Tag Archives: gaming

An Open Letter to Handset Makers: Why Your Phone Is a Loser

N:B THIS ARTICLE IS COPIED WORD-FOR-WORD FROM http://www.cultofandroid.com/ and the link is here

Dear Handset Maker:

Your company and hundreds of others are engaged in an epic battle for the smartphone handset market, which within a year or two will exceed a billion customers and $150 billion a year in revenue.

Don’t you want a big piece of that? Because if you do, you’re not acting like it.

Samsung gets most of the market share and some of the profits. Apple gets most of the profits and some of the market share. But Samsung fears with justification that its lead is slipping away to lower-cost and more aggressive vendors. Apple’s momentum has slowed horribly with the onslaught of Android phones.

The rest of you handset makers — let’s face it — are scrambling for crumbs on the floor.

Instead of taking one of the known-bad losing strategies, why don’t you try the obvious winning strategy?

I’m going to describe the losing strategies, then spell out the winning one.

An Open Letter to Handset Makers: Why Your Phone Is a LoserLosing Strategy #1: Don’t Offer a Winning OS

Nokia: Your Lumia line of phones are actually really nice — especially your shiny, new 41-megapixel Lumia 1020 — and some people want or don’t mind Windows Phone 8 powering their phones. But there aren’t enough of those people to save Nokia.

Go ahead and offer a Windows Phone 8 phone. But also give us a comparable Android version. Same for you, BlackBerry, and all the other phones not offering one of the two winning smartphone OSs, Android or iOS. And since only Apple can offer iOS, Android is mandatory for success now.

Losing Strategy #2: Offer Android With a Proprietary Interface

So many great phones are held back because you choose to prevent users from enjoying a vanilla Google interface. Are you under the impression that Android users don’t like Google stuff?

Sure, go ahead and make your own interface. But give us a switch in the settings that enables us to choose “Nexus Experience” with integrated Google Now and Google apps.

Losing Strategy #3: Offer Google or Nexus Experience Without Custom Hardware Apps

The Samsung S4 and HTC One are now available with Google and Nexus “experiences.” Which is great. There’s just one problem: the camera apps and other apps on the proprietary interface versions are awesome and necessary to get full functionality out of the hardware.

So all the reviews of your vanilla-interface versions should have been triumphant. Instead, they were filled with disappointment.

I’m talking to you, too, Google. The Nexus 4 is great. But that camera app can’t compete with the awesome stuff you can do with the high-end Samsung and HTC cameras.

The Winning Strategy: Android With Vanilla Interface and Custom Apps

The winning strategy, which to the best of my knowledge no major handset maker has even tried, is to ship a high-quality phone with Nexus Experience interface and maximum integrated Google apps and maximum access to Google Now, but with custom hardware-facing apps — especially a really awesome camera app that highlights the unique or special feature of that camera.

In other words: Make custom apps, not custom interfaces.

Or, if you do make custom interfaces, offer the vanilla one, too.

If the Lumia 1020 ran Android with the Nexus interface and an Android version of the Lumia camera app and software, I’d buy it in a second.

If the Sony Xperia Z Ultra had the Nexus interface and the Sony camera app and software, I’d buy it in a second.

The same goes for dozens of great phones available that are ruined by one of the losing strategies.

The winning strategy is simple and obvious and you already know how to do it: Just build a great phone, give us the maximum Google interface experience plus customized software to fully unlock the power of your hardware.

Do that and you will instantly rise to the top of the heap. You’ll certainly win my business.

Potentially Yours,

Mike

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10 Games we hoped to see at E3, but didn’t

Yes, there was a lot of stuff at E3 this year, and yes, it was one of the most important shows in years. And sure, we saw two new impressive consoles and several new games revealed for the first time, and there was also stuff like the Oculus Rift that stole the show. And yes, OK, there were plenty of big titles we’ve known about that we got a closer look to, and we had the chance to speak to some of the most influential people in the gaming industry, but what about the Last Guardian, dammit! Where was Fable IV?!?

Perhaps we are walking in the shadow of Veruca Salt, but there were a few games we had hoped to see at E3 this year but didn’t. Some may have been held back as part of a long term strategy, while others may have skipped the show for more ominous reasons. Others were just games we had speculated based on guesswork would be there, but they proved us wrong.

Whatever the reason for their absence, here are 10 games we had hoped to see at E3, but didn’t.

Beyond Good and Evil 2

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When it comes to game development, you don’t want to rush things. After all, it’s only been nine years since the release of the first Beyond Good and Evil – 10 this November. In geologic terms that’s, like, nothing. To a normal human though, a decade is a fairly sizable chunk of time.For years, Ubisoft has been promising a follow up to Beyond Good and Evil, and for years we’ve been waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And it isn’t like the sequel rumors are only fan-driven – the game’s creator Michael Ancel continues to toy with the hearts and minds of fans, offering update after update. According to Ancel the game has been in development – legitimate development, with people actually working on the game – since 2006.

That said, with the next gen of consoles drawing the attention of the gaming industry and media in general, why not make this show the launching pad for the new game? Chuck a trailer out there with a vague release date and watch people go berserk. It worked for the Mirror’s Edge prequel. But no, sadly we got nothing about this game. The wait continues.

Fable IV

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There wasn’t any specific reason to assume that there would be a new Fable unveiled, other than it would have made sense. At the Xbox One reveal in May, Microsoft claiming that it had 15 exclusives in the works, including eight original titles. That left seven returning franchises to be guessed at. We knew a few like Forza 5, but that left several to guess at leading up to E3.

Of all of Microsoft’s exclusives, the Fable property seemed like an obvious choice. It has been nearly three years since the previous Fable game (not counting the Kinect-only Fable: The Journey), and there have been rumors of a new Fable MMO for over a year now, so the timing would fit. Lionhead also began tickling the fancies of its fans, promising a big announcement leading up to E3.

Turns out the announcement was for an HD re-release of the original Fable, and it’s not even for the Xbox One. Maybe next E3.

Fallout 4

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War never ends, and judging by what Bethesda has already said, neither will the Fallout franchise. We know there are more Fallout titles on the way. We may even know where the next game is going to be set: Boston and surrounding areas. What we don’t know is when to expect it.After releasing Fallout 3 in 2008, Bethesda followed it up with New Vegas just two years later. Bethesda had a fairly strong showing at E3, but a peek at Fallout 4 would have been a nice surprise. Sure Bethesda Game Studios just completed work on the impressive Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and all its DLC, and sure its developers are probably enjoying a well deserved rest after back-to-back projects that pushed the current gen beyond where most thought it could go, but see above about Veruca Salt, re: wanting it all now.

It’ll happen eventually, and probably sooner rather than later.

Homefront 2

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Another property in the THQ fire sale sweepstakes, Homefront left a lot of unfulfilled potential. The original had a smart and dark story written by John Milius, the director and writer of several 80s classics like Red Dawn  and Conan: The Barbarian, the inspiration for Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski, and a genuinely weird guy. The gameplay was solid (although unremarkable) too, but there were some major issues in the game. It was ridiculously short and skipped a huge chunk of the story, plus there were technical issues. But it had promise. When Crytek bought the rights for a mere $500K, it was a steal. It also guaranteed that the franchise would get a second chance to get it right.Crytek continues to steadily improve its own stature around the world. It is more than just the maker of Crysis now, it is the developer behind the game Ryse: Son of Rome, the team that put together what promises to be one of the most popular free-to-play games in the world with Warface, and now the owner of Homefront 2.

Homefront 2 may not be ready to show off to the public, but it could have made this E3 into the biggest yet for Crytek. Maybe next year.

The Last Guardian

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See that image for The Last Guardian above? Yeah, that was released in 2009. So it really wasn’t a surprise to not see, or hear, or even catch more than a few downward glances from Sony execs when people mentioned The Last Guardian, but it does confirm some serious fears about Team Ico’s long gestating project. The game has been in development since 2007, but for every step forward the game takes, it seems to take two back.Team Ico makes art that pretends to be video games, and you can’t rush art. But showing off the game, even just confirming it was still in the works, would have helped to alleviate some fears. Instead, we are left wondering once again, after yet another E3, where is The Last Guardian? Hopefully we won’t be asking the same question next year.

The Legend of Zelda on Wii U

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Nintendo had a weird E3 showing. After imprisoning journalists and convincing them that the four fingers it was holding up were actually just three, Nintendo then launched into a press conference that it swore wasn’t a press conference – which is good, because if it was a press conference, it was a really, really, really bad one. The big reveal from the event was that Wii Fit Trainer was now a playable character in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. The general reaction could best be summed up with this quote: “…”The thing is, Nintendo had an easy way out of it, and possibly out of the hole it has so expertly dug for itself with the Wii U’s poor launch: it just needs games. With more and more third-party developers abandoning the Wii U, Nintendo needs to turn inwards, something it has always done anyway.

Look, we know that Nintendo is working on every famous Nintendo exclusive franchise. Some may be near completion, others may be years out, but we know they are coming. So why not give us a teaser? Microsoft showed a generic CGI trailer for the new Halo – it didn’t even confirm the name Halo 5 – but people went nuts. We know there is a Zelda project for the Wii U on the way. What better time to unveil it and several other Nintendo exclusives while the industry and fans look on? It may not make up for the hot rod like power compared to the Wii U’s “sensible car” approach to hardware design, but it would have staved off plenty of fears.

Metroid

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See the comments about The Legend of Zelda. Donkey Kong is neat and all, but it is no Metroid. Nintendo desperately needs games, and since its first party properties are some of the most beloved in the history of gaming, it has a shot at competing with more powerful hardware. Nintendo just needs to excite its fanbase! Instead, it’s like Nintendo’s strategy for the Wii U is modeled on the “drunk uncle” strategy, as it wobbles around and tries to remind us of the good old days without actually doing anything new.It’s surprising we didn’t see more from Nintendo. The argument that it is holding its stuff for more fan based events and just didn’t care about the pomp and circumstance of E3 may make sense (except that it totally doesn’t). Plus, Nintendo has already confirmed that it will have a big presence at Gamescom in August. So maybe then we’ll see Nintendo finally act like it cares, at least a little.

Prey 2

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There are a lot of rumors about Prey 2, and none of them are particularly good. After a strong debut and a good showing at E3 2011, Prey 2 was on everybody’s radar – right up until it wasn’t. Now, no one is entirely sure of what the state of the game is.Bethesda may have taken the team from Human Head Studios out back and lined them up against the wall. Arkane, the team behind Dishonored, is said to be taking the lead now, and undoing most of the work Human Head did. Assuming the game isn’t completely dead, it is likely that Prey 2 is years from release. It’s not surprising that the game wasn’t shown at E3, but it would have been nice to reassure fans that it was still on the way.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6: Patriots

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Of all the games on this list, this is the one we are most surprised wasn’t shown at E3. Following the success of the Rainbow 6 Vegas duology it was obvious that the franchise would return. And then Ubisoft went ahead and unveiled the whole thing in 2011 in a feature article for Game Informer. It was very exciting.

There were some rumors that the game was being held for next-gen, but the next gen is here and still no Rainbow 6: Patriots. We got a completely new Tom Clancy game in The Division, so at least old Tommy is taken care of, but nothing about a game that was officially unveiled two years ago.

Rainbow 6: Patriots is scheduled for 2014, so unless that changes we should see something soon. Maybe Ubisoft is holding it for a big Gamecom reveal, or maybe Rainbow 6 is sneaking up on gamers… in fact it may be closer than you think… Oh, God!  Rainbow 6 is calling from INSIDE THE HOUSE!

Uncharted 4

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This was a bit of a longshot, but it would have made sense. The Uncharted franchise helped to define the PS3 and they helped to sell more than a few consoles on their own – or at the very least gave PS3 owners something to brag about while their 360 rivals enjoyed a robust online experience and a dominant presence in the U.S. Yeah, it wasn’t the best comeback, but it was a good one.Naughty Dog has been busy working on the excellent The Last of Us, but the team is big enough to handle multiple projects. It will be a while before Uncharted 4 is released, but an announcement along with the E3 unveiling of new games would have been fitting, and would have been one more giant kidney punch from Sony to Microsoft via its press conference.

Uncharted 4 is said to be preparing for an unveiling at the Spike TV Awards in December, which would be in fitting with the recent tradition of the series, and give people at least one reason to watch that show. On top of that, Naughty Dog certainly wouldn’t have wanted to steal attention away from The Last of Us (which you should either be playing right now, or at least bragging to your 360 frenemies about). Still, it would have been a nice surprise for fans.

Holy Crap! Grand Theft Auto 5’s Map is Huge

GTA 5’s map is huge—like really huge. Here’s how big it actually is, in scale. The image is a fan-made map based on information provided by Rockstar Games.

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Grand Theft Auto 5‘s map is huge. It’s a fact that comes as little to no surprise to anyone who’s been following Rockstar Games’ progress over the years. It’s bigger than any of the previous games in the series, and that’s just what we’ve seen of the game. It spans from the ranges of Mount Chiliad all the way down to whatever the name of the bay area is in Los Santos, whereupon you can opt to go diving out into the open sea for even more vast locations to explore—underwater.

 

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Heck, the area in the game is so big that Rockstar has described it to be five times larger than Red Dead Redemption‘s map. According to the studio, Grand Theft Auto 5‘s Los Santos map is bigger than Red Dead Redemption, San Andreas, and Grand Theft Auto IV combined. As I mentioned before, there’s wilderness, a military base, and even an ocean floor for you to explore underwater. It’s just that huge.

To give you some sense of scale, a redditor named C-Ron has underlaid fan-made version of GTA 5‘s map beneath those of previous games in the series to showcase just how large the game actually is. If you shoved everything to one side, you could find room to fit in Red Dead Redemption‘s map, and then some.

Keep in mind that the map scale is just an estimation of how big the game’s area actually is. Until Rockstar themselves release an official map, all we can do is speculate as best we can.

Contributed by

 

Jeff Bridges Faces Down A Dragon In The Seventh Son Trailer

JEFFJeff Bridges as a wizard. Julianne Moore as a very slinky, thoroughly nasty witch. And Ben Barnes as the hapless apprentice who’s caught in a battle between the two. Seventh Son has all these things and more, and the first trailer for the film is now online.

Russian director Sergey Bodrov (Mongol) is making his English language debut here, with a story very loosely based on the book The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney. But even if you’ve read the book there are some major changes in story. Judging by the trailer, expect this to be seriously epic fantasy with some pretty impressive visuals.

Jeff Bridges’ Master Gregory is a “spook”, a wandering wizard who fights off witches and demons preying on townspeople but who is himself an object of scorn and suspicion. Ben Barnes is Tom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son, born with inate gifts for magic but untrained when Moore’s Mother Malkin escapes her bonds and starts gathering witches for a major showdown. Oh, and these witches are shape-changing and very, very dangerous.

Seventh Son also stars Kit Harrington (Game Of Thrones), Antje Traue (Man Of Steel), Alicia Vikander, Olivia Williams, Djimon Hounsou and Jason Scott Lee. It hits UK screens on October 25.

 

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon Garrison Patch Released

If you’ve already beaten Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon and conquered all the garrisons, but still really want to keep the cyborg killing going, you’ll definitely want to check out the latest patch. Based on Far Cry 3’s Outpost reset patch, the Blood Dragon patch will allow players to reset all the garrisons and retake them. That means more explosions, more neon and an infinite supply of blood dragons pumped straight into your mindmeat.

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The year is 2007. It is the future. Revisit it now to wreak some havoc. Of course, if you haven’t already played Blood Dragon, now is your chance! Take a look at these stories for more information on the action-soaked, 80s-tinged vision of the future:

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is a Thing, and it is Awesome

 

Apple iPad (4th Generation, Wi-Fi): Review

Original Author: Sascha Segan

Now in its fourth iteration in two years, the Apple iPad continues its reign as king. The best large tablet you can buy today, the Apple iPad (4th Generation) has it all: top performance, a stellar screen, a surprisingly good camera, speedy Wi-Fi, and a breathtaking library of spectacular apps. Unlike other 10-inch tablets on the market, it’s the full package, which makes it a very rare five-star product, and a slam dunk for our Editors’ Choice.

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The fourth-generation iPad looks almost exactly like the previous model, and it’s priced the same, too. There are 16, 32, and 64GB sizes in Wi-Fi-only ($499, $599, and $699) and same-size 4G LTE variants on AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless ($629, $729, and $829). If you want to be able to keep apps, movies, and music on your tablet, I advise getting at least 32GB. The various carrier models don’t work on each others’ LTE networks, but the Verizon and Sprint models will work on AT&T’s 3G network and T-Mobile’s 2G EDGE network with the appropriate SIM card. For this review, I tested the $699 64GB Wi-Fi-only model.

Just like the second- and third-generation iPads, this tablet has a 9.7-inch screen surrounded by a black

 

 

(or white) bezel, with a curved metal back, and a single Home button. Apple’s magnetic Smart Cover, which was released with the iPad 2, clips on just fine. The tablet still has a sealed-in battery, and no ports other than a standard headphone jack. There’s a 1.2-megapixel camera right above the display on the middle of the top bezel, and a 5-megapixel camera in its traditional location on the back upper left corner.

On the bottom is Apple’s new, compact Lightning connector, which isn’t compatible with earlier accessories, but Lightning accessories are starting to appear, and I’m confident the ecosystem will develop quickly with more than 8 million Lightning-compatible phones, PMPs, and tablets already in people’s hands.

At 7.3 by 9.5 by 0.37 inches (HWD) and 23 ounces, the new iPad is the same size and weight as the third-generation model. It’s a little heavier than the 21-ounce Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, and the Google Nexus 10 (21.2 ounces), but I didn’t really notice during testing.

The 2,048-by-1,536-pixel Retina display is sharp, clear, and bright. At 263 pixels per inch, it beats every other tablet on the market right now except Google’s Nexus 10, which offers a 300ppi, 2,560-by-1,600 10-inch screen. But both Web browsing and gaming look better on the iPad’s screen because of superior software choices. In the browser, Apple picked better-looking, better-kerned fonts, and cross-platform games showed generally superior graphics and coding on the iPad.

The Retina display takes its toll on battery life just as it did on the third-gen iPad. I got 5 hours, 36 minutes of video playback at full brightness, almost the same figure as the previous model. (That’s still longer than the Nexus 10, which clocked in at just over 5 hours on the same test.) I’ll retest at half brightness as well; with the third-gen iPad, halving the brightness bumped video playback time up to 11 hours. And the big battery still takes a long time to charge: Six hours on our first try, even with the new, more powerful 12-watt charger.

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Apps and Performance
The new iPad, like the old iPad, runs Apple’s iOS 6. See our full review for a look at the ins and outs of the iPad’s operating system. We’ve also reviewed and profiled hundreds of iPad apps if you want to get an idea of the richness of the software for this device.

In the eight months since the third-generation iPad was released, most of the apps I have been using for testing have been upgraded to Retina versions. The OS smoothes and improves standard elements within many non-Retina-enhanced apps, too, including text and embedded maps.

Speaking of those maps, Apple’s troubles with mapping don’t affect this iPad as much as other iOS devices because the Wi-Fi-only model lacks GPS. Still, though, if it can find Wi-Fi the tablet can find its location, and you can download a third-party mapping app if you like; here are 10 solid Apple Maps alternatives.

The latest iPad packs an Apple A6X processor which Geekbench reports to be running at 1.4GHz (Apple won’t confirm or deny). The custom-designed A6, as seen in the iPhone 5, was already one of the fastest CPUs available; the A6X enhances the A6 with even better graphics.

The results are stunning. The fourth-gen iPad outmatched all other Apple products on the Geekbench and GLBenchmark benchmarks, scoring 1,768 on Geekbench to the iPad 3’s 749. Similarly, the heavy game “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” launched in 18 seconds on the new iPad as compared to 37 seconds on the iPad 3. Yes, it’s more than twice as fast. With the iPad 3, I found apps that stressed the older A5 processor. That just isn’t the case any more.

Apple’s efficient software comes into play when comparing against the Google Nexus 10 too. While the Nexus 10 notched a faster Geekbench score at 2,480, the iPad creamed it on all of our actual Web-browsing tests, Sunspider, Browsermark, and GUIMark, as well as in the speed of loading pages. I saw delays and stutters in the Nexus 10’s interface that I never saw on the iPad. Updating a large number of apps went more slowly on the Nexus than on the iPad. And under heavy strain, the iPad got a bit warm, but the Nexus 10 became even hotter.

Part of this is thanks to the iPad’s excellent Wi-Fi performance; on PCMag’s 5GHz 802.11n network, I got 37Mbps down on the iPad and 23Mbps down on the Nexus 10. Both speeds are fast, but it’s the iPad’s processor and software that seem to be making the difference here.

Gaming performance is significantly better on the new iPad, too. Intense games like Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Asphalt 7 run at a smooth 60 frames per second on the new iPad and render landscapes in advance of viewing; the Nexus 10 had frame-rate trouble in both games and would render buildings as I came up to them, which was distracting. Scores on the GLBenchmark graphics benchmark tell the tale. On GLBenchmark’s “Egypt HD On-Screen,” which renders a complex game-like scene, the iPad 3 scored 22 frames per second, the Nexus 10 hit 27, and the iPad 4 marked 42. That’s a noticeable difference.

Cameras and Multimedia
The new iPad upgrades both cameras. The 1.2-megapixel front camera records 720p video; the rear camera takes 5-megapixel stills and 1080p video. The cameras offer the same excellent performance as on the Apple iPad mini. The front camera takes sharp 1.2-megapixel shots, even in low light. In very low light, images get quite noisy, but that’s preferable to blurry. Its 720p HD videos record at a noisy 24fps in very low light, and 30fps outdoors. The main camera captures sharp, clear, and well-balanced 5-megapixel images and 1080p video at 30 fps indoors and out. I think people look ridiculous taking photos with the main camera of a 10-inch tablet, but many people do it.

The single speaker on the bottom of the iPad is tinny and of medium volume like most tablet speakers, but the headphone amp is impressive; I got rich, powerful sound through a pair of Monster earphones. The iPad also works just fine with Bluetooth headphones and speakers.

The iPad has always been an excellent media player, and there’s no change here. The hi-resolution screen lets you watch 1080p HD videos without downscaling, and they look spectacular. You can also output HD video to a TV either through Apple’s $49 HDMI adapter, or via Wi-Fi using Apple TV’s AirPlay feature.

The combination of the new processor and faster Wi-Fi fix the AirPlay problems I saw on the previous iPad, too. Using a 5GHz network, I streamed a 1080p version of “The Hunger Games” purchased from iTunes on an Apple TV, and watched a high-quality stream of “Arrested Development” on Netflix with no skipping. High-quality racing games showed good frame rates over AirPlay, but there was a bit of lag in the controls because of Wi-Fi latency.

Comparisons and Conclusions
Yes, I’m rating the iPad as the best 10-inch tablet, while its little brother, the iPad mini, isn’t the top seven-incher. The big iPad’s performance stands head and shoulders above the competition, and it provides premium screen and processor specs to match its premium price. The iPad’s library of tablet-focused apps matters a lot more, and look better, at 9.7 inches rather than 7.9. And while a 4:3 aspect ratio tablet looks a bit too squarish in the smaller size, it’s an ideal form factor for a larger device.

Most 10-inch Android tablets, including the laudable, but flawed, Google Nexus 10, still lack the level of polish and the range of third-party apps designed for Apple tablets. Yes, the Google Play store offers a small selection of featured tablet apps, but for the vast majority of Android apps, it’s hard to tell before downloading (and paying for) them whether you’ll get a true tablet app or a blown-up phone app. Once again, those scaled phone apps look okay on a medium-resolution, seven-inch tablet and generally awful at a super-high-res 10 inches, so this is more of a concern with larger tablets.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 leaped into our esteem by offering up uses that aren’t covered by the standard Android apps: multi-windowed Web browsing and a pressure-sensitive stylus. While the Note maintains its windowing advantage and is still an excellent tablet, the new iPad has caught up with third-party pressure-sensitive styli, including the Editors’ Choice Adonit Jot Touch.

And how about the Microsoft Surface RT? It’s definitely a competitor, but it isn’t quite there yet. The A6X processor’s performance beats the Nvidia Tegra 3’s, and the Retina screen beats the Surface’s 1,366-by-768 panel. More importantly, though, Apple’s massive library of excellent apps and accessories dwarfs the still-tiny ecosystem around Windows RT. (Remember, RT can’t run true desktop Windows apps.) Want to dance around clicking a keyboard onto your tablet? The iPad offers plenty of options like the Editors’ Choice Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover $109.04 at Shoplet.com.

The previous iPad received 4.5 stars; I dinged it for its A5 processor. At the time, I told iPad 2 owners to wait for the next model. And this is it. The fourth-generation Apple iPad is the only product I have ever personally rated five full stars because it represents the tablet state of the art.

 

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid 2013)

Design and Features
Almost physically identical to the previous Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid 2012)$974.99 at Datavision, the new MacBook Air 13-inch continues on in almost the same chassis as the previous model. The MacBook Air has an all-aluminum construction, tapering from 0.11 inches thick in the front to 0.68 inches in the back. It’s essentially the same chassis Apple has been using for the past three years, which is in turn a slightly modified version of the chassis they’ve been using since 2008. While not necessarily the thinnest laptop on the market anymore, it is still as thin and portable as it ever has been. The side panels house a pair of USB 3.0 ports (one left, one right), a Thunderbolt port (which can be used as a mini-DisplayPort for external monitors), a headset jack, a SDXC card slot, dual microphones and the system’s MagSafe 2 power connector. The twin microphones are new, and will help others hear you during FaceTime sessions. In the future, under OS X Mavericks, the dual mic setup will help the system pick out your voice when you’re using voice recognition (and maybe even Siri in the future). MagSafe 2 is the same connector that was introduced with last year’s MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina Display$1,539.99 at Amazon. The new MacBook Air tips the scales at a svelte 2.91 pounds, which is in the same ballpark as competitors like the Dell XPS 13-MLK$1,248.60 at Amazon (2.96 pounds) and the Acer Aspire S7-191-6640 (2.63 pounds with extended battery).

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The MacBook Air has a backlit keyboard that’s comfortable to type on, and a glass-surface, multi-touch trackpad. The system doesn’t have a touch screen or touch screen option, but that’s no deal breaker on a Mac, since OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion isn’t optimized for touch anyway. The display measures 13.3 inches and has a screen resolution of 1,440 by 900. This is lower than the 1,920 by 1,080 resolution you’ll get on systems like the Acer S7-191-6640 and Dell XPS 13-MLK, but you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference while watching a video at this screen size. If you need a higher resolution on a Mac, consider the MacBook Pro 13-inch (Retina Display).

What’s Inside
The interior of the MacBook Air has been updated, with a new fourth-generation Intel Core i5-4250U processor and new PCIe-based Flash Storage. The 128GB flash memory module is mated to the motherboard with a new, faster PCIe connector, which makes the system react a little faster than the SATA-based flash storage of last year’s model. The flash storage is physically smaller than last year’s, according to ifixit.com, which means that third party upgrades will again be scarce. The base system comes with a 128GB flash storage unit, with about 102GB free when you take it out of the box. There are 256GB and 512GB options available on Apple’s website. If you want more system memory, you’ll have to order the system with it pre-installed (8GB total for $100 more). The memory is built into the motherboard, with no upgrade slots for additional memory DIMMs. The system comes with a 54 WHr battery, which is an improvement over the 50WHr battery in last year’s model. Like all MacBooks and many ultrabooks these days, the battery in the MacBook Air 13-inch is not user replaceable.

The MacBook Air comes with the standard mix of full-version software built into OS X Mountain Lion, including FaceTime, Photo Booth, iPhoto, iTunes, Safari, Mail, Calendar, and Apple’s App Store. This is good, because it means that the system isn’t burdened by extraneous trial software. Windows PC makers are learning from this example: both the Acer S7-191-6640 and the Vizio 14-Inch Thin + Light (CT14-A4)$665.99 at Amazon come with Microsoft Signature prep, which removes all of the trialware and bloatware that would’ve come pre-loaded on a typical Windows retail system.

The system boots in only about 10 seconds, and wakes from sleep even faster. This is no doubt due to the MacBook Air’s speedy flash storage and the fact that the system hasn’t yet had too many programs installed yet. Apple completely abandoned built-in optical drives last year as an obsolete technology, you can install files you’ve downloaded from the Internet, copied over from a USB drive, installed from Apple’s external USB Superdrive ($79), or use the Apple App Store to install new programs. The new MacBook Air comes with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which is backward-compatible with dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi. You should use the system with Apple’s newly updated AirPort Extreme or another 802.11ac router if you need transfer rates approaching 1 Gbps. Speaking of speedy transport, the MacBook Air comes with a 10Gbps dual channel Thunderbolt port, which as stated earlier can interface with a mini-DisplayPort. For Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, and other interfaces like FireWire 800, you’ll need to buy an optional dongle from Apple or another provider. You’ll be able to use an Apple TV or adapter cables for a multi-monitor setup after you’ve upgraded to OS X Mavericks later this year, but having HDMI built in would make this system that much closer to perfect. The MacBook Air 13-inch comes with Apple’s one-year standard warranty with 90 days of phone support.

Performance
The system’s new 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-4250U processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000 is nominally clocked 400Mhz slower than the 1.7GHz i5-3427U processor in the last MacBook Air, but both will turbo up to 2.6GHz if needed. The lower base clock speed no doubt helps the system stretch out battery life. The new MacBook Air 13-inch lasted a staggering 15 hours 33 minutes on our battery rundown test. That is more than double the six hours we get from the best ultrabooks using 3rd-generation Intel Core processors like the high-end ultrabook Editors’ Choice Asus Zenbook Prime Touch UX31A-BH15T$1,099.99 at Best Buy (6:38). Most systems return far less battery power, like the five hours for the Dell XPS 13-MLK (4:56) or four hours like on the Sony VAIO Fit 14 (SVF14A15CXB) (4:08).

The downside of the lower-clocked processor is that the MacBook Air is a bit slower on the multimedia benchmark tests (Handbrake and Photoshop CS6), where it lags the Windows systems with faster-clocked Core i5 processors. On the flipside, the MacBook Air is still two to four times faster than Intel Atom-powered Windows 8 slate tablets on the Handbrake test, and those Atom-powered tablets can’t run the Photoshop CS6 test at all. The integrated Intel HD Graphics 5000 of the new MacBook Air shows a much-improved Heaven benchmark score over previous MacBook Airs and other systems with Intel HD Graphics 4000. Essentially, since there is an obvious upgrade path for users who want a faster multimedia workhorse (namely the MacBook Pros), the tradeoff for battery life is well worth it for the general business and consumer user.

perfornance test

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With double the battery life of the strongest current Windows 8 competition, the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid 2013) adds epic untethered usability to a highly portable system. While systems like the Acer Aspire S7-191-6640 and Vizio CT14-A4 start to approach the MacBook Air’s portability, none can approach that level of work utility away from a power outlet. The MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid 2013) is the system you want to be using if you need to deliver real work away from your desk. The fact that it can return such a long battery life while still using a mainstream processor is astonishing. Make no mistake, this simple score shows that laptops haven’t conceded the battery life prizes to the mobile OS tablets yet. The MacBook Air 13 is close, but not quite perfect, since it lacks a built in HDMI-out port and the slower-clocked processor returns slower multimedia performance on benchmark tests than rivals. That said, due to its excellent battery life, portability, and its very good day-to-day performance, we have no qualms in giving the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid 2013) the Editors’ Choice for ultraportable laptops.

 

Tecno Phantom Pad N9: Specifications

PHANTOM  ..N9 Its Tecno again hitting us with mouth watering specifications in its first Tablet, the Tecno N9 ( Alias: Tecno Phantom PAD). Not only is it the very first Tecno Tablet, it is the very first Tecno device to have a QUAD CORE CPU. It is the second device to house a 1GB RAM on board, the first was the Tecno Phantom A (Or Tecno F7).

Now to the full specifications!

PHANTOM2

 

Status

Announced 2013 Q2
Released 2013 Q2

Body

Dimensions 204 x 154 x 9.9 mm
Weight N/A
Keypad None
SIM Mini SIM (Single)

Display / Screen

Type Capacitive Touch Screen
Size 8.0 inches
Protection None
Resolution 768 x 1024 pixels (XGA)

Sound

Earphone Jack Yes, 3.5mm Jack
Vibration Yes
Ringtones MP3 / WMA / MIDI / AMR / WAV / AAC

Memory / Storage

Internal 16.0GB
RAM 1GB
External microSD Up to 32GB
Included None

Network / Connectivity

GPRS Yes
EDGE Yes
3.5G Yes
4G No
Speed N/A
Bluetooth Yes, Bluetooth 3.0
Infrared No
NFC No
USB Yes, micro USB
USB-OTG N/A
TV-OUT N/A
FM Radio Yes
GPS Yes
WiFi Yes
WiFi Hotspot Yes
Sensors G-Sensor, Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor

Camera

Primary 5.0MP
Flash Yes, Led Flash
Secondary Yes, 2.0MP

U.I.

O.S. Android 4.2 (JellyBean)
Processor Quad Core 1.2 Ghz
GPU N/A
Browser Android Browser, HTML5 & Flash Compatible
Java Yes, Via MIDP Emulator
Audio Player MP3 / WMA / MIDI / AMR / WAV / AAC
Video Player MP4 / 3GP / AVI (Others via 3rd party apps)
Others Calculator
Alarm
Memo
World Clock
Calendar
Gmail
Facebook
Voice Recording
Google Maps

Battery

Name N/A
Capacity 4500mAh
Talk Time Up to 8H
Standby Up to 500H

Price

Expected: $240

Guerilla talks Killzone: Shadow Fall on PS4

Guerilla Games’ latest iteration in the explosive Killzone series looks set to step up to the next level on PlayStation 4 with Killzone: Shadow Fall.

Speaking to the Official PlayStation Magazine, game director Steven Ter Heide gave readers an insight into a few of the technical changes that are set to make it look better and perform smoother than any Killzone game to date.

“The first thing that people notice is fidelity,” says Steven. “It’s running in 1080p, whereas the last game was running in 720p – that immediately makes a difference. The particle resolution had to be very low [on PS3], but because we’ve got loads more memory [now] we can have higher particle resolutions. More HDR lighting gives lots more range in the type of light we have in this level; both the amount of post-processing effects, and the quality of these effects. That’s the kind of thing people notice when looking at the difference between PS3 and PS4. The games look prettier.”

The full interview can be found on the Official PlayStation Magazine website, where Steven also talks about how the PlayStation 4 architecture has allowed it to gather more NPCs on screen at one time, approximately 60 in total and how it’s managed to create “the illusion of a living world”.

For insight into how Killzone: Shadow Fall actually plays, check out PSU’s hands-on preview and the E3 interview from OPM.

Apple seeds second iOS7 Beta to developers

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRhAaoqrb8F834ShnY-lXBznF4_oV2KMEHmKIIJwOGkDgbkfCjAApple Inc. has seeded the second beta of iOS 7, its next-generation OS for mobile devices, to developers.
Beta 2 of iOS 7 is available for the iPad and features Voice Memos, new Siri voices, Reminders, and UI tweaks, enthusiast site 9to5mac.com said.
“The new beta likely focuses on performance improvements and bug fixes as this is what Apple tends to focus on during major iOS release beta phases,” it said.
It said iOS 7 has a new user interface and AirDrop peer-to-peer file transfer, integration with cars, and new male-female voices and options for Siri.
Other than the new icons and buttons, iOS 7 added a notification to add media to Shared Photo Stream and revamped the Reminders app, 9to5mac.com said.
“We’ve noticed improved transparency across the system, particularly under keyboards and in folders,” it added.
Also, the enthusiast site noted “various performance improvements across the system” along with a new layout for Calendar list view on the iPhone.
A separate report on Mashable said Apple’s first developer beta for iOS 7 had omitted iPad support.
“The iPad wasn’t even featured in any of the extensive screenshots on Apple’s dedicated iOS 7 web page — aside from a nearly hidden reference — leading many to conclude that the larger-screen variant of iOS 7 just wasn’t ready for beta consumption,” it said. —TJD, GMA News