Sunday, 28 November 2010 - tech news fast! - tech news fast!

Electricpig opinions: Gran Turismo 5 worth the wait? Boxee Box and Motorola Milestone 2 reviewed

Posted: 28 Nov 2010 05:00 AM PST

This week we’ve been busy reviewing the long-awaited Boxee Box media streamer, the even longer awaited (five years to be precise) Gran Turismo 5 and the Motorola Milestone 2. Read on to see our opinion of each. Right this way.

Boxee Box review: Boxing clever?

Electricpig editor James Holland has been looking forward to the Boxee Box ever since he first laid eyes on it at CES 2010. Did it live up to expectations. Mostly, though it fell just one short of five stars in his Boxee Box review.

James was impressed with the Boxee Box’ ability to coral numerous Web TV sources, its local playback and its slinky remote, but revealed that Flash instabilities proved a slight hindrance to his enjoyment.

“The Boxee Box is more than a media streamer. If you've read our Boxee Box review roundup you'll know it can suck music, photos and movies from shared libraries on your network, and it'll swallow pretty much any codec you can throw at it (except RealMedia files, it hates those). But while most reviews fixate on the Boxee Box as a set-top box for files at home (which it does exceptionally well), they're missing the point.

“The Boxee Box is the first TV companion to really bring the web to your TV. Fire it up, and it'll show a list of TV shows that're available online. There's no fuss, no bother, and no hint of the hard work that's going on behind the scenes to bring that list to your eyeballs.”

However its Flash skills let it down somewhat:

“The Boxee Box has tied itself inextricably to Flash, but it's an unhappy marriage. Whereas the Boxee Box's menus and interface are slick, simple and designed for the big screen, the moment a Flash video is called up, you're faced with the same interface as your PC. It's tiny on the TV screen, and almost unusable.

“Instead of a true lean-back web TV experience, what you're left with is a lean-forward shaking a fist at the TV experience, and regardless of whose fault the bugs are, whether laid at the door of Adobe or Boxee, the irksome result is the same.” It’s not all bad. Overall, the Boxee Box does impress. Those Flash worries can be kicked into touch with future updates…James?

“It's ousted the Apple TV from beneath our living room screen, and with the folks at Boxee promising regular software updates, we're hoping its quirks, especially that janky Flash playback, are eventually ironed out.

“Go in with your eyes open, don't expect too much from Flash at first, and if you're looking for a bullet-proof media player with eye-popping web TV abilities to boot, the Boxee Box is guaranteed to impress.”

Gran Turismo 5: Worth waiting for?

Fans have been waiting for over five years for Gran Turismo 5. With its biggest roster in the series yet, totalling over 1,000 different car models a lot of effort has clearly gone into creating a driving simulator masterpiece.

In our Gran Turismo 5 review Damien McFerran hailed its expertly honed physics, sizeable career mode and the odd moment of graphical beauty, but bemoaned the still terrible car AI and “naff” car damage.

“It’s not the second coming, but Gran Turismo 5 still delivers” was his verdict. “Driving in Gran Turismo 5 is just as unforgiving as it's been in previous entries, but it's equally as rewarding, too. It's obvious that much of the lengthy development period has been ploughed into making the physics engine as realistic as possible. Although few of us will ever get to drive a 2.4 litre V8 Ferrari F1 car around an internationally-renowned speedway, it's clear that doing it in Gran Turismo 5 is as close as you're likely to get within your living room.”

It’s not without it’s faults. The appalling AI remains. “The game's artificial intelligence is about a quick-witted as a drunken snail. This has always been an issue with Polyphony's titles, and in 2010, it's really disheartening to see computer-controlled cars stick so slavishly to a pre-determined route around each circuit, even going as far as to drive straight into you if you happen to encroach on their racing line.”

Amazingly, despite its obvious problems, Gran Turismo 5 is still one of the best PS3 racers. “It may not represent the quantum leap we've been led to expect – and it's certainly not for everyone – but Gran Turismo 5 is nonetheless one of the best driving games available on the PlayStation 3.”

Motorola Milestone 2: Solid, but sparkling?

The Motorola Milestone 2 is one of those solid devices stopped from being potentially great by its minor quirks. Ben Sillis praised its build and call quality and its on-screen keyboard, but found fault with its Motoblur software on the Android device.

“The Motorola Milestone 2's predecessor was the first to run Android 2.0, and we heaped praise on it simply for running Android as Google intended, with no pointless software skin. Unfortunately, somewhere in between, Motorola decided to shovel its own skin, Motoblur, onboard all its phones. Bad Moto!

“Motoblur doesn't seem to be very efficient either – despite the 1GHz CPU under the bonnet it's just not very fast. You can see the screen lag as you swipe to unlock the screen or roll through menus, which is a tad disappointing – most apps do run flawlessly once up and running however.”

Ben’s verdict is still very much in favour of the Milestone 2, mind. “If a physical QWERTY keyboard is a dealbreaker for you, we'd certainly opt for this over the HTC Desire Z. It's just much more robust,” but “Motorola, stop with this Motoblur nonsense, because it's the only thing holding you back from greatness,” Ben ends his Motorola Milestone 2 on.

Agree or disagree with any of the opinions expressed? Then drop us a message in the comments below telling us why.

Related posts:

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  2. Teatime Tech: Boxee Box review, iOS 4.2 jailbreak and your chance to play Gran Turismo 5 in 3D
  3. Tech week in photos: Advent Vega tablet unboxed and video, Boxee Box reviewed, Griffin iPod nano case, Motorola Milestone 2, Defy and more

Video of the week: Microsoft Kinect hack equals lightsaber fun

Posted: 28 Nov 2010 01:00 AM PST

PlayStation Move might be the ideal candidate when it comes to developing the perfect lightsaber game Star Wars have been waiting for, but this Microsoft Kinect hack shows that Xbox 360 players don’t have to miss out on a tactile sabre experience. Want to see how Kinect can transform a wooden stick into a lightsaber? Check it out in our video of the week.

In the words of hacker Yan Keyan, "This is a proof of concept demonstration of tracking and rendering a lightsaber in realtime using a Kinect hooked up to a PC.”

Notice the authentic lightsaber sound effects too. It’s early days before this use of Microsoft Kinect could potentially take off and find its way into actual release titles, we hope. Hit up the video below and let us know if you’re impressed in the comments section.

Kinect hack: real life lightsaber!

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  3. Kinect hack: sexiest one so far? Ummmm

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