As the joke goes, when the inventor of USB dies they'll gently lower the coffin, lift it back up, turn it the other way around and lower it down again. But perhaps not, because USB is no longer going to be Schrödinger's cable, only revealing its true state when you try to plug it in. Not only that, but we've discovered the future of gaming, why Samsung's gone metal, whether you should throw Amazon's phone in the fire and why your next media player may be Pi-powered. It's week in tech!
Samsung goes metal
Oh, Samsung, where *do* you get your crazy ideas from? With the Samsung Galaxy Alpha the Android giant has embraced sleek metal casings with chamfered edges and fingerprint sensors, a combination that in no way is anything like an iPhone 5S. As John McCann points out, the Alpha also has a "dimpled polycarbonate rear". Specs are impressive - octa-core or quad-core processors, 2GB of RAM and a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED 720p display - but there's no word on price just yet. It'll go on sale next month.
Samsung also goes VR
Oh, Samsung, where *do* you get your crazy ideas from? Project Moonlight, the much-rumoured Virtual Reality headset that Samsung totally just came up on its own, will be launched just before September's IFA show. The headset uses a smartphone to provide its display. What's that? Google Cardboard does that too? What are the chances, eh?
Amazon's phone: kill it with fire
It's safe to say that the Amazon Fire phone doesn't quite live up to the pre-launch hype: Marc Flores gives it just 2.5 stars out of five, and that's only because he was in a really good mood. It's "a shopping tool for Amazon with some phone features baked in" and the best we can say about it is that the battery life is okay and call quality is all right too. The Fire is... wait for it... "half baked".
Who's in the house?
No, not the House with the unbearably clever doctor: we mean the house you live in, where you might be making room for some new tech guests. FiveNinja's Slice is the first consumer electronics device to be Raspberry Pi-powered, and it promises to turn your media library into a "personal, portable Netflix" that connects to any TV. And while we're on the subject of TVs, John Lewis' first own-brand big-screen TV is pretty tasty: John Archer says the John Lewis 55JL9000 is "gorgeous", has "excellent" features and "does John Lewis proud."
Get your Gamescom on
Gamescom is "E3 for those who prefer a little less stress and a little more German cuisine," Hugh Langley says, looking forward to next week's launch of a white Xbox One and lots of game goodies. One of those games, Rise of the Tomb Raider, will be an Xbox exclusive - but as we discovered this week, it won't be exclusive forever. Once the unspecified period of exclusivity is up, it's bound to turn up on PS3, PS4 and PC.
Win a PS4 while you wait for the PS5
The PS4 may be barely out of its box, but Sony's already working on its successor - and we've put
on our special predict-o-goggles to work out what the PS5 will do. We're betting on streaming games, VR and a significantly lower price tag too. For now, though, the PS4 is the state of the gaming art - and you can win one in our super soaraway Expendables 3 competition.
Time to get Steam-y
Fed up waiting for Steam Machines to launch? So are we - so we built our own for less than the price of a PS4. Andrew Williams has the know-how, and as he says, "it's easier than you might think."
USB in 'sensible' shocker
It's a well known fact that USB connectors are quantum connectors: how else can you explain how they're always the wrong way round not just the first time you try to plug them in, but after you've flipped them too? Such interdimensional tomfoolery will soon come to an end, however, because - yes! - USB is becoming reversible. The USB Type-C connector will save you so much time that you can do something more interesting instead. Hugh Langley recommends learning the jazz flute, which we fear may be a euphemism.
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