Archive | May, 2013

Back to the future

22 May

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I’d like to reiterate and adjust a point I made in my previous blog – XBOX THRE… ONE.

I previously noted that the biggest downfall of this device was the inability to play old XBOX 360 games on the console. After giving it some thought, I’d like to retract my point and replace it with “The lack of backward compatibility within the XBOX ONE is a brilliant move from Microsoft”. Why? Read on.

The XBOX 360 era is over saturated with games, some games such as the Call of Duty titles are repeated year after year without much difference between them, and by removing backwards compability, the XBOX 360 ERA is put behind us.

It was brilliant! We all loved and enjoyed it. But its an old era now, akin to the old era of the SEGA mega drive. The XBOX ONE is a new platform that allows a new era of games to be developed using the x84 architecture.

Many people (myself included) are annoyed that we need to use two separate consoles – but upon reflection I believe there needs to be a separation, a barrier, between the old generation and the new generation. It’s a completely new console that requires new IP’s and a new lease of life. The XBOX 360 and its games had lost a lot of their fire because the same similar games were being produced over and over again and it was becoming the same old. By not allowing all these games to be carried over Microsoft are wiping the slate clean, starting over, regaining interest and giving developers a chance to rethink and redesign their games for the new era.
Here’s to the future… not the past.

 

-DC
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XBOX THRE… ONE

21 May

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Well. Microsoft, you surely know how to do a press conference don’t you? Instead of bothering with all the stats, the conference got straight to the point. Less than five minutes in and we had visuals on the console. Sony, take note – customers like to see the product you are trying to market.

Some may think that Sony’s choice not to release the design of their console was all a strategic plan to build up the hype. I do not agree, the design of the PS4 has not yet been revealed for one of two reasons:

  1. Sony have not yet finished the design of the PS4, they are either struggling with the design or taking their time to make sure it is perfect. Either way they are slacking behind.
  2. They have chosen to wait to see what Microsoft produced, and to try and produce something better.

Judging by the short teaser that Sony released on Monday (following confirmation that Microsoft would in fact show the look of their new console today), Sony panicked. Realizing that the attention would be drawn away from the PlayStation, and in an effort to bring the attention back, they released a teaser that still really doesn’t give much away about the design.

It is all a bit strange.

If you had read my previous blog The Next-Next Generation of Gaming I predicted that there would be no new major features to this console, and this has proven true. What Microsoft have done, is taken what they already have, and built it all into one unified polished system. We already had voice commands and hand gestures through Kinect on the 360, but this seemed to be a main focus of the event for the XBOX One. It is clear from the event that the Kinect integration is deeper than it was with the XBOX 360, with added features such as smart switching.

The added processing power also helps run more intensive commands through Kinect providing more accurate responses and more capabilities. The graphical processing power is going to make a huge difference between the consoles, from what they have shown it is set to look incredible, but so will the PS4’s graphics.

  • Biggest benefit to the XBOX ONE: Exclusivity. Microsoft seem to have very strong links with EA and Activition, and as a result they are getting content exclusively for XBOX. In a console war where both sets of consoles will have similar features. This is a huge benefit.
  • Biggest Downfall: No backwards compability. A truly unified system would allow you to play old games on the console, getting rid of the need for a second (old) console. They are totally going against their own marketing campaign in not offering this feature.

All in all a bery well polished presentation for a very (seemingly) polished system. Lots of nice new little features such as the smart swtiching (saves having to annoyingly switch between tv and xbox using input changes) and easy and fast swtiching between games, movies and music. We have also finally got ourselves a blue-ray player, this is a massive feature for me as I have no standalone blue-ray player. Hardware specs seem promising, a massive 8GB RAM, which is a huge jump from the 512MB in the XBOX 360.

This product has to be the only recent release that Microsoft has got right. The XBOX seems to be the only product in their catalouge that is of any success. Keep it up guys.I wonder how much this is all going to cost? Either way, take my money please Micrsoft.

- DC

That bittersweet fruit

1 May

If you continue reading my blogs, and I continue writing blogs you may start to see a trend. I like Apple products. Before I hear the screams of “Fan Boy”, I would like to clear things up, I try to be level headed about things, Apple are not the only company that make great products.

This year could be an interesting year, as for many years now Apple have dominated the mobile phone and tablet market, and they have also been doing pretty well in computer sales too. But, as the saying goes – all good things must come to an end. Apple are at the top, and as newton famously said whilst sitting under a tree of Apples, what goes up, must come down.

Samsung are hot on Apples tail in terms of mobile phone sales, the Samsung Galaxy S 4 has been a massive phone launch for the company, bigger than any iPhone launch in recent history. The last real redefining iPhone launch has to have been the iPhone 4, nothing much revolutionary since. Apple have become stale, they set their own bar too high and have struggled to match it since, as a result consumers have strived for something new and different, which is where the Samsung Galaxy hops into play.

In one of my earlier blog posts I discussed the evolution of mobile ecosystems, when iOS was first released alongside the original iPhone, it was a revolutionary, simple and beautiful operating system. Now it is boring and repetitive. We have had 6 generations of the same design with a few tweaks along the way. Don’t get me wrong, it does it’s job, it’s what makes an iPhone, an iPhone.

Days after I had posted my blog relating to iOS, reports came in of what could be a major change coming in iOS 7, according to sources, iOS 7 will feature a flat design, Flat design being akin to the type of operating system Windows 7 Phone chose to adopt. I strongly believe this change is imminent, I cannot see Apple sticking with the same iOS again, they need a shake up, something to bring the spark back into the company and make people want to buy their phones again, and I mean, really want to buy them.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of a flat structured operating system, I am not a fan of Windows phone, or of Metro UI. I guarantee, everyone will hate the new design at first, nobody likes change. There will be Apple’s simplicity and beauty built into it, so people will adjust and fall in love over again – at least, that’s what Apple need to ensure happens to get out of this dry spell they are in.

In terms of other products released by the company, expect some new fruit over the next few years. We wont just be getting refreshed lines of existing products. We will be getting new product lines. For Apple to remain at the top for a little while longer these products need to make us ask the question five years from now; “how did I ever live without that?”.

The big question is, do Samsung have what it takes to become as innovative as Apple once were? With their eye-tracking technology in the Galaxy S 4, they are showing that they are ready for the challenge.

 


-DC