June 14th, 2013
We now know what both the PS4 and the XBOX ONE are called. We also know what’s in the box, what said box looks like and the peripherals that connect to those boxes. As far as physical attributes for the Next Gen consoles go that’s it isn’t it… Unless of course you include the delivery system for the majority of the content of course! The thing that’s causing the biggest stink for the as yet unreleased consoles is the discussion around the games that has every bodies knickers in a knot. The exclusives each platform has is part of that but it’s the discs themselves raising the eyebrows.
Are they a different shape, do they use a new standard that isn’t DVD or Blu Ray? No, the argument is almost more philosophical than it is technological. Is the disc the game?
Lets travel back in time a little. I was a PS2 owner and I didn’t really like the XBOX however this was based purely on not liking the first iteration of the controller. Announcements are being made about the 360 and PS3. I dismiss the 360 out of hand cos I’m a Playstation guy, that is until I used a 360 and specifically the controller. It just melted into you’re hand like the soul purpose of hands was to hold that controller. I was converted instantly and I have ever since been an XBOX guy. So the upcoming scenario for me feels very familiar just flipped.
Physical media is going through a bit of a crisis, music and movies have been feeling it for some time now and while TV isn’t physical media it is also feeling the digital pinch recently. Maybe the issue lies in the term “physical media” itself as its quite a misnomer. Media by its very nature isn’t physical, the physical aspect is merely a means of distribution and with the onset of digital distribution physical media becomes less necessary. For my money Microsoft have recognised this and also that leaping to all digital is a massive leap not only because of the limitations of the technology but also customer perception. They have instead found a middle point, a stepping stone to the all digital (or at least primarily digital) future that is coming. No, they probably haven’t got it completely right but for the most part (specifically the game licensing stuff) I don’t have an issue. Yes the 24 hour connection thing seems harsh and I can’t see why that could not be relaxed however the key thing is control. For this system to work they need to control it and that is definitely what they are doing.
I am leaning towards XBOX and that may or may not be a misguided sense of loyalty. The people most vocal (not necessarily the majority) on twitter are decrying Microsoft as evil for what they are doing and that they are spitting in gamers faces. I’ve heard “stats” about people’s friends all saying they will switch from XBOX or podcasts taking straw polls of their listeners. While these seem fairly damning they are from specific sub sets of gamers and aren’t representative of the whole user base but it does make me wonder. I feel like I’ve picked Team Jacob in a world screaming why it’s obvious Team Edward will prevail (if that metaphor doesn’t work it’s because I’ve never seen or read Twiglet, yes you did read that right I said Twiglet on purpose).
It could well be that just like last generation my mind will change when I see or feel/ use the consoles in real life. At that point I will be making my decision based on what I can see and touch in front of me. Cost is a big issue however (I’m not talking price of the console itself) people are basing decisions based on the current costs of games. The issue being this model turns all that on its head and current pricing structures won’t fit. Until it comes into practice we just don’t know so I will remain in my XBOX leaning
June 8th, 2013
Yup I’m pretty late on blogging about this one but then my blogs been in a state of flux for a while now. I needed to sort it out and couldn’t be bothered but it’s done now so lets talk next-gen consoles… again. I have previously written about my thoughts on the PS4 announcement and to be honest my opinions on a lot of what I wrote have changed so I’m going to write an update to that post but for now lets talk XBOX.
Lets start with the name. I don’t love it but then i don’t hate it. In a lot of ways it makes sense at the same time as being a bit confusing. One thing is for certain however it’s a million miles away from XBOX 720 and Infinity in the realms of crap names. That is to say its way way better than either. As Shakespeare would have said if he were a gamer “a console by any other name will play games with graphics as sweet”. The name has a degree of importance but in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that big a deal.
The XBOX 360 was an odd colour, in a way i was kinda glad when I got the RRoD (Red Ring of Death) as i bought an Elite in gorgeous matt black. The look of the Elite was so impressive i found it hard to believe that when the remodelled 360 was released they chose a glossy black for one of the models. It appeared they realised this was a mistake and cycled the glossy ones out so only the matt models remained. Now here we are looking at the XBOX ONE which appears to be a combination of matt and glossy black. I find this a little baffling. The overall design, well it’s a black box that sits under your TV.
I don’t know if you’ve been following the news on this thing but apparently Microsoft have announced that they aren’t releasing any games for the XBOX ONE!!!!! Oh wait, my mistake. They said all along that the games would be at E3 which is where it would also make sense to talk about its game DVR functions and XBOX live etc. Personally i think people got their knickers in a knot over the “lack of games” in the announcement for no good reason. Now the used games/ game licensing restrictions, I totally get why people are freaking out about this. The thing is though this is a baby step towards the inevitable all digital future. Microsoft came up with a way of phasing that future in, in a way they thought would be palatable. There is no easy way of doing this and if they went full digital right off the bat there would have been just as much outcry. It’s not perfect by any means but I personally don’t think it’s all that bad either.
Improved Kinect bundled with the system and the “always on” nature of the device (all be it in varied and lower power states) means instant on by voice command and a bunch of other sci/fi like features. A lot of tin foil hats have come out in response to this I get why people see the negatives but to me it all seems cool.
Am i naive or are all the people who are kicking off too paranoid. This remains to be seen but I’m looking forward to E3.
February 26th, 2013
Last week I was one of the people who stayed up late (I’m in the UK) to watch what everybody correctly guessed was the PS4 announcement. I sat on the sofa watching on my laptop while tweeting from my iPhone, generally mocking and complaining with the odd positive comment thrown in. Much has been said about the PS4 since they revealed it in all it’s translucent invisible glory, some good some bad and for what it’s worth here’s what I think.
The question regarding used games was kinda sorta maybeish answered and then analysed to the point it no longer felt anything like an answer. For me though the fact that the system wont be backwards compatible feeds into this. Sony are stating that the PS3 back catalogue will (at some point) be available for digital download and presumably this means that PS4 games will be available also. What with launch titles historically being thin on the ground titles from the previous generation would be quite widely played. If the console isn’t backwards compatible with physical media then they are going to need to have a wide range of PS3 games available digitally at launch which again seems unlikely as PS3 digital purchases wont carry over to PS4.
Pricing is a massive part of all of this and could well break the gamers back. I’m an XBOX owner and when games are released digitally they tend to be £20 ($30) which for a digital download is quite pricey especially seeing as that price remains static and used games prices drop over time. Add to this the fact that people may well have already shelled out for these games once already, asking them to pay for them again is going to be cheeky to say the least.
For these reasons having a concession price for people that already owned the game would be fair however then comes the issue of how do they prove they already owned it. Well Sony your a big boy and to be honest you should take it on the chin. The only way to do it would be if it shows in the players games history which could mean it was their copy, rented, borrowed or god forbid stolen. The point being penalising the masses to try and claw some money out of the minorities is bad business. Remember Sony we are living in a world where Amazon are offering customers a free digital copy of any album they ever bought from them, it’s time to think forwards not backwards.
February 5th, 2013
I was lucky enough to receive an iPad mini for Christmas, now I’ve had it for a little over a month I thought I’d share my thoughts.
Being an iPhone user already I was able to restore the iPad mini from my iPhone iCloud backup, the thought process being it would be easier to do this and then remove whatever I didn’t want. I’m not entirely certain that it was easier. It took forever, seriously like 5 hours which is just ridiculous considering I was going to delete a bunch of the stuff afterwards. I’d started though so figured if was safest to finish. Many of the apps I have we’re not universal so needed replacing with the iPad versions and in a lot of these cases, like eBay, this did not cost anything so all was well with the world but all in all this process took the 5 hours of restore followed by 1-2 hours of going through apps to see what was universal and what wasn’t. But hell, why am I complaining cos now I have an iPad mini.
When the first Gen iPad was announced I stated I was not interested and my reasons were 2 fold. I already have an iPhone and all I can see this doing is being a couch device simply replacing my iPhone while watching TV. Secondly, occasionally there are things I can’t do on my iPhone and similarly I wouldn’t be able to do them on my iPad either making it further pointless. Pointless however is only a barrier to affordability and not to ownership. These points in the last month have held true to me, the iPad is generally only used as a couch device while watching TV and i-devices are restricted in functionality by their very nature. The only difference here is the money question and as it was a gift I don’t feel bad about wasting money on Something I ultimately love but certainly do not need.
I have been thinking in the last 10-12 months about ditching the iPhone in favour of a windows phone as I’m a bit bored and fancy a change. Knowing this prompted a good friend of mine to tweet this to me:
and I thought, “you know what, he’s right! I am now an Apple guy for sure because I have two devices in the Eco system”. As it turns out however, I really don’t feel that to be the case, in fact in a weird way I feel it kinda makes my potential experiment into windows phone a little less risky. I have previously trialed a Nokia Lumia 900 and wrote a couple of blogs about it. But my conclusions were that I loved the phone but the apps just weren’t there for it. I was coming home and doing certain things on my iPhone that I felt I couldn’t do on my windows phone. As it stands I’m coming home and using my iPad on the couch while watching TV so it wouldn’t really have a massive impact.
The real clincher for me though that makes me feel that having a windows phone and an iPad would make no difference to me having an iPhone and and iPad is this. I was under the impression, rightly or wrongly, that my iPad and iPhone would work together better than Tony Stark and his metal suit but I really find them to be two completely separate entities. The major bugbear for me is games not syncing scores or progression which is how it really should work. You want the Netflix experience where you stop watching something on one device, and carry on from where you left off on another. Maybe I want to much but for me until that’s the case then I don’t feel the benefit of having two devices from the same Eco system personally. This leaves the WP8 route firmly open for me.
January 28th, 2013
It’s yet another new year which means the fitness bug is biting once more and this time I mean business. My reasons for stopping running the umpteen times i have were generally in the “3 kids, no time” region however this issue may have been affected slightly now, this is due to me Having a treadmill.
That I have a treadmill is down to my amazing wife and I appreciate it greatly, and the best way to show my appreciation is by using it. The treadmill in question is a Reebok Z9 and it does exactly what it’s supposed to. Back in my gym days I was never very keen on treadmill running as misplaced foot falls seem scarier than road running however this is a great solution for me so I am learning to get used to it. I’ve been for a few runs now and the hardest part was knowing what speed to run at. Luckily as a runkeeper user I was able to look at my previous runs and discern a pace which gave me a starting point. Being that I haven’t run in a very long time I started running splits to build my stamina and within a few short weeks I should be able to run 5K again.
I do love runkeeper, it’s a great service however it does not let you input manual program’s when using gym equipment. You can enter data manually but as I am running splits and I can only enter time run for and distance it creates a false pace reading for me. Admittedly this will only be an issue for about 2-3 more weeks so it isn’t the end of the world. I’m really enjoying running again and as a result I’ve rediscovered my Hedy. I was always sad to see this company go under and while several imitation products exist it’s just not the same, I know I’m gonna be sweating and the Hedy helps make sure I can see and don’t feel too disgusting.
The overall hope is that I will once more be fit and hopefully not fat. Lets see how that pans out.
December 19th, 2012
Originally posted on Tumblr, September 30th 2012
An Evening to Myself
A couple of weeks back i had an evening to myself (once i’d put the kids to bed that is). Jen was out for a college reunion so i took the opportunity to clear the backlog of TV shows on our Sky+ box. i started with Veep.
I started watching Veep when it was airing and quickly fell behind. This was nothing to do with the show itself more a victim of my lack of free time. When i first started watching i was trying to compare the characters to their British counter parts in The Thick of It which i quickly realised was pointless. In the time honoured tradition of adapting TV shows for their own version across the pond a carbon copy will never work. It has to be given the local flavour or else it is doomed. While UK folks can appreciate a US show to the format does not work when put in British surroundings and vice versa. I Really enjoyed Veep, the pacing is insane blink and you miss it type humour.
The Thick of It
I was already a fan of this show so the fact it was coming for a new season in which the government is now a coalition excited me greatly. While this is probably the most Synched up i have been since starting this i am several weeks behind. The profanity is fantastic and creative as always and i love the fact that Malcolm wasn’t even in the first episode as it left everybody wanting more.
A Touch of Cloth
Think Police Squad/ Naked Gun and Airplane but if they had starred a cross between Bergerac, Frost and Cracker. It’s a complete parody of UK cop shows in a way that is completely unrelenting. Sure every joke doesn’t hit but there’s another one in 5 seconds so does it matter. Mixing really obvious hit you over the head jokes a la Don’t call me Shirley with more subtle visual gags and cultural nods and winks (the Piers Morgan stuff had me rolling) it’s a show that refuses, nay demands that you don’t take it seriously. Half groaning half laughing and half rewinding to make sure that sign in the background said what i thought it said i look forward to the next A Touch of Cloth.
Batman Arkham City
In all honesty i am not enjoying this one as much as it’s predecessor. It seems buggier and unintentionally more difficult than the last. The puzzles are easy enough to figure out but then you have to Google to check because you try what you think and it doesn’t work. Of course this leads to you then accidentally getting it right after doing what you had been doing in the first place. In honesty on the particualr i couldn’t be bothered and 10 minutes was it all it took for me to switch off.
December 17th, 2012
Originally posted on Tumblr, August 24th 2012
Batman Arkham City & Breaking Bad
Tuesday was a perfect example of my experiences of consuming media. I played a few hours of a video game that came out almost a year ago and started watching the 3rd season of a TV show currently airing its 5th.
Batman Arkham City so far seems like a pretty good game, I’m expecting good things from the story and script because it was written by Paul Dini and the game play seems just as good as the first with some of the extra tweaks you’d expect from any sequel. I’ve struggled a bit so far with some of the sensor interfaces though. On two occasions devices supposed to lead me to a destination have been quite tricky to read, the way the information was displayed, to my mind at least, was unclear. A quick google and I’m back in the game so it wasn’t a big deal but the experience would have been better if I’d been able to interpret the info without this.
Breaking Bad, how I have missed thee. When I finished watching season 2 a few months back I was gutted season 3 wasn’t available, now it is available and season 4 will be released on. Netflix UK next week. The first episode started out a little slow and confusing but it didn’t take long to suck me back in and I’m looking forward to two full seasons of Breaking Bad goodness to look forward to
December 15th, 2012
Recently i started a tumblr blog where i would talk about my inability to stay up to date with the millions of hours worth of media content constantly being released that i would love to watch. It tied in to my Get Glue account and i would write blog posts too in a kind of review stylie. It ended up just being Get Glue posts and very little else. I’m going to copy the actual blog post that i made over to this blog and from now on any video game, movie or TV show related posts i make i will do it here… you know, like i used to.
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it i guess is the lesson here.
June 18th, 2012
The Nokia Lumia 900 comes with several apps pre installed, as do many smart phones. Some of these are Nokia branded rather than Microsoft. This kind of thing has made me dubious about the Android operating system in the past as I wanted an Android experience not a Samsung Android experience or a HTC Android experience. What with them being there and all I figured id give them a test drive to see if they enhanced my experience, which leads me neatly to the first app.
A routine part of my job is performing home visits, I’m not massively familiar with the suburbs of the city where I work and need help getting about. I don’t have a Sat Nav and have always relied on my iPhone to get me where I’m going. This has been difficult with the iPhone as the GPS has always (in my personal experience) shaky at best. It occasionally stopped completely to then jump forward in time to let you know you’ve gone too far and my personal favourite widening the circle in which it believes you to be to the point it’s bloody useless. I’ve always attributed this to both the hardware and my phone network and i’m aware that the lack of turn by turn is being adressed later this year with the release of iOS6.
Nokia Drive works really well, i’m really impressed with it. I’ve only used it for a few days but it has made my job a lot easier. I’ve had no problems so far regarding positioning, i’m using the same SIM card i used in my iPhone 4 which has made me realize how much of the problem was related to the iPhone and not my carrier. I initially struggled with it however i feel that was more to do with the way i search for destinations on the iPhone not being the way you search for them on a Sat Nav. The turn by turn works well and the maps are basic but clear. It includes a display for your speed and tells you when you drive too fast (so i’m told). All in all Nokia Drive is a great addition to the Lumia 900 and it shall be missed when the trial is over.
Presumably Nokia Drive uses Nokia Maps which would make sense. As i say the maps are quite clear and basic, as it’s on for Nokia Drive (again presumably) it would seem pointless not giving it it’s own app however Bing Maps is already on the phone and is far superior. I’ve never used Bing Maps before, mainly because Google Maps exists, but it works really well and looks really good and as a result negates the need for what appears to be a sub standard standalone Nokia Maps app.
Nokia Music seems to have a few cool features. I haven’t used it because in all honesty the thought of signing up and faffing around fills me with dread. From a brief glance it looks to have some features closely akin to both Spotify and Last FM (both of which have apps available on the WP7 Marketplace). You can create a music profile which then helps you discover new artists and songs suggested to be in line with your tastes. It also offers music mixes that stream to your phone and the ability to store offline mixes to play whenever and wherever you are. It also offers dynamic gig guide which can use location data to suggest gigs close by that you may be interested in. From what i can tell Music purchased from the Nokia Music store is DRM free but personally something about having the Nokia Name attached to it puts me off. Not because I dislike Nokia but because it makes it feel like it would be locked in to Nokia in one way or another.
Nokia Drive is certainly the highlight here for me, it’s making my life a lot easier and certainly making the Lumia 900 a more attractive proposition. The fact these apps can be unpinned from the front screen and effectively ignored if you wish is good but even better they can be uninstalled meaning if it’s not your cup of tea you can wave bye bye to them.
June 16th, 2012
Since 2007 I have always used an iPhone, I fell in love with them and had no real desire to go anywhere else for a phone. This brand loyalty (it does still exist) is something I have previous for. Prior to Apple it was Nokia, hardly surprising really especially when somebody told me recently that more people own a Nokia phone than a toothbrush. With Nokia it was the ease of use and familiarity from device to device, if you could use one you could use them all, Apples iPhone has a similar hook with their devices which probably helped my migration from Nokia.
So here I am thinking of moving back to Nokia, specifically the Lumia 900 running Windows Phone 7 (more specifically 7.5 also known as Mango). In the mobile universe there are a few operating systems but WP7 is the one that has intrigued me the most to the point it has made me consider jumping ship. Other factors have made me a little more nervous about leaping in feet first for example the recent iOS6 announcement, the inevitable New iPhone which will likely be released later this year and of course the fact that WP8 also looms with no word on whether current gen phones will be supported.
I have been provided with a Nokia Lumia 900 for a trial period of two weeks by Nokia Connects. I have no affiliation with the site whatsoever and as I tweeted shortly before getting the phone.
“My favourite bit of the T & C’s for the trial Lumia 900 I’m being sent: We like loud mouths so post as much as you like – good and bad.”
So that’s exactly what I intend to do. This is mainly a great opportunity for me to dip my toe (to continue the water based analogy from earlier) into WP7 and figure out if its for me. I’m likely to make comparrisons to the iPhone as its what I am used to but I’ll try and be as fair as I can.