Mass Effect Infiltrator Available on iOS


Don’t @Avarinne I’m not sure her PhD can survive a version of Mass Effect that she can carry around with her…

The game is available now on the App Store for £4.99:

“Players take on the role of our protagonist, Randall Ezno, a Cerberus agent who becomes disillusioned with the organization he works for, eventually turning into one of their fiercest enemies as he uncovers the depths that Cerberus will plumb to achieve their despicable goals,” said EA of the game’s plot. “Along the way the player gathers important Intel that will be shared with the Alliance to help sway the final confrontation in Mass Effect 3 through the Galaxy @ War system.”

It looks very pretty, I’ve not had a chance to watch the video fully, I’m sure that avarinne will buy it and I’ll get a chance to look at it over her shoulder, and if I’m lucky maybe play it.

Is choice a bad thing in consumer electronics?

I’ve been thinking about getting a tablet PC for some time now and I’ve been humming and hawing whether to get an Android tablet like the Motorola Xoom, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, or whatever one is getting the most media attention at the moment. My other option is to get an iPad 2; now I was initially skeptical about the iPad when it launched, it lacked several features that I thought were “essential” at the time, was too expensive, and was locked in Apple’s legendary walled garden etc.

As time goes on however I’m warming to the iPad, those essential features don’t seem so essential, the price although just as expensive seems to be the same as all the other tablets on the market, plus the iPad seems to be the only one that is available subsidised with a data tarrif in the UK. As for the walled garden… I have to admit having used an iPad it’s a really nice garden. I mean it’s no garden of eden, but… I’m going to stop that metaphor before I start talking about being chucked out of the garden for eating an Apple.

Anyway, I look at the Android landscape and it’s constantly changing, there are countless articles that compare the “best Android tablets” on the market, but by the time you read the article it’s already obsolete because bigger better more powerful tablets have been released.

Don’t get me wrong, I think this is awesome, I really like the Android ecosystem and I love my Android phone.

There is an implicit “but” in that last sentence though, the “but” is that my top of the line HTC Desire was obsolete 3-4 months after I got it, I’m not looking at all the cool Tegra2 powered smart phones with envy. Okay it’s a year later now, and my phone contract is nearing an end, but I wanted a Desire HD when that came out, and there has been phone after phone that I’ve thought hey that’s pretty cool I want that.

Before I went Android it was the constant Stream of Nokia phones that filled me with envy, not sooner had you bought a new Nokia phone then they would release a new one with a slightly better screen, slightly enhanced camera, or one cool new feature. They just kept on coming, no manufacturer should make you regret buying one of their products, but that is how I’ve always felt with phones, there is always a better one around the corner, so how long do you wait?

This is where I think Apple may have stumbled onto something, with Apple you know where you stand, they will without fail release a new iPhone every year, and it seems that this policy is being extended to the iPad. this new phone/Tablet will provide an incremental upgrade to the previous one, so if you are a gadget whore you will want to get the latest and greatest but if you aren’t it’s okay if you skip a generation. This works well with the 18-24 month contracts that carriers are pushing these days, you can comfortably buy on release date and be happy with your phone/tablet for two years before it’s time to get the next iteration.

Apple also subscribe to the Highlander “There can be only one” strategy, all iPhones are created equal, the only difference is the size of the solid state drive, you don’t have to worry about getting the one with the better processor or the one with or without GPS or Bluetooth, or WiFi or whatever other sparkly feature, they all have the exact same features. The same applies to the iPad except that you have the choice of 3G or not, although arguably if you wanted a non 3G iPhone you can get an iPod touch (Don’t call it an iTouch, Apple employees hate that).

So yeah, from a consumers point of view there is something comforting in the knowledge that there isn’t going to be a bigger better badder, more sparkly phone/tablet coming out in a months time to make your once shiny but now quite dull one look like a turd with a touchscreen.

From a manufacturers point of view Apple’s iPhone team have a year to focus on building the best possible iPhone they can without being distracted by releasing half a dozen different other phones in the interim, they have one product one live version of the OS and one dream (okay I just like having things in three’s because it sounds better they probably don’t have one dream).

Whether or not I get an Android tablet or an iPad 2 is still up in the air, I’m probably going to play the waiting game a little longer, but how much longer? I don’t know.

As far as I’m concerned Nintendo has lost the Handheld “Console War” for this generation…

TL;DR: Battery life and touch screen on 3DS sucks. I think handhelds are dying out and are going to be replaced with more generic devices, probably not phones, but probably tablets.

A report from Arstechnica about the battery life of the 3DS confirms my worst fears. The 3-4 hours was not a conservative estimate, apparently if you turn off 3D WiFi and sound you get a whopping 5 hours, assuming the game you are playing doesn’t require these features.

Contrast this with the DS’ battery life, of 10 Hours (Wikipedia), it’s just not good enough. If your handheld can’t keep a child occupied playing Pokemon for most of a trans-Atlantic flight then there is little point in it being a handheld.

Also having tried out the 3DS the 3D aspect of it wasn’t much to write home about, sure it looked cool, but I’m not sure how much it adds to game-play, I’m one of those people who doesn’t like 3D movies, so I may be  a little biased, but it strikes me that the addition of 3D has hamstrung the console by taking away one of the core advantages that Nintendo handhelds have always had; battery life.

Game Boy Vs. Game Gear, DS Vs. PSP, GBA Vs. Well there was no viable competition for the GBA…  Nintendo have always had the edge when it came to battery life, and they’ve just sacrificed that edge for a gimmick.

The DS’ other novel feature the touch screen seems to have been ignored in the 3DS, I had a go at using the 3DS at a Nintendo open day and the touch screen was terrible, it’s a resistive touch screen, so you have to use the stylus. While this may have been acceptable when the DS was released in 2004 it’s not acceptable now. Everyone and their monkey has a touch screen smartphone with a capacitive screen, meaning you can use your fingers, the 3DS feels like a step back after using that.

As far as I’m concerned the jury is still out with regards to whether the Sony NGP will be the clear winner in the handheld battle, it certainly has every feature under the sun… But it’ll probably come with a price to match. I’m starting to think that the hype about smartphones and tablets usurping the handheld gaming market might be true, for one thing they can be subsidised by phone contracts so it feels like  they cost less, and for another they seem to have the raw power that handhelds lack.

The issue fails back to battery life though, my Android smartphone barely lasts a day if I use it for texting, calls, and checking Twitter. Add gaming to that and I’ll need an extra battery.

The iPad manages 10 hours of use, and if you do deplete the battery you aren’t cutting your self off from the world, which is why I think there is a market for tablets in gaming. The processor is powerful, the screen is huge and the battery life is awesome. Plus you can do other things on it like browse the web, check social networks etc…. You may be locked into Apple’s walled garden but what a garden!

There is the option of Android tablets, I’ve yet to try one aside from playing with a Galaxy Tab in a shop, I wasn’t impressed. I am impressed with Honeycomb, or at least the videos I’ve seen of it online, but I’ve not had a chance to play with it yet and I’m going to wait till I do before I formulate an opinion.

This is turning into a rant…

Via Arstechnica

The iPad: I Take It Back It’s Actually Pretty Cool

I’ve been a stark opponent of the iPad, I think as part of my Android advocacy I was blinded to this device and tarred it with the same brush I tar the iPhone. Initially I think the heinous price was my main issue; although I still think that the device is ridiculously expensive. I’ve still got some issues with missing features, notably the lack of an SD card slot.

However I’ve had a chance to play with Avarinne’s new iPad and I have to say I’m impressed, it’s not an oversized iPhone/iPod Touch, it’s a netbook without a physical keyboard running a sleek UI. The device its self is wonderfully thin, the screen is bright and crisp, and the battery lasts for ages.

Apps wise I have to admit that the apps available for the iPad knock the pants off anything that’s available in the Android market, not for functionality but for sheer polish. Many, note: not all, Android apps look like someone cobbled them together with gaffa tape in an evening from code they found on a tutorial online, while the fact that anyone can release an app to the Android market is a good thing it does mean that a lot of dross gets through, people even post their hello world applications to the market, sometimes opting to charge for them…

As much as I disagree with Apple’s review process, it does separate the wheat from the chaff, and I think because of this the wheat is overall of better quality. Also the fact that the iOS has Apple’s backing means that there are an awful lot of “Official” versions of games available, like Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne and Scrabble. All of these should be on the Android market none of them are.

I don’t know why they aren’t I think Android has the hacker community hooked, but it’s yet to convince big business that it’s a viable platform. Maybe they don’t want to take the risk of developing for a platform where people are used to getting everything for free? Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a lot easier to pirate Android software because you can install software that hasn’t come from the market? Maybe it’s the fact that despite the fact that Android is supposedly gaining market share over the iPhone, people who buy iPhones buy them because of the apps and people who buy Android phones buy then because they are what the guy in the shop recommends they get as the latest whizbang gizmo, so they don’t even bother to explore the apps.

It’s not like Android users don’t download good software when it is released, when Angry Birds was released for Android, so many people downloaded it that it brought down the servers of GetJar. With any luck that will prove to people that Android users are willing to download software. The problem is that they were all free downloads, Angry Birds on Android is add supported, so no one bought it.

I think that’s one of the major issues, Android users have a sense of entitlement to free software, if they can’t get it for free they don’t bother, or they pirate it. I’ve only bought one game on my phone, Avarinne has bought 2 and a live wallpaper. Contrast this with the fact that within minutes of getting her iPad Avarinne had bought several apps and was merrily playing about with them?

Are apps easier to find on the iPad? Are they better? Are they easier to buy? I don’t know. But do know that I am impressed with the iPad. I wouldn’t pay £600 odd pounds to get one outright because I never have that kind of money lying about, but I would consider paying £199 and then a monthly subscription for data to cover the cost, it just so happens that both Three and Orange have just announced that exact deal. £25/a month for 15 Gig internet on Three and £27-£25/month on Orange (Depending on whether you have an existing Orange contract) for just 1 Gig. Both at however 24 month contracts and you end up paying £200 more than you would have for the iPad had you bought in in store, that £200 is £40 less than you would have paid for £10/month contract for data though so it is a case of swings and roundabouts.

One of the things that stopping me from going for it now (Aside from the fact that I’m broke) is that I keep hearing rumours of an iPad 2 coming out possibly as soon as February, no doubt it will be more expensive and will have a slew of features that the current one doesn’t, I’m banking on:

  1. An SD Slot, possibly also a USB.
  2. A front facing camera for FaceTime
  3. A slightly better screen, I’d love it to be a PixelQi but thats doubtful
  4. A Faster (Dual Core?) processor.
  5. Slightly better battery life (I’d reckon 12-14 rather than current 10)
  6. HDMI mini out, or mini display port (Apple like Display Port)
  7. Better Support for mobile networks in the US which no one outside of America cares about.

Lets see if I’m right…

Mac Classic iPad Stand

This is possibly the only way I could justify buying an iPad. Hirac a Japanese modder has  converted an old Mac Classic into an iPad stand, it looks amazing.

The older Macs will always hold a special place in my heart, I’m a reformed member of the cult of Jobs, from way back before it was hip to own an Apple computer.

It looks perfect, almost as if it was made for it.

Via  hirac.