Nintendo 3DS launch titles announced


Nintendo today announced the full line up of 3DS games that will be launched on 25th March along with the console. In total there are 13 different launch titles catering for a wide range of gaming tastes! These games can all be seen in the table below:

Personally I’m a little disappointed that Nintendo aren’t launching any major titles of their own other than Nintendogs and PilotWings (A mii based flying game) on the day. However they have listed a few of the games that will come out in the following weeks / months, including: Kid Icarus, Star Fox, Ocarina of Time 3D, Mario kart, Paper Mario, and Animal Crossing.

Nintendo’s own games aside, it is also nice to see some other major publishers releasing games on launch. I am particularly excited to see how the Lego games, Street Fighter, and Splinter Cell play out in 3D. Plus who knows! There might be some suprise releases announced nearer the time! There’s still over a month to go.

Zune: A music streaming experience

So, the lovely people over at microsoft gave me a month trial of their Zune music service and I gotta tell you, it was really great. And this came as a surprise considering a lot of people had told me it was lame and other such things.

I’ll begin with the computer aspect of the service. This of course runs through the Zune application for windows, which has a pretty swell interface, and just generally looks pretty flashy. With the Zune Pass as it’s called, you get access to every song they have on their database, in a very similar manner to Spotify. And like Spotify, you can download the songs to your computer for offline listening should you need to ever go offline. Which, let’s face it, will never happen unless your net just cuts out. Anyway, another thing I noticed was the quality of the audio was slightly better on Zune than Spotify. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, but it just seemed better, though that could have been the software. Another awesome feature on Zune is it’s Smart DJ playlists.This is very similar to how last.fm runs things. For those of you who are unfamiliar with last.fm it’s a service where you can search for an artist and then listen to music that is related to that artists. Well, smart DJ is very similar where you have a main artist and then it creates a playlist with songs from that artist and then similar artists. One advantage to this, is that you can see what is coming up next and can skip straight to a song you know, or skip a couple that you know you hate. It is a great way to find new music.

The next aspect to the Zune Pass involves your xbox 360. Yes, that’s right guys, you can stream the music straight to your xbox and have it play through your killer sound system attached to your xbox. This is a great way to listen to music, as not only does it mean you have it playing on, potentially, the best speakers in your house for the best quality, but it adds a really cool background image for the music. It’s hard to explain, but please enjoy the screen shot that will try and explain it better than my words. The Smart DJ feature is also present on this version of Zune too, which is awesome and means that if you’re having a party, you need not worry about making a killer playlist, let Zune do it for you. That’s what I did, and I turned out just fine. With the xbox version, you cannot save the songs to your hard drive as far as I’m aware, but if you can, that’s awesome, and I need to know how!

The final aspect to the Zune Pass involves your Zune device. That’s right you crazy cat Americans, if you have a Zune device that has the capability of accessing the Zune marketplace you can access this awesome service. And have no fear anyone outside America, you get this service right on your Windows Phone 7 device. It’s pretty awesome. Now, the features of this version are very similar to that of the PC version to be honest, you can search for a song and stream it straight from there, or you can choose to download the song for listening later. You can’t however access the Smart DJ playlists but I’m going to assume that’s to save you on data costs as using your mobile network to stream music can be quite an intensive thing to do. One last killer feature is that you can sync your music from your computer straight to your Zune device, and as most feature the whole new wireless sync dealio, it means you can have seamless access to what you have on your computer, on your Zune device. I can’t figure out if it goes the other way, but to be honest, I’ve downloaded everything to my laptop anyway and then synced it for on the go listening.

In my honest opinion, this is a great media service, though the media database at the moment isn’t as big as Spotify, I can only assume it’s going to keep increasing over time, and for £8.99 a month – $14.99 in the America place that’s over the sea – it’s a real bargain. And even though films aren’t included in the Pass, you can still find them in the same place. Almost perfect media integration! And here’s one more picture for you, if this doesn’t way you, i’ll be hurt!

Sony NGP / PSP 2

Sony today send out a press release announcing their next generation portable entertainment system, which they have chosen for obvious reasons to codename “NGP”. The system will make its debut at the end of 2011, and promises to deliver “the ultimate portable entertainment experience.” At least that’s what sony are saying.. But we may infact be seeing a direct competitor for Nintendo’s up and coming 3DS.

Reading over the press release my first thought was that this could be the heavily rumored PlayStation phone. Fortunately I read on to discover that it is infact basically just the psp2.

The NGP brings wifi and 3g connectivity to Sony’s latest gaming device, promising infinite possibilities for its users to encounter, connect, discover, share and play with other users no matter where they are. The device will also feature various developer built applications that will enhance the devices general experience for users. Taking it past the focus of whatever game you have in the device, a bonus for anyone who gets bored of the same thing easily like me!

One of the most interesting announced features for is the multi-touch pad on the back of the device, as well as the one on the front. This presents a new three dimension-like motion for gamers through touch, grab, trace push and pull movements of the players fingers. Personally this will be the most interesting part to see executed. For a long time touch features on the casings of even iPhones have been desired by users. So to finally see it on a device will be awesome and hopefully a interesting new level of gaming will be achieved, similarly to when touch screen games first came out with the iTouch and iPhone.

 

The NGP combines touch features with the duel analogue stick features that make playing games on the playstation so playable. This will give an interesting new level of non-intrusive touch responsive gaming as your hands are no longer blocking the scree constantly, something that really annoys me when I’m playing Sonic on the iPhone… so to avoid this is great!

Other features noted in the release include:

  • A “Super oval” Design!- Yes they actual use the term “Super”.
  • A live area where users can interact with others, even possibly stalk them through a feature called “Near”.
  • Two cameras! One on the front and one quite obviously placed on the back… Though it woulda been awesome if they were both on the back and made it 3D!!!! But no.
  • A new game medium placing media onto flash memory cards… The latter probably being the feature that will make the NGP more costly as flash memory sizes vary.

 

From the press release this seems like it could be a good portable gaming device from Sony, maybe even something that will allow them to re-contend with the Nintendo DS! But of course we’ll have to see how it comes out first.

 

Palm Pre 2 – First Impressions

I don’t know if anyone will remember, but a smart phone came out just over a year a go called the Palm Pre exclusively to O2. Now, this phone got copious amounts of bad reviews and people were really put off getting one. I feel the main reason was because of the OS on the phone, WebOS. Just over a year later and the sequel is out! However, it hasn’t been going down too well at all, just like it’s predecessor.  And this time, it’s isn’t available with a specific network as none wanted to take it up.

Well, HP Palm, as they are now known, have kindly given me a Palm Pre 2 to try out for a few weeks, and i must say, it is a massive improvement from the original. The Pre 2 is host to a 1Ghz processor, seemingly an industry standard these days, 512MB RAM, 3.1″ touch screen, full QWERTY keyboard, 16GB storage and a 5.0 mega pixel camera with LED flash. These are pretty similar to the original bar the 1Ghz processor and camera as it was a 600Mhz down clocked to 500Mhz previously with a 2 mega pixel camera and 8GB storage, with 16GB on the Pre Plus.

Now, i know on paper it looks pretty much the same device, and even in design the only differences are that it has a flat screen on the front. Other than that, the features are taken from the Pre Plus. But the major difference is on the inside. The OS. That’s right folks, this device is running WebOS 2.0. Now for most of you, you don’t know the original, which i can’t blame you as it was poorly advertised, so i will run down the basic features now.

  • You have a palm account that syncs wirelessly with a cloud based server and stores all kinds of information such as contacts, apps and other linked accounts.
  • The accounts you can link include Facebook, gmail, windows exchange and outlook, hotmail and AIM.
  • The OS is built around a card based system used for multi-tasking which, to date, is the best i’ve seen on a phone.
  • There is a gesture area under the screen used for all sorts of functions such as the back and forward functions of the internet and quickly changing between open cards.
  • App settings are found in a drop down menu at the top when the app is open.
  • One massive feature is called Synergy which allows linking between all of your accounts such as collecting the same contacts into one, collecting photos and info from you facebook contacts and much more.
  • One of the best features is the notification bar that pops up at the bottom. Unlike other devices where the notification gets in the way with what you’re doing, it gives you a basic run down of what it’s about at the bottom whilst pushing the bottom of the screen up. If touched whilst like that, the relevant app opens. If left alone, it dissipates into a little icon in the bottom right corner, which when touched will open up an expanded view of the message which you can either act up and open the app right away or swipe away for later.
  • Another important feature is copy and paste. Probably one of the most useful features of phones at the moment, and WebOS is very good at it.
  • Another huge feature is over the air firmware updates. When connected to a 3G signal or WiFi it will download the update and then alert you when it has finished. When on 3G it will periodically download as it can sometimes use a large amount of data.
  • Just by touching the bar at the top you get quick access to the full date, battery percentage, Aeroplane mode toggle and other toggles such as Wifi and Bluetooth. With VPN added for WebOS 2.0.
  • There are of course loads of other really awesome and important features, but i can’t go into them all or you won’t hear what is new.

One thing that has changed in the new OS is the ability to have more cards open at once, and also, you can collect similar cards together to take up one card space on the card view. This is pretty handy as it means i can get straight to my important e-mails whilst all my social networking stuff loads by pressing the middle “button” and pushing all that social stuff to the side making my e-mails the focus. On top of that, of you are only done with facebook, then you can just push that card off the screen at the top, and it’ll close. Simple and efficient.

Another impressive feature, and one of my favourites, is the just type feature. Now, it may not seem that impressive, but it is so useful. When on the home screen, slide out the keyboard, and just type. From there you get a multitude of options such as a selection of contacts, google suggest, a whole host of searches including wikipedia, twitter, facebook and more, and the best, quick actions. With quick actions, you can start typing something that literally has just popped into your head, and then tell that text to be saved as a memo, or be sent as a message, or even update your twitter and facebook. The cooler thing is, as more and more apps come out, more and more quick actions will be added. Along with that, you can add your own websites to search on provided they add the system, which a lot already have.

There are of course loads of other features on this phone, but i don’t have that much time to talk about them all, so i’ll leave it there for now, but i will be posting a video with a comparison against the original pre.  On an overall basis, i love WebOS the first time i had it with the Pre, but the hardware wasn’t really great. Again, the hardware isn’t fantastic, but the power of WebOS is astonishing this time round, and with a faster processor everything just runs that little bit better. I would love to be able to get the phone myself just for the OS as it is truly fantastic. For that this phone gets a 9.2/10.

HTC HD7 Review

So, I acquired the HTC HD7 on release date, and replaced my iPhone. One thing i never thought i would do, and it’s one thing that Tom said i would do. Made me laugh anyway

So, let’s get on with this. The HTC HD7 is pretty big as it rocks a 4.3″ WVGA screen. In comparison to the iPhone 4, the clarity isn’t too great, but the size really helps as it is nearly a whole inch bigger. And as this is the first thing you see, i feel they have done a good job there. After this, it’s the boot time of the phone. Now, the iPhone 4 booted a lot faster than the 3GS, but the HD7 is something else when it boots. It’s so much quicker than any other phone i have used before. It loads in about 10 seconds, which is a lot better than the 20 – 30 the iPhone took. Well, mine did anyway. One major factor in this speed is the 1GHz processor it has. It’s the same clock speed as the iPhone, but the other thing that assists with this is the fact the HD7 has RAM and ROM.

As far as i’m aware, the iPhone 4 has 512MB of RAM, which, supported by the processor and the OS, is still very snappy. The HD7 however, has 576MB RAM and 512MB ROM. The ROM is dedicated to the phone’s OS, windows phone 7, and really helps with the running of apps, and the like. Since using the HD7 i haven’t noticed any lag at all, and no crashes other than OS and App related mishaps. In terms of speed, the HD7 is lightning fast compared to the iPhone 4.

Now, the OS is something of awesome on the HD7. Windows Phone 7 is a massive improvement to Windows Phone 6.5. It’s a lot quicker, and far more user friendly. The main screen is called the Start Screen and on it you can pin your apps and other useful thing like your calender. On top of that you can re-arrange them to how you want them. This is very similar to iOS and Android, but it has a fresh feel with the updating images and such. If you swipe left, you get your menu that has all your apps on. And this is good for the apps you don’t use that often. They are stored alphabetically, which makes them very easy to find. The one thing that is lacking on the main interface is folders. I would like to keep similar apps in folders, like on the iPhone, but you can’t win them all.

There are two features of this phone, and windows phone 7 that i love. The first is the facebook integration. It’s very similar to that of WebOS, but with a few awesome extras. Right, so all your contacts sync with facebook, as they all go into your contact list on the phone. It also downloads their contact pictures off facebook to, so don’t worry about taking photos of everyone you know. Here is where it gets good though. Straight from the contact list, you can write on your mates wall. This is pretty swell, and loads faster than loading up an app, so if you need to get to someone on facebook, it’s simple and fast. Just to top this feature off, microsoft made it so your friends news feed is in the contact list as well. It’s superb! I know what everyone is doing without having to open an app.

For me, one of the most intriguing features is the Xbox Live app. This is real Xbox Live. And with the Xbox Live Extras app, it just gets better. From your phone, you can see your gamerscore, message your Xbox Live friends and earn achievements from the Xbox Live games! It’s AMAZING!!! The games, are brilliant. I have 3 myself, and need to get more, but i don’t have the funds. From the games i have played, they are brilliant. And with the Xbox Live features, i see developers taking the platform in their stride and making some awesome games. It was said that you can start playing a game on your xbox and then continue on your phone later, how true that is at this time, isn’t clear, but that would be epic.

I haven’t covered all the features here, but i’ll give a quick run down now:

  • The phone has a 4.3″ WVGA touch screen that just blows away most competition
  • It uses Dolby Mobile technology for crystal clear phone calls
  • It sports Windows Phone 7, which is brilliant and a real contender in the market
  • Facebook, contacts and e-mails sync effortlessly
  • The OS up-dates over the air, which is useful if a computer isn’t handy
  • Records 720p videos and has a 5 megapixel camera
  • Has xbox live integration which gives for fantastic games
  • Has a built in FM Radio receiver for on the go listening to the radio

Overall, this is the best phone i have had in a while. Some of the features are just awesome. It’s a shame the multi-tasking is a lame/non-existent and the Internet Explorer is on there. I’d give it a solid 7.5/10