Author - Jerry Paxton

HTC Announces Vive Pro, Wireless Adapter, and More at CES2018

January 8, 2018 – Today in Las Vegas, HTC VIVE™, the leader in room-scale Virtual Reality (VR) announced new hardware upgrades that deliver premium VR experiences to consumers and enterprises with the introduction of Vive Pro and Vive Wireless Adaptor. In addition, the company debuted new improvements in how VR users discover, experience and acquire VR content through a radical redesign of Viveport VR and Vive Video. These advancements deliver on VR users’ desire for higher resolution, improved audio, greater comfort, wireless freedom and immersive content discovery.

Vive Pro

Vive Pro is a new HMD upgrade from Vive, built for VR enthusiasts and enterprise users who want the best display and audio for their VR experiences. Vive Pro includes dual-OLED displays for a crisp picture resolution of 2880 x 1600 combined, a 78% increase in resolution over the current Vive HMD.

This premium resolution enhances immersion for VR enthusiasts, and the improved clarity means text, graphics and overall experience all come into sharper view. Vive Pro also features integrated, high-performance headphones with a built-in amplifier to offer a heightened sense of presence and an overall richer sound. Vive Pro’s new headstrap was built with enhanced ergonomics and comfort, including a sizing dial for a more balanced headset that decreases weight on the front of the headset. Additional improvements include dual microphones with active noise cancellation and dual front-facing cameras designed to empower developer creativity.

“There’s a clear need in the VR market for a premium VR experience with high resolution display, integrated audio and the best components available today in a headset,” said Daniel O’Brien, GM U.S., VIVE. “Vive Pro offers an immediate upgrade for both VR enthusiasts and enterprises that want to utilize the best VR experience.”

More details on Vive Pro availability and price will be made available soon.

Vive Wireless Adapter

Also unveiled today, the Vive Wireless Adaptor will be the first to market with a truly wireless VR headset integration for both Vive and Vive Pro.

The Vive Wireless Adaptor features Intel’s WiGig technology and offers a premium VR wireless experience that operates in the interference-free 60Ghz band, which means lower latency and better performance. The Vive Wireless Adaptor will ship in Q3 to customers worldwide.

“Wireless VR has been on nearly every VR user’s wishlist since the technology was unveiled,” said Frank Soqui, General Manager Virtual Reality Group at Intel Corporation. “By collaborating with HTC to commercialize Intel’s WiGig technology, we will guarantee that wireless VR meets the most discerning quality bar for home users and business VR customers.”

Viveport VR

In the largest upgrade to the Viveport customer experience since launch, Viveport VR redefines how users, discover, experience and acquire VR content. Instead of a traditional 2D catalog, Viveport VR content is delivered in fully immersive interactive previews. Viveport is embracing a VR first approach by including VR enabled “VR Previews,” which are interactive glimpses of content that give customers a room-scale preview of an experience and the opportunity to interact with content before purchasing or subscribing.

“Viveport is moving to a VR first experience model, and with the all-new Viveport VR, we are changing the way consumers discover, experience and acquire VR content,” said Rikard Steiber, president, Viveport. “Until now, there has not been a shopping and browsing experience that takes advantage of the full functionality of VR. Available in early access today, Viveport VR increases interaction with content and offers developers a preview that showcases the quality of their titles and experiences.”

Earlier this year, Viveport launched the world’s first VR subscription service to provide a whole new way to access the best VR experiences for a great price. With more than 1,000 titles available on Viveport today, and more than 325 available for subscription, Vive is changing the way users browse and discover content through Viveport VR.

Vive Video Includes Vimeo

Today HTC Creative Labs also rolled out an upgrade to its native VR video player, Vive Video. Vive Video solves the discovery and acquisition problem for VR video content by delivering a large catalog of high quality streaming video directly to VR headsets. In addition to new features and UI upgrades, Vive Video has integrated content from Vimeo, the world’s largest ad-free open video platform home to millions of creators worldwide.

In the new Vive Video experience, a curated selection of Vimeo content will be made available to browse and view in a highly optimized native VR experiences within Vive Video-compatible headsets.

“Whether we’re building our own tools in-house or partnering with other innovative platforms, Vimeo is committed to the future of storytelling and finding new ways to support our creators,” said Christophe Gillet, GM of Vimeo’s Creator Platform. “Not only does the integration with Vive Video showcase some of Vimeo’s highest quality, human-curated content within the VR experience, but it also gives those creators an exciting new way to expose their work and engage with audiences.”

Vive Video has consistently been one of the most-downloaded and highest-rated apps on the SteamVR platform, enabling users to view 180 and 360-degree video content. Vive Video is available today for both Vive and Google Daydream platforms, and will arrive on Vive Wave in the near future.

John Winkler Named New President of Six Flags Great Adventure and Hurricane Harbor

JACKSON, N.J. ─ January 8, 2018 ─ John Winkler has been named park president of Six Flags Great Adventure and Hurricane Harbor. He succeeds Neal Thurman who has taken over as park president of Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor outside Los Angeles, Calif. The announcement is a homecoming for Winkler as he spent seven years at Six Flags Great Adventure beginning in 2001 as director of in-park revenue and later co-general manager.

“John’s vision and leadership coupled with his in-depth knowledge of the property and its veteran management team make him perfectly suited to take Six Flags Great Adventure to the next level,” said Six Flags Senior Vice President of U.S. Park Operations Tom Iven.

Winkler most recently served as park president of Six Flags New England in Agawam, Mass. for six years. “I am thrilled to rejoin this world-class park, the largest in our portfolio, and the second largest in the world,” Winkler said. “Being at Great Adventure is a homecoming, and I am eager to work toward a bright future with this experienced and passionate team.”

Winkler’s career with Six Flags spans more than three decades. He began as a front-line team member at Six Flags Astroworld in 1983, and rose to the position of manager of games and retail. In 1998, Winkler joined Six Flags Great America outside Chicago, Ill. as games manager, and advanced to director and co-general manager during his seven years at Six Flags Great Adventure. From 2009 to 2011, Winker served as park president of Six Flags America outside Washington, D.C. prior to joining Six Flags New England.

Winkler studied aerospace engineering and biochemistry, and holds a degree in biochemistry and biophysical science from the University of Houston. Winker comes to Six Flags Great Adventure and Hurricane Harbor with a focus on team member development and a passion for incorporating technology into delivering outstanding guest service.

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall First Look at Cree Nation Trailer

January 2, 2018 – 2K and F4iraxis Games today revealed that Poundmaker will lead the Cree in Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Rise and Fall. Poundmaker was a highly skilled bison caller – a man who drew bison into pounds – and greatly respected among his people. He was also recognized as an outstanding orator and went on to become a great leader.

His commitment to a lasting, just peace between the Cree and the government was born of foresight and dignity. During his life he had served as a personal agent of peace to end war between First Nations. His legacy is now honored among both the Cree and Canadians today.

For more information, please see 2K’s official Civilization blog: https://civilization.com/news/entries#civilization-vi-rise-and-fall-poundmaker-leads-the-cree-nation

Knott’s Berry Farm Announces NYE 2017 Plans

BUENA PARK, CA (December 2017) – The countdown to the New Year is on at Knott’s Merry Farm with  midnight fireworks, live entertainment, and special extended hours for the one-night event. Guests can say goodbye to 2017 as the park celebrates with memorable festivities including Knott’s Merry Farm seasonal performances throughout the day on December 31st. The Knott’s New Year’s Eve celebration gives guests front row seats to the final Seasons of Fun event, of year as the park rings in 2018 with a park wide party unlike any other.

The New Year’s celebration features entertaining activities for the whole family including a family-friendly comedian Chipper Lowell, live bands throughout the park, salsa lessons and more. Guests are invited to count down the final moments of 2017 with festive music, party hats and noisemakers making this last night of the year extra special. The spectacular firework celebration sets the sky above Knott’s ablaze at the stroke of midnight as colorful fireworks light the start of the New Year. The nighttime extravaganza offers a stress-free night perfect for family and friends to come together and create new memories by starting a new tradition at Knott’s.

This year’s line-up of cannot miss entertainment:

·         Jumpin’ Joz Band and Memories Swing Dancers invite guests to jump, jive & swing to the sounds of Jumpin’ Joz. The resident “swingers” are always looking to teach some of their signature dance moves!

·         Reindeer Rockers Duo will have guests rockin’ around the Christmas tree with rock and blues versions of classic Christmas songs at the all-new Boardwalk BBQ Restaurant.

·         DJ Howly brings the party to the farm for a special New Year’s celebration with high energy music perfect for dancing, all taking place at the Calico Mine Stage.  The Calico Mine Stage will also offer a musical performance by Vanity Band, a top 40s band that will keep crowds singing and dancing as the clock approaches midnight.

·         Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies will have the crowd’s toes tappin’, hands clappin’ and guts bustin’ performing live in the Birdcage Theatre.

·         DJ JC and Salsa Instructor Maria will teach guests how to salsa and dance their way to the New Year with the top Hispanic hits of the decade in Fiesta Village.

·         To celebrate the New Year the beloved Peanuts characters will be offering a special nighttime meet and greet right next to the Calico Mine Stage. 

·         Midnight Fireworks Spectacular, guests can ring in the New Year with a bang as the park’s sky wonderfully lights up for an aerial fireworks display that will leave the young and young at heart in awe.

·         Dining at the Farm: A New Year’s Eve celebration is not complete without a delicious meal. Spur’s Restaurant is serving up a special New Year’s Eve buffet from 4pm-10pm; prices are $34.99+tax for adults, $29.99 for Seniors (62 and over) and $18.99+ tax for kids (11 and under).

The seasonal fun continues with Knott’s Merry Farm’s festive lineup of entertainment, delectable foods and holiday shopping:

·         Merry Christmas, Snoopy!, in this exciting show filled with whimsy and spectacular ice skating, Snoopy enjoys all of the best parts of the season, including trimming the Christmas tree, awaiting Santa’s arrival and attending the festive Christmas Ball!

·         When the sun sets on the farm, the buildings and paths in Ghost Town twinkle brightly to the beat of holiday favorites as snow gently falls. Guests can enjoy the nightly Snow and Glow experience throughout most of Ghost Town.

·         The Calico Tree lighting Ceremony features the Calico Mayor, carolers and the friendly Calico Saloon cast as they invite guests to sing around the tree for an illuminating Christmas celebration.

·          The holiday season celebration continues at Camp Snoopy with A Peanuts Guide to Christmas, at the Camp Snoopy Theatrefeaturing a delightful mash up of holiday songs with a cheerful and heartwarming dose of the Peanuts Gang.

·         In the intimate setting of Ghost Town’s historic Bird Cage Theatre, guests can catch a live performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or O. Henry’s A Gift of the Magi.

·         Cameo Kate and Dakota Dan host a musical holiday celebration with a special performance in the Calico Saloon Christmas ShowThe old west revue show offers plenty of laughs and audience interaction in the toe-tapping, knee-slapping journey

·         Savor the ultimate comfort foods with Knott’s world-famous holiday treats. Santa’s Christmas Cabin serves up holiday delights like Santa’s homemade cookies, warm roasted nuts, hand-made tamales and more. Guests can also enjoy the all-new Holiday Pizza at Hollywood Hits, as well as the legendary cooking at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. 

·         The bustling streets of Calico also celebrate the sounds of the season with the Knott’s Calico Carolers as they harmoniously sing classic holiday tunes for all to enjoy.

·         Relax and unwind in Knott’s Christmas Crafts Village, as Ghost Town transforms into a shopping wonderland filled with dozens of local artisans selling their unique gifts.

 

Knott’s New Year’s Eve Celebration is included with regular daytime admission. Park hours on New Year’s Eve are 10am to 1am. A 2018 Knott’s Season Pass is a great way to visit on New Year’s Eve. A 2018 Season Pass includes one free visit to enjoy in 2017 unlimited visits in 2018 with no blackout dates, discounts on select food and merchandise, and access to exciting year-round seasonal events. A Regular Season Pass includes unlimited admission in 2018 to Knott’s Berry Farm and a Gold Season Pass includes unlimited admission in 2018 to both Knott’s Berry Farm and the newly expanded Knott’s Soak City Waterpark with no blackout dates. Now at the Lowest Price of the Year, Regular Season Passes start at just $92.00 or six easy payments of $15.33 and Gold Season Passes are $110 or six payments of just $18.33. These offers end January 7, 2018. Applicable taxes and fees apply online. Payment plans are only available at knotts.com.

To purchase Season Passes or tickets, or for more information about Knott’s Berry Farm, visit www.knotts.com or download the Knott’s mobile app for your smartphone today.  And join the conversation using #KnottsNYE.

World of Warships Blitz Coming to Mobile in January

December 23, 2017 — Wargaming Mobile is excited to announce that World of Warships Blitz launches January 18 on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Mobile gamers on tablets and phones will soon be able to engage in epic naval combat that combines teamwork, tactics, and skill to rule the seas in an action-packed free-to-play online shooter.

Developed in partnership with KingNet, World of Warships Blitz will let players battle each other from a massive roster of 90 legendary warships from Japan, ​USA, Germany​ ​and​ the ​USSR. ​Players can choose between ​four​ ​distinct​ ​classes such as ​agile​ ​destroyers, well-rounded​ ​cruisers, ​powerful​ ​heavy​ ​battleships​ ​and​ ​long-range​ ​tactical​ ​aircraft carriers. Captains will be able to take to the seas in rapid 7-vs-7​ player​ ​battles,​​ team​ ​up​ ​with​ ​friends,​ unlock​ ​new​ ​ships, and take part in exciting single player missions.

“As a mobile game, World of Warships Blitz is casual, easy to learn and super competitive,” said Thaine Lyman, Head of Shooters at Wargaming Mobile. “Short battles, easy controls, and an impressive roster of ships are all right there from launch. We’re happy to welcome World of Warships Blitz into the Wargaming Mobile portfolio.”

World​ ​of​ ​Warships​ ​Blitz​ ​will​ ​support​ ​the​ ​unified​ ​Wargaming.net​ ​ID, which​ ​allows players to​ ​switch​ ​between​ ​platforms​ ​and​ ​devices​ ​while​ ​retaining​ ​all in-game​ ​progress.​ In World​ ​of​ ​Warships​ ​Blitz,​ players on both iOS and Android will be able to​ ​play​ ​together​.

Both iOS and Android players can pre-register here, starting December 23 to receive the Aurora Premium ship when the game has officially launched!

To learn more about World of Warships Blitz, visit the official website:

https://wowsblitz.com/

Universal Studios Hollywood Grinchmas and Hogwarts Holiday 2017 Review

Universal Studios Hollywood is once again transformed for the holiday season. First of the holiday fun to take in is Grinchmas. Grinchmas uses the the sights and sounds of the 2000 film Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas to delight kids and adults. Once again, the heart of the Grinchmas event takes place around a gigantic Christmas tree, adorned with ornaments and lights, but there are also several things to do and enjoy setup around the tree. You can eat several holiday treats created for the event – my personal favorite being the “yeti doughnut” – as well as take your picture with Whoville citizens, the Grinch himself, and even the Grinch’s faithful companion: Max. You can also send your loved ones (or even yourself) a holiday card from the Whoville post office! There is also an area where you can customize your own special Grinchmas ornament. Then there is a large assortment of stage shows – from “Story Time with Cindy-Lou” to the Grinchmas tree lighting ceremony in the evening. Overall, Grinchmas is a very fun time for young and old. I also wanted to give a special shout out to the makeup artists behind the makeup of Grinchmas. Their are doing a terrific job in blending the “who” prosthetics on their actors.

Earlier this year, Universal Studios Hollywood unveiled a terrific new holiday idea for 2017 in addition to their venerable Grinchmas event: Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. After not seeing anything happen in that area of the park for Halloween Horror Nights (could we pretty please get Deatheaters next year?), the gates being not so ceremoniously-shut, this was a welcome addition to the park. The decorations hanging about in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are decidedly rustic in nature, with boughs of holly and pine adorning the various shops and buildings of the fictional Hogsmeade village. Additionally, the Hogwarts Choir performs on the small stage with holiday-inspired harmonies – all backed up by their croaking frogs. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the attraction inside Hogwarts Castle, is also there for your riding enjoyment and has never looked better with its higher resolution 2D projection system. The Three Broomsticks has has a holiday makeover as well, offering an array of holiday themed dishes from the wizarding world, so be sure to catch lunch there during your visit. Finally, the highly-fabled hot butterbeer is back!

Of course, you will also be able to enjoy all the rest of the attractions and things that Universal Studios Hollywood has to offer. The studio tour is legendary and, despite its reliance on 3D movie-based experiences, still offers you an amazing view on the studio lot. I love doing stargazing from the tour tram as you never know who you’re going to see while being driven around – especially if you are there during the work week when shows and films are shooting. On the day we visited, which was a Sunday, the backlot was fairly quiet as one would expect, with maintenance workers buzzing about in golf carts. The area of the lot used for The Good Place is still off limits due to shooting, but hopefully they will open it up again soon. That area is a hoot to visit – especially if you are a fan of the show.

Overall, Universal Studios Hollywood has put together a great holiday celebration with Grinchmas and Christmas in the Wizarding World. There are plenty of things to do for both young and old and, after you are done in the park, you can enjoy the Universal City Walk outdoor mall. There you will find a number of interesting shops and restaurants for your holiday shopping pleasure. You can find ticket information and a lot more at the Universal Studios official website.

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Holiday Gift Guide 2017 – More Cool Stuff Part One

So! You are almost done with your shopping? Then it hits you that you forgot to get little Jamie a present! What do you do? Do you rush out to get Jamie the latest Turbo-Man toy? NO! That would be silly, and you would probably end up locked in holiday toy combat with a disgruntled postal worker while someone you don’t like is at home eating your cookies! Instead, just look below and pick one – you won’t be disappointed! I mean, JAMIE won’t be disappointed! 🙂

HP Omen X 35 Inch Curved Display

HP’s Omen X line of computers and gaming peripherals is a stylish and performance-driven lineup. What stood out most to me, however, was its HP 35 Curved Display – it’s ultra-wide and CURVED! Also, it has an exceptional sense of style as well as 100Hz refresh rate and G-SYNC compatibility. This display is simply exceptional.

Price: $1,299.99 $899.99 at HP’s Website

Creative Labs Sound BlasterX H7 Tournament Edition Headset

Creative Labs crafted a very impressive PC gaming headset with their Sound BlasterX H7 Tournament Edition. Featuring a 50mm tilt-driver setup which creates small acoustic chambers in the ear cups, the Sound BlasterX H7 TE is also very comfortable to wear for long gaming sessions. Finally, its removable mic has some great noise cancellation for chatting with your team mates. These are just a few reasons why it made our “Seal of Excellence” award!

Price: $99.99 on Creative Labs Website

Ember Travel Mug

Keeping my coffee hot during my morning routine never goes well and inevitably ends up with me pouring a cold cup of coffee in the sink. The Ember electronically controls your drink’s temperature by way of an iOS app and is rechargeable! Couple that with its ceramic mug style lip and push-to-open operation, drinking from the Ember travel mug is terrific and makes a great gift for the busy person in your life.

Price: $149.95 at Ember’s official website

Plantronics RIG 800LX Wireless Xbox One Headset

Xbox One gamers in your life will love the Plantronics RIG 800LX with its free DOLBY Atmos capabilities and comfortable ear cups. Additionally, it’s super-comfortable for long gaming sessions and has a nifty flip up boom microphone which auto-mutes when in the up position. You can also adjust the headset for various head heights which is something you don’t usually see. Finally, the DOLBY Atmos provides some seriously-cool positional audio which will blow your mind!

Price: $149.99 at Plantronics website

Creative Labs iRoar Go Bluetooth Speaker

Creative Labs makes this list a second time with their iRoar Go bluetooth speaker. Not only does it have some great styling and lines, but it also features some seriously powerful audio from a considerably portable product thanks to its “SuperWide” technology. This technology allows the small iRoar Go to sound almost like a much larger sound bar that you would have in your home/dorm/office theater system!

Price: $149.99 on Creative Labs Website

Knott’s Merry Farm 2017 Review

The holiday season is upon us once more, and again we make the pilgrimage to Knott’s Merry Farm to checkout their seasonal offerings. Knott’s Merry Farm, for those of you unaware, is the holiday season makeover undertaken by Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA. It runs from now until January 7, 2018 and costs no added charge on top of the standard ticket price. For not paying anything more, however, you are certainly getting a lot extra! I should note that, in the past, Knott’s offered a special, reduced-price ticket to visit just the crafting village. However, I do not see that option available this year – call the park for clarification.

First, you get access to the craft village setup in the Calico Ghost Town area of the park. There, you will find a plethora of vendors hawking their wares – wares such as hand-made soaps, ornaments, and a whole lot more. Also, the park designers have done an excellent job of decorating Calico Ghost Town for the holiday season. There are boughs of holly, ornaments, trees, and a lot more gracing the usually-Spartan, grizzled Western town. Even the Calico Railroad has been made up some for the holiday season and you may not run into your usual train bandits during the excursion around the park.

Further down the road into Calico Ghost Town you’ll find Santa’s Christmas Cabin, where the big man himself waits to take photographs with guests and their families. Also in the cabin is a delightful array of holiday treats. There are freshly-dipped caramel apples, hot cocoa, tamales, wine selections, popcorn, and a host of other offerings that you owe it to yourself to sample upon your visit, so don’t fill up elsewhere! Even the Calico Railroad has been made up some for the holiday season and you may not run into your usual train bandits during the excursion around the park.

Also taking place during Knott’s Merry Farm is the award-winning Merry Christmas Snoopy! ice show with an impressive cadre of skaters as well as Peanuts characters on the ice. Unfortunately, while the skaters and dancers are very skilled, the ice show hasn’t changed much in the last few years and I hope they update it for the 2018 Knott’s Merry Farm event. Also returning this season are A Christmas Carol and Gift of the Magi in the Birdcage Theatre. These short format plays are a lot of fun and a must-see during your visit. At night, you can enjoy the lighting of the very impressive Calico Christmas tree across the way from the new Calico Main Stage. Speaking of which, you can also watch the It’s The Merriest Christmas Show Ever, Charlie Brown stage show there. This show is well produced and features many memorable moments. Also roaming the ghost town are the Calico Carolers, a vocal quartet that bump up their impressive singing with equally-impressive bell work!

Of course, you have access to all the standard Knott’s Berry Farm rides and attractions during the Merry Farm, and you can even see the progression of the parks upcoming Hang Time roller coaster as it is being constructed! The Calico Mine Ride and Timber Mountain Log Ride are operational and it is always a treat to ride these classic attractions. They really don’t make them like that anymore and the two fit right in with the old thyme holiday theme.

Overall, Knott’s Merry Farm is a Southern California holiday tradition that is not to be missed. It is fun for all ages and a delightful place to visit. Knott’s Merry Farm runs from now until January 7, 2018 during normal park operating hours. You can find out more about Knott’s Merry Farm such as ticket information and hours at the park’s official website.

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