Coffee Talk #600: September Tech Awesomeness

September was an awesome month for tech enthusiasts. Major consumer electronics companies unveiled major devices in mobile tech, entertainment tech, and videogames. These product announcements, along with the upcoming releases of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, have Q4 2013 looking awesome (and expensive) for tech nerds. Here’s a summary of some of the big tech announcements. After you check ’em out, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these products, as well as any recently announced tech gear I didn’t mention…continued

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, anticipating the messianic return of Derek Jeter in 2014, inexplicably watching flash mob videos for hours, or the return of X-Factor USA, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

September was an awesome month for tech enthusiasts. Major consumer electronics companies unveiled major devices in mobile tech, entertainment tech, and videogames. These product announcements, along with the upcoming releases of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, have Q4 2013 looking awesome (and expensive) for tech nerds. Here’s a summary of some of the big tech announcements. After you check ’em out, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these products, as well as any recently announced tech gear I didn’t mention.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite: The best-selling e-reader has gotten even better. The (already awesome) screen and UI (that still needs work) have been improved. Amazon is killing this niche and the competition is dwindling. While it’s not as sexy as some of the other tech products that were announced this month, I’m really excited for the new Paperwhite. It’s cheap, easy on the eyes, and is backed by an immense library. Check out more details on the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite from PaulSemel.com.

Samsung Galaxy Gear: First off, I can’t think “Galaxy Gear” without thinking about “Galaxy Glue.” Tech pundits have been predicting the rise of the Smartwatch in 2013. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear is the first release from a major smartphone player. While it does some interesting and useful things, I’m not sold on it. To be fair, I’m not big on the Galaxy S series, while a large portion of the world loves them. With that in mind, a smartwatch tied to a Galaxy smartmatch/tablet doesn’t work for me. That said, there are millions of Galaxy S and Galaxy Note fans, and I’m sure that a percentage of them will be high on the Galaxy Gear. I’m really curious to get your thoughts on this…and am equally curious to hear if you think that Apple will come up with a far more elegant smartwatch product.

Apple iPhone 5c: Tech pundits predicted that Apple would release a “cheap” iPhone available in colors. It was reasoned that the colors and low price would do well in China and India. The “experts” were completely wrong. It’s easy to say through the retroscope, but I never thought that was happening. Apple generally doesn’t do “cheap” anything. Instead, the iPhone 5c is a (very) slightly improved iPhone 5 that’s available in colors. It sticks to Apple’s strategy of using last year’s model as the mid-level choice, but spruces it up with colors. The kids (like RPadholic Tokz’s sister) love colors and there will be millions of people that buy this phone because it’s available in green, blue, yellow, etc. I’m not interested in this product personally, but am super-impressed by Apple’s execution. The profit margins on the iPhone 5c will be silly and the company will make a killing selling last year’s tech in new clothing.

Apple iPhone 5s: In the past, Apple has incrementally upgraded the iPhone every other year (iPhone 4s, iPhone 3gs, etc.). This year’s model is deceptively advanced. A lot of people are paying attention to the fingerprint scanner and many are dogging it. The camera is improved too, but that’s not what’s fascinating about this product. There’s a ton of potential with the iPhone 5s’ 64-bit architecture and M7 coprocessor. The jump to 64-bit is huge and I’m anxious to see how developers take advantage of the CPU/GPU power. The M7 is used to collect all kinds of motion data from the gyroscope, compass, and accelerometer. It will lead to a new wave of inventive location-based apps. While I’m completely bored with the form factor (Can I get a bigger screen already?!?), I’m intrigued by the guts of the iPhone 5s.

PlayStation Vita Slim: It’s like the PSP Vita, but slimmer.

PlayStation Vita TVThis is the Vita product that I want. It’s a set-top box that also lets you play some Vita games — think Apple TV, but with better games and worse media services. The Vita’s library is great, but it’s also completely ignored by people that don’t like mobile consoles. This sub-$100 product would give home gamers access to that underrated library. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Sony hasn’t announced plans for this product outside of Asia. The company says it has “no plans” for North American and European releases at this time, but hopefully customers in those regions will clamor for it. I want this now!!!

PSN Summer Blast Sale Starts Tomorrow

PlayStation Network’s Summer Blast Sale starts tomorrow and there are some great discounts to be had — especially if you’re a PlayStation Plus member. Check out the list below and leave a comment on the games and movies you’re thinking about picking up.

July 2nd – 9th
Call Of Duty Black Ops II (PS3) – Regular Price: $59.99 Sale Price: $41.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $37.79
The Amazing Spider-Man (PS3) – Regular Price: $49.99 Sale Price: $29.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $20.99
Batman Arkham Asylum (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest (PS Vita/PSP) – Regular Price: $9.99 Sale Price: $4.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $2.50
Mortal Kombat (PS Vita) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
Mortal Kombat – (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
Prince of Persia Forgotten Sands (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $7.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $4.00
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: the Game (PS3) – Regular Price: $9.99 Sale Price: $3.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $2.00
Shadow of the Colossus (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
Ratchet & Clank Collection (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $14.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $7.50

July 9th – 16th
Fast & Furious Showdown (PS3) – Regular Price: $39.99 Sale Price: $31.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $23.99
Star Trek (PS3) – Regular Price: $54.99 Sale Price: $43.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $32.99
Men In Black: Alien Crisis (PS3) – Regular Price: $39.99 Sale Price: $29.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $20.99
The Simpsons Arcade Game (PS3) – Regular Price: $9.99 Sale Price: $6.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $4.89
X-Men (PS3) – Regular Price: $9.99 Sale Price: $6.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $4.89
Hitman Trilogy HD – (PS3) – Regular Price: $39.99 Sale Price: $19.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $15.99
Lord of the Rings: War in the North (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
Silent Hill: Book of Memories (PS Vita) – Regular Price: $29.99 Sale Price: $14.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $7.50
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (PS3) – Regular Price: $29.99 Sale Price: $14.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $7.50
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (PS Vita) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
The Adventures of TinTin: The Game (PS3) – Regular Price: $39.99 Sale Price: $19.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $10.00
Star Wars The Force Unleashed II (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $5.00
Just Cause 2 (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $9.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $7.99
Prince of Persia Classics Trilogy (PS3) – Regular Price: $39.99 Sale Price: $15.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $8.00
Tron Evolution (PS Vita) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $7.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $4.00
Alice: Madness Returns (PS3) – Regular Price: $19.99 Sale Price: $7.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $4.00
Fight Night Champion – Full Game (PS3) – Regular Price: $29.99 Sale Price: $11.99 PlayStation Plus Price: $6.00

Movie Deals
Ted (Unrated Version Available) – HD: $11.99
Pineapple Express – SD: $6.99 HD: $9.99
The Dark Knight – SD: $6.99 HD: $11.99
Despicable Me – HD: $11.99
Batman Begins – SD: $6.99 HD: $11.99
Up – SD: $9.99 HD: $17.99
Battleship – HD: $9.99
Toy Story 3 – SD: $9.99 HD: $17.99
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes – SD: $9.99 HD: $14.99
End Of Watch – HD: $11.99
Inception – SD: $6.99 HD: $11.99
The Expendables – SD: $4.99
The A-Team Extended Cut – SD: $8.99 HD: $12.99
Safe House – HD: $9.99
300 – SD: $6.99 HD: $11.99
The Man With The Iron Fists (Unrated Version Available) – HD: $11.99
The Hurt Locker – SD: $4.99
The Bourne Legacy – HD: $11.99

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This Week’s Videogame Releases

Marvel’s merc with a mouth — the glorious Deadpool — leads the week in a game called…uh, Deadpool. As a huge mark for the character, I’m super looking forward to this one. Fans of beautiful, sword-slashing games will definitely want to pick up Muramasa Rebirth, an enhanced version of Muramasa: The Demon Blade. If you have the urge to get your motor runnin’ and long to get out on the highway then you should check out Ride to Hell Retribution.

Hopefully, some of you have the good taste to be Deadpool fanboys. So how about it? Any of you picking up new games this week?

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster Trailer

Square Enix has released the trailer for Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. Both games will be available in a single-disc set for PlayStation 3 and available individually for PlayStation Vita. The release date is a vague “in 2013.”

I’m completely psyched for an updated version of Final Fantasy X. The game worked for me on so many levels. I loved the sphere grid system, the music was outstanding, and unlike most of my gamer friends, I found Yuna to be completely adorable. (I have a thing for women with stunted speech patterns and heterochromia iridum. Sue me.) Many longtime Square fans feel that FFX was the last great Final Fantasy game and I’m sure hundreds of thousands of them, at the very least, will snatch this remix up.

While it wasn’t nearly as good as the original, I remember having fun with Final Fantasy X-2. It was a cute “girl power” adventure that used some gameplay elements of its predecessor in a more lighthearted game. It was fun in a Final-Fantasy-meets-Spice-Girls way.

Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’re planning to pick up Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster.

PSN Gamers’ Choice 2013 Sale

Sony Computer Entertainment America is holding a sale for the winners of the 2013 PlayStation Network Gamers’ Choice Awards. There are some fantastic games available at great prices, especially if you’re a PlayStation Plus member. Here’s a sampling of what can be nabbed by you bargain hunters out there.

  • Journey: Sale Price $10.49, PS+ Price $7.34
  • The Walking Dead Season Pass: Sale Price$13.99, PS+ Price $9.79
  • Assassin’s Creed III: Sale Price $49.99, PS+ Price $34.99
  • Gravity Rush: Sale Price $24.99, PS+ Price Free

Hit the source link below to see all the games that are on sale. If you happen to pick anything up, please let me know. I know that most of you don’t have Vitas, but if you do then you should definitely pick up Gravity Rush. It’s a sweet game and available for free!

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This Week’s Videogame Releases

There are a bunch of videogame goodies available for your consumption this week. Sly Cooper makes his long-awaited return in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. As a mark for the series and the character, I’m really looking forward to that one. Dead Space 3 has some fans excited, though others are concerned about the latest installment being more about action than survival-horror. 3DS fans looking for a good RPG should be pleased as punch with Fire Emblem Awakening. Last, but not least, is a game that’s perfect for fans of fighting and manga: Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2.

Any of you picking up new games this week?

NPD Group’s Top 10 Games of 2012

After 12 months of heated battle, the results are in! Here are the 10 best-selling videogames according to the NPD Group. This list counts for console games sold at retail in the United States.

  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II
  2. Madden NFL 13
  3. Halo 4
  4. Assassin’s Creed III
  5. Just Dance 4
  6. NBA 2K13
  7. Borderlands 2
  8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  9. LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
  10. FIFA Soccer 13

There are several fascinating takeaways here. First, it’s awfully impressive that there are two Call of Duty games on the list, which is a testament to the franchise’s immense and enduring popularity. LEGO Batman 2 is one of the few videogames that stars Hawkgirl, proving once again that Hawkgirl equals mad sales. I was happy to see Borderlands 2 on the list. Remember when a prominent videogame analyst said the original was “sent to die”? If videogame series could talk, Borderlands would be saying, “How do you like dem apples, Pachter!!!” (Just kidding, Michael.)

Did America’s most popular videogames pan out the way you thought they would? Please leave a comment with your thoughts on NPD’s top 10 of 2012.

Today’s Poll: Predict the 2013 Console Business

2012 was a rough year for the console gaming business. A lot of people believe that mobile devices and the vast improvement in the quality of mobile games are the key reasons for the decline in console game sales. Others believe that the current generation is simply long in the tooth and new hardware is needed to kickstart the console business. Some believe that the three major console companies haven’t done enough with digital distribution and relying on the boxed-disc model has hurt sales. Whatever the reason, sales figures are down and there are a lot of questions about console gaming heading into 2013.

How do you think things will pan out? Will console game sales roar back? Will sales continue to decline? Or will things remain about the same. Please vote in today’s poll and expand on your answer in the comments section.

How will the console business perform in 2013?

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This Week’s Videogame Releases

Any of you buy a Wii U? What games are you picking up for your new console? In addition to Nintendo’s major release, there are several games set to entertain you over Thanksgiving weekend. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a super-fun brawler that brings numerous iconic videogame characters together. Agent 47 makes his return in Hitman: Absolution. Fans of cartoon adventures will want to check out Rise of the Guardians, while those with a predilection for military games will want to check out History Legends of War: PattonDisney’s Epic Mickey 2 is now available for PlayStation 3 and Wii; the game is even more fun with this Mickey paintbrush or this Oswald clicker. Lastly, Seth MacFarlane fans will want to pick up Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse.

Any of you picking up new games this week?

This Week’s Videogame Releases

It’s an absolutely loaded week for game releases, with heavy hitters like WWE 13 and Assassin’s Creed III hitting store shelves. The latter is accompanied by Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, which serves as a companion quest for the PlayStation Vita. But wait, there’s more! Need For Speed: Most Wanted might have a recycled name, but it (allegedly) brings all-new racing-action to the table. Ragnarok Odyssey brings the world of the hugely popular Ragnarok Online to the Vita. A group of Konami classics gets the compilation treatment in Zone of the Enders: HD Collection, while Sony’s venerable Killzone series gets bundled up as the Killzone Trilogy Collection. Lastly, if you’re looking for a game about a bunch of guys (made up of blocks) walking to a volcano (also made of blocks) then LEGO Lord of the Rings will be right up your alley (portable versions hit first).

Any of you picking up new games this week?