33 votes

What's the last piece of technology that truly impressed you?

I recently got the Galaxy Fold and I am genuinely fascinated by it. A folding screen phone is just wild to me. It's a crazy concept and every time I pick up the Fold, I feel like I'm touching the future.

It got me thinking about how technology is so ubiquitous nowadays that we take so much for granted. The fact that we have high speed Internet access from anywhere on earth was totally unthinkable 20 years ago, yet today it is a reality.

So when is the last time you were truly impressed by a technology or technological breakthrough?

62 comments

  1. [4]
    Turtle
    Link
    Kind of lame but when I upgraded to an SSD a few months ago the performance gains were quite impressive to me.

    Kind of lame but when I upgraded to an SSD a few months ago the performance gains were quite impressive to me.

    26 votes
    1. JXM
      Link Parent
      I got an SSD pretty early on and I remember paying like $300 for a 128 GB drive and being blown away with how fast it was (and it's probably super slow by modern standards). I remember the very...

      I got an SSD pretty early on and I remember paying like $300 for a 128 GB drive and being blown away with how fast it was (and it's probably super slow by modern standards).

      I remember the very first MacBook Air had a 64 GB SSD option that cost $999 more than the regular hard drive model.

      7 votes
    2. Surira
      Link Parent
      I work in an area related to new storage/memory technology, so this is good to hear...

      I work in an area related to new storage/memory technology, so this is good to hear...

      5 votes
    3. frostycakes
      Link Parent
      I recently went from a SATA SSD to a NVMe one (SO got a new mobo and CPU for his gaming build, so I took his "old" one that was only three years old and significantly newer than what I was using),...

      I recently went from a SATA SSD to a NVMe one (SO got a new mobo and CPU for his gaming build, so I took his "old" one that was only three years old and significantly newer than what I was using), and that was a ludicrous perceptual improvement in performance. I thought something had gone wrong when the OS install took what seemed like half the time it usually did.

      3 votes
  2. [3]
    PetitPrince
    (edited )
    Link
    I was recently in the market for a new micro SD card. Holy cow, how can they cram this much data into a size this small with a price this low ?

    I was recently in the market for a new micro SD card. Holy cow, how can they cram this much data into a size this small with a price this low ?

    22 votes
    1. [2]
      hamstergeddon
      Link Parent
      It's nuts. I remember in highschool I paid like $70 for a (I think) 128MB USB flashdrive. Blew my mind having that much storage in such a small package. Just looked at the first few results on...

      It's nuts. I remember in highschool I paid like $70 for a (I think) 128MB USB flashdrive. Blew my mind having that much storage in such a small package. Just looked at the first few results on Amazon and I don't even see one that costs that much. Closest I can find is a 5 pack of 64GB drives and it's still cheaper than 128MB was 10-15 years ago.

      10 votes
      1. StandenSound
        Link Parent
        I remember upgrading my first computer with a 512MB Hard Drive...

        I remember upgrading my first computer with a 512MB Hard Drive...

  3. [2]
    Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    The last time I remember being actually impressed by technology was when MP3 players came out. You could fit a whole music library into a device as small as the palm of your hand (or, as the...

    The last time I remember being actually impressed by technology was when MP3 players came out. You could fit a whole music library into a device as small as the palm of your hand (or, as the technology evolved, as small as a finger). That was amazing!

    MP3 players were even more impressive than CDs, which had themselves been quite impressive. Music that used to fit on a 12" disc now fit on a smaller disc. CDs were as portable as cassette tapes, with as much audio quality as records. They were a huge step-change for the record-buying public.

    USB sticks weren't impressive: they were just MP3 players for computer files.

    By the time smartphones came along, I was blasé. They felt more like an evolution that a revolution. We'd had mobile phones for a couple of decades, and MP3 players for a decade. Smartphones felt like an evolution to me, in that they combined existing technologies into a device. Tablets were just bigger smartphones, without the phone feature. And so on. Most personal technology over the past 20 years has felt like an evolution to me, rather than a revolution.

    MP3 players impressed me.

    20 votes
    1. frostycakes
      Link Parent
      Oh man, you took me back to the days of my Rio S30s. I spent the better part of a summer helping my aunt and uncle work on their backyard to earn the money to buy the thing after my uncle had told...

      Oh man, you took me back to the days of my Rio S30s. I spent the better part of a summer helping my aunt and uncle work on their backyard to earn the money to buy the thing after my uncle had told me about them. Just the idea of taking my CDs and being able to put it on a little red bean that didn't skip when I ran around while listening to music blew my 13-year-old mind.

      I'm tempted to buy an old one off of eBay for nostalgia reasons alone.

      3 votes
  4. Kuromantis
    Link
    The fact that artificial wombs have already suceeded in growing lambs and are a thing which is likely coming to fruition in the near to mid future is pretty astounding.

    The fact that artificial wombs have already suceeded in growing lambs and are a thing which is likely coming to fruition in the near to mid future is pretty astounding.

    16 votes
  5. [4]
    Greg
    Link
    VR. I tried a relatively low quality, extremely screen-door-effecty, seated demo back on the first Oculus and it absolutely blew my mind. I've done some WebXR work in the intervening years and the...

    VR. I tried a relatively low quality, extremely screen-door-effecty, seated demo back on the first Oculus and it absolutely blew my mind. I've done some WebXR work in the intervening years and the tech still hasn't lost its shine for me - it feels like a total shift in user experience on a par with the original move from text to GUIs all those years ago.

    There are a ton of problems still to solve, not least the bulky and expensive hardware that necessitates a whole room to be used, but I'm still enormously excited. I still want to work with it, and I still have that feeling of childlike wonder about what could be done and where it could go.

    16 votes
    1. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I'm honestly surprised to find VR this far down the comments section. When I first got my Vive I was similarly absolutely blown away, as has been every person I have demoed it to. Many of them...

      I'm honestly surprised to find VR this far down the comments section. When I first got my Vive I was similarly absolutely blown away, as has been every person I have demoed it to. Many of them even wound up buying a VR setup of their own shortly afterwards too, so it clearly left enough of an impression on them to feel confident spending a not insignificant amount of money on it for themselves (I paid >$1200 CAD for my Vive at the time too).

      And while there is still plenty of room for improvements, esp. regarding portability, comfort, price, resolution, and weight... at least, unlike the janky VR crap I tried in the 90s-00s, the tech now feels viable at the consumer level, and its potential is much more apparent to everyone who tries it.

      10 votes
    2. Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      There are several key moments that drove home for me just how mind-bending/game-changing VR is. First was just the coordination between the HMD and controller. When I first got my Vive I was...

      There are several key moments that drove home for me just how mind-bending/game-changing VR is.

      First was just the coordination between the HMD and controller. When I first got my Vive I was setting up, and suddenly realized that I had reached out and grabbed the controller off of my desk even though I couldn't actually see it. It was so precisely positioned and rendered that my brain could move my hand to pick it up just based on the rendering of the controller in front of my eyes.

      The second moment was while playing Moss, which is a relatively short puzzle-platformer. The way the little mouse character is able to look at you is impossible to replicate on a flat monitor. The key moment for me was after solving a puzzle, the mouse character cheers, then looked at me and held up her hand. Without thinking about it at all, I immediately leaned over and gave her a high-five. Then I stood there and my eyes went wide and my jaw dropped as I realized what had just happened. It was such a natural thing to do, but I had just treated that artificial character exactly like I would treat a flesh-and-blood friend who wanted a high-five. My suspension of disbelief was so high, my immersion so deep, that my brain believed in that moment that the mouse character was real and my social norms compelled me to act out the response to a high-five.

      5 votes
    3. Overzeetop
      Link Parent
      I think I tried it too early (cardboard) for it to be really impressive. Since I went cardboard-GearVR-Go-Rift CV1-Quest it felt like baby steps, from cute-but-unusable to fun but still...

      I think I tried it too early (cardboard) for it to be really impressive. Since I went cardboard-GearVR-Go-Rift CV1-Quest it felt like baby steps, from cute-but-unusable to fun but still not-quite-there. There was no real "wow" moment - more of a "this will be cool some day".

      3 votes
  6. [4]
    Akir
    Link
    Honestly? Palm Pilot. It was a complete paradigm shift. It arguably brought computing closer to the masses than the Commodore 64. And even though there were tons of portable computers that were...

    Honestly? Palm Pilot. It was a complete paradigm shift. It arguably brought computing closer to the masses than the Commodore 64. And even though there were tons of portable computers that were arguably better, it was so well designed that it was far more useful than anything else on the market. Apple was trying to do the exact same thing and even beat them to market, but Palm still managed to beat them with pure, simple design elegance.

    A close second would be the first wave or two of Windows CE PocketPCs, especially the 'clamtop' designs. It felt like it had a lot of the potential that Palm did, but it felt more powerful and professional. They took full-sized PC Cards! You could type on them! They had basic versions of Office! But the story of Windows CE from beginning to end is always a lack of third-party support.

    14 votes
    1. [2]
      culturedleftfoot
      Link Parent
      Man, I miss Palm. I had a Treo 755p and loved it. I'm just starting a search for a new phone and between liking neither Android nor iOS, and not wanting a five/six-inch slab in my pocket, I'm not...

      Man, I miss Palm. I had a Treo 755p and loved it. I'm just starting a search for a new phone and between liking neither Android nor iOS, and not wanting a five/six-inch slab in my pocket, I'm not enthused.

      3 votes
      1. Akir
        Link Parent
        The Treo phones were really great for the time; the only thing that really held them back was the crappy web browser, but that was du jour. Of course, the cell phone of my dreams when I was a kid...

        The Treo phones were really great for the time; the only thing that really held them back was the crappy web browser, but that was du jour.

        Of course, the cell phone of my dreams when I was a kid was no less than the Nokia Communicator 9000. It had a 386! It ran GEOS! It had a QWERTY keyboard! What else was there to want in this world?

        2 votes
    2. JXM
      Link Parent
      I remember that around 2008 my college had a stack of Windows CE clamshells in the closet. I spent a day finding the right charger and a other playing around it them. For early 2000s tech, they...

      I remember that around 2008 my college had a stack of Windows CE clamshells in the closet. I spent a day finding the right charger and a other playing around it them. For early 2000s tech, they were pretty cool!

      1 vote
  7. [4]
    hungariantoast
    (edited )
    Link
    Thunderbolt 3. I'm looking to get a new laptop within a year from now, and I realized that I want that laptop to replace my desktop for pretty much everything except for playing games and maybe...

    Thunderbolt 3.

    I'm looking to get a new laptop within a year from now, and I realized that I want that laptop to replace my desktop for pretty much everything except for playing games and maybe digital art (and video editing, if I ever get into that).

    So, that means that my new laptop, whatever it ends up being and whenever I get it, needs to have at least one Thunderbolt 3 port, so that I can connect all of my peripherals to my laptop.

    Using that Thunderbolt 3 port, I can connect a Thunderbolt 3 hub, a USB audio adapter, a 7.1 surround sound speaker system, three monitors, a USB hub, a USB KVM, a keyboard, a mouse, a trackball, and a graphics tablet to my laptop, all running through a single USB-C port. Oh, and I can still charge my laptop, through that same port, at the same time.

    Wild.

    On top of that, I still get to keep all those peripherals connected to my desktop. Both computers can share all that extra stuff, at the same time, and everything works perfectly.

    It just blows my mind.

    I've actually been sitting on some diagrams that I drew up when I was planning out how to connect everything. I really need to get around to polishing them up so that I can share them and maybe help others figure their stuff out.


    EDIT: I'll go ahead and share the diagrams I have. I think they are fairly self-explanatory, but I would be more than happy to answer questions (or be told I got something wrong, which is a genuine possibility). These were all made with draw.io.

    • The first setup. I'm splitting the three audio cables coming off my audio system and routing three of them to the desktop like normal, and another three to a USB audio adapter.

    • The second setup. This is mostly the same as the first, except that in this configuration I would, instead of splitting my audio cables, go ahead and just run them to the audio adapter. Then, from the audio adapter I would go to my laptop like normal, but because most audio adapters also have an optical input/output port, I could not only output to my laptop from the adapter, but also to my desktop. This assumes that the audio adapter won't ruin my audio quality.

    • The third setup. This is pretty much the same as the first setup, except that I corrected a few things and added info on how the keyboard, mouse, and graphics tablet would be connected. Basically, all my input devices connect to a USB hub. The USB hub connects to a USB KVM. The USB KVM connects to both my desktop and laptop (via the Thunderbolt dock). With a press of the KVM's button, I can switch the USB hub (and thus all my input devices) between either device. I actually might not need the USB hub once I finally buy a laptop and set everything up. I almost certainly will not need to connect all of my input devices to the hub, but I'm not worried about that for now.

    • The fourth setup. This is actually the most interesting setup, in my opinion. Basically, instead of connecting any of my peripherals to my desktop, I just go ahead and connect everything only to my laptop. Then, I can run my desktop headless using VNC, Parsec, or some similar software to stream my desktop's video output to a window on my laptop's operating system. This should give me audio, video, and even file and clipboard access to my desktop. Basically, I'm streaming my desktop to my laptop. You might also note the "Stub HDMI Header" in that diagram. To learn more, read this comment thread by @vord and @DonkeySlingshot. Finally, the "Ethernet" connection shown between the desktop and laptop in this diagram does not indicate that each device should directly plug into the other, but instead that they should both have a wired connection to the same network.

    So yeah, that's what I've got so far. I really want to polish these up, such as adding missing info to the diagrams, finalizing their layout, and improving the colors a bit. Once I do that, I'll share them here on Tildes. I'll almost certainly post a write up of this setup as well, once I actually buy a laptop and configure everything, but that could be a year from now.


    Also, USB4 will be upon us soon. Since USB4 is basically Thunderbolt 3, but standardized, that means we should (hopefully) see an explosion of devices (desktop motherboards, AMD laptops, single board computers) that can support this sort of peripheral madness. It's pretty great. It means I can actually use a laptop to replace my desktop for all my non-intensive tasks, and not have to sacrifice anything. Amazing.

    14 votes
    1. [3]
      jwong
      Link Parent
      Have you seen anything about reliability of TB3 hubs? I've been scared of spending so much money on something that gets a lot of reliability rap. Right now, I've a mac mini but the only TB3 port I...

      Have you seen anything about reliability of TB3 hubs? I've been scared of spending so much money on something that gets a lot of reliability rap. Right now, I've a mac mini but the only TB3 port I use is USB-C -> Lightning cable. Everything else goes through a USB-A hub.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        I've never read or heard of Thunderbolt hubs outright dying after prolonged use, but Amazon and the like are flooded with cheap hubs that have descriptions and marketing materials filled with...

        I've never read or heard of Thunderbolt hubs outright dying after prolonged use, but Amazon and the like are flooded with cheap hubs that have descriptions and marketing materials filled with misleading claims, so it would not surprise me at all if most of them were basically junk.

        I need a hub that can drive three large resolution, high refresh rate displays though, so I was never in the market for a cheap hub.

        Currently, I plan on buying the HyperDrive GEN2. Specifically the eighteen-port version. It seems like it would support everything I need, including driving all of my displays perfectly, and it's pre-order price of $120 is stupidly good.

        However, I'm still going to wait, at least until there are actual (non-sponsored) reviews out on the thing, just to make sure it actually lives up to its claims. I won't be buying a laptop for at least a few more months anyways. If it does work as advertised, then hopefully I will be able to buy it on sale later, but I'd honestly be fine with spending $200 on something that meets my requirements.

        1 vote
        1. jwong
          Link Parent
          Yeah not the dying, but just flakiness of it. It might be since I'm looking mostly at people using with Macintosh computers. For some reason there just doesn't seem to be good collaboration with...

          Yeah not the dying, but just flakiness of it. It might be since I'm looking mostly at people using with Macintosh computers. For some reason there just doesn't seem to be good collaboration with Apple and peripheral manufacturers.

  8. [2]
    teaearlgraycold
    Link
    It's small, but the "Taptic Engine" in the iPhone is impressive. I just bought the SE 2020 model after being a long time Android user and I'm impressed they managed to make the home button feel...

    It's small, but the "Taptic Engine" in the iPhone is impressive. I just bought the SE 2020 model after being a long time Android user and I'm impressed they managed to make the home button feel like a button when it doesn't actually move at all.

    13 votes
    1. sqew
      Link Parent
      That impressed the heck out of me when my friends upgraded a few years ago, back around the 7 or 8. I had a 6s (the last, I think, with a physical button), and the first few times I used their...

      That impressed the heck out of me when my friends upgraded a few years ago, back around the 7 or 8. I had a 6s (the last, I think, with a physical button), and the first few times I used their phones, I could've sworn I was pressing a real button just like on mine.

      Upgrading to an 11 last fall was my first time owning a device with all of the new haptics, and it's amazing how subtle and yet useful the feedback is. After a while of using it, you almost forget it's there, but when you remember it and really pay attention for a while, you notice how much richer it makes the whole experience.

      1 vote
  9. [10]
    Overzeetop
    Link
    Plex For all the tech I've been through, and for all of Plex's flaws, it's still just amazing the ability to catalog and view all of my media on my server (unRaid...also amazing in it own way)...

    Plex

    For all the tech I've been through, and for all of Plex's flaws, it's still just amazing the ability to catalog and view all of my media on my server (unRaid...also amazing in it own way) from basically anywhere, custom re-coded for the device I'm using and streamed over the intra- or internet for my personal consumption.

    12 votes
    1. [9]
      JXM
      Link Parent
      I discovered it when I was digitizing my old DVD collection. I ended up putting them into Plex. I’ve got around 1,000 movies and 50 TV shows that I copied over the course of almost a year. You...

      I discovered it when I was digitizing my old DVD collection. I ended up putting them into Plex. I’ve got around 1,000 movies and 50 TV shows that I copied over the course of almost a year. You just throw them in a folder and It finds all the metadata and suddenly your movies are accessible anywhere in the world. Magic!

      4 votes
      1. [6]
        blitz
        Link Parent
        I would be interested to read what process you used for digitizing, and at what bitrate you have them stored. 1,000 movies at 1080p quality seems like it would be a lot of storage.

        I would be interested to read what process you used for digitizing, and at what bitrate you have them stored. 1,000 movies at 1080p quality seems like it would be a lot of storage.

        4 votes
        1. [5]
          JXM
          Link Parent
          About half of my collection (480 of 927 films in my library) were copied from DVDs, so they are in either 480p for NTSC or 576p for PAL discs. My current library is about 3.7 terabytes and runs...

          About half of my collection (480 of 927 films in my library) were copied from DVDs, so they are in either 480p for NTSC or 576p for PAL discs. My current library is about 3.7 terabytes and runs from a MyCloud PR2100 NAS since that was the only one that supported hardware transcoding when I bought it.

          For the actual copying process, I did most of it in my spare time at work. I do video editing for a living, so my work computer at the time was pretty powerful. It could encode an SD movie in about 20 minutes. Whenever I was working on something at my desk, I'd just constantly swap disks out and go through maybe 10 per day as time allowed. Television shows took forever, since they have multiple episodes per disc and you need to be more careful when ripping those to make sure the episodes are labeled right.

          I just used a Handbrake preset I created to transcode them into MKV files. Basically, it grabbed the highest quality audio (7.1, 5.1 or stereo and converted it to ACC at a high bitrate) and any English or forced subtitle files. I used an RF of 18 to make sure they looked as good as possible. I also used the decomb setting to deinterlace the videos since all DVDs are interlaced. The bitrate was variable but roughly correlated to the RF number.

          After that, you just need to make sure they're named the way Plex wants them named - TITLE (YEAR).

          The hardest part was all of the outliers. That's what took so long. Disney discs never want to play nice so copying them can be difficult. And foreign films are a little harder since I always wanted to get the original language audio, English language audio and then proper subtitles. And movies that span multiple discs (like 1900, Titanic or Once Upon a Time in America) have to be stitched together into one piece. And the discs that had multiple versions of a film that were interleaved together. The list of weird edge cases goes on forever.

          All told, it took about a year to get every one of my discs digitized. Once I backed them up, I kept a few dozen that were sentimental, valuable/out of print or collector's editions and donated the rest to a local thrift store. That was about five years ago and the rest of the movies I've added were either ones I got from Netflix, Redbox or borrowed from friends and copied to my computer so I'd have a copy of them.

          My process now is to use MakeMKV to rip the contents of a disc to my computer and then run it through one of Don Melton's video transcoding scripts. His scripts produce really good quality at (relatively) small file sizes.

          I'm happy to answer any specific questions.

          6 votes
          1. [3]
            blitz
            Link Parent
            Is DVD native resolution really 480p?! I thought that sounded like a crazy low resolution to rip to, but I guess I've never actually ripped a DVD myself. And that video_transcoding repo seems to...

            Is DVD native resolution really 480p?! I thought that sounded like a crazy low resolution to rip to, but I guess I've never actually ripped a DVD myself. And that video_transcoding repo seems to imply that 480/576p is the native resolution of DVDs. Most of the rips I get are 1080p; 720p is noticeably bad on my screens.

            I guess the more important thing is bitrate?

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              JXM
              Link Parent
              Not even 480p...DVDs are 480i for NTSC and 576i for PAL. That’s why you need to deinterlace them. Rips from the internet today are often copies from streaming sites, not discs. That’s why you’ll...

              Not even 480p...DVDs are 480i for NTSC and 576i for PAL. That’s why you need to deinterlace them.

              Rips from the internet today are often copies from streaming sites, not discs. That’s why you’ll see “WEBRIP” at the end of files.

              And yes, bitrate is the biggest factor in how a video will look. A 4K video with an extremely low bitrate will look worse than a high bitrate 1080p, or even 720p, video.

              A properly decombed/deinterlaced DVD rip can look extremely good.

              2 votes
              1. Weldawadyathink
                Link Parent
                That part about nitrate is very true. It is also why you should set YouTube to the highest resolution your internet can deliver (assuming no data caps). 4K YouTube on a 1080p monitor will still...

                That part about nitrate is very true. It is also why you should set YouTube to the highest resolution your internet can deliver (assuming no data caps). 4K YouTube on a 1080p monitor will still look better than 1080p YouTube.

                1 vote
          2. Akir
            Link Parent
            I haven't had the time to go anywhere near what you have done, but I'm also using MakeMKV since it automates the process of getting as close to a direct copy of the data as possible. The only...

            I haven't had the time to go anywhere near what you have done, but I'm also using MakeMKV since it automates the process of getting as close to a direct copy of the data as possible.

            The only thing I do that is too different from what you do is I manually set the settings for transcoding. This is especially true if the video in question is Anime; you can can use the more computationally expensive deinterlacing techniques and it also somewhat helps the encoding process work more effectively. For live-action, realtime deinterlacing techniques work well enough.

      2. [2]
        mrbig
        Link Parent
        Is it any good at downloading subtitles?

        Is it any good at downloading subtitles?

        1. JXM
          Link Parent
          I don’t think it does it automatically. You have to supply it with subtitles yourself.

          I don’t think it does it automatically. You have to supply it with subtitles yourself.

          1 vote
  10. archevel
    Link
    Kind of have to at least mention The mother of all demos. Truly impressive and prescient for its time.

    Kind of have to at least mention The mother of all demos. Truly impressive and prescient for its time.

    7 votes
  11. [6]
    MimicSquid
    Link
    Just recently, with Google's Stadia. I have a solid computer, and it works for lots of things, but it was struggling to run the latest Assassin's Creed. I figured I'd try out Stadia, and without...

    Just recently, with Google's Stadia. I have a solid computer, and it works for lots of things, but it was struggling to run the latest Assassin's Creed. I figured I'd try out Stadia, and without any installing or fuss I was playing AC: Odyssey prettier than my computer could handle it. The idea that I might be able to get off of the hardware upgrade treadmill while still being able to play the new AAA games is pretty appealing, as the $10/mo for Stadia is way less than the averaged cost of computer upgrades I've made over the last few years.

    Yes, Google will probably shut it down or in some other way obliterate my library of games one day, but I find it hard to care. I have 20 years of Steam backlog, and for 99% of those games I never go back and want to play them again.

    10 votes
    1. [5]
      Greg
      Link Parent
      I've been similarly impressed with shadow.tech, and they just provide a full Windows VM that you can install your existing library into. Vendor lock in is a real bugbear of mine, so I'm hoping...

      Yes, Google will probably shut it down or in some other way obliterate my library of games one day, but I find it hard to care. I have 20 years of Steam backlog, and for 99% of those games I never go back and want to play them again.

      I've been similarly impressed with shadow.tech, and they just provide a full Windows VM that you can install your existing library into. Vendor lock in is a real bugbear of mine, so I'm hoping that Google doesn't steamroll them too hard!

      8 votes
      1. [3]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Is it any good? I only see options to pre-order. I am glad most of my PC gaming is oldies and RTS games since they have comparatively lower system requirements. Looks like jumping to 4K resolution...

        Is it any good? I only see options to pre-order.

        I am glad most of my PC gaming is oldies and RTS games since they have comparatively lower system requirements. Looks like jumping to 4K resolution means WAY higher costs. At $25/month you'd break even with a Playstation 5 in about a year and a half (assuming MSRP between $400 and $500).

        Honestly, if ISPs had their fingers on the pulse of anything, this would be a great side market to get into. They could even dangle a discount on gigabit internet plans as a pot-sweetener the way they tempt you into getting higher tiers of cable TV service.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          Greg
          Link Parent
          Yeah, I've been impressed overall. Most recently I used it for a full playthrough of Doom over the course of a few weeks and I had zero noticeable lag throughout. I'm a casual gamer running on a...

          Yeah, I've been impressed overall. Most recently I used it for a full playthrough of Doom over the course of a few weeks and I had zero noticeable lag throughout. I'm a casual gamer running on a TV, so a pro with a 144Hz monitor may well disagree on what constitutes noticeable, but it works for me.

          I've been using it on and off for almost a year now, and while I did used to get the occasional stutter or glitch, I haven't seen that in a good three months now. Whether that's the new client, a coincidental improvement in my connection stability, or a combination of the two is something I couldn't tell you.

          The base package is fine for me (as I remember it will still run at 4K, but you're on a previous generation GPU so you might not manage the absolute top settings), but it definitely starts adding up more at the higher tiers. Those were going to be rolled out to new users in spring/summer this year, but quarantine seems to have thrown that out a bit.

          I actually subscribed as a short term stopgap between machines, and I've ended up using it for longer than I'd planned, which is definitely a vote in their favour.

          Ultimately their undoing for me is the exact thing I posted about further down this thread: VR. The latency requirements there are a whole different ballgame, to the extent that I doubt it's even possible to run over a network without some kind of interpolation magic. I've got a few projects in the back of my mind that I'd like to work on, not to mention a whole lot of games I'm eager to try, so now might well be the time to put down the cash for a solid headset and the machine to run it.

          2 votes
          1. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            Yeah. As a Mac user I ran the numbers on a world where I own Mac Mini with a nice screen AND a gaming PC vs. a world where I just have an iMac, a PS5, and subscribe to one of these streaming...

            Yeah. As a Mac user I ran the numbers on a world where I own Mac Mini with a nice screen AND a gaming PC vs. a world where I just have an iMac, a PS5, and subscribe to one of these streaming services. The Mac + gaming PC world ends up costing anywhere from $500 to $900 more depending on how baller of a PC I want.

            Which is insane to me! That's 4 to 6 years before hitting a break even point with a streaming service, which is about how long you can go before you need to think about upgrading a GPU and, on the upper end, probably think about getting a new gaming console since the console generations last about 7 years. It's incredible how much compute time gets discounted when you're at scale.

            I do wonder who wins out with the VM model vs. the Stadia model. I like the flexibility of VMs and the fact that you get to own your data and IP versus merely renting it. But with Stadia, Google gets to do a lot of ML and stuff to predict your movements and smooth out latency. Though, I maintain that if you're on a gigabit connection, latency isn't the thing that messing up your gaming.

            3 votes
      2. MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        Oh, nice! I'm really glad there are other companies doing the same thing.

        Oh, nice! I'm really glad there are other companies doing the same thing.

        2 votes
  12. [2]
    mrnd
    Link
    The more honest answer would probably be Vive, but there's another big thing that hasn't been mentioned: My e-ink reader. It's just so cool. It's like paper! But I can read e-books with it! What...

    The more honest answer would probably be Vive, but there's another big thing that hasn't been mentioned:

    My e-ink reader. It's just so cool. It's like paper! But I can read e-books with it! What is this witchcraft!

    I just kind of hate backlit displays.

    (My completely unscientific hunch is that the light is a large part of why tech is so addictive. And it certainly seems to cause problems with sleep at least)

    I'd really like to have e-ink laptop, but the tech and price seem to be nowhere close yet. I mostly manage with just text terminal anyway, so the low refresh-rate wouldn't even be that bad. If only there were a big enough displays for reasonable price.

    My vision of future tech is e-ink everywhere.

    10 votes
    1. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Ereaders are so, SO good. I've read hundreds of books on their screens, and they "just work" in a really spectacular way. I love physical books, sure, but anyone who's ever had to move their...

      Ereaders are so, SO good. I've read hundreds of books on their screens, and they "just work" in a really spectacular way. I love physical books, sure, but anyone who's ever had to move their library of physical books knows that they are a heavy, cumbersome burden in certain circumstances. Not so with ereaders! I can fit those hundreds of books right in my backpack.

      I'll add to this: digital library cards. I haven't visited a library in person in a long time, but I'm constantly checking out books. It's mindblowing that I can sit in my armchair, browse my local library, check out a book, and instantly begin reading it right on the spot, all with just a few taps and on a device that looks just as good as paper. Oh, and did I mention it only drains batteries on page-turns rather than continuous display? It's a marvel, and I am living in the future.

      4 votes
  13. Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    Software counts, right? Linux Mint. I've tried switching from Windows to Linux at least 6 or 7 times since 2000-ish. Set up dual-boot machines, lived on the Linux side for 1-2 months, always hit...

    Software counts, right?

    Linux Mint.

    I've tried switching from Windows to Linux at least 6 or 7 times since 2000-ish. Set up dual-boot machines, lived on the Linux side for 1-2 months, always hit unacceptable issues and stumbling blocks, always went back to Windows until the next machine.

    Mint was the first Linux OS that was functionally similar enough to Windows, and also pretty much just worked. Some issues, some learning curve, but nothing major, no deal-breakers.

    Probably part of it was just that Linux itself, the kernel and driver support and such, had matured sufficiently by then (this was circa 2015-ish), and Mint just happened to be the distro I pick that time around. Even so, Mint is very well designed as a transitional OS, particularly the Cinnamon flavor.

    I've moved on since then, running Pop!_OS and Ubuntu on most of my machines now, but I still recommend Mint unambiguously as The OS to use for Windows people considering the switch.

    9 votes
  14. knocklessmonster
    Link
    VFIO. I saw a video of two people playing Battlefield 3 on separate Windows instances hosted in virtual machines under Debian. I believe there was a shared CPU load, but they had to pass-through...

    VFIO. I saw a video of two people playing Battlefield 3 on separate Windows instances hosted in virtual machines under Debian. I believe there was a shared CPU load, but they had to pass-through the two graphics cards, but were able to run two games on decently high settings like they were native. I guess virtual machines in general, because it still blows my mind that you can run a computer on a computer.

    8 votes
  15. tlalexander
    Link
    I just got a 360 degree spherical camera and it’s pretty neat! I got the GoPro fusion which is cheap now that they’ve replaced it with a not-much-improved new model.

    I just got a 360 degree spherical camera and it’s pretty neat! I got the GoPro fusion which is cheap now that they’ve replaced it with a not-much-improved new model.

    7 votes
  16. spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    I've used wireless Bluetooth headphones for several years, but the neckband type. Recently, they broke, so I upgraded to some inexpensive-but-not-cheap AirPod clones. I'm amazed at how good...

    I've used wireless Bluetooth headphones for several years, but the neckband type. Recently, they broke, so I upgraded to some inexpensive-but-not-cheap AirPod clones.

    I'm amazed at how good battery technology has gotten to allow usable battery life out of earbuds this small.

    7 votes
  17. [2]
    monado
    Link
    The Original AirPods. If you've read my intro you'd know I love overrated audio equipment, so I scoffed at the AirPods for sounding like trash. That is, until I was able to own my mom's pair for a...

    The Original AirPods. If you've read my intro you'd know I love overrated audio equipment, so I scoffed at the AirPods for sounding like trash. That is, until I was able to own my mom's pair for a few months. Trust me, the sound quality doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. It's so easy to just slip the case in your pocket, has a decent microphone, and unlike the SE315, the sound isolation isn't so insane that you forget to hear the fire alarm (true story, happened Freshman year).

    7 votes
    1. sqew
      Link Parent
      I'm not a big audiophile, but I also scoffed at AirPods for the first year or so. I finally got off my high horse when a decent chunk of my friend group had gotten them, and having received a pair...

      I'm not a big audiophile, but I also scoffed at AirPods for the first year or so. I finally got off my high horse when a decent chunk of my friend group had gotten them, and having received a pair as a gift last Christmas, I'm amazed by how quickly and fluidly they replaced all of my other earbuds and headphones (except the headset I use for gaming/Discord). They're not the greatest in terms of quality, but as you noted, it's just so much convenience in a single little package.

      I still think they're probably too expensive for what they are, but, out of all the gifts I've gotten in the last few years, they've probably had the biggest impact on my day to day life.

      2 votes
  18. cwagner
    Link
    The iRobot Roomba 620 I bought 6 years ago. I did not expect such great vacuuming power. I needed to replace 2 parts (battery and a wheel) since then as well as the filter (which needs...

    The iRobot Roomba 620 I bought 6 years ago. I did not expect such great vacuuming power. I needed to replace 2 parts (battery and a wheel) since then as well as the filter (which needs semi-regular replacement). I honestly did not expect such a small thing to keep my place this clean :)

    It was 289 € ($317) back then.

    6 votes
  19. wossab
    Link
    The Oculus Quest. I've had several VR headsets before. But a wireless, beaconless, auto-start, stand-alone VR experience is such a radical new experience. It more than compensates for the drop in...

    The Oculus Quest. I've had several VR headsets before. But a wireless, beaconless, auto-start, stand-alone VR experience is such a radical new experience. It more than compensates for the drop in quality or framerate (compared to current generation PC VR sets) in the ease and magic of the experience.

    6 votes
  20. goodbetterbestbested
    (edited )
    Link
    Two pieces of technology that have impressed me recently: AI Dungeon. It's far from beating the Turing test, but it's also nuts how much better chatbots have gotten since the days of AOL Instant...

    Two pieces of technology that have impressed me recently:

    • AI Dungeon. It's far from beating the Turing test, but it's also nuts how much better chatbots have gotten since the days of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). It's your personal AI dungeonmaster/storyteller, though it's not based on any D&D rules: it's more like an old-school text-based adventure game such as Zork. The potential of chatbots like this could create a whole new genre of gaming (or revolutionize an old one), and the non-gaming applications of advanced chatbot AI are so numerous as to bewilder. When someone builds upon AI Dungeon's concept with more money, better content to "teach" the AI, more art, and better curation of the AI's behavior by human hands, there's going to be a blockbuster hit.

    • Virtual reality headsets in general. Consumer-level VR really only took off with Oculus less than a decade ago and the advances since then have been so swift. The surprise at how effectively VR tricks one's brain never goes away entirely. It is now getting closer and closer to the point that VR delivers on its long-delayed promise to make Star Trek's holodecks a real thing.

    4 votes
  21. gpl
    Link
    I used a VR headset at a friend's place (can't remember which headset, I think it was one of the Oculus ones) and was really surprised by it. I had used the original Oculus briefly way back in...

    I used a VR headset at a friend's place (can't remember which headset, I think it was one of the Oculus ones) and was really surprised by it. I had used the original Oculus briefly way back in like 2013 I want to say, and it was cool but didn't blow me away. This more recent time I was pretty shocked with how smooth everything both looked and felt. I played Robo Recall and had so much fun tearing these robots limb from limb, but I felt that movement was still a bit clunky. But then I launched the Google Earth app and was properly blown away. I spent like hours late into the night just flying around 3D sities around the world, 'walking' around in Street View, and visiting places I haven't been in a while. That was probably the last time I was truly impressed by a piece of consumer tech.

    4 votes
  22. GoingMerry
    Link
    I might be a fanboy, but the first time I opened the box on the Nintendo Switch I was seriously impressed. It’s just so elegant and you can see the improvements from previous systems. The...

    I might be a fanboy, but the first time I opened the box on the Nintendo Switch I was seriously impressed.

    It’s just so elegant and you can see the improvements from previous systems. The controllers are especially nice - obviously superior to the wiimotes, with well-thought out charging, sharing, and ‘flexibility’ (Check out Labo to see how flexible they are)

    I was in the middle of producing a hardware product at my startup at the same time, so it may have caused me to be extra-awed...but still, so cool!

    3 votes
  23. [4]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    the first time I played Pong, on a home console entirely dedicated to Pong – it supported no other games and had no AI opponent. The controllers were like volume knobs. But I could move things on...
    • the first time I played Pong, on a home console entirely dedicated to Pong – it supported no other games and had no AI opponent. The controllers were like volume knobs. But I could move things on the screen and that was mind blowing.
    • the first time I saw Super Mario 3 on the Super Nintendo. It was so beautiful, colorful and fresh. There were so many things moving at the same time. It was like my brain was learning to operate in a new dimension of perception.
    • that one was less impressive but the first time I played Starfox on the Super Nintendo.
    • also less impressive but the first time I used a Palm with the stylus

    After that, I discovered numerous awesome technologies but nothing truly impressed me. Everything feels incremental. I did not try current quality VR, so that might change soon.

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      Kuromantis
      Link Parent
      I have come to (likely re-)inform you that you're getting old. That makes sense as these companies left the near-ideal market of 70s/80s America to more precarious markets in poorer nations (and...

      The first time I played Pong, on a home console.

      The first time I saw Super Mario 3 on the Super Nintendo.

      I have come to (likely re-)inform you that you're getting old.

      After that, I discovered numerous awesome technologies but nothing truly impressed me. Everything feels incremental.

      That makes sense as these companies left the near-ideal market of 70s/80s America to more precarious markets in poorer nations (and the US market following suit) it makes sense for them to do incrementalism.

      1. mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I don't think that's the case. Technological advancement became incremental because of the inherent features of technology itself. We're still riding the wave of a paradigm that started in early...

        That makes sense as these companies left the near-ideal market of 70s/80s America to more precarious markets in poorer nations (and the US market following suit) it makes sense for them to do incrementalism.

        I don't think that's the case. Technological advancement became incremental because of the inherent features of technology itself. We're still riding the wave of a paradigm that started in early 20th century.

        2 votes
      2. mrbig
        Link Parent
        I think I’m past that hahaha

        I have come to (likely re-)inform you that you're getting old.

        I think I’m past that hahaha

        1 vote
  24. dblohm7
    Link
    These are not consumer tech (they are either for software developers or from the realm of Computer Science research) but I have been very impressed by them: Ur/Web: a functional language for...

    These are not consumer tech (they are either for software developers or from the realm of Computer Science research) but I have been very impressed by them:

    • Ur/Web: a functional language for building web apps. See also this article from Communications of the ACM;
    • Intercooler.js: a simple framework for adding small AJAX enhancements to web pages;
    • Halide: a programming language specifically for codecs. See also this article from Communications of the ACM. I really want to see somebody implement AV1 using this!
    2 votes
  25. [3]
    culturedleftfoot
    Link
    It's probably not the last time I was wowed by a piece of tech but the first thing that comes to mind was when Motorola showed off the Atrix at CES 2011. Plug your phone in and it basically...

    It's probably not the last time I was wowed by a piece of tech but the first thing that comes to mind was when Motorola showed off the Atrix at CES 2011. Plug your phone in and it basically becomes a laptop? I distinctly remember my jaw dropping when I heard about that.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      the_funky_buddha
      Link Parent
      I'm so disappointed this kind of tech didn't become mainstream. I'd still love to have something like this.

      I'm so disappointed this kind of tech didn't become mainstream. I'd still love to have something like this.

      1 vote
      1. culturedleftfoot
        Link Parent
        The last I heard of this type of functionality was Razer's Project Linda prototype at CES 2018.

        The last I heard of this type of functionality was Razer's Project Linda prototype at CES 2018.