Review: Playstation 3 Slim Move Bundle

By Mike on 7:18 pm

comments (0)

Filed Under: ,

It happens to everyone. You go to turn on your aging PS3, and nothing happens. So you can't get your game on. There's no need to be ashamed. Like the Xbox 360 and your neighbour's kids, the original PS3s start to misbehave after two years. Sony introduced the PS3 Slim to solve the problem. The system has certainly lost weight, but does it still have it where it where it counts?

The Slim is about half the size of the "fat" PS3s. Sony overhauled the interior to use smaller and more energy efficient parts. It runs a lot cooler and uses half the electricity of the launch models. It sips just 85W while gaming, which is the same as most high end laptops. This is thanks to Sony's use of smaller transistors for the Cell processor and RSX graphics chip.

The Slim looks more like a pizza box than a George Foreman Grill

It's significantly quieter too. The older consoles ran like a hair dryer. The Slim's new fan can barely be heard. The system runs cool to the touch. The silent operation will make film buffs happy. The rest of us will appreciate a longer lasting console. Heat is the number one enemy of electronics. The less the better. Overheating is what causes most PS3s to die an early death.

Feature wise, the Slim is identical to the old 40GB. Sony has moved away form the holistic media approach of the original PS3. Yes, PS2 support is still gone, along with SACD playback and the card reader. They have thrown us a bone. The Slim can bitstream high definition audio over HDMI. Perfect if you have a good AV receiver. Like all PS3s, the Slim also now supports Netflix streaming and 3DTV.

The Slim's motherboard (right) is significantly less complex than the old Fats
Image courtesy of

The Slim comes in several bundles. The base model sells for $299.99 and comes with a 160GB hard drive. It comes with just the system and a single controller. For $100 more, you get a 320GB hard drive and the Playstation Move.

The Move bundle comes with the motion controller, the Playstation Eye camera, and Sports Champions game, and a demo disc.

The Move uses both the controller wand and camera to track not only motion but depth. It's more accurate than the Wii and should appeal more t hardcore gamers than the Kinect does.

Right now, not too many games support it. Sports Champions is a Wii Sports knockoff but its a shallow experience. The eight events get boring quickly. Future games such as LittleBigPlanet 2 and Killzone 3 will broaden its appeal. The controller can be a bit too sensitive at times, and it takes some getting used to. Look for a full review on the Move soon.

Overall, the Slim and the Move bundle are a nice addition to the Playstation family. Hopefully gamers can finally say goodbye to the hardware failures that have plagued this generation.

Score: 9 out of 10

What Works:
-Smaller size
-Less energy consumption
-Cooler running = less likely to YLOD
-Bitstreaming for HD audio over HDMI
-Attractive price
-Available Move kit bundle

What doesn't work:
-Still a significant downgrade from the old 60gb

Editorial: App store monopolies could kill open computing

By Mike on 11:19 pm

comments (0)

Filed Under: , ,

Installing new software on your PC is about to get a whole lot easier. Apple says they're bringing an "App Store" to desktop Macintoshes. It's a move that will change computing as we know it. But sales monopolies could threaten to turn back software innovation and limit consumer choice.

In the last couple of years, the United States Air Force has been buying up several hundred Playstation 3s. They can run Linux, an open operating system. They are easy to network, allowing its powerful Cell processors to work together to run simulations. Then Sony decided Linux was a security risk. All PS3s were have been of this feature. The military can keep running the cheap super computers they already have, but had no way to replace broken units.

This is the problem with closed systems. You're completely at the whim of the companies that own them. If they decide they don't want you doing something, you have no choice but to comply.

Apple has done this with the App Store. They are the gatekeepers who decide what is and isn't allowed on your iPhone. The rules for the store are arbitrary. If your program does something similar to one Apple themselves is selling, it's not allowed. Same goes for developers they simply don't like, such as Adobe.

Could the Mac App Store lead to closed desktop computing?

On the up side, closing devices does enhance security. It's difficult to infect them with viruses and other malware. They also limit what users can do this makes the devices easier to use for people who aren't tech savvy.

The downsides are the risks of censorship, monopolies, and limited innovation created by putting blocks on developers.

Desktop PCs have remained open for so long because they allowed flexibility and innovation. They can be customized for any task under the sun. There are no gatekeepers to determine what is acceptable. Something like Napster would never be allowed on the iPhone. But it did launch the download revolution. Something that provides Apple its bread and butter.

Beyond that, the customizability of legal software like Linux has changed computing for the better. This is because it is open. Open software allows you to create the user environment you want. Not what Apple, Google, or Microsoft want.

Desktop based app stores, if done wrong, threaten to take that away. They could make your home computer into another iDevice. It may work for some but businesses and power users will not benefit. It will strangle them.

The PC gaming world is doing app stores right. Software like Steam is multi-platform and innovative. It allows convenience with limited restrictions. Plus its not the only game in town. Users choose where to shop, instead of a single store hardwired into the device. Companies like Amazon could do well pushing for a system like this.

When Apple launches the Mac App Store in next couple of months, they promise it will work alongside other sources. You can still use discs or download software elsewhere. This could soon change. Don't let the likes of Apple monopolize your software buying. In end, it stifles all of us.

Apple sued over iOS 4 slowdowns on the iPhone 3G

By Mike on 5:41 pm

comments (0)

Filed Under:

Apple is being sued over performance issues iOS 4.0 caused on the iPhone 3G.

The suit alleges Apple intentionally crippled performance of older iPhones to boost sales of newer models.

The complaint states, "the true fact of the matter, as verifiable by information technology experts, is that the iOS 4 is a substantial 'downgrade' for earlier iPhone devices and renders many of them virtually useless 'iBricks'. Nonetheless, in reasonable and detrimental reliance upon Apple's false representations, false statements and false claims of full compatibility, thousands upon thousands of iPhone 3 users were intentionally misled into installing iOS 4 on their devices."

Lawyers for
Bianca Wofford filed the suit in San Diego's superior court. She hoped it would obtain class action status. She was seeking the replacement costs for the phone and $5000 in additional damages. In a statement, Ms. Wofford said, "While not completely disabled, the operability of the device was significantly degraded and the device was no longer reliable."

MMNTech warned iPhone 3G users against upgrading to iOS 4.0 back in June.

Apple released iOS 4.1 in September to correct performance issues, though some remained.

Apple has refused to comment on the lawsuit.

Source: DailyTech

MMNTech is now on Twitter

By Mike on 5:21 pm

comments (0)

Filed Under:

Want to know what's going on behind the scenes at MMNTech? I've created a brand spanking new Twitter feed for the site. Check to see when new articles are out, what we're working on, and what friends are talking about. Head on over and click Follow.

Review: Fallout: New Vegas

By Mike on 1:03 pm

comments (0)

Filed Under: ,

Life is a craps shoot. Sometimes you hit it big. Other times, you wind up half dead and buried in a shallow grave. Bonus points if you can do it all in the same evening. Fallout: New Vegas certainly isn't a craps shoot for Bethesda. It exploits Fallout 3's reputation for better and for worse. More classic Fallout is never a bad thing. How Obsidian and Bethesda executed it, that's another story.

The gameplay in Fallout: New Vegas is essentially unchanged from Fallout 3. You play as a courier who has been shot and left for dead. Your package, a platinum poker chip, has been stolen. The main quest has you tracking the thief to get the chip back. Maybe you'll extract a little revenge in the process. You wander the Mojave looking for clues to his whereabouts, eventually leading you to fabulous New Vegas. One of the few cities spared by the atomic bombs, Vegas is attempting to regain its former glory. However, rival and militant factions are all vying for a slice of this desert oasis.

Vegas Baby

The game differs from Fallout 3 in five key areas. The karma system has been replaced by a reputation system. Doing good or bad will either enhance or reduce your reputation among the Mojave's different factions.

The companion system is greatly enhanced as well. You can now issue orders to party members using the companion wheel. There, you can tell them to wait, attack, talk to them, give them items, or medicine. It's far more fluid than the clumsy companion system in Fallout 3. Your team mates are far more effective this time around as a result. No having to pickpocket them just to transfer new weapons and armour.

Issue orders to your teammates with the companion wheel

The third edition is a hardcore mode. Obsidian was trying to go with ultra-realism, and recapture some of the unforgiving difficulty of the original two Fallout games. In this mode, you have to eat and sleep. Medicine works slowly over time and stimpacks won't heal crippled limbs. I suspect most players will steer away from this setting. It's an interesting touch but most people game to escape reality.

Your favourite weapons are back, plus a ton of new ones

New Vegas offers a much enhanced workbench system. You can now collect raw materials; plants, bullet casings, etc, to create and modify items. You can also upgrade existing weapons with scopes and suppressors. It's very similar to what they did with KOTOR 2 and works well. A new skill category, survival, determines what you can and can't build.

Lastly, this being a Las Vegas themed game, you can gamble. There aren't too many casino games. Black jack, slots, and roulette are the only ones available. You can also play a card game called Caravan among wastelanders. Its similar to Black Jack but its not played with a full deck. It's a great way to earn, or loose, those hard earned caps. More often the latter, which makes a gamble.

The overall difficulty of the game is less than Fallout 3. Raiding parties, mutated animals, and traps are far less common in the Mojave than they were in the Capital Wasteland. New Vegas lacks that feeling of desperation players felt when first leaving the vault in Fallout 3. It makes gameplay faster, but less of a challenge. On the plus side, it makes exploring, and finding beds, less tedious.

Obsidian's story for the game is fairly solid. It's certainly not any better or worse than the original. Voice acting has been greatly improved though wooden facial animations steal from that a bit. They've done a really good job recreating the Vegas desert and its landmarks. New Vegas is far more colourful than Fallout 3. The grey of the Capital Wasteland is gone, replaced by vibrant earth tones and the bright neon lights of The Strip. Otherwise, graphics are the same as Fallout 3.

Audio wise, a lot of the music and sound effects have been recycled from Fallout 3. On the plus side, New Vegas has a much improved soundtrack of licensed music. These range from Dean Martin classics to Old West folk songs.

This is where the hedonistic bliss of New Vegas ends. What we have here is a solid game brought down by a complete lack of quality control.

Fallout: New Vegas is the buggiest game I've played in some time. You'll see dogs with missing eyeballs, only to see them floating next to their head. You can fall through the ground. Some even report seeing NPC heads rotate a la the Exorcist. Groups of NPCs will occasionally turn hostile and attack you for no apparent reason. Frame rates on the PC version are also spotty at best.

Gamebryo can create some stunning vistas. Frame rates are a different story.

I can live with all this, except for the crashing. Bethesda has been using the Gamebryo engine since Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion came out four years ago. The engine itself has been essentially unchanged since then. It's capable of some stunning graphics, but it's also unstable. Version 2.6 of the engine contains a multi-core bug. This causes the game to crash on any system with more than two physical CPUs. The PC version requires an easy hack to fix it. Console gamers will have to wait for a patch. The same bug is present in Fallout 3 and Oblivion. Bethesda and the Gambryo coders have failed to fix it after all these years. It's unfortunate that such a good game is plagued by so many bugs. Issues that should have been fixed long before now.

While more Fallout is always a good thing, Bethesda needs to get their act together when it comes to bugs. It's unacceptable to release a game so broken to retail. Gamers should not have to wait for patches ad infinitum to fix problems. They should have been caught while the game was still in development. This is the only reason why it's not getting a higher score. But if you can live with the bugs, Fallout: New Vegas will offer hours of fun post-apocalyptic RPG gaming.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

What Works:
-Better party controls
-More colourful landscapes
-Long game, 30hr+, lots of replayability
-Weapons modifications
-Better voice acting
-Reputation system

What Doesn't Work:
-Game too buggy, needs major repairs
-Hardcore mode more tedious than innovative
-Frame rate issues on the PC
-Can feel too easy at times