Monday, August 31, 2009

Poo. Facebook And Twitter For Xbox Gold Members Only

By Benedict Wee

Not content to overcharge us to download games we can get cheaper in stores and shutting out a big section of people from using Xbox Live Microsoft has decided to only allow Gold Members to utilize Facebook and Twitter features on the Xbox 360.
Facebook and Twitter on Xbox LIVE will be free to Gold members, with a free trial period also available for Silver members. Facebook and Twitter on Xbox LIVE will offer a truly one-of-a-kind social experience, completely optimized for the TV and seamlessly integrated onto your console. Add to that exclusive access to, Netflix instant streaming, demos, trailers and discounts, plus the best multiplayer gaming network on the planet, and we're confident Xbox LIVE Gold memberships is hands-down the best value in home entertainment. We're committed to adding new features and value for our Gold members, and will continue to do so.
Currently, Xbox Live subscriptions cost NZ$10.95 for 1 month, NZ$29.95 for 3 months and NZ$79.95 for 12. Adding this to the current cost of the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 looks like a better valued system for those who have yet to join the current generation consoles.

However, there is still hope as we're expecting that price cut for Microsoft's console on the 22nd of September.


Android On Your TV

By Benedict Wee

It first came to smartphones, then Personal Media Players, then Tablets. So why not everything else that has a screen?

Sigma Designs and MIPS Technologies have come up with a prototype set-top box that runs Android and is capable of High-Definition (1080p) video. This could mean seamless connectivity between all devices that run Google's operating system which is a pretty good idea since it takes time to transfer a media file (especially a HD one) from one device to another.

Just think; you could show a video of your baby taken from your mobile on a television by streaming it wirelessly to a box top or even do a presentation on your tablet and have it display on the tv screen without wires.

It would be awhile before the set-top box hits the commercial market though as development is still in early stages, but at least we know a concept is out there which means we can wait in anticipation for it.


Final Fantasy XIII Gameplay Demo

By Benedict Wee

With the english voice acting done and european subtitles in place Final Fantasy XIII is on schedule for its 2010 release to us non-Japanese speaking folk.

If the thought of a turn-based battle system ever hindered you from experiencing a Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG) perhaps FF XIII's "paradigm shift" combat mechanics might intrigue you into trying one of video game's most popular franchises.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Informercial For Informercial Stopper Will Make You Cross-eyed If You Think Too Hard

By Benedict Wee

Nokia N900 Maemo Makes That N97 Purchase Look Stupid

By Benedict Wee

It was only 6-8 weeks ago that Nokia announced its N97 phone in New Zealand at a whopping day-light robbery price of NZ$1799 and I gave a negative Buying Guide review that predicted the downfall of the Finnish mobile maker.

Seems like I've might have jumped the gun though as their recent announcement of the N900 looks like a very promising device that might save Nokia's sinking ship.

The N900 Maemo boasts some serious hardware specs -a 3.5-inch resistive touchscreen, 32GB storage, an ARM Cortex A8 600 MHz processor, a 3.5mm jack, WiFi, HSDPA (3.5G)- and comes with the Maemo 5 Linux OS. Android it is not, but looking at the demo it performs much better than the Symbian OS Nokia has been flogging the dead horse with. It makes one wonder why they bothered with launching the N97 in the first place.

We might be up to our necks in multiple mobile OSs right now but I'd gladly make room for Nokia's new smartphone and its price tag -500Euros/NZ$1043- seems like a reasonable amount to pay for a decent iPhone competitor.


Today Is Snow Leopard Day

By Benedict Wee

Apple's latest OS -set to compete against Micosoft's Windows 7- is now available for purchase. OSX 10.6 (a.k.a Snow Leopard) costs NZ$59 to upgrade for Macs with an intel processor and comes with the following features:
  • Exchange support built into Mail, iCal and Address Book
  • Exchange support is free, requires Exchange Server 2007
  • Expose built into the Dock
  • 3D rendering for the Dock
  • Recovers 6GB of storage space after installing
  • Spell out Chinese characters using trackpad
  • Safari faster than any browser on any platform (4.78x than IE8)
  • Safari Full History search allows you to Cover Flow though your browser history
  • Crash resistance feature
  • Quicktime 10 with ColorSync, HTTP streaming and Hardware acceleration
  • Edit and convert videos directly from Quicktime to export to various devices (i.e. iPod Touch, iPhone)
  • New Magnifier blows up thumbnails within Finder
The Snow Leopard launch is an international event, with the US having to only pay US$29/NZ$42.30 to upgrade their macs.

Apple - Snow Leopard

Xbox 360s Get Price Cut In US & UK. NZ On 22nd September.

By Benedict Wee
The rumored drop in Xbox 360 prices are rumors no more! Starting today the 120GB Elite model will sell for US$299.99/NZ$437.69, the original price of the 60GB Pro. In turn the 60GB Pro will get a price cut to US$249.99/NZ$364.74 as Microsoft will be phasing out this model.

Aaron Greenberg -director of product management for the Xbox 360- has confirmed that production of the 60GB Pro model has already stopped and that they're moving forward with two models: the HDD-less Arcade (US$199/NZ$290.34) and 120GB Elite. He also confirms that the console will come without HDMI cables because of the price drop and lowered production costs.

The UK gets a similar price cut for the Elite too, dropping 30GBP from 229.99GBP/NZ$550.90 to 199.99GBP/NZ$479.04. However Microsoft is ensuring that someone else suffers a loss for the 30GBP you'll save from buying the Elite as a price hike has occurred for the Arcade model as it is now 159.99GBP/NZ$383.23, up from its original price of 129.99GBP/NZ$311.37.

No word yet if we're getting a price cut too. Chances are even if we did it won't be a drastic enough drop for us as we seem to be punished for living in a corner of the world. Update: Just got word that the price cut happens on the 22nd September. So start saving.

The current prices in New Zealand are as follows: 120GB Elite: NZ$599, 60GB Pro: NZ$499 and HDD-less Arcade: NZ$349.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

No Really, What Do You Think About Vodafone?

By Benedict Wee

To celebrate the launch of the Samsung Ultra Touch S8300 phone, Vodafone is going to hold an exclusive party at the Zambesi Newmarket store in Auckland and they're giving out tickets to the first 20 customers who buy the phone from their online shop.

The S8300 comes with an 8MP camera, EDGE connection, a microSD slot, blah blah blah... look it's a plain ol' feature phone. It's not very interesting.

What does grab my attention is the information on the right column of the Vodafone blog (which I never knew existed) which show comments of older blog posts.

A quick click on any of the 'What People Are Saying' section brings you a list of complaints by current Vodafone users. And man are there many complaints. Here are some samples of enraged customer comments:

Quick tip: Be sure you know what links are provided in your blog as people might click them. If not you're gonna look silly.

Quick tip 2: Charging NZ$1000 for a WiFi-less, non-smartphone released to the rest of the world way back in March and trying to entice people into buying them by giving out tickets to a party is pretty silly as well.


Microsoft Is A Tad Racist

By Benedict Wee

Here's a picture found on Microsoft's Optimize Your Business Productivity Infrastructure webpage:

Here's the same picture on the Polish version of the site:

Can you spot the difference?

Yup, the guy in the middle had some serious tanning issues in between shoots. Seriously though, this is a photoshop disaster of epic proportions not to mention the racial implications it carries. Are there no black people in Poland?

Microsoft has since apologized and is looking into the details of the situation. Ya don't need to investigate very throughly Microsoft, the fact is that someone in your company thought it would be a good idea to cut/paste a white man's head onto a black man for an european version of your site. Case closed.


Arrr, There Be Android Tablets

By Benedict Wee

Looks like everyone and their grandma are looking at entering the portable tablet market. Screenshots of a 5 inch device running Android have been circulating around the internet for over a week now and Gizmodo has just reported that the gadget in question is the China-made Rockchip tablet.

The Rockchip comes with 800x480 resolution and an 533/667 MHz ARM Samsung chip which runs just as fast as current Android smartphones in the market. It also has your standard WiFi and GPS connections and can decode 720p HD video.

Somehow I'm not very impressed with the specifications, the Zii Egg is a smaller player and it boasts more features than the Rockchip does which puts the tablet at the lower end of the spectrum of Android running gadgets. Size is a problem too, being caught in between an ipod Touch and the rumored 10 inch Apple Tablet makes it too big to carry in a pocket and too small to do actual laptop work on. Perhaps a low price point of the device might make it an attractive purchase though no details were given about how much it'll cost.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Android Developer Challenge Start!

By Benedict Wee

Okay, its been months since the HTC Magic was released to us Kiwis and we still don't have the paid Market. This might discourage our local developers from creating apps for Android (since they can't make a living out of goodwill) but the recent announcement of Google's annual Android Developer Challenge might entice them to program something for the mobile OS.

Unfortunately though the submission date is the 31st of August, 11:59 pm US Pacific Time so if you're thinking about developing something then you best hop to it. Maybe you can convert the app you've developed for the Microsoft 'Race to the Market' competition.

Here are some of the details:

Developers will submit their apps to one of 10 specially-designated categories.
  • Education/Reference
  • Games: Casual/Puzzle
  • Games: Arcade/Action
  • Social Networking
  • Lifestyle
  • Productivity/Tools
  • Media
  • Entertainment
  • Travel
  • Misc
The top 20 applications in each category will go into the second round which will be judged one more time before a winner is announced.

The top 3 of each of the 10 categories will be awarded a cash prize:
  • 1st: US$100,000
  • 2nd: US$50,000
  • 3rd: US$25,000
In addition, the top 3 overall applications across all categories will get an additional prize:
  • 1st: US$150,000 (making it US$250,000 in total)
  • 2nd: US$50,000 (making it US$150,000 in total)
  • 3rd: US$25,000 (making it US$125,000 in total)
Android users who aren't participating can choose to judge the applications via a client/scoring app which will be made available in the Market in September.

The first round of judging is expected to end in October with the last round happening in November.

Full contest details can be found here.

More Than Half Of The World Texts/Emails While Driving

By Benedict Wee

CarGurus -an online automobile community- has announced in their latest report that 52% of the 2881 online participants of the survey they conducted have texted or written/read their emails while driving.

Granted it is a small sample, but CarGurus is one of the leading online car-enthusiast websites out there which means it does represent a good number of people internationally. I just hope Kiwis don't make up too much of the majority and we are smarter than that when it comes to our driving.


September Gadget Events: New iPods on the 5th, Motorola Android on the 10th.

By Benedict Wee

The guys at Gizmodo have received an invitation to an event in San Francisco on the 10th of September organized by Motorola with a well-known smartphone OS mascot appearing on the save the date invite:

I'm guessing they're going to announce either their "tween-friendly" Morrison or the "for-everyone-else" Sholes. Maybe its both.

Let's hope the announcement doesn't get overshadowed by Apple's event on the 5th of September where the new built-in camera ipods (and maybe Apple Tablet) are expected to make their debut.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is Your 2Degrees SIM Missing? (Full Update)

By Benedict Wee

Since news of 2Degrees emerged in May I've had high hopes for our 3rd mobile provider and was pretty excited to try out their new services. I registered for their Chinwag promotion and got my partner as well as our mates to sign up and was eagerly awaiting the free SIM to be posted to me, hell I've even bought a mobile especially for the occasion. Its seems however that things have run into a snag as my SIM card has been lost, twice. Here's a short rundown of events:
  • July 5th - Signed up for 2Degrees Chinwag campaign. Got a text confirming signup.
  • August 7th - Got a text from 2Degrees assuring SIM would arrive Sat 15th latest.
  • August 11th - Got another text from 2Degrees saying SIM is in the mail.
  • August 13th - 2Degrees SIM in mail, addressed to my partner who also signed up.
  • August 14th - Sent email to 2Degrees enquiring about SIM and reconfirmed address. No reply.
  • August 19th - Sent direct message to 2Degrees on Twitter asking about lack of communication.
  • August 20th - Got text informing new SIM has been sent. Got reply via Twitter asking for details. Replied saying not necessary as text has already said SIM has been sent.
  • August 25th - 5 days since text, still no SIM.
It seems like I'm not the only one experiencing the missing SIM phenomena. A mate of mine has "lost" hers in the mail too but she's not as excited about the new telco as I am and has decided to not pursue the matter and stick to Vodafone. I'm pretty sure most people would take that attitude as well.

I find it a tad amusing as the problems I've experienced in purchasing the China-made mobile to put my 2Degrees SIM in -exhausting and tedious as they were- have finally come to a resolution as the phone was delivered yesterday, thus making the international retailer of fake mobiles from Hong Kong more reliable then our local companies. It's more sad however as I feel pretty let down as the excitement of testing out the new telco's services has crashed in utter disappointment by the big delay in communication and the loss of my SIM. Twice.

So what's the deal? Did 2Degrees send the SIM to the wrong address twice? Do we have dishonest postal workers*? Did the prawns from District 9 take it? Whatever the case it doesn't look good for our new telco as I'm sure I'm not the only one who is experiencing the problem of disappearing SIM cards.

What about you guys? Are your Chinwag SIMs missing?

Update: Just got an email this morning from them, they're going to resend a SIM but in an unmarked envelope this time. Looks like there are cases of people pilfering SIM cards from mailboxes and 2Degrees PR person Bryony Hilless will be providing us with some information about the process so stay tuned.

Update 2: 2Degrees has explained the process of sending the SIM cards out in the comments below, if you're still missing yours go to the website here or email them at with your mobile number and mailing address.

* I highly doubt this as the Post Office here provides an excellent service and I've not lost a single piece of mail once. Good work posties!

Fake Gadget Tuesdays: Identity Crisis

By Benedict Wee

Gadget: Hantel777
Place of Origin: China
"Inspired" by: Unknown

If -like me- you're constantly thinking about swapping that recently purchased mobile for a one with a different form factor then you might want to think about multiple phone purchases. Or you could get the Hantel777 which couldn't decide what kind of phone it wanted to be so it chose to be both a bar and clamshell mobile.

First impressions of the phone are that it looks like one of those budget under-$100 mobiles you can buy from a telco provider that can only call and text but once you realize that you can flip the keypad and screen up; touchscreen goodness awaits under its deceptive cover.

Well "touchscreen goodness" might be stretching it too far. From what I can tell they're using one of the many poorly made China MTK touchscreen phone OSs which are slow, clunky and overall difficult to use. The Hantel777 comes with standard Chinese mobile features like dual SIM card slots, FM radio, Mp3/3GP/Mp4/Avi player and it runs on 900/1800 MHz networks.

The price of the phone: 705 RMB/ NZ$150.56 which does seem a bit on the expensive side for a non-smartphone with the most basic of functions. No score for almost-the-real-thing-ness and it gets a B- for creativity, a good concept but it's been poorly executed and if it looks cheap in pictures, think about how badly it'll look in real life.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Buying Guide: Playstation 3 Slim

By Benedict Wee

Alright, I gave it one day for the "Ohhhh! Shiny toy!" excitement to wash over me and now that my head's cleared up and am much more sober I'm thinking to myself: would I buy the Playstation 3 Slim? I've already got an Xbox 360 and a Nintendo Wii so would the price cut and a new sleek design be enough for me to fork out another thousand bucks or so to get another console?

Here's a quick buying guide/review.

Why I like it

Does not look like a George Forman Grill:
Let's get the petty issues I've had with it out of the way first. Ever since Sony revealed it's current-gen console I have not once seen an image of the PLAYSTATION 3* without thinking that I could do with a good surf and turf combo with a side of corn. The new model is thinner, lighter, compact and can be held in one hand which makes it easy to fit into my ever-growing tower of entertainment systems and carry around with me in my travels.

*The original name of the console was put in caps so I'm using it to distinguish the older model from the new one.

Swappable Hard Disk:
The Xbox 360's specifically designed HDD is made in such a way that you can only purchase the ones made by Microsoft and they're about twice as expensive as the normal ones you can find in any tech store. That is a huge rip off. Either that or I could just delete the games I've stored in the HDD and re-download them again if I want to play a particular title but that just wastes time and money (for the internet data, you don't need to purchase the game again).

If I ever felt the 120Gb worth of space in my PS3 Slim is not enough I could always buy any standard HDD and plug it into the console which should be the way these things work.

It's the PS3 I've always wanted:
Like I've just mentioned before, the PLAYSTATION 3 was a hulking monstrosity which departed from my traditional view of consoles. It was big, shiny, expensive, a finger-print magnet and used that Spider-man font in caps which clearly meant that Sony was having an identity issue when designing the console.

And it did. With so many PR snafus and empty promises it seemed like the console maker had completely disconnected with the fanbase that made the Playstation and Playstation 2 popular.

The PS3 Slim is Sony's way of saying: "Forget about the last 3 years, lets start over." And it has. With a lower price point and a console which looks similar to the PS2, it's the successor I always wanted it to be.

I don't need to pay to play with other gamers online:
Xbox Live is expensive. It can go from as low as $6.70 to as high as $10.95 per month to upgrade to the Gold membership just so you can play with others online. Combine that with having to pay for the broadband connection and it all accumulates. And it's not like I want to play with people 24/7 so all those lost days/months of not playing online do get wasted.

The Playstation Network is free. Win.

Region Free (And Easy):
Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 games cost around the same price: a lot. But a big difference is that the 360's games are region locked while the PS3's are not. This gives you a variety of outlets (read: the internet) to purchase your games from. Import them from America, Singapore, Japan, England etc. anywhere you can find cheaper games from. It also makes it far more convenient to get the latest game releases instead of having to wait for them to reach our shores. A wait which can take up to months sometimes.


No more manual OS install:
You can't install a Linux OS on the PS3 Slim which wouldn't make a big difference to anyone since a) this is a feature utilized only by a small number of tech experts and geeks, b) no one knew this feature existed anyway.

2 USB ports:
I don't see myself using them anytime soon. Probably for Rock Band but you only need 1 anyways.

I can finally climb aboard the High Definition train by watching my movies/tv shows in glorious full HD. Then again, not everyone has a Full HD television and mine's only HD Ready. Also, blu-rays are still expensive and have not been adopted as readily as DVDs were. The format might have triumphed over HD-DVDs but it has yet to prove itself worthy of following and in a world that is moving towards digital distribution (the downloading of movies/shows/games) the blu-ray might end up a lame duck.

Why I do not like it

Stand Straight Boy! :
The new PS3 Slim cant stand vertically like the old PS3 can: That's alright.
You can buy an optional stand however: Oh ok.
It'll cost you US$24/NZ$35.60, possibly more since you live in NZ: No.

It's a plastic base to hold the PS3 upright for God's sake. Why are you charging me so much for what is -in essence- a bicycle kickstand!? Couldn't you have included it in the set? Are you that desperate to make a quick buck from us?

I recommend waiting for 3rd party accessory makers to come up with their own PS3 Slim stands, they'll be cheaper and you'll get an assortment of colors, designs and extra features (charging base perhaps?) to choose from.

Still too expensive:
It's US$299/NZ$442.76 in the United States, 29980 Yen/NZ$458.61 in Japan and 299 Euros/NZ$479.50 in the EU. Why on earth is it NZ$620 here?! That is a good $140 more than what it costs in Europe. With that extra cash you could get one new PS3 game or 2 used PS3 games or an extra controller with change or 3-and-a-half official Sony PS3 Slim stands!

Seriously though, why are we always getting the short end of the stick? Are we trying for a world record for most expensive electronics sold in a country? High prices are a perfect excuse to resort to piracy and the last thing game developers and console makers want us to do is to start modifying our consoles and getting our games illegally. It's ridiculous.

Fortunately -as I've mentioned above- the console is not region locked so I highly recommend you contact your relatives/friends overseas to help you purchase the system. If you can't find someone there are always online shops that ship to New Zealand.

Another point to make is that though the current price tag of the PS3s is the same as the current Xbox 360 Elite model, we're expecting a price drop for Microsoft's console soon, thus still making the 360 a cheaper current-gen console.

And let's not forget how much the console really costs. The reason why I said I'd have to spend around a thousand dollars for the PS3 slim is because we all tend to forget the extra bits and pieces that add up. Its $620 for the system, another $100+ for an extra controller, games ranging from $55 (old/used) to $140 (new), blu-ray movies from $30 (old/used) to $90 (tv series) and PSN points at $30/$50 to download games can tally into almost paying for the PS3 slim twice over.

Exclusive 3rd party titles are a thing of the past. Devil May Cry, Silent Hill, Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy and Resident Evil are examples of popular 3rd party franchises that appear on both the Xbox 360 and PS3. If you already own an Xbox 360 and are a fan of these established franchises chances are you've already played these games. So what could Sony offer you in terms of software that would justify a purchase of another console?

For every Gran Turismo on the PS3 there is a Forza on the Xbox 360. For every SingStar there is Lips, for every Resistance, a Gears of War.

Yes the gameplay differs from each title but they do not make an enormous leap in mechanics to lure gamers from one console to the other.

Not everyone is in the same situation I am so I'm going to give a conclusion into different tiers.

If you already own an Xbox 360: Stick with it. You're not missing out on much as 3rd party developers are making games for both platforms and Sony exclusives are few and far between to not justify buying another console.

I know it has a high failure rate of breaking down but you've got 3 years warranty on the console which does help and the new models that they replace it with are fitted with better chips that prevent it from dying so often. If the warranty period is over you can look forward to a price drop on the Elite model. Also, it may not mean a lot but you'll be giving up your Gamerscore and Achievements you've collected when you were playing those games.

There are other glaring negative points about the 360 as well though don't get me wrong. The silly banning of under 18s from Xbox Live and the ludicrous prices to download games online are totally unfair but it's something that can be easily worked around with (i.e. lie about your age and buy physical games respectively).

If you own a PLAYSTATION 3: There's no point in changing to the newer system. Chances are you got one with the better configuration out there (with PS2 backwards compatibility and all) and Sony systems are made to last. Stick with your behemoth.

If you own a Wii/neither consoles: It's a good time to join the high-definition party and a good way to do that is getting the PS3 Slim. Bear in mind that it is quite a big investment, don't go into a shop with $600 and expect to be ready to experience an onslaught of brilliant graphics and gameplay when you get back. I'd prepare at least $850 for games/movies/tv shows and an extra controller to get myself up and running decently.

If possible import. It'll save you tons which means more games and blu-ray movies.

So there you go. I won't be buying one for myself because I don't think the purchase is necessary but if you're considering getting one think about the time/money that this investment is going to cost. Chances are most gamers have already selected the console of their choice and though the PS3 Slim has a lot going for it, it's been 3 years and it may have come a little too late.

The Alarm Clock That Doesn't Shut Up

By Benedict Wee

I'm not the biggest fan of being woken up by my HTC Magic's alarm every morning no matter what tone I set it and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to wake up to one of these things that never stops talking.

Clockman comes in green, pink, yellow or blue but you're not supposed to choose him based on your color preference. You choose him based on your blood type.

Yup, one Clockman each for AB, A, B and O types. What does your blood have to do with being waken up by a cute-sounding voice too early to be heard in the morning? I dunno. It's probably a marketing gimmick.

If you're ever thinking about what to get your mortal enemy this holiday season, this is the present to give.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Do You Want To Date My Avatar?

By Benedict Wee

Best MMORPG music video ever.

PSP gets Minis and Digital Comic Reader

By Benedict Wee

Along with the big PS3 Slim reveal today Sony has also announced that their Playstation Store will come with an additional category selling casual games for the Playstation Portable.

PSP Minis will host a collection of games which will be cheaper than the current titles available in the Playstation Store and not take more than 100MB in space, making it ideal to store on the handheld's Memory Stick or the new PSP Go's internal hard drive.

The Minis store will launch in October with 15 games available for download. Sony hopes for at least fifty titles by the end of the year.

Another new feature announced for the PSP is that it'll be able to read Digital Comics (legally). Marvel is the first comic book publisher to enter a partnership deal with Sony to provide downloadable titles for the handheld with more companies signing on eventually. The Digital Comic Reader is set to arrive in December.

Looks like the PSP is set to follow the DSi in competing for the downloadable casual game market, currently dominated by the iPhone.


Current Playstation 3s To Get Immediate Price Cut

By Benedict Wee

Announced along with the PS3 Slim is a price drop of the 80GB models which will be lowered to US$299/NZ$442.76 while the 160GB version will also be cut to US$399/NZ$590.84.

The price drop happens immediately but is only available in the US. Will update if we get a similar price cut over here but chances are you might want to hold off on buying the console till the PS3 Slim gets released.


Playstation 3 Slim Announced, Cheaper and Thinner (Updated)

By Benedict Wee

We speculated a fortnight ago that signs pointed to the impending revamp of Sony's Playstation 3 console and it seems that they're true.

Announced today at Sony 2009 Gamescom in Germany, the PS3 Slim comes with a 120GB hard drive and is 33% smaller and 36% lighter. And it doesn't look like a George Forman Grill (yay!). Other altered specs include a BRAVIA sync function where you can control the PS3's main menu using the television's remote, the removal of the manual install OS feature and 2 USB ports.

The PS3 Slim will be available in the first week of September and will retail in the US for US$299/NZ$442.76, in Japan: 29980 Yen/NZ$458.61 and in Europe: 299 Euros/NZ$479.50.

No surprises that we'll probably be relegated to paying for the higher end of the console spectrum since we are in the PAL region but if you got mates in the US then by all means import away since Playstation 3 games are not region coded.

Update: Looks like we'll be paying much more for the new console than the rest of the world (again) as an article on NZGamer states that the RRP for the PS3 Slim in New Zealand is NZ$629.95. Ugh.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Layar Augmented Reality App For Android Now Available

By Benedict Wee

Remember that awesome augmented reality browser application I talked about way back in June?

No? Well things are pretty fuzzy here too, let's look at what it does again:

Awesome huh. Well good news for all you Android phone owners out there. The application -once only available in the Netherlands- can now be downloaded from the Android Market for free in New Zealand.

Layar is still in its early stages right now but give it a couple of months (and information from contributors who live around a particular part of New Zealand) and it'll be a helpful tool for both tourists and fellow Kiwis alike.

Poo. New Xbox 360 Elites Won't Come With HD Cables

By Benedict Wee

That anticipated price cut for the Xbox 360 Elite models must be really steep. According to Kotaku, future Elite systems will come with neither HDMI nor component cables. Instead all you get is your standard composite (yellow/white/red) ones which the previous-generation consoles used.

They better take at least $150 off the Elite's current price to make it even.


Fake Gadget Tuesdays: The Nokia Swivel Phone That Never Was

By Benedict Wee

Gadget: NOKLA E81-1
Place of Origin: China
"Inspired" by: Unknown

I've never heard of Nokia giving a sub-number in their 'E' or 'N' line of mobiles before. But if they did this phone is so cool that it would deserve its own letter instead of being put in a sub-category of the E series.

The Nokla E81-1 is the first 108 degrees swivel mobile phone I've ever seen. It comes with pretty decent specs like a FM radio, multi-format video player, camera with video recording functions and an mp3 player but what makes this phone an eye turner is the its swivel design which reveals a full QWERTY keyboard similar to BlackBerry smartphones.

Also included is a mirror on the back for the ladies to check on their makeup (and for guys to check for vampires or something) and it comes with a big enough hole to easily thread a lanyard through (or to hang from a necklace).

The only flaws of the Nokla E81-1 are that it uses only GSM 900/1800 MHz networks and it doesn't have Wifi so don't expect to do anything except calling and texting on this mobile. It's retail price: 630RMB/NZ$137.90, cheaper than most dumbphones out there in the market right now.

I can't put an arbitrary score for almost-the-real-thing-ness since this phone isn't a copy of any model out in the market, but I would give it an A for sheer ingenuity and technical know-how. It's pretty amazing what these copycat makers can create sometimes.

Latest Windows Mobile Market Ad Takes A Potshot at Apple

By Benedict Wee

Microsoft's latest "Race to the Market Challenge" cartoon ad has strong overtones of them taking a jab at the Apple App Store fiasco.

Good plan too, it's a perfect time for them to take the opportunity to gain some developers frustrated at making Applications for Apple.

Danger! iPhone/iPod Touch Firmware 3.0 Email Security Flaw

By Benedict Wee

If you're using your iPhone/iPod Touch to manage your emails and you got the latest firmware upgrade (3.0) you might want to try this out.
  1. Delete an email with a subject line you can remember.
  2. Go to your trash and empty it as well so the particular email is truly "gone".
  3. Exit to the main Home screen and go to the Spotlight Search page on the left screen.
  4. Type in the words from the subject line.
  5. Watch in amazement as the email gets resurrected from oblivion.
This flaw in the system is so easy to exploit anyone can do it. All your private emails could be read by anyone!

Here's a video of how it works:

Let's chalk this one up to another reason why you shouldn't be using the iPhone for business purposes.


Monday, August 17, 2009

TomTom For iPhone Now Out In NZ App Store

By Benedict Wee

We've got an early surprise. There have been no announcements made yet about the popular navigation service but you can now download the TomTom application from the New Zealand App Store.

The maps/services are charged by region:
  • New Zealand : NZ$119.99
  • Australia : NZ$104.99
  • Western Europe : NZ$179.99
  • US & Canada : NZ$124.99
It seems that we're the first in the world to get this application. Whoo Hoo.

MacRumors - TomTom For iPhone Appears In New Zealand App Store

Here, Have Some Snow Leopard Box Art. Plus: How Much Do The New OS Upgrades Cost

By Benedict Wee

Apple's new OS due out in September has gotten its box art. Though not exactly artistic (it looks like they did a copy/paste from National Geographic), it does bring good news that Mac users would soon be able to get their shiny new operating system for the low low price of US$29/NZ$42.76 (termsandcondtionsapply*) ahead of Windows users who'll have to wait till October 22nd for Windows 7.

* just in case you want to compare how much the upgrade to your respective OS is going to cost you here is a comparison chart. (Prices are in US dollars)