Monday, November 30, 2009

New iPhone Now Being Tested

By Benedict Wee

Those of you who're considering getting the iPhone 3GS this Christmas might have to think twice now that rumors of Apple's next iPhone is currently being tested in San Francisco where the company is located.

A list provided by app analytics company PinchMedia to iPhone developer Pandav (creators of the iBART app, a transportation guide for the San Francisco train system) show an identification number for an iPhone assigned by Apple that has been utilizing their application.

The number "iPhone3,1" does not match up with any iPhones currently being sold or shipped and if you compare it to last year's news in October where an "iPhone2,1" identification string was spotted around the same area and it turned out to be the iPhone 3GS, you can probably conclude that "iPhone3,1" is Apple's next iPhone.

If you can, I'd advise holding out the next 6-7 months for the next-gen iPhone which is rumored to run a multi-core processor that could out-perform the 1GHz phones already announced by the other mobile manufacturers. If not, then be prepared for some buyer's remorse when Apple introduces the iPhone 4G in June/July 2010.


Ivy The Kiwi?: The First Proper Game For Windows Phones?

By Benedict Wee

Windows Mobile 6.5 is far from the revolutionary mobile operating system we've come to expect, especially when compared to Google's Android or the iPhone, but that isn't stopping Japanese mobile game developer PROPE from creating a stunningly beautiful puzzle-platformer starring our very own mascot.

In Ivy the Kiwi? you help a lost kiwi chick find her way home by drawing vines along its path to help it climb out of holes, avoid predators and in certain cases, launch into breakable walls. There are 50 stages in total to complete with an online ranking board to compare high scores.

Perhaps this might be the game that will help Windows Phones get a foothold in the mobile OS wars but nothing is standing in the way of the game coming to the other smartphones in the market and to handhelds like the DSi and PSP via downloadable content.

Ivy the Kiwi? gets released in December on the Windows Marketplace but there's currently no exact date nor price for the game.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Latest Final Fantasy XIII Trailer Mocks You For Not Being Able To Get It Till Next Year

By Benedict Wee

Square Enix's latest Final Fantasy XIII trailer once again shows you why the company is famous for its JRPGs, with tones of action for the guys and drama for the ladies. The last bit is especially exciting with all the characters teaming up with their summons in battle.

This is purportedly the last Japanese trailer we'll see before the Japanese version of the game is released in Japan on the 17th next month. Us english-speaking folks won't be getting the game till March next year but I guess we can wait for them to do the voice overs for the trailers to tide us over in the meantime.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Creative Launches Nex-Gen Vado Pocket Camcorder.

By Benedict Wee

The current Vados have decent enough specs to compete in the pocket camcorder market right now but Creative's newly announced 3rd generation model might prove to be one of the better portable video-recording gadgets this holiday season.

The Vado HD one ups its previous predecessor with the follow improvements:
  • Better quality video in low light or brightly lit conditions
  • Manual exposure adjustments
  • External stereo microphone support for better audio recording
  • Headphone output for private listening
  • Motion Detection Mode - camera only records when motion is detected
  • Out-of-the box Mac and PC compatibility
  • Still Photo Capture Mode
The slight downside of the next-gen model is that its internal storage space has gone down to 4GB from its previous 8GB, but Creative was sensible enough to sell it at a lower price of US$180/NZ$248, which is a good deal.

The Vado HD will be in retail stores in the US come mid-December so here's hoping that it'll be available to us somewhere around the Christmas period.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another Tablet Running Android. Available Soon.

By Benedict Wee

Lining up in the queue of unknown China companies producing Android tablets, Camangi's WebStation offers a 7-inch screen, WiFi enabled, GPS built-in, glass touchscreen device running Android 1.5 (Cupcake) for a pretty steep price of US$400/NZ$553. Judging from the videos below it doesn't come with Google services either so that's a dealbreaker for me.

If you are thinking about getting the WebStation, Camangi's offering an early bird discount on their website if you sign up and leave your email address.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Google Introduces Chrome OS.

By Benedict Wee

With their fingers in so many pies Google has, on more than one occasion, threatened the status quo of the internet companies with their web-based applications, and now they're taking it one step further by challenging the two major giants in the industry -Microsoft and Apple- with the announcement of their own operating system.

Chrome OS (not to be confused with Chrome the web browser) is the amalgamation of Google's services that relies entirely on the internet to run, which makes sense as most of us out there spend almost all of our computer time on the web anyways.

With Chrome OS you'll be able to carry out everyday tasks like read news, create/edit documents, listen to music and watch videos, just like what you'd normally do with a Windows or Mac computer. And it's super fast, taking only seconds to load from the time you turn on your computer.

The downside to the OS is that being only a web-based application, it won't support hard drives as all your stuff (i.e. music, movies, documents) will be stored on the internet. On the other hand, you could say that the files will be easily accessible from any computer, though you would need to have access to the web in order to retrieve them.

Though it won't possess the same functionality of Windows 7 or Snow Leopard, and businesses would need to rely on these two operating systems to run their 3rd party programs, Chrome OS will appeal to the majority of people who use computers for web-only reasons and if you think about it, that number is big enough for Microsoft and Apple to take Google's new baby seriously.

Chrome OS is expected to hit netbooks (and maybe tablets) next year.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rumor: Google Phone Coming Soon, Might Be VoIP Only.

By Benedict Wee

TechCrunch has it on good sources that senior Android guys over at Google are currently carrying and testing a "super" Android phone that might be unveiled as early as next year.

The stand-alone Google-made device is said to been planned quite some time ago when the Android OS was being adopted by the major phone manufacturers (HTC, Motorola, Samsung etc.) and that though the phone's hardware might be produced by one of the mobile companies, it will only have Google branding. Just like what the iPhone is to Apple.

In addition to that rumor, the Google phone is said to only use data for all forms of communication. That means calls are made through VoIP using their Google Voice service, which has already gained a high amount of adopters in the US because of their unlimited calls and voice forwarding services.

If this rumor proves to be true, we will soon see a new age of mobile communications which will free us from the expensive calls/data/text plans the telcos have pinned us under. Already in first world countries like the US and UK, most telcos provide contracts with unlimited data at a low monthly cost which is poised to drop even further without the need for calls or texts.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Facebook Arrives To The PlayStation 3 Too.

By Benedict Wee

Taking a leaf from Microsoft's book, Sony's next PlayStation 3 update (firmware 3.10) will come with Facebook integration.

Starting this thursday, PS3 owners will be able to assign their PlayStation Network (PSN) IDs to their Facebook accounts which will send status updates of PSN purchases and Trophies earned in games played. Unfortunately, writing your own status update from the console isn't possible yet but on the bright side the service is free, unlike the Xbox 360 which requires a Gold membership account in order to use its social networking features.

The update also brings a better photo browsing interface to the Cross Media Bar (XMB), an improved PSN Friends List and the ability to choose a color for your PSN ID.

Check out the video below to learn more about the new update.


Facebook And Twitter To Arrive On Xbox 360s Today.

By Benedict Wee

Microsoft's second major update of the year for the Xbox 360 should hit dashboards all around New Zealand as you read this post.

The latest update brings Facebook and Twitter to the console, but is only accessible if you have an Xbox LIVE gold account. In addition to a paid subscription, I suggest you invest in a cheap USB keyboard should you choose to utilize the new features as the thumb-stick and button input method is a tedious endeavor when you want to update your status. Don't bother getting the official Chatpad either cause it's way too expensive.

Windows Marketplace Now Available For Windows Mobile 6 Phones.

By Benedict Wee

While we have yet to see smartphones running Windows Mobile 6.5 over here in New Zealand, those who've been clamoring for the Windows Marketplace can now install it to their Windows Mobile 6.x phones by directing their phone browser to

According to the announcement on the Windows Blog, roughly 90% of the applications available on the Windows Marketplace is optimized for older Windows Mobile 6 phones, which is a pretty decent number of apps. So rejoice Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1 users, you've now got an application that consolidates a list of other applications to download from.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

English Version Of Final Fantasy XIII Hits March 2010.

By Benedict Wee

Square Enix has just announced on their official Final Fantasy XIII site that the English translation of the game will be available for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 on the 9th of March next year.

The highly anticipated game features a new battle system, a "dramatic story" focused on the emotions of the characters (I don't know what that means) and will have Leona Lewis singing the official soundtrack -My Hands- of the game.

Check out the announcement trailer below which features never before seen footage of the game.

Final Fantasy XIII Official Site link.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Return Of Vodafone's Crazy Circus (Updated)

By Benedict Wee

Here we go again. A lively debate on the prices of the services and mobiles Vodafone NZ offers sprung up on Twitter and yours truly (as well as a couple of others) joined in to grill the telco about their high prices. Below are the exchanges that me and Paul have made and what I got out of the conversation.

The debate was already raging between other tweets when I logged on but I decided to only enter when Vodafone NZ made this remark:
I responded with:
Vodafone responded:
along with:
This basically meant that they don't care for PrePay users as much as they do for those who are On Account (attached to contracts). And if you're not happy about their plans: switch telcos cause you're not their target group.

I replied:

By now I know they were just bullshitting the whole situation. $29 for the Vodafone 541 is On Account and they were comparing it to a PrePay price in the UK.


First, Vodafone wanted to compare population size, which I did. After losing that battle they wanted to compare geographical size and challenged me to prove their phones were expensive:

which I did:
Again, after losing this battle they then decided to change tactics and go for their previous rediculous strategy of comparing PrePay with On Account:

Once again, they reiterated that they didn't care for PrePay customers as much. So I played their game and compared their On Account plans:

Vodafone NZ was trying to slip a quick one by comparing iPhones as Vodafone UK doesn't sell them and thus, there could be no fair comparisons. I chose the HTC Magic instead cause it was the same Vodafone branded smartphone offered in both regions.

Sensing that this battle was lost also, Vodafone attempted to change their stance with:

I responded:
The HTC Magic in the UK was free on a 24 month plan less than 6 months after it was launched. This is just them trying to coverup that fact that their phones are being sold cheaper in their overseas branches.

Even if you do not have a timeline for when the UK dropped their prices, take a look at any of Vodafone NZ's phones. None of them are free with contracts. Their attempts at justifying high prices are terribly weak and transparent.

The debate continued with them replying with the "UK is not NZ" argument they've tried to use before and after asking why is the same telco not offering a relatively similar price on their mobiles they replied that both Vodafone branches are completely separate entities that order different amounts of handsets so they're priced differently.

Vodafone stopped replying after my last message, guess they decided not to incriminate themselves anymore.

As you can see from the long exchange above, they claim that their phones are not ordered in bulk along with the head Vodafone branch for distribution throughout the world but instead, are made after the initial order which is why their phones are expensive.

Makes sense? I don't think so. Yes the phones are made by batches but they're still the same ol phones and saying that they have to pay more because of a smaller order is silly. If you owned a multinational corporation and made a product, wouldn't you order them in one big bulk and distribute them according to the market size? How do they explain that parallel importers (who are much smaller than the telcos) managed to bring in HTC Magics and sell them for $400 lesser than what Vodafone NZ asks for on PrePay?

Everything about what Vodafone NZ has said reeks of PR spinning, and a bad one at that. Proclaiming that they don't care for PrePay customers as much as they do for those On Account is a terrible statement to make considering most remain on prepaid plans do so because of the lack of value when you take up a monthly contract. I still stand by the theory that they're just exploiting the New Zealand market as they've got a strong hold over us which comes about from the lack of competition. It's about time we stand up to their tyranny and greed.