Sony ended its presentation today with the long-awaited price and release date for the PS5 — but stopped short of telling gamers when and where to buy one, until a tweet seemed to make things clearer: pre-orders would begin tomorrow on September 17th. Or so it seemed for an hour or two. Now, it’s become an utter mess.
Perhaps eager to capitalize on the demand, retailers quickly turned the pre-order situation into a free-for-all, opening the floodgates a day early and allowing the quickest and savviest buyers to swoop in. Some called or walked into their local GameStop to secure a pre-order a day early, or seemingly lucked out with one of Walmart’s listings for the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition. Walmart even gleefully tweeted that it was pushing the console out ahead of schedule:
Soon, GameStop issued a press release advertising availability of the PS5 online, even though at the time, it didn’t actually have a product page where you could buy one. Now, you can find product pages at Target (PS5, PS5 Digital) and Best Buy (PS5, PS5 Digital) too. GameStop’s product listings (PS5, PS5 Digital) also appear to be up — but hilariously, the site appears to have triggered some DDoS protection and is blocked for many people (including us):
And good luck actually getting one, even if you get through: not only are these listings flickering in and out of stock and erroring out of adding items to your cart, we’ve also had them ripped out of our cart in the middle of a transaction. Target says it’s already completely out of pre-orders (see image below), and we’re also hearing that Walmart is already canceling some successful pre-orders as well. In more ways than one, it reminds us of the SNES Classic launch fiasco.
It seems like you would have needed to not only be on the dot, but also have refreshed your page a few times to get one in your cart, and been mighty quick about typing in your payment info because you can still lose the pre-order as you check out.
And even if you managed to get one, there’s no guarantee that it would arrive on launch day. Our attempt at Target initially showed we might “get it from Fri, Nov 13 – Wed, Nov 18,” before telling us we couldn’t get one at all:
If you are ordering at GameStop, you may also have to go in-person to pre-purchase the console. The minimum down payment for the PS5 is $50 at the retailer. But GameStop notes that there are additional ways to pay for the system, including a flexible “rent-to-own” payment system that will allow gamers to pay off products between 30 days to one year.
Sony had warned that it might be challenging to pre-purchase a PS5 due to high demand and low supply, but Sony also promised it would give gamers “plenty of advance notice” about when pre-orders would begin:
What happened to that? And what, exactly, was the point of that whole invite-only pre-order registration form that Sony launched on August 26th?
Sony CEO Jim Ryan claimed that more PS5 units will be available than PS4s were when they initially launched in 2013, and also denied a recent report from Bloomberg that stated Sony had been forced to cut back PS5 production by 4 million units. It’s not yet clear how many PS5s will actually be available, but it’s possible more shipments will appear ahead of launch. Walmart reportedly said it’ll have more stock on September 22nd, while Target’s product page suggests you “check back on release date.”
Atari VCS backers should get their consoles ‘very soon’
More than two years and multiple delays after its original announcement, the Atari VCS is finally making its way to people who helped crowdfund the console. In an update over on Medium, Atari says it’s putting the “finishing touches” on the first batch of production VCS units. The company is in the process of sending the consoles to the US, where they’ll be then shipped out to Indiegogo backers “very soon.” It also shared photos from the factory floor to prove manufacturing has been coming along.
If you backed the VCS, you might still have to wait a while before getting your unit. Almost 12,000 people supported the VCS Indiegogo campaign. In May, when Atari announced it hoped to ship the first production units in mid-June, it said 500 consoles were on their way. A caption of one of the photos Atari shared indicates “thousands” of systems are ready for shipping.
Here’s why PC builders are demanding to know how many capacitors are in the RTX 3080
Following multiple reports of third-party Nvidia RTX 3080 cards crashing, PC builders are now trying to figure out how many capacitors are in their new GPU.
That’s right: capacitors. On Friday, concerned buyers stumbled upon one theory for the crashes: a site called Igor’s Lab speculated that Nvidia’s partners were cheaping out on the capacitors used in their third-party RTX 3080s. And over the weekend, that theory spread: numerous outlets cited Igor’s Lab to publish headlines like “NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Stability Woes Traced To Cheap Capacitors” and “Capacitor issues are causing RTX 3080/3090 crashes.”
A day later, it appeared there might actually be some evidence that capacitors could have caused the cards to crash. EVGA weighed in on the RTX 3080 capacitor controversy on Saturday, citing its own issues with the capacitor layout it originally used in its RTX 3080 cards, although the company claims it never shipped the original layout to customers. In that note, EVGA explained that while a design with six POSCAPs “cannot pass the real world applications testing,” it later tried a design with four POSCAPs and 20 MLCC caps that worked better.
As Tom’s Hardware explains, there are typically two types of capacitors found underneath a modern GPU’s chip: MLCC and POSCAPS. Both capacitors reportedly have pros and cons; MLCC is smaller but performs better at higher clock speeds. POSCAPS are larger but are not as good when running at high clock speeds.
At this point, we don’t actually know whether capacitors are causing these crashes, but the demand has certainly gotten the industry to respond: MSI, Gigabyte, and Zotac have all issued statements claiming the capacitors are not the problem, and that new Nvidia drivers can address any stability issues in the cards. That’s Nvidia’s position too, and it released a new driver today to address stability issues with the RTX 30 GPU line.
PC World reports one of its cards that was previously crashing doesn’t do it after the update. The outlet had a pre-production EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 FTW3 for review, which had the original capacitors instead of the ones shipped out to retailers. PC World notes that there’s a tradeoff: the update “slightly limits” the top clock speed on the GPU boost.
Here’s what the new Chromecast’s Google TV software looks like
All indications point to Google announcing its latest Chromecast during tomorrow’s hardware event. And I managed to buy one yesterday even before the “official” unveiling. So I can now confirm that, as the rumors and leaks have made clear over the last few weeks, this isn’t the Chromecast that most consumers are familiar with.
Instead of a no-frills TV dongle that plays content sent over from the apps on your phone or computer, the new Chromecast finally has a proper menu system and familiar user interface — and now it comes with an actual remote control.
It’s a Chromecast in name, but Google’s latest streaming device is actually powered by Android TV, which more closely resembles a Roku or Amazon Fire TV in how you use it. Apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, HBO Max, and many others can be downloaded onto the Chromecast itself. You can browse them with the remote and start playing something without having to cast it from another device. It’s all very intuitive and easy to use.
But while Android TV is the foundation of the new Chromecast, the whole experience feels very new. Because unlike TVs from Sony and set-top boxes from Nvidia and other brands that run the traditional version of Android TV, Google has created a new “Google TV” layer atop the operating system that completely replaces the old home screen experience.
Instead of letting you customize the home screen (Android TV gives some apps like Netflix and YouTube their own dedicated rows that you can move around or get rid of), Google TV is all about aggregation. It brings together content from all the streaming services you’re subscribed to and lists them all side by side in Netflix-like rows of recommendations.
There are dedicated tabs for movies and TV shows (along with a personalized “For You” section that mixes them together), but Google is clearly trying to break down the walls between streaming platforms. It’s the same thing Apple has attempted with the Apple TV app. In the screenshot above, notice how in the active row, Google TV shows artwork for each show — but almost puts more importance on making it clear what service they’re all coming from.
You can toggle which apps you pay for, and which you don’t, to influence what content Google pushes on you. But even then, sometimes you’ll see items from HBO Max regardless of whether the service is unchecked. If a recommendation is from an app you’re not currently subscribed to (or if a rental or purchase is required to watch it), you’ll see a small lock icon next to that title as a visual cue that it’ll take more than a couple clicks to start streaming; you’re gonna have to pay something.
So yes, the home screen has seen a dramatic overhaul, but there’s still plenty of Android TV here. You can do voice searches by holding down the Google Assistant button on the remote and speaking. The universal search brings back results from all the big streaming services, and here you’ll helpfully still see those dedicated rows for apps like Netflix. As before, Google Assistant can control your smart home gadgets or check the weather.
If you can download an app on Android TV, you can download it onto the new Chromecast. It remains possible to sideload software (I just successfully did that with Stadia), and power users still have the freedom to futz with developer options and see how far they can push Google’s new $50 dongle. But there’s no way to completely disable Google TV and get back the regular Android TV experience, at least not one I could find. And yes, you’re still very much able to cast movies, shows, and audio from other devices to the Chromecast. So it retains that core part of the appeal from its predecessors.
I’ll have much more to say about the new Chromecast with Google TV very soon. But there’s been a lot of confusion over just what exactly this thing is and what it does. It’s a Chromecast that actually runs Android TV, with an all-new “Google TV” software interface that’s exclusive to this device, at least for now.
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