E3 Roundup: XBox One vs Playstation 4 – Price vs. Promising Lineup

PS-Four-vs-XBox-One

Gamers struggling to make a informed decision on whether to buy an Xbox 1 or PS4 this Christmas are not alone – but you will be glad to know both console makers laid their cards on the table at last night’s E3.

Both console makers gave a firm launch window of Winter 2013 for Europe and the US – basically November. The biggest headline from both shows was: price. Microsoft unveiled that their new console would cost $499/£425 – which on the face of it is quite pricey. Compared to the Xbox 360 launch the price point it’s a scary one. For example when the first Xbox 360 launched 8 years ago the base model was a mere £209, admittedly, though you didn’t get a lot of functionality for that price. When Microsoft wrapped up their presentation they unveiled their price-point and collective gasp echoed across the show floor like an icy wind.

Sony on the other hand unveiled an incredibly competitive price point of $399/£349. But that didn’t actually get the biggest cheer from the gaming fraternity. Oh no. Jack Tretton then went onto fully explain Sony’s stance on the thorny issue of DRM, he confirmed that the company wouldn’t be employing any form of draconian secondhand game policies. So if you want to lend a game to friend: you can. If you want to trade a game in at a retailer: you can. If you want to play any PS4 game offline: you can. Basically Sony made a massive song and dance that their console, on paper, is faster, it’s cheaper, and isn’t looking to completely re-write the whole paradigm of game ownership. Now, in the interest of impartiality, you can do almost all of that with Microsoft’s system, too, but their solution is a lot more convoluted and requires games to be online at least once every 24 hours, whilst secondhand games can be traded in depending on whether third party publishers get a cut of the trade-in fee – but it’s their decision, if they want to block trade-ins they can though – a worrying trend as we move towards a digital era.

Both console makers showcased as veritable smorgasbord of incredible titles coming exclusively to each console. It’s clear Sony won the battle of price and DRM, but there’s no doubt that they didn’t have a stronger software lineup compared to Microsoft’s own war chest of games. Games like Dead Rising 3 and Titanfall (from ex-Call of Duty devs) are exclusive to the Xbox One and look like hardcore games that will shift units fast. In almost every area of gaming both companies had exclusive titles; Microsoft showed of Forza 5, the latest installment of their biggest racing title, Sony’s answer was Drive Club, but on the face of it just can’t compete with Forza’s scope and vision.

Trying to decide which console to get is an exercise in futility, but now there are some big difference between the two consoles. Sony has also confirmed that their console will be region free, this means you can import a US console, for example, for a cheaper price and play games from Japan on it. Microsoft’s console on the other hand isn’t region free – again another big difference.

It’s clear that Microsoft and Sony have two different visions for their respective consoles. Microsoft is going for a walled-garden system akin to Apple’s iOS, with full control. They want to move the console into the world of the digital era, and, along with it, change the way we buy and consume games. This means games are intrinsically linked to your profile – much like they are on any digital store. Whilst Sony has stuck to its guns and will continue with the current model of open trading of games and the traditional ownership model – much to the delight of hardcore gamers.

E3 on the whole was great for both Microsoft and Sony – Microsoft clearly had the stronger software lineup with Titanfall, Forza 5 and Ryse, all shooting for the lucrative launch window. Whilst Sony nailed the all-important price point and DRM model, though their software lineup didn’t eclipse Microsoft’s with Killzone: Shadow Fall, Drive Club and The Order.

It’s clear that many gamers are still on the fence when it comes to choosing their next console, and that won’t change until they can get their hands on the controller, the system and, most importantly, the games. But on the face of it Sony’s decision to undercut Microsoft’s price point could well be the smoking gun for many. After all with such a dire economic outlook a cheaper price point is likely to secure a lot of those floating gamers who have yet to make their decision.

Will Microsoft rethink its price point? Unlikely. Will they rein in some of their draconian DRM? Quite possibly, but it’s been long suggested that their decision on DRM was at the behest of publishers unhappy at losing revenue to secondhand sales. So quite how Sony has managed to negotiate a different model does seem a bit puzzling, though, Sony’s decision to charge for online gaming could see a cut of that money going to publishers now – but at the moment that’s just pure speculation.

XBox One vs Playstation 4: Next-Gen Console Showdown

XBox-One

To the naked eye there doesn’t seem to be that much of a difference between the Xbox One – which finally got its unveiling last night – and Sony’s PS4. Both consoles rely on the same PC-like X86 architecture; both the console makers have gone to the same suppliers for CPUs, GPUs and the rest of the console’s components – so what actually are the differences?

Well, one of the main differences between the Xbox One and PS4 is the vision for what each console can do. Sony went out hard on addressing problems developers had with the last PlayStation – so they’ve looked to address problems such as the difficultly in which games are made. Microsoft doesn’t have such worries, they have decades of experience in creating the tools to create great consoles games easily, so they’re vision is to conquer the living room and the TV.

A Glimpse of the TV of the Future

Last night, Microsoft painted a vision of how their Xbox One will change the way we watch TV forever – that’s right, the first segment of the unveil was their plan for dominating the lounge, and in turn the TV. They want to achieve this by have two HDMIs ports on the console, one for input and one for output. The crucial addition is the HDMI input. This means users can connect their subscription TV set top box through a Xbox One, which in turn will be seamlessly overlaid onto the Xbox One’s dashboard.

What this essentially means is the realisation of proper, superfluid, multi-tasking between apps, Live TV, Skype, games – you name it. During the presentation Microsoft bigwigs showed as number of novel ways this could change the way we watch TV forever. One example was snapping an NFL fantasy league app directly to the Live broadcast to create a new level of engagement, another way was calling up info about a film you’re watching and snapping it to the side of the film whilst it’s still playing. Now, this might not sound that revolutionary, but what impressed me the most was the speed in which you could change from game to TV to Skype or combine different apps altogether – basically seamless doesn’t really do it justice.

But there are obviously concerns – what if you don’t have Sky box within range of your Xbox One? How do you connect it to the console? Or can this feature be done with a standard freeview box? What if your TV signal comes from a built-in freeview via coaxial? All of these points remain unanswered. But if Microsoft manages to achieve its vision it could be a real game changer.

XBox-One-Racing

Microsoft has said it is “anticipating a global launch over time”.
“Our goal is to enable live TV through Xbox One in every way that it is delivered throughout the world, whether that’s television service providers, over the air or over the Internet, or HDMI-in via a set top box (as is the case with many providers in the US),” it says on the Xbox news site. “The delivery of TV is complex and we are working through the many technologies and policies around the world to make live TV available where Xbox One is available.”

The Real Difference Could be in the Architecture

One of the main differences between the two consoles is the software it will be running, Microsoft explained they’ve gone for an innovative system whereby there is actually 3 operating systems, the first is a new version of Xbox 360 OS; its soul purpose is to run games, the second is the Kernel from Windows 8; this is used for surfing the web and apps; and then there’s a third OS that allows instant switching between the two. Essentially it’s a bit like a double clutch system, the console is constantly able to switch between the two without any delay whatsoever. This means you can switch from TV to a game as if you were changing a channel on your TV. It’s that instant. No loading games, no loading apps, nothing.

Kinect 2.0

The other major difference between the two consoles is Microsoft’s continued support for Kinect. Every Xbox One will come with the camera. According to Microsoft several upgrades have been made to the camera. So it can now handle 6 players at once, with much higher levels of accuracy, and without any lag. They didn’t actually show any new Kinect games, but they did show off the camera’s improved voice recognition, and wide-angle field of view, which Microsoft said, would work in all living room layouts.

Detailed by Microsoft corporate vice president of Xbox Live Marc Whitten at yesterday’s Xbox One presentation, the new Kinect “understands the slightest rotation of wrist, shift balance, transfer of motion, and when you’re exercising it can read your headbeat.”

XBox-One-CoD

Battle of the RAM

Another subtle differences between the consoles can be seen in the way each console addresses RAM, Sony has decided to the give the PS4 8Gb of GDDR5 RAM, which is usually the preserve of high-end graphics cards. Microsoft has decided to go another way and has chosen cheaper, DDR3 RAM – which on face value doesn’t seem like a fair fight. But Microsoft has also added what is referred to as “secret sauce”, an extra pool of ERAM, which is highly expensive and will look to address the differences in capability and bandwidth.

Until we see multi-format games side-by-side it going to be hard to predict how these slight changes manifests themselves in the actual look and performance of a game. But it could easily be the case the Sony’s OS isn’t as efficient as Microsoft’s and therefore needs more memory, but just as conceivable is PS4 multi-format games will look better due to the extra memory on offer – basically we just don’t know, and to honest, no-one does.

Discussing the making and capabilities of the Xbox One during a video feature for Engadget, Greg Williams said: “We purposefully did not target the highest-end graphics. We targeted more as a broad entertainment play and did it in an intelligent way.”
Williams went on to say that Microsoft has approached development of the new console “strategically”, with hardware that’s “truly unique”.

XBox-One-Game

The Elephant in the Room

Instead of discussing games, though, the gaming community descended into farce after the initial unveil last night regarding the thorny issue of used games. At first Microsoft inferred that games would be tied to user accounts – so if you want to lend a game to friend he would have to pay to access both the single and multiplayer, unless you sign into your account on their console, over the course of the evening various Microsoft sources begun to send out conflicting messages.

“Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison has suggested that customers who activate a pre-owned retail disc for the Xbox One will need to pay the same price as the original buyer to access the content.
When asked by Kotaku whether the secondhand owner will be “paying the same price we [the original buyer] paid, or less” Harrison responded “let’s assume it’s a new game, so the answer is yes, it will be the same price.”
Harrison also said that owners can trade their secondhand games online, however the company is “not talking about it today”.

The resulting confusion saw Larry Hyrb, head of Xbox Live, write a blog post about the confusion.

“We know there is some confusion around used games on Xbox One and wanted to provide a bit of clarification on exactly what we’ve confirmed today. While there have been many potential scenarios discussed, today we have only confirmed that we designed Xbox One to enable our customers to trade in and resell games at retail.
“Beyond that, we have not confirmed any specific scenarios,” he added.
“Another piece of clarification around playing games at a friend’s house – should you choose to play your game at your friend’s house, there is no fee to play that game while you are signed in to your profile.”

The crucial word there is “your” profile – so lending of games seems to be off the cards, and with it renting games, too. If this is true, and Sony doesn’t go the same draconian way of controlling the second hand market, then this could be one of the major differences between the two consoles.

In truth Microsoft’s unveil was a bit light on games, but the vision they painted was an impressive one, everything from the seamless integration of social aspects of content discovery to the absolutely stunning multi-tasking did look mighty impressive. In two weeks time it’s E3 and both Microsoft and Sony have promised to share a lot more on their respective next-gen consoles – but after round 1 we’d have to call it a score draw.

PlayStation 4 Launch Roundup: Gaming from the Ground Up

Playstation-4

Wednesday night Sony Computer Entertainment unveiled what many had speculated, the PlayStation 4. Only they didn’t actually show the console. During the 2-hour presentation the console maker, alongside a range of developers, spoke at length about the next-gen console whilst never actually addressing the giant elephant in the room.

What the suits did show-off, during a rather wooden performance, was their vision; a console that meets five simple pillars: Simple, Immediate, Social, Integrated and Personalised.

Instead of showing off the actual console, SCE decided to only show off the new Dual Shock 4 controller, a re-design of the current controller. Improvements have been made to the 3D sticks and triggers, alongside the addition of a touchpad on the front of the controller, clearly inspired by the PS Vita’s touchpad.

Sony waxed lyrical about how the console had been designed by developers, for developers – essentially that means the console is loosely based on PC architecture; a double-edged sword if we’ve ever seen one. It’s clear it’s going to be a lot easier to make games for it, but backwards compatibility has been kicked into the long grass with the possibility that users will be able to eventually, one day, stream the entire PlayStation back catalogue via Sony’s acquisition of cloud gaming company Gaikai.

Some of the clever touches Sony did show-off is the ability to suspend and reload play sessions instantly. The console also has a secondary chip for uploading and downloading content in the background, and even more far-fetched was the ability to download digital games whilst you actually play them.

Another big feature was the consoles share button – the system has been designed from the ground-up to allow gamers to share gaming footage directly from the controller via a new share button – Sony is promising it will be seamless and will herald a new era of collaborative gaming, where you’d be able remotely take control of a friends console to help them complete a difficult level or boss – or just watch them play whilst you offer tips and advice.

Hardware-wise Sony confirmed the console would be packing 8GB of GDR RAM, usually only found on high-end graphics cards. 8GB is an interesting number as it’s twice as much leaksters had predicted during the lead up to the unveil. Underlying the new hardware will be a custom chip that contains eight AMD x86-64 cores. The GPU, as previously speculated, will contain 18 compute units which can generate 1.84 teraflops of processing power. This can be freely applied to graphics, simulation tasks or a mixture of the two.

Once Sony has got all that out the way it was time to invite a load of developers on stage to show off their games, and to be fair to Sony – there were quite a lot.

Journalists were treated to trailers running in real-time from Epic Games, though this was just a tech demo; Guerilla games wowed the audience with a new Kill Zone, Evolution studios, the maker of Motorstorm, showed Driveclub; Jack And Daxter creator showed off Knack; and there was a new Infamous game.

Third party developers were there too – Bungie showcased Destiny, there new FPS MMO; Ubisoft blew peoples minds with their hacker-eqsue GTA clone Watch Dogs; and Capcom and Square Enix showed off rather lackluster tech demos of games that didn’t even really exist.

So while Sony did reveal a lot, it did leave many with many unanswered questions. Why was the console not shown, will it require an always-on internet connection, and will the console block second-hand games?

Some of the gaming pressed called Sony out on some of these concerns, and to be fair to Sony they answered almost everything apart from price, release date and what the console actually looks like.

Polygon: “But there was one glaring omission: The PS4’s debut was missing the PS4.”

“I ran into Shuhei Yoshida, president of Worldwide Studios at Sony Computer Entertainment, after the show and asked him why the console wasn’t shown during the presentation or after.

“We need something to show off later,” he said, half kidding.

Will it be shown at E3, I asked.

“We’re still trying to decide that,” he said.

Yoshida then went on to explain the thinking behind Sony’s decision to have the controller at the event but not the console that uses it.

“The console is just a box,” he said. “The controller was very important to show because it has the share button, but the console is just a console.

The point of this week’s show, Yoshida said, was to get across the philosophy of its new console, those five pillars detailed by executives and developers throughout the night.

IGN: “As I fight through the torrent of meaningless words, the ad-agency horsesh*t about ‘wars against reality’ I can also see glimpses of really nice looking games.”

In fact, the glimpses of games went on for like an hour, which is seriously impressive in the world of console first-looks.

It dawned on me, even as I sat enjoying the games, that PlayStation 4 is going be just as neat as we’d all hoped. But also that the incredible PS1-PS2 jump is never going to come again. Nor the enormous PS2-PS3 leap.

The astonishing visual fidelity being shown in New York, is quite a bit nicer than the gorgeous fidelity I can find on my PS3 at home. These are lovely-looking games. But they are not so much greater than PS3 that my tongue is lolling around my curly chest-hair.

This PS3-PS4 leap requires something extra. And that something extra is services, connectivity, ease-of-use, social thingamajigs. Important things. Useful things.

We found out when the console is coming, but there were words missing too. Words like ‘PlayStation 4 will be priced at….” and “look at the pretty box you’ll be putting by your TV soon”.

Eurogamer: “Does the PlayStation 4 always need to be connected to the internet, I asked Yoshida?

“You can play offline, but you may want to keep it connected,” he suggested. “The system has the low-power mode – I don’t know the official term – that the main system is shut down but the subsystem is awake. Downloading or updating or you can wake it up using either the tablet, smartphone or PS Vita.”

Are all of those things optional, though? For people who have broadband data limits, for example? They can customise everything?

“Oh yes, yes, you can go offline totally. Social is big for us, but we understand there are some people who are anti-social! So if you don’t want to connect to anyone else, you can do that.”

Watch the stream of the event here:



Streaming Live by Ustream

PS Vita: A hand holding guide to your new handheld

Its been just over a week since the widely successful launch of Sony’s new handheld Playstation Vita. We’ve been spending hours on our new shiny piece of tech and in the process have collated a load of tips, tricks and how-to’s. Were here to do all the boring research so you can spend more time enjoying the best mobile gaming experience money can buy.

 PS-Vita

1. Customisation is king.

If you want to personalise your PS Vita you can. Much like an iPad or iPhone  you can press and hold any of the app icons and move them around. You can’t make group folders, but you can move all similar apps to the same screen and keep your new PS Vita nice and tidy.  You can even change the background colour or image by tapping the theme icon in the bottom right of each frame. Get creative and design your own background images (which you can transfer to your PS Vita via PS3)

2. Let there be light.

Unlike the PS3, the PS Vita has been designed form the ground-up to multi-task – so if you want to change the brightness on the stunning OLED screen mid-game you can. Press and hold the PS button and a quick-access menu will appear which enables you to adjust the brightness and even set up a custom soundtrack – so you can listen to the delights of the Prodigy whilst thundering around New York on Wipeout 2048.

3. Peace of mind.

Like any device there’s always a chance than you might drop it or worse break it. Now we can’t prevent that, but we help you save your precious save data. Connect you PS Vita to your PS3 via the USB cable provided, open up the content managed on the you PS Vita and select the the Back Up option to back up all your PS Vita’s game data and gain a little extra peace of mind.

4. Say cheese!

One of the coolest features we’ve stumbled upon with the PS Vita is the ability to take some screenshots of your in-game achievements. All you have to do is press the Start and PS button at the same time and if you done it right you’ll see the screen flash white and will hear the snap from the camera.

5. PSP games with 2012 lick of paint.

As you may well know the PS Vita is backwards compatible with over 250 PSP games. But did you know you can make them look better? Well if you load up a PSP game you can press and hold the touchscreen it will bring up a sub menu which allows you to enable “bilinear filtering” and “color space” which will give your classic games a new lick of paint and smooth out some of those 2005 jaggies. Experiment with your PSP games to find your favorite combination.

6. The Panel of your dreams.

Not only can you customise your background, but you can add a custom panels to add a little bit of flair to your PS Vita. To change your PSN panel, navigate to Settings, PSN, Account Information, and Panel to choose from a wide assortment of artwork from first and third-party games.

7. Remote Play goodness. 

One of the most exciting features on PS Vita is Remote Play. With this new feature you can log into to your PS3 remotely to access a video, start a Playstation store download and even play games. Remote Play is still in its infancy and further down the line you’ll be able to play full PS3 games via your PS Vita. While that’s not here just yet, the PS Vita is compatible with any PSone games you may have on your hard drive, along with a handful of classic PSN games such as PixelJunk Monsters, PixelJunk Eden, and Peggle.

8. Bluetooth is the business.

The PS Vita supports high-quality stereo Bluetooth audio output – so if want to chat to friends or give a bit of trash talk you can. In the Settings menu, touch Network and Bluetooth Settings and you’ll be able to pair your headphones to your new PS Vita.

9. Let there be silence.

Some people like soft jazz, others prefer silence. If you want to turn off PS Vita’s toe-tappin’ menu music, you’ll find the option in Settings > Sound & Display > System Music. While you’re there, you’ll notice an AVLS option. This limits the maximum volume when using headphones — perfect if you share your PS Vita with a little one.

Zone – console gaming on the cheap

Everyone loves a bargain. Unfortunately, when that bargain happens to look like something more expensive with much worse functionality, people are bound to be disappointed. Enter the Zone 3D, 60 and 100.

Each of Zone’s products closely resembles a market competitor: the Zone 3D is Playstation-like, the 60 is all Wii (complete with accessories) and the 100 has a more-than-passing resemblance to the Xbox 360. Still, if you can’t afford any of the main consoles, you can always buy one of these and hope your friends are stupid. It’s a shame, because if they didn’t try to look like the major consoles, they’re not without some positives.

Zone

Zone 3D

Still in development, the Zone 3D should have between 20 – 30 3D games. This’ll be bolstered by around 80 bonus 2D games, meaning that everyone should find something to gauge their interest.

We played a skateboarding gaming, which responded well to the wireless controller. The graphics and gameplay were about on-par with a Playstation One. The 3D is powered by anaglyph – the old style green and red offset with compulsory goggles. It does mean you get 3D gaming without buying any special (expensive) kit, but it’s not the most impressive.

The system is available in the summer for around £50.

Zone 60

The sequel to the original Zone 40, the new system has bumped up the graphics to 32-bit. We didn’t see any 3D, so expect lots of SNES-style gaming. It didn’t look the best on the HD LCD TV was saw it on, but it’s not finished yet so it’s hard to pass judgement. There will be around 25, 32-bit games, the rest 16-bit ports from the old system.

We got to play a Table Tennis game on beginner mode, and thoroughly thrashed the opponent by simply mashing the A button. Although it looks like a Wii, swinging the remote was completely unnecessary for our victory. On the other hand, there’re plenty of accessories to tack onto the remote, which was half the Wii-fun. Summer, £50.

Zone 100

This one was out of batteries when we got to the stall, but simply it looked like a white Kinect. The benefit is that you can plug it into the TV without plugging in a power cord, so it’s highly portable. The downside? Running out of battery while gaming is frustrating.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Review

Xperia-Play

Rumours of PlayStation phone began with the first console. 17 years later, it’s finally here, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play . While the idea may have been conceived seven years before Sony Ericsson’s incorporation, the mobile phone giant is packing the handset with thoroughly modern technology. The specifications you’ll expect to find in any high-end smartphone are as follows: there is a 1 GHz CPU (snapdragon), 512 MB RAM, a 4 inch multi-touch screen (capacitive touch, 854 x 480), a five megapixel camera and an Android 2.3 operating system.

What you won’t find on any other smartphone is the slide out gaming controls. As a benefit to being the first officially certified PlayStation mobile phone, Sony Ericsson has included most of the functionality of a proper PlayStation controller.

In all honesty, the control pad looks more similar to the slider of the PSP Go then a full controller. You finding the pad on the left, set the standard PlayStation balance on the right, stars and select buttons, shoulder buttons on the back of the device and a long rectangular touchpad in the middle for simulating dual analog sticks.

Sony promises fluid gameplay at 60 frames per second, thanks to the optimisation of the snapdragon processor coupled with an embedded Adreno GPU. It all adds up to some pretty intense gaming potential. We’ve already seen the graphical prowess of the iPhone 4, and the snapdragon/adreno combination promises to go to push the boundaries even further

The phone is not only compatible with android marketplace, letting gamers use to controller on games not designed for the Xperia, but will also boast a dedicated android marketplace gaming section. Here you’ll find 50 launch titles; although we expect a lot of these to be rehashes of old PS one games.

Preview Video:

It should ship with one A-plus game from the PlayStation’s history, with most bets placed on Crash Bandicoot. Personally, we’d like to see the Grand Turismo launch. Other franchises coming to Xperia PLAY include EA’s Need For Speed, Sims 3, a world-first multiplayer version of FIFA 10 for mobile, Guitar Hero, Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell.

Sony Ericsson is also partnering with Unity Technologies – the engine behind the iPhone’s best-looking titles, to use its award-winning development platform, to ensure plenty more beautiful games.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play and Xperia Arc: We go hands on

After years of speculation, the Playstation phone is coming. Latest Gadgets got the chance to see the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY in action. If you are looking for gaming on the go, this is fun and simple to use. Competing with smartphones and portable gaming machines could be a challenge, how does the Xperia Play compare to its rivals?

Xperia-Play-Hands-On

Designed with a powerful engine to deliver clear gaming graphics, it provides entertaining gaming for that boring train journey. Powered by Android 2.3, the latest platform, the Xperia PLAY has access to the Android Market for all the apps you want. As a phone, it has 5 homes screen which you can scroll through and customise along 480×854 resolution on a 4” screen. For quick access to a specific app, you can pinch the screen and all the widgets on each home screen combine on to a single screen and you select the app you want. But you want to know how it plays right?

At launch Xperia PLAY will come preloaded with seven games including Asphalt, a racing game. There will be fighting games and every genre available so there is something for everyone. Further games will be available, including Need for Speed and FIFA 10, for download at launch with more in the works with a price between £3 and £5. Gameplay is simple to pick up as it plays just like a PSP down to the L1 and R1 trigger keys and analogue sticks. It comes with an 8GB memory card but if you want to store a choice of games you may want to consider buying a 32GB memory card to go with it as 8GB just will not cut it. 5 hours of constant gaming time is very good and better than the iPhone. Available from end of March/April and pricing to be announced.

For media lovers, the Sony Ericsson arc is up your street. It is built to showcase video on a large 4.2” screen. The only word I can use to describe this is stunning. Powered by the Mobile Bravia engine I was blown away when watching a video clip on the 854×480 display. Sony’s Exmor R mobile sensor allows you to take bright pictures and HD videos in low light. Then you can share it with your TV in HD using DLNA or the HDMI connector included in the box. Using the same user interface as Xperia Play, you use the phone in very much the same way. Overall, the Arc is one attractive and very thin phone. The only gripes I have are the size of the storage, 8GB and lack of front-facing camera. However, memory can be increased and apart from video-calling what do you really need a front-facing camera for? Available at the end of March.

Playstation make their Move

So, the much vaunted Playstation Move was finally unveiled this month at the GDC conference in San Francisco, and Sony are hailing it, somewhat unexpectedly, as the ‘next generation of motion gaming’.  The question is, however, is it little more than a Wii wannabe, and Sony’s attempt to muscle on the market that them bods at Nintendo have cornered so well?

sony-playstation-move-controller

The answer, it would appear at this early juncture (its not actually released until the Autumn in America), is pretty much a yes. But then it was always going to be and, at the end of the day, why shouldn’t they?  Compatible for the PS3, and available at launch as a bundle with game and the Playstation Eye camera-more on that later- for around 100 $ it seems to offer a viable alternative for the hardcore Sony gamers who can’t bear to move to Nintendo or Microsoft (who are releasing a similar gizmo, the Natal, later this year).

The device itself is not unlike the Wii, with a controller and and a second sub-controller for navigating characters around gaming environments.  Visually the most striking aspect of the controller is the blue rubber ball that sits on the end- the lighting up of which the Playstation Eye catches, and captures the players position.  The Eye, essentially a camera that you pop on your TV, ‘detects the precise movement, angle, and absolute position in 3D space’ of the gamer, and in conjunction with the controller allows the user ‘intuitively play the game as if they themselves are within the game.’  The Eye, in certain games, will also film you, and project your image onto characters as a means of increasing the level of immersion with the games.

Reaction to the device in the notoriously harsh gaming world has been somewhat muted; from reading forums and talking to gamers who already own the PS3, there seems to be an air of cynicism about the device.  Wii lovers see it as nothing other than a copycat, trying to nab the attentions of those uninterested in the family/casual gaming ethos that Nintendo has fostered so well.  A lot of Sony devotees, who revel in the complex and made-for-adult games put out by the Japanese company, seem to view it as a sign of Sony dumbing down their product.  Of course, the proof is in the pudding and if Sony can bring out the games to appeal to this demographic then all will be swiftly forgiven.  Sony says there will be 20 games released on the platform in 2010 with deals and support in place from 36 publishers and developers, so this clearly anything but a gimmick for Sony, but a concerted attempt by them to both prolong the lifespan of the PS3, and to enter the lucrative world of motion gaming.  Roll on Autumn.