Sony announce raft of new 3D devices and content

Sony-3D

With Sony going 3D crazy this week, they have launched their new 3D plans consisting of a raft of different 3D content that will be available over the next 6 months; comprising Games, Movies, Music, Sports, and hardware.

First off will be 3D gaming and this will come via the Playstation Network, those of you who have stumped up the cash for a new 3D enabled TV will probably want know. What can I watch in 3D now? The answer is games. You will be able to download the 3D update and will be awarded WipEout HD, SuperStardust HD, Pain, and finally MotorStorm Pacific Rift Demo all for free in full 3D glory.

Sony have already confirmed that Sony Pictures will be making their next three blockbusters in full 3D glory, these will include; the new and un-named Spider-Man, The Green Hornet and last but not least the new Resident Evil: Afterlife.

More family friendly content will come via Monster House and Open Season and with Sony have confirmed that Sony Music will get involved in the 3D revolution with music videos from Shakira, SIA’s gig at the round house in London, iconic music videos, which will be remastered into 3D. And finally, Jimi Hendrix will be brought back to life with many of his classic videos making the jump from 2D to 3D.

Sony will of course be filming the World Cup in 3D but you won’t be able to watch it in the comfort of your own home unless you live in South Korea or America. But all is not lost, as they will be previewing content at their 1,300 affiliated Sony stores across the UK and in selective cinemas.

Hardware-wise you will be able to pick up Sony’s new Bravia 3D TVs with 200Hz high frame rate technology and with full 1080p resolution – you’ll have never seen 3D quite like this.

Spearheading the revolution will come via from a complete range of Sony Blu-ray Home Cinema Systems. A 3D firmware update will be released in line with the overall 3D launch on June 12th. The BDP-S570 Blu-ray player model, now on sale, is the first with 3D playback out of the box

Another part of the revolution will come via Sony 3D glasses, using active shutter technology to deliver full High Definition 3D are designed for both comfort and stamina. Smaller pink and blue glasses are available for people with smaller face such as children, and with a battery life of approximately 100 hours and an auto shut off function – the Sony glasses will allow you to enjoy the 3D action for longer.

Elsewhere you be able to pick up a world first 3D compatible NEX-5 and NEX-3 cameras, which in conjunction with a compatible Bravia 3D televisions. The high-speed burst of frames is stitched together automatically to create detail-packed 23 megapixel panoramas with a 226-degree effective angle of view. And finally Sony is going to make a 3D laptop – what next a 3D radio? Only time will tell.

Packard Bell launches the iPower X3.0 gaming rig

With the current trend for scaled back, “just for browsing” netbooks and nettops on the market it’s almost alien to see high spec PCs these days. But, whilst the average consumer is looking for less from their PC, the ever-expanding gaming market is still hungry for more, demanding increasingly powerful rigs to run the latest titles.

It’s this market that Packard Bell is looking to reach with their latest desktop offering. The iPower X3.0 has impressive specs with the choice of a Core i5 or i7 processor, up to a mammoth 3TB of storage space and either AMD DirectX 11 or Nvidia DirectX 10 graphics cards. There’s also embedded high-definition audio with multi-channel surround sound which delivers true-to-life sound effects to add to the gaming experience.

iPower-Packard-Bell

But it’s not all about performance and whilst the specs are impressive Packard Bell also scores highly in the looks stakes. The new system turns heads with it’s street-racer inspired design with black coasting, suave red lighting and graphitti-like logo. Functionality is also at the forefront. The Packard Bell iPower X3.0 is equipped with front-mounted buttons and ports to easily access and use key features. All the most important I/O ports and key function buttons are even slanted toward you like a race car control panel for maximum usability. Add the top storage tray providing 2 additional USB ports plus ample space for cameras, smart phones, mp3 players, etc. and all connections to peripheral devices are extremely fast and easy to access. Packard Bell have even made it easy to adapt the machine and thanks to tool-less expansion bays it’s easy to move and swap hard drives.

It’s a lovely looking machine and whilst it may not be every hardcore gamer’s cup of tea, at just £899.99 it’s certainly amongst the more affordable gaming rigs on the market.

OnLive “Console Killer” gaming platform

Dubbed a “console-killer” by the media, OnLive, a new on-demand gaming platform launching June 17th, looks sets to slay the need for gaming-specific hardware and knock the wind out of Sony and Microsoft’s sales.

Modestly refereed to as “the future of video games” by its founder, Steve Perlman, OnLive works in a completely different way to any gaming service gone before – one in which you don’t have to own any major hardware to play computer games – or rather, you don’t have to pay for computer/console upgrades every few years.
OnLive-gaming

OnLive-gaming

OnLive makes this possible by outsourcing all of the computer-intensive aspects of the video games from the home computer (or console) to OnLive’s servers, while the user sits at home streaming a video of the action, interacting with the game using their normal keyboard or a special OnLive controlpad.

Essentially, the service is like owning an extremely powerful computer outside of the house with a really long cable into your home. Unfortunately, if you are more than 1,000 miles away from the data server, the communications delay between your home and OnLive will be too long for you to play successfully – not really a problem in the UK, unless the data server is located in Aberdeen and you are playing in Cornwall.

Two of the major benefits over traditional computing, aside from the low start-up cost, will be the ability to instantly play a demo of a high-end computer game as easily as clicking a link (rather than the current policy of downloading a large file first). The other major benefit is that the service encourages games rental, hopefully preventing the hordes of ill-thought-out game purchases that plague any users collection. The service will also offer the users other unique experiences, such as the ability to record video clips of your achievements to share with other users.

Any added benefits are important, as the service’s monthly fee is $14.95. Reasonable enough, but when compared with the average lifespan of a next-gen console (six years), OnLive works out at a cost of $1076.40, whereas a launch-day PS3 would have set you back a meagre $599. It is definitely bad PR when anything makes a just-released PS3 look like a bargain.

The service will come in two varieties, either as an application for your home computer (PC or Mac) or as a “MicroConsole”, which connects directly to your television and makes it possible to use the service without owning a computer at all. OnLive has also suggested that the MicroConsole technology is simple enough to be built in to set-top boxes and other consumer electronics suggesting future applications, should the service take off.

However, many industry insides are questioning whether such a service is possible at all. While Perlman states that a 1.5Mbps broadband connection will be needed for standard-definition, and 4-5 Mbps for HDTV, Eurogamer has correctly questioned just how much computing power, and bandwidth, the OnLive data centres will require:

Not only will these datacenters be handling the gameplay, they will also be encoding the video output of the machines in real time and piping it down over IP to you at 1.5MBps (for SD) and 5MBps (for HD). OnLive says you will be getting 60fps gameplay. First of all, bear in mind that YouTube’s encoding farms take a long, long time to produce their current, offline 2MBps 30fps HD video. OnLive is going to be doing it all in real-time via a PC plug-in card, at 5MBps, and with surround sound too.

It sounds brilliant, but there’s one rather annoying fact to consider: the nature of video compression is such that the longer the CPU has to encode the video, the better the job it will do. Conversely, it’s a matter of fact that the lower the latency, the less efficient it can be.

Although the service may not boast Eurogamer’s support, some arguably more important names have rallied behind the service: Electronic Arts, Take-Two, Ubisoft, Epic Games, Atari, Codemassters, THQ, Warner Bros., 2D Boy and Eidos Interactive have all signed their games up for the service.

MSI launch GX640 & GX740 gaming notebooks

The MSI GX700 and GX640 have been designed by MSI for that most hard-to-please class of techhead; the gamer. The tagline- obscene performance for serious gamers- says tells you all you need to know about the products intended audience- social Pro Ev’ers need not bother.  Stick to your PS3 because these two brand new models, only launched in Europe on the 18th February, are for the guys that mean business  and think fourteen hours in front of Bioshock 2 as a standard use of their weekend.


They are all geared up to run as normal laptops, with Windows 7 as standard on both models.  However, it’s clear you wouldn’t pay the £999 asking price unless you really liked games.  Therefore, obviously, the most vital thing with the GX640 and GX700 is whether they deliver increased performance.  The spec for both is impressive; powered by the Intel Core i5 Processor they have an ATI Radeon HD5870 AND HD5850 graphics card.  Both these have 1G GDRR5 of memory which should enable the two machines to deliver better clearer visuals while losing less power and, in the gaming world, MSI enabling the GDRR5 on machines of this price is a very big deal indeed.  Although there are notable machines with this capability of these, they are in the upper end of the market.  MSI are hoping to be the standard bearer, and with its use of Turbo Boost technology- which regulates machine temperature and current and estimated power consumption- they are giving buyers the chance to get the absolute maximum value from their machines.

Both also come with a reasonable range of in-built features-DVD Super Multi and Blu-Ray player,  a 2.0M webcam and optional Bluetooth, though there is only a fairly stingy 3 USB ports.

It’s with weight that these models are really coming into their own.  The GX700 (17” display) comes in at only 3.2 kg, while the 640 (15.4” display) is a titchy 2.7 kg.  This makes carting it around easy, and easy to unravel on the bus/tube/train with the minimum of fuss and disruption to those around you.

All these features add up to the GX640 and GX700 being a true gamers delight, and early reports back on its performance have been generally positive.  Of course it takes a while for real value to be extracted, and to discover whether the drive and graphics card can run at the speed and resolution that the spec suggests it can.  But overall, it seems, if you are looking for an affordable laptop that will allow you to fulfil your desires for a top gaming performance, one of these will do the trick.