Elgato Game Capture HD: For gamers who don’t play around

Some people like to think that after they die they live on through their work. But now it’s possible to live on through your play with Elgato’s Game Capture HD – designed to immortalise you. If you’ve even seen the Frogger episode of Seinfeld (where George realises his high score on an arcade game might be his greatest achievement in his life) you’ll understand the importance of preserving your “legacy”.

Elgate-Game-Capture-HD

The Game Capture HD, a simple solution for recording and sharing PlayStation or Xbox gameplay using a Mac or PC. If you’ve been over to YouTube recently, you’ll see it’s peppered with videos of young people making other young people feel bad about themselves with their superior gameplay. Now you can join in on that fun. With software specifically tailored to the needs of gamers and a built-in H.264 encoder it’s pretty easy to record, edit and share a gameplay video.

“Gameplay videos created on the Mac or PC are reporting explosive growth, especially on YouTube. Elgato Game Capture HD offers the community an unrivalled and efficient way to create gameplay videos in maximum quality with minimum effort. It brings together years of video-encoding and editing experience.”
Adam Steinberg, Vice President Marketing at Elgato.

The H.264 hardware encoding means Elgato Game Capture HD records in HD quality without burdening the hard disk with large files. And as someone who records as lot of high definition DSLR video footage, believe me this is a good thing. I’ve shelled out on far too many hard drives in my time and it’s getting old. Set up is pretty simply using a single cable from the XBox 360 or the PS3, capturing all your gameplay through the magic of HDMI.

Elgato Game Capture HD lets gamers focus on what matters – family, friends, the world outside … I’m kidding obvious. Making recording simple means you can focus wholeheartedly on dominating at Fallout or whatever it is the kids are playing these days.

Thanks to the unique Flashback Recording feature, Elgato Game Capture HD remembers the gameplay that has preceded it, even if the record button wasn?t pressed. The gamer can then simply revert to the start of the scene they want to record and begin recording retroactively. With a single click, videos can be shared with friends and fans on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. And with Elgato Game Capture HD software, it’s even possible to trim gameplay videos for later editing using a video-editing program.

Elgato Game Capture HD will be available from the start of June from Elgato, Amazon, and selected retailers for £179.95 including VAT.

GAMEfest event review

Eager gamers got the chance to play this year’s most anticipated games at last weekend’s GAMEfest – we jumped in the car and set sail to the Birmingham NEC to see what’s hot and what’s not at the very first GAMEfest.

September actually see’s two computer game conferences within week of each other; this weekend saw the inaugural show from UK retailer Game and their aptly name GAMEfest.

GAMEfest

And this week see’s Eurogamer hosting their annual Eurogamer Expo – there is something to be said about have having both so close to each other. But it was nice to see GAMEfest hosting their event outside of London. Something Eurogamer did try, once, with their Leeds show.
 
The timing of the event has seen criticism from some publishers who feel a new event from the UK’s biggest games retailer, and an established consumer was poorly timed due to its close proximity to Eurogamers Expo.
 
One affected publisher anonymously told MCV recently “with just three days to move from one site to the other, many are unimpressed by the expected costs”. 
 
Eurogamer big-wid, Rupert Loman, told MCV he was “disappointed GAME is attempting to split the market”.
 
Gamefest’s pièce de résistance was an exclusive showing of Activision’s Call of duty Modern Warfare 3. Upon entering the NEC it was clear to see that COD was the big cheese of the show – and what Activision showed was truly stunning; witnessing New York’s skyline ablaze certainly got our attention.
 
We managed to get a few minutes with the game playing Survival Spec Ops mode, which involves fending out fiendish enemies alongside a fellow fragger. Everything is looking very good for Modern Warfare 3 this Christmas – everything except Battlefield 3.
 
That’s right, EA and DICE were on hand to try and steal its thunder. Unfortunately BF3’s stand was a little underwhelming, apart from the guys holding machine guns.
 
Although, they were probably just letting the game do the talking. We were treated to quick press preview before the riff-raff started to queue up.
 
First we hopped onto the single player and can report that the PS3 console version is looking very good indeed. Sure it not on par with the PC version – but the lighting and frame rate were solid as a rock.

Multiplayer-wise it was clear that the graphical fidelity had been toned down somewhat. But everything we saw, played and gawked at proved that BF3 really does have what it takes to take on COD and its first person shooter crown. 
 
Whilst we rushed around the NEC to see as many games as possible before the show was opened to the public and we managed to get sometime with Microsoft’s Forza 4 – which is looking like the racing game of the year. 

The graphics, lighting and handling tweaks add up to a massive change and was one of the most enjoyable games we played all day. Maybe that was because we were driving a stunning Ferrari 599 GTO around a beautiful vista in the Swiss mountains.
 
We managed to get a few laps on Codemasters follow-up to F12010 and from the looks of it not a lot has changed. The handling has been overhauled – but the steering wheel setup we were given made it hard to really access the changes from last year’s version.
 
Elsewhere, it was a little disappointing to see only three consoles showcasing the much-anticipated Batman: Arkham City. Although from what we did see it looks like it’s going to be every bit as good a Rocksteady’s first attempt.

Other games attracting enthusiastic punters included Elder Scrolls V: Skrim, the imminent Gear of Wars 3, Unchartered 3, Quake follow-up Rage and Saints Row the Third. There were even some games that won’t be available until next year – namely – EA’s Mass Effect 3, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. 
 
After a few hours there was a definite growing frustration with having to queue up to play pretty much every game. We even heard stories of several hours just to play one game. It started to feel more and more like a Theme Park than a games convention.
 
Overall Gamefest was a massive success, to sell out a new show within a week of its main competitor shows that there is more than enough space in the market to have a couple of shows in the UK. Just not a week apart.
 
The biggest lesson that publishers have to come away with, is that they need to expand to events outside of London, due to the success of their business it’s clear that gaming isn’t just the preserve of Londoners. The NEC is a massive space is the perfect place to hold any form of trade show – let’s hope it back next year – bigger and better.

Give yourself the Sack …boy

Not since Sonic and Mario first appeared on the gaming radar has there been a more popular digital creature than Sackboy.

Sackboy is poster boy for the PS3 and star of Media Molecule’s game Little Big Planet, the very cute world-building game that allows the player to create their own dream planet, solve puzzles – and in the latest outing for Sackboy and his friends, save the entire universe.

Sackboy

With the just-released Little Big Planet 2 now busying fans with saving the Cosmos, if you, or someone you love would like their very own little Sackboy, there’s good news. True, you could knit one for them (Find out how at http://www.littlebigland.com/sackboy-saves-knitting/) but if you don’t fancy doing battle with the knitting needles, just get busy with your mouse and head on over to Firebox.com, where they have a few little Sackboy treats for you (sadly too late for Valentine’s Day).

If you need a bit of comfort when you’ve just lost the latest game or got stuck on a level, invest in the Sackboy Plush and have a little cuddle when it all gets too much for you. He comes in two sizes – 12 in tall for £7.99 and 30cm tall at £14.99. (You might be pushing it for Valentine’s Day on this one as it won’t ship until February 10/11, but you can pre-order now).

If you’re not the cuddly toy type, how about a Sackboy action figure? Available in either 3in or 6in sizes (£4.99 and £7.99 respectively), he can be posed to recreate action from the game, or sit on top of your computer or games console – if you want to appear cool (or possible totally sad) to all the kids on the bus in the morning, stick him in your pocket!

And another one in the same vein – this is Sackboy Computer Gear – this poseable figure comes in the same two sizes (albeit at a slightly more expensive £4.99 and £12.99) and is dressed as a computer (we’re not sure why, but it’s pretty cute all the same). The taller version is a limited edition for anyone who is into collectibles.

Top five boy’s toys for Christmas

Christmas is coming, and the man in your life is getting fat, and whether you like it or not this man is going to spend too much time eating, drinking and using the Lords birthday as an excuse to meet up and make merry with every person he’s ever had a passing acquaintance with.  A direct result of this is said gentlemen will also spend extended periods of time sitting in a state of inertia, moaning and trying to sweat out the previous days pleasure.  This being the case you want to keep him amused, his hands busy and away from the eggnog for as long as possible.  This being the case, please find latestgadgets top 5 (in no particular order) Big Boys Toys this Christmas, to keep him happy for December and beyond…

Playstation Move/ Microsoft Kinect

Move-vs-Kinect

The Playstation Move is aimed at the hardcore gamer market and a fiddle to start with, but if he’s a died-in-the-wool Call Of Duty type then this might be your best bet.  The Kinect is more of a Wii extension with games intended to be fun and social.  There’s considerable fun to be had in its novelty value too- there isn’t actually a controller and the Kinect sensor just recognises your movements on games like Dance Central, Fighters Uncaged and more.

Move- £41.99 starter pack, £17.99 each additional controller.
Kinect- £129.99

Flip Mino HD and Flie Ultra HD Video Cameras

Flip-Video

Reception has been universally positive since these were released.  And what’s not to like?  Quality HD recording, the ability to plug directly into your HD TV for instant Christmas Lunch playbacks and only, in the case of the Mino, 10cm long.   Technical specs between the two are more or less the same-1280p x 720p , Transflective screen.  The main difference is the size of memory- the Mino has 4GB of memory, the Ultra 8GB.

Mino- from £99
Ultra- From £114.99

Amazon Kindle

Kindle

Despite a certain amount of scepticism, the Kindle is starting to worm it a way into the wider consciousness and, if the makers will have us believe, is going to drastically alter the way we read books. A dedicated book buyer such as yours truly might not be too enamoured with it but for the man who likes to read but doesn’t want the luggage, this is perfect.  Enough space for 3500 books, a month long battery life and a reasonable price clinch the deal.

Price- £109

Nikon P7000 Digital Camera

For the person that wants to take pretty good pictures, but doesn’t want the faff of an SLR.  Small (360g), compact yet with enough bells and whistles to satisfy him with time on his hand it is ideal as a portable.   With its 10.1MP sensor and wide 7.1x optical zoom lens, and a 720p HD filming capabilities its got enough behind it to justify its somewhat steep price.

Price- £489

Boogie Board Paperless Writing Tablet

Bit more of a gimmick this one, but for those of us that remember Etch-a-Sketch it’ll bring back some fond memories…and make us realise that they pail in comparison to this.  Essentially a little black board that you can scribble over and immediately wipe or send the pictures to somewhere else via USB, Bluetooth of WiFi it can double as child entertainment device, shopping list or portable easel.

Price- £39.99

One For All and all for one! Universal remote control comes to the PS3

With so much technology available, a small army of remote controls is to be expected. How many times have you had to look for a lost remote? There are so many remotes but none have been able to control a Playstation 3 so you up until now you have always had at least 2 remotes. The One For All URC-7960 remote can not only control your Playstation 3 or Xbox 360, but MP3 speakers, surround system, TV and Sky.

PS3-One-For-All

My coffee table is overflowing with remotes for everything gadget under the sun. I have always ignored previous universal remotes because none of controlled the PS3 so I never found the point of having one if it does not actually control everything? Due to the wide spectrum of gadgets it can control, the One For All URC-7960 sets itself apart from its competitors.

Setup was easy with 3 simple steps. The remote connects with the PS3 using a separate Bluetooth adaptor. For other devices it will use infrared to connect. You can turn off the PS3 using just one button rather than having to confirm. The remote is quite smart as it can copy functions of the original remote and extra functions can be programmed. The remote has a comprehensive amount of buttons so I found all the functions I needed on the remote. If your remote has a unique function like LG Simplink then you may need to program it.

The All For One URC-7960 remote gets even smarter with its SmartControl function. You may already have a universal remote but when you switch between devices you still need to choose which devices to control as it can only control one device at a time right? Not with the URC-7960. You can control up to 3 of the devices. You can choose one of 3 settings made for TV, movie or music. For example, with the TV setting, you can control your TV, Sky and surround sound all at once. With the music setting, you can control the MP3 speakers and surround sound. Overall, an impressive, intelligent remote that does more than rival universal remotes. The days of looking for my remotes are over!

TWIG: Twitter towel, Boiling Frog survivalist apps, One For All PS3 remote

The Week in Gadgets

Looking for an ethical gift for your hip social media loving friends? The people behind History Pin and I am NOT a Plastic Bag have brought out a Twitter towel – so you can send a Tweet to a loved one (or anyone really) for £10, even if they are off line. We Are What We Do – an organisation that aims to get people doing small things that lead to big changes – channels all money raised into it’s charitable activities. Of course, it helps if you have some memorable Tweets.
Like this.

Tweet-Towel

Travelling yet lacking essential survivalist skills? This is not probably high on your agenda if you taking a day trip to Bournemouth, but if you are bound for the woods, or to exotic locales further abroad then you might need to know what to do when you are bitten by poisonous centipedes or how to start a fire with leaves. We can’t all be McGuyver but due to the world we now live in, there is of course “an app for that.” Boiling Frog, is a new travel app with health, travel and safety advice, created by a leading GP, an ex Royal Marine, an ex Special Forces officer and a specialist on first aid, health and medical training. It’s like having a round the clock team of Andy McNabs in your pocket, for just £3.99 on a range of smartphones.

PS3-One-For-All

One For All have carried on with their bid to create One Remote Control To Rule Them All, and are launching a PS3 bluetooth adaptor to bring the PS3 under the umbrella of things controlled by the SmartControl universal remote. Pairing is a simple affair via a key and gives you access to control of your games console. And with 3D Blu-ray support now baked into the PS3 via a recent firmware update, it’s become more useful than ever. The SmartControl remote together with the wireless PS3 adaptor are being specially bundled in time for Christmas priced £49.99 (RRP).

Microsoft Kinect vs Playstation Move: World in motion

This Autumn, the biggest console conflict in recent years is set to begin. Will Sony Move the Xbox out of its way, or will the Xbox Kinect itself to the champion’s trophy? We demoed both at the EuroGamer Expo last weekend and are ready to give you our verdict.

Move-vs-Kinect

Sony: Moving You To Tears of Joy and Frustration
You’ll never forget the first time you play the Move, especially if the game is Hustle Kings. To quote PJ Hruschak, “The few minutes I played Hustle Kings in the Sony Booth at E3 2010 were easily the most frustrating of all my gaming endeavors and time spent at the expo.” Perhaps the game isn’t terrible, but using the Move to control it makes you want to take the motion-controller and smash it through the television – especially if that is also made by Sony.

It’s an example of everything that went wrong with the Wii, and what is going wrong with the Move and Kinect. Move support feels random, bolted-on and awkward. Then, when you understand it, it feels pointless. The same goes for the KungFu Rider, which made CrunchGear “want to turn off the PS3, curl up into the fetal position, and cry [their] pain away”. For us, it simply led us to the next stand and a revelation in Move gaming: SOCOM 4.

Andrew Yoon describes the experience best. For SOCOM 4, “PlayStation Move worked exactly as we thought it would, resembling the experience of playing a Wii FPS. Aiming is very fast and responsive.” With the graphics prowess of the PS3 combined with pointing-to-aim, the Move has created one of the most immersive first-person experiences. The same is true for the Heavy Rain integration, where you shove the control forward to push people out the way, or roll it to the side to avoid a fatal stab to the neck.

The controllers themselves are what you’d expect from a Sony-copy of an older technology – refined and beautified. The black finish, no matter how beaten up, will never look as gross as a well-used, dingy Wii controller does. The ergonomics are also a massive improvement. The controllers are light, and the hands wraps easily around the curved design. The big light-orb at the top is much smaller and less dorky in real life, too.

And unlike the Wii, there is no wire running between the main controller and the one with the analogue stick – independent motion is much easier without a flailing cable.

Xbox: Sort-of What You’d Expect, Given That There is No Controller

Although Apple has hijacked the word, the Microsoft Kinect truly is magical – more so than anything Apple has ever produced.

By using your body as a controller, using the system is as easy as it is intuitive. You poke your hand out in front of you and the Kinect will recognise it as the controller. Move your hand, and the on-screen cursor will dutifully follow. Want a friend to play? All they have to do is stand next to you and the camera will recognise a second player, instantly adding them to the gameplay. For games like Kinect Adventures, it means that people can dip-in during their favourite mini-game, and escape afterwards. It’s a completely novel and casual gaming experience.

The system is full of nice touches, too. For instance, in Kinect Sport, the game not only recognises actions relevant to the game, but your whole body’s movement. If you’re playing online, you can wave at the opposition and your character will do the same. If you want to win, whip out the lewd gestures and watch as your opponent gets put off. It’s a priceless feature. The games also use the camera to take pictures of you in-action, so you can view your actions after the match has finished. It’s like an instant-reply, but of you instead of the gameplay.

The real joy, however, comes from games like Dance Central, which can only be played due to the unique technology of the Kinect. The premise is simple: copy the on-screen dance moves to the music. It’s like Guitar Hero, but for your whole body. As the Kinect is the only device on the market that can track your whole bodies movements, head, body, arm and leg movements all come into play. It’s like you’re actually dancing for points, rather than the flailing-arms experience of the Move or Wii.

The Proof is in the Ping Pong
Luckily for us, the two systems have provided us a control for the comparison: table tennis. Available as a launch game for both systems, the humble sport outlines the difference between the two systems.

Move table tennis is a very precise affair. It takes a while to get to grips with and takes into account even the smallest movements of the arm, the most delicate twists of the wrist. It’s a game that people can master with enough practice – giving advanced users a sense of achievement. The Move does best with precision, small movements – hardcore gameplay.
Kinect table tennis, on the contrary, is much more Wii-Sports. Wave your arm and the ball gets hit. Sure, velocity of the shot is detected, and yes, it does detect both fore- and backhands. But, as explained by the Xbox rep, the game doesn’t even detect your hand. It registers our most opposable extremity as an extension of the forearm. The accuracy and precision is just not there, replaced instead with instant, accessible fun.

And what else would you expect from a system with no buttons? It would be impossible to match the twelve input keys of a regular controller, plus analogue sticks, with just body-control.

Conclusion: We’re Copping Out. Sorry.
Luckily for consumers, it seems like the two companies have aimed for completely different markets. Sony have taken the control system of the Wii, and fine-tuned it for hardcore gamers, including added support for three-dimensions. Microsoft, however, have upgraded the Wii’s soul: the fun, party-play potential is extraordinary.

Which is best? It’s impossible to say. Rather ironically, however, the one we won’t be buying – the Kinect – is probably the one that’ll have the biggest impact on gaming in future. The Microsoft device will be well worth the purchase should you have a big living room and often have friends over. It will, almost undoubtedly, produce the finest party games of the current generation.

If you are like us, however, and don’t host regularly, then it’ll be the Sony that moves you the most.

The best of IFA – part 2

With IFA but a distant memory, there were a plethora of announcements from the two tech giants Samsung and Sony. So we thought we should give you a round up of what caught our eye at Berlin’s Messe.

After the media frenzy at the Samsung booth for the Galaxy Tab, we caught a glimpse of Samsung’s more traditional laptops which looking strikingly similar to Apple’s MacBook Pro range. The Samsung QX range is the best looking Windows-based laptops we have ever laid eyes on, apart from a dual-booting Macbook of course.

Samsung-IFA

These top-of-the-range laptops, which look more than similar to Apple top-of-the-range MacBooks, are crafted from aluminum to deliver high performance and mobility in three screen sizes – 13.3” (QX310), 14” (QX410) and 15.6” (QX510). They feature Intel Core i5 CPU, NVIDIA graphics (GeForce 310M / GT or GeForce GT 420M), 3D SRS sound, 6.9 hours battery life, gesture pad, up to 640GB HDD (no SSD option), CD drive, up to 8GB RAM and a webcam.

Samsung also outed a gorgeous new 3D LED TV. The 65-inch 8000 Series 3D LED TV is a stunner and is apparently the ‘right’ size for watching 3D movies. Samsung did not reveal any hard specifications yet for this TV. But expect a great contrast ratio and 3D compatibility.

Elsewhere, Sony also had a rather clever new Vaio. They have taken their 3D tech from the PS3 and managed to ram it into a new notebook. It also comes with an IR receiver allowing you to sync it up with Sony’s Bravia 3D glasses.

No details on price and release date were given and the laptop was only a prototype in an old F series case. But we expect 3D laptops to be available early 2011.

Sony also announced “Video On Demand powered by Qriocity”, a premium streaming video service, will be available this autumn in five European countries including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

With “Video On Demand powered by Qriocity,” (pronounced curiosity), you can choose from hundreds of box office hits from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Lionsgate, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM), NBC Universal International Television Distribution, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, The Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, as well as popular content from top local studios. Many movies are available in HD as well as SD, and all can be rented at the touch of a button on Sony’s 2010 models of network-enabled BRAVIA TVs and Blu-ray Disc players, and Blu-ray Home Theater systems.

One of the biggest video game-related announcements at IFA is that Sony is planning to launch an entirely new online music store, accessible from the PS3.?? It is kind of mind-boggling that the Xbox 360 and PS3 have extremely well-established digital video stores but neither has any sort of way to buy and download music.

It totally makes sense to have something, because both platforms want to be the perfect digital entertainment system. ?According to the Financial Tines though, that will soon change. The publication is reporting that Sony has been in talks with a number of major record labels to bring a Sony Music service to the PS3. The service will also be connectable by Sony Vaio computers, Sony Bravia TV sets, and Sony Ericsson mobile phones.

Digital music hasn’t exactly been a forte for Sony. Back in 2008 it had to shut down its Connect platform due to extremely sluggish sales.