Archive for On Technology

What I Want: E3 Day 1

Yesterday’s E3 announcements brought much of what I expected. All I *really* cared about was the Microsoft press conference, even though I was just as glued to my computer screen for EA, Ubisoft, and Sony. It was an underwhelming kind of day. Microsoft showed off about 3 things I cared about: Halo 4, Smart Glass (and by extension, IE on Xbox), and a teaser for Twisted Pixel’s new game “LocoCycle”. A surprise came in the form of the new South Park game, which looks absolutely incredible! Everything else was very “meh”. Same for most of EA and Ubisoft. Ubisoft did show off a new Avengers game, though it isn’t immediately clear what it is or how it plays. They also showed Rayman Legends for the Wii U, which looks like an absolute blast and showed off just how unique and innovative the Wii U is. Sure Assassin’s Creed 3 and Watch Dogs also looked great, but I think Ubisoft’s strongest point was their Wii U bit.

Speaking of the Wii U, people want to keep making comparisons between the Wii U and Xbox Smart Glass (and to a lesser extent, PS3 w/ Vita as a controller) like they’re the same thing. I don’t understand this. While Microsoft is pushing for the tablet to interact with the TV/Xbox as a companion experience, with the Wii U, the interaction between a tablet and the TV is THE experience. Developers can’t necessarily assume that people will have access to Smart Glass, but they know that everyone with a Wii U will have a Game Pad in their hands. Unlike what some people assume, I think you’ll see very different experiences on each of these platforms. Much like they did with motion gaming, Nintendo will lead the industry down the path of tablet+TV gaming, and I imagine we’ll see it as a standard part of the next generation of consoles from Microsoft and Sony.

Sony’s conference was interesting to a degree. On one hand I think Last of Us looks great, I know I’ll never play it. The bit about PlayStation All Stars was really exciting, but probably for the wrong reason. I’m now, more than ever, looking forward to a next-gen Super Smash Brothers.

Nintendo is up to bat today, and I expect they’ll hit a home run. As long as they show off some great games for the Wii U, they’ll likely “win” E3. I’d like to see a new Mario or new Zelda (Either will do) for the Wii U, and maybe the revival of another semi-dormant franchise (Kirby?). Nintendo also needs to demo some third-party blockbusters. Black Ops 2 for Wii U with some unique features would suffice.

With regard to just the hardware, I want to see more about the interaction between the GamePad and the console. Can there be more than one GamePad in play? What about colors? I’d love the return of the wacky colors of the N64, but that seems like a long shot. We need a price point for the Wii U that isn’t absurd. $300ish would be ideal, but may be too low. Nintendo needs to play the numbers right to sell a ton of these things this holiday.

On the 3DS front, I’m hoping for a new Pokemon game (NOT Black and White 2 for the DS) with a companion game (ala Pokemon Stadium) for the Wii U. Would it be too much to ask for another revival of Golden Sun? Oh, and also a new Zelda game for the 3DS. Even though it wouldn’t be “new” I’d be content with a Majora’s Mask remake. Maybe also some news about how the 3DS will interact with the Wii U. I think anything beyond that is getting greedy. And yes, just get the announcement of the 3DS XL over with. We all know its coming. I’ll be disappointed, sure, but I expected this. I won’t be angry unless there are significant changes like a second circle pad, or joysticks instead of circle pads. That’d upset me.

Oh. And Smash Brothers. Come on Nintendo, don’t let me down. Punch Sony in the balls by announcing a Super Smash Brothers for both the Wii U and 3DS w/ cross-platform play and all sorts of crazy characters. You can do it. I have faith in you.

What I Want: E3 Day 0

This year, rather than writing about my reactions to E3 stuff, I’m going to write about what I’d like to see come out of each day. Yesterday (day -1?) Nintendo had a Pre-E3 stream that revealed more about the Wii U which looks incredible. I’ll certainly be getting one at launch. Now, for today…

First up is Microsoft, and I’m not sure what I really want to see. I know we’ll be seeing a bunch of Halo 4, and I’m really excited about that. As I mentioned in another post, that’s one of the few games that I’m absolutely buying this year. We’ll also see Twisted Pixel’s new game, and I love those guys so of course I’m excited about that. Maybe we’ll also see some stuff about Borderlands 2? Or perhaps Harmonix will show off more Rock Band Blitz? I’m stoked for both of those. Oh! And Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD!

Beyond those games, I want to see what Microsoft is going to do w/ cross-platform stuff. I’m talking Xbox and Windows 8 and Windows Phone. How are these three going to interact? We’ve seen talk of “Smart Glass” but what exactly will that be? Also, Windows Phone 8 info yes please? Maybe we’ll see something about a new dashboard revision? Skype integration? IE on Xbox?

I think that about does it for what I’m excited about. To push my excitement level above the bar that Nintendo set, Microsoft will have to do a lot. They’d probably have to show off some new hardware, like the rumored successor to the Xbox 360 Arcade (sort of a set-top box without a DVD drive and limited storage, so it can only play downloaded games and use Netflix/Hulu/etc), to really “win” E3 in my eyes.

Only about 30 minutes until we find out what they have coming!

I Want A New Phone

“But Grady! You JUST bought a new phone! JUST bought, as in, you’ve had it for just over a week!”

Yes, the above is true. No, I don’t care. I want a new phone.

Some background: I just recently purchased the quite fantastic Nokia Lumia 900, and I love it. It runs Windows Phone, which I’ve been with since the start and love dearly. It has a VERY solid construction and feels like no other phone I’ve ever held. The closest I’ve ever come to having a phone that feels this solid is my stint with an iPhone 4, but this surpasses even that. It also runs on AT&T’s LTE network, which is incredible. Why yes, I’d love to average 14Mbps down and 5Mbps up at all times! Though my true test of the network won’t be until September (PAX Prime and football games), I already feel my disdain for AT&T fading away.

This all begs the question, if the Lumia 900 is so great, why do I want a new phone?

Quite simply, it isn’t what it could be.

Despite all that makes the Lumia 900 awesome, it isn’t perfect. It could stand to have a higher resolution screen, it could have a faster processor, it could have a better camera, etc. Microsoft has pretty strict hardware requirements with WP7, and the 900 is right at the top. Even if Nokia wanted to put in a better screen or a faster processor, the OS wouldn’t support it. So what’s a phone to do? Wait.

Wait for 8.

I just made that up, but I feel like it should/could be the mantra of Microsoft, Nokia, and every Windows Phone user for the next few months. Windows Phone 8 is supposed to launch later this year alongside Windows 8, and is expected to bring a whole host of improvements and support for higher hardware specs.

I don’t necessarily NEED higher hardware specs right now, but I will eventually. Most people in the US buy a phone as part of a 2-year agreement with a carrier at a heavily subsidized price. I did that very thing with my 900, but therein lies the problem. I got a great phone for today, not for tomorrow. My phone is not event remotely future-proofed, and will be lagging behind in just a few months. At this time, I don’t even know if it will be able to update to Windows Phone 8 (though I assume it will). Ironically, despite Nokia’s claims that the smartphone beta test is over, the Lumia 900 feels like a beta test!

So what phone do I want?

I want a Lumia 1000. I want a phone with the same basic body as the 900, but with a PureView camera. I want a larger battery to support a faster (perhaps dual core?) processor. I want a 32GB version alongside a 16GB one. I want it to run Windows Phone 8 and have a higher screen resolution and support for NFC.

I want Windows Phone 8 to improve on everything WP7 does. I want developers to have native code access so they can do all the things they can on Android and iOS. I want to be able to do simple things like send videos over MMS and email and take screenshots. I want some form of video-out. I want to have deeper native Twitter and Facebook integration so I can see mentions and DMs and such sans-app. I want a notification center. I want multitasking to be more robust than it is now. I want cross-device back-up and restore. I want my contextual search back!

Microsoft will need another “hero” phone to launch with Windows Phone 8. They’ll need to entice current WP7 owners to upgrade, since it seems unlikely that all WP7 devices will be upgrade to WP8. Samsung and HTC and others have said that they’re waiting for WP8 to REALLY get going on Windows Phone. Nokia needs to lead the way with truly innovative hardware. They’ve already shown that they can innovate in hardware design with the 900, but let’s see something really special in October or so. Give me my Lumia 1000!

While we’re at it, can we alter the release cycle for phones too? Apple has a good thing going with the yearly release cycle. They release a new phone, then a year later release an “upgraded” version of that (See the 3GS and the 4S), then the next year they release a true successor. I LIKE that. If Nokia released a Lumia 1000 in October, and then didn’t release another “high-end” phone until the Lumia 1500 or something in October 2013, and then a Lumia 2000 in October 2014, I’d be VERY happy. This would help people stuck on 2-year contracts get meaningful hardware upgrades and not feel like they were missing out. It seems like Microsoft has their Windows Phone release cadence pretty well set, they just need to get the carriers on-board with pushing out updates at a reasonable time.

I think that if all of these things happen, we’ll see Windows Phone finally step up as a true 3rd ecosystem and compete with Android and iOS. I don’t want any of these to die out, because competition drives innovation, but the current near-duopoly that we have isn’t sustainable. Also, RIM, save yourself and license Windows Phone or Android and quit that crap that you’re doing.

PS: Nokia, I’d like a really slick Lumia tablet that runs Windows RT too. Just so you know.