I still remember when Dolby sent me their first “surround sound” processor back in the 1980’s. They said that their processor could “extract” ambient sound from within a recording to create a wider sound-field. And that it didn’t matter what the audio source was as this “added” sound was always recorded along with what was “heard” — which was a stereo recording. Of course today there’s discrete 5.1, 7.1 or even greater numbers of audio streams that can be processed through multi-channel receivers, but what about all those recordings that never made it past stereo? Rather than being forced to use psycho-acoustic sound techniques to “fool” your ear, plug in the Sound Master.
Here’s what it’s does: process an evenly distributed sound-field that envelops you (immersive); create distinct points of audio (think: a bullet traveling from in front of you past your left shoulder); recreate the original audio so that the listener doesn’t feel there’s some kind of techno-babble going on (i.e., you may hear explosions at your side, but John McLane’s “Yippe-kiya” is as distinct as if listening to Die Hard on an iPod).
Surround Master is about the length of a mini DVD player and about half as wide. Plug the AC plug in for ongoing power last — first set the switch on the front to 2-channel mode. Then attach a pair of RCA stereo cables into the outputs from your audio source and the other end into the 2-channel input. The last step is to connect RCA plugs from the 2-channel output and into the Aux of an amplifier. If you decide to go with 4 speakers, then the switch goes to 4-channel mode and the Left Front/Right Front, Left Rear/Right Rear outputs are used, with their other ends plugged into the appropriate places on the amp. Use of the subwoofer is optional in either case.
Nothing special has to be done to the amp, with the exception that all surround sound simulated modes (like Dolby Pro Logic) have to be turned off so that the sound exiting to the speakers is not being modified (most amps call this “Direct Mode”).
Involve audio who makes Sound Master recommends using the 4-channel mode, so I’ve set it up that way. I’ve a pair of stereo speakers in front of me and a pair to the side and behind (what would normally be called “rear” speakers). My position is at the center so that each speaker’s bulls-eye is my body.
I’ve been given a demo disc to use in which specific scenes are produced that display surround effects. I played the disc first as stereo and verified that the scenes I would use as “test subjects” are just in stereo. Frequency response and other measurements were obviated in favor of my ear — if what I heard sounded right, then I was going to be happy. So I began the test:
* Transformers: Battle sounds come at the listener from multiple locations, not just the front, which was the case when played without the Sound Master. A rocket fired at the end of the sequence “traveled” from the front speakers to the back and was clearly perceived a such — again this did not occur when the scene was played as ordinary stereo.
*Dummyhead Stereo: Both a rear and side sound-field could be clearly heard, but more importantly it was a clean performance that didn’t get “mushed” together (flutes being played demonstrated this fact).
*X-Men: The sequence had Professor Xavier using his mind powers on Wolverine to cause voices to “rotate” around the listener’s head. There was a clear perception of this happening, as opposed to the audio remaining fixed at the front when it was played in stereo. Additionally, the dialogue was not muddied or had any hiss or interference to signify some form of audio modification was in process.
I also tried out the Sound Master with a number of symphonic CDs and videocassette commercial movies. The surround sound on the CDs varied in intensity, in some cases being extremely mild, but at no time did I encounter any degradation in the audio. As to the movies, surround sound effects that were clearly not present when played normally were now evident.
Switching over to the 2-channel mode creates a “virtual surround” effect that functions without such tricks as bouncing audio streams off walls. I’ve never been impressed by any of the modification technologies used to do this and the experience relies heavily on the perception of the person listening. I can say that the Sound Master performs as well as any other technology in this mode and many will find it an appealing way to enhance their sound-field. But used only in this manner is a waste of what it can do.
The classic mystery Clue board game has just gotten a whole lot cooler…that is if you’re a HUGE Dungeons & Dragons fans! The game plays out just like any ordinary game of Clue would, where you have to guess the murderer, weapon and room, but it now features lots of Dungeons & Dragons elements crammed into it. All the basic playing pieces and standard weapons have been replaced with all-new metal pieces, including 6 player characters and 6 wicked weapons from D&D. And the board is different too, as well as the playing cards, which are made to shake up gameplay even more!
In this D&D game of Clue, you have to find the Archmage’s killer, playing with either Regdar the Fighter, Lidda the Rogue, Mialee the Wizard, Nebin the Gnome, Tordek the Dwarf, or Ember the Monk. The locations where the murder could have taken place now include The Treasure Chamber, Dragon’s Lair, Wizard’s Tower, Chamber of Tricks & Traps, Dungeon, The Grand Hall, Library of Arcane Tomes, Magical Armory, and Lost Crypt. The murder weapons you can now choose from are a Vorpal Sword, Dagger of Venom, Ring of Magic Missiles, Flaming Battle Axe, Staff of Power, and Mace of Disruption. Get your Dungeons & Dragons Clue set now for only $39.99 at ThinkGeek!
There are usually two main hurdles for folks trying to valiantly evaluate the transition from console to PC gaming. These are cost and convenience. I love consoles for their standardized platform and convenient price point. PCs can be expensive and its daunting to maintain a stable rig. Tack on the exorbitant cost for high end video cards and you have the makings of a console loyalist–just add doubt and stir. However, Nvidia’s newest consumer level video card should help bridge the gap between console convenience and the texel crunching power of a well-configured PC.
Enter the Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST video card–”tuned for sweet-spot gaming”. The card we have today is a reference card shipped to us directly from Nvidia. This is what EVGA, Asus, Gigabyte and others use to make their own wicked versions with expanded memory and higher clock speeds. The 650 Ti BOOST is a low cost card meant to achieve stable frame rates in today’s most demanding games when playing at a 1080p HD resolution. It’s not a card for the hardcore PC gaming crow–at least not by its lonesome. But I’ll get to that. At a cost that reaches roughly half the price of a modern console, the 650 Ti BOOST could be the perfect baby step into affordable PC gaming.
Let’s look at the specs. This is a current PCI-E video card. It features 768 CUDA cores, a base clock speed of 980Mhz that will “boost” to 1033Mhz. It supports PCI-E 3.0 found on most modern motherboards. It supports 2-Way SLI so two 650 Ti BOOST cards could be installed into a single system and benefit from dual performance. The texture fill rate hits 62.7GT/s and the features 2GB of onboard GDDR5 video memory. The memory clock is a nice 6008Mhz at 0.33ns. Not bad for a sub-$200 card. The is also available in 1GB and 4GB versions.
The 650 Ti BOOST is among the 600 series offerings and is probably the last card to be made before Nvidia begins shipping the high end versions of its 700 series later this week. But this little puppy does all that its other 600 series siblings can. It features support for Microsoft DirectX 11, Nvidia’s SMX engine, GPU boost tech, Adaptive Vertical sync for syncing frames and enabling more stable frame rates. You also have your choice of inputs including DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort connections.
Installation is as easy as you might expect. But for the uninitiated… Power down your computer, and unplug the power supply (450W PSU min required). Remove your current video card and place the 650 Ti BOOST in its place, making sure you are inserting it in a PCI-E 2.0 or 3.0 card slot. Then connect the 6-pin power cable from your power supply. Now close your case and power your rig back on. We are using Nvidia’s most current Beta drivers version 320.14. I download drivers and have them ready upon installing. But you can download them after installation.
The GTX 650 Ti BOOST supports 2560 x 1600 resolution. But even Nvidia states the card’s best use scenario is 1080p gaming. Remember it’s tuned for “sweet-spot” gaming. That’s 1080p! At that resolution I was pleasantly surprised. Even at sub-60 frames per second the 650 maintains very smooth framerates. Let’s take a look.
The big boy on the block is Deep Silver’s recently acquired Metro Last Light. This is the industry’s current trend-setter for visual fidelity. The game supports DirectX 11 features and Nvidia’s PhysX tech for physics calculations and looks absolutely gorgeous throughout. Metro is a bit less finicky than the previous Metro 2033. It seems better optimized for smoother gameplay at sub-60 frames per second. The 650 Ti BOOST handles virtually everything at max settings. Just steer clear of SSAO beyond 0.5. Moving it up to 2.0 or higher will see you FPS cut in half for an uplayable experience.
Beyond that, the 650 Ti BOOST kept gameplay running at a very playable clip. I even found myself repeating levels previously played well afterI had my bench results. All these are great games and the 650 Ti BOOST dresses them up real “purty like…” I prefer playing at 60 frames per second minimum at much higher display resolutions. If you’re the same, then you already know this card is not for you. However, you could pair two of these together in an SLI configuration to game either above 60fps or maintain the same listed results at higher resolutions.
Bottom Line: This is really a great card for the money. Moreover, it does hit a sweet spot, as the marketing hyperbole states. But lets be clear. The “sweet spot” for hardcore gamers is 60 fps minimum. But for more casual gamers, especially those coming from consoles and their 30-ish fps standard, anything above 30 at 1080p is indeed a sweet spot. Padding the list of goodies, there are some great tools available for GeForce users. EVGA Precision and MSI Afterburner allow you overclock your cards speeds thereby gaining a few precious frames per second. Also Nvidia offers their GeForce Experience tool. It analyzes your system to determine and set the most optimal game settings based on your system and video cards. It’s a great tool for those new to computer gaming or those who just want to be more hands-off.
*Enthusiasts take note: Don’t fret, hardcore gamers. We should have day-1 coverage of something special later in the week.
**Nvidia reference card are not available for purchase. They are used by end card partners (Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte et al) as a referential guide when designing their own cooling solutions and expanded memory. When reviewed , they are used to gauge performance of retail solutions.
Microsoft announced today that their newest flagship console, titled ‘Xbox One,’ will be launching by the end of this year. The device, which is being hailed as an “all-in-one system,” was created with the ideal of providing a “simple,” “instant,” and “complete” approach to the living-room experience. That being said, gaming is more important to the company now than it’s ever been. Microsoft made clear that there are more games in development now than during any other period of Xbox history.
We figured you’d want to know, so we did the research and the math. Company execs have stated that 15 exclusives are coming to the Xbox One within a year of its launch, and eight of them are new IPs. We’ve got a list of twelve here, but you’ll have to wait until E3 to hear more about the full selection.
1. Assassin’s Creed: IV: Black Flag
Studio: Ubisoft Montreal
2. Battlefield 4
3. Call of Duty: Ghosts
Studio: Infinity Ward
5. FIFA ’14
6. Forza Motorsport 5
Studio: Turn 10 Studios
7. Madden 25
8. NBA Live ’14
9. Quantum Break
Studio: Remedy Games
Studio: Eidos Studios Montreal
12. Watch Dogs
Don’t you love it when you’re at a restaurant and you take that first sip of the ice cold beer you love with all the froth on top? Well now you can recreate that froth experience with the Sonic Hour Beer Head Froth Maker. Bet you didn’t know that in Japan, a beer’s froth is an essential part of beer drinking! While some might dislike that extra froth on top of their beer, it actually does make your lager that much more thirst-quenching in hotter summer months!
To create that extra froth, the device uses ultrasonic oscillation to produce fine bubbles to give a refreshing top to your beer. The Sonic Hour Beer Head Froth Maker is part of their bestselling Beer Hour line, with the word hour a play on the Japanese word awa, which means “bubble,” and should be in every beer lover’s kitchen! The device also features light-up illumination functions to enhance any party atmosphere! It’ll make a great gift for any beer lover and only costs $80 at The Fancy.
Google’s Street View is a remarkable piece of technology that has has significantly influenced how we locate points of interest - heck, it can even help fight parking tickets (trust me, this works). And while we’ve long known about the Street View cars (I’ve seen one in person) and Street View trikes, little has been talked about when it comes to mapping the ocean’s floor.
That’s right, Google, if you ain’t heard, has been mapping the Earth’s ocean’s for a few years now. Saying “oceans” is a bit of an overstatement, as there are currently only six locations for underwater viewing, which includes Oahu, Maui and locations around the Great Barrier Reef. This is because “indexing” underwater, or in this case oceans, isn’t as fastidious of a process as capturing city streets. Each Ocean Street View dive covers about 2km, lasts about an hour, and amasses 3,000-4,000 photos each – Google does up to three dives a day.
Pictured above (and below) is Google Underwater Street View camera. It has a three lens – one facing down and the others facing left and right – and captures a photo every 3 seconds. A tablet at the rear of the Seaview rig controls the cameras, while a propeller glides the diver along. Google is also experimenting with 3D cameras.
Google says they’re working towards developing an underwater Street View camera that can capture photos on its own, which should significantly increase the “index”. That said, Google expects to bring Underwater Street View to the world’s oceans over the next three years…select locations of course.
LEGO builds will never cease to get old for me. Be it custom or store bought kits, I can’t but help revel in their coolness. Case in point is this custom build by Chris Maddison, which shows off Sub Zero performing a fatality. In addition to the spine, Chris has included droplets of blood at Sub Zero’s feet.
It’s time to wave goodbye to all those rumors. Microsoft has set the record straight, providing details on some of the console’s most controversial features. We’ve got some good news and some bad news: The next-gen Xbox won’t require an internet connection or block used games, but it unfortunately isn’t backwards compatible with all those Xbox 360 gems you’ve accumulated over the years.
Worried about offline play? Reporters at The Verge have you covered:
Luckily for GameStop, The Verge has also reported that used games will still run rampant on Microsoft’s next console.
The biggest drawback seems to be the system’s disregard for backwards compatibility. Since the Xbox One can’t play last-gen games, you might have to hang on to your 360 if you ever want to replay Alan Wake or Arkham City.
Today, Microsoft held a conference to reveal what is, without a doubt, some of the most exciting news to hit the gaming industry in recent years. Their new console, titled Xbox One, is absolutely jam-packed with cutting edge technology and innovative social features. Here’s a rundown of everything we learned today about the future of gaming.
Microsoft’s next console is “cloud-powered,” “personal,” and most importantly, “future-proof.” The company showed off an array of new features, and it began with a newly designed controller. It’s pretty similar to the standard Xbox 360 controller, but with added features meant to provide ‘ultimate precision,’ along with the equally important consideration of ergonomics. The device totes impulse triggers, a precision-based direction pad, and an integrated battery compartment. The controller, as pictured below, includes over forty subtle design improvements over the current 360 controller.
A New Look
A revamped dashboard was also part of the announcement. Although the aesthetics of the new homescreen aren’t radically different from the current one, there are a few important changes. If you’re used to the Xbox 360, you’ll instantly notice that the new dash features a similar tile-based layout. What’s new, then, is a slew of innovative social content and personalization features. The Xbox One will remember your most recent content, keep tabs on your favorite media, and show what’s trending amongst both your friends and the citizens of the world.
Ever wanted to watch live TV without switching over to a cable box? Now you can, and it’s made even easier with Xbox One support. Not only can you switch directly to traditional television programs, there’s a handy Xbox guide to help you out. The console keeps track of your most watched shows, and can give you suggestions based on the most popular programs that are currently live. On top of all that, the device features extensive multi-tasking support, meaning you can surf the web or shop for games while your favorite episode of Breaking Bad is on commercial.
Update: An HDMI pass through allows cable, satellite and boxes alike to be plugged into the Xbox One and the single passed onto a connect TV.
If you’ve even used an iOS device, you’ll quickly understand the Xbox One’s “snap mode,” which allows for lightning-fast application swapping and multi-tasking. As previously hypothesized, the console’s various features will allow users to place a game or application in a “suspended” state. From there, the user can move to a different game or app, interact with it, and then return to the original program when they’re ready. So, if you weren’t already excited, you now have the power to achieve sensory overload by watching two movies at once. If you’re not really a film buff, you could try listening to music while watching TV, or playing a game while reading the news. This a new generation of overconsumption.
All of the multi-tasking features announced today are compatible with Skype, which allows for a new level of social interaction. The company showcased interactive ESPN integration, which allows fantasy leagues to be fused with live TV. What this means for the future of sports, then, is that watching a game at home is no longer watching a game at home. You can can chat with your friends, check up on players stats, get updates, and more – all while actually watching the televised competition.
Tablets & Smartphones
Xbox SmartGlass received a few nods at the event, but unfortunately, there wasn’t much in the way of a comprehensive demonstation. If anything, the company made sure to explain that the technology would be utilized to an even greater extent on Xbox One. Strangely enough, Microsoft’s innovative IllumiRoom technology never managed to make an appearance. We’re still expecting to see it at E3.
16x More Ram
Speaking of the console itself, we got some serious specs today. The Xbox One features 8 gigabytes of RAM, which is an insane improvement over the 360′s 512 megabytes. Other notable bulletpoints include HDMI in & out capabilities, USB 3.0 ports, Blu-ray technology, a more advanced Kinect sensor, and the addition of dedicated in-game DVR.
Update: The original Kinect was sort of a work in progress that in my experience never quite worked right. The new Kinect has a full HD (1080) camera, and has a 60% wider field of view, meaning it can see more people and needs less space to operate – no more clearing furniture out of the way. Moreover, it can capture 60fps, works with Skype calls and is so sensitive it can measure your pulse by reading pigmentation in your face. It’s also better add reading the room’s depth and size using something called time-of-flight technology.
Also, a new 500GB hard drive was built-in house, as was the Blu-ray drive to accomodate better airflow to the much larger engine that has been stuffed inside of the Xbox One. Housed on a single 40-nanometer chip is both a CPU and GPU – compared to the Xbox 360, which has two dedicated 90-nm chips.
The Complete Experience
In an attempt to create what is being called “a human experience,” the device’s Kinect feature-set has been ramped up, remixed, and improved upon. All of these adjustments are positioned to provide a “lag-free, instant, and complete experience.” With over 300,000 new Xbox Live servers, it seems the company might be interested in keeping their word.
So there you have it, the future of entertainment. Keep your tabs glued to Gadget Review for an upcoming overview of all the games announced at today’s revelatory event.
If you’ve been waiting for the price on the base model Wii U 8GB console to drop, you’re in luck today. Target dropped the price to a new low of $240 (+$6 shipping), beating the current next best by over $50. Other than today and the last lowest price we saw two months ago, we’ve never seen the price on the Wii U 8GB console dip below $269.
Fans of the ER TV series won’t find a better deal than today’s Amazon Gold Box. Today you can snag all fifteen seasons of the popular show for under $150 – hundreds off the current next best price. The one negative review of the set on Amazon complains it’s cheaper to buy the seasons individually than all at once, but that’s certainly not the case today. Buying separately from Amazon, you’d pay basically twice this price.
Don’t pay $30 or more at a big box electronics store for an HDMI cable. You can get an HDMI cable for only the $1.99 shipping after you mail in your rebate. The vast majority of reviews say it works just fine, and why wouldn’t it? It’s basically a bundle of wires, which is why those aforementioned $30 cables are effectively a ripoff and a way to make a greater profit margin because people will always need cables to connect their components. Don’t get suckered by the convenience of pulling it off the wall in-store as an afterthought on the way to the register. Save 90%+ off what you’d normally pay.
ER: Complete Seasons 1-15 (DVD) for $149.11 with free shipping (next best is $450).
We’ve got a wide range of laptop deals for today’s post. The Lenovo IdeaPad N580 laptop is only $290 and will handle basic computing tasks just fine. If you want to step up performance a bit and don’t mind the absence of an optical drive, a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 laptop features a Core i5 processor for $552 after coupon. A refurbished Acer Aspire with an i7 and 128GB SSD falls to $600 – a new low by hundreds. And for a unique dual-screen laptop, the Asus Taichi 21-DH51 Core i5 Ultrabook is cheapest ever by $100.
Lenovo IdeaPad N580 Pentium B960, 4GB RAM for $289.99 with free shipping (normally $400).
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 Core i5-3230M, 4GB RAM for $551.65 with free shipping (normally $649 – use coupon code THINKDEAL516).
Acer Aspire S3-391-9415 Ivy Bridge Core i7-3517U, 128GB SSD (Refurbished) for $599.99 with free shipping (normally $1,000). Cheapest ever by $299.
Asus Taichi 21-DH51 Convertible Touch Ultrabook Core i5-3317M, 128GB SSD for $999 with free shipping (next best is $1,009). Cheapest ever by $100.
VIZIO 27-Inch CA27-A0 All-in-One Desktop, Core i3-3110M, 1TB HDD (Refurbished) for $549.99 with free shipping (normally $1,100).
27″ Hanns-G HL272HPB 1080p 2ms LED Monitor for $199.99 with free shipping (next best is $250).
23″ Asus VX238H-W 1ms LED Monitor for $159.99 with free shipping (next best is $179 – use coupon code EMCXRVW57).
Intel 335 Series Jay Crest SSD 2.5″ 180GB SSDSC2CT180A4K5 for $129.99 with free shipping (next best is $173 – use this form). Cheapest ever by $30.
The much-anticipated Call of Duty: Ghosts PC DVD preorder is $10 off list price thanks to a new NewEgg coupon that lasts for the next week. Both Battlefield 4 and Skyrim Legendary Edition have the same $10 discount at NewEgg with separate coupons. On the console front, CoD: Black Ops 2 for Wii U is cheapest ever by $9. Unepic and Dear Esther PC downloads are under $5, and the Spellforce games are 75% off at GamersGate.
Call of Duty: Ghosts (PC DVD) for $49.99 with free shipping (normally $60 – use coupon code EMCXRVW223).
Battlefield 4 (PC DVD) for $49.99 with free shipping (normally $60 – use coupon code EMCXRVW224).
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition (PC) for $49.99 with free shipping (normally $60 – use coupon code EMCXRVW225).
Unepic (PC Download) for $4.99 (normally $10).
Dear Esther (PC Download) for $1.39 (next best is $10 – use coupon code GMG20-LLASD-D8WBQ).
ALL THE OTHER GOOD DEALS
Fans of around-the-house entertainment should take a look at the refurbished 60-inch Vizio E601i-A3 WiFi LED Smart TV that’ll stream Netflix, Hulu Plus, and more for only $723 shipped. If you’ve already got a TV and just need streaming capability added, the award-winning Apple TV is down to $89 – a solid $10 off the usual Apple Store price. For an entirely self-contained point-and-shoot camera solution that’ll stand up to the elements, the waterproof Olympus Tough TG-820 iHS is only $150. Finally, the $6 Philips earbuds we found today have an inline mic, making them just about the cheapest way to make hands-free calls available.
60″ Vizio E601i-A3 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV (Refurbished) for $678 plus $44.97 shipping (next best is $998). Cheapest ever by $76.
Apple TV (3rd Gen.) MD199LL/A for $89 with free shipping (next best is $96).
Philips SHE2675BG/28 In-Ear Headphones for $3.99 plus $1.99 shipping (next best is $14).
Microsoft announced today that their flagship console, previously known as ‘Durango,’ will be titled ‘Xbox One.’ The device, which is being branded as a full-on entertainment center, has yet to be priced, but will be launching by the end of this year. According to Microsoft, the console will be making it’s debut before December, just in time for the holiday rush.
The entertainment megalith, which is being described as an “all-in-one system,” was created with the ideal of ‘harmonizing your experiences” and providing a “simple,” “instant,” and “complete” approach to the living-room experience.
Many of the console’s next-gen features were announced today, and, as it turns out, our predictions weren’t far off. The Xbox One will make use of blu-ray technology, multi-tasking, SmartGlass, Kinect, and a redesigned controller. As showcased in today’s presentation, the console will include support for entertainment staples like ESPN, Netflix, live TV, music, and more.
Beyond the technical feats showcased today, a slew of upcoming games were also part of Microsoft’s headlining presentation. The company announced partnerships with EA Sports, Remedy, Infinity Ward, 343 Industries, Turn 10 Studios, and Activision. According to the report, the Xbox One will have fifteen exclusive titles within one year of launch. Allegedly, eight of those are new IPs that are currently in development.
More so than anything, the company made sure to reiterate that much more information will be available at this year’s E3 press conference.
I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. In fact, as a kid I used to stay up until 2am on Sundays just so I could watch the latest episode – why it reran at this time I have no idea. As a result I woke up every Monday on the wrong side of the bed. But despite that it was well worth it. Captain Picard and his crew flew from planet to planet and as far as I was concerned each episode was as original as the next. The TV show ended in 1994 and with it came a few films that were anything what I had hoped for. Now a new generation of Star Trek movies are upon us and they’re directed by JJ Abrams. But this you already know, especially if you saw the 2009 blockbuster.
Now, 4 years later, comes another Star Trek film that picks up where the last left off. That isn’t to say it’s the same story, but much like the first Star Trek film from Abrams, this one follows a similar blueprint. And while that may disuade some from rushing to theaters to see this film, I assure you it’s anything but boring.
“Into Darkness” isn’t so much a sequel as it’s a rehashing, or an homage to The Wrath of Khan. It’s been years since I saw that film so I’m not about to begin to draw parallels. Nevertheless, it’s not the same film, though it draws inspiration. Inspiration that is aptly suited and plays well to the big screen, especially for a new generation of Star Trek fans.
Action packed might be an understatement – there is barely a point in the film that you have to time breathe and for that I love “Into Darkness”, as well as Abrams and the trio of screenwriters. The movie goes and goes, and gives you little time to think. That said, it’s not completely devoid of multilayered plot, but nor is it overly complicated.
Aside from the opening scene you’re immediately fired into the action that pairs perfectly with Kirk’s recent demotion (I’m trying to avoid any spoiler alerts). And much like a good mob movie, “Into Darkness” is a tail of betrayal and revenge, albeit with spaceships, aliens, and super human strength.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to see much of the Klingons, though when we do the action is well-timed, aggressively fast and piques oh so well when one is revealed to communication officer Uhura. This part of the film, as do many others, serves as a perfect sequitur to the next arc – there are about 5 or 6. In other words, just when you think the film is going to end it doesn’t. And although this breaks from the 3 arc tradition, it works perfectly for the next generation of film goer, who is accustom to touchscreen accessible, instantaneous information.
There are no rapid twists and turns in “Into Darkness”. It’s relatively straight shooting (pardon the pun), though throughout the film I was waiting to turn the proverbial corner and find one. Khan’s motives are largely rooted in a simple and core value, which is family. It may sound odd, but because of this you can’t help but feel empathetic towards him despite the disdain you adopt rather early in the film. It makes you wonder if the plot will take a turn, and while it does, it gets right back on track and justifies those feelings of resentment towards the character.
“Into Darkness” isn’t without flaw – there are a few “why didn’t they just do that, it would’ve been easier moments” – but for the most part it’s an excellent film. Direction is solid, though Keith Urban gets a bit too, well Keith Urban, and this could just be attributed to his overplaying of the Bones character. The action is phenomenally well executed and choreographed, there is just the right amount of satire, and ultimately this all equates to a sci-fi action flick that most certainly justifies a DVD rewatch.
Here’s our second installment of a new monthly post, where we bring you what we believe to be the 10 best (or so) Blu-ray releases that are arriving over the course of the next 30 days. And, as always, please weigh-in on the comments if you think we’ve missed any!
10. The Last Stand – 5/21
Arnold Schwarzenegger teams up with Jackass veteran and funny guy Johnny Knoxville in this comedic action flick that has the ex-California governor playing a hard ass sheriff that’s trying to stop the leader of a drug cartel who bursts out of a courthouse and heads to the Mexican border.
9. Beautiful Creatures – 5/21
Based on the fantasy sci-fi novels, this flick is about a small Southern town that houses mysterious occupants who have dark secrets about their families, history and even the town.
8. Parker – 5/21
Action man Jason Statham teams up with hottie Jennifer Lopez in this action-packed flick about a thief who has a unique code of professional ethics who is then double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Forming an unlikely alliance with a woman on the inside, he’s out for revenge and looking to hijack the score of the crew’s latest heist job.
7. Dark Skies – 5/28
If you’re in to horror, then you’ll want to pick up Dark Skies! It’s about how a family’s peaceful suburban life is changed by an escalating series of disturbing events and come to find out that there’s a deadly force after them.
6. A Good Day To Die Hard – 6/4
Bruce Willis is back as John McClane, but this time he travels to Russia to out out his wayward son, Jack. He then discovers that his son is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist and he has to help stop it.
5. Identity Theft – 6/4
You’ll laugh your ass off with this comedic film that stars Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy! So a very calm businessman travels from his home in Denver to Miami to confront the woman who stole his identity and ends up on a crazy adventure along the way.
4. Warm Bodies – 6/4
This isn’t your traditional zombie flick that’s for sure! Told from the view of the zombie, this sci-fi flick is about what happens when a zombie falls in love and starts to regain his humanity.
3. Snitch – 6/11
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars in this thrilling drama about a father who goes undercover for the DEA to free his son who was imprisoned after being set up in a drug deal gone wrong.
2. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – 6/11
This isn’t your average fairytale! This action flick is filled with suspense as it retells the childhood fairytale of Hansel and Gretel, who are now bounty hunters that track and kill witches all over the globe.
1. Oz The Great and Powerful – 6/11
The Wizard of Oz has a new prequel! Starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams, this fantasy flick is about a small-town magician who is swept away in a tornado to an enchanted land and is forced into a power struggle between three witches.
I loathe most TV shows. They’re more often than not contrived stinking piece of you know what. And while I haven’t seen a single episode of JJ Abram’s newest creation, Almost Human, the trailer indicates to me that it will be relatively entertaining.
That said, it stars Star Trek’s Karl Urban who plays a disgruntled cop whose personality closely mimics Will Smith’s character in “iRobot”. Playing along side him is Michael Ealy, a “synthetic” (cyborg) that is in older model brought back to life.
It’s pretty obvious that Urban’s character will be taught life lessons by the synthetic, and along the way they’ll reluctantly bond with one and other, which result in a mutual humanizing affect. Okay, so it’s bit cookie cutter, but for a TV show it ain’t looking half bad. But then again, Hemlock Grove looked pretty killer and it’s a horrible mess.
With less than 24 hours left to go before Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox event, we’ve compiled a list of games and features that are sure to be making an appearance on the new console. Here’s what you should expect from tomorrow’s headlining presentation.
1. 2013 Holiday Launch
Microsoft executive Aaron Greenberg has strongly implied that the company might be be aiming for a ‘holiday’ 2013 launch for its next-gen console. Greenberg also promised an encompassing ‘behind-the-scenes’ look to be shown at the May 21st event, as well as ‘tons of exclusive’ games to be unveiled at E3 2013. The good thing is, we’ll likely find out tomorrow whether or not we’ve read too far into his comments.
2. Automatic Game Installation
Kotaku sources claim that the next Xbox will come packed with a study 500GB hard drive, which surprisingly, will mostly be used for required game installations. Lucky for you, the console is supposedly able to install next-gen titles while you’re playing them. This is a strict divergence from the feature set of the previous console, which allowed for time-consuming installations, but magnificently avoided making them mandatory.
3. The Next Generation of Kinect
With the amount of time and money the company has poured into the Xbox 360′s Kinect features, it’s hard to imagine a new console without advanced support for motion controls. We’d be willing to wager our homes and families that some form of Kinect 2.0 will be be symbiotically integrated into the next-gen device. Combine that with Nintendo and Sony’s own Kinect competitors, and Microsoft has a lot to squeeze into its announcement tomorrow.
4. Xbox SmartGlass
Even with developers claiming that the Wii U is dead, Microsoft and Sony will be hard-pressed to ignore their strongest family-oriented competition. SmartGlass, Xbox’s tablet-based trojan horse, offers many of the same features seen on Nintendo’s peripheral-heavy console. With the new Xbox being branded as a full-on entertainment hub, it’s unlikely the company will forego this innovative technology.
According to a report from Kotaku, the new Xbox will allow for ‘game-swapping’ in the vein of iOS app juggling. The source, who somehow managed to leak a host of accurate PS4 details leading up to the announcement, alleges that the feature will allow users to place a game or application in a “suspended” state. From there, the user can move to a different game or app, interact with it, and then return to the original program when they’re ready.
A trusted Microsoft blogger, Paul Thurrott, has claimed that the device will come standard with an optical Blu-ray drive. If this is actually the case, you can expect that the console’s game library will be shipped with this technology, as opposed to the Xbox 360′s outdated DVD method. As should be obvious, this also means that the newest Xbox will follow in the footsteps of the PS3, providing consumers will a full-fledged Blu-ray player.
Microsoft has kept quiet about their newly unveiled IllumiRoom concept, but details are beginning to emerge regarding tomorrow’s industry-centric presentation. CVG reports that the projector-based technology will be making an appearance at the Xbox event, which means it might feature heavily into the new console’s core feature set. According to Microsoft representatives, IllumiRoom has the ability to “change the appearance of the room, induce apparent motion, extend the field of view, and enable entirely new game experiences”.
The next Xbox is being billed as “the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment,” (according to respected Microsoft blogger Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb). If the Xbox 360 has taught us nothing else, we at least know that the company is heavily invested in providing features and services the expand far beyond the scope of video games. Consumers should expect that the trend will continue into the next generation. There isn’t much word on which services will be making an appearance, but you can be sure that Netflix will be chief among them.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Beyond Good & Evil 2
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Beyond that, it’s more than likely that Microsoft staples like Halo, Forza, and Gears of War will be making an appearance in the near future.
Interested in the announcements tomorrow? Keep your homepage glued to Gadget Review for all the latest Xbox news.
When I wrote about the 3D printed gun, the Liberator, I didn’t take into account the printer’s physical size, which is apparently equitable to that of a large refrigerator. Factor in the cost, and accessibility is all but limited to a relatively select few. So logic suggests that even though the blueprints for the Liberator were made publicly available, a would be assassin, terrorist or all together nut would have a hard time crafting one. That is until this past weekend, when an individual by the name of “Joe”, a Wisconsin engineer, built one using a $1,725 Lulzbot A0-101 consumer-grade 3D printer and $25 in materials.
To a large degree the Lulzbot Liberator is very much like the original Liberator that was only revealed a few weeks ago. However, this version contains a few more metal components, such as a set of hardware screws to hold the hammer in place as well as a non-functional piece of steel designed to make it detectable by metal detectors and thus comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act.
And like the Liberator, Joe’s version wasn’t completely problem free during test firing. In addition to misfiring a number of times, some of the screws and its firing pin had to be replaced, and after each test fire the ammo cartridges expanded requiring them to be banged back into place with a hammer.
Skeptics will likely argue that the plastic is too fragile to withstand the blast of a .380 caliber round. But according to Joe, the plastic used in the Lulzbot printer, Polylac PA-747 ABS, is stronger than the plastic used in the Stratasys printers. Nevertheless, after the 8th shot, the barrel was replaced.
Do you remember what you were doing when you were 18? Probably not inventing cool as stuff that’s for sure! This 18-year-old science student created a device that will allow cell phones and other batteries to be charged in only a matter of seconds rather than hours! Eesha Khare from Saratoga, CA created a tiny supercapacitor that fits inside of a cell phone’s battery and allows ultra-fast electricity transfer and storage, while delivering a full charge in only 20 to 30 seconds!
Khare’s nano-tech device is said to be able to withstand up to 100,000 charges, which is about a 100% increase as to what current technology chargers can do. It’s also flexible to be used in clothes or displays on any non-flat surface. Khare is one of the three finalists at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, AZ that was held over this past weekend. More than 1,600 finalists from around the globe competed in the science fair for a $75,000 grand prize in scholarship money. She was the runner-up to 19-year-old Romanian student Ionut Budisteanu, who brought out a low-cost artificial intelligence that has the ability to drive vehicles.
Microsoft will unveil the details about their next-gen console, presumably called the Xbox 720 (code name Durango) tomorrow. Suffice to say it’s a highly anticipated announcement, though it’s not clear how much they’ll actually reveal since E3 is just around the corner.
E3 is one of the largest and most glitzy video game conferences and draws people from around the globe to downtown LA. And at that conference Sony plans to finally reveal the actual PS4 console to the public. That’s right. Although the PS4 was announced in February earlier this year, Sony didn’t show off the actual hardware and instead opted to put the controller and a number of games on display.
So until E3 arrives on June 10th you’ll have to settle with this sort mostly obnoxious PS4 console teaser video. ”Sweet!”…said nobody.
We live in a world dominated by Android and iOS. Blackberry is effectively no more, though they’re trying to fight the good fight. So I was surprised and relatively interested when I learned about a new smartphone player called Jolla.
Jolla runs on its own operating system called Sailfish – it’s derived from Nokia’s retired MeeGo platform – and is said to be Android app compliant – this should help with launch apps when the Jolla phone arrives at the end of this year.
Spec wise, we’re looking at a 4.5-inch “HD” display (resolution TBD), a dual-core processor, an 8MP camera, 16GB of on board storage expandable by microSD card slot, and LTE/4G connectivity. The Sailfish OS is gesture controlled, so much like the Blackberry Z10 don’t expect a home button as found on competing devices, such as the iPhone.
Users will be able to choose between a few “chassis” colors, or phone backings on launch, where upon the phone’s OS is said to adapt accordingly. In the future, Jolla plans to release additional chassis options that will go beyond color options, and in fact include different hardware components and possibly serve as a platform for artists to launch albums, though this latter feature seems like a stretch in today’s mostly Spotify/iTunes driven world.
The Jolla phone is expected to cost €399 (US $512.26) and will arrive sometime in Q4 of this year.
Alarm clocks can be very boring. Even though their primary function is to get you up, many wouldn’t mind if their were more dressed up. This is where the Xronos Clock comes into play. Definitely not your average alarm clock, the Xronos is an open source hackable and customizable device that’s also stylish, handmade and can talk. You can even program it to tell you the temperature inside your room when you wake.
Not only does it look cool with its arcade buttons, but it comes with lots of cool features like dual alarms that have both simple Daily or Weekday setting as well as a more customizable selection of days of week when. There is even 10 alarm tones to choose from and you can change display color to green, red or orange. There’s an adjustable display brightness and a 12 or 25 hour mode. It even comes wit an internal backup battery that will allow it to keep time if you forgot to plug in even if it’s just for an hour o for a year or two! All of its settings are saved to flash memory (EEPROM), so you don’t have to worry about power loss. And since all audio files are kept on microSD card inside, you can even change alarm tones, or replace voice prompts with your own (disassembly required to access storage card). Since this one comes with so many cool functions, don’t expect it to have a price tag like other alarm clocks either since this one will set you back $225. Get your nows from Etsy!