still dont get all the hype, it’s just a small pc.

Some people like this stuff.

 

nekosan:
I still dont get all the hype, it’s just a small pc.

This … But who knows … it might change up the console market forcing sony and Microsoft to innovate …

 

nekosan:
I still dont get all the hype, it’s just a small pc.

And what are the XBone and the PS4 then?

sirgriggles:
RSOblivion,
just HAD to have a dig at consoles, when none was necessary. well done.

Not a dig at the consoles, I was referring to the packaging and presentation. Personally I think the Steam Machine and the PS4 are about equal on look with the XBone looking cheap and tacky.

The packaging makes a huge difference to the perception of quality too. When there’s effort put into it which can also be used/useful after unpacking then it’s good money spent as it draw’s in the customer. Cardboard boxes just disappear from memory, you’ll always remember than Wooden Crate with the odd symbols on it from Valve…

 

RSOblivion: Personally I think the Steam Machine and the PS4 are about equal on look with the XBone looking cheap and tacky.

It always interests me when someone says something like this.
What about any of the devices make it look cheap and tacky and what what needs to be changed?

 

matty: What about any of the devices make it look cheap and tacky

Perspective of the observer ? also looking like 1980s tech doesn’t help …

 

RSOblivion,

seriously dude? its a f’ing cardbox box! what the hell do you expect from it? to open itself? christmas lights? TBH, im more worried about how many poor trees fell victim to valve in order to make a large ass box available. Large ass wooden boxes use > tree than cardbox boxes… im just that guy that thinks about poor trees.

 

spooler: Perspective of the observer ?

Yeah, and I’m looking for the justification of that observation.

sirgriggles: TBH, im more worried about how many poor trees fell victim to valve in order to make a large ass box available. Large ass wooden boxes use > tree than cardbox boxes… im just that guy that thinks about poor trees.

So you’ll be picketing burnings because they sell wooden outdoor furniture?

 

RSOblivion: And what are the XBone and the PS4 then?
The packaging makes a huge difference to the perception of quality too.

Only just saw this too. Quality in regards to what?

 

matty,

WOOD IS WRONG!!!1

 
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