Archives for Gadgets
Fans have been eagerly awaiting Microsoft’s big XBOX announcement and the final result is a mixed bag. The information we get is really good stuff but the presentation of said information was a mess and in the end we get 15 minutes of solid news encompassed in an hour of marketing babble. If you take away all of the interviews with sports celebrities talking about what it means to truly be a player and all of the Hollywood types giving up the sound bites you’d end up with about five minutes of beautiful in game footage and several key announcements that have true impact.
- The System is named XBOX One, kind of a good name actually, representing a new start and new direction
- The system and controller design, sleek and simple
- There is an included blu-ray player and Kinect sensor
- The system is not only a game console but it’s also a TV tuner and cable box
- The device is fully voice controllable
- It is designed for always connected capability but it is not required’
- Steven Spielberg is producing a live action Halo TV series for the device
- TV is fully interactive
The cable box design is fantastic. There will not be any more input switching for games, blu-ray movies, and TV: it’s all in one place and instantly available. The system has a built in TV guide that is set up for favorites and other lists and will point you to what you want to see immediately. You can utilize other XBOX services such as social and internet while watching a show or movie, including fully integrated Skype! During the somewhat scatter shot event MS showed off a new partnership with NFL that integrates fantasy football stats with actual games as they are viewed live on the device and also allows social interaction between fantasy football players while they watch.
While there was some game-play footage(and it was gorgeous) it’s clear most of that is being saved for the Electronic Entertainment Expo. This event was mostly meant to show off the look of the device, announce the name, and sell it as an all encompassing entertainment experience. This approach culminated in the announcement of an XBOX exclusive live action TV series based on the Halo games being overseen by Steven Spielberg. This announcement throws down the gauntlet with Amazon Instant and Netflix, both of which also offer original programming. Netflix of course is still a part of the XBOX Live experience too.
In the world of games MS did say that they will be releasing a dozen games within the first year of the XBOX One’s release and more importantly eight of those games are new franchises. Call of Duty Ghosts is not XBOX One exclusive but the DLC will hit that device before any others. As far as release dates,all MS would say is later this year and no information on price was announced. Even though most of this event was a mess the things we did get are pretty exciting and the game-play footage from Quantum Break and Call of Duty Ghosts was outstanding. E3 should truly be a slug-fest between MS and Sony!
Samsung’s double barreled assault of a solid marketing campaign and stellar device design has helped them wedge the Samsung Galaxy series of phones into the spotlight right alongside Apple’s iPhone. The Korean company has just released the fourth generation of the franchise for rabid fans.
The biggest difference in the s3 and this new s4 is that there isn’t a ton of difference. What we have here overall is a refining of an existing phone along with some tweaks. The s3 was a near perfect phone as far as Android based phones go. Of course no phone is perfect and this new revision improves on that classic flagship phone. The s4 features Google Android Jellybean, the newest version of the OS which is kind of a big deal because this phone is the first to be running the new OS. Like the phone itself this new version of the OS is just an updating, or at least it seems so, with a few new features. The most fantastic new feature is Google Now. Google Now uses a combination of GPS location, on phone apps, emails, and Google searches to push relevant information to the phone. Without doing anything as far as set up Google Now knew to tell me the local weather, let me know about a friend’s birthday, and let me know that Iron Man 3 is opening in theaters this weekend. This sort of intimate knowledge of me is both amazing and useful and completely freaky. Google Now will also monitor emails to Gmail and if you have shipment notifications in email it will let you know the latest tracking information on packages. Google Now is constantly updating and adding more information at your fingertips based on your Google searches, your emails, and your app usage. Again, this is ridiculously useful and aggressively freaky. You can access the information by clicking the familiar Google search bar from the desktop of the phone and as information updates Google Now will also push it to the phone as a notification like all of the others you typically get.
If you’re upgrading from a previous Galaxy phone this one is extremely familiar and easy to settle into. There are new features and the look has been tweaked but you’ll know your way around right away. Perhaps the most useful new feature in Samsung’s Android implementation is the ability to utilize multiple applications in the same window. When this feature is active a tiny tab is always visible on screen. When you have one app open you can tap the tab and a customizable menu bar will slide into view with other common apps listed. You can choose one of these apps right away and bring the tab back up to return to your previous app. It’s simple, quick, easy and actually useful and not just a new gimmick.
There are some new gimmicks added to Samsung’s version of Android though. One of the gimmicks could be slightly useful in the winter and the other two seem just silly. The first is the ability to hover your finger directly over the phone screen, not touching, to activate apps and preview images. This is an advantage because you can do this with gloves on. So, in the winter this mode could be a real time saver. It works fairly well but it does take some getting used to in order to get your finger that close to the screen without actually touching it. Smart scrolling one of the sort of goofy party tricks. When you are reading an email, surfing the net, or looking at text in other compatible applications the screen will scroll based on eye and head movements. If you glance up or down the screen will scroll in the appropriate direction. The act of bobbing your head up and down while looking at your phone never feels comfortable or not weird plus the feature is unreliable depending on the position of your head and eyes relative to the screen of the phone. The other new feature involves being able to swipe pages and control the phone with gestures above the screen rather than actually touching and swiping. If you’re going to simply wave your hands above the screen why not just go ahead and touch the screen? While this feature seems more like a parlor trick than a feature it also feels like the base version of something that could eventually evolve into something really useful down the line.
The best upgrade of this phone involves something that Samsung has done right with this phone series from the beginning; the screen. The s3 featured a 4.8’ 720p amoLED screen that was easily one of the most vibrant screens of any phone. The s4 steps up in size and resolution. The new screen is a full 5’ and it more importantly jumps to 1080p. The phone is able to feature a larger screen but not an excessively larger overall phone compared to the s3. The bezel of this phone is smaller than that of the s3 and the size adjustment happens on the vertical making the width of the phone not much different from the s3. This decision is valuable because we end up getting a bigger screen but not a phone that’s suddenly too wide to wrap our hands around. This screen is slightly dimmer than that of the s3 but the higher resolution makes the whole experience much more detailed and dynamic. Pictures and videos look fantastic in full HD on this phone and the camera, while not the best in the industry, is still a solid offering at 13 megapixels. The front facing camera is 2 megapixels and this phone has the ability to take simultaneous pictures from both cameras. The camera features zoom control by pinching, autofocus, and several picture modes that you probably won’t use very often.
The battery on this phone is much improved over that of the s3 but if you’re a power user then you’ll still be recharging the device daily. My review unit is from AT&T and it’s supposed to be capable of over 350 hours of standby time, and up to 17 hours of talk time. I used the phone for literally everything including talk, texting, email, audiobooks from audible, music, and more so I was constantly charging the phone. To get a little techy it’s important to note that the s4 features a 1.9 GHZ quad core CPU, a noticeable update from the s3. Overall the phone is snappier than the s3 but the new OS requires more CPU cycles so the faster CPU and more resource heavy OS almost balances the user experience compared to the s3.
The Samsung Galaxy s4 is a slick and polished phone that’s one of the best on the market. It’s an easy update for Galaxy phone users and it offers the most modern Android experience out there for any smartphone fan.
The Build and Presentation
This new version of the Galaxy phone does away with all of the rounded edges of the previous phone in favor of a slimmer build and hard edges. The phone is still made from the durable plastic rather than metal such as some of the iPhones and other similar phones. The new case features a tiny ridge that sits above the screen which is a great add because if the phone is dropped the screen might just survive because it won’t land flush. For its size this big phone is fairly light at just over 4and a half ounces. The phone is light but it steels feels meaty and well-constructed. The camera and flash on the back of the camera also feature a raised ridge that keeps the phone from sitting flat but the ridge also again may protect the camera from getting scratched or broken upon being dropped. The AT&T version of the phone comes in black and white with a slightly textured back. The white actually looks much nicer than the black because the texture is less visible on the white phone.
The Samsung Galaxy s4 is likely to disappoint some Galaxy users in the same way that the iPhone 5 disappointed iPhone 4 users because there weren’t just tons of revolutionary changes. This version of the Galaxy phone is evolutionary. The phone features a much upgraded screen, a faster CPU, and a newer version of the android OS which will obviously run better on this faster phone than on the previous version if that phone eventually gets a Jellybean update. The galaxy s4 is easily one of the top two or three phones on the smartphone market period.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
The Phone 9/10
The Build and Presentation 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
There are a few things that are just required for daily living these days: air, water, someone to love, someone to be loved by, Starbucks, and a reliable phone charger. Andru is here to fill at least one of those voids.
Andru, from a company called Gen is a microUSB charger that works generally with any device that features the proper standard USB connector. I tested it with my galaxy SII (that’s right I’m still using the II) and with my Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth earpiece. Honestly the device isn’t the most powerful charger you can get but with that said it did offer a steady power stream and it seemed to charge my devices really quickly. Besides you can afford to trade off a little power for good looks can’t you?
Input: 120~240V AC
Output: 5V/1A DC
Very low standby power
Level V efficiency
1.2m Micro-USB datacable
It’s simple to use, just like other chargers; attach the included usb cable into Andru’s head between his signature antennas, remove the base from his feat to reveal the plug prongs and plug him into the wall. Plug the other end of the cable into your compatible device. You’ll know all is well when you see Andru’s eyes light up. The eyes light up blue when he’s plugged in and they change to white when he’s charging. It’s a simple device meant for a simple jub, no muss no fuss, and it does it well. Do I wish it was just a little more powerful? Well yeah I do but it gets the job done.
The thing that makes Andru special is obviously his good looks. The absolute smartest thing that Google did when they launched the Android platform was to launch it with a great looking and easy to remember mascot. The little green robot is synonymous with Android devices these days and hardcore Android devotees love showing the little guy off in one way or another. While I consider myself platform agnostic (I have an android phone, an iPad, an XBOX 360, and I’d like a Surface Pro Tablet) I do admit an appreciation for the little robot. He’s built nice and solid and has a surprising amount of weight to him. He also has two possible arms so you can return him to his stand and pose him in fighting position (it actually can look more like surrendering position if you aren’t careful). The included usb cable is also well build with matching green connectors and a slip proof coating. This cable is nicer that what you typically get with generic chargers. The eyes light up blue when the device is plugged into the wall so that might be an issue if you leave Andru plugged up in your bedroom and two little glowing eyes are staring at you while you try to sleep!
Overall this is a great little charger. Sure it would be nice if it put out a little more power to charge devices a bit faster but it’s still faster than similar chargers I’ve used with the same tech specs. It’s built great and has tons of style, something you might not normally think to look for when it comes to a cell phone charger.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
The gadget 8.5/10
The build 9/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
Buy it Now!
Diamond Select Toys is moving two more Star Trek ships out of drydock, and this time their packaging is getting the refit! The U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-B (from Star Trek: Generations) and NCC-1701-D (from Star Trek: The Next Generation) are headed to stores in the next month, with lights and sounds from their screen appearances, and DST has revealed their new packaging design. Check out both new ships in their boxes below, and pre-order them from your local comic shop or your favorite online retailer!
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is nearing its launch and with that are advance announcements of new gadget goodness. Coby Electronics has announced that their new line of LED TV’s will be bundled with the Roku Streaming Stick. The Roku streaming Stick is basically the Roku box that we all know and love compacted down to a device the size of a USB flash drive. This is something that should have been done a long time ago actually.
Coby products are budget priced typically so knowing that these new TV’s will be Roku ready right out of the box is pretty exciting. If you don’t already own a Roku and have always wanted one this will save you the cost of buying the box and free up some valuable real estate on your home entertainment center.
From the press announcement:
“The Roku Streaming Stick is like a one-stop-shop, instantly turning a TV into a Smart TV,” said Chas Smith, general manager, OEM at Roku. “Coby has selected Roku to give its customers the most comprehensive selection of streaming entertainment available right from the comfort of their homes.”
Coby’s debut M Series LED TVs – the LEDTVM4278 (SRP* $479) and LEDTVM5078 (SRP $599) – will be bundled with the Roku Streaming Stick, providing a seamless, fully integrated streaming experience. The wireless Roku Streaming Stick is approximately the size of a USB flash drive, and plugs directly into the TV’s MHL port. Once connected, the Roku Streaming Stick is recognized by the TV and enables users to access a huge variety of entertainment using the TV remote. Roku’s channel library includes instantly available movies and shows (with a sizable selection in 1080p) from popular services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Crackle, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu and more. Consumers can also take advantage of authenticated services like HBO GO and EPIX as well as a rich selection of live sports, music, casual games, news and beyond.
We’ll try to get a look at these new devices and give you the low down!
Distributed by: Diamond Select Toys
So you probably won’t find this one on the last minute shelf at your local grocer or even liquor store. This is for a special group of folks that are a mix of beverage aficionado and comic book geek. So that means it’ll be in the last minute purchase section of shelves right by the register at your local comic book shop or hobby shop.
Of all the things I’ve ever considered in my life such as what it would be like to have Iron Man’s boot jets or what I’d do with Superman’s x-ray vision, I’ve never considered the possibility of utilizing the power cosmic to crack open a cold beverage. Thanks to DST I not only now list that as something to ponder I have executed the task with the Silver Surfer bottle opener. This had to be one of those epiphanies of design that came from some crazy night of boozing and reading comics. Well, ok it probably really wasn’t that crazy. In fact some designer may have just been trying to get into one of those retro soda bottles while 10 pages deep into Avengers Vs. X-Men on his iPad. Whatever the situation the idea did arise that it would be cool to integrate Marvel super heroes into the wild world of bottle openers.
While simply crafting a small super hero stature with a bottle opener jutting out of his head is something that wouldn’t shock me DST is a much more creative company than that. The Silver Surfer’s surf board is really the perfect shape for adding a bottle opener too. The only awkward part of the design is adding the Surfer himself to the board. Sure it would be cool to just have him standing on the board and fly through the air and blast the top off my bottle of beer (Wait have I already had a few?) but storing the opener and just general convenience would become an issue with such a design. So DST decided to have the Surfer sort of lying on the board so the whole thing stays relatively flat. Well, actually he appears to be standing but still flat on the board.
At first I thought the way the Surfer is embedded into the board was a little weird but after using the bottle opener a few times any oddness is totally outweighed by the convenience. The true issue is that someone might mistake him from a distance as being Han Solo frozen in carbonite. Now wait, that would make a cool bottle opener too. You listening DST?
Design and Build
The Surfer himself actually has some good detail considering that this is a bottle opener and the overall design is heavy duty and literally heavy. This thing is meant to truly be used as a bottle opener and not just something to display. The edges are all nicely rounded and the opener itself fit any bottle I threw at it. I will say the company copyright stamp on the back of the board is way too big and distracting. The combination of cool factor and convenience is well balanced here though and it’s just cool to have something like this that’s truly tough enough to use.
The Silver Surfer isn’t exactly an A list character and his appearance in live action film was shall we say, not exactly cosmic but he was a great pick for this device and design. Any true Marvel Comics fan should grab one of these.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Gadget 8/10
Design and Build 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
We are constantly at war with ports, cables, and adapters here at CineGeek whether we’re setting up our system for live video displays at conventions or running video and images on an LCD for the video stream of our weekly webcast. There are always issues to contend with. So, when I cracked open the Accel UltaV to put it through its paces I hoped it would offer up at least one solution.
The Ultra AV adapts the display port found on most Mac computers to DVI Single Link or Dual Link displays and projectors. The packaging claims 10.8 GB throughput and 330MHZ maximum pixel clock rate for full support of 120hz 3D displays. So, obviously I was excited to put it through the paces. I connected the device from My Mac Pro laptop to a Vizio 120hz LCD and right out of the box the device just rocked. Overall image quality is outstanding, colors are as perfectly reproduced as possible from the Mac to the Vizio, and there was no delay, artifacting or other issues. Set up was also fast and painless which is a particularly great thing. We ran some 3D content through the adapter from the PC to the Vizio and sure enough the adapter handled that heavy load just fantastically. The image was smooth and the 3D was unaffected by going through the adapter at all.
We connected the Mac Pro via the adapter to a Proxima projector with similar results. We were able to get the resolution all the way up to the promised setting of2560X1600 at 60hz. At that high of a resolution things became a little jittery but taking the settings back down to a normal resolution put us right back on track. Now, the device is totally usable maxed out it just felt a little too stutter for our taste. This issue will likely vary from computer to computer and display to display though.
The device does require power but Accel smartly decided to provide a usb connection for that so no wall wart is required. The Mac Pro actually has a mini display port, which was also solved by the package because Accel provides an adapter to take the standard display port down to mini. The Ultra Av does all it promises in a simple and easy to use package. What’s to complain about?
So, the build quality on this device is really surprising. The Ultra AV is meant for road work. If you deal with projectors and displays and you travel this little adapter will take the beating. The body is made of metal and the cables and connections are heavy duty. The connectors are locking and they offer a really tight fit so they won’t be slipping out when you turn the laptop during a presentation. The only minor complaint I have here is that if you find yourself using both a standard display port and a mini display port you’ll have to keep up with the adapter they provide separately as it is not connected to the device in any way when you aren’t using it.
The UltrAV is a problem solver and it’s well built and easy to use. It grabs power from the USB connector so there’s no wall plug required and it comes with an adapter that takes the device from standard to mini display port. The device is meant for a very niche task so not everyone needs it but if you require this sort of adapter then you’ll find this to be a lifesaver.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
The Gadget 9.5/10
The Build Quality 9/10
Overall (Not an average) 9/10