We're down a man this week, as Joey calls in with back problems--but the rest of us are on hand to discuss this week's hot topics. The hottest of which may be Apple's upcoming September 1 press event, and we all weigh in with allegedly thoughtful predictions on what new iPods and other gadgets may show up.
Then it's time for a moment of silence as we mourn the death of the ATI brand, with its corporate parent reportedly planning to tag the company's future graphics cards with the AMD brand name instead.
Among the wackier technology antics we look at this week--a collection of pottery figures inspired by the hit casual game Plants vs. Zombies, and a quick visit to a Chicago coffee shop with a pretty sweet pop culture collectible--a full-size model Delorean car from the "Back to the Future" film series.
Just as Apple's iPod wasn't the first MP3 player, Amazon wasn't the first company on the block to release an e-book reader--NuvoMedia's RocketBook and the early Sony Readers all beat the Kindle to market. But it's hard to argue that the online retailer's Kindle isn't the iPod of the e-book reader market. The Kindle has helped usher the e-book reader from gadget curiosity to a burgeoning mass-market device, all in less than three short years.
And now, amid a much more competitive market, Amazon is debuting the third-generation Kindle.
The first thing you … Read more
Buying an iPhone 4 is sort of like a muscle twitch: It doesn't take any conscious thought. There's even a hugely popular YouTube video that skewers the default mentality around buying Apple's smartphone. But you will suffer some derision if you buy something else, that's why I'm here to give you 5 solid reasons to tell those who jeer to shove it. Nicely, of course.
Need more info to make your bold decision? Head to CNET's iPhone center.
Perhaps it was the sight of Justin Long and John Hodgman wafting into the night, dragging their jokes behind them, that made Microsoft feel a little bolder.
Yes, now that the "Get a Mac" campaign seems to have been retired by Apple, Microsoft has launched a touching attempt to reverse some of Apple's sweet and amusing put-downs.
Ah, there's nothing like a good platform war to stir up the emotions. We've seen plenty of battles over the years. Old stalwarts like Windows versus Mac and Xbox 360 versus PS3 always manage to light up the message boards. And I still miss all the personal attacks I got from HD DVD versus Blu-ray wars. But nothing seems to get people more worked up these days than Android versus iPhone.
Take a recent post I did on the 20 most-wanted features I'd like to see in the next-generation iPhone, which may be called the iPhone 5. The comments section immediately degenerated into a battle between iPhone versus Android backers. Here are some samples from the melee.
zizzybaloobah: "You can waste your time wishing for a phone w/these features, or get an Android phone that already has them."
javawebdeveloper: "@Bonesbautista, @slickuser No, you are giving the typical iPhone fanboy response: You are so convinced that the iPhone is the best thing since sliced bread that you cannot accept that a competing device has features that the iPhone does not have, so you denigrate them as being unimportant, hazardous, or only 'for geeks'. If they are implemented in iPhone 5, then they will magically transform into Apple innovations."
Ebraheem: "Anyone thinking that ports are a synonym for holes really shouldn't be talking about security. iOS has 65535 ports, Android has 65535 ports, Windows has 65535 ports, and pretty much anything that has a TCP/IP stack has 65535 ports! Typical non-geek mentality, thinking you understand technical details when you don't."
Sourdust: "So the author [David Carnoy] basically wishes the iPhone were more like an Android phone. As other have written, just buy an Android and be done with it. It seems the real wish here is for Android phones to run the iPhone OS. But that would have been a much shorter article (one sentence) and might not have been published."
bonesbautista: "Typical response from Android fanboys. Too much kludge with stock Android, too many complaints of poor RF with most of the HTC smart phones. The new iOS is missing a Today screen and better notifications. Android? Meh."
slickuser: "Typical geek (Android) mentality! By the time iPhone 5 is out, Flash would be on a lifeline."
MaLvaDo39: "Why do you want an Android? Just another fake iPhone...follow the leader is all Google and Microsoft could ever do."
NeonRazor4: "Since you seem so eager to write about missing features, why not write an article about the features you want from the Motorola Droid 2 or the Blackberry Storm 3? Why do you feel such a need to nitpick the iPhone? Sure it's missing a few features, but there are many other phones that are missing some features we wish it had. Yet, they don't get the same amount of vicious scrutiny as the iPhone does..."
Chandyyyyyy: "Alrighty. So I'm not a geek or a nerd, but I understand the argument and what each person is saying if that helps you understand where I am coming from. I have an iPhone along with thousands of other consumers. I'm not a fanboy. But I couldn't care less about which phone is better. I'm very happy with my iPhone, and I see many more iPhones than droids htc or whatever. What the iPhone has that other phones do not is an iPod. That's no better than any other mp3 player, but it's the top brand of mp3 player. It's convenient and easy to use, even older folks have one."
As you can see from these comments, some lines are being drawn and some stereotypes are being formed. Here's how I envision the two sides see each other based on some of the vitriol going around. (Yes, these are sexist descriptions, but 85 percent of our readers are male. If you're part of our female audience, feel free to comment with your views on all of this). … Read more
When it comes to speakers, size does matter. Big speakers clobber little ones in two ways: they can play louder and make more bass. But since the market demands increasingly smaller speakers the question comes up: can small speakers ever sound better than big ones? Well, the answer is sometimes and in some ways, but great-sounding small speakers are never cheap.
The best-sounding small speakers I've heard in quite some time came from a pair of Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference Strada speakers ($995 each). The speaker is comprised of two small, stainless steel spheres, each with a 4-inch woofer; the spheres straddle a cylindrical tweeter that produces exceptionally broad dispersion. The Strada doesn't make much bass, so I heard it with the matching Gallo TR-3 cylindrical subwoofer. The system was sweet, detailed, dynamically alive, and very, very natural sounding. But it costs over three grand and doesn't have the muscle of a hefty floorstanding speaker for the same or fewer dollars.
So if you plan on never, ever listening to loud music or having a party, and room-shaking bass isn't a priority, wee speakers might be the way to go. How tiny is tiny? Obviously, size is relative, but I'd rate any speaker that is either less than 7 inches high, or has a smaller than 4-inch woofer as a tiny speaker. If your room is large--say anything bigger than 15 by 20 feet (300 square feet)--don't even think of buying small speakers. … Read more
It's been a good year for PopCap Games. The Seattle-based developer and publisher has found success in its latest title--Plants vs. Zombies, which was recently ported over to the iPad and now sits in the top 10 grossing apps on the platform.
But what might be more impressive than that is the continued growth of the company's now 10-year-old title Bejeweled, an iteration of which is available as an application within Facebook. According to the company, the 11 million or so monthly active users average a staggering 43 minutes per session. All this for a game that only lasts a minute.
PopCap CEO David Roberts and co-founder John Vechey stopped by the CNET offices last week to talk about these two titles, as well as a few other topics, like digital-rights management, 3D gaming, and competing social games like Zynga's Farmville. Here's an edited transcript of our interview.
Q: When the iPhone first came out, you guys had one of the first Web apps. Was that more of just a tech demo? What's the backstory on that? John Vechey: Someone had actually made it. They didn't actually call it Bejeweled, but it was basically Bejeweled. We were like, "this kind of sucks, but it's kind of half-way there, and they used their own operating stuff." So we contacted this guy in Poland, and were like, "Hey, we'll give you some money to fix it up a little bit and respond to our feedback, and we'll buy it from you," and he said, "That would be awesome!" So that's how that happened.
Didn't you do something similar for one that could be played within World of Warcraft? Vechey: Someone did a Bejeweled-type game in WoW that was also kind of neat, but then it was kind of crappy in all these ways, so we said, "Hey this is pretty cool, want to make it Bejeweled?" and it turned into the same sort of deal. That guy now works for us.
David Roberts: John was trying to get him to come work for us before he finished college.
Vechey: He did! My arguments worked! It was like, "What do you want to do after you graduate college?" and he said "make games and work for a games company like you guys." We're like, "All right, so you can spend two years to do the thing that you can do right now, it's your choice."
Roberts: Our anti-education person John Vechey...
How long did it take to port Plants vs. Zombies to the iPad? Vechey: Two months maybe?
Roberts: It actually didn't start until the iPad got announced, so we didn't know about the iPad before it got announced. So it wasn't very long. The team was working a lot of late nights.
In these ports, who decides what features make it and which ones don't? Vechey: There's a producer who's in charge of them, and they're working with the developers and the original game developer to find that balance. And really, the producers have to be experts in the platform and know what should be kept, and what shouldn't be kept, and then know when to include the original game designers.
For example, Xbox is a platform that we go to. And we think of it more of an "adaptation" than a port, so we do end up doing a lot of changes. So Peggle on Xbox, for example, had multiplayer. Every Xbox game we're going to make is going to have multiplayer. For Peggle they spent a lot of time making the multiplayer mode and working with Sukhbir Sidhu, the original game designer, and they have to own that [game] and design it, but really get good feedback from the original game teams.
Speaking of Peggle, you guys promised you'd be bringing the game music to the iPhone version of Peggle in a future update. This was late last year. Is it still coming? Vechey: Is the future gone? No, the future is still coming.
Roberts: I thought we shipped that already. I guess we didn't.
Vechey: I have a feeling that might have been an empty promise. But I'm going to stick with "the future is not passed yet!"… Read more
This week on preGAME we bring you a trio of some of the most unique PSP games around. That's right, on today's episode we bring you live demos of Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake, Patchwork Heroes, and Echoshift. Joining us on the phone to chat about the PSP version of Fat Princess will be Matt Morton, the U.S. producer on the game.
But first, we'll take a look at the just-released teaser-trailer for one of the most acclaimed mashup fighting games around. Join us as we screen the first-ever video for Capcom Vs. Marvel 3! Sure the game may not be out for another year, but Mark tells us why this title is so important. Next, we'll talk about some of the most highly anticipated Xbox Live Arcade games due out this year. From Limbo to Sonic the Hedgehog 4, there's something for everyone on our list.
Been to a 7-Eleven lately? The company has announced that after a successful trial, used console games will be available for sale in most of the nation's stores by September. Games will go for $20 or lower and classic consoles may soon be supported as well.
Next we'll chat about publisher Ubisoft and the announcement that it will soon be removing paper instruction manuals from games to reduce the cost of production and help prevent waste. Finally, Mark and Jeff discuss software piracy and how it affects portable gaming consoles the most, especially now that Nintendo blames it for a 50 percent sales drop in Europe.… Read more