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Best video games to buy now: CNET Tech Review
CNET Tech Review: Best video games to buy now25:13 /
This week on the CNET Tech Review, the best video games to buy right now; the iPad 3G; 99-cent apps; and the HTC Droid Incredible vs. the iPhone 3GS.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:01 >> Coming up on the CNET Tech Review, the best video games of spring 2010, a look at Microsoft's new Kin phones, and the HTC Incredible takes on the iPhone 3GS. It's all coming up right now. ^M00:00:13 [ Music ] ^M00:00:21 Hey everyone, I'm Molly Wood, and welcome to the CNET Tech Review, the show where we bring you the good, the bad, and the bottom line in tech videos from the week. So let's get started with the good stuff, shall we? ^M00:00:30 [ Music ] ^M00:00:33 This week, it's a videogame. Awesome. Jeff Bakalar, cohost of our very own "Pregame Show," has a buying guide for us. Here's what he recommends in the world of video games right now. ^M00:00:43 [ Music ] ^M00:00:52 >> Hey everyone, I'm Jeff Bakalar for CNET.com, and today we're going to be showing you a buying guide for all things video games. Now, we're not going to look at the three consoles because not a lot has changed since last year, but what I am going to do is show you my individual picks for games on each console. Let's go start with the Nintendo Wii. Hey everyone, we're here in the Nintendo Wii section. We've got a few games we want you guys to check out if you own the console. First game you should deftly take a look at, "Monster Hunter Tri" for the Nintendo Wii. It takes gamers to a world of adventure where they are hunting down enormous creatures. Very cool. It was very big in Japan, and now it's made its way Stateside. Definitely recommend you guys checking that out. Next, if that's not your cup of tea, check out "Red Steel 2." Brand-new game from UBI Soft. First game to use Wii Motion Plus, which is a very big deal. Gun-slinging, sword-swiping action, a lot of cool adventures to be had in this game as well. Definitely worth checking if you've got a Nintendo Wii. Also coming out this summer for the Nintendo Wii, "Super Mario Galaxy 2," the highly anticipated sequel to the original, definitely a must-have for all Nintendo Wii owners. Also, you're going to want to check out "Metroid: Other M." That's due out in August. So if you have an Xbox 360, definitely think you should check out a couple of these games. "Alan Wake," due out very soon. It's a psychological thriller game, very intense action, uncovering a story about a small mountain town. Definitely recommend "Alan Wake" to anyone who's ready for a scare for sure. Another game you guys should definitely check out for the Xbox 360 is "Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands." The Prince of Persia is back. It's one of the strongest game franchises of all time. This time around, the Prince has all of the elements at his disposal, so he can freeze water, climb up waterfalls, do all kinds of very interesting stuff with the elements of the earth. Definitely worth checking out if you've got an Xbox 360. Now, let's go check out what we can look forward to on the PlayStation 3. First game we want you guys to check out on the PlayStation 3 is "Red Dead Redemption" made by Rock Star Games, the people behind "Grand Theft Auto." "Red Dead Redemption" is a western open-world game. Think "Grand Theft Auto," but out in the Old West. Next game everyone with a PlayStation 3 should be checking out is "Ma Nation Racers," an exclusive for PlayStation 3, where gamers can create their own players and tracks, race them with friends, and share these tracks online with other gamers around the world. Very cool stuff. A lot of customization opportunities here. Think of the game as "Little Big Planet" meets "Sim City" with a racing theme. Very cool. Well, that's going to wrap it up for our video game buying guide. Definitely check out Pregame on CNET TV for all live game demos and the latest and greatest news in the world of video games. I'm Jeff Bakalar for CNET.com. Thanks for watching. ^M00:03:40 [ Music ] ^M00:03:45 >> Moving right along, are console games too expensive? Well, Brian Tong has some suggestions straight from the dollar store. ^M00:03:52 [ Music ] ^M00:04:01 >> Oh, yeah. Unh. Hey, hey. Hey guys, welcome to "Tap that App." I'm Brian Tong, and this is the show where we cover all the coolest apps in the mobile space for mobile platforms. Now, today, we're talking gaming, and we like our games cheap, so we're showcasing a few of the top 99-cent games for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Now, one of my favorites and a favorite from the Twitter world is "Doodle Jump." It's as simple as you get. You're a character named "Doodle," and using the accelerometer, you tilt the phone to jump onto the next platform, but if you miss, it's game over. There are items that send you higher like springs and a flying hat or a rocket pack, and the higher you go, the higher you score, so this is a killer app. Now, CNET editor Josh Lowenstein's favorite 99-cent game right now is "Angry Birds." Now, these birds are mad at pigs that stole their eggs, and they want them back, so using a slingshot, you'll fling yourself at them to take them out. There are over 105 levels. They get more tricky as you advance. Different birds can attack in different ways, and it's another great pickup with a whole lot of play value. There's also a few 99-cent classics that you might already know about. "Pocket God" is one of them, and it lets you play God on an island where you control the environment and the fate of the pygmies. Let them fish, help them build a fire, or electrocute them and feed them to the sharks. I like doing the latter. And we all love "Paper Toss." It is simple enough. Just flick a paper ball into a trashcan. See how many you can get in a row while a fan blowing at different speeds mixes things up. And the last 99-cent game that we recommend is Jason Parker's pick. It's called "Zombie Smash." Protect your house from a zombie invasion by clicking and throwing zombies all around. Special weapons that you can upgrade help you take them out. And yes, you will look a little crazy playing this in public because it gets really frenetic. But all these games and the graphics are definitely tap worthy. That's it for this week. Send me what apps you want to see or a theme you want for a show at "Tap that App" at CNET.com. Thanks for watching, and we'll see you guys next time. Come on, ladies, dance us out. Come on. Unh, unh, unh. Ladies? Ladies? ^M00:06:05 [ Music ] ^M00:06:09 >> Yeah, good recommendations, BT, but I'm not dancing with you. Sorry. Okay, let's continue with the good. When you think young, hip, and happening, don't you think Microsoft? Maybe? Here's Bonnie Cha with a look at the Kins. ^M00:06:25 [ Music ] ^M00:06:29 >> Hey everyone, I'm Bonnie Cha, Senior Editor at CNET.com, and today I've got your First Look at the Kin 1 and the Kin 2. These Verizon-bound phones were introduced by Microsoft in April, and unlike Windows Phone 7, which is designed for a very broad audience, the Kin devices are aimed at a very specific group, the group of people who are constantly on their social networking sites, checking out what everyone else is up to and also updating their own status and whereabouts. And both these phones are centered around that social experience. Obviously, the Kin 1 and Kin 2 offer two different looks, which I'll talk about later, but they're a lot more alike than different. First off, they both offer the same user interface, which consists of three home screens. The leftmost screen shows all the phones different apps, such as email browser, music, and video. Meanwhile, the right pane is where you can add all your favorite contacts. The center pane is called the "loop screen," and it's where all the action happens. You can sync both your phones with Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter accounts, and when you've done all that, the Kin will pull all your contact status update, latest picture uploads, and tweets to this loop screen. But the Kins aren't just about seeing what other people are doing; it's also about sharing. Both devices have the spot feature, which is the little green dot that stays at the bottom of this screen. If there's a story or status or even a web page or map you want to share with family and friends, you can simply do a long press and then drag down to the spot. Then you navigate to your contacts page and drag and drop everyone you want to share it with, and then send it via text MMS or email. There's more to the Kin 1 and 2 than just social networking though. These will be the first phones to ship with Zune support, including Zune Pass, so you'll be able to stream music over Verizon's 3G network. And the Kin 1 here offers four gigabytes of internal storage, while the Kin 2 offers 8 gigabytes, but neither have expansion slots. The phones also don't have any gaming capabilities or a calendar app, which is kind of baffling to me. One other difference between the two models is that the Kin 1 has a five-megapixel camera, while the Kin 2 had an eight-megapixel camera and can also shoot HD video. Obviously, they differ in design, too. The Kin 1 is more interesting of the two with its square shape, but you lose a little bit in the screen and keyboard size since it's smaller. Meanwhile, the Kin 2 has a more traditional design, but it has the advantage of a higher resolution screen and more spacious keyboard. The Microsoft Kin 1 and 2 will be available for preorder starting May 6 and will be delivered within 48 hours and will be in all stores starting May 13. I'm Bonnie Cha, and this has been your First Look at the Kin 1 and Kin 2. ^M00:08:59 [ Music ] ^M00:09:01 >> Well, so I guess those phones weren't as good as I thought, except maybe the cameras. Those are good. Yay. Okay, everybody, let's take a break, and when we come back, the actual bad. ^M00:09:10 [ Music ] ^M00:09:14 >> For your daily dose of tech news, check out CNET's "Loaded." It's packed full of the latest tech news highlights that matter to you. Find out the latest gadgets or the coolest gizmos. All that and more Monday through Thursday at CNET.com/loaded. ^M00:09:26 [ Music ] ^M00:09:32 >> Welcome back everyone, and let's get right to the bad. ^M00:09:35 [ Music ] ^M00:09:38 Or should I say the iBad? This week the Apple iPad 3G, which is more expensive and has monthly fees. Wonderful. ^M00:09:49 [ Music ] ^M00:09:51 >> Hey, I'm Donald Bell for CNET.com, and this is a First Look at the Apple iPad 3G. You're probably already familiar with the original version of the iPad, which came out a month ahead of this model. The iPad 3G is essentially identical to the standard iPad, with the added capability of connecting to the Internet using a built in, 3G cellular connection. For a broader rundown of the iPad's capabilities, you can take a look at my comprehensive review on CNET.com, but for this video I'm just going to zero in on the details that make the 3G model unique. First off, you have pricing. The iPad3G comes in the same three capacities as the original, only they're priced at an extra $130.00 each. There's the 16-gigabyte version for $629.00, 32-gigabytes for $729.00, and 64 gigs for $829.00. On top of that extra up-front cost, users also need to purchase a monthly data plan from AT&T, which you can activate directly on the device. Under the settings menu, there's an option for cellular data, where you can choose between an unlimited plan for $30.00, or a $15.00 plan with a monthly cap of 250 megabytes. If you go with the capped plan, you can always buy more data as you need it. Now, just because you have the 3G wireless connection doesn't mean you need to use it. The WiFi capabilities of the iPad 3G are just as robust as the original model and typically provide better speeds than 3G. In fact, if the iPad recognizes a familiar WiFi connection, it will automatically switch over to it and use the 3G as a last resort. Ultimately, what this model gets you is the added freedom to access the Web on the go anywhere 3G coverage is available. The 3G model also includes an assisted GPS chip not found on the standard version, which makes it easier for maps and other apps to track your location. For some, these advantages are a huge deal, but we expect most people will find a lower-priced, WiFi-only model just as practical. There are some other small distinctions on the iPad 3G. the back has this two-tone design with a streak of black plastic that helps the internal 3G antenna work more effectively. There's also a tiny tray on the side here that holds AT&T's micro SIM card. Another telltale sign is the little AT&T callout up here at the top of the screen. If you're using this over WiFi, Apple rates the iPad 3G at the same 10 hours as the standard model. Serving over 3G will knock you down to nine hours, which is still exceptional for a device that is as light and powerful as this. So that's the iPad 3G, a more expensive, better connected fraternal twin of the original iPad. For CNET.com, I'm Donald Bell. ^M00:12:22 [ Music ] ^M00:12:27 >> Now, regardless of which model you get, kids seem to love the iPad, so here's how to make it kid friendly and keep them away from all that bad stuff on there. ^M00:12:37 [ Music ] ^M00:12:48 >> Hey, I'm Donald Bell for CNET.com, and today I'm going to show you how to make an iPad safe for kids. My two-year old goes berserk for this thing. With the help of some Sesame Street videos or coloring games, I can keep him from bouncing off the walls for at least a few minutes. That said, I would never leave him alone with the iPad, probably because he would delight in throwing this thing down the stairs, but mostly because the Internet is a nasty, nasty place. You never know when an innocent Google search could turn into a lifetime of therapy. There's also the fact that the iTunes Store and the App store on the iPad are tied directly to my credit card and might offer content I'd object to even in preview form. So how do you sanitize the iPad to make it okay for kids to use unattended? Well, Apple thought of that. Just dive into the settings and select "general" from the side menu. You'll see an option for restrictions. Click it and hit the "enable restrictions" button. You'll be prompted to create a four-digit passcode that you'll need to enter if you ever want to change these settings later on. Once enabled, you can selectively kill off access to the Safari web browser, the YouTube app, the iTunes and App Store, and make it so that the iPad doesn't report its location to any of your installed apps. You can further lock it down to disable purchases from within apps, determine which county's age-appropriate rating system you want to use, disable playback of explicit music and podcasts, and select rating requirements for movies, TV shows, and apps. After you're done, just hit the home button and all of your settings will be saved. Just remember, if you tried to access the restrictions settings again to make any changes, you'll need to remember the four-digit password you created. So that's how to make the Apple iPad safer for kids. You can also use the same technique on the iPhone or the iPod Touch . For CNET.com, I'm Donald Bell. ^M00:14:33 [ Music ] ^M00:14:36 >> If you don't want your kid hogging your iPad, maybe your kid will settle for this as a substitute. ^M00:14:42 [ Music ] ^M00:14:46 >> Hi. I'm Scott Stein, Senior Associate Editor at CNET.com, and this is the new Intel Classmate. Now, this is not a laptop that you're going to see in stores per say, but for many years, before the netbook, there was the Intel Classmate line of computers that are meant for the educational market for kids to introduce them to using computers and to use globally. Now, this laptop looks a lot like an netbook, and it really is. Underneath, there's an Intel Atom N450 processor, 160 gig hard drive, really, the things that are in a basic, current netbook. So what exactly makes an educational laptop? Well, Intel's Classmate program has about 300 different partners that make a variety of software tools and hardware tools that plug in. Lego has a robotics kit. There's also a weather app and a peripheral that takes humidity levels and temperatures, and there are a number of other devices currently available. McGraw-Hill has a partnership with them as well. And in addition, Intel has decided to partner with a number of different manufacturers across the world to take this design and get it out there to as many people as needed. The cost of this laptop is $499.00. This is not meant to purchase on your own. In fact, you're going to really have a hard time trying to buy it. It's going to go through institutions, so you're probably -- there's a good chance you might see your own kids take home one of these one of these days, or maybe you already have. This laptop, again, runs Windows 7 Professional on the version that we looked at, but it has a really cool software interface on the screen where educators can put a lot of the apps and applications they're going to be using to teach. There's a math wizard app on here. There's also a great art app. And there are a couple of others that we found preinstalled that were pretty fun to use. And this is a convertible netbook tablet. The screen rotates around and flips down, and there's a stylus that tucks into the back that pulls out. Now, it's not like an iPhone or iPad. It's not really meant to be touch-based. It's meant to be used with a stylus, a pressure-based. But it's actually really nice for taking notes or annotating. There's even an e-reader app that reads e-pubs and PDFs and allows you to take notes on them. We saw this in use in a setting at the Central Park Zoo, where students ran around and used it for every -- testing temperature levels to drawing pictures of the animals, and they seem to enjoy using it. The case is pretty holdable. It's a ruggedized, rubberized type feel, which should help not have it drop out of kids' hands. In addition, Intel tells us the edges are shock absorbent, and the hard drive will also detect shock and be able to detach when needed. And there's a really nice handle that comes out the back, which is not new for the classmate , but it's a little more integrated. Lets you to hold it like a little school tote. It's pretty fun, and while it does have a very institutionalized look, it's actually pretty attractive, and we enjoyed using it. And hey, netbook makers, this is one of the largest track pads we've ever seen. We'd love to see that on some other netbooks, too. The keyboard and the screen are spill resistant, which is smart. A lot of the keys and side control here are rubberized, rubber coated, so hopefully this is as kid-proof of a laptop is you'd need . In conclusion, looking at it, it's a kind of cool little device, and particularly, its relationship with the number of software makers out there and peripherals make it very tempting for educational use. There are a couple little, nice tricks, too, built into the hardware. The webcam rotates, which is a nice touch for when using it in tablet mode, and it actually has a 1366 x 768 , 10.1-inch screen, which is higher res than normal for 10-inch notebooks. Now, the real question is at $499.00, would you get this or would you get an iPad for educational use? Had to bring it up because I even know people in education that are considering getting an iPad for their school students. It may sound impractical, but that debate between whether to get a tablet or to go with the netbook will be one that will be had for quite some time. I'm Scott Stein, and this is the Intel Classmate, the 2010 generation. ^M00:18:24 [ Music ] ^M00:18:26 >> See, it sounds pretty good, but the bad part is that you can't even buy it anywhere, which is a letdown. And with that, let's get to the bottom line, shall we? ^M00:18:36 [ Music ] ^M00:18:39 The last Android-based phone to take down the iPhone 3GS was the Nexus One. Now, the very similar HTC Droid Incredible is trying to deliver a second iPhone knockout. Let's see how it turns out. ^M00:18:51 [ Music ] ^M00:18:58 >> What's up Prize Fight fans? I'm Brian Tong, and this is a special people's choice prizefight. The Droid Incredible is out, and you, the CNET readers and viewers, pick the challenger. It's a Prize Fight punch out between the HTC Droid Incredible, and the Apple iPhone 3GS. Our judges for this fight? Our senior editor, Bonnie "Boom Boom" Cha, associate editor, Nicole "Ice Cold" Lee, and myself will do the honors. We'll take all three judges scores and average them out the nearest tenth each round. The final Prize Fight score will be an average of all rounds using the same decimal system. Which phone pushes your buttons so right because it turns you on? Round one is sexiness. ^M00:19:37 [ Music ] The Droid Incredible has a sleek and slender profile. Its display is crystal clear. Its rubberized surface can take a beating. But what's up with its backside? Bonnie liked the topographic design, but I don't, and all they had to do was just smooth it out. Now, the iPhone 3GS is still as minimalist as it gets, and its curvaceous booty still gets me. I know I need some help, but its curved corners and clean lines can get a little old, and the CNET staff wants something new, but it's still a sexy beast. ^M00:20:06 This round's a tie, and both phones get a 4.3. Next round is controls and user interface. ^M00:20:11 [ Music ] The Incredible's HTC Sense UI is the best looking phone OS to date, and it's a snappy device. Say goodbye to trackballs and welcome the optical joystick. I found it easy to use, but Nicole and Bonnie didn't like it as much. The touch buttons were pretty responsive. Multi-touch is here, and unique settings, like different scenes for using your phone and a quick access to any panel without having to scroll through every page is slick. There will be a small learning curve that's easy for geeks, but not for my mom. We can't say it any more than we already have, but the iPhone is the easiest mobile OS to use. Power users might mock it and want something more, but navigating the menus and applications are a breeze. Multi-touch runs smoothly across all apps, and we know new features are on the way, but it's still just as easy as it was from day one. The iPhone 3GS gets a perfect five, and the Droid Incredible gets a four. So after averaging two rounds, the 3GS leads by half a point, and the Incredible has some work to do if it wants to live up to its name. Next round is features. ^M00:21:14 [ Music ] Both phones have the core features like 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS, but this is where the Incredible shines. It still has the best voice search and commands [inaudible]. Turn-by-turn directions, a multi-tasking pull down, voice to text integration -- >> Hey, you want to work out? >> -- And customization with widgets and themes are unmatched. The only thing we're still waiting for is hands-free calling. Now, the iPhone 3GS is still running the iPhone OS 3.0. Voice commands are here, but they're not even on the same level. >> Call Ariel. >> And there's no voice search or text integration. We still have to purchase a turn-by-turn GPS solution, and multi-tasking is limited to listening to music while using another app, and customization goes as far as arranging your app icons. The iPhone has all the core features, but the Incredible kicks it up a notch, and it gets the perfect five, and the 3GS gets a four. Next round is web browsing and multimedia. ^M00:22:13 [ Music ] The Incredible's web browser finally brings a smooth running multi-touch. Its multiple windows take a cue from Cover Flow, and its bookmark previews have put it on the level with Safari. Flashlight is here, but I didn't find any sights that worked well with it. HTC's Sense UI has done wonders with the media player interface that I actually enjoyed. Videos looked great with its high-res display. Double Twist syncs your media, and then you just throw in an eight megapixel, dual flash LED cameral with video capture. This is incredible indeed. Now, the iPhone has been the standard for entertainment and multimedia on mobile phone. Its media player is still one of the best. Movies look great. But its iTunes integration, whether you love it or hate it, is what brings it all together. Podcast support is extensive and a match. Its web browser is still a top-notch mobile experience. It's multi-touch and zooming accuracy, plus it's cut, copy, and paste is better executed, and it has a three-megapixel camera without a flash that's dated, but serviceable. But the Incredible has finally stepped up its game for all Android phones, and this round is a tie at 4.3 apiece. So after averaging four rounds, we're tied at 4.4 going into the final round. Which phone has enough gas left in the tank? The final round that decides it all is called "quality and performance." ^M00:23:33 [ Music ] The Droid Incredible is fast. Bonnie feels it's the fastest phone she's ever used. It's snappy across the board, and I had no issues with lag. Then you talk about its call quality on Verizon's network. That was clear on both sides of the line, and no one experienced a dropped call. The iPhone 3GS is a great performing phone that's snappy in its own right, but the Incredible showed off how fast the next speed of phones are compared to the 3GS. Call quality-wise, AT&T's network is hit or miss depending on where you live. There are times where the call quality was warmer than the Incredible, but I experienced a few hiccups, and then -- you guessed it -- we all had the same issues connecting calls or those lovely drops. So after entering the final round tied, the Droid Incredible takes this round, 5 to 3.7. So let's average out all five rounds, and in our first people's choice Prize Fight, the HTC Droid Incredible comes out victorious, 4.5 to 4.3, and is your People's champ. ^M00:24:32 We all know Apple's newest contender is just around the corner, but take nothing away from the Incredible. This is the best phone that we've seen in this Prize Fight ring. I'm Brian Tong. Thanks for watching. We'll catch you guys next time on another Prize Fight. Woo-pah. ^M00:24:46 [ Music ] ^M00:24:54 >> The bottom line? Android, it's a contender. And that's our show for this week, everyone. As always, you can find these videos and a whole lot more over at CNET TV.com. See you next time and thank you for watching. ^M00:25:06 [ Music ]