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This gadget takes gaming consoles to the next level
If you’ve ever hooked up a Nintendo Switch or an older console to a 4K display, you’ve probably noticed things like jagged edges on in-game models or a general blurriness to the graphics. Marseille Inc claims to have the solution to these problems with its mClassic graphics processor. Marseilles claims that mClassic gives games running on underpowered consoles a graphics boost on high-resolution displays, but it may be useful to more than just Switch owners and retro enthusiasts.
The mClassic promises several upgrades beyond simply smoothing out jagged edges and giving games some degree of anti-aliasing. Marseille also says that it can sharpen images, upscale to higher resolution, and improve depth-of-field. Moreover, the company claims the accessory can do this while introducing less than 1ms of lag. It seems like there would be some catch lurking within the fine print, but Marseille has also published several videos that show the before and after side-by-side and they make a convincing case for the mClassic.
The mClassic is an HDMI adapter that plugs into the back of any HDMI-equipped console and acts as an external graphics processor. To use it, you’ll first need to connect the mClassic to power via USB, with Marseille saying that any powered USB port should suffice, whether that’s on a TV, the console itself, or a smartphone charger. Then, plug the mClassic into your console’s HDMI port, run an HDMI cable (2.0 or later) from the mClassic to your TV, select your game mode, and you’re good to go.
Users can toggle through mClassic’s three game modes with a switch on the side. The first mode is the most self-explanatory one, as it will turn enhancements off entirely, allowing you to see the game without any upscaling. The second usage mode turns scaling on and is indicated by the LED on the mode switch turning green. This, as you have probably already figured out, puts the mClassic into graphics processing mode, upscaling resolution and applying anti-aliasing to in-game graphics.
The third mode is a Retro mode that’s indicated by a blue light on the switch, and this is for older games that output in 4:3 rather than 16:9, as most modern consoles do. We’ll get to the Retro mode in a moment.
With scaling turned on, you’ll see rough edges (jaggies, as they’re so affectionately called) smoothed out and a bump up in resolution. For instance, according to the table we’ve embedded below (taken from the mClassic’s tech specs page), an input resolution of 720p on a 60Hz panel will be upgraded to either 1080p or 1440p depending on the max resolution of the display.
While the mClassic can’t increase framerate, it does support framerates up to 120fps, though you won’t get a resolution bump when you’re playing at framerates that high. As an example, an input resolution of 1080p at 120Hz will still output at 1080p120 after mClassic’s graphics processing, but you’ll get the other benefits like anti-aliasing and improved depth-of-field.
You can see the effect in the videos we’ve embedded in this article. The change is perhaps most noticeable in the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 example you see below. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 runs at a native 720p resolution on the Switch when it’s docked, but mClassic is able to improve that to 1440p with its graphics processing, smoothing out jagged edges and making the image look sharper in the process. It’s not going to make a Nintendo Switch game look like it was made for a PS5 or a high-end gaming PC, but it does have a noticeable effect.
Another video worth checking out is the Animal Crossing: New Horizons side-by-side comparison below. Here, the effect is a little more subtle, but it’s definitely still there. Jagged lines on character and animal models are smoothed out a bit, and the graphics generally look sharper.
If you’re a retro gaming fan, the mClassic can improve those graphics too. Games that run at 4:3 will still run at that aspect ratio post-graphics processing, but they’ll benefit from the mClassic’s other processing effects. For its retro gaming example, mClassic uploaded a side-by-side comparison of P.N. 03 running the Nintendo GameCube. While the game is still obviously a retro title, the increase in sharpness is obvious when run through the mClassic.
One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need an HDMI adapter to use mClassic with retro consoles, which often output with composite or even coaxial. However, if you have one handy and you’ve found that your retro games don’t look great on modern HDTVs, something like the mClassic could help them look better without having to resort to building out an entire retro gaming setup.
The mClassic isn’t going to work miracles and make retro games or low-resolution titles look like high-budget games, but it certainly improves visuals. The big question is whether or not the mClassic is worth the cost. At $99.99, only those who want the best image quality they can squeeze out of these consoles may want to pick up this tiny device.
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Midjourney V4: Next Level AI Art?
Are you an artist? Do you like to create digital art? If you do, then you’re going to want to check out the new Midjourney V4 base model.
With this new V4 model, you can create much more realistic imagery than ever before. Plus, the Midjourney team has been working hard to improve the resolution, quality, and controllability of upscaling.
So if you’re looking for a way to take your digital art to the next level with Generative AI, then you definitely need to check out the new Midjourney V4 base model.
Read more, or watch the YouTube video (recommended):YouTube: What is Midjourney V4?
Midjoruney V4 is an entirely new codebase and totally new AI architecture. It’s Midjourneys first model trained on a new Midjourney AI supercluster and has been in the works for over 9 months.
V4 is not the final step of Midjourney`s AI Art generator, but what they consider a first step.
Meaning that the Midjourney team hopes this V4 version will feel as the new beginning of something deep and unfathomable that can change how humans create design.
The V4 model can generate much more realistic imagery than anything Midjoruney has released before. This can also be great news for everyone trying make a business with AI art.
From now on they will be much more strict with our rules around the “don’t be a jerk or create images to cause drama” policy.What’s new with the Midjourney V4 base model?
The V4 model from Midjourney is aiming to improve in a lot of areas when it comes to producing more precise and fulfilling the Midjourney prompt author’s imagination.
Some of the new things we know so far are listed below, and I have tried to put all of these categories to the test with my own prompts:Vastly more knowledge (of creatures, places, and more)
To test the vastly more knowledge of creatures, places, and etc i did craft the following two prompts:
a huge blue dragon, spitting fire on the eiffel tower, fantasy, digital art, sharp focus, –v 4
a large werewolf roaming the streets of Manhattan New York, people running away, digital art, –v 4
My thoughts here were that the Dragon and Werewolf was the creature and Eiffel Tower and Manhattan were places.
This is the results i got back from the V4 model which i was pretty happy with and clearly shows some improvement:Much better at getting small details right (in all situations)
To test the category of getting small details better i did craft the following prompt:
teenage boy watching the show “teenage mutant ninja turtles” on his TV in his basement, 1980`s, digital art, sharp focus, –v 4
Here I wanted to see the detail “teenage mutant ninja turtles” on his TV. The results I got back here was kinda exactly how i pictured it, so very happy with this prompt:Handles more complex prompting (with multiple levels of detail)
In the complex prompting category I went over to OpenAI`s GPT-3 to ask for a complex prompt describing a Cyborg in extreme detail.
This is the long and heavy descriptive prompt i got back from GPT-3:
The cyborg is a woman who has been outfitted with a series of robotic implants and artificial limbs. Her body has been extensively modified with cybernetic devices that allow her to perform feats of strength and agility that would be impossible for a normal human. She is equipped with a wide range of weapons and devices, and her body is protected by a suit of armor that is nearly impenetrable. She is a fearsome opponent in battle, and she is able to think and act at lightning-fast speeds, –v 4
I gotta say i am really happy with the result i got back from Midjoruney V4 here that you can judge for yourself here:Better with multi-object / multi-character scenes
In the multi-object / multi-character scenes category I again went over to OpenAI`s GPT-3 to ask for help. I asked for:
Describe in EXTREME DETAIL a multi character scene from The Viking Age, set in Norway in a realistic digital art style:
The prompt i got back from GPT-3 was:
The scene is set on the coast of Norway. There are two characters: a viking warrior and a dragon. The viking warrior is clad in traditional viking garb: a fur tunic, leather pants, and a metal helmet. He is armed with a sword and axe. The dragon is a massive reptilian creature with leathery wings and razor sharp claws. The two characters are locked in combat. The viking warrior is swinging his sword wildly, while the dragon is using its claws and teeth to try and attack the viking. The ocean is churning behind them and the sky is dark and stormy, –v 4
Also here i got to say the new V4 model really pulls this off, just look at the result from this complex prompt:
The last thing I wanted to test from the V4 model was multi-prompts. In this case I used the prompt:
A two-headed coin is an extremely rare object because it is a physical representation of chance and good luck. A four-leaf clover is an extremely rare object because it is a physical representation of luck and good fortune, –v 4
This multi-prompt feature takes two different prompts and merges them into one as far as I can see. In this example you can clearly see the two-headed coin and the four-leaf clover merged together into one coin.
So I was very happy how this turned out!Remix mode on Midjourney V4
The Midjourney team is also rolling out remix as fast as they can on this new base model.What’s new with the V4 upsampler?
The new upsampler in the Midjourney V4 base model adds, changes and corrects details in the original image (more like the v3 upscaler).
Also the new upsampler is an early work-in-progress and will change significantly over time.What are the Midjourney team still working on?
The Midjoruney team is always working on improving their AI model, some of the things the team is working hard on now is:
Increasing the resolution, quality and controllability of upscaling
Adding more custom aspect ratios (currently limited to 1:1 in V4)
Continue to increase image sharpness and reduce instances of tight cropping
Greatly reducing text artifacts (certain prompts become unreadable language on images)
Improving the default stylingConclusion
The Midjourney V4 base model is a huge step forward for digital art. With its new and improved features, you can create much more realistic and detailed images than ever before.
Plus, the Midjourney team is constantly working to improve the resolution, quality, and controllability of upscaling, so you can be sure that your digital artwork will only get better and better.
So I think you should really check this out now.
This new exoplanet takes us one step closer to finding alien life
A further 18 Earth-sized exoplanets have been spotted, hidden in NASA Kepler data, at least one of which could well support life researchers say. New algorithms were applied to data gathered by the Kepler Space Telescope, unlocking fresh discoveries despite the spacecraft itself being retired in 2023.
Kepler’s mission was deceptively simple. Launched in early 2009, the orbiting space telescope was to look out at the Milky Way and potentially catch sight of so-called exoplanets similar in size to Earth. These planets outside of our Solar System could be the best candidates for supporting the development of life, particularly when they are in the so-called habitable zone in relation to their star.
Though operating for almost three times as long as the mission originally intended, by October 2023 the reaction control system that powered Kepler had run out of fuel. During its lifespan it had monitored the brightness of roughly 150,000 main sequence stars at a time, generating a huge quantity of data. Over the course of nine years and seven months, Kepler watched for exoplanet possibilities around more than half a million stars.
Actually identifying an exoplanet is more difficult than you might expect, though, especially considering the distances involved. The methodology behind the processing of Kepler’s data was to watch out for localized dimming. That’s the result of an exoplanet crossing in front of its star, and thus momentarily reducing the amount of light that the space telescope’s instrumentation would observe.
It’s refinement of the algorithms used to process that data set which has led to this new discovery. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), the Georg August University of Göttingen, and the Sonneberg Observatory re-analyzed portions of Kepler data, putting into play a new and more sensitive method they had developed. This 18 new exoplanets, they suggest, could be the first of more than 100 candidates teased out of the existing data.
The refined algorithm takes into account the realities of light dimming when a planet moves in front of a star. Blunter methods look for sudden drops in brightness, but that ignores transitions in light depending on where in relation to the star the potential exoplanet is.
According to Dr René Heller, from MPS, “a stellar disk appears slightly darker at the edge than in the center. When a planet moves in front of a star, it therefore initially blocks less starlight than at the mid-time of the transit. The maximum dimming of the star occurs in the center of the transit just before the star becomes gradually brighter again.”
After applying the new algorithm to a cache of 517 star data from the second phase of Kepler’s mission, the researchers were able to identify typically smaller exoplanets missed by the first pass of processing. Of the eighteen, just one is in the habitable zone. Dubbed EPIC 201497682.03, it’s not only Earth-sized but is just the right distance from its red dwarf star to potentially lead to liquid water being found on the surface.
There are still plenty of “what-ifs” to be addressed, however a follow-up to Kepler is in the pipeline. The PLATO mission is due to launch in 2026, a European Space Agency project that will also go hunting for multi-planet systems around Sun-like stars. The researchers say that their new algorithms could not only be used to continue reassessing existing Kepler data, but turned to new PLATO findings as the hunt for possible alien life – or planets that one day could even support mankind – continues.
Amazon is acquiring One Medical, a company that operates a network of boutique primary-care practices, for around $3.9 billion. As the health market is one of the most profitable in the world and Apple is heavily betting in this sector with the Apple Watch and tons of health studies, should this be the company’s next step and start seeking its way in healthcare?
According to CNBC, Amazon hopes to “improve how people book appointments and the experience of being seen by a physician.” Niel Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services, said the healthcare system is “high on the list of experiences that need reinvention.”
“We love inventing to make what should be easy easier and we want to be one of the companies that helps dramatically improve the healthcare experience over the next several years,” he said.
With Amazon taking this next step, should Apple do the same and push heavily for new experiences in the health sector? Here’s what we know so far.Apple and healthcare experiences could be a perfect match
The timing couldn’t be more perfect, as Apple just released the ultimate guide for how Apple Watch and the Health app are improving lives. Here’s what Apple COO Jeff Williams stated in the Empowering people to live a healthier day guide:
Williams notes that Apple’s work in health has been mostly in two areas: personal health and fitness features found on devices like iPhone and Apple Watch, which support the medical community.
According to him, Apple’s vision for the future “is to continue to create science-based technology that equips people with even more information and acts as an intelligent guardian for their health.”
Could this mean Apple should also be part of the healthcare system since it can deeply integrate users’ data thanks to the Apple Watch into primary healthcare?Apple thought about setting up primary care clinics, according to a report
Last year, a report from the Wall Street Journal said Apple had considered setting up an in-house medical service that would offer primary care clinics with doctors employed by Apple. The Journal says the company was exploring how the Apple Watch could be used to improve healthcare.
This project was envisioned in 2023 but has seemingly been put on pause, partly because Apple’s dogfooding of a similar project for its own employees saw limited use.
The plan was to offer a subscription health service that would combine virtual and in-person care provided by Apple doctors, enhanced with continuous health monitoring by the customer’s Apple Watch and iPhone.
The Journal cites one anecdote from an internal meeting and what went wrong:Will Apple seek its path in healthcare?
With the company’s latest statement on its vision for healthcare and paused plan on primary care clinics, it doesn’t seem Apple is putting efforts to take a similar approach as Amazon.
As of now, the company is making sure users can have access to all of its body’s data in a private and secure way. As privacy is one of Apple’s most important pillars, it makes sense if the company stays one step back and only allows clinics and physicians to better understand their patients instead of being part of the process.
It seems that making the data available through the Health app in a comprehensive way is the best contribution Apple can give to its users in the health sector right now. With the company pushing users for a better and healthier life, it’s for the best whether they keep expanding its wearables health capabilities with the Apple Watch, AirPods, and more.
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New CPU and GPU architectures roil the market pretty much every year—sometimes more than once a year. Yet in spite of the impact that system memory can have on a PC’s performance, the industry has relied on the same basic memory architecture for what seems like an eternity—in tech time, at least.
What took so long?
Part of the reason for the long gestation period is that memory manufacturers compete more on price than performance. And unlike the CPU and GPU markets, where just two companies dominate the market, memory standards are developed by a committee: The Joint Electron Devices Engineering Council (JEDEC). If you want a standard to develop slowly, do it by committee (consider how long the IEEE is taking to ratify the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard).
DDR4’s lower power requirements—and the corresponding reduction in waste heat—will be this technology’s real draw.
JEDEC, which consists of every memory maker in the world, started work on the DDR4 spec in 2005—two years before DDR3 even hit the market—but the first test samples didn’t appear until 2011. DDR4 memory finally hit the market last year in very limited supply, but the industry finally shifted into high gear around Computex 2014.
What’s so great about DDR4? Read on and the truth shall be revealed.What exactly is DDR4?
There are a lot of deeply technical aspects to DDR4, but we won’t dive that far. The two key improvements in DDR4 are power consumption and data transfer speed, thanks to the development of an all-new bus.
DDR4 memory will deliver significant benefits in terms of performance and power consumption.
Less power draw means less heat and longer battery life, so laptops and servers are expected to be the biggest beneficiaries of the jump to DDR4. Servers can be deployed with as much as a terabyte of memory and they routinely operate 24/7, so the power bills to keep them running—along with the onboard fans and outboard ventilation systems to keep them cool—can be enormous.
Smartphones and tablets will benefit from DDR4 memory, too. Because they typically come with only 1GB or 2GB of memory—and their displays consume much more power than their memory—they’ll benefit much like laptops will, from extended battery life rather than lower power bills.
Reducing power consumption will give desktop PC users a warm, green feeling, but they’ll probably appreciate DDR4’s speed bump a lot more. DDR4 memory kits shown off at Computex boasted speeds ranging from 2133MHz to 3200MHz, and DDR4 could eventually hit 4266 MHz. DDR3 memory topped out at 2133 MHz, so there’s no question memory will be a lot faster.
Finally, DDR4 uses much higher-density chips, so each memory stick (DIMM, technically) will pack a lot more memory. Where you might buy DDR3 memory in 1- or 2GB kits for desktops and notebooks, expect to see 4- and 8GB kits with DDR4. And for high-end servers, each DDR4 DIMM could deliver 64- or even 128GB of memory.Do you need DDR4 memory? Will you ever?
Before you get too excited about DDR4, note that it hasn’t even reached bleeding edge status. You can’t buy DDR4 memory today, and your existing hardware wouldn’t be able to use it if you could. But it’s a safe bet that it will be expensive when it does come to market. Mike Howard, memory analyst at the research firm IHS, said he expects DDR4 memory to launch later this year at prices 40- to 50 percent higher than DDR3 memory. So if you were to buy 16GB of DDR3 memory at the average price of $140, the same amount of DDR4 memory would set you back around $210.
Improvements in memory technology occur at a relatively stately pace.
Howard doesn’t consider DDR4 a must-have update for most people. “Users don’t need 2400MHz speeds,” he said. “In the PC world, except for the power-user segment, people aren’t screaming for more memory bandwidth.”
Kelt Reeves, president of boutique PC builder Falcon Northwest, echoed that sentiment. “On current-generation CPUs, we see almost no benefit in DDR3 speeds above 1866MHz,” he said. “For 2133MHz and higher, you have to specifically run memory bandwidth tests to see anything outside of margin-of-error in most benchmarks.”
According to Reeves, DDR4’s lower power requirements—and the corresponding reduction in waste heat—will be this technology’s real draw. “Memory has become so much more reliable in recent years with the voltage drops from 2.1- to 1.8- to now 1.5 volts,” he said.
If that doesn’t describe you, you don’t need to worry about jumping into a major upgrade anytime soon, or even postponing your next PC purchase until models with DDR4 come out.
That’s not to say DDR4 will be a waste of money. It’s just that in its early days, it won’t deliver significant benefits to anyone beyond the earliest of adopters.
If you like to keep a close eye on your iPhone’s battery level, then you probably miss seeing the actual percentage of charge remaining that came on older iPhones. This means you probably open the Control Center to find that exact percentage throughout the day.
For those of you like me who prefer to view the percent of battery remaining all the time, check out these iPhone Home Screen widgets. These allow you to get the amount of battery left before you need a charge by showing you that percentage you so desire.iPhone battery level widgets
Along with the battery level, these third-party widgets have extras like the time and date, system data, or fun colors. They’re in no particular order, so check them out for any added features you might like. But first, let’s talk about the built-in batteries widget.iOS Batteries widget
iOS has a handy battery widget that shows you the battery percentage of your iPhone, AirPods, Apple Watch, and other connected devices. You can add it easily by following the usual steps for adding a widget to the Home Screen.Color Widgets
A favorite on this list is Color Widgets. This nifty widget lets you use colorful options or match a theme right on your Home Screen. So you can see your battery level with the date and time, weather, and more, in an attractive widget.Color Widget options:
Add options to your widget like quotes, the daily forecast, music, photos, a countdown, and more.
Choose from designs such as pleasing pastels, neon gradients, unique aesthetics, or minimalistic black and white.
Customize settings for 12 or 24-hour time, temperature units, and darkened or original photos.
Color Widgets is free with an upgrade option for unlimited widgets and icons with hundreds of designs. But for an appealing widget with color or a theme, the free options are terrific.
Availability: iPhone and iPad
Cost: Free with an optional paid subscription for additional features
DownloadBattery Widget & Color Widgets
If you prefer useful data along with your battery level, check out Battery Widget & Color Widgets. Pick from a variety of system data widgets in light or dark with basic colors, or opt for an upgrade for more designs.Battery Widget & Color Widgets options:
Add data to your widget, including brightness, storage, memory, Wi-Fi, system uptime, and more.
Choose from six widgets for system information, network, or devices in small, medium, or large sizes.
Open the app to view the same types of system details as above for memory, storage, and your device.
It can help to keep system data on your Home Screen to see what you need at a quick glance. If this is something you want in addition to your battery details, try out Battery Widget & Color Widgets.
Cost: Free with an optional paid subscription for additional features and designs
Add more widgets that include weather, date and time, a daily quote, calendar, and of course, a countdown per the app name.
Customize the widget background, font, color, and layout for the perfect appearance.
Adjust settings for the time format and temperature unit.
Cost: Free with an optional paid subscription for additional widgets and customizations
DownloadUsage: System Widgets
Usage: System Activity Widgets is another excellent option that gives you want the name implies. See your storage, memory, connection, and other device details along with or in addition to your battery level.Usage: System Widgets options:
Add more widgets for your cellular, Wi-Fi, memory, storage, or device data in different sizes.
Change the background color from eight options and have the app icon match.
Launch the app to view the same system data in detail and configure the order of the information.
While this widget doesn’t have as many colors and designs as similar ones, it might be the ideal option for the types of information you can view on your Home Screen. Give it a try and see what you think!
Availability: iPhone and iPad
Cost: Free with an optional paid subscription for additional widgets and custom creation
For a nice widget app to wrap up this list, take Widgy for a spin if you want to create your own battery widget. You can pick from premade options to build your widget completely from scratch.Widgy options:
Add more widgets for date and time, sunrise and sunset, trending shows, crypto, quotes, or system memory.
Create your own widgets from a blank canvas using layers.
Customize settings for language, temperature unit, and the app icon.
Sometimes no one has the type of widget you want to see every day. With Widgy, you can create a widget yourself just the way you want it. And be sure to check out those created by other users!
Availability: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac
Cost: Free with an optional paid subscription for additional features
DownloadBattery widget on iPhone
Hopefully, one of the iPhone battery-level widgets in this list is what you’ve been looking for.
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