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Skype on the PSP ???

PlayStation Portable

File this one under unconfirmed, quite a few gaming websites are reporting that Sony will announce a Skype client for the PlayStation Portable (PSP) next week at CES in Las Vegas, which takes place from Jan. 07-10. The news was actually leaked off the official Sony CES page.

Adding extra functionality to the PSP is always welcomed, but I am thinking Sony has bigger plans. Adding Skype to the device is probably Sony’s way of testing the market to see if there’s interest in a PlayStation phone. If people cling on to the SkypeOut feature, then this would give Sony enough reason to release a PlayStation Phone. With this add-on, Sony also intensifies its competition with Apple and its iPod (especially the iPod Touch).

Finally the perfect reason to purchase a PSP Headset.

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The Lowdown on the Canadian Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store

On Dec.‭ ‬11,‭ ‬Microsoft opened-up the eagerly anticipated Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store for Canadian Xbox‭ ‬360‭ ‬owners.‭ ‬With‭ ‬31‭ ‬videos available at launch,‭ ‬Canadians got their first taste of what to expect from a digital movie download service.‭ ‬But does the Xbox Live Marketplace video store live up to the hype‭?

Lets start by analyzing the cost,‭ ‬Xbox Live subscribers‭ (‬available for both Silver and Gold memberships‭) ‬can download older titles (also known as Library titles) in SD‭ (‬standard definition‭) ‬and HD‭ (‬high definition‭) ‬formats for‭ ‬300‭ (‬$4.80‭) ‬and‭ ‬440‭ (‬$7.04‭) ‬MS Points respectively.‭ ‬Current (recent movies) SD releases go for‭ ‬440‭ ‬MS Points‭ (‬$7.04‭)‬,‭ ‬while HD movies will set subscribers back‭ ‬580‭ ‬MS Points‭ (‬$9.27‭)‬.‭

Prices are higher in comparison to your traditional brick and mortar rental chain.‭ ‬For example,‭ ‬one of the major Canadian rental chains currently gives their patrons the opportunity to rent a new release‭ (‬either DVD,‭ ‬HD-DVD or Blu-Ray‭) ‬for a flat‭ ‬$5.00‭ ‬fee.‭ ‬With that in mind,‭ ‬you could say that Marketplace Video Store users pay a little extra for the convenience of getting movies from the comfort of their living room.

And those expecting a true HD experience out of the Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store might be disappointed as the HD content is only available in‭ ‬720p‭ (‬in comparison to HD-DVD and Blu-Ray’s‭ ‬1080p resolution‭)‬.‭

After the initial download,‭ ‬consumers have‭ ‬14‭ ‬days to view their content before it expires,‭ ‬or they have‭ ‬24‭ ‬hours to complete their viewing after they’ve‭ ‬pressed the start button,‭ ‬whichever comes first.‭ ‬The media can then be viewed indefinitely within that‭ ‬24-hour window.‭ ‬If by chance you weren’t able to complete your viewing within the first‭ ‬24‭ ‬hours,‭ ‬you will need to re-purchase the content.

At the moment, standard definition movies range in size from‭ ‬819MB to‭ ‬2.1GB,‭ ‬while high definition content go from‭ ‬3.2GB to‭ ‬5.6GB.‭ ‬Depending on your Internet speed,‭ ‬it might take a few hours to download your rental.‭ ‬The service does offers a‭ “‬Ready to Play‭” ‬feature that lets you start watching your movie as it downloads.‭ ‬A basic‭ ‬20GB Xbox‭ ‬360‭ ‬hard drive should suffice for SD movies,‭ ‬but HD enthusiasts should consider purchasing a‭ ‬120GB hard drive.

New movies will be released on a monthly basis.‭ ‬The store currently offers movies from three distributors‭; ‬Warner Bros.,‭ ‬Maple Pictures and MPI.‭ ‬More distributors are expected to jump on board as the Marketplace Video Store matures.

Currently,‭ ‬the Marketplace Video Store only offers video rentals.‭ ‬No word yet on when the service will offer TV shows,‭ ‬but the content should be available shortly as the Canadian iTunes Store recently‭ ‬started selling shows for‭ ‬$1.99‭ ‬an episode.

With digital media downloads expected to become the chosen format for entertainment consumption,‭ ‬the Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store is an excellent start.‭ ‬But,‭ ‬hopefully Microsoft will lower the price of the content as the service expands.‭ ‬With Apple and its iTunes Store creeping in,‭ ‬things should start to get interesting on the digital download front.

The Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store first launched in Nov.‭ ‬2006‭ ‬in the‭ ‬US and currently features over 300 movies.‭

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Halo 3 Pre-review Impressions

Halo 3

I’ve finally finished “Halo 3“. The game was great overall, and it was fun to play from start to finish. But I wouldn’t call Halo 3 an innovative title. The game was simply a “Halo 2” rehash with better graphics that simply helped progress the storyline. With all of the hype, I was at least expecting some sort of gameplay innovations.

The transition from the original Halo to its first sequel was more dramatic, at least in my opinion. In Halo 2, you got to hijack vehicles, duel wield weapons and play as the Arbiter. But Halo 3 didn’t do much to improve the Halo 2 formula, which is pretty disappointing coming from a developer like Bungie. I personally felt like the only reason I was playing this game was for its conclusion, which is sad in its own way.

I am going to hold back on writing more as I will be penning a full review by next week, but I just felt like dropping some quick impressions on the blog immediately after completing the game.

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Light and Dark Face Off in Metroid Prime 2 (Preview)

On Nov. 15, our favorite female bounty hunter Samus Aran returns to a GameCube console near you in “Metroid Prime 2: Echoes”. In her latest adventure, Samus crash lands on the planet Aether, a world torn between light and darkness. Samus will face-off against characters from both sides of the light and dark rifts creating a truly unique experience.

From what I’ve played of the title, the core graphics for Metroid Prime 2 are very similar to those of the original Prime, which is still to this day one of the best looking GameCube titles on the market. For the latest iteration, Retro Studios has improved the already stellar graphics engine by adding more detailed environments and features superior lighting effects. Technically you’re getting the same Metroid Prime visual quality enhanced by some modern improvements.

What sets Metroid Prime 2 apart from the original are its multiplayer capabilities. Now up to four people will be able to duke it out against each other in classic first person action. The finished product will include two multiplayer modes, deathmatch and bounty. The deathmatch portion is your straight forward shoot’em-up where the goal of the game is to rack-up the highest kill count. While in Bounty mode your goal is to collect the biggest possible purse before the counter runs out. Sadly, the multiplayer aspect will be limited to split screen gameplay as no LAN or online play is featured in the game. Still a multiplayer Metroid Prime will definitely be a party favourite.

Metroid Prime 2 is definitely worth picking-up for GameCube owners. Lets just hope the that the title doesn’t get overshadowed by the other powerhouse games coming out in November (Halo 2, Half-Life 2 and Need for Speed Underground 2). For one thing, Metroid Prime 2 looks like one of the year’s best GameCube titles.

André Barriault lives in Dieppe and is co-editor at the gaming website www.XGR.com – Originally published in [here] magazine in Oct. 2004

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Nyko’s Air Flo Mouse, a PC gaming novelty?

Following the release of the Air Flo controller for the PC, Nyko delivered another PC peripheral, the Nyko Air Flo Mouse. With the popularity of PC gaming, one would think such a device makes sense. Does the device deliver on its promise of a sweat-free gaming experience, or is the mouse just an expensive novelty?

Like the Air Flo joystick, the mouse works by dispensing cool air through four sets of systematically designed pores on the outer shell of the device. Two of those sets of pores are situated under your palm to disperse a maximum amount of airflow. The mouse also features two ventilated side grips that are designed to help eliminate fatigue and perspiration during usage.

The mouse has two ventilation settings, a high and low. Sadly, both settings don’t seem to disperse enough air to actually make a difference. An even higher ventilation setting would have probably done the trick. The switch itself, which is found underneath the device, could have been better positioned. Having to turn the mouse upside down in order to switch fan settings is quite bothersome.

One thing I noticed with the mouse after using it for a few weeks is that it now produces an annoying sound when initially started. The sound emanating from the device is similar to that of a defective fan. Luckily, the noise eventually goes away after a few seconds, but it’s still unacceptable for a retail product.

Another disappointing aspect of the mouse is its cord length. Out of curiosity, I measured the mouse’s cord with other mice that I had at home. Surprisingly, the Air Flo Mouse’s cord was exactly 1’2” shorter than your average mouse, which usually comes equipped with a 6’ foot cord. Perhaps Nyko should have thought of releasing a wireless version of the mouse instead.

Aesthetically, the mouse looks great. With its rubberized palm cushion and side grips, the Air Flo Mouse looks like a sleek and modern device. It’s actually a nice-looking mouse that would look great with a custom PC setup.

The designers of the mouse actually sacrificed comfort in order to obtain a modernized look. The mouse’s ergonomics just don’t feel right. The button positioning feels pretty awkward, the button setup should have been stretched to fit the mouse’s width. The side vents can also be quite bothersome and are utterly uncomfortable.

Negativity aside, the Nyko Air Flo Mouse is an interesting concept that has a lot of potential. I am actually anxious to see the next rev of the device to see whether or not Nyko improved the concept. The next iteration could greatly benefit from having some improvements such as wireless support, a better airflow dispersement system and a more comfortable feel. For now, save your hard earned cash for either a Logitech MX510 or the latest Microsoft Microsoft Intelli Explorer mouse. The Nyko Air Flo mouse retails for approximately $30.

Andre Barriault lives in Dieppe and is co-editor at the gaming website www.XGR.com – Originally published in [here] magazine in Oct. 2004

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Previous News

Peggle on iPhone OS Available for $0.99

The iPhone OS version PopCap Games‘ highly addictive “Peggle” is available for $0.99 through the iTunes App Store. The catch is that you have until midnight on June 14 to make the purchase. Be warned though, you might have a hard time doing anything else but play Peggle on your iPhone/iPod Touch.

All Your Entertainment in One… Xbox

On June 1, 2009, Microsoft announced several entertainment focused add-ons to its Xbox Live Service during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California. Following the keynote, one thing seemed clear, the Redmond Software giant is poised to push its Xbox 360 platform as the media-centric device for your living room. “Our goal has been […]

Zune Marketplace Post on Decabled.com

Visit Decabled.com to view a post of mine that was published pertaining to the recent Xbox Live Entertainment announcements. Click here to go directly to the article.

E3 2009

E3 kicks off in a few days. I’m interested in seeing what will be brought to the table. Surely there will be alot to talk about in the next few days.

Fallout 3: The Pitt Now Available

This one’s for those looking for some extra “Fallout 3” playtime. The Xbox only downloadable content, “The Pitt” is available for purchase through the Xbox Live Marketplace for 800 Microsoft points and weighs in at 492MB . Below is a blurb taken from the XBLA Marketplace: “Pittsburgh was once the industrial center of the pre-war […]

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