Friday, 31 March 2006

Hooray for "Hollywood"

IGN’s sources revealed that the Revolution will operate on an extension of the Flipper and Gekko architectures that powered the GameCube. The “Broadway” CPU (as supplied by IBM) has been clocked at 729MHz; in comparison, the Xbox 360’s CPU runs at 3.2 GHz, whilst even the original Xbox had a CPU that clocked in at 733 MHz.

The “Hollywood” GPU in the Revolution (a component developed and provided by ATI) runs at 243 MHz - the GameCube’s GPU ran at 162 MHz. “The ‘Hollywood’”, said one developer to IGN, “is a large-scale integrated chip that includes the GPU, DSP, I/O bridge and 3MBs of texture memory.” The Revolution will also boast 88MBs of system RAM. In direct comparison, the PS3 and the Xbox 3 boast 512 MBs of RAM.

Remember hardware specs do not maketh the game! My money is on Revolution in terms of pushing the gaming 'interface' forward. Think Macintosh.

Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Han & Chewie Combined!

This post was originally published on my new blog. However, this Star Wars item was just too awesome to pass up a reprint here!

Initial reaction to the first wave of Hasbro's Star Wars Transformers line was one of unfettered excitement, followed by disappointment and, finally, disillusionment! Rebellious reactions should be crushed by the arrival of Han Solo and Chewbacca combiners complete with electronic lights and sounds!

Signature window-box design.


Combined!


Heroic Han.


Cool Chewie.


If this isn't a very, very cool collectible then I don't know what is! Hasbro why didn't you employ me?

Sunday, 26 March 2006

Silica Shop Sunday

I'm not restrained in publicizing my affection for all things Atari! This weekend is no exception with the Universal Binary release of Mark Grebe's lauded 8-bit emulator Atari800MacX 3.2.

In the spirit of nostalgia. Silica Shop, based in Sidcup, Kent, was the UK's largest Atari dealer, before its Debenhams concession stores resulted in bankruptcy. Although I couldn't find a good enough Silica Shop magazine advertisement. Here's one taken from a 1984 Argos catalogue. Argos is a successful UK retail chain.



Kevin Simpson, a childhood friend and avid video gamer, and me drooled over this! And to think that I owned a Commodore 64 at the time! In the inimitable words of Dr Zachary Smith, Ohh, the pain!

Saturday, 25 March 2006

World Cup Winner

"Sky is just weeks away from an exciting new era that will transform the television viewing experience," said Brian Sullivan, Sky's director of product strategy and management. "Sky HD customers will be able to enjoy stunning picture and sound quality from the widest range of HD channels in the UK and Ireland. We're delighted that the BBC has said that its HD coverage of the World Cup will be available to all customers with a Sky HD box as a non-subscription channel."

Yesterday morning Sky, the UK satellite broadcaster, sent an e-mail inviting me to pre-order its new sky HD (High Definition) service!

Thank you for registering for Sky HD. As one of our registrants we promised to give you the opportunity to be amongst the first to get Sky HD. Now the wait is almost over. Due to the unprecedented interest in Sky HD we are offering you the chance to pre-order Sky HD now.

You'll need to pay a £30 deposit either online or in your local Comet store. Then during early April, before we open the lines to the general public, we will call you to complete your Sky HD order and arrange your installation. Sky HD pre-order is being offered on a first come, first served basis. Installations are scheduled to start from May.

Pricing of the new service comprises a one-off payment of £299 for the new HD set-top box and a Sky HD subscription of £10 month in addition to the main Sky subscription. The HD subscription includes access to Sky One HD, Artsworld HD, National Geographic HD and Discovery HD, as well as the BBC's new free channel.

Sky Sports HD will be available to HD subscribers who also subscribe to Sky Sports 1 and 2 while Sky Movies 9 HD and Sky Movies 10 HD will be available to subscribers of Sky Movies 1 and Sky Movies 2 respectively.

Sky HD comes with Sky+ as standard, meaning that customers will have to pay an additional £10 for a Sky+ subscription unless they take 2 or more of Sky's premium channels.

Free installation is being offered for both new and existing customers until May 31 or initial supplies are exhausted (if earlier).

The service soft launched a few weeks ago. HD is in its infancy and I'd advise a wait and see policy (hope you're reading this Gary Marsh!). Currently available HDTV consumer products are still below par, and remember that the television must support HDMI and not component or DVI connections (DVI to HDMI converters/connectors are available).

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

Springer

Today is the first day of Spring and British Summer Time starts next weekend! One hour less in bed.

If the phrase "More Than Meets The Eye" resonates, you'll be pleased to read that I'm currently watching Transformers Season 1 DVD. The review will be posted over on Cloister Bell.

The new blog allows me to indulge in further toy recollections! So, expect to see Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe (Action Force in the UK), Thundercats and Zoids making special guest appearances.

Saturday, 18 March 2006

Bubble Wrap

Although the template is not finished per se, I'm eager to premiere my new blog.

Cloister Bell - an alarm which rings in the TARDIS to warn the crew of impending disaster. It was first heard in Logopolis, and rang again in Castrovalva, Resurrection of the Daleks, the 1996 television movie, and the 2005 Children in Need special.

Cloister Bell will be dedicated to the subjects of science fiction/fantasy television and film, cartoons, collectibles and beyond!

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Power of 3

Sitting down at my Apple Computer (not just any computer per se) I was delighted to receive the following juice from SCEE Press Office:

PLAYSTATION®3 Launches Worldwide in Early November 2006

Tokyo, March 15, 2006 – Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) announced today that it would launch PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3) in early November 2006 in Japan, North America and Europe simultaneously. With a monthly production capacity of one million units, SCEI will push forward a powerful product launch to spread the platform rapidly throughout the world, together with a strong and attractive lineup of PS3 game titles.

PS3 incorporates the final specifications of BD (Blu-ray Disc), and with the overwhelming computing power of PS3, it enables to playback BD software at a high bit rate. With a maximum storage capacity of 50 GB (dual layer) and robust security, BD is a highly anticipated storage medium that delivers digital entertainment content such as games and movies at an unparalleled level of image quality.

PS3 is compatible with a vast lineup of television sets currently out in the market, from standard-definition TV to full high-definition TV.

Users can also connect PS3 to high-speed broadband network through Gigabit Ethernet and comfortably enjoy a wide-range of rich and exciting content and services over the network.

SCEI, together with the support and cooperation of game content creators around the world, will strongly promote the creation of a new world of computer entertainment available on PS3.

PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) Continues to Evolve Expanding the World of Portable Entertainment With New Peripherals, Features and Services

Base Model to Become Available in North America and Europe
Tokyo, March 15, 2006 – Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) announced today that it will continue to further expand the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) platform with new attractive accessories, features and services responding to active demand throughout the world.

Since its launch in Japan in December 2004, North America in March 2005, and in Europe in September, 2005, PSP® has already shipped more than 15 million units worldwide establishing its position as a new handheld entertainment platform around the world. With its overwhelming power, unparalleled in handheld systems, PSP® has gained huge support from a broad range of users.

To accelerate further penetration throughout the world, a new Base Model in black color will become available in Europe from March 22, 2006, and 199 Euro/199US$ respectively in North America end of March 2006. SCEI will also introduce Ceramic White for the base model of PSP® (PSP-1000 CW) at a recommended retail price of 19,800 yen excluding tax (20,790 yen including tax) for the Japanese market.

On the software side, a series of new PSP®Game are expected to be released from third party developers, publishers and SCE Worldwide Studios (SCE WWS) * around the world. Highly anticipated titles are such as DragonBall Z: Shin, Budokai (BANDAI CO.,LTD), LocoRoco (SCE WWS) and MIN-NA NO CHIZU (ZENRIN CO., LTD) in Japan, Field Commander (Sony Online Entertainment), Godfather (Electronic Arts) and Syphon Filter (SCEA) in North America, and Football Manager Handheld (Sega Europe) and Lemmings(SCEE) in Europe.

Since its launch, PSP® platform has evolved continuously with system software updates* adding new and attractive features such as internet browsing, playback and storing of high quality video. SCEI will further continue to update the system software and expand the world of entertainment with PSP®. As a next step, SCEI will newly add Macromedia® Flash® player and extend RSS Channel function which enable users to playback and save internet radio content and entertainment movies.

As part of SCEI’s passion to spread the entertainment world of PSP®. it has been introducing “PlayStation® Spot” * in Japan since February 2006. SCEI has now more than 150 locations at train stations, complex cafĂ© and games shops where PSP® users can easily enjoy various content such as trial game software for free of charge. SCEI will further extend its location base so that more PSP® users could have easier access to the “PlayStation® Spot”.

For expanding the potential capability of PSP® hardware, new camera (PSP-300) and GPS receiver (PSP-290) will be introduced from this autumn. By adding these new attractive peripherals, new features such as motion tracking technology of Eye Toy™, developing the new game titles by utilizing the video chat function, portable navigating system with GPS function are highly expected.

SCEI will also start a new download service offering selected popular PlayStation® format tittles from the past. By reviving software assets, users will be able to enjoy exiting PlayStation® titles anytime, anywhere on PSP®.

SCEI aims to expand the world of entertainment with game, music and movies in the mobile entertainment arena by offering new peripherals and the continuous system software upgrades for the additional features on PSP®. With PlayStation, PlayStation®2 and PSP®, SCEI will create and develop a new world of computer entertainment through the fusion of game, music, movies and broadcasting.

*) Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios *) For details regarding the system software update of PSP, please refer to our official website (http://www.playstation.jp/psp). *) Area (spot) in which multiple PSP users can enjoy trial version data such as game demo at the same time, using wireless LAN.

Product Information Japan Models: Product Name PSP®(PlayStation®Portable) Product Code PSP-1000 CW Color Ceramic White Recommended Retail Price 19,800 Yen Included PSP™ hardware AC adaptor (for PSP™) Battery pack (for PSP™)

US Models: Product Name PSP®(PlayStation®Portable) Product Code PSP-1000 Color Black Recommended Retail Price 199 US Dollars Included PSP™ hardware AC adaptor (for PSP™) Battery pack (for PSP™)

Europe Models: Product Name PSP®(PlayStation®Portable) Product Code PSP-1000 Color Black Recommended Retail Price 199 Euros Included PSP™ hardware AC adaptor (for PSP™) Battery pack (for PSP™)

Saturday, 11 March 2006

Lite Fantastic

Well, the Nintendo DS was sold, on eBay, in a last minute bidding scramble. Hopefully it has found a happy home.

Avid portable gamers can now pre-order Nintendo DS Lite from the folks at Lik-Sang.com. DS Lite is the epitome of urban chic and ships in desirable packaging! I'll be dropping them an email in the hope of securing a review machine. What a cheek?

Lik Sang was established in 1998 as the first Hong Kong based company offering video game and other consumer electronic goods to any kind of buyer type, even to the end customer.

Run by motivated and experienced Chinese, European and Japanese staff always striving for providing the best possible service to valued customers, Lik Sang have quickly become the largest online video game store located directly in the heart of Asia, the place where everything happens first!

Thursday, 9 March 2006

Singular Vision

Last June I wrote an article about the dethroned self-proclaimed King of Pop Michael Jackson.

Sony BMG's decision to release Visionary (a remastered collection of classic singles wrapped in ornate Epic records packaging) is a further attempt to nickel and dime fans already exhausted by an annual diet of repackaged hits.

This time around the unique selling point is format. The songs are being made available on DualDisc for the first time! In 1991 Barry Fox, veteran electronics journalist and media pundit, writing for ERT magazine, wrote that Sony artists would release their music on crisps if it guaranteed more sales (relating to Sony's stalled MiniDisc format)! Personally, I drew the line with The Ultimate Collection (4CD+DVD) and await new material.

In a move that mimics Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson is rumored to be recording a duet with West Life! Please pass me the new Prince and LL Cool J (Featuring Jennifer Lopez).

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

SCI FI Signatures

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be sent a very cool gift (courtesy of TV Guide). 4 collector's covers signed by the stars of Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. This was part of a SCI FI Channel/TV Guide co-marketing sweepstake, which ran last Summer.

Here it is in all its professionally-framed glory.

SCI FI Signatures

This week TV Guide is offering readers iTunes download coupons. Fans of BSG should grab a copy.

Did you know that genre star Lucy Lawless plays a new Cylon threat, D'anna Biers, in Battlestar Galactica? Lucy's almost unrecognizable beyond the glare of Xena's sword and sorcery!

Sunday, 5 March 2006

What do you want to watch?

According to a report on AppleInsider Apple is on the verge of announcing the availability of NBC Universal's Battlestar Galactica on iTunes Music Store UK. BBC and Disney are sure to follow.

Deals such as this would put the world's most insanely great computer company and vertical in the compelling position of challenging the cable, satellite and terrestrial broadcasters.

Battlestar Galactica

How long before iTMS dominates digital distribution?

Thursday, 2 March 2006

Mario World

Periodically I'll be advertising my eBay sale items here.

If you missed the 2005 Wizard World Philadelphia Spike Palz fret not! I'm now a Nintendo DS Handheld Console & Mario Kart Bundle.

•Bundle includes:
•Silver Nintendo DS
•Mario Kart DS

This is in mint condition - only opened once and switched on to ensure that there are no dead pixels.

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

Uninvited

Every Sunday evening I look forward to the ritual of watching Gilmore Girls (any show that uses the word eviscerate gets my vote). Upon accessing the sky+ planner menu screen, I noticed that Agatha Christie's Poirot had been added! Checking Digital Spy's sky+ forum confirmed that I wasn't the only one to have had an univited Poirot around for tea! The sheer impertinence of the man.

The above posits the question is sky 'soft testing' suggestions a la TiVo? This feature would clearly "add value" to the platform, but does raise the ethical issue of privacy. How many consumers want to have their viewing preferences tracked in this way? sky is already data mining every subscriber who has their box connected to a working telephone line (a contractual obligation for the first 12 months).

Should it ever be officially rolled out, I'd be more comfortable if this was a feature that could be turned on or off. However, I have nothing but good things to say about sky customer care. And the 6 months for 1/2 price sky movie subscription deal is sweet.

Read my earlier post on the aborted sky/TiVo joint venture.