So: how do you buy a PS5 or Xbox Series X right now? That's the question we spent most of last week asking, as both consoles kicked off their launches to instant sellouts – and pretty patchy stock offerings from major retailers.
Still, if you can actually get hold of one, both consoles are exciting in their own way, and Assassin's Creed Valhalla has proved to be an actual tech showcase for both consoles – that must be a relief for Microsoft, which has basically launched without any exclusive games of its own.
Still, consoles aren't all that's going on in tech right now – below, we've rounded up some of the best reads of the past week on TechRadar, covering everything from new music devices to the iPhone 12. If you'd rather have current events in tech piped straight into your ears, consider downloading the TechRadar Noise Cancelling Podcast each week.
What's it like to pick up an iPhone 12 at a brick-and-mortar store during a pandemic year? Far from being the same experience of seeing queues around the block, it's pleasingly safe. The scheduling system used by Apple at its flagship 5th Avenue store in New York City means you can avoid overcrowding – we found it easy to get a time slot at pretty short notice, too.
Apple is being extra safe when you actually go to pick your phone up, too, using infrared thermometers to check your temperature. In this piece, we'll talk you through that entire purchasing experience from start to finish – it's a great snapshot of what the new normal looks like in 2020.
Do you appreciate album art in 2020? And we mean, really appreciate it? Indie artist Tom Vek is working on a square-shaped device called Sleevenote, currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo for just under half a million, which aims to spotlight album art. It'll be compatible with a variety of different music formats, too.
Whether Sleevenote will take off or not is yet to be seen – but it's fascinating to read Vek's thoughts on where the premium music player fits into a marketplace dominated by Spotify and other music streaming apps. Who knows, maybe Vek will talk you into backing the campaign?
MicroLED TVs are now being touted regularly as a competitor to OLED TVs, but the former has some way to go in terms of affordability and supply chain to catch up. The big advantage of MicroLED TVs is that they use tiny LEDs to offer a rich picture when it comes to brightness and contrast – it's here that the technology compares favorably to OLED TVs as they stand.
That aside, though, the cost barriers associated with MicroLED means that OLED has a significant advantage – especially as you can find an OLED TV at a more affordable price than ever right now, with prices dipping below the $1,000 / £1,000 / AU$1,500 mark. The future of TV technology, though, could eventually look pretty different – it just might take a while to happen.
Disney Plus is now a year old in the US, and considering it's the price of a game to subscribe for 12 months, it actually remains fairly good value – even if the offering hasn't developed all that much since launch. Marvel, Star Wars, The Simpsons, Pixar: the library is still the reason to subscribe.
The best days of this streaming service are likely still ahead, then, but it was fun to take a look at how it's changed. It might also help to switch to a monthly subscription tier if yearly is proving to be too much of a commitment – that way you can watch what you want when it releases, rather than waiting forever (well, until January for WandaVision) for those Marvel TV shows to kick off.
8K gaming seems in sight with the Nvidia RTX 3090 – but we're not there yet, based on our experience with the newly-released Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Even after tinkering with the graphics settings, achieving 30 frames per second at that resolution is basically impossible without sacrificing visual quality.
It's not all bad news, though. Compared to the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of the newest entry in the series, running the game at 4K resolution with Nvidia's GPU shows off a beautiful-looking PC edition. The game still looks significantly better than what you can get on the new consoles.
And hey, you'd really hope so when the RTX 3090 costs $1,499 / £1,399 – triple the price of either of Sony and Microsoft's new consoles.
How is Toy Story 25 years old? And on that same note: how does it still look so damn good? This week, we spoke to a panel of VFX experts about how the industry has changed since Pixar's theatrical debut hit the big screen back in 1995.
At the time, the movie's 114,000 frames of animation were created on 117 Sun Microsystems workstations, taking up to 30 hours each to make. These days, of course, it's far simpler to produce something of similar quality for a lot less time, which we explore here, along with the ways that automation has made the workload simpler to manage.
Black Friday doesn't properly land until November 27, but the Black Friday deals are basically in full swing already, due to the fact that retailers are working harder to spread out the sales events this year (partly, we expect, to avoid a big in-store crunch on the day itself).
Everything from games consoles to cookware to iPads have been discounted so far – and we expect the Black Friday deals to continue this way until the event actually starts. In the US, Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon have been running an array of deals, while UK shoppers will find discounts at the likes of Currys, Argos and John Lewis.
Deals: they never end.
This week's show is presented by Gareth Beavis, TechRadar's Global Editor-in-Chief, and Sherri L. Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Laptop Mag.
This week our guests are James Peckham, TechRadar's Phones Editor, and Michael Andronico, Editor-in-chief at Tom's Guide, who join us (remotely, of course) to talk about the last seven days in tech.
Hear yet more chatter about the PS5, as our guests discuss the size of the new Sony console, as well as its launch games. You'll also hear a recap of our iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 mini reviews amid all the hilarious banter.