Monday, June 29, 2015

IT News Head Lines (TweakTown) 6/30/2015


Dell, Samsung led slipping PC monitor market during Q1 of 2015
There were more than 29 million monitors shipped during Q1 2015, a 12 percent drop year-over-year, according to the IDC research group. To make things worse, IDC expects a year-over-year drop of 3.4 percent for the entire market, and it looks like things will only get bleaker for companies trying to get consumers to upgrade.

During Q1, Dell (15.8 percent), Samsung (12.7 percent), HP (11.5 percent), LG (9.7 percent), and Lenovo (9.1 percent) controlled the market. However, Lenovo was the only company in the top five that actually grew when compared to Q1 2014 - with Samsung, HP, and LG all seeing double-digit drops.

"Although there were a few bright spots - Japan experienced a gain of 2.0% over the previous quarter after four consecutive quarters of decline - IDC expects the trend of declining monitor shipments to continue for the near term," said Phuong Hang, director of worldwide trackers at IDC. "Some improvements may come later in the forecast as new product campaigns spark a modest recovery in the consumer segment, aided by contributions from the SMB and SOHO segments."

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US officials think China is behind massive OPM data breach
Political tensions between the United States and China have been strained for a number of reasons in recent months, and things won't suddenly get better. US intelligence chief James Clapper believes China is the leading suspect in the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach, which left millions of government workers at risk of identity theft.

Here is what Clapper said while speaking at a recent Washington intelligence conference: "You have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did," based on the sophistication of the data theft. The first two attacks stole more than 4 million records, and it's been reported that up to 18 million files could have been affected.

"It's something that we agreed needs to be addressed and hopefully it can be addressed soon," said John Kirby, US State Department spokesman, during a recent press conference.

Not surprisingly, Chinese officials are less than happy the US is publicly calling them out for the data breach - especially with the investigation still ongoing, yet finger-pointing is directed at Beijing. Even if China is found to be responsible for the data breach, the United States doesn't have very many ways to punish the country for its actions.

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Nintendo: Sony and Microsoft will steal ideas from its new console
We've been hearing about Nintendo's next generation 'NX console' for a while now, but the company hasn't laid out any details on NX at all. It has been a secret, known only as NX.

The Japanese gaming giant is being secretive about it as it doesn't want its competitors in Sony and Microsoft to steal any of its ideas. In a recent shareholders meeting, Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata said: "We can't talk about the NX. If we do, competitors may take our ideas and customers won't be surprised. This would not be beneficial for the company or its shareholders. The NX is new hardware, and will start from 0. However, the 3DS and Wii U have install bases. Immediately cutting off software for previous hardware upon the release of a new machine is inefficient. We will continue making 3DS and Wii software while preparing for the NX. We are prioritizing satisfying customers who purchased the Wii U".

We know to not expect anything from Nintendo on NX until 2016, but it looks like whatever the company is working on, we could hopefully be in for one of the most unique consoles released.

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UC Berkeley developing robot cockroach able to navigate itself
The US Army is helping fund a research project at the University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on developing intelligent robots that don't require extra sensors or software. The robot, which physically looks like a cockroach, is able to overcome obstacles on its own.

The ability to teach robots and AI to identify - and successfully navigate obstacles without human guidance - is a difficult task.

"The majority of robotics studies have been solving the problem of obstacles by avoiding them, which largely depends on using sensors to map out the environment and algorithms that plan a path to go around obstacles... however, when the terrain becomes densely cluttered, especially as gaps between obstacles become comparable or even smaller than robot size, this approach starts to run into problems as a clear path cannot be mapped," said Chen Li, lead author of the UC Berkeley research, in the Bioinspiration & Biomimetics journal.

The researchers first started by using a high-speed camera to capture how a cockroach moves through its natural environment, and then gave the living creatures three different custom exoskeletons. The cockroaches had trouble trying to move naturally if it became less rounded - and that's what gave researchers the ability to design their own six-legged robot.


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NVIDIA rumored to unveil new Maxwell-powered Quadro cards at SIGGRAPH
It looks like we can expect NVIDIA to unveil a few new professional-grade video cards in the coming months, with their latest drivers adding support for three new video cards.

These cards are the NVIDIA Quadro M5000, Quadro M4000 and Tesla M60. The Quadro M cards will most likely be unveiled at SIGGRAPH 2015 which kicks off on August 9, with both the M5000 and M4000 cards based on the GM204GL graphics processor. This will see NVIDIA shift from the Kepler-based GPUs to Maxwell-based GPUs, which should see a drastic drop in temperatures and power consumption.

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Miyamoto: Virtual reality isn't currently a good fit for Nintendo
Virtual reality was one of the most popular topics during E3 2015 earlier this month, but Nintendo isn't quite on the VR bandwagon. Although the company is paying attention to VR developments, it's seen as a technology that doesn't fall in line with Nintendo's current game production philosophy: be fun and social.

Microsoft and Sony appear to be fully onboard VR hardware support - and game development - hoping consumers are okay with wearables designed to enhance the gaming experience.

"The current types of virtual reality aren't really a good fit for Nintendo's philosophy of trying to create entertainment that people can play together in the living room," said Shigeru Miyamoto, game design legend behind Mario, told Yahoo Games during E3. "We're constantly looking at different technology and experimenting with different elements of it, but we're not feeling virtual reality is currently in a place where it's ready to be released - as a product that fits with our philosophy of fitting in the living room."

Nintendo had a presence at E3 to show off games that will hit the market roughly over the next year, and wasn't interested in discussing long-term projects. And that's why the company wasn't there "with any samples of potential virtual reality type experiences" - possibly leaving the door for VR projects down the road?

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Valve updates the Steam for Android app with a new UI and much more
Valve has finally updated the Steam for Android app, which has leaped from v1.1 right up to v2.0. The new Steam for Android app includes a totally revamped UI, something that Valve is calling "material".

The navigation drawer, according to Android Police, has "been completely rearranged in this update, and now includes links to your intentory, library, and additional app settings like disconnecting from the chat". Valve adds that it has fixed up background battery drain and the weird spontaneous login issues that many gamers were used to. The changelog for the app includes:

  • Changing from one screen to another is faster
  • Will not use battery when it is inactive
  • Will not log in unexpectedly
  • If possible, when resumed, the application will return to the screen it was on
  • Startup screen can be set
  • Chat history from other devices is available
  • Chat history for offline friends is available
  • Navigation menu has links to Inventory, Library, going offline for chat and logging out
  • Material design, higher res images, simplified settings, faster on older devices
  • Other fixes
You can grab Steam for Android from the Google Play store, or grab it from APK Mirror.

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Rocksteady is now in charge of 'significant' patch work Batman on PC
Most gamers might not know, but Rocksteady Studios didn't work on the PC port of Batman: Arkham Knight, where instead the studio had Iron Galaxy Studios port the game over to PC. You might remember that Warner Bros. pulled the PC game from being sold last week.

Rocksteady is now in control of the game, with the studio posting on their official website saying: "Rocksteady is leading our team of developers and partners as we work on the PC performance issues that players have been encountering. The work is significant and while we are making good progress on improving performance, it will take some time to ensure that we get the right fixes in place". The first patch, which should've already hit owners of Batman: Arkham Knight, has some interim fixes:

  • Fixed a crash that was happening for some users when exiting the game
  • Fixed a bug which disabled rain effects and ambient occlusion. We are actively looking into fixing other bugs to improve this further
  • Corrected an issue that was causing Steam to re-download the game when verifying the integrity of the game cache through the Steam client
  • Fixed a bug that caused the game to crash when turning off Motion Blur in BmSystemSettings.ini. A future patch will enable this in the graphics settings menu
But you know what? Rocksteady would've seen the game before they, or Warner Bros. would've greenlit its release on PC. Obviously Rocksteady was too busy at work on the console version of Batman: Arkham Knight that the PC version wasn't just receiving as much love, it was thrown to the side without a second thought. It was released completely unready, and thus untested, and Rocksteady should be ashamed of themselves ending the Batman trilogy of games on this note.

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Malwarebytes offers amnesty program to help pirates go legit
Cybersecurity software company Malwarebytes has launched a new amnesty program that offers a free replacement key for Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium customers - people using pirated copies or customers tricked into purchasing a counterfeit copy.

To help keep your PCs and systems secure, Malwarebytes has a variety of different anti-virus and anti-malware software solutions. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium costs $24.95 for one year and can be installed on three different PCs.

"The Internet is full of pioneers and cowboys. It's also got its fair share of pirates and trolls," Malwarebytes said in a public statement. "Some of those bad guys may have duped you into purchasing a counterfeit version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. Or perhaps we've simply detected a problem with your key. Not to worry. We're here to help."

For those trying to take advantage of the amnesty program, you only need to select how you originally received the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Pro or Premium license - and the company will assign a new key.

Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Kleczynski explained his company's decision in a recent forum post.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explodes after launch, ISS crew will be fine
The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded two minutes after launch, when its two stages were expected to separate. This is the first time in 19 launches that ended in failure, as the 63-meter rocket was able to complete six cargo trips to the ISS and has a 15-flight contract with NASA.


Musk offered a second statement: "There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause. That's all we can say with confidence right now. Will have more to say following a thorough fault tree analysis."

Astronauts on the space station can sustain themselves until July 24 on normal levels, and have enough reserves until September. There are three scheduled cargo missions scheduled to launch to the ISS over the next three months.

"We are disappointed in the loss of the latest SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "However, the astronauts are safe aboard the space station and have sufficient supplies for the next several months. We will work closely with SpaceX to understand what happened, fix the problem and return to flight. The commercial cargo program was designed to accommodate loss of cargo vehicles."

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DICE: Star Wars: Battlefront 'never' had single-player in the plans
There was some pressure on Electronic Arts to make sure Star Wars: Battlefront is released before Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens movie. However, single-player was never really on the drawing board for the newest Star Wars video game, as multiplayer will create a more enjoyable gaming experience.

"To be honest, single-player was never in the plan. It was never the concept," said Patrick Bach, DICE GM, in an interview with GameSpot. "The concept for us was always that we wanted players to re-live the battles. We wanted them to play the battles from the original movies. And DICE, coming from its Battlefield background, knows how to make awesome battles in that context."

Bach also admitted while the studio has created intriguing single-player campaigns, they haven't been as strong as its multiplayer efforts.

Star Wars: Battlefront is scheduled for launch in mid-November, and will be available for the PC, Microsoft Xbox One, and Sony PlayStation 4.

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Apple hype machine failing to promote the Apple Watch?
The Apple Watch brought attention to the smartwatch and wearables market, but it looks like initial demand for the watch is dying down.

If you're thinking about purchasing an Apple Watch, you'll be happy to know there are plenty of them available to choose from. Even though some estimate 13 million to 20 million units have sold, the hyped Apple wearable isn't seen as a necessity.

"The initial demand for the Apple Watch looks lackluster," said Brian Blair, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities, in a statement on CNBC's "Power Lunch." "It's not clear what the killer app is. It's nice to get notifications, but it's a nonessential product."

However, analysts don't seem to be able to agree about the Apple Watch's success. Here is what Dan Ives wrote in a recent note from FBR Capital Markets: "Although it remains early innings for Apple in this device category, we believe the next generation of the Apple Watch could potentially help drive further demand growth over the coming years."

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PCie 4.0 will feature 16GT/s, new connector will arrive after 2017
Nearly all motherboards feature PCIe 3.0, but we're going to be seeing more and more about PCIe 4.0 in the coming years, now that the PCI Special Interest Group (PCI SIG) getting closer to the final version of the PCIe 4.0 specification.

The PCI SIG has been developing PCI Express 4.0 for a few years now, with the new standard set to feature a huge 16GT/s per lane, which is double that of the 8GT/s that PCIe 3.0 is capable of. The standard isn't finalized jut yet, as there are quite a few steps to overcome first. One of the first is the interconnect attributes, fabric management, and the programming interface that is used to design and build systems and peripherals that are PCIe 4.0 compliant.

PCIe 4.0 will usher in a new connector, but it is backwards compatible with PCIe 3.0 cards. But, PCIe 4.0-based cards will not work with the old PCIe 3.0 ports. Al Yanes, the President of the PCI SIG explained in an interview with EE Times: "We are getting 16GT/s, something no one thought was possible a few years ago. The base distance is still being validated but it's typically 7 inches or so. Longer channels of 15 inches or so with two connectors will have retimers, but Gen 3 has used retimers - now we will need to use them for shorter long channels".

Yanes continued: "We've done a lot of analysis on the connector - we tried everything possible. We have some top engineers in our electrical work group and they've come through - its exciting to see the amount of activity and participation".

Now, back to the PCIe 4.0 ports: the PCIe 4.0 x16 slot will be used for video cards, pumping an insane 32GB/sec of bandwidth through it. The PCIe 4.0 x1 slot will see 2GB/sec of transfer rates. The PCIe 4.0 slots themselves will rely on optical, not copper links, which is a very big difference. This is a big change, and something that will take place over the next 10 years, with Yanes explaining: "I got to believe engineers will find way to make [optics] cost effective by the time they are needed - even four years ago there was a big push on it".

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Deus Ex game designer not interested in making virtual reality games
It looks like you can't count game designer Warren Spector as one of those interested in developing VR video games, with the man best known for Deus Ex, saying VR won't be anything more than a fad. The Oculus Rift drew major attention during E3 2015 earlier this month, but Spector said he "didn't see much interest in VR or AR." However, he's an overall fan of the technology, but hasn't seen enough to become a "true-believer" in it... yet. Maybe?

"The other VR/AR stuff seemed like a big ho-hum to me. Maybe that's just my prejudice - I think VR's going to be a fad (again) and at best a minor part of gaming's future, not unlike stereoscopic 3D, which I also called out as a fad," Spector recently said in a blog post. However, he clarified his viewpoint in a follow up blog post:

"As an individual, I find VR cool, interesting and compelling. I'm not anti-VR. The content is coming, I have no doubt - I know too many super smart, super creative people working to create the unique content that will make the VR experience desirable if not irresistible."

Gaming in VR is expected to help drive initial interest, though VR hardware manufacturers hope to see the technology go mainstream away from just hardcore gamers. The VR market is estimated to be worth around $16 billion by 2020.

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Star Citizen will have a very in-depth transportation career
The outer reaches of space are no boundaries for Chris Roberts' far reaching space shooter/economy/adventure/everything game, with Star Citizen to allow players to become a transporter in the game.

The developer has just unveiled a very in-depth transportation career, something that will be propelled with the use of the first transport ship: the Genesis Starliner. The Genesis Starliner can transport up to 40 people, where you can customize the ship and its modular interior to your liking. You could splash out and throw in some expensive state rooms, where you can charge more for people to stay there.

Roberts Space Industries, the developer behind the game, explains: "Whether it's the centerpiece of a private spaceline or part of a larger system of passenger transports, the Genesis can be used for a variety of support roles. Potential owners and operators can rest easy: the Starliner is a ship designed to pay for itself!"

Transporting people around in Star Citizen isn't some basic duty, as it will be a very detailed career for some in the game. You will have to have the right ship, and then you'll have to apply for the correct licenses in order to fly up to 40 people around. Once you're all licensed up, you can land at a public landing pad and check out which popular destinations are on offer, set which one you'll be transporting people to, and set a price that people will pay to have you take them there.

At the end of the trip, your passengers will have the change of rating your service, of which you'll begin to gain a reputation as a transporter, with it being determined by how much, or how little you charged for the trip. While on the transport mission, you'll be 100% responsible for all lives on board, just like you would be in the real-world.

Passengers on board your transport ship can order food, drinks and other amenities. Depending on the type of person you want to be known as, you can provide the goods, or not. Flight attendants can then be hired, with other technologies being used to increase the general happiness of your travelers, thus increasing your reputation.

Personally, I think this is great. If the game can fill the vast amount of space it'll include with real players, that are willing to put their lives in your hands, I can see some truly amazing situations happening with just this one little chapter of Star Citizen. What if you are transporting 30 people and you're ambushed? You have the lives of 30 people to look after, and if they decide to board the ship and start taking prisoners, we could be looking at a real difference in the type of games we're used to play these days - where 90% of them have no consequences apart from dying and respawning.

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PNY Launches the Mini HP v160 USB 2.0 Flash Drive
PNY Technologies Inc. world renowned manufacturer of USB and Memory products announced the release of the new and compact HP v160. The HP v160 offers a convenient way to store, share and transfer all your digital media, files like photos, videos, music and more. The v160 comes in a secure plastic casing with classic blue and white pattern. The rectangular structure and easy grip makes it convenient to plug into the USB port with no hassle.

The HP v160 is designed with a protective cap to protect your files from any external damage. For additional protection the drive is resilient towards dust and water, which allows you to use the drive during all types of projects. The drive features a strap hole located at the head of the top of the drive to enhance mobility. Mobile straps can be used to create a stylish accessory or you can simply attach it to your Key chains, backpacks or wallets.

The HP v160 measures 10 mm x W 16mm x L 35mm (HWL) and weighs only 4.3fram, so it will be easy slip into your pocket. Although this drive is petite, USB 2.0 specification allows it to perform high speed transfers of files in seconds. You can store dozens to hundreds of files on this tiny drive with storage capabilities ranging from 8GB to 64GB.

It works smoothly with Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7, 8, Mac OS: 10.3 and above operating system. PNY promised limited warranty of 2 years within the date of purchase.

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Marble Monster is intensively addicting and action packed!
Inflo Games is proud to announce the release of their latest mobile title - Marble Monster.

Marble Monster is an intense marble action RPG game developed by Nterfun. Launching with over 100 levels, players can experience the simple yet strategic and unique gameplay with classic marbles. Packed with over 500 monsters, team combinations are endless while players are challenging one another in PvP or with their Guild against mighty Dragons!

Marble Monster Overview

Embark on your journey through various Worlds in over 100 dungeons and raids. Assemble your Marbles from over 500 different Monsters and battle alone or with your guild!

Are you prepared to go on the most epic Marble adventure?

Players can also join the Marble Monster's community on Facebook to stay current on all the latest Marble Monster announcements, updates, events, contests and more!

Marble Monster's Features:

  • Free to Play
  • 100+ levels with more to come!
  • 5 distinct elemental Worlds
  • 500+ monsters to collect
  • Earn daily mission rewards
  • Guild, Raids, Dungeons, and much more!

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ROCCAT Announces Taito Control Gaming Mousepad
For serious gamers who thrive with a cloth mouse surface with more control ROCCAT adds a new gaming surface to its Taito Series. The expertly crafted Taito Control takes the award-winning blueprint of the original Taito and re-develops it with an emphasis on more precise control. At a comfortable mid-size of 400 X 320 mm and a design focused on extended durability, the Taito Control is a high-spec pad that won't let you down.

Most cloth mousepads try to provide gamers with a balance between glide and control, excelling at neither. For gamers who want a cloth pad with more control, there is no more need to compromise. The Taito Control features an exceptionally smooth surface with enhanced command. It is perfect for those who prefer a pad with more resistance. With just the right amount of glide on super smooth surface using only the finest materials, the Taito Control lets you consistently take out your foes time and time again.

Since many cloth mousepads are made using low quality materials, frayed edges and a playing surface that gradually gets worse are problems many gamers are familiar with. Time to say goodbye to wasted money and an inconsistent surface. The Taito Control addresses these issues with an advanced cloth textile chosen only after countless hours of rigorous testing. With thickness of 3mm and a long-lasting stitched border in ROCCAT blue, the Taito Control brings the style and the substance.

The Taito Control is available now for 19.99€ / $16.99 USD.


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Lite-On Introduces Low Latency M.2 PCIe SSDs for Cloud Vendors
Lite-On, a global leader in the design, development and manufacturing of enterprise Solid-State Drives (SSDs), introduces low latency M.2 PCIe drives to support I/O intensive workloads for one of the largest cloud service providers. Lite-On's EP1 series gives cloud service providers the competitive advantage by offering premium storage for its end users.

Lite-On's Gen2x4 M.2 PCIe SSDs are becoming widely adopted by the cloud computing industry. The M.2 PCIe interface EP1 series are compact, power-efficient solid-state solutions that fit directly into the server's PCIe bus to increase server application performance while delivering fast and reliable access to data without burdening the host CPU and memory resources.

Lite-On, recently reported by Gartner as the fastest growing PC OEM manufacturer in the world (60% PC SSD revenue growth last year), has been an early stage leader in the development and promotion of the M.2 PCIe form factor for enterprise application, which is quickly emerging as the drive of choice for cloud providers because of the compact form factor, high density, and low power consumption.

"The M.2 is perfect for where we believe the future of enterprise SSD cloud storage is going," says Jeffrey Chang, Lite-On's Technical Product Manager. "As we look to enable the next generation of the cloud, we are committed to aggressive innovation and development of solutions that provide the highest performance, reliability, and lowest latency among storage solutions."

With cloud providers looking to gain every possible performance advantage, Lite-On's own firmware development maximizes performance with read-intensive and mixed-usage workloads, and delivers a product with ultra-low latency, high consistency, and high endurance.

Lite-On's PCIe M.2 form factor also provides increased storage density per blade and significant power savings (up to 36%) compared to servers configured with traditional 2.5" SATA SSDs. Features such as end-to-end data and power loss protection provide maximum reliability and dependability.

Lite-On will also be exhibiting at the upcoming Flash Memory Summit at the Santa Clara Convention Center from August 11-13, 2015.

For more information, visit the product page.


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Ozone Gaming Announces ORIGEN Mousepad
Ozone Gaming, the international brand of high performance products for gamers , in collaboration with Origen Team, today announced launch of the exclusive Origen Mousepad. As part of the collaboration with the team, Ozone will developed the exclusive Origen line. " Be part of it" is a firm statement of intent from Ozone Gaming to intensify its commitment with the gamers involving them to the eSports competition and bringing them closer to the professional team.

"Ozone Gaming is not just a brand of this sector, we are an active entity that aims not only the growth of the company but of the eSports industry in general. Origen brings together all our enthusiasm, desire and effort to achieve that goal. This product line embodies all those feelings," says Adrian Alarcon, marketing director of the brand. "Within the game is our slogan of a new era in our company, meaning that we're where the challenges take place, with the growth of the sector and with the competitive show of the century" concluded Alarcon.

Origen recently qualified to enter at Riot's top league, LCS, and with their expertise in eSports competition we have developed hand in hand this new exclusive peripherals line.

The team has taken an active part in the development of this mousepad, and the result is a high-end peripheral that combines the expertise of the brand with the vision of the professional team.

"It's very exciting for me to start developing products that we can call our own. We can provide high-end products which satisfy our global fans combining our experience as eSports professional players with Ozone Gaming's vast knowledge. This mousepad offers exactly what we need: a surface with a high level of resistance and accuracy which delivers a perfect performance." said Enrique Cedeño "xPeke" captain of Origen.

This Ozone Origen Mousepad has all the necessary features to bring you to the top:

Control. Comfort. High Performance. Be part of it

Exclusive Origen design, the new mousepad and the new peripheral line are aimed to link the team with the gaming community.

Feel the game like the Pro's.

Flawless Performance

High quality materials for high performance, micro-texture cloth surface to provide perfect tracking and precision for both Optical and Laser mice.

Maximum Control

Anti-slip rubber bases to keep from moving and optimized texture surfaces for a smooth and consistent glide.

Think Big

Extra space, perfect size to give your best in any game.

For further information:

  • Origen Mousepad MSRP: 19,90€
  • Dimensions: 450x 400x 4mm

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