Thursday 29 March 2007

Black Box

Microsoft Unveils Xbox 360 Elite

Premium black console includes 120GB hard drive and line of new accessories.

REDMOND, Wash. - March 27, 2007 - Microsoft Corp. today announced the upcoming availability of Xbox 360™ Elite, a new model of the video game and entertainment system that will include a 120GB hard drive, a high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) port, a high-definition cable, and a premium black finish for the console, wireless controller and Xbox LIVE® headset. Xbox 360 Elite has enough space for a library of Xbox LIVE Arcade games and thousands of songs, as well as downloadable high-definition TV shows and movies available on Xbox LIVE Marketplace. The new 120GB hard drive also will be sold as a stand-alone accessory to give current Xbox 360 owners greater choice and flexibility in their games and entertainment experience. Additional Xbox 360 Elite accessories, such as the black Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, Xbox 360 Play & Charge kit and the Xbox 360 rechargeable battery, will be available separately. The Xbox 360 Elite and its accessories are expected to begin arriving in U.S. stores on April 29.

"Today's games and entertainment enthusiast has an insatiable appetite for digital high-definition content," said Peter Moore, corporate vice president for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. "Xbox 360 Elite's larger hard drive and premium accessories will allow our community to enjoy all that the next generation of entertainment has to offer."

Distinguished by its black finish and signature metallic detailing, Xbox 360 Elite will have an estimated retail price1 of $479.99 (U.S.)/479.99 euros/349.99 pounds, and will come packed with components and accessories for the ultimate high-definition entertainment experience.

· Xbox 360 Elite console. The console is equipped with a premium black finish and three powerful core processors capable of producing the best in HD entertainment (up to 1080p), 16:9 cinematic aspect ratio, anti-aliasing for smooth textures, full surround sound, HDMI output and DVD playback with upscaling capabilities right out of the box.

· Xbox 360 120GB hard drive. The 120GB detachable hard drive allows gamers to save their games and store television shows, movies, music, pictures, trailers, levels, demos and other content available from Xbox LIVE Marketplace.3 The hard drive is sold separately for an estimated retail price of $179.99 (U.S.)/179.99 euros/119.99 pounds.

· Xbox 360 Wireless Controller (black). This award-winning, high-performance wireless controller, now in black, features the Xbox® Guide Button for quick, in-game access to friends and music. It has a range of up to 30 feet and a battery life of 30 hours on two AA batteries. It is sold separately for an estimated retail price of $49.99 (U.S.)/44.99 euros/32.99 pounds.

· Xbox 360 headset (black). Now available in black, the headset lets gamers strategize or trade taunts while playing games and send voice messages to friends on Xbox LIVE.

· Xbox 360 HDMI cable. New to Xbox 360, HDMI allows consumers to get HD video (up to 1080p) and multichannel surround sound, all from one cable.

· Xbox LIVE Silver Membership. With this, gamers can chat with friends online, collect achievements and gamerscores, send and receive voice and text messages, and access Xbox LIVE Marketplace content such as game demos, HD movies and TV, as well as the best in downloadable games from Xbox LIVE Arcade.

· One-month subscription to Xbox LIVE Gold. An Xbox LIVE Gold Membership provides a complete online entertainment experience. Those who subscribe to this premium service can engage in competitive online multiplayer matches, tailor their matchmaking via feedback and accomplishments, chat with more than one person at a time, and take advantage of unique privileges in the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and Xbox LIVE Arcade.

The following accessories for the Xbox 360 Elite console will only be sold separately:

· Xbox 360 Play & Charge kit. Complete with a charging cable and a black rechargeable battery pack, the Xbox 360 Play & Charge kit allows gamers to recharge their Xbox 360 Wireless Controller without interrupting their gameplay. it is sold separately for an estimated retail price of $19.99 (U.S.)/19.99 euros/14.99 pounds.

· Xbox 360 rechargeable battery (black). The rechargeable battery pack provides more than 25 hours of gameplay per charge. It is sold separately for an estimated retail price of $11.99 (U.S.)/11.99 euros/9.99 pounds.

About Xbox 360

Xbox 360 is the most powerful video game and entertainment system, delivering the best games, the next generation of the premier Xbox LIVE online gaming network and unique digital entertainment experiences that revolve around gamers. Xbox 360 has a catalog of more than 160 high-definition games and is available in 37 countries. More information can be found online at

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

The Xbox 360 Elite should appear on European retail shelves as early as the summer.

Wednesday 28 March 2007

Portable Powerhouse

Today I'm selling my White PSP Console Value pack and video games on eBay!

Manufacturer's Description
The era of no-compromises handheld gaming has arrived. Get ready for immersive, 3D gaming on a console that is poised to change the way we think about portable devices. With wireless internet, video and digital music playback, and incredible data storage and connectivity options, the Sony PSP--or PlayStation Portable--is a complete solution for the mobile digital lifestyle. Sony has hit the mark by combining both horsepower and groundbreaking features into a package that weighs just a hair more than half a pound.

The PSP's exceptional performance comes from a 333 MHz processor that dwarfs the speed of competing handheld consoles. Add this polygon-pushing muscle to 4 MB of fast DRAM and 32 MB of embedded RAM, and you've got a device with graphics rendering capabilities close to that of the PlayStation2. And because no game is complete without audio, the PSP is generously appointed with built-in stereo speakers, as well Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound capability. Sony has also pulled out all the stops with the PSP display. The bright, 4.3-inch LCD sports a 16:9 aspect ratio and 480 x 272 pixel resolution--plenty of real estate for heavy gaming action and widescreen-format movies. All of this is powered by a removable, and rechargeable, lithium-ion battery.

From a controls perspective, the PSP is made for gaming. If you're familiar with a PlayStation controller, you'll be a pro at the PSP's controls in no time. Directional buttons, as well as an analog stick are provided. Meanwhile, the familiar left and right shoulder buttons, as well as triangle, circle, cross and square buttons are integrated into the device's slim case. Finally, home, select, and start buttons give you quick access and control over the PSP's important functions.

Supported Media
At the heart of the PSP is a new, proprietary media format known as the Universal Media Disc, or UMD. Each UMD can hold 1.8 GB of data, enough room for rich and complex games. UMDs, which are housed in a protective cover, slide into the rear of the PSP. Sony has declared the UMD an open format for developers and media content owners, so movies, music and other media are on the horizon from third parties. Sony has also signed on many popular game developers for the platform, so a deep library of titles is on tap.

While the UMD is great for read-only media such as games and movies, Sony solves the problem of data storage with the addition of a Memory Stick Duo slot. With Memory Stick Duo media, you can store your saved games, downloaded online content, personal video and audio files, and more. When you want access to these files from your PC, simply use the PSP's USB 2.0 port to turn the device into a fast portable media drive. Then, drag and drop files such as your photos, MP3s, and videos onto the PSP, just as you would any other removable storage device. The PSP ships with a 32 MB Memory Stick Duo, and additional media with higher storage capacities are available.

The PSP blows away the competition in the connectivity department. Indeed, the PSP's ability to connect to the internet, and to other PSPs and USB-based peripherals, is a real advantage. At the top of the list is Wifi connectivity, or IEEE 801.11b. Use this wireless internet standard to connect to other gamers around the world for hot multiplayer action--all from your couch, or your local Wifi hotspot. As mentioned, the PSP's USB 2.0 port is great for PC connectivity, but it also opens the PSP up for a whole range of future peripherals. Sony has plans for the PSP in other ways, too; the unit's infrared port speaks of remote control capabilities in the near future.

A Digital Companion
If you haven't already guessed, Sony has positioned the PSP to be much more than a gaming device. Out of the box, the device is ready to serve as a portable video player and photo viewer. By using the new H.264 MPEG-4 video standard, Sony obviously has its eyes on making the PSP a robust video device with support for feature length movies and more. In addition, the PSP offers a great way to transport and share your photos in JPEG format. And let's not forget the music. Load up your favorite MP3-encoded songs onto a Memory Stick Duo and you've got a portable audio powerhouse. The device also supports Sony's ATRAC audio codec, so you can play songs acquired from Sony's Connect Online Music Store. Sony even ships a nifty pair of earbuds--complete with an inline remote control-- with the PSP.

Box Contents

PSP device
AC adapter
battery pack
32 MB Memory Stick Duo
earbud headphones with remote control
Soft case
Hand strap

I'm also including the following video games and accessories:

WipeOut Pure
Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins
Tekken Dark Resurrection
Killzone: Liberation

PSP carry case

Players Kit for use with White Sony PSP (includes USB Charger & Data splitter cable compatible with Mac OS X & Microsoft Windows)

Happy bidding.

Tuesday 27 March 2007

All of a Twitter

The past few days I've been playing with, and beta testing, Twitterrific 2. The new features are welcome and I'm delighted to note a few more of my suggestions (doubtlessly suggested by others too) made it into this release:

Apple menu bar icon
Spell checker

I only wish that the menu bar icon included settings options a la Gmail Notifier. This breaks, for me at least, human-computer interaction (HCI) guidelines. However, don't let that stop you from joining in the fun here.

Thanks Ged for letting me play in the Iconfactory's sandpit for a while.

A Twitter friend, Drew Benvie, social media adviser for Lewis PR and a blogging expert, is interviewed in today's edition of the Guardian newspaper Why are so many people blogging off?

Friday 23 March 2007

A Link to the Past

No Sony PlayStation 3 for me today!

The media frenzy, surrounding the PS3 launch, has certainly yielded Sony acres of press coverage and free marketing. The Register gave the third generation machine an impressive 95%. But, dear reader, did the reviewer have to pay the GBP 425 entrance fee? Perhaps I'm being too harsh on the PlayStation's sleek and shiny contours?

I'm off to play The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, today's "must-have" Wii Virtual Console release, and will leave you with where the PlayStation began!

Thursday 22 March 2007

Do you have an Xbox 360?

Microsoft's Xbox 360 is enjoying quite considerable success in the UK and readers may remember that I was quietly impressed with the console; particularly because of its Mac SDK origins. However, this did not precipitate a purchase as Nintendo's Wii (Revolution) captured my imagination as surely as Nintendo's DS and DS Lite.

The Xbox 360's lead is mostly down to coming to market first, limited supplies of Wii and Sony's shambolic launch of PlayStation 3! Given Microsoft's aggressive business model, a significant price drop and product revision would come as no surprise.

A PS3 global price cut could come as early as October!

Yuji Fujimori said in an investor note reported at CNN Money that cost-reduction measures in the manufacturing process would allow Sony to pass the savings along to consumers without damaging the company's long-term profitability.

Fujimori's note outlined how Sony reduced the number of components in the original PlayStation from 700 pieces to 200 in its final form, and the PS2's makeup was reduced from 2,000 to 600 components. According to the report, the PS3 prototype consisted of 4,000 components, and today production is heading for the 2,000 mark.

IBM recently announced that the PS3's Cell processor is moving from 90nm to 65nm, an important move in lowering the cost of PS3 production.

Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer recently acknowledged that the PS3's price could be a barrier to many consumers, saying, "If we fail, it is because we positioned PS3 as the Mercedes of the videogame field.

Wednesday 21 March 2007

Up Close with PS3

Digital Spy's David Gibbon has undertaken an exhaustive editorial (cynics would argue an advertorial) on the PlayStation 3 and I've included an extract (and link to the full review) for those readers who may still be undecided as to whether or not they can justify a purchase.

On March 23, Britain will see the launch of the latest and undoubtedly the greatest video game console ever as Sony bring the PlayStation 3 to its most technology-led customers yet.

Already on sale in Japan and America, the system has been doing most notably well in the States. And in the UK, despite the high asking price of £425, there’s huge anticipation building up to the launch with most electrical retailers promoting pre-order deals as gamers keen to buy the most technically advanced console on the market sign on the dotted line.

We have managed to get our hands on a PlayStation 3 before it goes on sale so here we take a close-up look at the system and reveal whether we believe the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 will be the outright winner in the battle of the consoles...

To read the rest of the review please visit Digital Spy.

The 'cruncher', which lead to the cancellation of my PlayStation 3 pre-order, was the glaring omission of multi-region DVD playback. Oh well, I'm off to peruse and muse over whether or not I should replace my aging Sony Ericsson T310 mobile with an LG Chocolate KG800 or wait for Apple's delicious iPhone?

Monday 19 March 2007

Saturn Wii

Excitement continues to surround the speculated appearance of Sega Saturn on Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console! Ironically this is generating, in some quarters, more interest than Friday's infamous release of Sony's PlayStation 3, which is still available for pre-order.

I'm interested to know what Virtual Console titles readers have bought (if any) and want? Here are my Wii Points purchases:

Golden Axe
Gunstar Heroes
Super Castlevania IV
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario World
Donkey Kong Country
Mario 64
Mario Kart 64

I'd like to see the following added to Virtual Console (in no particular order):

Dracula X: Rondo of Blood (Turbografx-16)
Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest (NES)
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)
Panzer Dragoon Zwei (Sega Saturn)

Don't forget to equip yourself with both Wii Classic Controller and GameCube Wavebird Wireless Controller (my all-time favourite controller). And link your Wii with Nintendo VIP 24:7.

Almost overlooked to quote Sony boss Howard Stringer on the Wii:

"Wii is a wonderful device, but has a different target audience. If we fail, it is because we positioned PS3 as the Mercedes of the video game field. PS3 is after a different audience and it can be whatever it wants -- a home server, game device, even a computer."

Thursday 15 March 2007

Electric Youth

This morning's spring cleaning unearthed unexpected gems! I found an old Exeter College magazine, which I contributed articles to (these won't be republished here due to the naivety of prose). A review of, or more like rave about, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (1988) and Gloria Estefan's Homecoming Concert video. This elicited a train of thought that arrived at Debbie Gibson (there's a connection with Michael Jackson as you'll see)!

Please indulge my adoration of Americana and enjoy the following camp/nostalgic clips featuring singer-songwriter Debbie Gibson at her precocious best!

This first clip was taken from Debbie Gibson's "Out of the Blue" concert tour (1988). The concert was shown on Channel Four in the summer of 1989 prior to Bros' "Bros into Summer" concert at Wembley Stadium (first shown on Sky One and I still have a copy of the concert and documentary on VHS), where Debbie was a support act. The song, Foolish Beat, is a guilty pleasure and evokes cherished teenage memories.

Can't ignore Debbie's clarion call. Electric Youth '89...

How jazzed was I when she appeared in Michael Jackson's video for Liberian Girl and sang several notes?

Expect to see and read about more youthful crushes/aspirations in the coming weeks.

Message to Ben Amos, if you ever read this, Steps Posse Forever!?!

Wednesday 14 March 2007

Wii can but dream of Saturn NiGHTS

After installing and setting up my wireless network at home. I took the Wii online and, two automatic software updates later, was happily perusing the Virtual Console!

Virtual Console, as I've mentioned in the past, is a cornucopia of classic console thrills. And Nintendo has announced that alongside NES, Super NES, N64, Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) and TurboGrafx-16, that NEO-GEO and MSX are to arrive in a spring update.

At present this NEO-GEO and MSX update appears to be destined for Japan-only. However, I'd be very surprised if both platforms don't appear for the rest of us! It's not as though King of Fighters and Metal Gear failed to capture Western gamers imaginations! Incidentally, there has been some very interesting online speculation concerning Sega's Dreamcast titles appearing on the Wii's Virtual Console! Data storage aside, there's no reason to conclude that the likes of Crazy Taxi, Shenmue and Phantasy Star Online won't appear sometime in the future. Come to think of it, the much-maligned Sega Saturn might benefit from Virtual Console. Daytona USA, NiGHTS into Dreams and Panzer Dragoon would be terrific additions.

Unlike Apple Inc's current policy regarding downloaded songs on iTunes. Nintendo allows users to download a game, which may have been deleted, again at no additional cost. This also applies to any software updates (patches). For example if and when Nintendo includes Rumble Pak emulation for its N64 titles. However, the game is restricted to one Wii! In the event that the Wii malfunctions and has to be replaced, Nintendo will provide support. Big N should be lauded for that!

My Wii Console Code is 4054 9122 2571 1110

I'm off to play Mario Kart 64 and R-Type...

Monday 12 March 2007

Dark Matter

Clym Dodds, a friend whom I met as an undergraduate at Bournemouth University and worked on December Duet (1996), wrote to me to announce that Darker Projects' latest audio drama, in association with Infected Books, is now available online!

Autumn, by David Moody, is a vision of apocalyptic horror.

Autumn Trailer (MP3)

A Word from the Composer

I have been a tremendous fan of Zombie "culture" ever since experiencing Romero's Dead series. I can remember a friend's reaction of horror when he learned I had not seen Dawn of the Dead – at the time I was a little cynical and naive about the whole thing – I didn't understand what the big deal was. "You have to f***ing see it!" he exclaimed violently. That night we put on the film and around the point of the Monroeville Mall and that line "This was an important place in their lives. " I was laughing with delight, but I also felt the abject horror creeping up on me. This WAS a delicious sort of existential nightmare emerging. There were (perhaps obvious in retrospect) wonderful societal commentaries as well – the idea of a consumer culture, gobbling up everything and everyone in it's path; our collective fear in discussing or really dealing with the idea of our own mortality, and unprepared and unable to let go of the ones we lose (you're going to have to let go, or they're going come and eat you!); I realized after the film that Dawn of the Dead was not a film for gore hounds, it was a film for intellectuals. Intellectuals unafraid of facing a slightly more morbid subject matter. And, of course, intellectuals with a dark sense of humor.

David Moody's 'Autumn' feels born from the same womb. It hearkens back to the intellectual horror old school - his book had me imagining in black and white movies (pictures like Night Tide, Carnival of Souls, and of course Night of the Living...) with atmosphere and subtext, less gore and more subtly building sensations of isolation and that skin-crawling, existential type of fear. I attempted to convey these qualities in the musical score, along with a few healthy doses of schlock horror music fun!

I must also mention the level of freedom and support provided by Paul Mannering and his Darker Projects team. It's lovely to be involved in something so close to the (now virtually obsolete) genre of Radio Drama - Bernard Herrmann's work for Orson Welles' Mercury Theater productions are personal favorites of mine. And I just love hearing people being operatic and theatrical without any distracting images or CGI effects to get in the way.

Devin Anderson
March, 2007

You can listen to the full episode over at Darker Projects and download the free eBook at Infected Books. Darker Projects audio dramas compare favourably with Dirk Maggs' productions and I can't recommend them highly enough! But, then again I'm biased!

Saturday 10 March 2007


Nintendo is alleging that Sony's PlayStation HOME announcement is imitation! Well, Nintendo shouldn't forget that imitation is the highest form of flattery and that Second Life predates both companies console-based offerings. Of course the SIXAXIS Wireless Controller is a pale imitation of the, paradigm-shifting duo, Wiimote and Nunchuck.

Friday 9 March 2007

Fundamental Features and Core Self Expression

With all the PlayStation 3, sky and Virgin Media discourses, I'd overlooked to mention that this blog has undergone significant cosmetic changes, which you couldn't have failed to notice!

When this blog first launched, nearly three years ago, the TicTac template (blue variation) served an invaluable purpose! Thank you SimpleBits. And the look was tired and, frankly, too inflexible at this point of my online career. Hopefully the new layout is cleaner and more pleasing to the eye.

Thursday 8 March 2007

£20 off PS3 Pre-order at is running a PlayStation 3 pre-order promotion. Save up to £20 when you buy this console.

Just add this console and your selected PlayStation 3 games to your Shopping Basket before midnight on March 22, 2007 and enter the correct promotional code when prompted at the checkout stage.

For a PlayStation 3 console and one PlayStation 3 game (total saving: £5), please use this code: 7KMMEBB9

For a PlayStation 3 console and two PlayStation 3 games (total saving: £10), please use this code: AC3FP7B3

For a PlayStation 3 console and three PlayStation 3 games (total saving: £15), please use this code: P4XH256F

For a PlayStation 3 console and four PlayStation 3 games (total saving: £20), please use this code: ZGZ5TC5V

Does this mean that demand is low or is this bespoke bundle a bargain? Given the positive PlayStation 3 press reviews, especially regarding Blu-Ray playback, I'd say the latter!

Wednesday 7 March 2007

Wii Wins!

This afternoon I received a belated e-mail from Virgin Media in response to the BlogSpot issue. Here's an extract:

Thank you for contacting the Virgin Media Econtact Support Team.

I am sorry to hear you have been having issues with your broadband service.

This issue is happening due to a new address range being released to Virgin Media. Some sites filter out access attempts from addresses that are not currently in use. However, they need to update their filters when they are advised that a new range has been released, which some sites have not done. We are in touch with the hosts of BlogSpot to try to get them to update their filters, and until they do there is nothing further that we can do...

Virgin Media's explanation is congruent with Blogger's and therefore I wanted to post this for the purposes of balance and fairness. And to address any concerns that readers, also affected by this issue, may have had. For me, the matter is closed.

I can now connect a brand new Belkin High-Speed Mode Wireless G Router to my cable modem and update the Wii's firmware and download the latest addition to the burgeoning Virtual Console gallery - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. But first, I need to buy a 2000 Wii Points Card. A Wii Points Card is used, in much the same way as an iTunes Gift Certificate, for downloading extra features and content, including the greatest games from the NES, Super NES, N64, Sega Mega Drive and NEC TurboGrafx video game consoles.

Monday 5 March 2007

Lost Connection

During the past week I've been unable to view any site hosted on BlogSpot! Suffice to say that I contacted my ISP, Virgin Media, to report a possible DNS issue and, initially, thought that the matter would be resolved in a timely matter. However, their Technical Support team did not follow-up my complaint via telephone or e-mail. Therefore I decided to start threads on Apple Support Discussions, Digital Spy and Google Groups.

Thankfully someone at Blogger picked up the bait and investigated the matter; there was a network issue affecting certain UK-based ISPs. A workaround is in place whilst further investigations are carried out.

Due to this negative experience with Virgin Media's Technical Support, I will no longer be recommending the company. I've already started encouraging family, friends and acquaintances, caught on the receiving end of the sky/Virgin Media battle, to switch!

And don't think of Virgin Media as the underdog! It's tantamount to Manchester United vs Chelsea FC!

Sunday 4 March 2007

All Good Things

This blog started in May 2004 when The OC debuted on UK television screens. Starved of Roswell, Buffy and Dawson's Creek. Orange County provided plenty of laughs, thrills and geeky amusement! Seth's comic book obsession and penchant for perky brunettes parallels my own!

No sooner am I up-to-date with Apple Inc kit; as depicted in The OC. The OC ends! Hot damn!

Apple iTunes

It's time to say goodbye to the first family of Orange County. In Season Four, high school seems like a distant memory for the young graduates, who have been thrust into adulthood after the death of their beloved friend Marissa. The Cohens struggle to keep Ryan focused on the future, fighting the forces that threaten to pull him back into his old life. Having left Orange County, Summer attends Brown University in Rhode Island, where she has reinvented herself as a left-leaning, tree-hugging activist. And, lonely in Orange County, Seth works at a local comic book store.

So long Sandy, Seth, Summer and co. It was fun and I'll miss seeing you on my Sony Plasma! Perhaps The Real OC will show up on Joost™ as part of the Viacom deal?

Friday 2 March 2007

Jungle Joost™

This afternoon I received confirmation from Joost™ that I'm now an official beta tester for their peer-to-peer streaming video client (Intel-based Mac support only, although a PowerPC build is in the works).


Joost™ is a new way of watching TV on the internet, which uses new and established technologies to provide the best of both the internet and TV worlds. We're in the process of making it as TV-like as we can, with programmes, channels and adverts. You can also see some things that we think will enhance the TV experience: searching for programmes and channels, for example, as well as social features like chat. There are many more new features to come!

How does it work?

Joost™ uses secure peer-to-peer technology to stream programmes to your computer. Unlike other TV and video-based web applications, it does not require users to download any files to their computers or browse through complicated websites.

Viacom Inc. and Joost entered into a content provider agreement for the Joost platform on February 20, 2007. Under the agreement divisions of Viacom (including MTV Networks, BET Networks and Paramount Pictures) will license their "television and theatrical programing" to Joost™.

As yet I don't have any invitation tokens to give out to regular readers. However, anyone who leaves a non-destructive comment (on any of my posts) will be given first consideration.