Welcome to the Joystiq Weekly wrap-up where we present some of the best stories and biggest gaming news from our sister-publication.
- Nintendo’s been chronically late to the party with modern accoutrements, but it’s just joined the season-pass club with Mario Golf: World Tour.
- Indie hits Papers, Please; Gone Home and The Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey take home top honors at The Games for Change Festival, an awards ceremony for socially conscious games.
As unassuming and stylish as the rest of the series is melodramatic and bombastic, Hitman Go is an impressive debut for Square Enix Montreal. The play style recalls the strategic thinking of the console/PC games, but does so with an entirely new style that fits touch-based devices like a fine leather glove.
- Instead of shoe-horning a typical entry of the long-running stealth series Hitman onto iOS, Square-Enix transformed it into a tense board game, earning a lot of love from Joystiq‘s Anthony John Agnello in the process.
Until next Sunday, that’s it! Check back in seven days for another recap, or, you know, head over to Joystiq and catch all of the news as it happens.
Cosworth, the well-known auto performance group, is making a public return to the IndyCar car racing series (OK, it’s always been around in the shadows). The company just unveiled its Cosworth Live on Air system, which puts portable WiMAX in each car, potentially offering spectators trackside and at home live feeds of interesting data. Most — if not all — of this info is already available to race scrutineers via the Cosworth equipment built into all the cars, but the Cosworth Live on Air system should see that data presented to fans in new and never-before-seen ways.
In general, data like steering angle, fuel consumption, fuel level, tire pressures, speed and temperatures are all things racing fans drool over. For example, we’d love the ability to flip between our favorite drivers and make sure everything is running smoothly and razz our buddies who haplessly cheer for the wrong driver and team via twitter. We’ve still not heard the nitty-gritty on how this data will be presented but are nonetheless stoked to see Cosworth and IndyCar once again showing Formula 1 how to make racing accessible and fun for all.
You’d never mistake me for an A/V geek, since I’m far more interested in what’s on TV than how it gets to me. That said, I always felt like I was missing out on being able to try out projectors since they required a complex ceiling mounting process and needed me to know about things like lumen counts, aperture correction and blooming. That’s why, when I first clamped eyes on Philips’ Screeneo, I thought this was my chance to right that wrong.
Unlike projectors (as most of us would imagine them), Screeneo is a short-throw unit, designed to sit at the base of a wall and beam images straight above it. That meant all I had to do was stick this on my TV table, and instantly I’d get a personal cinema. In practice, if you sit it 10 centimeters away from the wall, you’ll get a 50-inch screen, and if you pull it back to 45cm, it’ll stretch as wide as 100 inches. In short: wow.
Setup is ridiculously simple, since all you have to do is plug the thing in, select which way the screen needs to be oriented, and your job is done. All-in, it took about 10 minutes to tweak the picture settings to get my Xbox 360, Roku and Chromecast hooked up. What’s brilliant about the Screeneo is that it’s Android-powered, with 4GB of on-board storage, WiFi with built-in web browser and even an SD card slot, making it a lot more flexible than your average TV. Even better, there’s a beefy pair of 26-watt speakers built into the hardware, so there’s no need to hook up an external pair.
Projectors are ideally meant to be used in pitch-dark rooms that compensate for the weak bulb. In fact, I was still able to use it through a long weekend without having to draw my blinds during the day. It was in those moments, with the Xbox hooked up, that the Screeneo really came into its own. Wandering around the streets of Columbia was so much better on a 100-inch screen, and my little team made the
Champions League Champions Cup in FIFA 13. In fact, I’m reasonably sure that the bigger picture actually helped improve my ability in both games, since there was a definite upswing in my fortunes after I’d installed the unit. Then there are the space savings: if you don’t fancy the idea of a 50-inch TV cluttering up your lounge, this stout box is a compelling proposition indeed.
So, what are the downsides? First up, like all projectors, it’s prone to running hot, and after a long Netflix session, might surreptitiously power down in order to rest its burning bulb. Then there’s the output quality, which tops out at 720p. Neither of those are deal breakers for the casual users this is is aimed at. What might be non-negotiable, of course, is your budget. Considering you can get a normal projector for less than £500, the fact that the Screeneo is priced at £1,500 ($2,505) in the UK instantly makes it a “fantasy” purchase rather than one you might legitimately splurge on. When it comes time to replace my aging Bravia, I’ll remain in the land of HDTVs. Were Philips to knock £500 from the price, though, I’d be back in a heartbeat. In the meantime, I think I’m a bit of an A/V convert — someone bring me a gold-plated aux cable, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
The current-gen console wars may be tilting in Sony’s favor with its PlayStation 4, but once upon a very recent time (i.e., the previous console generation), Microsoft had a big early lead. When the company released its Xbox 360 back in 2005, the console had a considerable head start on the competition, beating Sony’s PlayStation 3 launch by a full year. There were, however, intrinsic pitfalls in rushing the 360 out to market so fast; hardware problems Microsoft paid for dearly.
The Xbox 360′s November 2005 launch was highly anticipated, with thousands of gamers (several Engadget editors among them) braving late hours and cold weather to snag one. Unfortunately for those eager gamers, Microsoft’s haste to meet holiday deadlines resulted in limited stock levels, leaving many shoppers empty-handed and disappointed. On top of that, a significant portion of this initial run — about 3 percent, according to Microsoft — was afflicted with the “red ring of death,” a dreaded, scarlet indicator that signaled a defunct, or “bricked” console. That production hiccup meant a good deal of early adopters had to spend those first days on the phone with customer support instead of playing their new 360s. Microsoft eventually responded to the crisis and made an effort to smooth out those issues with extended warranties, software updates and revised production runs.
Early hardware issues aside, the Xbox 360 was regarded by many as a beautiful thing, with a slimmer and more streamlined build than that of its hulking predecessor. Its gamepad even went on to become a high-water mark for controller design, setting a standard that’s been emulated by many third-party companies since. And it’s still the go-to for many PC gamers to this day. The 360′s also credited with popularizing online multiplayer for console gaming with Xbox Live. That service, which debuted on the original Xbox, benefitted tremendously from Microsoft’s earlier dalliance with online gaming and, of course, the 360′s robust install base.
Limited onboard storage capacity, however, certainly discouraged wanton spending on digital games. The Premium Edition of the Xbox 360 came with a 20GB hard drive, making it the preferred option for most consumers. The cheaper Core version didn’t have a hard drive at all, although for $100, gamers could purchase a 20GB add-on HDD. Without it, however, they couldn’t download much content or play last-gen Xbox games. As the years went by, Microsoft released new 360 models with larger-capacity drives to accommodate the growing file size of games and gamers’ appetite for downloads.
It didn’t take long for Microsoft to garner gamers’ loyalty with the Xbox 360. In its first three years on the market, the 360 effectively surpassed the original Xbox’s lifetime sales with over 30 million units sold. That number then rose to 80 million units by 2008 and got another boost with the Kinect’s release in 2010. Thanks to that monstrous install base, new games continue to arrive for the console to this day; games that are also seeing simultaneous release on next-gen consoles.
Microsoft may be passing the torch to its shiny and new Xbox One, but regardless, sales numbers for the 360 remain strong. In March of this year, over 100,000 units were sold. In fact, the Xbox 360′s been handily beating Nintendo’s struggling Wii U for 25 months straight. Not bad for a nearly 9-year-old console, eh?
Its not unknown that Sony has all but left the United States out of their flagship plans for awhile now. While they somewhat catered to the U.S. with the introduction of the Xperia Z1S, it still had been downgraded replacing a lot of its metal and glass components with plastic to save money. However, they have finally decided to bring the Xperia Z2 to the States in all its glory.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be a bit of a wait, though. We already have seen Sony dragging out the release of the Z2 in all markets because of shortages. Therefore, the phone will not surface in the U.S. for a few months yet. The release is simply set to happen sometime in the summer.
We highly doubt that Sony will be drastically increasing its market in the U.S., though, because there is still no announcement of the Z2 coming out on carriers just yet. The phone will only be sold through Sony’s site in its unlocked form as of right now.
In some ways, it is awesome that Sony is finally shipping its flagship handsets over to the U.S. to be sold, but in other ways it is slightly disappointing. The Z2 has been one of the most anticipated smartphones of this year so far, and its a shame that they haven’t gotten on board with U.S. carriers to start spreading their powerful devices through North America.
SOURCE: Tech Crunch
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I’ve found fruit baskets, chocolates, even a bottle of Honig wine in my hotel rooms over the years. Never a smartphone — until today. Last month, the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong installed handsets in each of its 381 rooms. Guests can use the phone throughout a stay, with unlimited data (and tethering!), and calls to Hong Kong, the US, UK, Australia, China and Singapore included for free. It comes with Facebook, Instagram, Skype and a handful of travel applications pre-installed, and once you type in your Google credentials, you can add any other apps you want. Then, when you’re ready to check out, simply tap the “clear data” button to wipe your personal info and return the device to its original state, so it’s ready for the next guest.
I booked a stay at the Hyatt months before the hotel announced its smartphone program. The rate (about $240) was quite good for Hong Kong even without the added benefit of a free mobile phone, and even though I purchased a SIM card from KeepGo to use with my own handset, I ended up leaving that one behind and using the hotel’s instead. The device is provided by a local company called Handy, which rents similar phones to tourists for about $11 per day, including the same unlimited 3G and international calling plan. Handy also provides phones to The Mira, another Hong Kong hotel, which began offering smartphones to guests last year.
The phone, an Alcatel Idol X, is hardly the best device on the market, but it served me just fine during my two-day stay. It worked well for Instagram, and while I often had a bit of trouble getting the GPS to find my precise location, destinations loaded quickly in Google Maps and the pre-loaded currency-conversion app was quite useful at shops and restaurants. There was plenty of practical info for Hong Kong, including a list of emergency numbers, transportation options — even information about the city’s smoking ban. The sponsored restaurant and shop listings weren’t terribly useful, though, nor were the limited discounts ($5 off at a Noah’s Ark theme park, a sightseeing tour or a wax museum with life-size figures of Chairman Mao and Jackie Chan).
For me, the standout feature was tethering support. The Hyatt offers complimentary WiFi, but my laptop kept dropping the connection, and the few times it did work, the service was painfully slow. Fortunately, the Handy phone had tethering enabled, and the 3G speeds were very good (about 5.5 Mbps down). Battery life wasn’t fantastic, even with the WiFi hotspot disabled, but I did manage to get through a full day without charging up. It’s a free phone, though, at a very nice hotel with a reasonable daily rate. Just don’t lose it or “forget” to leave it behind when you leave — you’ll be billed about $250 for a replacement.
Filed under: Cellphones
Earth Week is coming to a close, and to mark the occasion, Inhabitat showcased 14 awe-inspiring aerial photos of the Earth and 14 photos that remind us how important it is to protect the planet we live on. The week was also met with a bit of good news, as a report surfaced stating that President Barack Obama will most likely reject the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Apple took the opportunity to revamp its environmental-responsibility website, highlighting its new green initiatives — including building a new campus that will be entirely powered by renewable energy. Google announced its biggest renewable-energy purchase to date, investing $100 million to make solar panels more affordable for American homeowners. And Legoland Florida became the country’s first theme park to be entirely powered by solar power.
Turkey exported an impressive 6,800 tons of pistachio nuts last year, and now the country has found a possible way to transform all those shells into energy. The country recently floated plans to build a city powered by discarded pistachio shells, which could provide up to 60 percent of the city’s heating needs. For personal energy needs, the new, light and compact Port Solar Charger from XD Design allows gadget geeks to turn any window into a power source. In other green energy news, solar power has finally become as cheap as grid energy in some European countries. Scientists in South Korea have figured out a way to harness the energy from flushing toilets and use it to help power people’s homes. And a new flexible armband developed by Korean researchers at KAIST transforms wasted heat from your body into electricity.
3D printing is making science fiction a reality. Designer Deniz Karasahin has figured out a way to make custom casts using 3D printers that could speed up bone healing by nearly 40 percent. Scientists have successfully cloned the first human embryo from adult cells. The breakthrough could pave the way to personalized organ transplants and therapies based on stem cells that could be grown into any type of human tissue. And continuing with the sci-fi theme, scientists recently discovered that the threat of a major asteroid impact on Earth is much higher than previously thought. In response, the B612 Foundation announced plans to launch an early warning system that can alert us to asteroids well before they could hit us.
Detroit has a dearth of bus shelters and an abundance of foreclosed homes, so designer Craig Wilkins decided to kill two birds with one stone by making eye-catching portable shelters made of materials salvaged from abandoned houses. Creative reuse is continuing to influence the design world, as Hong Kong-based architecture firm OVA Studio unveiled plans for a wild-looking concept hotel made from colorful shipping containers. Architect Thomas Heatherwick recently unveiled plans for an amazing semi-subterranean park in Abu Dhabi that features a fragmented canopy to keep visitors cool. And MIT Media Lab’s Social Computing Group announced plans to repackage urban data into 10,000 beautiful, user-friendly city maps to inspire social change.
Online stores have been hinting that Lenovo was working on a 10-inch counterpart to its ThinkPad 8 tablet, and now there’s no doubt: the company’s Australian branch has listed a ThinkPad 10 ahead of an official announcement. While a full-fledged product page was only briefly available, it was enough to show that the new Windows slate shares much in common with its smaller sibling. You’ll find a slightly faster 1.6GHz quad-core Atom processor and up to 4GB of RAM, but there’s still a 1,920 x 1,200 screen, up to 128GB of storage, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front shooter. Not that we’re griping about the similarity between models, since this ThinkPad 10 should still be leaps and bounds more powerful than the aging ThinkPad Tablet 2.
The ThinkPad 10′s big advantages over its 8-inch cousin are likely to revolve around its optional gear. As with the Tablet 2, there are promises of versions with LTE data and pen input. You’ll also have the choices of a basic dock, a keyboard dock and a keyboard case if you need your tablet doubling as a workstation. Lenovo didn’t give out any release details as part of its teaser, but an official listing suggests that a launch is just around the corner. We’d also expect a price premium over the $399 ThinkPad 8 — that extra display area and processing power won’t be cheap.
Via: TabTech (translated)
Judging by the comments y’all leave on every story about AOL, a few of you still think the company makes its money off grandmas who forgot to cancel their landline service. In fact, AOL owns, among other things, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget (hey-o!) and the online video service AOLOn — yep, the same one we use to publish our review videos. After inking a movie streaming deal with Miramax earlier this week, AOL has signed a distribution deal with Microsoft, which means depending on which OS you use, you might soon be seeing a lot more AOLOn videos than you’re used to. In particular, the agreement brings a portion of AOL’s 900,000-item catalog to MSN and Bing apps on Windows and Windows Phone. All told, according to Variety, the deal includes 15 channels (“technology,” for example), along with AOL’s 2014 original programming, though none of those shows have actually been announced to the public yet. Look for those videos to start popping up this summer; in the meantime, you can find our video reviews where they’ve always been.
Ready for Google Search to get even better? Google is currently testing out a new UI design called “LEGO” that brings in new super-smooth animations to what you are searching for. This LEGO UI displays a very eye-pleasing design to the mobile Google search, and you can see it in action in the video below.
The video below comes from Android Police, and it shows off these smooth animations that make the mobile experience so sexy, and earlier today you could actually try out the new UI with a link that was provided to the public. Sadly, Google seems to have taken that link down, but the video still remains, so give it a watch and let us know what you think about it. When watching the video, there is a right and left tab the user clicks on to show the differences between LEGO and the standard UI. Left is LEGO and right is standard. Enjoy.
Source: Android Police