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Valve Takes on VR

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Game developer turned retailer Valve confirms its virtual reality ambitions as it announces it will show off a previously unannounced "SteamVR" hardware system at the Games Developers Conference (GDC) 2015.

SteamVRThe GDC demos will also involve an updated version of the Steam Controller, as well as mysterious "new living room devices"-- perhaps meaning the company is working on own versions of the "Steam Machines" living room PC concept?

Either way, Steam Machines have been a long time coming. Valve first announced the initiative back in September 2013, with plans to "bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014." The console-style PCs were meant to ship with the Steam Controller, but since that particular piece of hardware remains unfinished Valve pushed back the launch (or "release window") to 2015.

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Samsung Buys into Mobile Payments

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Samsung steps into mobile payments territory currently dominated by Apple as it acquires LoopPay to "strengthen the company’s overall efforts to provide users with seamless, safe, and reliable mobile wallet solutions."

Samsung LooppayFinancial details of the deal are not available.

LoopPay is the creator of Magnetic Secure Transmission, a technology turning existing magnetic stripe readers into contactless payment receivers. This makes it more convenient than the likes of Apple Pay or CurrentC, which require additional NFC reader hardware.

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LG Announces Mid-Range Smartphones

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LG sets to present a lineup of 4 mid-range smartphones at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015, one the company says includes design elements and features derived from its more premium handsets.

LG MWC MidrangeThe smartphones-- dubbed Magna, Spirit, Leon and Joy-- are available in LTE and 3G versions, with the LTE models featuring metallic back covers while the 3G options include pattered plastic back covers. The Magna and Spirit model also feature a gently curved (3000mm radius curve) design to fit more comfortably in the hand.

The Magna is the "ultimate" model, being a 5-inch number powered by a quad-core chipset. It also features 8MP rear-/5MP front-facing cameras and a 2540mAh removable battery. The Spirit is carries a 4.7inch touchscreen and an 8MP camera, the Leon offers a 4.5-inch within a "premium-looking" body and the Joy is the smallest model on offer with a 4-inch display.

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Futuresource: 4K TV Shipments on the Up

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Futuresource Consulting reports 4K TV shipments reach 11.6 million units in 2014, a 699% increase over 2013 as falling premiums, smaller-size 4K TVs and customers looking into future-proof entertainment drive adoption.

4KTVChina accounts for over 70% of global 2014 shipments, down from 84% in 2013.

The analyst predicts annual shipments will reach 100m units by 2018, while ownership should exceed 20% in leading markets. However, the crucial factor in 4K TV adoption growth is a sustained flow of 4K content-- a few 4K video streaming services are already available (and more should launch during 2015/6), but 4K disc playback will only be available by late 2015 in the earliest.

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B&O Intros BeoLit 15

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Bang & Olufsen expands the B&O Play wireless speaker lineup with the Beolit 15, an updated version of the 2012 Beolit 12 AirPlay speaker featuring an improved battery and Bluetooth connectivity within a lighter design.

Beolit 15Like the Beolit 12, the Beolit 15 looks a bit like a lunchbox, if one featuring a leather strap and anodised aluminium grilles in a variety of colours (namely "natural champagne," "shaded rosa" or "polar blue"). It promises 2x35W audio output and 360-degree sound from a 5.5-inch full-range driver, two 4-inch passive bass radiators and three 1.5-inch mid/tweeter drivers.

B&O also says the battery powers up to 24 hours of playback on a single charge, while the construction is in durable polymer. AptX Bluetooth 4.0 handles connectivity, and the speakers can remember up to 8 devices.

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