This Week’s Videogame Releases

It’s a great week for videogame releases! FEAR 3 has been getting some good reviews and is a fine pick for those longing for some atmospheric action. Shinki Mikami (Resident Evil) and Suda 51 (No More Heroes) team up on Shadows of the Damned. I totally goofed on Dungeon Siege III last week; it comes out this week. Sorry!

Last, but not least, is the first great games for the Nintendo 3DSThe Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D!!! I’m so looking forward to diving into the game this weekend!

Any of you picking up new games this week?

Coffee Talk #366: Your First Mobile Phone

Today’s Coffee Talk is a request from RPadholic N8R. He would like to know about your very first cell phone. Do you remember the make and model of your first mobile phone? Did any of you rock the…

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, your Wimbledon 2011 pick, the MLB McCourt drama, or George Clooney being single…again, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Today’s Coffee Talk is a request from RPadholic N8R. He would like to know about your very first cell phone. Do you remember the make and model of your first mobile phone? Did any of you rock the Zach Morris? Or did you have one of those classic Nokia candybars? Did any of you start out with the Motorola RAZR?

As for me, I borrowed my Dad’s Motorola StarTac a few times while I was in college (mostly to look cool), but the first mobile phone that was all mine was an Ericcson CF688. Hell, I don’t even remember what carrier it was on, but I remember being enamored by its slickness and form factor…which seems hilarious when looking through the retroscope.

Now it’s your turn! What was your first mobile phone?

Nokia’s MeeGo Powered N9 Looks Beautiful

At Nokia Convention in Singapore, Nokia unveiled its upcoming N9 mobile phone. The N9 features Nokia’s typically gorgeous hardware paired with the MeeGo operating system. Judging from the numerous videos the company posted, the N9 looks like a wonderful phone — so wonderful that many people are wondering why Nokia committed so extensively to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.

On the hardware side, the N9 features a 3.9-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 854×480. The screen is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass for extra durability. The N9 is powered by a 1GHz OMAP 3630 processor, which is based off of ARM Cortex A8 architecture. While that seems dated compared to the dual-core chips found in Android and iOS products, MeeGo doesn’t require as much power to run at a snappy rate. Apps, particularly games, are another matter and it will be interesting to see if the relatively modest processor limits the N9’s app potential.

The body of the N9 is made from a single piece of polycarbonate, which is a fancy word for expensive plastic. Nokia chose polycarbonate instead of metal or glass so as to avoid signal issues. I’m curious to see how the N9 feels compared to the luxurious N8, which uses an anodized aluminum casing. The phone packs an eight-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens. Nokia’s high-end phones feature the best mobile cameras in the world and I’m expecting great images from the N9.

The good news for American customers is that the N9 supports the 3G bands used by AT&T and T-Mobile. This also makes it a compelling option for world travelers.

The software side of the N9 surprises. The N9 will be the first mass consumer product using the MeeGo operating system. This particular version of MeeGo runs on top of Nokia’s Harmattan skin. At first glance, the OS seems really elegant and intuitive. It uses three panels — one for an app locker, one for notifications (including social networking), and one for apps that are currently running. It’s simpler than modern operating systems like Android, iOS, webOS, and Windows Phone 7, but it still seems powerful.

As far as apps go, the N9 will run native MeeGo apps as well as QT apps. The good news is that it will launch with robust software support thanks to QT. Remember, QT apps run on Symbian and there are still millions of Symbian phones floating around the globe. Furthermore, Nokia is still committed to launching new Symbian devices. That said, I wonder how many developers will code apps that take full advantage of the MeeGo OS and the N9 hardware.

On paper (and video), the N9 looks like typically excellent Nokia hardware paired with atypically elegant Nokia software. I love Android for my phone and iOS for my tablet, but I’m still highly interested in the N9. The software seems refined and user friendly, which is shocking for a Nokia product. I’m tempted to pick one up for editorial purposes and as my world phone.

How about you boys and girls? Any of you interested in the Nokia N9?

Verizon Tiered Data Starting in July, Prices Revealed?

Verizon has been up front with its plans to eventually move from a flat charge for unlimited data to a tiered system. It looks like those plans have been revealed. Droid-Life obtained some documentation allegedly sent by company executives that outlines the new data fees.

On top of monthly voice charges, Verizon’s new data plans will cost $30 a month for 2GB, $50 a month for 5GB, and $80 a month for 10GB. Additional data will cost $10 per GB. The pricing is the same for 3G and 4G (LTE) devices. Customers that wish to tether will be charged an additional $20 per month. The current charge for unlimited data is $29.99. The new plans allegedly roll out on July 7, 2011.

It’s kind of a bummer that data pricing continues to escalate even though the cost per GB has actually gone down. I realize that Verizon still needs to recoup the costs of its expensive LTE network, but the pricing seems excessive. Thankfully existing customers will be able to keep their current rate plans, but who knows what will happen when it’s time to renew.

Whether you’re a current Verizon customer, a prospective customer, or a spectator, please let me know how you feel about these new rate plans.

Source

CECH-3000B is the New, Lighter and More Power Efficient PS3?

According to a Japanese retailer that claims to have been briefed by Sony, the upcoming CECH-3000B PlayStation 3 model will be lighter and more power efficient than its predecessors. Here are some details originally reported by Andriasang:

The CECH-3000B is an updated 320 gigabyte system. It cuts power consumption from 230W to 200W, and cuts weight from 3.0kg to 2.6kg. There are also some external changes to the power and eject buttons, along with the removal of LED lamps, although the retailer report isn’t clear about the specifics for this area.

Consoles generally get more power efficient with each iteration, but the significant weight loss of the CECH-3000B is a bit unusual for such a subtle update. Then again, it’s not like Sony would call the new system the PS3 Slimmer.

For those of you that haven’t purchased a PlayStation 3 yet, are you going to wait for the new model?

Source

Game of Thrones Finale Discussion

What did you ladies and gents think of last night’s Game of Thrones season one finale? How about the season as a whole? As for me, I absolutely loved it. The show was the sweetest television surprise of 2011. For years I’ve been listening to several friends rave about the books. The series made me start reading them. Although there are significant changes and alterations in the TV adaptation, I still love the show.

Now here are some random thoughts on the finale and season one. Spoilers ahead!

– I keep watching the scene where Samwell gets clipped by the tree while chasing after Jon on a horse. His girlish scream cracks me up.

– My friend that has only watched two episodes came over for the finale last night. In the closing scene I commented on how cute the dragons looked. He was wondering why I was focusing on the dragons instead of naked Daenerys. She’s been naked so many times in the series that this bit of nudity was lost on me. She looked super cute though…but I want a baby dragon!

– The actor that plays Tywin Lannister is cool, but I keep seeing him as the villain in Last Action Hero. He will always be that guy to me, similar to how Bill Pullman will always be Lonestar and Lou Diamond Phillips will always be La Bamba.

– One thing I didn’t like was clearly stating that Renly and Loras were lovers. In the books it’s implied somewhat subtly. In the show the pair have a manscaping and fellatio scene. In some ways it reminded me of how heavy-handed the Watchmen movie was — as if the director thought viewers were too stupid to pick up the subtleties of the comics. I’d like to think that people are smarter than that…but I have been wrong before.

– For me, Tyrion Lannister was the star of season one. Peter Dinklage did a marvelous job conveying the complexities of the character. He’s funny, vulnerable, capable, unsure, wise, a drunk, and a whore monger all at the same time. He has so many of the best lines in the series. Explaining his fondness for “cripples, bastards, and broken things” and telling Shagga son of Dolf how he envisions dying are two examples of two very different ways Dinklage masterfully entertained.

– The relationship between Khal Drogo and Daenerys starts off very differently in the books. Part of me wants to think it was changed due to time constraints, but part of me believes it was changed because of that whole “director/writer thinks viewers are too stupid” thing. In the show it seemed like Dany went from being raped to being in love way too quickly.

– Kit Harrington is doing a good job playing Jon Snow, but in my head the character is better looking. Considering his true lineage — or the one that many readers are guessing — he should be studly.

– Grand Maester Pycelle’s calisthenics scene in the finale seemed completely unnecessary to me.

– Varys is probably the only character I’m really disappointed with. Conleth Hill is doing a great job portraying him as a shifty bastard with questionable allegiances, but I miss the whole master-of-disguise thing from the books.

Anyway, that’s enough random thoughts from me. Kindly share some of your own. I’d love to hear what you have to say about Game of Thrones season one.

Coffee Talk #365: The Angle of the Dangle

I’m reexamining my position on viewing angles and I’d love to have your input. I was talking to a few friends that review phones and they were dinging the HTC Sensation for its viewing angles. I just don’t…

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, the emergence of Rory McIlroy, Floyd Mayweather not showing up to court, or RIM’s declining fortunes, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

I’m reexamining my position on viewing angles and I’d love to have your input. I was talking to a few friends that review phones and they were dinging the HTC Sensation for its viewing angles. I just don’t understand why they’re a big deal on phones. Mobile phones are generally used by one person looking at the device head-on. Certainly I can’t think of a case where my mobile phone experience was lessened by poor viewing angles.

My friends said that I was being contradictory for criticizing the Nintendo 3DS for its viewing angles. If you haven’t tried one, the 3D aspect of the handheld system is very sensitive to viewing angles. The 3D effect breaks if you view it from slightly off-center angles. In this case, one of the 3DS’ primary functions — 3D gaming — can be ruined due to the device’s viewing angles. I don’t think it’s the same deal as on a phone.

My reviewer friends weren’t able to change my mind, but perhaps you will. Please let me know how you feel about viewing angles on phones, portable consoles, televisions, etc.