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CE at CES: CES 2013 in Photos

The Photo of CES

No matter where you go on this planet, there will be someone taking a photo with something they shouldn’t be using.

I attended CES last week. I saw a ton of gadgets, more TVs than any normal person would come across in their lifetime, and a few very strange keynotes that involved Steve Ballmer, Big Bird, Malibu, multiple videos of young parents with their children professing how their smart refrigerator brings their family together, and an electric Rolls-Royce. All in all, CES 2013 was an amazing trip that opened a door to the immediate future of the tech industry, even if that future may not be as bright for the conference itself. We’ve put together a photo essay so you can experience the madness and magic that was CES 2013.

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Roundup: Sony at IFA 2012


Sony President and CEO Kazuo Hirai headlined Sony’s IFA press conference in Berlin, where the electronics giant announced new flagship phones, tablets, and television. The most interesting announcement was a trio of new Xperia smartphones, led by the Xperia T—a high end phone Sony will make available across the globe. The Xperia T sports a 4.6 inch Reality display powered by Sony’s mobile Bravia engine. It’s a classy screen, and should be more than competitive with the Galaxy Note II’s Super AMOLED panel or the iPhone’s Retina Display. The Xperia T also has a 13.1 megapixel “fast capture” camera and a built in NFC chip. Sony announced NFC enabled accessories,  including a pair of headphones, that it will sell alongside the new phone. The T runs a custom version of Android 4.04, Jelly Bean won’t be available at launch, but Sony has promised rapid updates.  Sony also took the time to show off the Xperia V and J, lower end end phones that will be most competitive in emerging and prepaid markets dominated by Chinese manufacturers, such as ZTE and Huawei.

Sony also announced a new Android tablet running Ice Cream Sandwich, the Xperia Tablet S. Sony’s old Android tablets, the Tablet P and S, didn’t sell (or review) very well, so it’s no surprise Sony would want to abandon its older branding and try again with something a little different. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Sony has learned much from their past mistakes. The Xperia Tablet S and Tablet P tried so hard to be original they were unusable. The Tablet P’s dual displays were useless, and the Xperia S had a strange fold on the back that made it impossible to hold comfortably. Sony learned it’s lesson, but it looks like they’ve too far in the opposite direction. As The Verge pointed out, the most inspired thing about the new tablet is its terrible name; all Sony’s designers really did was knock off Microsoft’s upcoming Surface tablets; the Xperia tablet even has a bundled Android app that looks like Metro program. The sole feature Sony didn’t steal from Microsoft? The Xperia Tablet S is splash proof.

Things look a little better on the Windows front. The Vaio Duo 11 is a good looking convertible that will launch alongside Windows 8. The touch screen notebook sports a full sized articulating keyboard that slides behind the display when it’s not needed. The Vaio line of laptops have traditionally been home to some of the more premium, well built Windows notebooks, and the Duo 11 looks to be holding true to Sony’s past. Sony also trotted out the Vaio Duo 20, a twenty inch touch screen desktop that can lay flat. It’s not quite as useful as the Duo 11, but if you’ve always dreamed of a owning a touch screen table, this would be one way to mimic the experience without shelling out for the real thing.

The XBR-84X900 was also on display, and no; it’s not a robot—but it’s still pretty damn cool. The XBR-84X900 (his friend’s just call him Ted), is an 84-inch 4K Bravia television. It’s one of the first production 4K televisions, and should go on sale later this year. No word yet on how much this thing is going to cost, Sony plans to announce pricing next week, but I’m willing to bet it’s out of your price range. That’s okay though, 4K content is far and few between, and there still isn’t a final format for the resolution. You’d be better off saving your money for something more useful, like Sony’s Play Memories camera apps for your Sony NEX-5R! (So, Hirai, can I have my three dollars now?) Play Memories camera apps are apps for your camera. Sort of. See, Sony didn’t announce an SDK for their cameras, just apps. They’re going to have an app store, but it looks like it’s going to be filled with programs Sony builds themselves.  The Play Memories announcement (really more of a demo, we’ve seen this stuff before) is probably just a way for Sony to prep us for the inevitable: Sony selling software for Sony cameras through a Sony app store to give you features they should have given you to begin with.

In other words, it’s DLC.

For a camera.

The Xperia T and Duo 11 may look amazing, but I still think Sony’s lost it.

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The Best of E3 2012

My passion for technology was sparked by gaming. The first game console my brother and I ever owned was a Sega Genesis, which my parents bought from their friends. The hours we spent on that thing playing Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic and Knuckles, and PacMan are some of the most memorable from my childhood. As are those of our Nintendo 64, which we got a few years later. We only ever owned three games for our N64: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, and Super Smash Bros. Back in those days, we often rented games from Blockbuster, which was a sweet deal, since we would always get to play something new.

Over the years, I’ve owned a bunch of different gaming systems. GameBoy Advance followed the N64, then my brother got a PlayStation 2. I got a GameBoy Advance SP, which I traded in for a GameBoy Micro (still regret that decision). In 2006, I got a DS Lite and a Wii, and shortly after my brother got an XBOX 360, and a PSP. I eventually replaced my DS Lite with a DSi, and now a 3DS. The XBOX 360 inevitably red-ringed, and is now sitting in a closet.

So it’s no surprise that the Electronics Entertainment Expo, more commonly referred to as E3, still holds a place in my heart, despite the fact that I don’t get to play video games much anymore. Nonetheless, I look forward to June each year, as the big show rolls around. What will Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony trot out this year? What does the future of gaming look like? Nintendo in particular holds a special place in my life; a child’s bond with Mario can never be broken.

“the Electronics Entertainment Expo still holds a place in my heart”

E3 2012 took place this past week, and brought with it a slew of exciting announcements. Below, you’ll find my picks for the Best Of E3 2012, ranging from games about stealthy assassins, to short, stout plumbers.

Watch Dogs

Ubisoft really brought it at E3 this year, but the standout of their line-up was no doubt ‘Watch Dogs’. The game, which features stunning next-gen level graphics, is described as “a ground-breaking open-world action-adventure game” that revolves around anti-hero Aiden Pierce, who has the ability to hack into the ctOS, or “Centralized Operating System”. As explained in one of the game’s trailers, the ctOS is a government backbone that controls everything from traffic lights to communications spectrum.

“Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor!”

During an on-stage demo at their June 4th Press Conference, Ubisoft showcased some of Pierce’s hacking and espionage skills, as well as a crazy action sequence assassination. We’ve embedded the full demo below. Gamers: hit play and prepare to have your mind blown! Developed by Ubisoft Montreal (go, Canada!), Watch Dogs is slated to hit current generation consoles – that’s XBOX 360 and PS3 – and PC, though no release window was given.

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Assassin’s Creed III

Assassin’s Creed is finally coming to a Nintendo home console, and it only took three iterations! While the game was shown off on all three current gen consoles – including an appearance at Sony’s Press Conference, in which Ubisoft debuted the game’s new sea battles – the highlight of Assassin’s Creed III at E3 was, for me, it’s debut on Wii U.

“I’ve never been this excited to assassinate people!”

With Assassin’s Creed III, Ubisoft is making it easier than ever before to perform skillful, stylized kills! In addition to sea battles, Ubisoft showed off gameplay of new protagonist Connor traveling through the wintery wilderness, hunting deer, and pulling off some stealth kills in 1700’s Boston.

I am so excited to finally see major third party franchises coming to Nintendo in HD! For all the details on what’s new in Assassin’s Creed III, check out IGN’s in-depth look, and take a look at this beautiful gameplay clip of Assassin’s Creed III running on Wii U.

It’s-a-me! Mario, Mario, Mario!

No E3 is complete without an appearance from everyone’s favourite plumber, and Nintendo’s mascot certainly was out in force this year! Nintendo announced no less than three new Mario games, including New Super Mario Bros. U for Wii U, and New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Paper Mario: Sticker Star for Nintendo 3DS.

New Super Mario Bros. U is the first 2D side-scrolling Mario game in HD, and it takes advantage of the increase in resolution. The game looks incredibly beautiful, featuring the sleek art-style of the New Super Mario Bros. series coupled with new, extremely detailed backgrounds. Up to 5 players can participate in the fun, with 4 using Wii Remotes or Wii U Pro Controllers, and another player assisting with the Wii U GamePad. New Super Mario Bros. U will be a launch title for Wii U when it arrives this Holiday. Check out the trailer!

“Everyone’s favourite plumber will star in 3 new games this Fall!”

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is all about the gold, according to Nintendo. Mario’s first 3D side-scrolling adventure is filled to the brim with gold coins, gold enemies, and new gold power-ups. The game is clearly inspired by Super Mario Bros. 3, featuring the familiar coloured panels and the return of the Racoon tail’s flying ability. In addition, New Super Mario Bros. 2 will allow two player co-op throughout the entire main game! New Super Mario Bros. 2 launches August 19th in North America. Check out the trailer!

Finally, Mario will also appear this Holiday in Paper Mario: Sticker Star for Nintendo 3DS. This marks the first portable outing for the Paper Mario series, and the first time the series appears in stereoscopic 3D. As the name implies, Sticker Star introduces the concept of sticker collecting to the series, which players can use to attack enemies in battle. Check out the trailer!

Ubisoft + Wii U

One of the things that I was so happy to see at E3 this year was huge third-party support for Wii U. Longtime Nintendo partner Ubisoft came out in full force to support Nintendo’s new console, announcing 8 new games for Wii U. Of course, the aforementioned Assassin’s Creed III is coming, alongside Rayman Legends, Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth, Sports Connection, Just Dance 4, Rabbids Land, YourShape Fitness Evolved 2013, and the exclusive ZombiU.

“Nintendo should call it Wii U-bisoft”

ZombiU is one of the standout titles of Ubisoft’s Wii U lineup. Developed from the ground up for Wii U, ZombiU takes place in a zombie infested London circa 2012. The game’s tagline, “How long will you survive?” actually alludes to one of the games more interesting gameplay mechanics: players are given one life. If you die, you come back as a new character, and you can hunt down your zombified previous self to reclaim your supplies and weapons. ZombiU players will use the Wii U GamePad to control their player, and the second screen gives you quick access to inventory and scanners. ZombiU looks really promising, and is currently slated as a launch game for Wii U.

Check out these trailers and gameplay demos for Ubisoft’s Wii U lineup:
ZombiU
Rayman Legends
Marvel’s The Avengers: Battle for Earth
Sports Connection
Just Dance 4
Rabbids Land
YourShape: Fitness Evolved 2013

Halo 4

Halo 4 is much more than just another sequel. The latest entry in the famed Xbox franchise brings all new extraterrestrial enemies, visual upgrades, and weapons. Developed by 343 Industries, Halo 4 will also feature a brand-new storyline that kicks off the second trilogy of Halo games.

In addition, Halo 4 will featured weekly, episodic “Spartan Ops” co-op missions, that will feature a completely separate backstory from the main game.

“Is it stupid to buy an Xbox just for Halo 4?”

Microsoft showed a gorgeous demo of Halo 4 during their press conference that featured some of the aforementioned additions. Check out the demo and get excited: Halo 4 launches for Xbox 360 on November 6th!

Wii U and Miiverse

It’s hard to beat a new home console reveal, which is why all eyes were on Nintendo this year. E3 2012 marked the official unveiling of Wii U, and though Nintendo focused mostly on first and third party launch window titles, the company also provided new details about the console itself and the Wii U software and online experience.

The fun actually started on Sunday, when Nintendo Global President Satoru Iwata hosted an online Nintendo Direct broadcast to provide new details about Wii U. Iwata unveiled the redesigned Wii U GamePad, which is now slightly longer and thinner. The GamePad also packs two clickable analog sticks, replacing the circle pads that were part of the original controller prototype shown off last year. Iwata also announced the Wii U Pro Controller, a more traditional gamepad reminiscent of an Xbox 360 controller, that many hardcore gamers are sure to enjoy.

Iwata also announced a new online service called Miiverse. Miiverse is part of Nintendo’s online push for Wii U (and eventually 3DS), providing a way for players to interact together and discuss games directly on the Wii U. Social network like interaction between players will allow gamers to ask for help or provide tips on making it through a game. Video and voice chat will also provide a new way for players to communicate through Wii U.

“How can you not be excited for Wii U?”

In addition, Nintendo announced that Wii U will support two GamePad controllers simultaneously. At E3 2011, Nintendo was adamant that the Wii U would only support one tablet controller at a time, something that fans were a little upset about. Now, it appears that Nintendo has worked through some of the previously cited “technical limitations”, giving gamers the option to play with two Wii U GamePads.

On-stage, Reggie announced that Wii U will bring a multitude of entertainment options to the living room. Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu Plus, and YouTube are all coming to Wii U, and Reggie promised that more entertainment features would be announced in due course.

Console unveilings are always a highlight of E3, and Wii U certainly made a splash this year. While Nintendo has finally caught up to the Xbox 360 and PS3 in terms of hardware power, it will be interesting to see how things pan out when next generation consoles arrive from Microsoft and Sony.

SmartGlass and Xbox Entertainment

Finally, Microsoft announced a “second-screen” strategy of their own, which they call SmartGlass. During their stage demo, the company showed off two main uses for SmartGlass, the first of which is expanded functionality for media playback. Much like Apple’s AirPlay technology, SmartGlass will allow users to start a movie on their tablet or smartphone, and then beam that content to their television via. Xbox 360. SmartGlass can also be used to add interactivity to movies and TV shows on Xbox 360; Microsoft showed off a demo of a Game of Thrones episode playing on the TV, with an interactive map of Westeros that follows the characters as the episode progresses.

SmartGlass can also be used for games, providing a Wii U like experience for the Xbox 360. Microsoft has created SmartGlass as a “platform” that developers can use to create second-screen experiences for their games. While the concept seems tailored for casual games, Microsoft did show off a Waypoint concept that integrates with Halo 4, providing detailed maps and information to players, and an NFL concept, allowing gamers to input plays using a tablet.

“Microsoft goes after Nintendo and Apple with SmartGlass.”

Interestingly, SmartGlass will not be limited to Microsoft devices. Windows Phone devices and Windows 8 tablets will, of course, be supported, as will iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. SmartGlass is slated to launch this Fall for Xbox 360.

Microsoft also placed a lot of emphasis on Xbox Entertainment partnerships, announcing even more content deals for Xbox 360. All of ESPN’s banners are heading to the console, bringing even more live-sports to users. Microsoft also killed Zune and introduced Xbox Music, a Spotify like subscription music service that will also be coming to Windows 8 and Windows Phone. These are in addition to the plethora of other content offerings that Microsoft already has on Xbox 360, including YouTube, Bravo, HBO GO, Xfinity, Paramount movies, Netflix, IGN, MLB.tv, Amazon Instant Video, epix, Verizon FiOS, and Hulu Plus, to name a few. With all of these rumours surrounding Apple’s push into the living room, people have been overlooking Microsoft. The Xbox 360 is already an entertainment powerhouse, and Microsoft is crushing Apple when it comes to living room entertainment..

Until next year…

E3 2012 has wrapped, and we now have another 362 days (or so) until next year’s show. While the ESA has not yet confirmed the dates for E3 2013, I for one am looking forward to seeing what Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, and the third-party publishers will trot out next year. I can’t wait to see where Wii U will be in one year’s time, and how Microsoft and Sony plan to enter the next generation of gaming with new home consoles of their own. For now, we’ve got a bunch of great gaming coming our way this holiday season, and I’m excited to get playing! Until next year…

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Mobile World Congress 2012 – Day 0 Recap: Huawei, Sony, and HTC

Every February, smartphone makers and technology journalists converge on Barcelona, Spain for the annual Mobile World Congress. Like the gaming industry’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (aka. E3) held every June, Mobile World Congress is the platform many technology companies use to unveil their latest and greatest smartphones and tablets, and outline their mobile line-ups for the remainder of the year.

For the last few years, Android devices have dominated the showfloor and various press events, and they continue to do so this year (though Windows Phone and even Symbian still have a presence at the show). Though today marks the official Day 1 of Mobile World Congress 2012, Huawei, HTC, and Sony – in true tradeshow style – held their press events yesterday, showing off the latest and greatest of their upcoming smartphones lines. Here’s a look at what Mobile World Congress brought us on Day 0.

HUAWEI

Huawei kicked things off by announcing the Ascend D Quad, a 3G quad-core smartphone that the company claims to be “the world’s fastest”. The Ascend D Quad runs Android 4.0 atop Huawei’s new K3V2 1.5GHz quad-core processor, and sports a 4.5” 720p display, a relatively standard resolution for smartphones these days. The phones weighs in at 4.6 ounces, and a svelt 8.9mm thick. In terms of shooters, we’re looking at a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, and an 8 megapixel rear camera that shoots 1080p video. Huawei also promised an LTE variant for later this year.

Huawei rounded out their D Series lineup with the Ascend D1 – a dual-core version of the D Quad – alongside the Ascend D Quad XL, which packs a whopping 2500mAh battery. Huawei did not announce pricing or availability for any of these three models.

SONY

Sony started off their first MWC sans-Ericcson by announcing two new members of their Xperia family: the Xperia P and Xperia U.

The Xperia P is the higher-end of the two: an aluminum unibody handset with a 4” display. Sony has introduced a new display technology they call WhiteMagic that adds an additional row of white pixels next to the standard RGB configuration, which the company claims will make the phone more readable in direct sunlight. Inside you’ll find a 1GHz dual-core processor running Gingerbread – though Sony promised an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade for Q2 – as well as an NFC chip. The Xperia P also sports an 8-megapixel rear camera that shoots 1080p video. The Xperia P will be available in Silver, Black, and Red.

Sony’s Xperia U features a 1GHz dual-core processor, 3.5” Reality Display, and a 5-megapixel camera – it’s essentially a smaller version of the Xperia P. The Xperia U and Xperia P both feature the glowing transparent bar below the screen that was first introduced at CES in the Xperia S. Unlike the other Xperia phones, the Xperia U’s transparent bar will illuminate different colours for notifications, and will change colour to match on-screen elements like your homescreen wallpaper. The Xperia U also features a removable bottom cap below the transparent bar, which users can swap out to change the colour. The phone will come in Black (with an additional pink bottom cap) and White (with an additional yellow bottom cap).

Both the Xperia P and Xperia U are expected to launch globally sometime in Q2.

HTC

Arguably the biggest and best announcements of Day 0 came from HTC. The company has previously stated they plan to take a “quality over quantity” approach in 2012, focusing on making better phones and releasing less models. The company used Mobile World Congress to unveil HTC One: their flagship line for 2012.

The HTC One X fills the high-end slot of the One smartphone family. Featuring a 4.7” screen, the HTC One X is the companies first phone to employ a quad-core Tegra 3 processor. The phone runs Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC’s new Sense 4.0 interface, and comes equipped with NFC, 32GB of storage (though unfortunately no microSD card slot), a 1280×720 Super LCD display, 1800 mAh battery, and an 8-megapixel rear camera capable of 1080p video capture, as well as a front-facing VGA camera with 720p video. The One X features a unibody polycarbonate design and employs a microSIM slot, allowing the device to be thinner and lighter, and will come in both White and Grey. AT&T has already announced they will carry the One X in the United States, albeit with a few sacrifices being made: in order to include LTE connectivity, the AT&T One X will run a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 in lieu of the international version’s quad-core Tegra 3. HTC says the One X will launch in all territories “within 60 days”, meaning it should be available by the end of April. The LTE variant of the One X will also be coming to Canada by way of Rogers Wireless.

Next up is the HTC One S, the mid-range member of the One family. The One S packs a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor, with 16GB of onboard storage and a 1650 mAh battery. It features a 4.3” qHD Super AMOLED display (that’s 960×540), as well as an 8-megapixel rear camera and VGA front-facing camera, all in a package just 7.6mm thick. It’s an aluminum unibody phone, and the body is treated by a process called “microarc oxidation”, which HTC says will make the shell five times more resistant as regular anodized aluminum. No need to worry about tossing this baby in a purse or pocket alongside your keys. Like the One X, the One S utilizes a microSIM card, and unfortunately lacks microSD support. T-Mobile will bring the One S to the US in “spring” while Bell and Virgin Mobile will launch the device in Canada.

Occupying the low-end is the HTC One V – my personal favourite. Sure, it’s the least powerful in terms of specs, but it features a design very reminiscent of 2010’s HTC Legend, which I still regard as one of the most beautiful smartphones ever released. The One V sports a 3.7” WVGA (480×800) screen, with a 5-megapixel rear camera capable of 720p video recording. It runs a 1GHz single-core Qualcomm processor, and unlike it’s One siblings, supports microSD cards due to its lack of onboard storage. HTC plans to release the One V around the same time as the One X and One S, around early April. No US launch plans have been revealed for the One V, but Bell has already claimed this one as well for the Canadian market.

HTC has made considerable upgrades to Sense 4.0 on Ice Cream Sandwich, features that all of the aforementioned HTC One phones will benefit from. The company has placed a particular emphasis on camera improvements, dubbing their new system ImageSense. A dedicated image processor helps reduce image noise and increase quality when compressing shots to JPEG. Camera speed has also been greatly increased: the camera app takes only 0.7 seconds to launch, and autofocus is clocked at 0.2 seconds. HTC has also merged the camera app’s photo and video modes, allowing users to snap a still while capturing a video. The UI is said to also have been improved and unified. HTC has also struck a deal with Dropbox, providing HTC One owners with 25GB of storage free for two years.

MORE TO COME…

Mobile World Congress 2012 is just getting started, and we’ll have more announcements from the likes of Samsung, Nokia, Microsoft, Asus, and others in the coming days!

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CES: The Best of The Best, as The Lights Dim… (Wrap-Up)

The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone, and while there may not have been many high profile products announced (in fact many claim there was no clear “Best of Show”), this years CES brought a ton of awesome new gadgets just the same.

As there was not much activity on Day 3, the final day of the show, I decided I would highlight some of my personal favorite announcements – the best of the best – from throughout the week.

Google’s Android Style Guide
Although it isn’t really a product per-se, the Android Style Guide was released to developers on Day 3, and aims to help them in creating and designing beautiful apps for Android using the new style conventions introduced with Ice Cream Sandwich. The style guide is available now on Google’s Android Developer portal.

Windows 8 tablets
Intel, along with a few other companies, showed off some prototype Windows 8 tablets at the show. I must say, Microsoft is on a roll with their Windows products lately, following up the awesome Windows Phone 7 with the equally new and unique Windows 8. It features the same gorgeous Metro UI of WP7, and aims to provide an experience tailored for touch input, as well as the conventional keyboard and mouse. Microsoft has promised a beta of Windows 8 will be released in February.

Nokia Lumia 900
I’ve recently become a big fan of Windows Phone 7, and if you’re looking for the iPhone or Galaxy Nexus of Windows Phone, look no further than the Lumia 900 from Nokia. The first LTE offspring of the Microsoft / Nokia deal, the Nokia Lumia 900 is described by company CEO (and fellow Canadian) Stephen Elop as “the first real Windows Phone”. It’s a gorgeous device that features an 8 megapixel Carl Zeiss shooter on the back, and a beautiful 4.3” display on the front.

LG’s 55 inch OLED TV and LG’s LM series 1mm bezel TV’s
LG pulled out the big guns at this years CES, showcasing a 55 inch OLED TV that The Verge states was “making love to our eyes”. LG also announced the LM series of TV’s that feature a tiny 1mm bezel. They are absolutely stunning, and all of these models will be arriving sometime in 2012.

Samsung Smart TV
This wasn’t necessarily one of my favorite products, but it is an interesting one nonetheless. Samsung announced a new Smart TV that the user can control using, yes, their voice. Wasn’t there another company rumored to be working on a voice-controlled television? Oh yeah…

Sony Xperia S
Sony’s first Android phone to debut sans-Ericsson was the Xperia S. It’s a cool looking phone that actually features a transparent plastic strip along the bottom which functions as the antenna. Neat! Unfortunately, it’s still running Gingerbread, and it is skinned, though not as heavily as some of Sony’s previous Xperia devices. This one will be hitting AT&T in the US soon.

Vizio’s all-in-one computer and thin-and-light laptops
Vizio, known mostly for their line of discount TV’s, unveiled their first foray into the personal computer market at CES. Their new all-in-one features a very modern design, announced alongside matching peripherals including a keyboard, external trackpad, and subwoofer. The all-in-one also features an HDMI input, meaning you could hook up a Blu-ray player or game console to it and essentially use the monitor as a TV.

Vizio also showcased a line of thin-and-light laptops that they insist are not Ultrabooks! Vizio says their new portables match or outdo Intel’s Ultrabook specs. The laptops are gorgeous for Windows machines, and feature the same modern and sleek design as the company’s all-in-one.

Canon PowerShot G1 X
Canon launched the G1 X, a camera with the power and performance of a DSLR, but in the body of a point-and-shoot. The $799 camera features a 14.3 megapixel sensor and a non-interchangeable 15.1-60.4mm zoom lens. The G1 X is meant for photographers that already own a DSLR, but want something more portable to carry around that can provide the same superior image quality. The G1 X is one sexy piece of kit, though a little out of my price-range…

And that is the best of the best at this year’s CES. Thanks for joining Current Editorials on our look at CES 2012!
Links via The Verge and Engadget.

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How Third Party Developers Should Approach Wii U

Michael Pachter, via. IndustryGamers:

By trying to be “different” with the tablet controller, they have complicated game design for developers, who can’t figure out if the Wii U will ultimately support only one or multiple controllers. Nintendo made the device sufficiently different that they are all but assured of limited third party launch support, which ultimately will lead to modest hardware sales.

I believe the problem with Nintendo’s lack of third party support lies with the the third parties, and not with Nintendo.

When Nintendo launched Wii back in 2006, third party developers were presented with a system that was fundamentally different from its competitors. For starters, Wii lacked the graphical capabilities of the XBOX 360 and PlayStation 3. Say what you will about graphics not being important, they are. If not to the gamer, than to the developer. This is one of the key reasons why major multi-platform games like Call of Duty were never given much attention on Wii, as they had to be built entirely separately from their HD counterparts since developer could not use the same resources, which led to increased development cost and time.

Secondly, developers were – and in some cases, still are – perplexed by the Wii’s intuitive and wildly different controller. They felt compelled to produce games that utilized the system’s motion controls, which led to some half-assed write-off games that nobody even bothered to give a second look.

It was these two (for lack of a better word) issues that hampered the third party support for Wii. But with Wii U, Nintendo is trying to right some of those wrongs. That can’t be accomplished by Nintendo alone, however. The third party developers have an equally important role to play.

Nintendo is finally jumping into the world of high definition with Wii U, which can produce graphics just as beautiful and realistic as the PS3 and 360. So I see no reason why third party developers that all but ignored Wii can’t release their major multi-platform titles for Wii U as well. It will be much easier to develop a single game for all three consoles now that graphical capabilities are equal across the board.

The biggest hurdle that third parties have to overcome is their fear of Nintendo’s controllers. Nintendo is a company that innovates, that aims to provide new, fun, and intuitive ways for its customers to play games, and of course they hope that third party developers will be encouraged to try to make equally unique and intuitive games. But why do those have to be the only types of games developers can make for Nintendo systems? What is stopping developers from “ignoring” the unique qualities of a Wii or Wii U controller, and building a game that uses more traditional controls? After all, the Wii Remote and Wii U Tablet both feature the same traditional control schemes as the 360 and PS3: buttons and analog sticks. A game like Call of Duty, for instance, could use the Wii Remote to aim, but forego all of that obligatory “shake to throw grenades” and other such gestures that never quite work as intended. Or use the Wii U tablet, but ignore the touchscreen and make do with the sticks and buttons.

Developers should not feel the need to “differentiate” the Nintendo version of their game just to accommodate the unique controllers. If the only differentiator between the 360 and PS3 version of your game is which console the player owns, than why feel compelled to create a “different experience” for Wii U? If it can work for 360 and PS3, it can work for Wii U.

Now I understand that it is up to Nintendo to provide developers with a good SDK, and a solid online platform that is just as robust as those of Microsoft and Sony, which I hope they are working hard on. But given the proper development tools, third party games can be just as great, just as traditional, and just as popular on the Wii U as they are on the 360 and PS3. I just hope the third party developers can see that.

This article was originally published on Eric Leamen and The Verge Forums.

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CES: The Best of The Best, Before it Actually Starts

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was scheduled to start today, and run until the 13th. I’m guessing that memo didn’t get sent out. News has been pouring out of Las Vegas over the last four days, with major announcements from Vizio, Nokia, and AT&T, among others. We at Current Editorials figured there is enough coverage, so in an attempt to lighten the load on your RSS readers, over the next few days we will be bringing you some of our favorite pieces from around the tech inter-web, in one easy to find place (that’s here). Here’s some of the best so far.

Nokia Lumina 900 – Nokia.com

With a 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack display, 4G LTE, and a 1.4GHz processor, this is the first true WP7 high-end device.

 AT&T launches six LTE devices – Cnet

Five Android phones. One Android tablet. All with LTE. Pricing starting under $50 and topping out at $300. Verizon, watch out.

Nikon releases the D4 – TheVerge

It’s packing a 16.2MP sensor, and native ISO of up to 12,800. It’s also $6,000. But if you are looking for a high-end DSLR, this is the best.

Thermador Freedom Induction Cooktop – TheVerge

If you have $5,000, and a voracious need for high-tech cooking, this is your gadget. It’s absolutely ridiculous. In a good way.

Vizio unleashes a PC Line – Engadget

Vizio decided to enter the PC business, and take on everybody. At once. From 27″ All-in-one’s to 14-inch ‘thin + light’ laptop’s (even another tablet!), the TV maker seems ready to make a dent in the PC market. Only time will tell how big that dent will be.

Sony Z100, the Android-powered Walkman – TechCrunch

Never one to give up, Sony is still pushing their Walkman line, hoping to grab the non-Android, iPhone, iPod users. Which means your grandparents. Maybe.

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