Intel dives deep into virtual reality tech inside its VR development lab

Exploring the virtual frontiers

Here at DT, we’re certainly big fans of virtual reality (“VR”), and fortunately, DT’s headquarters are located close to some other folks who dig the emerging technology as well, but at a whole different level: the VR development team at the market-leading computer chipmaker Intel, which has a VR research facility located in here in Portland, Oregon.

DT Senior Editor and resident VR aficionado Matt Smith got a chance to tour their impressive facilities to see what’s new – and perhaps what’s coming soon – to VR experiences powered by the latest generation of Intel processors. While setups like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the names you might immediately associate with VR, those systems have to get their processing power from high-end PCs that very often have Intel Core-series chips serving up the bits.

And sure, killing off zombies in VR is fun, but Intel is also looking past gaming to making other VR experiences – like touring the Smithsonian – run as smoothly as the latest first person shooter. So what does the future hold? More resolution, higher frame rates and other improvements, but the biggest goal will likely be one of the toughest: making VR systems wireless while continually upping performance levels. Check out Matt’s full report and video.

Bigger Beats, now with less noise

The hype is at a fever pitch for Apple’s iPhone 8, which should be revealed a week from today, but Apple also just dropped a nice new piece of kit you might want to think about picking up along with that swank new iPhone: A new set of Beats headphones known as the Beats Studio 3 Wireless.

Announced on Monday, the Studio 3 Wireless cans mark a few firsts for Beats: They’re the first full over-the-ear model, and they also include noise cancellation courtesy of Apple’ audio-focused W1 chip, the same one used in the much tinier Apple Airpods. However, these big new Beats cans should be a bit easier to find if you lose them, and they also run for 22 hours on a charge. They come in six color schemes, two of which are gold-trimmed “limited editions.”

The Studio 3 Wireless are available now for $350, so you should pick up a few pairs at the same time you bag up a few of those new $1,000 iPhones.

Details in the darkness

While LCD and LED TVs are better than ever, nothing really knocks your socks off like watching your favorite movie on a TV that uses Organic Light Emitting Diode technology, otherwise known as OLED.

While early OLED sets tended to cost five figures or better, it seems companies are finally getting a handle on making the finicky panels, and now Sony and LG are going head-to-head to make your OLED dreams come true – and at a more reasonable price. So, what’s the big deal about OLED? Well, since it doesn’t use a backlight, OLED panels can achieve totally black black levels and crazy vibrant colors far beyond what LCD and LED sets can manage.

Oh, did we forget to mention they’re incredibly thin as well? Yes, OLED TV’s really are the “hang-on-wall-TV” we’ve always wanted. But wait, there’s more: Sony’s new OLED TV also uses some amazing tech to produce sound by actually vibrating the screen like a speaker.

So how do the two stack up? You’d do well with either one, but in terms of design, sound, and other aspects, there are some differences. You might also want to check your bank account as well. Sure, they’re cheaper now, but actually cheap? Not yet.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.

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