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Sunday, July 31, 2011

6 of the Best Android Tablets

Keen to road-test your favorite apps on the big screen? Here's six of the best Android tablets currently - or soon to be - available

The world's first Android 3.0 device, this dual-core Tegra 2-powered beauty features a front-facing camera and a buttonless bezel for beauty. It's devoid of any Motorola customisation too, so if you like to taste Android untainted by the manufacturer's hand and love 3D menus, as well as an efficient processor and a light chassis, check out the first Android 3.0 tablet.
Price: $799.99

Although a sequel is coming in the near future, the Galaxy Tab was the first Android tablet to market, scaling up the OS with a 1024 x 600-pixel display. With its 7 inch screen size, it's ultra-portable and the presence of Flash web browsing helps increase multimedia options on the go.
Google is putting a lot of effort into its 'proper' Android 3.0 tablet experience, but most apps still run on this unit. The light design and inevitable price drop will still entice a fair few users.
Price: $435.00

HTC’s first tablet is the Flyer, a 7in model with a 1,024x600 screen. It only has a single core processor, but still nips along at 1.4GHz to maintain a sprightly browsing speed. HTC's excellent user interface customisation is partnered by a dedicated 'smart' stylus that can tell how hard you're pressing.
It's pocket friendly (or a tablet and easy to hold in one hand. A promise to upgrade it to the Android 3.0 OS imminently will keep it at the cutting edge.

The Vega offers plenty of power from a 10in, high resolution display, for under £250. With a dual-core processor on board as well, you're getting the best of the tech world and a microSD card slot.
While the Android OS is only 2.2, there's hope for an upgrade in the near future, which should bring a snazzy new Flash player to the device as well.
Price: £199.99

The Dell Streak range includes a variety of sizes, but only the two largest feature a dual core processor. With a sleek design and a compact chassis, as well as the latest Flash player and super-strong Gorilla Glass, the range is one of the few to offer such choice. It has a rich feature set and is perfect for a bag or coat pocket. The Tegra2 Processor should also keep it motoring on for longer.

Android isn't just about playing Angry Birds; sometimes you want a dash of audio prowess. While only running the 2.1 OS, this 'pure Android audio' device offers high quality sound via both wired headphones and wirelessly, thanks to A2DP Bluetooth audio.
However, chances are you're unlikely to sit around listening to music on the tablet - and some might find the longtime it takes to move from the torpid sleep mode to a ready-to-use device something of an annoyance.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Razer Onza Xbox 360 Controller

When it comes to console controllers, there aren’t too many third party offerings that trump original, first-party designs. If you’re using an Xbox 360, for example, the controller made by Microsoft is generally the best one to use.
There are some, though, that make good alternatives - particularly when they’re created by a company with a lot of experience in gaming controllers and devices... and few companies can claim as much expertise as Razer.
The Razer Onza is a wired controller for use with the Xbox 360 console. The fact that it is wired is a bit of a let-down, because wireless gaming is preferable. That said, the cable attached to the Onza is very generous in length, and the user never really has to worry about batteries giving out during a frantic gaming session.

The Onza is an extremely light and very comfortable controller. It’s design is well thought out, and long gaming sessions with this controller will lead to a little more comfort than the original Xbox 360 controllers.
The device is beautifully contoured, and sits perfectly in the user’s hands. As far as controls go, the Onza uses a standard Xbox 360 configuration, with a little added extra.

All the normal buttons are present, of course, but two extra bumpers are mounted on the shoulders of the controller. These can be mapped to any function that the controller has - the most useful of which is probably the L or R3 stick-click.
The extra bumpers mean that the original bumpers are slimmer than on a normal Xbox 360 controller. However, they have been contoured in such a way that the player won’t go about accidentally hitting the wrong buttons. As long as the player knows where the buttons are positioned - relative to each other - they will be able to discern between the two sets of bumper buttons easily, without looking.

While the other buttons follow a standard configuration, they are a bit different from the standard controller. The triggers are slimmer, for example, and angled in a way that is a bit more comfortable. The D-Pad is comprised of four directional buttons, rather than a multidirectional rocker, which makes things a little easier when using it. The four face buttons are extremely sensitive, requiring very little pressure.

The analogue sticks do not have nodules on them, so telling the direction the stick is being pushed in can be a little tricky. Additionally, the Start and Back buttons have been inconveniently placed at the base of the controller, near the headphone jack... although the programmable bumpers can be set to take care of their functions. And speaking of the jack, it is not standardised - the older Xbox headset won’t fit. But Razer also produce a Xbox 360 headset, which will probably work just fine with the Onza.

Aside from a few niggles, the Onza works just fine. It’s stylish and extremely responsive, making it a good alternative for those looking for an effective third-party Xbox 360 controller. Whether it’s better than the original... well, that will come down to personal taste.

A good alternative to first party Xbox 360 controllers.

Programmable buttons

Some button placements
Headphone jack

5m cord
Enhanced ergonomics
Programmable buttons
Precision D-pad
Fast button actuation
Textured surface

Manufacturer: Razer
Distributor: Apex Interactive

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wildlife Park 3 Review

While one might easily assume that Wildlife Park 3 is aimed at a younger market, there are certain elements of the game that suggest it would appeal more to older players.

In this game, the player has to take care of wildlife parks - basically zoos with a bit more to them. This involves looking after animals, staff and visitors, and ensuring that the three groups are always happy, healthy and have their needs taken care of.

While the idea may seem aimed at children, as we mentioned, the overall design of the game has a very adult feel to it. The user-interface is surprisingly complex, yet is sparse at the same time. Creating the animal enclosures can be tricky, because they are completely free-form (a nice change to blocky attempts in the past.) And keeping visitors (in particular) happy can be quite challenging.

In addition to the campaign missions and sandbox modes, Wildlife Park 3 also has a rather nice and well researched encyclopedia in-game, adding a didactic value to an other wise enjoyable title. It’s a great game for parents to enjoy with their kids, even though it may be a little complicated for youngsters at times.

Although it might seem to be aimed at youngsters, some of the game’s complexities will appeal to older management fans.

Developer: B.Alive
Publisher: Deep Silver
Distributor: Apex Interactive


The Sims 3: Generations Review

The Sims 3 juggernaut keeps on plowing along.
This time around, they have released a full expansion, rather than a Stuff Pack. But, in all honesty, Generations almost feels like a Stuff Pack. That’s largely because the added extras in this expansion are subtle, rather than the big changes we came across in World Adventures and Ambitions.

Generations adds more activities to the various phases of Sim life, making the little computer people a bit more real. This applies more to the ages outside of adulthood and young adulthood, making some of the more boring sim characters a lot more interesting. Other cosmetic changes have also been added, in the form of things like new hairstyles and decor, as well as body hair for male sims.

When all is said and done, Generations is the first expansion for Sims 3 that could be called ‘additional’, rather than necessary. Completionists may well want to get hold of it, but it doesn’t offer enough for it to be a ‘must have’ expansion pack. If you want more things for your Sims to do, it’s great. But it’s not a necessity.

It offers a lot of new content, but isn’t really a big game changer.

Developer: EA Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Distributor: Electronic Arts


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tomb Radier

Lara Croft is more interesting than she has been in years. Square Enix’s new Tomb Raider will take a large step back to when our beloved Lara was only 21 years old and in search of adventure.

Little did she know that the adventure would make its way to her. The younger, frightened Lara will draw you in to the story that made her who she is today. Things don’t go according to plan as Lara ends up shipwrecked on a mysterious island and held captive by an unknown enemy. Is it a coincidence?
We know her better than that! Tomb Raider is primarily about survival and the maps will consist of open environments to explore.

It is going to be a visceral, emotional experience as Lara is not yet a strong fighter and must learn the hardships of surviving in the wild. The story is very much character based, and in the way we see Lara express fear and anxiety during the opening ordeal, that certainly seems true.
Forget about Angelina Jolie and her over-exaggerated female attributes, this will be a definite ‘facelift’ for the Tomb Raider series.

Release Date: Sep 2012
Platforms: PC, PS3, X360



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