Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Toyota to offer Prius to GM?

According to a Bloomberg article, Toyota is in apparent talks with GM to offer a version of its Prius hybrid car to the American automaker.

The report quotes anonymous sources who report that Toyota President Akio Toyoda and GM’s Fritz Henderson will meet in Michigan in August. A GM version of Prius could be built in California where GM is ending assembly of the Pontiac Vibe as part of its bankruptcy filing.

Toyota is considering the California plant as a Prius production site after shelving plans to make the gasoline-electric car in Mississippi, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg earlier this month.

IMAX Theater at Stonecrest, "Transformers II" are hits

Critics have universally panned "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," taking issue with the script, the acting and some have questioned the need for pair of racially insensitive robots -- and all of the sexual innuendo.

I think the critics have it mostly wrong. Apparently, you do, too.

After five days, the movie has raked in more than $200 million domestically and is well on its way to the $400 million club, the kind of U.S. business only eight films in history have done.

And the thing is, this movie isn't directed at the critics. It's directed at the pre-teens and teens who will enjoy all the shots of Megan Fox bent over motorcycles or in white jeans that appear painted on; kids who will enjoy the Animal House humor and the reefer jokes. They're not for those of us with 401Ks and a need to check the dependent box on our 1040s every spring.

Taken in that context, I'd say the movie hits its mark -- with a bullseye.

Tuesday afternoon, I took my son and his friend to see the film. The kids are both nine. I actually thought all the sex talk and sex play -- and there was a lot of it -- might be a little much. Then I thought maybe all the violence -- and there was an awful lot of it -- might be a little much. Many, many people die, and die spectacularly. The special effects in this one, particularly a huge U.S. warship going down after being slapped by a bad robot, are eye-dropping.

Both kids loved it. My son told me he's not sure if he loved (the critically praised) "Star Trek" or Transformers II more. But one thing he did like better: seeing the robots in IMAX. We saw Star Trek at Phillips Place, on a regular surround sound screen.

I'm not sure how Transformers plays in normal theaters, but in the IMAX at the Stonecrest Theater on Rea Road, it is spectacular. You walk in the theater and there's hardly any room for that brown curtain to cover part of the screen. The screen runs wall to wall and nearly floor to ceiling. You have to sit back a little to take it all in.

You remember the first time you saw a really good HDTV picture, when everyone had square TVs? That's kind of like the feeling you get walking into the IMAX for the first time. Everything is sharper, bigger.

The experience isn't as mind-blowing as at Discovery Place, where you're laid back and the IMAX screen nearly wraps around you, but it's close. The sound is amazing. And loud. The images are crystal clear and huge.

The only part I really hated was paying $37 to get in. That's $15 for adults and $11 for children. At the 12:20 matinee.

So after I bought the kids two Cookie Dough candy boxes for $8 total -- and those little things are devilishly good -- I was set back darn near a car payment.

At that point, I probably would've enjoyed "Fried Green Tomatoes." But Transformers was what I expected. A light, if somewhat predictable story with great special effects and a few loud out loud funny moments.

I could've done without the two jive talking robots, who claimed they couldn't read (a little too stereotypical). I was surprised this movie got past all the screeners and nobody ever said, "Hey, you think we might be upsetting folks for no reason here?"

Thankfully, those bots don't dominate the screen time, and thankfully this movie wasn't as bad as I was led to believe.

Critics “forget what the goal of the movie was. The goal of the movie is to entertain and have fun,” Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount told the Associated Press. “What the audience tells us is, ‘We couldn't be more entertained and having more fun.'”

According to Paramount's exit polls, 91 percent of the audience thought the sequel was as good as or better than the first “Transformers,” which got far better reviews.

All I know is on Imax, Transformers II, for me, was mindless fun, a nice getaway on a hot Tuesday afternoon: exactly what I wanted it to be.

Rockers R.E.M. releases live digital EP

R.E.M. will release a live digital EP, entitled Reckoning Songs From The Olympia, through iTunes and all digital service providers on July 7th, 2009.

The EP features live versions of four songs from the band's beloved second album Reckoning that were recorded during R.E.M.'s "working rehearsals" at Dublin's Olympia Theatre in July 2007. The track-listing is "Harborcoat," "Letter Never Sent," "Second Guessing," and "Pretty Persuasion." In its five-star live review, Q magazine said: " Eleven new songs are played each night, while the remainder are a changing complement of oldies that pointedly contextualize the virgin material." ( http://remhq.com/news_story.php?id=585).

The EP will give fans a preview of what's to come when the band release R.E.M. Live At The Olympia as a two-CD set this fall. R.E.M., which is singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, and bassist Mike Mills, performed a special five-night residency — dubbed "working rehearsals" — at the fabled Irish venue to test out new songs for their 2008 studio album Accelerate, which was produced by Grammy-Award winning producer Jacknife Lee and topped multiple charts its first week of release.

Reckoning Songs From The Olympia comes on the heels of the 25th anniversary of Reckoning, which was released on April 9th, 1984. On June 23rd, the band released a deluxe edition of the album, featuring a bonus disc with eight of its 10 songs recorded live in Chicago in 1984, to celebrate the occasion.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Will Buick's new ads help change brand perception, sell cars?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Buick's new sports sedan, the eye-catching LaCrosse. I think it's a car that could really turn GM's fortunes.

Buick has long appealed only to old folks, right? Well, here's a car that goes straight after the Lexus/Acura-driving crowd and, to my 42-year-old eyes, it's the best looking design on the market right now.

The car is set to hit showrooms in the next two weeks -- full of techno gadgets like bluetooth and an available mile-per-hour meter that registers in the windshield so you don't have to look down to see how fast you're going (we've got to include that, right, because this is a blog about games and gadgets).

I have read some places where people questioned the opening ads (as seen above) for the LaCrosse and Buick's excellent Enclave crossover, which I think is the best-looking SUV/crossover on the market right now along with Toyota's Venza. I liked the new message in the spot of having a hip young movie director, however quirkly, really falling in love with Buick, the old man's brand.

"You've changed," he says as the appropriately titled "Here Comes The Hotstepper" plays in the background.

I think that's a great message to put out now. Buick's reliability ratings are up and the new LaCrosse has gotten plenty of positive press for almost everything except its smallish 13 cubic foot trunk. As I said before, I think this is a car that can help save GM, along with the upcoming Chevy Cruze hybrid and the electric Volt. The LaCrosse is the kind of car, if it drives and maintains as well as it looks, that will attract foreign car buyers and younger buyers to the brand (especially if there are some incentives attached).

One of these days, I'm going to trade the old Honda, and for the first time in my life, I think I might consider the old man's brand. It's like guy in the commerical says, Buick has changed.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Apple sells one million new iPhones over the weekend

Even in a down economy, people still appear to like Apple's iPhone.

The company's new iPhone 3GS model debuted last weekend, for $199 or $299, and Apple reports it sold one million of them in the first three days. It also said that six million customers downloaded the new iPhone 3.0 software for older iPhones in the first five days of its release.

The Palm Pre, in comparison, sold about 100,000 in its first weekend.

Click here for a speed comparison between the iPhone 3G and 3GS.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Glass Joe is back and Wii Punch Out rocks

“Punch Out” ( ***1/2): Glass Joe is back. This was one of my favorite games on the old 8-bit Nintendo machine, and playing this boxing title with the Wiimote is realistic and fun. The premise is simple: You see your guy's hands and some big lug in front of you, and you trade blows. If you have a Wii Balance Board, you can also incorporate your feet into the gameplay; very cool. The new “3-D look” didn't really do much for me – it still pretty much looks like it used to. But that's fine. It's still one of my favorite titles of the year.

“The Legendary Starfy” ( **): This big Japanese hero is another Mario-like character, albeit one shaped like a star, who swims, jumps and bounces through a maze-like world defeating enemies. Starfy can morph into a dragon, a seal, a ghost or a chicken. It's well-done, but I just didn't really get it.

“Let's Tap” Nintendo Wii ( ***): Place your Wiimote on a flat, stable surface and simply tap it to make onscreen characters sprint, play songs, swim or paint. It's another one of those simple collections of minigames that will hook you quickly. Great family fun.

Cool, a live game show that you play on Xbox 360

Microsoft recently launched on Xbox Live a beta version of a massively multiplayer online game, “1 vs 100,” based on the TV game show of the same name. It's a bold new move for video-gaming, offering a live game show played on the console that engages the entire family.

Selected players receive entries to win prizes like a 52-inch plasma TV, $3,000 cash and Microsoft Zune music players.

Each episode is a two-hour game show that features real-time play between players. A host conducts the action. There's a featured player called The One who tries to win the game outright by eliminating all 100 members of The Mob by answering questions correctly.

When you sign in to play, you are assigned to The Mob, or to be The One. (Your Xbox Live avatar appears on screen when you're selected, which is cool.) If you're picked as neither, you can play as The Crowd.

The game tracks your answers, and the more correct ones you get, the better your chances of being selected to “come on down!” – to coin a different game-show's phrase. But if you get a question wrong, you're no longer a member of the Mob (or The One), and are sent into The Crowd. Don't worry, though, you can still play – and win stuff – from there.

Live games are going on each day; you can check www.xbox.com for the schedule.

I think Microsoft has a big hit on its hands with this, and I can't wait to see what other types of live community-based games might be coming next.

Friday, June 19, 2009

iPhone 3GS in action (videos)

Here's one showing the new iPhone 3GS against the older 3G.

This video is made from the new iPhone's video camera (not bad).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Here's what the Panthers look like on Madden 10

EA Sports sent me some screen shots of several Panther players from the upcoming Madden 10. What do you think?

Overall the Panthers are rated an 83 overall as a team, which leads the NFC South.

Next gen screen shots:

Here are some shots from the Nintendo Wii version

Demo for NCAA Football out today

EA Sports NCAA Football 10 drops July 14, but the company put out a free demo on Xbox Live and the PlayStation store today. The demo shows off new features like:

§ Defensive Keys—Prior to the snap during the pre-play, hold the left trigger while pressing the analog stick in the direction you think will stop the run. If you think the offense will pass the ball, press upward. Or, you can press the icon associated with a receiver (X, Y, A, B, LB, RB) to spotlight that individual. This will focus the defense on making sure that the chosen offensive player does not make a play.

§ Defensive Player Assist—By holding A (on 360) or X (on PS3) on defense your player will be put under CPU control so you have time to read a play and decide the best course of action.

§ Enhanced Defensive Lineman Moves—With new animations, take control of your defensive linemen using the right stick to fight pass blocks and put pressure on the quarterback.

§ Gameplanning—There are six defensive and five offensive individual game planning options, or you can globally set your offense and defense. Each option changes the way your team will perform. For example, be aggressive and try and strip the ball every time and you run the risk of getting more facemask penalties.

§ Player Lock—Player lock allows you to lock on to a specific player in order to control that position during the play. When you lock on you'll get a whole new camera angle that puts you closer to the action.

§ Set Up Plays—Set up plays allows you to run one play in order to set up another. When picking a play, you will notice that some plays have a chain link between them, which indicates that one play can set up the other. Every time you use one particular play throughout the game, you are setting up for the play that is chain linked to it. Once the play is 100% set up (as shown in your playbook), the defense is at its highest likelihood to fall for that play action.

§ 1000 new animations like throw out of a sack, new shotgun snaps/hand-offs, WR/DB interactions, tackles, double team run blocks, catches, broken tackles, and slipping in bad weather.

You can also log into teambuilder.easports.com to create custom teams that can be shared and used in-game when the full product launches on July 14th. TeamBuilder is an all-new, online create-a-school feature that gives gamers the capability to upload logos and numerous customization options for uniforms, fields and rosters.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DirecTV offers bonus U.S. Open golf coverage

Golf fans who have DirecTV are in for a treat. The satellite company is offering free bonus coverage Thursday-Sunday.

There will be three additional channels (702-705) in addition to the national feeds on ESPN and NBC.

DirecTV offered this type of bonus coverage from the Masters and will also offer it during the British Open and the PGA Championship, covering all of golf's four major championships.

This weekend, a "Mix Channel" will show the network feed and all three bonus channels on one screen. The first bonus channel will follow a group of golfers around the course (Hello Tiger!). Another channel will focus on a particular area of the course. A third will provide live updates, highlights and interviews.

Each of the extra channels will be offered in both standard- and high-definition and are fully produced with their own production crew and announcers. Customers with interactive receivers can view all four channels in the Mix and use their remote to listen to any channel’s audio or tune directly to the full-screen channel. The Mix also features a real-time leader board to keep tabs on all the action.

The interactive services, available by pressing the red button on the remote, include a look at the top five leaders; the full leader board, with the ability to select any golfer for in-depth, hole-by-hole stats; a five-question, daily trivia contest on the history of the event; and a “Tune To” menu item that allows the viewer to tune directly to the Mix Channel (701) and any one of the four channels (702-705), including the main network feed.

A dilemma for iPhoners, or those that want to be

The new iPhone 3.0 software is out for existing users and it is good. The internet moves faster. You can cut and paste. You can turn the phone sideways to type email (finally) and there's a neat voice recorder now included that allows you to leave a tape recorder at home. It all works seamlessly, like many Apple products, and all of a sudden I'm not hearing so much about the Palm Pre anymore.

The new software, combined with a Mobile Me account from Apple, allows you to track where your phone is at any time. You can even have it display a message and/or beep to help you find it.

If need be, you can even wipe its data remotely, removing all your emails and sensitive information.

This was a brilliant addition.

But here's the thing, there's a new iPhone coming this week and it does everything better.

The battery lasts longer. The camera is sharper and autofocuses. It also takes video, which the current phone does not. AT&T is making it harder on current users by widening the window for available plan discounts to get the new phone for as low as $199 (16 gig version) if they re-up for two years.

Now, users whose contracts won't expire for three more months are eligible.

If you're thinking of jumping and getting a new iPhone, the new version is $199 or $299 (32 gigs). The current iPhone is now $99, and with the new software, it does everything better than any other smart phone out there -- except the new iPhone 3GS.

And one of the biggest bugaboos about the current model is battery strength. It ain't good. The new model improves on that -- greatly.

So what are you guys going to do? Stand pat, enjoy the new software and wait on the next iPhone revision, which would probably be more of a quantum leap than this; or go grab a 3G-S now?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New iPhone software due today (6/17)

While many wait for the iPhone 3G-S this weekend, other current iPhone user are going to get some features they've waited a long time for with the release of new software today.

iPhone users can get it via iTunes.

The 3.0 software includes new search features that will search your entire iPhone, peer to peer gaming and the ability to cut and paste or buy and view movies and TV shows from the handset. The new software will also allow users to turn the handset sideways to make typing emails and texts a little easier. Other features include a voice memo recorder, better internet browsing and Bluetooth support.

For those that grab it, would love to hear your experiences.

Monday, June 15, 2009

More fitness games drop for the Wii (and they're good, too)

Wii Fit – a truly revolutionary Nintendo add-on that provides users with a personal trainer and workouts – has led to the development of many exercise games.

Nintendo recently released “Personal Trainer Walking,” which comes with a small device you can put in your pocket or clip on your belt. The DS title comes with an “activity meter” that records how many steps you take during the day and can send the data wirelessly (or via synching) to your handheld console.

The game then converts this information into interesting facts about your activity level and invites you to increase it. Ultimately, the unit can track up to five years of performance/progress.

I hooked it up to a friend's dog for a day and found that even though he mostly lays around in the yard, he was more active than me.

“EA Sports Active” for the Wii is another “game” that takes you through traditional exercises that target different muscle groups – and has one heckuva cardio routine.

To get started, you slip the Wii nunchuk controller into a special leg strap and follow the lead of your on-screen trainer. You run, do lunges, box, and dance as your trainer – Bob Greene from “The Oprah Winfrey Show” – keeps you motivated.

Overall, the workouts on “EA Sports Active” are a little more intense than the Wii Fit's software. It definitely had me sweating.

Wii-Mote competition from Sony, Microsoft on the way

I was surprised it took Microsoft and Sony – which both recently announced motion-based controllers – so long to respond to industry-leading Nintendo's Wiimote.

Nintendo's motion-sensitive controller has become so popular that nongamers are buying Wiis and Wii Fits for the novelty and for the fitness benefits.

But competition is on the horizon:

Microsoft plans to deliver a hands-free controller system called “Project Natal.” It allows gamers to use their hands and body to control Xbox 360 games and movies without touching a controller, a definite one-up to Nintendo's Wiimote.

With the Wiimote, if you want to throw a ball, for instance, you hold the controller and make a throwing motion. With Microsoft's new system, you can do the same thing just by making the motion.

If this works, it'll be the biggest video-game breakthrough since the original Sony PlayStation introduced us to realistic-looking graphics. The release date is up in the air, but expect the system to cost about $100.

Sony's new motion controller is a lot more traditional. It's a handheld device that resembles a wand with a ball at the end. It will use the PlayStation EyeToy to track the ball to capture motion as you play. Sony says gamers will be able to write or draw using the wand, due to increased sensitivity. It's due early next year.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Will "Backbreaker" challenge Madden for football supremacy?

A new video football game, Backbreaker, is due this fall. These highlights looks pretty good. Is it the Madder-killer some gamers hope it will be?

No real teams or players is hard. At best, it'll be a Madden alternative. What do you think?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

New software helps Chinese block internet porn

Chinese parents won't have to worry about their kids accessing adult web sites.

China is requiring all domestically sold PCs to carry software called "Green Dam--Youth Escort." GDYE prevents computers from accessing web sites with adult photos or language, Zhang Chenmin, general manager of Jinhul Computer System Engineering Company told the Associated Press. Chenmin's company is compiling a list of sites to block.

Zhang said his company signed a $3 million contract with the Chinese government to develop the software last May. China has more than 250 million Internet users and the country launched a crackdown on adult web sites, which are banned in China.

Parents will be allowed to add to the blacklisted sites and the software could be used to block any type of web site, depending on keywords. The Chinese government, according to AP, routinely blocks political sites, like those that challenge the ruling of the Communist Party.

"If a father doesn't want his son to be exposed to content related to basketball or drugs, he can block all web sites related to those things," Zhang told the AP.

Zhang said users could also unblock web sites, but they will not be able to see the full database. He said the software does not monitor or send IP addresses to third parties.

Prototype launches today

Activision announced today that Radical Entertainment’s "Prototype" has shipped to retailers.

In the game, you play as genetically mutated Alex Mercer -- a man without memory, armed with amazing shape-shifting abilities, hunting to discover what created him, and determined to make those responsible pay.

As Alex, gamers tear through a densely populated contemporary New York City, moving with free-roaming Parkour-style fluidity, consuming anybody that gets in his way … assuming their physical form, memories and abilities.

New software helps Chinese block internet porn

Chinese parents won't have to worry about their kids accessing adult web sites.

China is requiring all domestically sold PCs to carry software called "Green Dam--Youth Escort." GDYE prevents computers from accessing web sites with adult photos or language, Zhang Chenmin, general manager of Jinhul Computer System Engineering Company told the Associated Press. Chenmin's company is compiling a list of sites to block.

Zhang said his company signed a $3 million contract with the Chinese government to develop the software last May. China has more than 250 million Internet users and the country launched a crackdown on adult web sites, which are banned in China.

Parents will be allowed to add to the blacklisted sites and the software could be used to block any type of web site, depending on keywords. The Chinese government, according to AP, routinely blocks political sites, like those that challenge the ruling of the Communist Party.

"If a father doesn't want his son to be exposed to content related to basketball or drugs, he can block all web sites related to those things," Zhang told the AP.

Zhang said users could also unblock web sites, but they will not be able to see the full database. He said the software does not monitor or send IP addresses to third parties.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Wolverine PS3 version claws its way to the top

Every big superhero movie needs a big video-game franchise to go with it, right? So Activision released this game to coincide with the Hugh Jackman movie of the same name.

I tried it on Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and PlayStation 3, and I enjoyed the PS3 version most – in large part because of the superior graphics (very cool to see all the detail as Wolverine uses his famous powers of regeneration to come back after some particularly lethal attacks).

The game follows the movie pretty closely, tracing the origins of Wolverine. It's intense all the way, with fight after fight after fight. And the combos weren't as difficult to use as they are in other superhero games I've played.

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is also bloody – I wouldn't allow anyone under 16 near it – but it should be a big hit for Activision.

Zune HD coming in fall

In case you missed the recent big news, Microsoft is finally releasing a long-rumored HD version of its Zune handheld device this fall.

The Zune HD will be able to support up to 720 lines of resolution – although that power isn't unleashed unless you connect it to an HDTV using a special docking station on an HDMI cable. When you watch high-definition video on the Zune HD's otherwise beautiful touch screen display, the picture will be converted to 480 lines of resolution.

The Zune HD also comes with a Web browser, HD Radio and Wi-Fi compatibility. Users will be able to access TV and video content via Xbox Live.

Speaking of Xbox… no word on whether we'll be able to play games on the Zune HD. It should, since other handheld game systems – including the iPod Touch and Nintendo's new Dsi – are really touting their gaming features these days.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Is Palm Pre an iPhone killer? We find out now

The Smart Phone wars are about to kick into high gear with Sprint's introduction of its "iPhone killer," the Palm Pre.

The Pre is exclusive for Sprint and goes on sale Saturday (6/6) for $199.99 with a two-year service agreement. You can buy the Pre at any Sprint store as well as Best Buy, Radio Shack and select Wal-Marts.

Several media reports claim that Apple's response will come Monday when it is expected to announce either a $149 or $99 iPhone, down from the current $199 8-gigabyte model.

Apple is also expected to release a new iPhone this summer as well as a new iPhone operating system that will work with existing phones.

Most smart phone companies may be playing a little catch up with the Pre.

The Pre runs on the new Palm webOS mobile operating system and features a drop-down QWERTY keyboard, unlike the totally touch screen iPhone.

Sprint also promises to deliver a phone that is equally at home handling your business or your casual conversations and usage needs.

“The argument that you need one phone for work and another phone for play, or that you have to make compromises between business and lifestyle productivity, is over,” said Dan Hesse, president and CEO of Sprint. “With Pre, compromises of the past are history.”

I can't say if that's true, but what is true is how you can save nearly $1,500 annually over two years with Sprint's simply everything plan at $99.99 per month versus plans costing nearly $50 more from AT&T and Verizon for smart phones.

The good news for consumers is that AT&T, which exclusively sells iPhone, and Verizon, which has the best network in the country, may lower prices to compete with the new product, which packs a big technological punch.

"The Pre's dynamic 'activity cards' approach to handling and navigating multiple applications is a great advance, but the core breakthrough is the integration of information across multiple applications on and off the phone," said Andy Castonguay, director of Mobile & Access Devices Research, Yankee Group. "With social networking and messaging being so important to consumers, the device’s new ‘Palm Synergy’ functionality – which gives Pre the ability to automatically pull friends' contact details, messaging addresses and personal calendars from different applications online and on the phone – will greatly simplify people's ability to communicate with their friends and colleagues the way they want."

A key feature of the Pre is "Palm Synergy," a feature that brings together your personal and professional calendar, contacts and e-mail into one centralized view, making transitions between work and personal life smooth and easy to manage.

For example, if you have the same contact listed in your Outlook, Google and Facebook accounts, Synergy recognizes that they’re the same person and links the information, presenting it to you as one listing.

Layered calendars allows you to view work and personal calendars can be seen on their own or layered together in a single view. Combined messaging lets you see all your conversations with the same person in a chat-style view, even if it started in IM and you want to reply with text messaging. You can also see who’s active in a buddy list right from contacts or e-mail, and start a new conversation with just one touch.

Cover boy Kobe Bryant loves to play games

Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers, star will be the cover athlete for 2K Sports' NBA 2K10.

After leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a remarkable 65-17 regular season record and a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals, Bryant has established himself as one of the best players in the game.

“I’ve been playing sports video games for as long as I can remember and honestly, I’ve never seen one come so close to replicating real basketball," Bryant said. "What 2K Sports has done is truly incredible. (They are) constantly improving and adding something new to their game every year that makes them better and better, and that’s exactly what I try to do each season with my game. It’s as if 2K Sports has been on a sports video game championship run for several years now, and I’m not even sure there’s a word for that kind of dominance.”

To support this announcement, 2K Sports brought on legendary, award-winning film director and die-hard New York Knicks fan, Spike Lee, to produce an exclusive TV spot that aired Wednesday night to reveal Kobe Bryant as the cover athlete for NBA 2K10. Lee, who recently directed the highly publicized documentary on Kobe Bryant, Kobe Doin’ Work (ESPN Films), is famously known for his intense love and passion for the game of basketball.

“It's quite obvious why 2K Sports put Kobe Bryant on the cover of NBA 2K10, which is the best NBA video game,” said Lee, whose recent documentary on Bryant has earned high praise. “One day Kobe and I will go 1 on 1 playing NBA 2K10.”

In conjunction with the reveal of Bryant as the cover athlete for NBA 2K10, 2K Sports will invite fans to vote on their choice for the official box cover. A dedicated voting site will offer fans a selection of NBA 2K10 box covers to choose from, and the voting period is open now through June 15. The box cover that receives the most votes at the end of the voting period will be unveiled as the cover of NBA 2K10 on June 16th. More information on voting can be found at the official NBA 2K10 voting site, www.2ksports.com/vote.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sony adds new motion controller

Following Microsoft's Project Natal announcement for totally hands free gaming, Sony has announced its own motion controller.

Sony's is a hand held device that resembles a wand with a ball at the end. It will use the PlayStation EyeToy to track the ball to capture motion as you play. It's due early next year. Sony says gamers will be able to write or draw using the wand, due to increased sensitivity.

You can easily imagine its application with things like baseball or sword-fighting games. Some publications who saw a live demo at E3 weren't too impressed with this early beta saying it was buggy and wasn't as seamless as Microsoft.

The guess here is that PlayStation will start marching onto Wii territory with its new toy and Microsoft may take gaming to new places and become the must-have unit. Talk about a comeback.

Who will be on NBA2K10? Kobe? LeBron?

2K Sports will reveal the cover athlete for its much anticipated basketball simulation game, NBA 2K10, Thursday night during a 30-second spot that will run during the pre-game show for the NBA Finals (9 p.m., ABC).

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Playing videogames with no controller? Revolutionary.

The biggest videogame news in a long time came out Monday when Microsoft announced a new totally hands-free controller system called "Project Natal" (See video below).

Announced during Microsoft's annual E3 press conference, Project Natal allows gamers to use their hands to control Xbox 360 games and movies without touching a controller, a definite one-up to Nintendo's Wii-mote, which you hold in your hand to mimic real life motions.

Nintendo's motion-sensative controller has become so popular that non-gamers are buying Wiis and using them as Yoga stations and other types of workout machines as well as gaming systems. The controller is key. Want to throw a ball? Hold the controller and make a throwing motion.

In Microsoft's new world you can do the same thing, but without holding the controller. If this works, it'll be the biggest videogame breakthrough since the original PlayStation introduced us to realistic looking graphics.

No one is sure when Natal will be available and what games it will work with. Microsoft officials did say the new motion-control system would work with every Xbox 360, but didn't commit backwads compatibility (which I doubt we'll see). You can expect to see costs in the $100 range.

I'm very anxious to see where this goes. The demo video below shows the system talking to you using voice recognition software and people turning off the system using their voice.

This is very exciting, don't you think?

D-Link Network Adapter wins Choice Award

If you have been reading this spot for long, you know we consistently praise the D-Link PowerLine HD Adapters, which allow you to create fast and easy wired network solutions in your home by plugging these devices into two or more outlets.

Today, the PowerLine Network Starter Kit won the Computer Shopper Editors' Choice Award and the PC World Best Buy Award.

In product reviews from both publications, the unit received top editorial recognition for features such as fast transmission speeds, easy installation, simplified management, push-button security and affordability.

Computer Shopper said: "Ease of use and speedy performance are two good reasons to choose the D-Link PowerLine HD Network Starter Kit DHP-303 if you're thinking of using your existing electrical wiring to provide Ethernet connectivity throughout your home. In our tests, installation was a breeze. We plugged one adapter into a wall socket close to our router and connected it with one of the included Ethernet cables, then plugged the second adapter into a wall socket in a room located on the other side of the house. Next, we connected our Lenovo ThinkPad notebook to the second adapter. Within seconds, the notebook was assigned an IP address from the router, and we were up and running.

The unit was also named "Top Pick" in the PC World Best Buy Awards. Editor Becky Waring noted: "its throughput was more than 30 percent higher than the competition's, and it carries a lower price tag."

This is one piece of technology that just works.

Monday, June 01, 2009

First Metal Gear Solid for Xbox 360 due soon

If you've been waiting for a Metal Gear Solid title for Xbox 360, your wait is over.

On Monday, Konami Digital Entertainment announced today that Metal Gear Solid: Rising is currently in development for the Xbox 360.

Raiden, one of the most popular characters in the Metal Gear Solid universe, will star in the all-new title. Raiden first debuted in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty as a playable character (PS2 version) and appeared as a non-playable cyborg in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for the PS3

No firm release date was given.

Ice Age actors lend voices to "Dinasours" game

The talent from Twentieth Century Fox’s upcoming Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs feature film will reprise their roles in the upcoming video game from Activision). The game, like the movie, features the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah and Josh Peck as members of an unlikely herd of prehistoric pals on a rescue mission across the tundra and beyond as they meet new friends and discover a mysterious world teeming with lush vegetation and fierce dinosaurs.

For the first time in an Ice Age game, players take on the roles of multiple characters such as big-hearted Manny the mammoth (Romano), the earnest but goofy Sid the sloth (Leguizamo), Diego the saber-toothed tiger, fan favorite Scrat and more. Gamers also get gameplay tips from the wacky possum duo, Crash and Eddie (Peck), and Ellie the mammoth (Latifah). Each character features its own strengths and abilities, resulting in a wide variety of gameplay experiences as players work through more than 15 action-packed levels. Players can also team up with friends and family in eight competitive multiplayer mini-games, another first for the game franchise.

The Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs video game is being developed by Eurocom for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii console systems. A Nintendo DS handheld version is also in development.