Thursday, 28 September 2006

That's hot

Toy retailer Toys "R" Us has unveiled its coveted "hot toy" list for the upcoming holiday season, and this year it includes a video game console for the first time - Nintendo's Wii.

"The PlayStation 3 is really geared to a savvy gaming enthusiast," said Kathleen Waugh, a spokeswoman for Toys "R" Us, of the decision to add the Wii to the list. "The Wii system appeals to young kids as well as adults."

The following is Toys "R" Us' "Fabulous 15" list of hot new toys for the 2006 holiday season:

* Blue Man Group Percussion Tubes from ToyQuest,

* Designer's World from Tiger Games,

* Dora's Talking Cash Register from Fisher-Price,

* ESPN Fast Action Football from Fisher-Price,

* Kid-Tough Digital Camera from Fisher-Price,

* Laugh & Learn Baby Grand Piano from Fisher-Price,

* Mindstorms NXT from Lego,

* My Scene My Bling Bling Styling Head from Mattel,

* Pink Nitro Notebook from VTech,

* Power Rangers Deluxe Manticore Megazord from Bandai,

* Speed Stacks StackPack from Play Along,

* Sound City Railway from Imaginarium,

* Tap Dancing Mumble from Thinkway,

* T.M.X. Elmo from Fisher-Price, and

* Wii from Nintendo.

Friday, 22 September 2006


Need some reading for the inaugural weekend of the Fall (also called Autumn)? Then why not read my brand new eBook, which chronicles an early Millenium obsession with computer-generated imagery (CGI). Download the PDF here.

This is the first in a series of free eBooks that will encompass collected movie and video game reviews and more!

Spread the word. Thanks.

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

The Entertainer

In time for the holiday season, let me introduce The Entertainer.

The Entertainer is the largest independent retailer of toys in the UK, with over 25 years offline and 8 years online experience. The brand ‘The Entertainer’ has been well established amongst parents through its network of 41 stores.

The Entertainer’s target audience is young children to late teens together with a small adult market (via board games). The product range includes many brand names such as Bratz, Doctor Who, Pixel Chix, Tamigotchi, Playmobil, Thomas & Friends, Hasbro, Mattel, Lego, Hornby, Star Wars, TP Activity Toys , MB Games, Barbie, Fisher Price, TOMY, Play-Doh, Heelys and many more.

Saturday, 16 September 2006

Do you need a Wii?

Looks like a lot of us do! Hit the stores to pre-order and secure some quality time with Zelda and Samus this holiday season!

Canadian readers

UK readers

US readers

Apologies to international readers not served by Canadian, UK and US retail markets! I'm endeavoring to explore new affiliate programs and will post updates as and when applicable.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

7 Up

iTunes 7 sports a blemished GUI, diminished by an absence of Aqua scroll bars, and Apple breaks another of its own HCI guidelines! However, I'm delighted to note the quiet inclusion of CD-Text (see Preferences/Advanced/Burning). This small feat only took 5 years to add!

Monday, 11 September 2006


Mark your calendars for two important dates this week!

Starting with Tuesday September 12th and the launch of iTunes 7 (surely this update will warrant more than an incremental number change), store overhaul and iPods... I'd like to see CD-Text, AAC Plus and Vorbis support added to iTunes.

On Friday September 15th Nintendo Europe will officially announce the launch date and pricing of Wii. Approximately the size of three stacked DVD cases, Wii's elegant design makes it an inviting addition to your entertainment setup without monopolizing it. Thanks to the Wii Remote, you're given more freedom to place the console where it best suits your lifestyle.

Will Wii become Nintendo's iMac and reverse their desktop console fortunes? The pre-order queue starts here.

Thursday, 7 September 2006

Redefined performance

What wasn't expected was Apple Computer's refresh of its ubiquitous iMac range yesterday! Tuesday's prediction was pretty much on the mark. The high end machine now boasts a panoramic 24" screen and GeForce 7300GT GPU.

From an avid gaming and computer graphics perspective, it's comforting to see nVIDIA back in the consumer desktop range, which is in preference to ATI. I'd start writing my Christmas wish list if it weren't for the following!

So, what's Santa Steve Jobs got in his toy sack that's so special and warrants an early iMac debut?

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Playtime postponed? (not on your Nelly Furtado)

This morning's SCEE Press Office announcement regarding the delayed launch of PS3 came as no shock!

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Announces New March 2007 date for European Launch of PLAYSTATION 3

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Announces New March 2007 date for European Launch of PLAYSTATION 3 No change in launch date for Japan and North America

London, Wednesday 6 September 2006
– Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today announced that it would revise the launch date of its PLAYSTATION® 3 computer entertainment system in the PAL territories of Europe, Russia, Middle East, Africa and Australasia from 17th November 2006, as previously announced to March 2007.

Launch dates for Japan and North America will remain the same, which are November 11th and November 17th respectively.

The revision of the launch date in the SCEE territories is caused by the delay in the mass production schedule of the blue laser diode within the Sony Group, thus affecting the timely procurement of key components to be utilised in PLAYSTATION 3.

The previously announced PLAYSTATION 3 shipment forecast of 6 million units globally within the fiscal year ending 2007 is not changed.

Given the above, both Microsoft and Nintendo will certainly capitalize on this weakness during the lucrative holiday season! The Wii is far more compelling and can viewed as the 'wild card' in the next generation console pack!

Tuesday, 5 September 2006

We'll Always Have Paris

I hope that The Pointer Sisters won't mind me cribbing the following lyrics. "I'm so excited and I just can't hide it!" Apple Computer has confirmed speculation regarding a special event to be held next Tuesday, September 12th at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, California.

The event will most likely usher-in new iPods, iMac HD (new footprint, Intel's new Core 2 Duo mobile processors and GeForce 6200 or better GPU?) and, possibly, one more thing! What that 'one more thing' is remains to be seen. However, AppleInsider isn't short on ideas.

Now, where's my invitation to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory? No fair!

Monday, 4 September 2006

MySpace minus FairPlay

In the wake of Google's strategic partnership with MySpace, and the appointment of Google chief executive Eric Schmidt to Apple Computer's board, comes the (not unexpected) announcement that MySpace is to compete directly with the all-conquering iTunes by offering artist downloads in MP3 format. This is without the aid of Digital Rights Management* (DRM).

MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe told my former employer Reuters: “Everyone we’ve spoken to definitely wants an alternative to iTunes and the iPod. MySpace could be that alternative.”

I'm more than delighted to see a strong competitor for iTunes as this will only serve to improve Apple's offering further; especially in view of the alleged forthcoming iPod/iTunes updates. Yes, critics continue to besmear the vertical integration (hardware/software) between iPod + iTunes, but it's a near-perfect paradigm irrespective of FairPlay*.

Whilst the onus appears to be on MySpace vs iTunes. What impact (if any) will this have on beleaguered record labels? I will monitor this development with great interest.

Friday, 1 September 2006

Universal Jedi

Although my gaming coverage has been frugal of late.

On January 23rd 2004 my review for Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy was published on Inside Mac Games (IMG). Now, nearly three years hence, Aspyr is providing a Universal Binary at no additional cost to the consumer. Like Blizzard they should be applauded for embracing such an ideology.

Aspyr Media's promised Universal Binary update for Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy has been released, giving owners of Intel Macs the chance to enjoy the popular action game. The patch also fixes network gaming and adds support for Apple's version of OpenAL, a 3D audio library.

In Jedi Academy players assume the role of a student who must choose between the light and dark sides of the Force while facing a new threat to the Jedi Order.

Here are the release notes for the patch from Aspyr:

• Jedi Academy is now a universal binary. Mods that use code DLLs will likely have to be rebuilt as Xcode-based universal binaries.

• The multiplayer app now disconnects from servers properly, and no longer forces you to quit and relaunch.

• Now uses Apple's version of OpenAL, which allows for true 3D audio.

I haven't played Jedi Academy for sometime. This might be the motivation I need to enroll for the Fall/Winter semester.