I'm a black hole of technology and games - I love them all. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Computex in Taipei this year, but there was nothing much that really stood out and hit me in the face saying "look at me, play with me, you want to take me home!"
I'm now sitting back in Australia at home, capturing in a bunch of E3 2014 content and writing up a bunch of news on the various games and tech shown off at the show. We've seen some truly incredible things at E3 this year, something I didn't think would happen - a few of the stand out things for me would be Alien: Isolation - which looks absolutely pants-wettingly beautiful. Creative Assembly has just announced that it will built Oculus Rift support into the game, something that has me excited beyond belief.
The Division - which is something I've had my eyes on for quite some time looks delicious, as always. The four-player cooperative play is going to have me having a bunch of fun in that game, and it is hitting next-gen consoles and PCs only - something I love to hear.
The Wii U has seen some love, with some massive sales thanks Mario Kart 8 - but we're also hearing about a new Zelda game, Mario vs. Donkey Kong (working title) and much more. I think we're going to see a much better Nintendo in 2015, a company that has its crap together, ready to take on the lukewarm next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony.
Oculus VR is at the top of its game at E3 - but it is something you need to see in person, and not read about. But, it's great to see the now Facebook-owned VR startup working with AAA developers, and getting more and more talent jump on-board the limitless VR train.
One of the games I hold closest to me is Half-Life. The original Half-Life was the start of Valve, with Gabe Newell riding off of the money he made at Microsoft in the early days (after leaving the company) to form Half-Life. It nearly didn't make it, after years of development hell and reboots of virtually all parts of the game, it was released to great applaud from both critics, and fans.
Half-Life sits on the same throne as Quake and Unreal for me as first-person shooters that defined my teenage years. LAN parties with those first-person shooters were always fun, but it was Half-Life that stood out from the rest. It had a gripping story line, unique puzzles, for it's time - advanced AI, and so much more.
When Valve finally released Half-Life 2, after the hacking scandal with lost source code, it was met by even bigger success. At the time Valve was launching Steam, which was hated by virtually every gamer on Earth. Steam took a couple of years to win gamers' hearts, but it well and truly did. Now it has become the digital distribution platform for gamers, beating virtually every other competitor by a mile.
On our Authors page, my blurb states that I'm "a PC enthusiast - with a passion of hate for games to be built around consoles. With FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with high-end, custom-built PCs".
This is 100% true - I'm a massive PC fanboy, something I've been since I was young (I'm 31 years old). I was a huge fan of the 3dfx cards, 32-bit color being pushed in Quake III, and much more. The news that Unreal Tournament was returning, and not hitting the consoles, really struck a chord with me. Epic Games is behind it, a studio that I had mostly lost my faith in. Why? Gears of War.
Gears of War was a third-person shooter for the Xbox, with Epic Games all but tied up developing the Unreal Engine, but pumping out Gears of War games. The Unreal franchise - the first-person shooter games, not just the engine - was thrown to the side. Why call it the Unreal Engine if it doesn't power any new Unreal games? Well, Epic Games sold the rights to the Gears of War franchise to Microsoft, freeing up serious dev time obviously.
For those of you who don't know, I'm based in Australia. Even though I do a considerable amount of work for TweakTown (Senior News Editor, PRs, Tweakipedia, Ask the Experts, multi-monitor content, multi-GPU content, reviewing mobile devices and much more) - being based in Australia can be quite hard.
I'm far away from events, and our Internet really sucks. Well, working from home is both a blessing and a curse. For one, I'm home with my wife and daughters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While I absolutely love this, it can really cut into my work time. I also find it incredibly hard to differentiate between work and play time, as they're all the same when you're at home.
Not only that, but Australia is notoriously bad for its copper-based Internet services. I'm stuck on an 8Mbps connection with 384Kbps up, meaning I can only download at around 850KB/sec and upload at around 30KB/sec. I'm uploading images and videos daily, which really restricts what I can do - and working from home is hurt by it.
Well, we just signed a lease on a new place which is around 25 minutes away from where I live - with a two-car garage that I am converting into a home office. It has ducted vents for heating and cooling, and enough space to setup a bunch of tables for all of my work - including the amount of table space required for what I do - especially multi-monitor content.
But the best part of it all, is that I get access to the National Broadband Network, or NBN. The NBN is the kind-of-equivalent to Google Fiber, where it offers some insane speeds at great costs. I have access to a Tier 5 connection, which means I get a guaranteed 100/40Mbps connection - virtually unheard of Down Under.
Right now, I'm paying $149.95 for my 8Mbps/384Kbps connection with 1TB of data cap, but with the new 100/40Mbps plan - I opted for a Business NBN connection with a better SLA with uploads not counted - costing $154.95 per month. This is $5 more than what I pay now, for a connection that is hundreds of times faster.
If I had opted for the normal consumer 1TB plan at 100/40Mbps, it would've cost a measly $99.95 per month - some $50 cheaper than what I'm paying now, for a connection that is magnitudes faster.
My office is half packed right now, with the removalists coming on Thursday to finish it all off. My NBN connection goes live on the 21st of May, a week before I fly to Taipei to cover Computex again. I'm excited to move and finally get some truly world-class Internet, so you can expect much more video content from me.
In the coming months, I'm going to acquire a 4K-capable camera, and begin shooting some incredibly detailed videos which I'll make available in 4K for those with the right monitors. If not, 1440p and 1080p users will still be able to enjoy it - but 4K is coming and it is coming quick.
I've only just gotten back from the US after a trip to cover NVIDIA's GTC 2014 event, but when I got back I was greeted with boxes of new devices and goodies to review, one of which was LG's G Flex smartphone.
The first thing you notice about the G Flex is its massive 6-inch display, which is of course curved. The 6-inch display has a resolution of 1280x720, which is a little on the low side, but it is curved, which more than makes up for it. Inside, we have Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 SoC, which provides us with a quad-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz. 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM is featured, as well as a massive, and much-needed 3500mAh battery.
Analogix's awesome SlimPort technology, Bluetooth, NFC and much more - we'll cover this in our full review of the G Flex in the coming weeks. For now, we've taken some photos of the G Flex itself, and from the 13-megapixel rear-facing camera on the rear of the curved smartphone. The camera is very impressive, so enjoy the tease of photos below.
And a quick shot of the front-facing camera, of me wearing my Google Glass.
GTC 2014 - Last night NVIDIA hosted the big GTC 2014 party, where there was some great people, great food and drinks and an even better atmosphere. There were some crazy fun party games available to everyone, with some videos that you can take a look at below.
One of them was a tent like structure with green lasers pointing in all directions, with the goal of the game to get from one side to the other, without touching the lasers. You had to press a button on the ground to start, jump and dive through the lasers, to press a button on the ground on the other side. I did it with Google Glass, and hoped to upload it, but the lack of lighting makes it impossible to see what I'm doing.
Warning: NSFW - there's some light swearing. It was an intense match!
Another game was a big touchscreen with six balls and buttons, with various mini games. It was an incredibly fun game socially, with everyone having a massive laugh and lots of fun playing the various games. The video above really is quite good.
Party + drones + NVIDIA Shield + Google Glass = amazing. The game was called the Helicopstacle Course, where you used an NVIDIA Shield to control a Parrot AR Drone 2.0, and flew it through a course of obstacles. It looks easy and fun, but it was incredibly hard. I actually did it quite well, surprisingly, with the video above showing you how fun it was.
My good friend Dimitry had a Corona, but just take a look at that lime! I think that's a bit big, right?
It's weird seeing a photo of myself taken #throughglass, but I let every single person who asks me about it try it out.
If you need some refreshments, just follow the green lights!
I'll start off by saying that graphics and resolutions aren't everything - but there's always going to be an argument on both sides, where I'm formally sitting on the side of give me more - more of everything.
I want better graphics, higher resolutions, higher frame rates, more on-screen action - more everything. Microsoft and Sony have launched their next-generation consoles, the Xbox One and PS4, but most games are being released at around 720p - 900p - falling short of what I really expected next-gen consoles to provide: 1080p at 60FPS minimum.
I've written about this subject quite a few times now, and for those of you who are familiar with my history - I come from the age of when PCs were the master race, and consoles were the casual devices for gamers. I'm from the days of Quake and Unreal, where each iteration from id Software and Epic Games meant I needed to upgrade my PC to max it out - but it was worth it. Every sequel drove the graphic bar higher and higher, but those days are behind us unfortunately.
Mobile World Congress is over for another year, but just who came out on top at the biggest event for mobile devices in the world? Most would say Samsung, but I don't agree. This blog is the perfect outlet for me to vent my disappointment in Samsung, when it really should've gone for the hearts of all of its competitors.
In a time where a manufacturer can go from top dog to second, third or last place, Samsung didn't impress me with its unveiling of the Galaxy S5. There was nothing that stood out feature wise, apart from a few possibly useful features like Driving Mode and Kids Mode. The latter will be a big selling point when telcos get their hands-on the Galaxy S5, especially parents.
But from a technology point of view, the Galaxy S5 intros nothing new, nothing groundbreaking, and nothing revolutionary. Apple has bored me for years with its iPhones, slowly but surely evolving its safe platform. I wanted Samsung to capitalize on Apple's lack of innovation, but was disappointed. My savior? Sony.
The last time I was this excited for an electronic device, would have to be the original iPhone. At the time, mobile phones were just these devices you used to message and call people - there were no apps, decent rear-facing cameras, wireless charging, GPS, and a billion other things they all do now.
Between the original iPhone and now, the smartphone market has been evolving extremely well, but nothing truly, game-changing has been released - until, Google Glass. Even then, Glass isn't released, it's like being accepted into some secret club where you get to test out a device that will change the world - and it will - early in its life.
I'm a daily user of Google services - I use Gmail, Drive, Chrome each and every day. Maps, navigation and more occasionally, and my daily driver is the Nexus 5 smartphone. Google's services are what defines the company for me, as they are world-class - and best of all, free. Google Glass is a wearable extension of these services, especially for navigation - but mostly, for that front-facing camera in the first-person perspective.
The first-person video recording (and picture-taking) function is the biggest thing for me, something I can't wait to use in the real-world. Taking quick shots of my daughter as she's doing her swimming lessons, or jumping on the trampoline outside, or the arrival of our second daughter in just twelve days time. Glass is going to redefine my life, and I can't wait.
Be sure to check back next week, as there'll hopefully be a steady stream of Glass-based content from me.
I was walking through one of shopping centers near my house today when I walked past a retailer that sells notebooks, I thought I'd stop in and take a look, which is when I walked past a bunch of FitBit devices.
I've been wanting to get into the wearable game, and with a few samples in the air and on their way to me, I thought I'd dive right in and grab the FitBit Flex myself ahead of time. This is my first wearable device, and I'm quite enjoying it so far. It has only been a few hours, so it's not like I'm able to blog about running 5,000+ steps.
My initial impressions of using it for a few hours: it's light. I thought it would be heavier, but I can't feel it on my wrist as I type this, or when I walk around. I love that it is waterproof, and that it can track my sleep. Not that I need those two features or abilities, but it is great to have. You get two wristbands in the box, so if you have smaller, or bigger wrists, you don't need to fret: FitBit has your back, or wrist.