Tech Retrospect: E3 wrap-up and Samsung's new Galaxy Tabs

This year's E3 has drawn to a close, and as ever there was a lot going on. We break that down, plus all the details on Samsung's latest iPad assault.

E3 is over and it's been an interesting show, more so than the boredom that often comes the year after a next generation of consoles hit store shelves. It was also the year that VR started looking realistic again, plus a time when Nintendo managed to actually show a pulse! Let's run down the big three.

Microsoft at E3: All about the games

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It's been said that when Microsoft launched the Xbox One, it made a mistake by focusing too much on non-gaming functionality. You know, Kinect fitness tracking, television playback, Skype calling, that sort of thing. This year it tried to spin the focus entirely on games by highlighting nothing but, though in many ways it felt like perhaps too little too late, especially compared with what the others had on display.

The big story here was Halo, first being "Halo: The Master Chief Collection", a remastered version of the last four Halo games in HD for the Xbox One. Nice, but honestly should have been there for launch. The company also teased Halo 5: Guardians, which sadly is still a year or more away. A new Forza Horizons was announced, which I'm a little bit excited about, and some indie games got a bit of face time -- not a lot, but more than they've yet seen on Xbox One.

Xbox boss Phil Spencer closed Microsoft's conference in a telling way: "We will continue to listen to you -- our community -- and continue to make Xbox for you. That's not just my personal commitment but the commitment of the entire Xbox team." Listening now is great, but it's hard to argue that Sony wasn't listening a little better in the lead-up to this new generation.

Sony at E3: New hardware and new streaming

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Sony's focus, too, was on the games, but it also had some hardware to show off, including the PlayStation TV, a $99 microconsole that will play Vita games and can connect to your PS4 over a local network, meaning you won't need one console for every TV in your house. It'll also connect to PlayStation Now, a service for streaming PS3 games, which is how Sony is going to solve the lack of backwards compatibility in its latest system.

One thing we didn't get much of an update on was Project Morpheus, Sony's VR headset, which had basically the same demos we saw earlier this year. So, hopes of that hitting retail by the end of the year look to be dashed.

As to the games, most that Sony had on display were third-party titles, many of which will also be hitting Xbox One. But, for whatever reason, they got a bit more play from Sony. These include Battlefield Hardline, Far Cry 4, and Destiny, though exclusives like Uncharted 4 and LittleBigPlanet 3 are looking solid. Oh, and indie games played a big part in the proceedings, including the death-tastic Hotline Miami 2 and Talos Principle.

Oh, and did I mention Grand Theft Auto V? That's coming to the PC and Xbox One, as well.

Nintendo at E3: Not dead yet

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After last year's disappointment, Nintendo actually had a decent showing this year. It still breaks my heart that the Wii U is lagging like it is. But the system's pulse is quickening, if only thanks to Super Smash Bros. for both the Wii U and the 3DS. This game is going to sell a lot of systems, and I can't help thinking that if Nintendo had pulled out all the stops and had it ready for launch with the Wii U we could be looking at a very different landscape right now.

The other Nintendo game to get a lot of buzz is a new Legend of Zelda. Sadly its debut was completely bereft of details, only saying that it will be "open world" -- something most Zelda games have been to some degree. No more details than that, other than a fancy trailer and a vague promise for a 2015 release date. Patience advised, as ever.

Samsung targets iPad Air with Galaxy Tab S

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It's safe to say that Samsung has always had the iPad in its sights with the release of its various Galaxy Tabs over the years. And the most recent entries, two tablets in the Galaxy Tab S series, are definitely targeting Apple's most recent, matching or beating them in basically every spec, and even starting at the same price.

First is the 8.4-inch Galaxy Tab S, with a 2,560x1,600 Super AMOLED panel, a similar density to the 2,048x1,536 offered by the iPad Mini, but with a wider aspect ratio. The bigger of the two tablets has the same resolution, but in a larger, 10.5-inch form factor. Both tablets are just 6.6mm thick and are lighter than Apple's counterparts.

The smaller of the two starts at $400, while the larger will cost you $500. Interestingly only 16GB versions will be available, with the idea being that you can expand via microSD should you need to. That's nice, but with Android KitKat's sometimes frustrating use of external storage, that might prove to be a bit of a challenge. We'll see when we weigh in with our full review.

 

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