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Joystiq Weekly: ‘Mario Kart 8’ in review, co-op ‘Killzone’ and a new Jurassic tour

Welcome to the Joystiq Weekly wrap-up where we present some of the best stories and biggest gaming news from our sister-publication.

Despite an unfortunate change to its battle mode, Mario Kart 8 is a solid extra lap on a series with a great foundation. The gravity-shifting sections spliced into existing and new tracks feel like a natural extension of the series rather than a gameplay-changing revelation, but it’s a strong complement to an already enjoyable experience. The social features are surprisingly solid and may even outlive the total course selection, but it helps that the new tracks feel as worthy of a revisit as the series’ standouts.

That’s it for this week folks! Check back next Sunday for another recap, or head over to Joystiq and catch the news as it happens.

[Image credit: Matias Brum/Flickr]

Filed under: Gaming, Home Entertainment, HD, Nintendo


Source: Joystq


AT&T relaunches Cricket prepaid brand with nationwide 4G coverage

It’s a brand new day for Cricket, AT&T’s budget wireless arm. Last year, the mobile giant announced plans to acquire Leap Wireless, Cricket’s parent company, and has since launched a major refresh, formally introducing the new service today. After purchasing new devices, Cricket customers will be able to access AT&T’s nationwide 4G network, including LTE. All plans include unlimited domestic calling, messaging and international texting to 35 countries, and come in at $35, $45 and $55 monthly (after a $5 auto pay credit), with 500MB, 2.5GB and 5GB of data, respectively. You won’t be charged for data overages — instead, Cricket will cap your speed at 128 Kbps for the rest of the billing period.

There’s also an unlimited talk and text plan for feature phones that’ll run you just $25 per month, excluding data and MMS. Cricket is offering group discounts as well, taking $10 off a second line, $20 off a third line, and $30 off your fourth and fifth device added to each account. Finally, with the announced improvements, AT&T will also be retiring the Aio brand, perhaps best known for being the target of a T-Mobile lawsuit over the subsidiary’s use of the color magenta. New Cricket customers will get a $50 mail-in-rebate when purchasing a device, so you can pick up a ZTE Prelude for free or a Moto G for $100 after cashing in.

Filed under: Cellphones, Wireless, AT&T


Source: Cricket Plans


Olympus Stylus TG-3: a ruggedized camera that doesn’t suck

In the past, opting for a ruggedized camera has required some serious sacrifices. Whether that’s meant comically large housings or mediocre performance, you couldn’t get a fantastic point-and-shoot camera that you could also safely take on the slopes, the back of a motorcycle or on SCUBA dives. This year’s Olympus Stylus Tough is the first such model I’ve seen that’s worthy of your 350 bucks. A fast lens, speedy focusing and solid image quality make the TG-3 a great option even if you only plan to document your backyard rose garden or a child’s first steps, but it’ll also handle much more sophisticated shooting situations with ease.

The TG-3 packs the standard suite of high-end point-and-shoot features, including a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, a fast 25-100mm, f/2-4.9 aperture 4x internal zoom lens, integrated WiFi and the same processor Olympus uses in its flagship OM-D E-M1 mirrorless camera. On the sensor front, it can calculate altitude or water depth and air or water pressure, all of which can be displayed on the camera. There’s also integrated GPS, which can find your position in 10 seconds or less, attaching location info to individual images. My favorite feature, however, is the optional LED Light Guide, which redirects light from the camera to a ring around the lens, letting you capture macro shots like a pro.

I spent several days shooting with the TG-3 at an Olympus event in New Orleans, taking the camera along on a fan boat tour of the Bayou, throughout the historic Oak Alley Plantation and even on a few trips down Bourbon Street. Granted, this isn’t the most capable point-and-shoot on the market — Sony’s RX100 III probably holds that honor — but the camera still handled these vastly different shooting environments like a champ. I found the focus speed to be fantastic, letting me capturing alligators, insects and fast-moving boats without missing the shot. The screen was bright enough to use for framing shots and verifying exposure and sharpness in direct sunlight, and the controls were responsive and easy to figure out.

The camera can pair with Olympus’ Image Share app on an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, and performance there is great as well. You scan a QR code on the camera’s screen to get connected the first time, then going forward you simply launch WiFi mode on the TG-3 and open the Olympus app. From there you can fire off shots remotely and transfer images individually or in a group. The in-camera PhotoStory mode even lets you shoot Instagram-size (they’re 1:1) split-photos, with three images in a single frame. I was able to upload to Instagram just seconds after capturing.

Of course, battery life isn’t going to match what you’ll get with a mirrorless camera or DSLR, but I did manage to shoot more than 500 stills and three and a half minutes of 1080p video on a single charge. The camera charges over USB, but unfortunately it uses a proprietary cable, so you’ll need to carry that accessory around with you on overnight trips. Overall, I was very pleased with the TG-3. I didn’t have a chance to take it underwater or drop it from a height of seven feet (which it’s said to survive unscathed), but I wouldn’t hesitate to use this ruggedized point-and-shoot for everyday photography — at $350, it’s a very solid pick.

Filed under: Cameras



Inhabitat’s Week in Green: Aero-X hoverbike, vertical forest towers and a braille robot

Climate change is already causing serious problems, including extreme weather events, drought and wildfires like the massive fire that displaced thousands of people in San Diego County this week. But one of the most concerning effects of climate change is sea level rise. This week, the world got some sobering news when we learned that a large section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed. Although scientists have warned that we’ve already reached the point of no return with climate change, transitioning to green design and technology is more urgent than ever. Transportation accounts for more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, so we were pleased to learn that an electric bus produced by the South Carolina-based company Proterra broke the world record for most miles traveled in a day when it traveled over 700 miles in 24 hours. And file this one in the “We’ll believe it when we see it” drawer: China plans to build an 8,000-plus mile railroad connecting China, Russia, Canada and the US. The plan includes a 125-mile undersea tunnel spanning the Bering Strait.

In other green transportation news, a Nigerian student strapped a large solar panel on the roof of a VW Beetle and added a wind turbine under the hood, transforming it into a clean energy vehicle. Best of all? The project only cost $6,000. Sci-fi writers have long dreamed of floating from place to place on hovercraft, and that may soon become a reality. Aerofex just announced plans to produce its Aero-X hoverbike, which looks like a Star Wars speeder bike — and it will be available by 2017 for just $85,000. The Dutch company Bough Bikes made a splash at NYCxDesign by unveiling the world’s first electric wooden bike. The LA-based sustainable-skateboard company Bureo recently developed the world’s first skateboard made out of recycled fishing nets. Honda produced a new car that has such clean emissions that the car company wants you to drink them. In NYC, the MTA is developing an app that will enable riders to purchase paperless tickets for their smartphones. And in one of the week’s strangest Craigslist finds, we bring you a fully functional toilet bike that’s listed for $110 (price is firm).

Milan is home to some of the world’s most innovative green buildings, and the Italian city will soon boast a few more. Stefano Boeri’s amazing vertical forest towers, which feature balconies full of trees, are nearing completion. Also in Milan, Nemesi & Partners just unveiled plans to build an “Urban Forest” building that will generate its own electricity while purifying the air. And in Japan, architect Toyo Ito designed an alternative to Zaha Hadid’s controversial Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium, which would slash the current expected price tag in half. In wearable-technology news, designer Michiel Cornelissen recently created a set of 3D-printed sound rings that double as hand-held instruments. A pair of students from India created a $150 braille robot to help combat illiteracy among the visually impaired and provide an alternative to the expensive braille displays currently on the market. And for something that is guaranteed to warm your heart, we’d like to introduce you to Tippi Degré, the daughter of French wildlife photographers who grew up living among lion cubs, giraffes, ostriches and zebras in Africa.

Filed under: Misc



Facebook may launch ‘Slingshot’ Snapchat competitor this month

Facebook could be gearing up to introduce a Snapchat-like video message tool later this month, according to a Financial Times report. The app, known to staffers as ‘Slingshot,’ would enable users to send short video messages, and it would likely not be integrated with the social site’s other applications, such as Facebook Messenger. Based on the timing of Slingshot’s potential release, it’s possible that a team within the company began working on the app shortly after negotiations to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion failed late last year, leaving Facebook to build its own competitor from the ground up. Still, while the new app appears to be nearly ready for primetime, the launch apparently has yet to be approved — it’s possible that Slingshot may never see the light of day.

Filed under: Internet, Software, Facebook


Via: Verge

Source: Financial Times


Gadget Rewind 2007: Pioneer Kuro PDP-5080HD plasma

The bleeding edge for pixel-pushing displays has shifted, and 4K, aka Ultra HD, is the one to watch. Though the once-great 1080p HD specification has now become commonplace, seven years ago, it was an altogether different story. Pioneer, one of the leading manufacturers of plasma televisions at the time, chose to buck the popular trend toward pricey “full HD” sets, and instead focus on more affordably priced sets under 60 inches. But cost wasn’t the only differentiator for Pioneer; it also aimed to deliver the best picture quality possible, regardless of the spec sheet. From this line of Kuro (meaning “black” in Japanese) displays arose an award-winning 50-incher called the PDP-5080HD, which sported a humble 720p resolution.

Like all Kuro TVs, the PDP-5080HD bested its competitors by producing extraordinarily deep and rich black levels. While plasmas are commonly known to produce better dark tones than an average LCD panel, the Kuro line excelled at this process. Its combination of black reproduction and smooth image processing resulted in a picture with far greater clarity, contrast and depth than other rival HD sets, and this was with its meager-seeming WXGA 1,366 x 768 resolution. It even took home first place in Home Theater Mag‘s 2008 HDTV Technology Face Off, beating out Panasonic’s 50-inch TV and a host of other sets in the same size and price range.

As HDTVs go, the PDP-5080HD was solidly built, featuring a gloss black design that housed a removable, front-facing soundbar that allowed audiophiles to configure their own surround system. It was also feature-rich with four HDMI ports and inputs for USB and PC, as well as component, composite and S-Video connections. And for those who wanted to bypass a set-top box, the set even came CableCARD-ready.

Pioneer did eventually make 1080p an affordable standard for most of its Kuro sets by 2008, all boasting five times deeper black levels than its first wave of displays. That full HD line, however, ended up signaling the end for Pioneer’s TV business. One year after its release, Pioneer decided to leave the TV business altogether in favor of a focus on car stereos and Blu-ray players. But that retirement proved to be short-lived, as the company recently made an announcement that it would be returning to the TV market in 2014. This time, though, Pioneer says it plans to stick with LCD and not the plasma panels of yore, a move that all but ensures the Kuro line will go dark forever.

Did you own a Pioneer Kuro PDP-5080HD? Add it to your Engadget profile as a device you had (or still have) and join the discussion to reminisce or share photos of your device with other like-minded gadget fans.

Filed under: Home Entertainment, HD



Withdrawn Dick Smith listing suggests Australian Chromecast release is just around the Corner

Australian ChromecastThe Google Chromecast has slowly been making its world tour around the globe, most recently being released in Korea courtesy of the large mobile YouTube consumption there. One place that hasn’t gotten the Chromecast yet is Australia, despite recent rumours that Telstra was in negotiations to include additional content onto the media streaming device before the Australian Chromecast release. Well, the land Down Under might be getting one step closer to getting the Chromecast as retailer Dick Smith posted a listing for the device before abruptly pulling it down; not before some clever people were able to take a screenshot however.

As the image above shows, the device was listed for $49 AUD, which is roughly $10 more than what the device would be worth in the U.S., though this appears the norm for the Chromecast’s release away from the States. The listing also said it would become available on May 28th, and while it’s hard to tell whether this was a cruel joke or someone pulling the trigger early, there isn’t long to wait before we see whether this was a genuine listing or not.

Are you excited to see the Chromecast finally make its way to Australia? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source: TechGeek via OzBargain

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Microsoft puts on an ‘infinite’ light show to make data pretty

Microsoft's Infinity Room light show

If you’re Microsoft, how do you convince people that data is more than just a dry set of charts and graphs? You put on one heck of a light show, that’s what. The company recently marked the launch of a database server app by opening the Infinity Room, a temporary art installation that dazzled the public with all the data behind the quarters in their pockets. The project, built by Universal Everything, relied on an array of choreographed LED lights and pixel spheres to produce animations in a mirrored room, giving guests the impression that they were standing in an endless sea of information. As you’ll see in the video below, the effect is very Matrix-like — and certainly more memorable than a run-of-the-mill slideshow. You sadly can’t visit the Infinity Room in person anymore, but Microsoft has a 360-degree version at the source link if you want to get a sense of what it was like.

Filed under: Internet, Microsoft


Via: Architecture Lab, The Verge

Source: Microsoft, Freefarm (Vimeo)


Aluminium Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime or Active gets featured in pre-production Video running Android 4.4.3

Aluminium Samsung Galaxy S5 PrimeWe’ve been hearing increasingly frequent rumours surrounding a possible Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime device, one that upgrades the original Galaxy S5 with a 2K resolution display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor. There have also been rumours that this ‘more premium’ version of the Galaxy S5 would in fact be aluminium, and in a new video featuring what looks like a pre-production model of the device, it looks like an aluminium Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime is a decent possibility. Check it out:

As you can see from the video, the device is definitely made from aluminium, and definitely bears some very subtle differences to the original Galaxy S5. As the video mentions, this is a pre-production model which could mean the finished product may look slightly different to the one in the video. What’s interesting is the video is labelled as for both the S5 Prime and S5 Active as there have also been rumours swirling regarding a follow-up Active device; we’d definitely lean towards suggesting this is the S5 Prime as yesteryear’s S4 Active device has some very different bodywork compared to the Galaxy S4.

As a follow up to the above video, TKTech went on to examine the specs of the device in another video:

As the video seems to suggest, the device has a model number of SM-G906A which matches what we expected for the S5 Prime and interestingly the device is running Android 4.4.3. However, the device is apparently running a Snapdragon 801 and the screen resolution of the device is only 1920×1080, not 2560×1440 as would be expected from a 2K display. Something is definitely amiss with the pre-production device, however we’re not about to dismiss everything that we’ve seen in this video seeing as it is a pre-production model. We’re expecting to see Samsung launch the S5 Prime in June to combat the release of the LG G3 later this month, so we won’t have long to see what the actual device looks like if this all ends up true.

What do you think about the appearance of the aluminium Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime? Happy to see a metal body? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source: YouTube (1), (2) via Phone Arena

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IN Brief: Android-Related things worth knowing about


Hello all of you crazy android fans. Its time for this weeks IN Brief: ARTWKA, thats “android related things worth knowing about” for those of you not in the know, where we give you a brief, get it, rundown of some of the things that have been going on in our beloved android world recently.

For all of you thrill-seekers out there has released a new android app that brings “A world full of sports, music, games, and lifestyle that now fits in any pocket”. The app is similar to a sports and lifestyle type magazine with lots of pictures and exclusive videos. This app follows the android design guidelines and is very aesthetically pleasing.


One thing that I love about android is the ability to customize my experience. With android having so many custom keyboards the platform allows virtually any and everyone to find something that works for them. A.I.type has released an update to their popular keyboard that includes some pretty unique features. Most notable is the “Action Bar”. This action bar allows quick use of features such as the “Ginger Engine” grammar check, built in search, and launching a built in calculator.

A.I.type 2.1


If you like to stay up to date with local and international news Yahoo has released its latest news app Yahoo News Digest with support for not only the US & UK but also International and Canada.

Yahoo News Digest


Mobile security company “Lookout” has published a very interesting read entitled “Phone Theft In America”. The article sheds some light on a survey conducted by IDG Research and the findings are interesting to say the least. Revealing facts such as…

  • 90% of victims take action to get their phone back.
  • Nearly 70% of phone theft victims reported that they would be willing to put themselves in physical danger to get their stolen device back.
  • 1 in 3 victims claimed they would pay $1000+ to retrieve the sensitive data on their phones.

This article is definitely worth a read.

Phone Theft In America


You gamers will be interested to know that we have received new information from Gameloft on their upcoming title Modern Combat 5: Blackout. The game will feature

    Unified Progression

  •  Player progression wont just happen in multi-player mode but also in single player mode

 Soldier Classes 


  • Assault – Aggressive fighter that is effective at medium range combat. Equips assault rifles and pistols.
  • Heavy – Resilience is the main advantage of this class. Equips shotguns and RPGs and feels comfortable in close to medium combat.
  • Recon – Focuses on fast action and exposing enemies. Equips SMGs and pistols. Efficient in close range combat.
  • Sniper – Obviously, focuses on sharpshooting with a stealth approach. Equips sniper rifles and pistols. Efficient in long distance combat.

Find out more about this highly anticipated release at the link below.

Modern Combat 5: Blackout

Ever wish you could carry over your android gaming or messaging sessions seamlessly to the desktop? Well now you can with the help of “ANDY”. Andy lets you run a virtual android device on your Windows/Mac computer. This allows you to sync all of your android games and apps to the desktop. One especially cool feature of the Andy program is that you can use your android device as a controller for your gaming on the virtual device.



BrilliSoft has released a new app that could be a very useful tool in the war on bullying. The app “Shake For Help” allows a child who is being bullied to simply shake their phone and the app immediately notifies the childs emergency contacts. Shake For Help will also alert the childs emergency contacts to the exact location of the child. The app is entirely free.

Shake For Help


One thing that I love to do is travel and if you are like me you take a ton of pictures while on vacation.  New app PicPack allows you to instantly view, download, and share, everyone’s photos from a trip. The app also allows for easy collaboration by automatically combining all of the members of your groups photos into one cool timeline. PicPack also allows for effortless sharing to popular social networks, facebook anyone. The app is completely free and is available now.




Summertime is right around the corner and long time popular fitness app MapMyFitness has added some visual flair and better functionality to their fitness app. In update 3.0 we now have a refreshed U.I., new navigation, and updated friending capabilities along with a plethora of more features.



And last but not least, I’m sure you movie buffs are definitely checking out the new Godzilla movie this weekend. If you want to bring some of that action home you may want to try the new Godzilla game from developer Rouge Play, Inc, Godzilla-Smash3. The game is free but offers in app purchasing content.



This completes this weeks IN:Brief. Do you have any apps that you feel should have made the list? Did you try any of the apps in this weeks IN:Brief or read any of the studies? Let us know in the comments.

The post IN Brief: Android-Related things worth knowing about appeared first on AndroidGuys.

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