Sennheiser debuts its first wireless gaming headset, the GSP 670

During Computex last week, Sennheiser gave media a sneak peek at its first wireless gaming headset, the GSP 670, slated to ship starting at the beginning of next month.

The GSP 670 retails for €349 (about $393), significantly pricier then other popular wireless gaming headsets (as well as its wired predecessor, the Sennheiser GSP 600, priced at $249.95). Sennheiser is hoping its features, as well as the company’s reputation for excellent sound quality and comfortable headsets, will convince gamers to take the plunge. (When I tried on a pair at Computex, it delivered on wearability, connection speeds and audio quality, but of course it is hard to tell how headsets will feel and sound after hours of gaming, versus a few minutes of testing).

Despite the freedom afforded by wireless, many gamers stick with wired headsets to avoid reductions in sound quality and connection speeds or having to worry about battery levels, issues that Sennheiser addresses with the GSP 670’s features. Like other wireless headsets, the GSP 670 needs to be connected to a wireless dongle. Each one comes with a GSA 70 compact USB dongle with proprietary technology that Sennheiser developed to ensure a low-latency connection it promises transmits sounds with “near-zero delay.” The USB is compatible with PCs and the Sony Playstation 4. The GSP 670 also has Bluetooth, so users can pair it with their smartphones and tablets as well.

The GSP 670’s microphone is noise-cancelling and can be muted by raising the boom arm. The headset has two volume wheels to allow users to control chat audio and game audio separately. Gamers can also adjust the audio on the GSP 670 with Sennheiser’s Gaming Suite for Windows, a software tool that lets users switch between audio presets or customize sound levels, and also includes surround sound modes and an equalizer.

In terms of battery, Sennheiser claims the GSP 670’s quick-charging battery can run for two hours after a seven minute charge. When fully charged, it says the battery can last for up to 20 hours on Bluetooth and 16 hours when connected via the GSA 70 dongle. The headset has automatic shutdown to save power.

The GSP 670 is currently available for pre-order on Sennheiser’s website and will ship beginning on July 1.

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This year’s Computex was a wild ride with dueling chip releases, new laptops and 467 startups

After a relatively quiet show last year, Computex picked up the pace this year, with dueling chip launches by rivals AMD and Intel and a slew of laptop releases from Asus, Qualcomm, Nvidia, Lenovo and other companies.

Founded in 1981, the trade show, which took place last week from May 28 to June 1, is one of the ICT industry’s largest gatherings of OEMs and ODMs. In recent years, the show’s purview has widened, thanks to efforts by its organizers, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council and Taipei Computer Association, to attract two groups: high-end computer customers, such as hardcore gamers, and startups looking for investors and business partners. This makes for a larger, more diverse and livelier show. Computex’s organizers said this year’s event attracted 42,000 international visitors, a new record.

Though the worldwide PC market continues to see slow growth, demand for high-performance computers is still being driven by gamers and the popularity of esports and live-streaming sites like Twitch. Computex, with its large, elaborate booths run by brands like Asus’ Republic of Gaming, is a popular destination for many gamers (the show is open to the public, with tickets costing NTD $200, or about $6.40), and began hosting esport competitions a few years ago.

People visit the ASUS stand during Computex at Nangang exhibition centre in Taipei on May 28, 2019. (Photo by Chris STOWERS / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRIS STOWERS/AFP/Getty Images)

The timing of the show, formally known as the Taipei International Information Technology Show, at the end of May or beginning of June each year, also gives companies a chance to debut products they teased at CES or preview releases for other shows later in the year, including E3 and IFA.

One difference between Computex now and ten (or maybe even just five) years ago is that the increasing accessibility of high-end PCs means many customers keep a close eye on major announcements by companies like AMD, Intel and Nvidia, not only to see when more powerful processors will be available but also because of potential pricing wars. For example, many gamers hope competition from new graphic processor units from AMD will force Nvidia to bring down prices on its popular but expensive GPUs.

The Battle of the Chips

The biggest news at this year’s Computex was the intense rivalry between AMD and Intel, whose keynote presentations came after a very different twelve months for the two competitors.

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Tibbits are colorful pre-programmed modules for building IoT devices

At first glance, Tibbits look like building blocks, but each one is a module or a connector that makes it easier to build connected devices and systems. Tibbits were created by Tibbo Technology, a Taipei-based startup that exhibited at Computex this week (it showed off a humanoid robot built from various Tibbits).

Pre-programmed Tibbit modules from Tibbo

Pre-programmed Tibbit modules from Tibbo

The heart of the Red Dot Award winning Tibbo Project System (the company used bright colors to make its modules stand out from other hardware) is the Tibbo Project PCB, which includes a CPU, memory and Ethernet port. Then you pick Tibbits, with pre-programmed functionality (such as RS232/422/485 modules, DAC and ADC devices, power regulators, temperature, humidity or pressure sensors or PWM generators), to plug into your PCB. Once done, you can place your project in one of Tibbo’s three enclosure kits (custom enclosures are also available).

Tibbo also offers an online configurator that lets you preview your device to see if it will work the way you want before you begin building, and its own programming languages (Tibbo BASIC and Tibbo C) and app development platform.

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Muro is a retro-style cylinder music box you control with an app

The light twinkle of an old-fashioned cylinder music box evokes many things: nostalgia, childhood memories, sometimes even horror (they are a trope in scary movie soundtracks). Most music boxes play one tune, but with the Muro Box, which exhibited at Computex this week, you can use an app to pick different songs or even compose your own. It even doubles as a smart alarm clock.

Created by Tevofy Technology, a Taiwanese startup, the Muro Box’s components are mounted on a wooden base and visible underneath a glass cover, so you can watch as a 20-note steel comb creates music by plucking pins on its cylinder. The key difference between Muro and traditional music boxes, however, is that Muro’s cylinder is programmable.

The Muro Box is a music box with a programmable cylinder

The Muro Box is a music box with a programmable cylinder

Instead of a fixed pattern of pins, Muro’s patented convertible cylinder features 20 stainless steel gears, to correspond with each tooth on the comb. Each gear is attached to an electronic magnet and commanded by an embedded microcontroller, which means Muro can play almost any melody.

A 2018 Golden Pin Design Award winner, the Muro Box is getting ready to launch its Indiegogo campaign, after completing a successful campaign on Taiwanese crowdfunding site Zec Zec last year.

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Intel and AMD won Computex 2019

You can thank AMD and Intel for the influx of news out of Computex over the past week. Both chip companies announced some major new products: Intel showed off its 10-nanometer 10th-gen laptop chips, and AMD gave us details on its third generation Ryzen CPUs and first Navi GPUs. At first glance, that might all sound like typical tradeshow news, the next steps in a boring, iterative upgrade cycle. But each announcement spoke volumes — they’re not just showing us what Intel and AMD are working on for the next year, they gave us a preview of what’s to come for the next decade.

Intel’s new 10nm chips — which have a smaller and more efficient architecture than their previous 14nm process — have been a long time coming. Initially expected for 2015, the company suffered delay after delay until finally releasing a 10nm “Cannon Lake” chip last year. (Anandtech has a great breakdown of the drama Intel faced over the years.) But that processor was only a lowly Core i3 without onboard graphics, and it only showed up in an obscure Lenovo Chromebook. It’s hard to call that a ceremonious launch. Intel admitted they were only shipping the processor in low quantities, perhaps as a test run for large-scale 10nm manufacturing.

Now with its 10th-gen chips, Intel’s true foray into smaller chip production has begun. And thanks to that architecture revamp, the new processors offer some transformative improvements. That includes significantly faster integrated graphics and an 18 percent increase in instructions per clock (IPC), something that’ll speed up performance across every app. And of course, the new chips will finally help Intel catch up with AMD, which has gone all in with a more sophisticated 7nm production process for its new GPUs and CPUs. The real question is if Intel will be able to keep up its supply of 10th gen hardware as manufacturers start to implement it. That’s one reason why the company kicked off the chips with a focus on thin and light laptops.

For now, Intel’s new processors are targeting ultraportable notebooks like Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1. The company said earlier this month that it plans to start shipping 10nm chips in June, and it also expects to have a 7nm discrete GPU ready for 2021. And now, it’s in a better position to implement its Foveros technology, a 3D chip design that’s able to stack things like CPU and graphics chiplets together. After being forced to stick with its 14nm process for the past five years, Intel finally has a gameplan for the road ahead. The company still needs to prove it’s taking security more seriously, though, as vulnerabilities for its Core lineup are still popping up.

The main takeaway for consumers? You can expect ultraportables to get even thinner while being more powerful than ever, with the ability to run games at playable framerates. And it’ll be interesting to see what sorts of new devices Intel’s 10th-gen chips will enable. At Computex, we saw a dual-screen laptop concept, as well as a wild gaming notebook with a secondary screen right below the main display, similar to the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo. More realistically, the latest CPUs will likely be key to Intel’s Project Athena initiative for next-generation laptops.

AMD’s third-generation Ryzen chips target an entirely different type of user: Desktop users who demand tons of power. The highlight is the 12-core/24-thread Ryzen 9 3900X, which will sell for an astoundingly low $499. While that might not sound cheap, it’s competing directly with Intel’s Core i9-9920x, which sells for $1,189 today. Sure, Intel might be able to lower its price eventually, but I wouldn’t bet on it being cut in half anytime soon. AMD also claims its 12-core processor is around 16 percent faster than Intel’s during multithreaded rendering in Blender — so it’s not only cheaper, it outperforms a chip that costs more than twice as much.

AMD Ryzen 3900X

The key to AMD’s win is its new 7nm Zen 2 architecture, which allows its chips to be dramatically more power efficient than Intel’s. That 12-core monster CPU has a 105-watt thermal design profile (TDP), which describes the typical amount of power that it’ll eat up under max load. Intel’s chip, meanwhile, has a 165W TDP. In real-world usage, that means Intel’s hardware needs beefier cooling to keep temperatures down, and it’ll be a bigger hit on your power bill.

For power users, AMD’s third-generation Ryzen chips are a truly compelling choice compared to Intel’s 9th-gen Core lineup. All of AMD’s chips are cheaper and faster in multi-threaded benchmarks. Intel’s only counter-point during Computex was the 9900KS, a beefed-up version of its popular i9 processor with the ability to hit 5GHz across all of its cores. The company hasn’t revealed much about that chip yet though, including its TDP, so it’s unclear what sort of cooling you’d need to tame that beast.

AMD also announced the Radeon RX 5000 GPUs, its first 7nm next-generation “Navi” (now known as RDNA) video cards. We only got a few brief details about the RX 5700, which will take on NVIDIA’s mid-range RTX 2070. The new cards will have speed and power improvements across the board, thanks to the more efficient architecture, and they’ll be the first to support PCIe 4.0. Again, the focus here is on being fast and efficient. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until E3 to hear more about these new GPUs.

I’m just hoping AMD manages to give us some sort of hints about ray tracing. That’s the technology NVIDIA banked on with its RTX video cards, and it allows for far more realistic lighting, shadows and reflections. The company’s CEO and graphics leads have admitted it’s working on ray tracing, but it’s unclear exactly when and how it’ll show up. Ideally, AMD will have it ready in time for the next-generation gaming consoles from Sony and Microsoft, since they’ll be relying on its new GPUs.

Given that both Intel and AMD are focused on very different consumers with their announcements, it’s hard to say who actually won. Intel’s chips will make ultraportable laptops better than ever, while AMD’s will make it easier for consumers to build desktops for powerful multi-threaded performance with tons of CPU cores. Intel’s laptop gains will force AMD to work harder on notebook hardware, while AMD will continue to push Intel to try harder with its desktop CPUs. It’s the best outcome of true technology competition: The consumer always wins.

Catch up on all the latest news from Computex 2019 here!

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