UK PS Store is hiding a PSP secret

22 11 2007

Sony is being very good to PSP owners right before the Thanksgiving holiday. Not only did the PlayStation Store launch yesterday to allow access from your PC, but the company also decided to plant an easter egg for those curious enough to browse the store. This easter egg came in the form of a new trailer for a game called “Beats” that was hidden by Sony within the PSP game trailers section.

Shortly after releasing the trailer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe launched the downloadable game “Beats” through the UK PlayStation Store with a price tag of GBP 4.99. The game is great for music fans that have their music collection on their PSP. Beats is based almost completely on the playback of your personal music collection, taking any song and turning it into gameplay.

The game is similar to DDR and DJ Max Portable as it uses beat tracking technology to create button-press sequences for each song in your personal music collection. The trailer provides details on two different modes labeled “Jamming” and “Challenge”. It also appears that the game will allow a wide array of customization options so that you are able to change your background and visual style.

Multiplayer is available locally for 1-4 players and details on the Official UK page state that the title allows for game sharing (players sharing the game with other PSP users who do not currently own the game). An online ranking system is said to be available (one can assume there will be online playability) but there is no official word yet regarding online play.

As of right now, the game is only available through the UK PlayStation Store with no official release date announced for a US version, but due to the sudden release of the game in the UK, North America & Europe can hope it will only be some time before it is released there.





PS3 Phone Features Microsoft Operating System & Plays Nintendo Games

22 11 2007

“That’s right folks, wrap your minds around this — a phone that features Playstation buttons, has a Microsoft Windows operating system, and plays Nintendo games. Confused yet? How about the fact that the phone was made in “Koera” — No, that’s not a typo, that’s what is printed on the phone.”

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An Alternative View of Full HD

13 11 2007

An industry-leading sound and vision reviewer (Harvey Norman) has contacted SmartHouse to shed some light on a question raising much chatter in the electrical retail industry – what constitutes full HD?

Norman explains full HD, true HD, 1080p, 1080i, and the differences – if there is any.

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Sound Advice: HD DVD leaves Blu-ray in the dust

12 11 2007

Don Lindich, a national columnist and creator of the “Digital Made Easy” book series states, ” I enthusiastically recommend HD DVD because it’s a better product and a better proposition for consumers. Signs are showing it is going to trounce Blu-ray, and soon.”

“For those looking for a single sentence explaining why go with HD DVD: It’s a better thought-out, more solid product than Blu-ray, it is half the price, and picture and sound quality are identical. At less than $200 including seven or more movies, HD DVD players are a stunning value. Why pay twice the money when Blu-ray has serious issues and the movies look and sound the same?”

“I smile when I see people buying HD DVD players based on bargain pricing, because they are unknowingly getting the Ferrari as well. Despite its purported superiority and much higher cost, Blu-ray is the emperor with no clothes. HD DVD has been superior since day one.”

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Sony’s Massive Advantage: PS3 Processing Power

12 11 2007

If you look at the central processor in Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox 360 you will see something that can trace its ancestry right back to the Intel 8086 of 1978. Over its evolution this has forced endless fudges and compromises. An analogy might be trying to build a working supertanker on the plans of a model rowing boat. And the 360 itself owes its architecture to the IBM PC of 1981 and so carries with it the accommodations that this architecture imposes. These factors, ultimately, must impinge on the working of the console.

Compare that to Sony (SNE), who were able to design the processor and the console it is in with a clean sheet of paper. The Cell processor, designed jointly with IBM and Toshiba at a cost of $400 million is the state of the art in processor dessign. It is scalable, highly flexible and excellent at distributed processing.

So it is little surprise that the PS3 now holds the Guiness world record for the most powerful distributed computing network. Or that an astrophysicist has replaced a supercomputer with eight PS3s. This is one very special and very powerful machine and when game programmers eventually work out how to get the best from it we are going to see some spectacular results.

But there has been a price to pay. Whilst the 360 was cheap to develop and cheap to make, the PS3 has cost a fortune. Sony has absorbed some of this cost in losses and passed some of it on to end users in the form of higher prices, which has hit sales. Sony has bet its computer entertainment division and maybe the whole company on this device.

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What’s in Microsoft’s Xbox 360 fall update?

12 11 2007
Family Timer, Video Marketplace, DivX support…?

Unlike Sony, Microsoft likes to make updates to its games consoles in big chunks. So while the Japanese company will trickle its PS3 updates out regularly, Microsoft issues two big Xbox 360 updates a year. The so-called ‘fall update’ is already late, and looks like hitting consoles at some point in early December.

But what’s going to be included in it? One of the new features that Microsoft has already confirmed is the so-called ‘Family Timer’. This is a tool that enables parents to track how much time their kids have spent playing games.

Xbox 360 ‘Family Timer’

It’ll also empower those parents to limit the amount of time the consoles can be used per day. Once those limits are hit, the password-protected console will shut down. It’s the feature all mothers across the world have been waiting for, and every child’s worst nightmare.

According to Bach, with more than 13 million Xbox 360 consoles sold worldwide, the company’s drive to empower parents is a core Microsoft responsibility.

“We’ve seen a tremendous response to the robust parental controls offered on Xbox 360 and Windows Vista, and the Xbox 360 Family Timer will continue to deliver on our promise to provide safer, balanced and fun entertainment for everyone,” he said.

Video Marketplace

Well, the Xbox Live Video Marketplace launched a year ago in the US and it’s widely expected that next month’s update will see it debut in the UK. It’s a service which allows you to download TV episodes and movies either on a rental or permanent basis.

So you can expect to be able to pay a nominal fee for episodes of shows like CSI and Star Trek, as well as movies such as Saw.

There are also whispers doing the rounds that the fall update will see DivX compatibility added to the Xbox 360. That’s something that would go down a storm with most 360 gamers.

DivX is the worlds’ most popular video format, but most devices need special codecs to read the files. If the Xbox 360 gets DivX compatibility, it would enable gamers to stream their DivX media from their PCs to their consoles and then onto their living room TVs.

DivX support?

It’s just speculation though at the moment, sparked by DivX CEO Kevin Hell letting slip that he was working with Microsoft for future collaborations. So it’s possible that DivX support could also be added to Microsoft 1st- and 2nd-gen Zune players. But it’s also possible that nothing will come of it.

Microsoft is being typically secretive with details regarding the Xbox 360 fall update. It only confirmed the Family Timer because it had already been leaked onto the internet. But the twice-yearly dashboard updates typically add a range of new functionality, from small usability tweaks to major functionality enhancements.

We could expect more announcements during the long weekend of Xtival 07 (23-26 November), which marks the two-year anniversary of Xbox Live and offers free online play for all Xbox 360 owners.





The State of Blu-ray

9 11 2007

Gizmodo on November 8 reveals the root of Blu-ray’s problem: the format did not have a finished specification when devices went into production. Instead, there were two or three “profiles,” outlined in the chart below. The article explains and clarifies the three BD profiles at length – including attributes and manufacturers for each profile.

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