Smartphones, Gadgets, And Games

Here’s a quick directory of the many in-depth reviews I’ve written and published here on my blog during the course of this past year. From smartphones and MP3 players to innovative gadgets, tech toys, and video games.

Smartphones 

Apple iPhone 3G“For the past two weeks I have been using an iPhone 3G and it continues to be the best of my cellphone experiences. Information is so clearly laid out and features so easy to use, it’s comforting. It merges the capabilities of an iPod and a cellphone with those of a miniature computer, not just because it can surf the web or send e-mail, but because it can install and run sophisticated programs.” 

BlackBerry Storm“Writing an e-mail with it is like using a typewriter made out of bubble wrap. It is novel, unusual, needed to some, but utterly useless to others. You might like it, you might loathe it, or you might simply get used to it”

BlackBerry Bold 9000“The Bold is one of RIM’s finest BlackBerries and very much a culmination of the best features they have developed and lessons they have learned over the past decade. It is an expensive handset, a premium version of their BlackBerry concept and so hardly the model to use as the basis for a company’s mobile fleet, but rather a small luxury for those in the market for a personal reward” 

Nokia N95 8GB“The Nokia N95 reminds me of a Swiss Army knife or a Handyman tool in that it’s a chunky device, crammed with features and components, all with buttons and ports leading out from every side and surface.”

 Samsung Instinct – SPH M800“Bell refers to the Samsung Instinct on their billboard ads as the “apple eater”, a thinly veiled attack on the iPhone 3G being sold by competitor Rogers. My guess is that their confidence comes less from the idea that they have the better phone and more from the assertion that they offer the better deal.”

Portable Digital Media Players 

Belkin RockStar“The Belkin Rockstar is a simple, but unique device, a plastic audio splitter than can take the music from a single MP3 player and share it with up to five sets of headphones.”

Creative Zen X-Fi“Creative’s newest MP3 player offers an intriguing promise – technology that can restore your MP3 files to their original recording quality, adding back elements at the highest and lowest ranges that were lost during the process of converting your music over to your computer from a CD”

Microsoft Zune Second Generation“What the Zune offers most it’s the mere option of a non-Apple universe. Technically, its no better an option than the players offered by Creative, Samsung, and San Disk, except that the Zune is available in large storage sizes” 

Microsoft’s Zune 3.0“Although there is a long list of tweaks included in the 3.0 Zune update, most are features I have to admit I’ll never use and those that I will, the Audio Books, clock, and games, are in such hampered or primitive condition that it’s not enough to really sway me from using digital players from other manufacturers”

 SanDisk Sansa Fuse“With its scrollwheel controls and squarish body, the Fuze looks like a nano at first glance, but the imitation quickly ends with a polished, reflective surface, a beveled top, and a bright selection of colours – pink, red, blue, black and silver”

Andriod,gadgets and games

Home Theatre 

Apple TV“The Jukebox graphics, with rotating album covers floating against a black space and projecting a wet floor reflection, are used for every category of digital entertainment provide a simple and powerful way to navigate through your files. It’s like flipping through CD cases or Album covers, you visually spot the one you want and click it to play.” 

The Bell Video Store“it is designed around Microsoft’s Digital Rights Management software and so suffers from all of the glitches, complications, and head-scratching restrictions that has caused issues with other Microsoft-partnered stores.” 

BladeRunner The Final Cut Ultimate Collector’s Edition“Are we but the sum of our memories? And if so what use is death if it wipes them clean? As with all of Philip K. Dick’s writings, the question is considered more interesting than the answer and the replicants in Blade Runner serve to accelerate that process. They have super human powers and the freedom to explore the cosmos, but only a four year lifespan. It’s cruel, it’s unfair, and a fate that we can certainly relate to.”

The Dark Knight On Blu-Ray“There are far more compelling reasons, both technical and artistic, to consider it a new standard for Blu-ray. Its pioneering use of IMAX cameras for complex action sequences will deliver a new visual awe in your living room, even to those who have already seen the movie in theatres”

Innovative Gadgets 

3M Pro 110 Pocket Projector“One of the continual delights of researching changes in technology is the way new breakthroughs can lead to smaller gadgets and this week’s astonishing example is a multimedia projector that is small enough to fit in your pocket.” 

ClickFree Back-Up Drive“Like an espionage toy from the movies, the Clickfree box does all the work, installing itself and automatically scanning the computer it’s connected to for a shopping list of file types and copying them onto its own hard drive.” 

HTC Shift“Like many ultra-portable computers, the Shift has a great deal of potential. It’s a powerful device with a comfortable-enough form factor, and a neat trick in its ability to quickly access mobile e-mail and messages, but it is a little ahead of its time in using a 3G connection” 

Hyperdesk Transformative Themes For Windows XP“Nothing ruins the atmosphere of a cutting edge production studio then the pervasive blues of a windows desktop. My goal has been to take it to a point where my computer is so strange and different-looking that when visitors enter my studio they will stop and ask me “What kind of computer is that?””

 iLane Bluetooth Hands-Free Messaging“For my weekly television segments on Canada AM we’ve often talked about taking a look at the worst gadgets of the year, iLane would be my top candidate for 2008.” 

Kodak Zi6 HD Camcorder“Camera shake is still an issue. When you have a camera that is only 4.5” large and you record footage with it by hand, there’s a considerable amount of shaking that goes on. When played on a 42” or larger High Definition screen, the camera shake becomes more pronounced, even exaggerated.”

 Photojojo’s Super Secret Spy Lens“Her politeness had chosen the right distance from my lens to put her in crisp focus and the rest of the sidewalk behind her, filled with the chaotic bustle of pedestrians, slightly out of focus. Here was an attractive woman engaged in relaxed thought, standing out in absolute clarity against a fast-moving world lost in a blur.” 

Roots Tuff Skins“Branded by Roots to include their fashion logo and signature Canadiana touches, the rubber cases are designed to be drop-resistant with the option to clip onto your belt, hang from your backpack, or even sit up on a built-in kickstand” 

smartphones,gadgets and games

Sony Reader PRS 505S“I’d press the page forward button with my thumb and the text would shift, shimmer, and change causing all eyes around me to widen and heads to shake in amazement. This would happen to me again and again as the train made its stops and new crowds would board. I’ve travelled with all of my gadgets at one time or another and so far this has drawn me the most attention.” 

Sony Reader PRS-700“The technology is still relatively young and the addition of touchscreen controls comes as a bit of a surprise, but Sony has achieved their task well. The touch interface is responsive, simple, and delivers a natural feel and flow to reading. A main menu, offering big friendly icons to touch. Everything is right there as soon as you open the cover, as it should be.” 

Swarovski’s Active Crystal USB Drives And Headphones“Pendants are often designed to hide keepsakes – photo portraits, poetic inscriptions, and in more nefarious times, vials of poison. For the 21st Century, Swarovski has placed 2GB of memory inside their fully faceted chrome crystal” 

Tenori-On Digital Musical Instrument“The instrument is the brain child of Toshio Iwai who also created the Nintendo DS music game “Electroplankton” where players manipulate plants, fishes, and microscopic animals to create digital symphonies. Here he applies the same whimsy with a selection of alternate play modes”

Toys 

Elmo Live! Animatronic Toy“They have the technology and they have rebuilt him. Elmo is now an animatronic toy, a “robot Elmo”, no longer just a giggling, shaking gag, but a sophisticated, articulate, mechanical doll capable of physical storytelling” 

Hasbro’s Role-Playing Incredible Hulk Gadgets“The effect is all about your own eyes, for as much as green muscle can really express angry and power, true super human rage is all in the eyes. With this mask you can really glower up a storm.”

 Indiana Jones Tech Toys“Although you won’t be able to do any tricks with it, the whip is safe enough to use on your friends, makes a really cool whip crack noise, and does the trick for any play-acting fun, whether little kids re-enacting the movie in their backyards, or adults looking to for something adventurous for this year’s Halloween parties.”

 LeapFrog Tag Books And Pens“The pages of the new Tag books have a special grid printed on them, undetectable to the human eye, but not to the Tag Reader. Touch the tip of the reader pen to any point on any page, and it will sound out with audio effects, new character dialogue, music, narration, and the sounding out of words or sentences.” 

Star Wars Legacy Collection Millennium Falcon“With the front landing gear held tight in one hand and the ship itself balanced from falling over with the other, you could “fly” it around the room, running around while making all the cool sound effects with your mouth. The new Legacy Millennium Falcon toy, hitting stores this week, is so massive in size that it will take several boys working together to “fly” her” 

U.B. Funkeys“Although the toys are cute, the technology is clever, and the online world is expansive and interactive, what the Fukeys products utterly lacks is any social interaction, either between the players themselves or between the players and the game’s own characters”

Video Games 

Endless Ocean“As yet-another-winter storm blasts against my windows here in my office, I’ve opted to be thousands of miles away, scuba diving off the coast of a little island in the South Pacific called Manoa Lai. It’s an arc-shaped paradise, home to hundreds of miles of underwater terrain filled with coral forests, sunken ships, secret ruins, and deep, mysterious chasms” 

Fable II“Oh how I love the dog. Always by my side, he scurries through the grass as we walk along a forest path, his tail moving back and forth over the tips of the weeds and flowers while his nose remains down to the ground, searching, exploring, so I don’t have to. All I have to do is walk into a clearing and he’ll stick his nose into every nook and cranny, looking for hidden treasure chests and buried items, leaving me free to keep my eyes peeled for more important matters” 

Recommended: Download Thief Rivals For PC on Windows & MAC

Fallout 3“In most video games your job is to save the world. In Fallout 3, it’s already too late. The planet is covered in a nuclear blanket of silence. Every building lies in ruin, every city is a morose sandbox of crumbling concrete, rusting iron, and exposed rebar” 

Gears Of War 2“While I can’t say that the war-torn world of Sera has taken on any deeper meaning or that I now better identify with the plight of Marcus and his mates, Gears of War 2 is certainly a technical triumph offering intense, engaging gameplay over all else” 

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2“Once again a neon chalkboard universe gives birth to ever-growing swarms of glowing geometric creatures, hungry to blink you into oblivion. Survival is the key as you send out sprays of lasers in every paranoid direction, disrupting your pursuers into beautiful flowers of fireworks while electronica music pulsates and swoons in response.” 

Grand Theft Auto IV“the people who inhabit the city are themselves aggressive, crass, and destructive in their own way, but far more important, it is a city utterly devoid of children. As realistic as Liberty City might be to the New York of its inspiration, there are no innocents involved in the damage, merely bystanders.” 

Guitar Hero On Tour“It’s a clever, successful reproduction of the runaway hit, but with one challenging issue – it’s uncomfortable.” 

The Last Guy“As a kind of detection systems, whenever you move to close to one of the creatures, the people in your line will become visibly agitated, squealing in rising crescendos of alarm, the kind of fun, shrieking panic you hear on roller-coasters and haunted house rides”

 Little Big Planet“That creates challenges with a precarious nature, you always seems to be tottering on the edge with just one slip waiting to undo all your work. It’s that kind of dynamic that makes this such a great social game for it can be easier with two or four players to work together to overcome those problems, but also human instinct to push your friends off the edge for a laugh just as they are trying to hold on.” 

Mario Kart Wii“It’s quite something to use a steering wheel in your own living room, especially when there’s nothing connected to it. With Mario Kart Wii Nintendo has sprinkled their motion magic onto their popular go kart party game and the results are just as you’d hope” 

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots“It’s complicated, childish, and forces you to sit through hours of short films, all to tell a story that only devoted fans who have played the previous games in the series will follow. It’s a strange, futuristic spy chase that is as silly as it is serious, alien as it is familiar, and cartoonish as it is realistic”

Mirror’s Edge“Faith is a runner, an urban athlete who can traverse across city rooftops, leaping from building to building at astonishing speeds, gleaming across gaps of death and moving past steep inclines and roof changes with all the confidence of a jogger or cyclist on the ground.” 

My Aquarium“There is such little action to be found in a real aquarium that you’d expect a virtual one to be full of fun activities and moments that bend reality to match our own fish tank-inspired daydreams.” 

Mystery Case Files“it unfolds with vibrant characters and humourous dialogue, but also with twists and turns, sending the story across different tangents and building up towards a climactic ending with customized puzzles designed to deliver a sense of urgency and in the end, triumph”

My Weight Loss Coach“It uses bombastic theme music and humour to create a sense of adventure as it equates long walks and running up stairs to journeying across the Great Wall of China or scaling the heights of Mount Everest” 

PixelJunk Eden“Eden is a netherworld garden of shadow puppet vegetation growing with all the viscosity of digital paint. With the right stimulation, the release of phosphorous pollen, plants “spill” upwards branching out sometimes with trunks like the bold strokes of a paint brush, but often in whisper cracks of ink that unfurl into delicate, decorative leaves” Pure“you’ll find the ground always uneven, the forces pushing against you always overpowering, so that no matter how familiar you are with the race track Mother Nature will always catch up and smack you upside the head for your reckless deeds.” 

Ratchet & Clank Quest For Booty“The shorter length forces the game to move faster through its growth system and so you level up faster and earn bigger weapons and rewards faster, which I think many gamers will like. There’s less work, less grind, for more rewards.” 

Spore“It’s a fantastic lesson at first, until you realize that all those body parts are simply waiting for you to find them, that you can collect them all and create a flying, dancing, grasping, poison-spitting creature with the ability to charge. In life, you have to make the best with what you’ve been given, but here it’s a scavenger hunt and everything is there to be collected.” 

Star Wars The Force Unleashed“Flinging entire squads of stormtroopers aside with a flick of the wrist while cutting down bounty hunters with a slash from your lightsaber is a deeply satisfying and drunkenly powerful experience, especially as you do so while merely sauntering down corridors and forest paths, imploding everything around you with the force of your casual will” Too Human“The land of ice and snow has become a post-apocalyptic world shrouded in nuclear winter. Supernatural monsters have given way to self-aware machines and adventuring gods, blessed with superhuman abilities are now military heroes, enhanced with cybernetic technologies”

 We Ski“It’s surprising how well the game does capture the many sophisticated movements of the winter sport; the tucks, the snow plows, the WedeIn parallel turns, and strange that it ultimately disappoints in its ability to simulate powdered snow and a sense of speed”

Wii Fit“When I was a kid getting a haircut I used to kick the footrests of the chair out of boredom. Frustrated one day, my barber laid down his scissors and lectured me on it, explaining that every time I shifted my feet, the movements would follow up my body and change the position of my head. If I wanted a proper haircut, he warned, I should sit still. Instead he lit my curiosity and I experimented”

 Wii Music“Gently bob your baton and they play with plucking, careful steps. Sweep the air aggressively and they charge, loud and brash. My favorite, pause in mid-performance and hold your baton up high, still, and they will hold the note for as long as they can, straining, hoping for relief.” 

You’re In The Movies“In the same way that early television set owners used to obsessively play with their rooftop aerials and rabbit ear antennae to find the best reception, I expect that many “You’re In The Movies” owners will be obsessively tweaking their room lighting and interior design to try to get the best results here too.”

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