Friday, 21 December 2007

Three Kings

This is my final post of 2007! May I take this opportunity to thank all my readers and sponsors for their continued support.

If I may focus on sponsors for a moment. I’m excited by the type of companies that this blog has been attracting of late! DK books are worthy of particular mention for providing fabulous competition prizes. If you’re interested in getting your message out to my readership you can contact me here.

Don't miss Doctor Who: The Voyage Of The Damned on Christmas Day!

I wanted to wish you all a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and a Festive Festivus. I hope that 2007 was a good year for you and that 2008 will be even better. I'll be back in the New Year...

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Blu-ray Sale

If ever there was any doubt that consumers were most reluctant to part with their money this Christmas, the early 'January Sales' should silence the nay sayers! Both online and offline retailers have started sales campaigns in earnest! Considerable discounts are available for savvy shoppers...

Stock up on a top class selection of Blu-ray titles in Amazon.co.uk's 3 for 2 promotion, where you can pick three titles and get the cheapest one free! Just add three qualifying titles and the discount will be applied automatically at checkout.

The Blu-ray format is designed to bring out pristine picture clarity and the crispest sound, so that horror titles like Hostel and The Exorcism of Emily Rose become more real and action flicks such as Layer Cake, Casino Royale and Spider-Man 3 seem like they're bursting right out of your screen. Have a browse and start building up your Blu-ray collection now!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Platinum Bells

The following is taken from the EU PlayStation site (subsequently removed)! However, it's a safe bet that Blu-ray Profile 1.1 will be available this side of Christmas!

An update to the PS3 system software was released on December 18, 2007. If you update your PS3 system, the system software version will be 2.10 and the following features will be updated. In order to download PS3 system software version 2.10, you will need a minimum 120Mb of free space on either the PS3 Hard Disk Drive (System Update) or on removable storage media (PC Update).

The PLAYSTATION 3 system software version 2.10 update includes the following:

* Voice Changer

The Voice Changer feature has been added to voice / video chat. Visit the Voice Changer guide in Help & Support under PS3 at eu.playstation.com for more details.

Using this feature, you can change the tone of a voice that is input from an audio device such as a microphone. High and low-pitched tones can each be adjusted to five preset levels. You can vary the tone when using voice / video chat under Friends.

Other new or revised features in version 2.10

Music

* You can now select [Type 3] as an option under Settings > [Music Settings] > [Bitmapping]. This bitmapping process was developed specifically for the PS3TM system to enhance audio playback.

Video

* DivX and VC-1 (WMV) have been added to the types of files that can be played. *
* Blu-ray Disc Profile 1.1 is now supported. **
* [BD Data Utility] has been added. ***

*
- To play VC-1 (WMV) format files, you must go to Settings > [System Settings] and set [Enable WMA Playback].
- Copyright-protected files or files that were encoded by using DivX 3.11 cannot be played. - Files that are 2GB or more cannot be played.
** You may now be able to use several additional features such as playback of two videos at the same time with Profile 1.1-compatible Blu-ray Discs. The available features vary depending on the disc.
*** The management data that is used by the Blu-ray Disc is saved.

Note:

* This system software update includes all features contained in previous versions.
* The new system software will preserve any settings previously made to the PLAYSTATION 3. Depending on the software title, you may not be able to play without first updating the PS3 system software.
* Do not perform updates using any data other than the official update data provided by Sony Computer Entertainment over a network or on disc media, and do not perform updates by methods other than those described in the product documentation or in this site. If an update is performed using data from another source, by another method, or with a PS3 system that has been altered or modified in any way, the PS3 system may not operate properly and may not be able to install the official update data. Any of these actions may void the PS3 system warranty and affect your ability to obtain warranty services and repair services from Sony Computer Entertainment.

This is a neat little patch for Sony right before Christmas, and helps to even the field yet again between the two competing HD next generation consoles as they vie for a place under the trees of good little gamers. The arms race continues...

Friday, 14 December 2007

Wii Raincheck

Nintendo has decided to pull all UK television advertising spots for its most sought after Wii due to serious stock shortages! Perhaps Nintendo of Europe should take a leaf out of their counterpart's book across the pond?

To help assuage consumers' complaints that they can't find a Wii, Nintendo of America announced this morning that they will begin a 'Wii Raincheck' program. If you pay in full for a Wii before Christmas, you can get a raincheck that you'll be able to redeem for a Wii in January.

Fils-Aime said that the program will be run entirely through retailer GameStop, who he says has "many tens of thousands" of certificates.

The program, says Fils-Aime, is for people who want "something to put under the tree."

"A certificate needs to be matched to a specific Wii which needs to be matched to a specific store. Only this retailer has the ability to pull off such a program," said Fils-Aime in regards to why GameStop will be the exclusive partner for this initiative.

Reggie Fils-Aime also said this morning that Wii will be available this weekend in many stores, advertised in circulars for Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.

The 'Wii Raincheck' program recalls Kenner's Early Bird Certificate Package for Star Wars! Kenner, blindsided by the success of Star Wars, was unable to produce enough action figures for the lucrative Christmas market! So, in an inspired move, Kenner offered shoppers in 1977 empty boxes which contained a certificate promising a set of action figures, including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and R2-D2, in the New Year! Thirty years later and Nintendo of America is doing the same thing!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

I Do Blu

Since Sony's PS3 opened my eyes to the joie de vivre known as Blu-ray, I've been smitten!

Whether it's watching Spider-Man scale the heights of a New York skyline or Spielberg's majestic encounter with visitors from a distant star, Blu-ray excels.

Now a proponent of Blu-ray, here are my aStores, which feature my recommendations:

I Do Blu Shop UK
I Do Blu Shop USA
I Do Blu Shop Canada

Sensing the need to step up promotional efforts behind the Blu-ray Disc format heading into the critical holiday selling season, a group of hardware manufacturers and studios have pooled their resources on a "multimillion-dollar" television, print and online advertising campaign, billed as the largest for the format so far.

The effort, called "I Do Blu," quietly kicked off its prime-time TV portion with a spot on "Dancing With The Stars," and will continue through the Super Bowl.

Companies backing the project include hardware manufacturers Sony, Panasonic and Philips, and Blu-ray-backing studios include Walt Disney Studio Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Lions Gate and Warner Home Video. While they declined to reveal the exact size of the budget, they say it is the largest to date for the Blu-ray Disc format.

"Before we were really targeting the early adopter [with Blu-ray] but now the time is right to really go broad," said Rich Marty, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment new business development VP. "The [PlayStation3] is coming out at $399 now, and while some of purchasers will be into games, we believe a lot more of them will also really be into movies."

"There are 35 million HDTV sets out there in U.S. homes now, and they need to be informed that if they want to maximize their high-definition movie playback, they really need a Blu-ray player," said Lexine Wong, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment marketing VP.

The ads don't focus on any particular brand to remain fair to the three supporting equipment manufactures.

"It was agreed that we can get a bigger and better message out there if we all do this together," Marty told TWICE. He added that some companies were invited to participate but opted out at this time.

Movies featured in the 30-second TV spot include some of the biggest releases of the fall, including "Spiderman 3," "Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer," "Live Free or Die Hard," "Ratatouille," "Wedding Crashers," the "Harry Potter" series, "300" and others.

HD-what?

Friday, 7 December 2007

A Christmas Gift For Your PS3 From Sony

The long-awaited Profile 1.1 firmware upgrade for the PlayStation 3 should be available later this month. It was confirmed by Don Eklund, EVP of advanced technologies for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, at the High-Def 2.0 conference Dec. 4 in Los Angeles.

With several studios lining up 1.1-enabled Blu-ray Discs during the first quarter, the upgrade will allow those discs with picture-in-picture features to be used on the PS3.

Also known as “Final Standard Profile,” 1.1 adds a secondary audio decoder and a secondary video decoder, and requires support for 256MB of memory, either built-in or from a memory card or USB flash drive. All Blu-ray players introduced to market after Nov. 1 are required to support the profile.

I'm hoping that this update will include the feted DTS-HD Master Audio update too!

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Gears of War Boot Camp

This time last year I was Wii-living my childhood, and Gears of War was garnering critical acclaim! I couldn't justify purchasing an Xbox 360 - especially after my first generation Xbox had failed. Well, Gears of War has finally arrived for Windows, which means Boot Camp comes to my aid at long last!

Gears of War for Windows features the amazing tactical action and multiplayer excitement found in the Xbox 360 version, but also adds a variety of all-new content, including three new multiplayer maps, a new multiplayer mode, game editor, five new game chapters and DirectX10 support.

Gears of War thrusts gamers into a deep and harrowing story of humankind's epic battle for survival against the Locust Horde, a nightmarish race of creatures that surface from the bowels of the planet.With Gears of War, Epic returns gamers to the massively scoped worlds, memorable characters, co-operative gameplay, and hyper-realistic combat that gamers have come to expect from the franchise, plus a few new surprises.

I also purchased Common Wireless Controller (Xbox 360/PC). However, the pack-in also includes Crossfire - Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows. Don't make the same mistake that I did and purchase one separately! Amazon, erroneously, promotes it as a perfect partner! Sending this back for a full refund.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Pre-order Wii Zapper at Amazon.co.uk

The Wii Remote and Nunchuk both take on a new feeling when placed within the Wii Zapper.

In Links Crossbow Training players use the Wii Remote in the Wii Zapper to aim at targets on the screen, with the Nunchuk controlling movement. On the Wii Remote, players simply press down the trigger (the B Button) to fire, or continue the pressure for a more powerful shot. They can also re-position themselves, turning in different directions by aiming the pointer off-screen. On the Nunchuk the Z-Button acts as a zoom function for the camera so that the shot is completely on target.

Links Crossbow Training sees each player take on the role of Link in a series of exciting and fast-paced challenges set in the world of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Players can get accustomed to the Wii Zapper with Links Crossbow Training and practice Target Shooting as well as the Defender and Ranger modes, ensuring an action-packed experience in numerous stages spread over nine levels. The object of each stage is to achieve the highest score before the time limit expires. Utilising the innovative Wii Zapper allows players to take aim and fully immerse themselves into the game in a completely new way!

Link's Crossbow Training (inc. Wii Zapper) is available for pre-order now.