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Nintendo 3DS XL

Posted by Ub3rG33k on Aug 16, 2012 in 3DS, Nintendo

For some reason, the 3DS didn’t really bother me, granted I was intrigued at ‘glasses free’ 3D when I saw it announced way back at E3 2010, but unlike more gaming gadgets, I didn’t go for a day one purchase.
Roll on a year, and the announcement of the 3DS XL, again I wasn’t too bothered, to be honest I have a DSLite and a Wii and can’t remember the last time I switched either of them on.
Then a couple of weeks ago more and more of the midlifegamer community started to buy 3DS’s and exchange friends codes , I suddenly got the urge to buy one, and unfortunately when I get the urge to buy something, it tends to be on the forefront of my mind until I actually buy it. I then listened to an episode of the midlifegamer podcast, on which one of the hosts discussed the fun time he was having with his new 3DS XL and I was sold and ordered one.

Now the stupid thing is, I’m about to embark on a year long challenge where I’m not allowed to buy a game, which is quite honestly going to be hell. As you can imagine, deciding which platform to buy for when it comes to Birthdays and Christmas is going to be a hard decision.

Ok, so history over, and today it turned up. The first thing to note is this is huge in comparison to my old DSLite, however wasn’t really shocked as this apparently has a 90% bigger screen. For some reason I went for the Red and Black version, it just seemed to look better, I one point I did have the Blue one in my basket, but changed.

My previous experience of the Nintendo handheld interface was on the DSLite, and lets be honest it was rather basic, so seeing this new shiny UI was a sight for sore eyes. Still to this day, I think the Wii has the best user experiences on all the current generation consoles, it’s clean, easy to use and very user friendly, and Nintendo have brought that to the 3DS XL (I’m assuming the 3DS also).

One thing that I really like about the software is the ‘Activity Log’. Somebody who used Google Latitude and Foursquare to track my real world movements, and 5 different gaming sites to track my gaming time and achievements/trophies….being able to track the time I use the device gave me a happy little twinge.

The console has a couple of camera, a front facing, and 2 at the rear to allow you to take 3D pictures and up to 10 minutes worth of video in 3D. I’ve had a quick play, and actually quite like what I’m seeing. My assumption is that these can only be played back on another 3DS, but I’m sure Google will be my friend.

With the 3DS there are a handful of augmented reality games that use the camera, which are ok. I got something similar with the PSVita, I played them all once then didn’t really go back to them either.

As expected with a newer handheld, the Nintendo store is available for you to download some old school titles, which is good if you want to go back to the GameBoy slot has been removed. I did however have this slot available on my DSLite and never used it.

Now the fun stuff, (and how Sony should have done it instead of using the terrible ‘Near’ service), when you fire up the 3DS, you’re asked to create your Mii, very much like you do on the Wii. Once created this becomes your avatar, which I’m assuming can/will be used in games, however the cool bit is this avatar represents you in the StreetPass. I’ve not been out and about with it yet, but from what I understand, if I’ve got my 3DS with me, and it’s in standby mode, and I’m in the vicinity of another 3DS, they will automatically talk to each other and offer a friends request. Again, if I understand correctly, you can only have 10 ‘friends request’ queued up, but once accepted, these will become other avatars within your games.

I would like to point out that if you have a Wii, and like me you spent many evening creating Mii characters, you can transfer these to the 3DS. I currently have , Beavis and Butthead, and many random Star Trek, Star Wars, Matrix, Simpons and Red Dwarf cast members running around my Mii Plaza.

Finally, the 3DS does have an integrated web browsers, which is…ok, however nowhere near as smooth or as usable as on my iPhone, so don’t really see me using it very much, it also seems to take far too long to render the pages.

As it stands, I’ve not actually played a game on it, as I’ve been too busy exploring the device and setting it up, but I’ll post what I think of the games on my gaming site.

All in all, a cracking device, not sure how long it’ll be before the honeymoon period wears off and it’s sat on my shelf next to my DSLite, PSP and PSVita, but so far so good.

As always, unboxing pictures below, and a great unboxing and instructional video from Oli.

Accessory kit, 3DS and charger In the box The Box Content Out of the box ...and open The case The Accessory kit

Just so you can get a size comparison, below is an image of the 3DS and PSVita together….yup, it’s huge!

Screen size compared to the vita

 

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Apple TV 3rd Generation

Posted by Ub3rG33k on Mar 21, 2012 in Apple, Tech

Like many I sat and watched live streams of the iPad 3 media event on the 7th March 2012, and sat at drooled at the new shiny. In addition to the iPad 3 being launched there was the announcement of the 3rd generation Apple TV.

It’s selling features at the event was a new shiny UI and the ability to output 1080 video (instead of the 720 from the 2nd generation)

Although the 1080 did sound appealing, I spend the best part of a month encoding all my media to 720, and didn’t plan on re-encoding all the blurays to 1080.

Again the new UI looked new and shiny, granted there were no new features added, it just gave it more of a iOS feel, which was available for the 2nd generation within hours of the media event….so unfortunately I wasn’t sold and thought I’d pass on this model.

Then an opportunity arose, that meant I could potentially move one of the existing Apple TV’s into the kitchen, and replace this with a new model…so I did.

Last night it turned up, and to be honest, if it didn’t say 1080 on the side of the box, it would have been hard to tell if it was the new model of not. The same applies for the device itself, I held the 2nd and 3rd generation side by side, and honestly couldn’t tell the difference.

Plugged in the device, saw the familiar apple symbol then ran through the setup as with the other models. Once set up, I flicked through the menus, to find only one change, the vide output had the 1080 option, and that’s it. This actually made me happy, as I realised I wasn’t losing any functionality from the previous boxes.

Now I’ve seen a number of tear downs, and people are suggesting the 3rd generation has got the A5 processor, and the upgrade to 512Mb of system memory making this device as snappy as the iPad 2. There is also the suggestion that this has the same internal 8Gb storage, and the bluetooth has been upgraded to bluetooth 4.0

Being a long time user of the 2nd generation model, the upgrade to the processor and memory are noticeable, this device is a lot snappier. I’ve not given it enough to see if the hardware upgrade fixes some glitches that were present in the 2nd generation, eg the random restarts, and the occasional buffering issues, however I’m sure time will tell.

I did attempt to give the 1080 a good test, however the UK version of the store and netflix seems to be a little sparse when it comes to 1080 content. It seems a lot of the items are tagged as HD, with the occasional tagged as 1080. Based on this assumption there doesn’t seem to be any 1080 trailers and all the Netflix content I tried had only the HD tag. Now I have read that Netflix has upgraded the Apple TV steaming to support 1080, but not sure if this is in the states only. Currently the UK Netflix library is but a small subset of what’s available overseas.

I did however download a 1080 trailer from Apples site, drop it in iTunes and streamed it to the Apple TV and this did look a lot sharper.

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens with future content, and hope that when the iCloud movie steaming comes to the UK, I’ll get a 1080 version of all the films I got on triple play (Digital, DVD and Bluray), but I guess only time will tell.

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Xbox 360 Gears of War Edition

Posted by Ub3rG33k on Jan 28, 2012 in Tech, XBOX 360

While playing Call of Duty: MW3 on my old Xbox 360 Elite, I noticed some strange black lines appearing in the background. I switched around cables, ports etc as I assumed it was a cable issue, but the problem stayed.

So ‘google is your friend’, and I found a handful of forum posts suggesting that the Xbox was on it’s way out, and these black lines were early signed of the Red Ring of Death, and I could soon expect to see the E74 error message.

Now Microsoft have given an additional 2 years warranty to cover the RROD, but unfortunately the Elite is nearly 3 and a half years old…..so time to buy a new shiny one !

I spent the evening looking at online deals, and finally decided that I wanted one of the special edition Xbox’s. I currently own the Halo Reach special edition Xbox and know there are currently 2 others on the market, the MW3 edition and the Gears of War 3 edition…..so decided to go with the Gears of War 3 edition.

Same as the Halo Reach special edition Xbox, it comes with a custom paint job, custom sounds and 2 custom controllers, and obviously a copy of Gears of War 3. The guy who served me at Game also threw in a copy of Crisis 2 (via download code), so all in all quite a bargain at considering it has the 320Gb hard drive.

One final thought, the controllers are the new type with the transforming D pad, it’s still early days with it, but WOW what a difference !

As always, the unboxing pics are below.

Gears of War Xbox Gears of War XboxGears of War Xbox Gears of War Xbox Gears of War Xbox

Gears of War Xbox Gears of War Xbox

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