Thursday, 4 November 2010 - tech news fast! - tech news fast!

Kinect games: launch line up tested

Posted: 03 Nov 2010 09:04 PM PDT

Microsoft Kinect is here, and with it comes a huge line up of Kinect games for release. You’ll be able to pick up no fewer than 19 when the Xbox 360 peripheral hits stores on Wednesday, and we got a chance to fully test out seven of them in their finished state before launch, as well as a few others in non-final code. See what we made of them all here.


If you’ve got kids, they’ll absolutely adore this hilarious and beautifully crafted adventure stuffed full of mini games, and baby animals. Check out our full Kinectimals for Kinect review.

Kinect Sports

It’s a shame that this title doesn’t come bundled with Kinect itself, as it’s the best all around demonstration of what Kinect can do, and it’s absolutely hilarious too. Check out our full Kinect Sports review.

Dance Central

This isn’t just one of the best Kinect games, but one of the most truly groundbreaking titles we’ve ever played and a serious contender for game of the year. Magnificent. Check out our full Dance Central review.

Fighters Uncaged

As Kinect games go, this one is pretty shortlived. It’s stuffed full of killer moves for you to try and pull off, but the strictly single player challenge gets dull quickly. Check out our full Fighters Uncaged review.

Kinect Adventures

You’ll be getting this whether you like it not since it’s the only one of the launch Kinect games bundled with every sensor. Lots of mini games that just aren’t as good as Kinect Sports’. Meh.

Kinect Joy Ride

The premise of this Kinect game is so stupidly simple that anyone can play. You steer Xbox avatars around a course, holding an imaginary wheel and turning left and right, occasionally moving forward to boost. It gets very boring, very quickly in single player, despite the various events (Stunts, smashing, racing etc). Pit two knives against each other though in multiplayer, and you’ll have a blast.

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved

We’ll say it: this is better than Wii Fit. There’s no need for a balance board, since Kinect can track every part of your body accurately anyway, and it’s a great way to improve your stretching, and hone your workout routines. There are some polished mini games too, like skiing. Think of it as one of those workout DVDs that actually tells you where you’re going wrong. And without Davina McCall and her sweaty beak putting you off.

And some others we’ve tested…

These are Kinect games we’ve had the chance to play over the last few months at one potion or another, but aren’t final code.

Sonic Free Riders

Does anyone remember Snowboard Kids on the N64? No? It’s like that, only with the famous blue hedgehog, and no trident-shaped controller. Lean through lightning fast tracks and lob weapons at your competitors. The side by side multiplayer worked a treat too, even in the non-final code we tried.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

This Xbox 360 game with Kinect support is out on the 19th rather than the 10th, but we’ve had a couple of experiences with this in pre-release state, and sadly it’s not shown quite as much polish as other titles. It’s not so much the responsiveness of Kinect, as the fundamental flaws in how a railshooter should work. You can’t duck. Just point. Where’s the skill? Still, you can play most of the game with a regular Xbox 360 controller, so look out for reviews closer to launch.

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  3. Kinect games: Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports, Dance Centre and Kinectimals first impressions

Dance Central for Kinect review

Posted: 03 Nov 2010 09:04 PM PDT

Dance Central for Microsoft Kinect, from the folks that brought us Rock Band, is one music-based game you’ll be hearing lots more of that doesn’t force gamers to clasp plastic peripherals. Billed as the “first immersive dance video game”, Dance Central has players busting many a move in this disco dancing guilty console pleasure for Microsoft Kinect on Xbox 360. Is it worth making a fool of yourself for? Find out in our Dance Central for Kinect review.

Remember how dance games used to obsess over hitting spots on a mat, with scant regard to where your arms were flailing? Not any more: Dance Central for Kinect is a total game, and one where every limb matters.

From the moment you boot up Dance Central from the Microsoft Kinect hub and the impressive animated intro plays along to the tune of Rihanna’s Rude Boy, it’s clear that Dance Central is a well polished title. That will come as no surprise to those used to developer Harmonix’ other fare. These guys make Rock Band after all. It’s also clear at this point the sort of audience that Dance Central is aimed at – teen mainstream pop fanciers. But that doesn’t stop it being fun no matter what your musical tastes, and as we found, your dancing skills.

Presentation is slick throughout. Even the way you swipe between menus is a joy – you raise your right arm, select your option and swipe to the left to select it, eliminating accidental selections, an early problem seen in other Kinect title menus.

From the off you’ll be able to dance along to tunes from the likes of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face and Pitbull’s I know You Want me. Those two are in fact the first of many songs you’ll be able to play before unlocking more, hinting at the type of musical fare on offer. Pop music fans will be pleased to know there is plenty more where those anthemic pop dance tunes came from, but other genres and sub genres make an appearance in the form of M.I.A, Beastie Boys and Salt-N-Pepa. If you’re one of those music-loving folk who gain pleasure from listening to bands nobody has heard of, the music fare of Dance Central won’t be your cuppa. But as we’ve said, that doesn’t mean jiving away to Dance Central isn’t a joy. It is, even for the dance-shy.

Modes include Break it Down, where you can learn and pick up dance routines step by step, Perform, where you can jump straight in and dance, and Dance Battle, letting you take turns to dance-off against a mate.

For those unaccustomed to rhythmic dancing games, Dance Central is one tough Hob Nob. Luckily the Break It Down mode teaches you all you need to know as a dancing instructor leads you through each step while chanting “5,6,7,8″ to a beat and other such instructions.

You learn the basics before being tasked with putting together everything you’ve picked up as virtual flashcards displaying the moves you must perform scroll down. Hitting the sweet spot is a case of moving you feet within an on-screen circle, and your hands in the right place to moves such as the ‘Meringue’ or ‘Torch’, the latter having you raise your hand as if lighting the way. Green signifies that you’re bang on time with your dancing skills, but let the icons go red and the music will slow down to give you a chance to redeem yourself without making you feel useless. You’ll be having too much fun to feel like that.

Do well and you’ll be treated to short freestyle sessions that are recorded and played back to you in humiliating fashion as you get to see what you really look like when dancing. It’s one of the most humbling experiences you’ll have playing a game, yet we love Dance Central for it. It’s perfect for those with no shame in looking like a numpty, but not for want of trying not to. Microsoft Kinect does a wonderful job of tracking every movement, which unfortunately leaves you blameless for dancing like a dad at a school disco.

And all that was on Easy mode. The moves get considerably tricker on Medium, lending what should be a firm challenge to even the most dedicated Michael Jackson, or even John Travolta wannabe. That there’s lots of songs and venues to unlock makes Dance Central possibly the best dance game around. And with more downloadable content sure to arrive we’re sure there’s plenty of shelf life to be had here. If there’s one major criticism to be had, it’s that you’d have nowhere near as much fun playing on your own. Dance Central was made to play with others, and it shows.

If you like dancing, love gaming and have dabbled in previous dance titles such as Just Dance for Wii, Dance Central is a no-brainer. You’ll look a fool playing it, but you won’t care.

Related posts:

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  2. Just Dance review
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Kinect Sports review

Posted: 03 Nov 2010 09:03 PM PDT

It’s Microsoft’s turn to showcase what Kinect Sports, its landmark launch launch title for Microsoft Kinect is made of, now that we’re tiring of Wii Sports on the Nintendo Wii and Sports Champions for PlayStation Move. Kinect Sports is packed with a selection of real-life sports to participate in using nothing but your (we’re sure) athletically honed body as the controller. Could it possibly trump both Nintendo and Sony’s sporty offerings? Read our Kinect Sports review to find out.

As we’ve already touched on, the early comparisons with Kinect Sports, Wii Sports and Sports Champions on the PS3 are sure to translate into something of a console war spat. So lets make this clear. When we say Kinect Sports, as a package is more impressive than both, we’re not taking sides in this motion control battle. It’s a fact we’re sure most gamers will nod in agreement with come launch day.

Microsoft has sky-high hopes for Kinect and the casual audience it wants to to attract to the Xbox 360. If its Kinect Sports launch title is anything to go by we’re not surprised. Kinect Sports is a highly enjoyable showcase of how to have fun on a console without controllers. Before playing Kinect Sports, this reviewer was highly skeptical. Consider those fears dashed, for now. Now we’ve given it the big welcome, how is it to play? Check out our rundown of each sport for an idea of what to expect.


Given the limited space in a living room it would have been difficult to ask players to run around pretending to kick a ball. To combat this conundrum, developer Rare has created an almost netball-with-your-feet type of experience where you get the ball around the pitch by literally kicking the ball to your teammates. Angle your passes wrong and they will fall to the opposition. Make the right moves and you’ll soon be in front of goal with a scoring opportunity. It’s a system that shouldn’t work, but does wonderfully. It’s basic, but effective. Keen footballers will especially notice how carefully side-footing the ball to where you want it is key to guaranteed goalscoring. That’s the beauty of Kinect here. Even defending by stretching your leg out to trap a ball is a simple pleasure.


The fact that Kinect doesn’t use a physical controller makes this an easy one to describe. To play you simply reach out to grab a bowling ball, before swinging the ball back with your hand and throwing forward. It works just as it should in impressive 1:1 motion (before throwing the ball just rock your hand backwards and forwards to see). Moving your hand across your body while throwing puts an effective spin on the ball. It’s definitely on par with the underrated Wii Sports bowling game, but if you like the idea of bowling without holding a controller, Kinect Sports bowling is a treat for bowling fans. It’s not the best game here, but it does exactly what it should. And it’s easy for another player to step in and out of the lane if playing against another player.

Track & Field

Here is where things get a little more exhausting. By that we mean Track & Field will leave your almost breathless, literally. This mode comprises several sports including sprinting, Javelin, Discus Throw, Hurdles and Long Jump. This is where Kinect really excels as a game you can play with friends. Sprinting sees players run on the spot as quickly as possible, hurdles is the same, except players jump on the spot when a hurdle flashes green. These two titles are arguably the most sweat inducing of any game you’ve played, ever. Long Jump uses a similar principle to hurdling, except you jump before a marker, or face disqualification, while javelin and discus throw has you mimicking throwing actions at the moment you wish to throw.

Because Kinect senses the actions of your body there’s no awkward button presses, or combinations to remember, making it all the more satisfying when you break a world record while the theme music to Chariots of Fire accompanies a slow motion replay of your efforts. Occasionally you’ll be treated to a rendition of “I feel Good” by the late James Brown. Microsoft has paid the licence to use all sorts of songs to accompany your achievements in all the sports, adding to the experience.

Beach Volleyball

The most disappointing game on Kinect Sports, just it was was one of the most lacklustre in Sports Champions, but not for a lack of trying. The controls take the guesswork out of things, but it’s all too easy. You find yourself moving on instruction, making the experience a very on-rails one. We won our first match 7-0 without even trying.

Table Tennis

Table tennis was the standout game on the PlayStation Move’s Sports Champions for showing the raw potential of Sony’s motion controller, so how does it fare here? Exemplary, though something is missing – a paddle. Don’t get us wrong: table tennis here is highly accurate. You can make the ball spin with each twist of the hand as you would in real life, but hitting the ball with the palm of your hand never feels 100 per cent right. That doesn’t stop it being a pleasant experience, even against another human player, performing well with no sensitivity or lag issues when two players are present in Kinect’s field of vision.


Kinect Sports boxing makes the original Wii Sports boxing look like an amateur flyweight in comparison to this heavy-hitting Kinect Sports version. Proper 1:1 controls mean you can land every punch where you want it, while being able to string multiple combos at your opponent no matter how fast, whether you’re from the Mike Tyson school of boxing or of the slower Lennox Lewis disposition. We’ve never sweated so much playing a video game. Really.


Kinect Sports champions is a perfect launch title for Microsoft Kinect. It’s fun, simple, great to play and share the experience with your mates (that’s no PR speak, we mean that). Most of all, it just works. If you’ve read this far you’ll have noticed we haven’t explained the controls in great depth. That’s because we didn’t need to.

Everything works like a charm to prove to doubters (of which this reviewer was one) that, with games such as Kinect Champions Microsoft Kinect has arrived. Kinect Sports is a charming game that does a great job of catching the same spark as Wii Sports first did, and that Sports Champions lacked. Kinect Sports is well worth picking up on launch day, and then inviting your mates ’round to play. You will have fun, of that, we’re sure.

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  3. Fighters Uncaged for Kinect review

Fighters Uncaged for Kinect review

Posted: 03 Nov 2010 09:03 PM PDT

Fighters Uncaged is Microsoft Kinect unleashed. You’re not namby pambying around touching baby animals or dancing like a wally. You’re fighting. Like real men. Grrr. Is it worth it? Find out in our Fighters Uncaged for Kinect review.

We love a good motion controlled fight. Wii Boxing popularised the sport of flailing your limbs in the air to simulate violence in the living room, Sports Champions made it much more accurate, and now Ubisoft’s Fighters Uncaged is here to take away the controller entirely, letting you start slugging it out without the need to grip anything.

Although your gestures aren’t mapped in 1:1 motion – your swings trigger stock movements – the number of them more than makes up for this. There are all sorts of swings, hooks, low and high kicks you can pull off, and it’s pretty challenging to throw a flurry of punches faster than Kinect can sense them. It’s very easy to get carried away and break into a sweat pulling off all these moves, and at first at least, it’s much more immersive than the swinging pugilism seen in rival motion fighting games.

Graphically, it’s impressive, though it does look eerily like Sports Champions for PlayStation Move on PS3. Unfortunately, Fighters Uncaged is one of the worst Kinect games we tested for replay value. The single player gets tougher and tougher, sure, but there’s absolutely no multiplayer. While we get that side by side in the same room this would lead to serious injuries, the lack of an Xbox Live option is a big no no. You’ll tire of this game not long after you tire from all the kicking and punching.

The soundtrack will only help usher Fighters Uncaged out of your Xbox 360 disc tray: it's a 10 second loop of some sub-Timbaland horn tosh. We haven't been this annoyed with in game music since 20 seconds of The Offspring was licensed for use on Crazy Taxi a decade ago.

So, not one of the best Kinect games. But if you’re a mad crazy martial arts lover with an Xbox, you’ll still get a kick out of it.

Related posts:

  1. Kinect Sports review
  2. Microsoft Kinect review
  3. Kinect games: Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports, Dance Centre and Kinectimals first impressions

Kinectimals for Kinect review

Posted: 03 Nov 2010 09:02 PM PDT

Kinectimals for Microsoft Kinect on Xbox 360 is one of the big first party launch titles for the new motion controller. Filled with cuddly, anthropomorphic baby wild cats, it's clearly Microsoft's attempt at pulling in all the proud Nintendogs owners out there. The difference? You don't need a stylus to stroke these adorable animals. Is it worth your money? What about if you don't have kids? Find out in our full Kinectimals for Kinect review.

Make no mistake, Kinectimals is an innocent Kinect game meant for kids. It's rated age three and up on the box, and your guide, an unnerving lemur cum fairy makes euphemistic comments like "Wow, it looks like your cat wants to go to the showers". Don't laugh! If you think that's dodgy, you're too old for this game.

At least you should be. But it's pretty hard to resist picking a baby tiger, watching it respond to your name when you call it, then travelling over an island playing hilarious mini games with it, like Diddy Kong Racing-esque kart laps, fetch, and even ten pin bowling.

As with Kinect and most Kinect games in general, the controls in Kinectimals work absolutely flawlessly. Tennis balls go where you chuck them, you can look around with strafing steps to the left and right, and you can even play dead by lying down on the ground – which triggers a hilarious animation from your Kinectimals cub, who mimics your actions.

In truth, unless you have young children, there isn't enough gameplay in Kinectimals to merit the full game pricetag (We like that Sony sells PS3 Move games for cheaper than big new "regular" blockbuster titles), even if you can withstand the embarrassment of playing a title meant for three year olds. The gameplay is deceptively linear too: you're actually fed tasks in order, though you'll be too busy awing and gurgling to care.

But if you wanted to use your little cousin staying for Christmas as an excuse to rent this adorable game, well, we wouldn't blame you.

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Microsoft Kinect review

Posted: 03 Nov 2010 09:01 PM PDT

Microsoft Kinect makes your Xbox 360 into something else entirely. No longer is it the clumpy, whirring console exclusively for gamers willing to put up with endless red rings of death. Instead, it becomes the essential console for family gaming, making everything the Wii offers look, well, four years old. And it’s a software update’s throw from making the Xbox 360 the essential set top box, full stop.

Read our full Microsoft Kinect review to find out why we think it’s the gadget of the year.

Any seasoned gamer has been there. It’s Christmas, and your family has decided for once that they’re actually interested in what you’re playing. You try to show them how to join in, but even on the family friendly Wii, that still involves tying them up in a series of bands, remotes and nunchuks. Is the controller safely secured to your aunt’s wrist? DON’T MOVE WHILE IT CALIBRATES NO TOO LATE. And then there’s the whole explaining thing when their Mii starts running into a wall and they still wonder what they’re doing wrong and isn’t this stupid let’s just watch Eastenders. Sigh.

Microsoft promised to do away with that with Kinect, and it has. This glorious bit of kit sits under your telly, almost always works without a hitch, and makes enormous break thoughts in certain types of games, while admittedly encouraging mini game tat in others. But hey, you don’t have to use it just for games, and we’ve got a feeling that Microsoft Kinect will become a lot more over time.


Kinect is a foot wide and several inches deep. But it's just about as subtle as it could be for the size

Let’s be clear: Microsoft Kinect isn’t small. The sensors are the size of coins, and they flash and glow occasionally. At around 29×8x8cm, it’s much bigger than a PlayStation Eye camera, to the point where it won’t sit on top of most new TVs at all. There’s little in the way of design flourish, but it is black like the new Xbox 360, and you probably won’t see it under your TV if it’s the same colour, except when broad daylight is streaming through the windows. You get the feeling Microsoft simply made it the shape it needed to be, and that’s fine.

The set up

One of the big worrying points of Microsoft Kinect has been set up, but we have to say, it was pretty painless for the most. Once you install the latest update, you just plug the Microsoft Kinect camera in: new Xbox 360 slims have a dedicated port for it, but it’ll require a USB port and a mains plug on older models (the cords are all supplied). You’ll then be prompted to position and calibrate it quickly (or rather, it calibrates itself, you just stay quiet), and then be walked through a tutorial – which ironically, you need a gamepad on hand to click through.

Learning how to use Kinect for the first time

Then, you’re away, assuming you’ve got the space to use Microsoft Kinect properly, which is the heart of the issue. In the room we used to test Microsoft Kinect, we placed the camera just in front of our 32-inch TV, on the same stand, approximately 60 centimetres above the ground. It’s worth noting that Microsoft Kinect is quite chunky so it’s unlikely that it’ll sit on the top of any recent TV comfortably, unlike the stick thin Wii sensor bar.

With this set up, we found we needed a space between 2 and 2.4m away to play comfortably, depending on the game. Kinectimals and the Kinect hub could both be controlled much nearer, and in the case of the latter, sometimes sitting down too. But games like Fighters Uncaged kept pushing us back until we were close to the opposite wall. Given that you can pull off axe kicks in Fighters Uncaged, that’s probably just as much to stop you booting your telly, but we have to say, space really is an issue. You will need six or seven feet of space in front of your TV.

Kinect works in even dim artificial light

We’ve had readers asking about whether low light made much of an issue while using Kinect, and we understand this concern well. We have poxy eco-bulbs which are about as powerful as moody backlighting in a smoky jazz bar in our living room, but we tried it out once any natural light had vanished, and we didn’t notice any difference in performance whatsoever, in both single and multiplayer.

Using Microsoft Kinect

We were bowled over the first time we tried Microsoft Kinect earlier this year, and that’s still true now. After catching you quickly, it locks on recognising every flailing limb and gesture with seemingly no lag. You just point to an icon for a second, a dial comes up and when it fills, that option is selected. You’ll need to get used to raising your hand to the side of your body when pointing, but once you do, the experience is seamless. It gets to grips with which hand you want to use very quickly.

There's a Kinect tuner, but we never had to tweak anything once in testing

In truth, Microsoft could have learned from some of the third party developers for Kinect: some games have a colour coded icon to indicate which of your hands are in control, while Dance Station’s vertical menus you move your arm and up and down make much more sense than the horizontal menus in Xbox better suited to gamepads.

But the most telling fact is that when we had relatives try out Microsoft Kinect, it just seemed perfectly natural to them to step in front of the camera and grab the virtual driving wheel. None of them, from a nine year old girl to a 54 year old man, were even surprised that they didn’t need to use a controller, and nor did they get confused as to who was in control in the menus. Make no mistake, Microsoft Kinect works, and brilliantly.

The Kinect Hub

The beauty of Microsoft Kinect is that once you’ve hit that power button with your big toe, you don’t need a gamepad at all. On start up, you’ll be taken to the regular dashboard, but after a couple of seconds while the camera loads, you’ll notice something a little different: a window in the corner, tracking your movements. Kinect is already tracking you, trying to find your hands, and once it does, they’ll glow white. All you have to do is wave, and you’ll be thrown straight into the Kinect Hub, which never takes more than three seconds. We’ll have a video for you shortly showing you how it works.

Once you’re in, controls work just like they do in a game: you can hover over an icon to activate, and from here you can open games, head into Xbox Live for Zune, Sky Player and Last.FM, and adjust Kinect settings, though we found we never had to.

Speaking of all those features: they work well, so long as you have Gold membership and points stored up already on your account. You hold down on movies to pick them, or tell it to pause and play. It’s really convenient, but the limitation with Microsoft Kinect is that it only works with these core services. You can’t open all the video files stored on your PC and start streaming them to your Xbox 360 as you can with a gamepad, so if you don’t want to watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters without a remote, right now you’re out of luck. We asked Microsoft if there were plans to introduce Microsoft Kinect browsing to all your media, but a spokesperson declined to comment.

Achievements have a different navigation method to everything else

For the most part, the Microsoft Kinect Hub is in keeping with the design of the general dashboard. But there are some odd UI inconsistencies that we came across in our testing however. Firstly, it’s not always clear when the Kinect dashboard is activated by the pause gesture, and when the in game menu will be. We’d like to be able to pull the former up at any time also, but as it stands, to shut down quickly your best bet is still to reach for your gamepad or walk across the room. Secondly, the navigation is sometimes a mess. You can swipe through your achievements, but moving from page to page requires a completely different movement to anywhere else in the dashboard, where you activate the arrow and then swipe in the opposite direction.

Another thing we did notice however is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to eject a game using Kinect gestures. You can only play a title, or open and close the tray so long as it’s empty. A strange oversight, but not that much of a bugbear, and everything else works so smoothly that it’s hard to complain.

Kinect games

Microsoft’s pulled together a slightly larger launch line up for Microsoft Kinect than Sony did for PlayStation Move, with 19 games good to go from launch. We’ve tested seven of these, and you can read individual reviews of them by checking out our Kinect games: launch line up feature, but in short, most won’t appeal to long time Xbox users raised on trigger finger first person shooters.

Kinect Sports shows Microsoft really does have a sense of humour

They’re simplistic, revolving around basic core concepts like running on the spot, or in the case of Kinect Joy Ride, simply steering left or right. Someone used to playing Halo on Legendary, or with all the achievements unlocked on Mass Effect 2, will be left with the feeling that they’re insubstantial.

But as hilarious multiplayer games for everyone in the Redknapp family to enjoy, they’re extremely impressive. Kinectimals is utterly adorable, Kinect Sports is even funnier than Wii Sports and Dance Central is one of the games of the year, annihilating anything the Wii has to offer when it comes to busting a move in your living room.


There is the odd glitch with Microsoft Kinect. Inevitably, it doesn’t get the right hand you’re using 100 times out of 100, so now and again you’ll pause for a second to adjust – especially if there are two people in view of the camera. We also triggered the pause menu by accident now and again. But for pure motion control, these hiccups are negligible. You’ll rarely have to faff around with calibration by pointing at stuff, as you have to all the time with PlayStation Move. For such groundbreaking tech, this is a mighty achievement.


We suspect there are more than a few people out there who are still wading through Fallout: New Vegas, and have both Call of Duty: Black Ops and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood on pre-order. You know what you want from a game, and most of the Kinect games ready for Microsoft Kinect launch day won’t tempt you – and until more comprehensive media control comes to Kinect, we suspect little will change your attitude.

Likewise, if you’re after true 1:1 motion for fast action games, it’s not as accurate at speed as PlayStation Move, with games still going down the stock animations road for all but gentle movements. Table tennis on Sports Champions, for instance, is much more impressive than its equivalent in Kinect Sports.

But for the price (£129 on its own), Microsoft Kinect still represents a phenomenal way to get the whole family involved in gaming in a manner that not even Nintendo has managed. And there’s so much potential, we’re aching with excitement. Sure, an Xbox 360 with Microsoft Kinect may cost almost twice as much as a Wii, but it’s worth it.

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Facebook app upgrades: Places and Groups for Android, Groups for iPhone

Posted: 03 Nov 2010 12:14 PM PDT

Facebook has announced a slew of updates for its mobile apps this evening, including the Facebook Android app version 1.4, which brings Facebook Places and Groups to Android, as well as upgrades to notifications. Version 3.3 for the Facebook iPhone app, which adds Facebook Groups. Upgrades should be available now…

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HTC Desire Z vs Motorola Milestone

Posted: 03 Nov 2010 12:14 PM PDT

In the comments section of our review of the HTC Desire Z, one of you, our lovely readers asked for a head to head between the HTC Desire Z and the Motorola Milestone 2. Our ears pricked up: what a good idea! So here it is, full stat clash between the Motorola and the HTC high end QWERTY offerings…

The HTC Desire Z flaunts its 3.7-inch colour-stuffed screen with 480×800 pixel resolution. In our review, we said it "looks like it's keeping a rainbow hostage". In comparison, the Motorola Milestone has a 3.7" 480×854 WVGA screen, and while it's a good screen with a handful more pixels (but not enough to make a difference), the HTC Desire Z has that extra pop that puts it a head above.

Check Out Our Most Recommended

Build and keyboard
Slide out QWERTY keyboards can be flimsy, with just one knock splitting your phone in two, with one half flying under incoming traffic. The QWERTY keyboard on the Motorola Milestone is solid, its slides out, and doesn't wobble around, and the keys are in good relief. The Milestone 2 also lost the odd trackpad from the original Milestone, replaced by cursor buttons.

Read our HTC Desire Z review here!

The hinge on the HTC Desire Z on the other hand, is clunky, and has a habit of popping back under the pressure of gravity. The QWERTY keyboard on the HTC Desire Z, while it has some useful extra buttons like the Tab key, and a search button, we found the keys were positioned a little low, and we found it all too easy to press B instead of space. The letters also come very close to where the two halves of the phone meet, so if you have big thumbs, you'll often hit this perpendicular edge instead a key on the top row. In review, we said: "While it's easy to grip, and you can hit higher speeds than on the HTC Desire HD's big touchscreen with a bit of practice, it's nowhere near as speedy as the keyboard on the Motorola Milestone 2". ‘Nuff said. The Milestone wins the keyboard round.

Operating system
Both these devices run Android Froyo 2.2, but the HTC Desire Z has HTC Sense skin, while the Motorola Milestone 2 has its social network juggling skin, MotoBlur. But while Motoblur is good, we're not sure whether it really provides any noticeable advantages of using MotoBlur over official Android Facebook and Twitter apps. The Motorola Milestone 2 packs Flash 10.1 and mobile hotspot support too. The HTC Desire Z has HTC's own Locations app for navigation when there's no 3G reception, and Search Anywhere universal search app.

Battery life and under the hood
The Motorola Milestone 2 packs a nippy 1GHz processor, while the HTC Desire Z packs a slightly slower 800GHz processor. This might seems like a big difference, but in reality, unless you're doing some heavy multitasking, you won't notice much of a difference. Battery wise, the HTC Desire Z stormed it in review, and we got two and a half days of casual usage out if it. While there's no official numbers on the Motorola Milestone 2 Battery life, in reviews it hasn't stood up well. For the battery life alone, the HTC Desire Z wins this round.
It’s impossible to do any review or comparison with the HTC Desire Z or HD and not mention This is the HTC set of connected services that means you can control your information and find your phone remotely. There are similar services for the iPhone, but this one if completely free, with no yearly subscription fee. Withe HTCSense you can wipe your device remotely, search your messages, push info across to your device, locate your HTC Desire Z on a map, leave a lost and found message and more. It’s a brilliant service, and the forgetful among us should seriously think about investing in a HTC Desire Z or HD.

This is a close call. The HTC Desire Z floors the battery life of the Motorola Milestone 2, but the keyboard on the HTC Desire Z doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, and has a habit of popping back in if you hold it at awkward angles. If its the keyboard that appeals to you with these two smartphones, then head in the direction of the Motorola, but if you want free remote services and a heavy-duty battery life, then stump up for the HTC Desire Z.

Still not quite decided? Watch the Motorola Milestone 2 demo video below:

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Facebook iPad App: Zuckerberg says the iPad “is not mobile”

Posted: 03 Nov 2010 11:34 AM PDT

At the Facebook Mobile event, Mark Zuckerberg, when asked about when the Facebook official iPad app would arriving, blurted out: “The iPad is not mobile!” Erick Tseng, Facebook Lead Product Manager, did a bit of emergency mopping up after the loose lipped Zuckerberg, and said that the reason there was still no official iPad app was because Facebook has still not found the best way to scale for a form factor, that doesn’t lock Facebook into a particular device. Zuckerberg did reiterate though, that the iPad is not a mobile device, in the same way a smarphone is.

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Announcing our Microsoft Kinect Reader Inquisition!

Posted: 03 Nov 2010 11:13 AM PDT

Want to play Microsoft Kinect early? While you’ll have to wait a few more hours for all our coverage on the Xbox 360’s motion controller, we thought we’d give you all the chance to sign up for our next reader inquisition right now. We’ll be holding a session early next week for a few lucky readers to try their hands at Microsoft’s next gen kit. Want to be there? Read on for the details…

On Tuesday 9 November between midday and 2pm, we’ll be holding a session where readers can test out – no, play – Microsoft Kinect at a London West End location. If you want to try it out before release, all you have to do is email us at with your name and contact telephone number. We’ll do our best to accommodate everyone we can, but places are limited, so hurry, and see you down there!

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