Author - Jerry Paxton

2008 CES Aerielle i2i Stream Music Broadcaster Interview

GamingShogun at CESAerielle, makers of the i2i Stream Digital Music Broadcaster was nice enough to sit down with us for an interview/demonstration of their product. The i2i Stream sends music over a 2.4Ghz signal to other i2i Stream devices in the area. This device allows you to digitally broadcast your sound/music wherever you want. The possibilities include broadcasting music to multiple speakers for parties, home enjoyment, and even gaming events as the input is a fairly standard microphone jack.

Actor Heath Ledger Dead at 28!

Yahoo reports that actor Heath Ledger has been found dead in his Manhattan apartment. Rumours circulating as to the cause of death include potential drug overdose.

Ledger, of course, was due to star as the Joker in the upcoming Batman movie, Dark Knight.

Stay Tuned for more info.

Brazil Bans Counterstrike and Everquest!

AFP (via Google) reports that a federal court in Brazil has banned the sale of Counterstrike and Everquest because the games’ violence encouraged ‘the subversion of public order, were an attack against the democratic state and the law and against public security.’

Exactly why those games were singled out is still unclear. The ban does not prohibit the play of the games, only their sale.

Portal, Bioshock Lead Game Developers Choice Nominees

Gamasutra reports that Portal and Bioshock lead this years list of nominees for the Game Developers Choice Awards.

Other multiple nominees for this year’s event include such diverse and notable titles as BioWare’s Mass Effect, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed, Infinite Interactive’s Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, Sony Santa Monica’s God of War II, and PopCap’s Peggle.

The Complete List of nominees is:

Best Game Design
BioShock
Call of Duty 4
Mass Effect
Portal
Super Mario Galaxy

Best Visual Art
Assassin’s Creed
Team Fortress 2
Crysis
BioShock
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Best Technology
Halo 3
Crysis
Call of Duty 4
Portal
Assassin’s Creed

Best Writing
Portal
God of War II
Mass Effect
Half-Life 2: Episode 2
BioShock

Best Audio
Call of Duty 4
Everyday Shooter
BioShock
God of War II
Mass Effect

Best Debut
Crackdown (Realtime Worlds)
flOw (ThatGameCompany)
The Witcher (CD Projekt)
Everyday Shooter (Queasy Games)
Aquaria (Bit Blot)

Innovation
Rock Band
Portal
flOw
Peggle
Mass Effect

Best Handheld Game
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Phase
Contra 4
Peggle (for iPod)

Best Downloadable Game
Pac-Man Championship Edition
Everyday Shooter
Peggle
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (XBLA version)
Flow

Game of the Year
BioShock
Call of Duty 4
Portal
Rock Band
Super Mario Galaxy

Bionic Contact Lenses Anyone?

MSNBC reports that researchers at the University of Washington have created a prototype bionic contact lense which could lead the way for a host of virtual applications.

The displays would be visible only to the wearers and could conceivably display any data, program, or entertainment that programmers can conceive of. The article goes on to suggest examples such as heads up displays for vehicles, and the like, but I think we’re all curious to know about the adult entertainment applications of putting a virtual world over your eye.

Image quality is an initial issue, however, we all have faith the ability of humanity to make things better, smaller, and faster! Besides, can you imagine just switching to infrared, a la Preditor? Sweet!

SanDisk Sansa View – Review

This weekend I reviewed the 16GB Sansa View media player. As I’m still sporting a first generation iPod, the Sansa View immediately captured my attention with its pencil-thin sleek black design. Forget carrying cases, or interchangeable frames, I’m sticking with this baby as stock.

As with any personal media player the Sansa View comes standard with the ability to play all your mp3s, digital photos, and sports a 2.4 inch screen for viewing your video files (WMV, MPEG4, and H.264). What sets the Sansa View apart from the competition is the built in digital FM tuner, and an integrated microphone for all your personal recording needs. Additionally, the Sansa View has an expandable memory slot (microSD) to store even more random stuff on!  Sandisk claims the battery lasts up to 35 hours when playing audio, and 7 hours for video, a good long while!  Needless to say, I was ready to put this puppy though the paces!

The Sansa View ships with the View, headphones, and a USB plug/charger. If you want a wall or car charger, you have to buy one separately. The View does not ship with any software. Once attached to your computer via the supplied USB cable, the Sansa View is recognized as a removable drive, ready to go, asking you, no, begging you to load media on to it.

I threw some songs on there as well as a episode of Scrubs that I had previously downloaded. Uh oh. First set back. I was advised the format of my video was not supported (Xvid). Silly me to have forgotten about the need to transcode the file into the proper format. Ok, so step 1 was to find the software.

It turns out this is harder to find than one might expect. I went to Sandisk.com and could not find it anywhere in the support section of their site. Turns out Sandisk really has two versions of their website for showing their mp3 players, one which is Sansa specific, and one which is generic to all Sandisk products. The transcoding software is only linked through one, not both. After some searching, I finally located it, but ran into troubles during the install. The setup program does nothing for a good minute or two after the program is started (looking all the while like it froze). I tried to run the setup program on both my desktop and laptop with similar results. I finally just let it sit for a while, and eventually did get it installed properly. In order to successfully transcode a video file, you need to have the Sansa View connected to the computer. The final product is transferred to the View during the conversion process. It would have be nice to have been able to transcode files to transfer to the View at a later time, but this wasn’t a major drawback to me. The whole process took about 75 minutes for a 175mb, 22 minute video file. I don’t know if that is average or not as the View is my first foray into personal media players.

I will say that the final result was well worth the wait. Video playback and the audio synch was perfect. The View delivers smooth motion (up to 30fps), even during high action sequences.

The digital FM tuner is also a fine addition to any mp3 player. Sometimes I just want to listen to random music that I haven’t pre-selected. With the View, when my attention span for my personal music wanes, it’s right there with the FM tuner to keep me going.

The built in microphone is fun and has decent recording quality. Honestly, though, I’ve got the same feature on my cell phone and never use it, so I don’t know how much use the recording feature will have with the average user. Still, it’s better to seldomly use a feature than to not have it when you desperately need it.

The only complaints I might have are that it is not intuitive at all how to stop a file (music or video) once it starts playing. You can pause it, but if you’ve ventured into any of the other menus, including the main graphic menu, you have to return to the category playing the current file in order to do so. There does not seem to be a stop feature at all. You can only pause, or switch from one file to another. I know this sounds weird, but I’ve read the manual twice now to make sure and there is absolutely no mention of a stop button. I don’t have anything against pausing per se, but sometimes there’s something nice about being able to instantly stop a device.

Conclusion: All in all, the Sansa View is my top choice for compact personal media players. Priced, on average, about $50 cheaper than comparably sized (both physically, and in terms of storage capacity) Nanos, the Sansa View is the obvious choice for consumers.

2008 CES Conflict: Denied Ops Demonstration

GamingShogun at CES Eidos was also at the Microsoft Games for Windows display area, and we got a chance to record a live demo of the upcoming Conflict: Denied Ops. The two-man coordination system seems to be a key element to the title ala Kane & Lynch or Army of Two, and looks to work very well in ‘Conflict’. In addition, the game features a VERY useful destructible environment system where you can feasibly ‘make’ a covering location out of almost any wall just by shooting a hole in it.

TimeWarner to Test Usage Based Billing for Internet Services

Yahoo (Reuters) reports that TimeWarner Cable will begin testing a new billing system based on a subscribers bandwidth usage, rather than the traditional flat fee.

I say traditional, though we should all recall that AOL used to bill based on the number of hours logged on.  I was never an AOL subscriber myself, but I have plenty of memories of friends who received monthly bills over $100 for their internet usage.  If TimeWarner thinks the public will accept a return to this type of billing practice, they may lose a lot of customers.

TimeWarner claims that it will test the pilot program in Beaumont, Texas later this year, and commented that the change will only affect ‘heavy’ users, accounting for only 5% of their customer base.  

2008 CES Creative HS-1200 Headset Interview

GamingShogun at CES Creative had a very good showing this CES, although we were hoping to find some new Sound Blaster gear and ended up running across a total gem in their HS-1200 Wireless Gaming Headset. Being as impressed as we were, the good folks gave us a very nice, impromptu, sit-down interview. Thanks to everyone at Creative for their hospitality and we can’t wait to do an in-depth review of the unit in the future.

2008 CES TN Games FPS Vest Demo

GamingShogun at CES We got a chance to try out the new Third Space HXT Helmet and FPS Vest from TN Games at the CES expo as well. I have to say it was very cool and I look forward to reviewing them more thoroughly soon. The sensations of impact (especially the helmet which bounces like a round ricocheted off of it) add alot of intensity to FPS play. In addition, it acts as a much better cue to let you know where the attackers are then just an arrow indicator on the screen.