Spider-Man 3 HD Preview Clip

Post ImageIf there’s one movie I am looking forward to this year, it’s Spider-Man 3. Even though I have high expectations for the movie, I am confident it will exceed them. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to learn that NBC.com would have a special preview available tonight after Heroes aired. I just downloaded and watched the largest option, a whopping 285 MB for seven and a half minutes of 720p HD content.

The preview contains a scene with Peter and MJ, a scene with Peter and Aunt May, and the rest is an action sequence featuring Peter and Harry. And yes, the preview does end with a bit of a cliffhanger. It’s a fairly good preview, despite not giving us the goods (no Venom, no Sandman, etc)! If you want to download the clip, you’ve only got until tomorrow at 9 PM pacific time. Though I’m sure it will be up on BitTorrent by then.

The video took me about 8 minutes to download, which is pretty good considering I wasn’t even using our fastest connection. Looks like Sony is using Limelight Networks to serve the video.

Read: NBC.com

GameDaily is drunk on PS3 kool-aid

Post ImageTomorrow is November, and you know what that means – game console launches! Both Nintendo and Sony will be releasing their latest offerings this month, so don’t be surprised if you hear a lot about it over the next few weeks. Hopefully though, the coverage is more accurate and credible than GameDaily’s latest. Author James Brightman outlines five reasons that Sony will win the “Next Gen Console War”. Here are his reasons, with my comments underneath each one:

1. The Brand
Brightman is right, a “strong brand should not be underestimated.” However, the problem with this argument (that Sony will win because it has a strong brand) is that nothing lasts forever! Indeed, Brightman states, “in the late ’80s and early ’90s Nintendo was king, but on today’s market there is no brand more synonymous with the world of video games than PlayStation.” Too bad he couldn’t read his own sentence and realize that what happened to Nintendo could happen to Sony too.

2. Microsoft (somewhat) Squandered its Lead
Nice to the see conviction in his argument – “somewhat” hey? Microsoft’s goal is to sell 10 million consoles by the end of 2006. They are definitely behind at the moment. But let’s see how the holiday season shakes out, shall we?

3. Japan is Ripe for the Taking
Japan has never been a strong market for Microsoft. The first Xbox did horribly there, and I don’t think MS execs were expecting to do that much better with the Xbox 360. Not that it matters – Sony cannot “win” by simply selling more in Japan. Once again, Brightman neglects to read his own writing: “let’s not forget that this is a global market.”

4. Blu-ray Will Matter
If there’s one good thing about Brightman and his article, it’s that he makes tearing it apart really easy. He writes, “sure some of this is hype, and maybe we’re falling for it…” You better believe it is hype. Anything related to Blu-ray or HD-DVD at this point is hype.

“In one to two years, we think the combination of the Blu-ray medium and the Cell processor will lead to a noticeable difference between the visuals of the PS3 and the Xbox 360, as developers begin to really harness the technology in the PS3.”

Seems to me that Brightman isn’t a very technical person. Developing for the Xbox 360 in such a way that you can extract every ounce of performance is hard. It requires a shift in the way developers think and work (because of multiple cores, etc). There aren’t any 360 games that really do this yet. So, to say that in a one or two years the Cell processor and Blu-ray will lead to a noticeable difference is ridiculous. First of all, 360 games are going to get better. More importantly though, developing for the PS3 is even more complex than for the Xbox 360, so I would expect it to take much more time before we see the best possible visuals.

5. Free Online
This is the one argument I somewhat agree with. Completely free, full online access for PS3 gamers is a big deal. We all know Microsoft has deep pockets however, so if they wanted to make Xbox Live Gold free, they certainly could. I think they’ll wait though, to see what the PS3 online service is like. People will pay for quality.

A few more things
There’s a ton of other problems with this article. For one, what about Nintendo? Brightman compares Sony almost exclusively to Microsoft. The Wii might not have fancy graphics, but I’d argue it belongs in the “next gen” classification. The PS3 is going to have to beat the Wii too. For another thing, there’s no mention of the cost. The PS3 is really expensive, both in comparison to previous consoles, and to its competitors. Brand allegiance is important, but it often falls apart in the case of extremely high prices. Another thing – the Playstation doesn’t have the huge list of exclusive titles that previous versions did. Lots of games are now available for multiple consoles. I could go on.

It’s really easy to make predictions about how the consoles will fare against one another. It is much harder to make accurate predictions. That said, its pretty simple to come up with something better than this GameDaily article.

Read: GameDaily

More PS3 troubles for Sony

Post ImageYet more disappointment for fans of the Sony PS3. Just think about all the bad news we’ve seen so far: critics had a field day with the early controller, pricing for the console is rumored to be really high, and then there’s the whole Blu-Ray issue. And now? Delays:

Sony will delay the European launch of its PlayStation 3 game console by about four months to March and cut its target for worldwide shipments this year by half, the company said Wednesday.

Flagging potential problems with the PS3 launch, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities last month cut by half its shipment forecast to 3 million of the new PlayStations in the current business year to March, citing Sony’s difficulties in procuring its cutting-edge parts.

Is it just me, or does an Xbox 360/Nintendo Wii combination seem more appealing than ever?

Read: CNET News.com

Largest Consumer Electronics Recall Ever

Post ImageThis is one record you don’t want to be setting. Dell has announced what the Consumer Product Safety Commission is calling “the largest safety recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry.” That’s right, 4.1 million laptop batteries installed in Dell machines between April 2004 and July 18th, 2006. Is yours one of them?

Dell’s press release states the recall covers the following machines, so be aware! Dell Latitude D410, D500, D505, D510, D520, D600, D610, D620, D800, D810; Inspiron 6000, 8500, 8600, 9100, 9200, 9300, 500m, 510m, 600m, 6400, E1505, 700m, 710m, 9400, E1705; and Dell Precision M20, M60, M70 and M90 mobile workstations; and XPS, XPS Gen2, XPS M170 and XPS M1710. Also, you’re to go here, and to pop that batt post haste.

Even worse – the batteries were made by Sony, not Dell, which means other laptops might also be at risk if they too use Sony batteries (creative sabotage?). I’m pretty confident my Toshiba is safe. Keep an eye on this story!

I wonder what they do with the returned batteries? I think they should put them all in a big pile and explode it. That would make a great video! They could use it as a PR stunt of some sort. Though I’m sure the environmentalists would have a field day. Oh well.

Read: Engadget

PS3 Pricing Announced

Post ImageSony announced pricing for its upcoming PlayStation 3 gaming console yesterday, and as generally expected, the console will cost more than Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Though not nearly as much as I expected! The system comes in two options, though the only difference between the two appears to be a larger hard drive:

Sony, which unveiled the specs and pricing of its PlayStation 3 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles on Monday, will charge $499 and $599 for the consoles when they arrive in November.

Many people seem to think that it will all come down to Blu-ray. I am not so sure. I don’t exactly have a strong desire to own a Blu-ray device, though I admit the PS3 is by far the cheapest such device available. The $499 model comes with a 20 GB hard drive, making it more similar to the higher end Xbox 360 console. Who knows what kinds of controllers or other extras the PS3 will come with though.

Does anyone else think it’s stupid to charge an extra $100 for 40 GB of space? I can buy a 300 GB hard drive for just over $120 CDN for crying out loud! Unless there’s something extra, that $100 is a complete rip off.

Oh, and the sexy controller in the picture is not what the final controller looks like. Nope, the real one is much more mundane.

Read: CNET News.com

Sony Reader comes to North America

Post ImageIn my pocket/mobile/portable computing post I suggested that mobile devices may be forced to exist only in niche markets. Here’s a great example of a niche market for portable computing – electronic reading devices. Specifically devices that do one thing and do it very well, and that’s replace a paper book with something digital. I have heard many great things about the Librie, Sony’s reading device that is available only in Japan, and it appears a North American counterpart is on the way:

The Sony Reader, a new text-reading device that lets you have the Bible or the entire works of Tolstoy on hand but carry around the physical equivalent of a paperback, will be sold at Borders bookstores. The high-resolution (SVGA 800×600) electronic-paper display screen supports BBeB Book, PDF and MP3 formats and can also display JPEG images.

The device measures 6.9 inches by 4.9 inches by 0.5 inches and weighs in at just more than half a pound. The Sony Reader takes Memory Sticks or SD flash memory cards to augment 64MB of internal memory, creating the potential to travel with hundreds of books.

I have never used one of these devices, but everything I have heard so far suggests that the screen is simply amazing. And the one drawback that would keep such a device from taking off appears to be taken care of too:

The Sony Reader also has “a seemingly limitless battery life equivalent of 7,500 pages turns,” according to a Stony statement. That’s because there is no rundown on the battery over time. Power is only consumed when a reader turns the page.

You can’t complain with battery life like that! The device should be available this summer for around $400.

Read: CNET News.com

PlayStation 3 delayed a year?

Post ImageLots of PlayStation 3 news lately, and most of it is not good if you’re pulling for Sony in the gaming wars. Apparently Sony is planning a Hub service to compete with Xbox Live, but confirmations have been difficult to get, leading me to believe it may just be posturing on Sony’s part. The worst news though is about extremely high prices and potential delays:

Sony’s next-generation PlayStation 3 video game console might not appear in key markets this year and could cost the company $900 per unit to produce initially, according to Merrill Lynch analysts quoted in the Financial Times on Sunday.

Merrill Lynch analysts in San Francisco have estimated that the initial bill of materials for PS3 could approach $900, falling to $320 by three years after launch, the FT said.

Keep in mind those figures are in US dollars. I said a long time ago that the PS3 would likely cost an arm and a leg, so this story is validation. You just can’t introduce so many new components and expect the price to remain the same – the cell processor, coupled with Blu-ray drives are going to drive the cost of manufacturing quite high.

I don’t think Sony has extremely deep pockets like Microsoft, so I can’t see them taking a massive loss on each console. Hopefully we’ll find out more soon.

Read: CNET News.com

Microsoft sets Xbox 360 pricing

Post ImageMicrosoft has finally revealed the pricing for the forthcoming Xbox 360 console, and it looks bad for Sony, especially if they really are going to price the PS3 quite high as expected:

Pricing on the much anticipated Xbox 360 will start at $299.99, Microsoft announced Wednesday.

Scheduled to launch in North America in time for the holiday season, that core version of the tech giant’s next-generation game system will include the console, one controller, a white faceplate and an audiovisual cable.

But wait, there’s more!

For $100 more, gamers can upgrade to the premium edition. That package will feature, in addition to the standard equipment, a headset, remote, membership to the Xbox Live entertainment and chat network, and a 20GB hard drive for storing games, music, and other content downloaded from Xbox Live. It will also swap out the wired controller for a wireless one.

The premium edition will be known as the Xbox 360 and will have a cream-colored shell, while the lower-priced version will be called the Xbox 360 core system and will come in a light green box, said David Reed, director of platform marketing for Xbox.

Yeah, so why you’d purchase a core system is beyond me. Seems like a waste when you get the premium for only a hundred bucks more. Even Microsoft’s director of platform marketing for Xbox David Reed knows it, “There’s no question we’re going to sell a lot more Xbox 360 this holiday than we are of the Xbox 360 core system.”

Read: CNET News.com

May 16th Game Console Showdown

Can’t wait for details on the PS3 and Xbox 360/Next/2? Well on May 16th, both Sony and Microsoft will announce details of their next consoles:

Unless Microsoft decides to move their announcement up, Sony will have the honor of going first—they have their PS3 unveiling scheduled to take place at the Sony Pictures complex in Culver City at 3pm, three hours before Microsoft is set to introduce the Xbox 2/Xbox 360/whatever they’re calling it a few miles away in downtown Los Angeles.

That’s two days before E3, so things should heat up just in time for the gaming orgy that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Read: Engadget