By Joshua Simmons
Nintendo knows it has a hit on its hands when the line to just try the 3DS curls around half the expo in just minutes after opening the doors at 10 AM. The security did their best to quell the stampede of gamers to the Nintendo booth as shouts of “No running!” went largely ignored. However, despite the large crowd and after waiting in line for only an hour, I was finally able to get my hands on Nintendo’s new baby and try a few demos.
To start with Nintendo has provided a 3D effect slider on the device that allows the user to adjust the intensity of the feature, or completely turn it off. But even when turned off, the screen has a beautiful resolution and is worthy of the upgrade alone. So, after adjusting and trying various degrees of the 3D effect, I settled into a comfortable area of about 3/4 of the slider turned up. I also noticed that you really have to be looking at the device in it’s sweet spot, right in the center, to fully enjoy the 3D; looking at it even slightly to the right or left causes a slight double vision issue. Other noticeable additions to the 3DS include the addition of an analog stick, two front facing cameras for taking 3D photos, and the ability to play 3D movies. Finally the system itself was slightly smaller then the DSi, with smoother curves and a gloss finish instead of matte.
As for the demos, I was able to get hands on time with the device for about 20 minutes before being shuffled out for the next group. The first demo I got to play was a retro Star Fox level, remade in 3D. As I flew over the landscape, I was astounded by the sense of depth the 3D effect was creating as Fox’s ship seemed to hover out of the screen flying towards the mountains in the background. As I shot down enemy ships, the explosions would seem to burst in the space before me off the screen; it is something you just have to see for yourself. I am hoping this was more than just a tech demo, and we’ll be seeing a Star Fox 3D release in time for the launch.
Next I was treated to another playable demo, this time a brand new Pilotwings title made just for the 3DS. There were two modes available to try, stunt plane flying and jet pack flying. Both modes, similarly to Star Fox, really demonstrated the 3D feature with the the subjects popping out in the space before my eyes as I guided them over a city existing in varying depths of perception. Lastly, I was able to see a couple of trailers for future 3D titles such as Kid Icarus, Resident Evil, and Metal Gear Solid 3; all looking fantastic in 3D. Nintendo has really accomplished something unreal here, and I highly recommend everyone at least try it for yourselves the first chance you get.
Apple’s slim new 2010 Mac mini received the royal treatment/acceptance into the tech world recently via a complete teardown by tech firm iFixit shows.
A teardown report by iFixit shows how Apple fit the slim system’s power supply inside the unibody aluminum case and reveals a variety of new innovations.
Rather than needing an external power supply, the new unit ships with simply an AC power cable (similar to Apple TV and Time Capsule), and Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter. The new model also includes a built in HDMI port for delivering audio and digital video to an HDTV display over one cable.
The new Mac Mini includes an SD Card slot just like recent MacBook Pros, and includes four USB 2.0 ports, along with the standard Gigabit Ethernet and a FireWire 800 port. After taking a new unit apart, iFixit discovered the following new changes:
– The Mac mini’s unibody top enclosure is machined from a single block of aluminum, with a twist off rubber base that exposes RAM components for easy access. “Removing the RAM is very simple this time around, requiring only the simple prying of two clips.” The bottom cover also provides a radio window in the metal case for WiFi and Bluetooth.
“There are two blind holes in the case of the Mini that are meant for the ends of Apple’s custom U-shaped logic board removal tool. We just used two Torx screwdrivers. We call them the ‘Mac mini logic board removal tool.'”
– The new Mac mini’s power supply provides “a minuscule 7 Amps at 12V. Compare that to the 25.8 Amps at 12V cranked out by the 27 inch iMac, and you can understand how they fit the power supply inside the Mini.”
“The fan doesn’t have too much work to do, since the new Mac Mini is the most energy-efficient desktop, running on less than 10 watts at idle! In keeping with its space saving design, the fins directing air toward the vent hole are slanted to allow for better fan placement.”
– The fan cools the CPU and CPU via a wraparound heat sink tube that wicks heat toward the fins and blows it out the wide slot on the back panel.
iFixit notes that the Mac mini’s 3/8 inch woofer dome “won’t be popping ear drums anytime soon” and may be a bit underpowered for some audiophiles.
The update requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and can be snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.
If you’ve tried the new update and have any feedback to offer, let us know.
By Joshua Simmons
E3 Day 1 Conference Impressions:
This was clearly the year of the Nintendo come back after several previous lackluster E3 presentations. There were no vitality sensors, no fashion runway games for DS, and no Wii Music. What we did get started with a bang when Shigeru Miyamoto himself came out on stage to debut the new Zelda Wii title, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Using motion plus technology, Miyamoto demonstrated the possibilities of sword and shield play as well as several new items at Link’s disposal. The two most unique items would have to have been the beetle launcher, which sent a controllable beetle flying off of Link’s arm to collect far off items, and the whip, capable of cutting grass and grabbing items. As if a new Zelda wasn’t enough, we also got Mario Sports Mix, Epic Mickey, Golden Sun Dark Dawn for DS, a new Wii Kirby, and more footage of Metroid Other M. It was clear that Nintendo intended to deliver to its core demographic today and they did just that. Big surprises were also in store with a Goldeneye remake exclusive for Wii starring all previous Bonds, as well as a new retro remake of Donkey Kong Country.
Nintendo’s biggest gun this E3 was the much anticipated 3DS unveil, and it did not disappoint. Although, we in the audience were unable to get a sense of the much touted “No glasses” 3D tech, we did get an understanding of the handheld’s power with a glimpse at the surprise announcement, Kid Icarus. Other 3DS features included two front facing cameras for taking 3D photos, 3D effect adjustment dial, an analog stick, and the ability to play 3D movies on the device. Nintendo’s E3 2010 press conference was very impressive, and I’m sure hardcore Nintendo fans worldwide are quite satisfied.
Although the surprises were in few this year, the Sony conference managed to consistently deliver exciting new prospects for the future with their lineup. They kicked things off with a special look at two Killzone 3 levels, presented in 3D to the audience which was met with hollering and cheering as Sev leaped to the air in a jet pack. The visuals were fantastic, and the game really conveyed the potential for Sony’s 3D tech. We also got news of several titles that will include 3D in the future such as Gran Turismo 5, Mortal Kombat, EyePet and more. Shifting from 3D to the Playstation Move, we were treated to a premiere demo of Sorcery. Sorcery uses the Move controller to guide a young apprentice through a castle as he battles goblins by flicking the Move to send spells from his wand. The 1:1 tracking of the Move was impressive as the wizard’s arm accurately reflected what the player was doing; it also demonstrated different movements to achieve varying abilities. We were also treated to a demo of Tiger Woods 2011, also used impressive tracking to register the player’s movement as he would swing the club.
After a surprise, and hilarious, appearance by Kevin Butler, Sony shifted the conference to the games. Although it was pleasant to see Little Big Planet 2 demonstrated for the audience, the biggest announcement came in the form of Portal 2 for Playstation 3. However, I personally was the most excited when the grand finale of today’s event turned out to be the unveiling of Twisted Metal for Playstation 3. Typically, we only get these kind of unveils in the form of a teaser, or small clip, but after driving out onto the stage in a replica Sweet Tooth truck, we were treated to a live demo of the game’s multiplayer modes.
These two conferences have left me quite excited for the year to come in gaming, and I’ll be sure to write deeper impressions in the days to come as I get to try out all the great games shown today in person on the show floor!
A newly published Apple patent hints at the company’s plans for including improved Facebook integration into the iPhone at the device level.
The document, discovered by Patently Apple, was approved until April 1st, 2010 and filed in September 2008 and focuses on creating device-to-device workflows.
Apple has essentially patented the ability to sync actions between two or more devices. This could be something as simple as adding a to-do on your Mac’s calendar application and having it automatically sent to the iPhone.
The patent also includes provisions in the patent for device proximity. For instance, an iPhone and iMac set to synchronize a schedule could be activated by Bluetooth connections on both devices that will automatically initiate a calendar synchronization once the devices are within a certain range of each other.
The Facebook element of the patent comes into play with contact syncing. For example, say you meet a colleague or friend out somewhere and realize you haven’t friended her or him on Facebook. When you initiate an “add contact” on your phone, it can first pull in all the vCard information from your friend’s phone, send your info back (if you are exchanging information), offer to take a photo of your friend to add to your address book and then, if you so choose, add your friend to Facebook.
Your friend will then get a notification on her device of the pending friend request and can then approve or ignore it.
There are some third-party solutions available for the iPhone (like Bump) and for Android and BlackBerry devices that can do similar things, but having a scripting workflow engine built into the device itself is a unique idea unto itself.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.
AT&T wants to sell some iPhones.
And they’re taking steps to do so.
Per MobileCrunch, AT&T has begun modifying some customers’ upgrade dates, shortening them in some cases by months to allow customers to buy a new, subsidized, fourth-generation handset in June.
This week, a reader contacted MobileCrunch to say that his upgrade date was moved from Nov. 21st, 2010, to June 21st, 2010. The reader said they bought an iPhone 3GS in 2009 on the device’s launch day.
“As a valued AT&T customer, we can offer you a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price, along with a 2-year commitment and an US$18 upgrade fee,” the customer’s account profile reads. “Please proceed with the online upgrade process for pricing details. You may qualify for a full discount on a standard iPhone upgrade on 6/21/2010.”
The same changes have appeared for some other customers as well. AT&T has revealed in the past that generally speaking, the more a customer spends with AT&T, the quicker they become eligible for a price break on a new device. For example, iPhone customers who spend more than US$99-a-month per line are generally eligible for an upgrade between 12 and 18 months into their contract.
The revised dates will likely pave the way for AT&T to offer some customers reduced prices on Apple’s fourth-gen iPhone, expected to be announced in June. AT&T also took the same approach last year when the wireless carrier offered early iPhone 3G adopters the opportunity to purchase an iPhone 3GS as the same US$199 and US$299 price points as new customers.
In years past, Apple has introduced its annual iPhone upgrade at the Worldwide Developers Conference. This year, WWDC 2010 will be held June 7th through June 11th at San Francisco’s Moscone West. Tickets for the event sold out just eight days after Apple announced the dates.
Another rumor has suggested Apple could sell the next-generation iPhone as soon as it is announced on June 7th. That approach would be a change from years prior, when a new handset was announced a few weeks before its sale date. AT&T has also blacked out the month of June for its employees, preventing them from taking vacation days.
Per the article, the April 2010 MacBook Pro has top-flight performance on both internal SATA ports via the following benchmarks:
DIGLLOYD tracked these benchmarks courtesy of its diglloydTools 2.0 package, which is currently available for US$40.
If you’ve snagged the new Core i7 MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer on it, let us know.
Delivering its second quarter financial results on Tuesday, Apple announced that the company sold 10.89 million iPods during the quarter (compared to sales of 11.01 million iPods in the year-ago quarter, and down 48% from the previous quarter) and 8.75 million iPhones in the quarter (a 131% increase year-over-year, and up from 8.7 million units in the prior quarter).
Per iLounge, Apple posted revenue of US$13.5 billion and net quarterly profit of US$3.07 billion, or US$3.33 per diluted share, compared with revenue of US$9.08 billion and net quarterly profit of US$1.62 billion, or US$1.79 per diluted share in Q2 2009.
International sales accounted for 58% of the quarter’s revenue and sales of Other Music Related Products + Services were up 27% from the year-ago quarter, and 14% from Q1 2010, to US$1.3 billion total.
Notably, the numbers from Q2 2009 are different from those originally reported due to Apple’s change in accounting rules that sees the company now recognize “substantially all of the revenue and product costs from the sales of iPhone and Apple TV at the time of sale,” instead of accounting for the sales over a 24-month period.
“We’re thrilled to report our best non-holiday quarter ever, with revenues up 49% and profits up 90%,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve launched our revolutionary new iPad and users are loving it, and we have several more extraordinary products in the pipeline for this year.”
“Looking ahead to the third fiscal quarter of 2010, we expect revenue in the range of about US$13.0 billion to $13.4 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share in the range of about US$2.28 to US$2.39,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO.