I recently purchased a Sphero robot for my iPhone/iPad, now I want to preface this by saying this is not a sponsored post I paid all $130 with my own cold hard cash. I was instantly intrigued by the Sphero when I first heard of it as I am with just about anything iOS related. I knew that with all the technology packed into the little ball and the ability for open programming Sphero would go a long way. Hit the break for my review.
My first impression was more than I expected as I unboxed Orbotix’s Sphero. The packaging is tight and clean, very Apple-esque and includes everything you need. One Sphero Ball, charging dock and power cable. After downloading the app and syncing Sphero up to my iPhone it automatically prompted me to standby as Sphero was due for a firmware update. That was my first wow of many as I researched the update to find out the group over at Orbotix was able to send over a Firmware update that greatly improved the maneuverability and turning radius of the ball. After the update and a quick tutorial I was ready to go and so was my son who was beyond curious now after seeing all the flashing colors. Though not as agile as a RC car it was extremely responsive to the directions I gave it and after a few minutes of playing around with it I had it racing all over the place as my 9 month old chased after it in his walker.
However running the little ball around with your iPhone is just the tip of the iceberg. Sphero has over 20 different available apps for it though two of which really stood out for me. One is The MacroLab App which allows you to set up a list of commands for Sphero to autonomously execute. Each command can be as detailed or basic as you want it to be. You can put in a command for Sphero to turn at a certain angle for x amount of time. I did one setup that allows me to place Sphero on my desktop and he moves forward, strobes his lights, spins in place and then circles back to his starting point. It’s fun to watch and the more you play with it the more advanced commands you can learn.
The other App is SpaceParty with Nyan Cat oh yes that’s right are favorite PopTart, Rainbow Farting cat now has bacon blasters to shoot dizzy sheep and drooling ghosts in space. Best part is you completely control your Nyan Cat with Sphero. Full control functions take a little getting used to but is very similar to a Wii controller.
Sphero has a long road ahead of it, I believe with app developers working on projects to use it with and the group over at Orbotix not only creating new software and firmware but Sphero accessories to. One rumored accessory is a cage with a camera that Sphero can troll around, though Sphero is both durable and waterproof I’d love to see some type of tight fitting clear rubber, shock absorbing shell that would maybe allow Sphero to battle with other Sphero’s or just make it more durable. No matter the case Sphero is a great product, at a $130 it’s pricey but well worth it! You can grab yours now from the Geeks over at ThinkGeek.
For the second year in a row Electronic Arts has been voted as the worst company in America by the readers of the consumer-watchdog website The Consumerist. This makes them more hated than Bank of America, Comcast and Ticketmaster (of which took second, third, and fouth).
Despite the fierce competition this year they managed to take home the not-very coveted “Golden Poo” award. They won this because of a love of microtransactions, the price of their games and use of DLC as well as the irritating DRM practices. But the spectacular failure of the SimCity launch was a particular sore spot that was poked a few times.
“EA made a royal mess of the SimCity release by failing to foresee that the people who would buy the game and who would, per the game’s design, be required to connect to the EA servers and might actually want to play at some point in the week after making their purchase…But that’s just the latest in EA’s long history of annoying its customer base with bad support. Customers who paid full price for games, or who spent or saved huge piles of in-game cash in EA’s online products, would suddenly find a problem with their accounts, but attempts to rectify the problem, or even get a response from EA, would go unheeded.” – The Consumerist
EA chief operating officer Peter Moore, in an open letter to gamers last week, admitted the company could do better, but said the label of “worst company” was undeserved:
“Are we really the ‘Worst Company in America? I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve made plenty of mistakes. These include server shut downs too early, games that didn’t meet expectations, missteps on new pricing models and most recently, severely fumbling the launch of SimCity. We owe gamers better performance than this. … But I am damn proud of this company, the people around the globe who work at EA, the games we create and the people that play them.”
No company wants to win an award like this, EA specifically does not need any more bad press like this amongst everything else that is going on with them. They are already dealing with more significant issues such as the CEO John Riccitiello resigning at the end of last month not to mention the fallout of the SimCity ordeal.
With all of this fueling the internet hate-bandwagon I expect to see a slew of new memes being created in regards to this. But will this actually deter anyone from buying any of EA’s new games? Battlefield 4 will be releasing later this year and there is quite a bit of excitement around it and regardless of this news gamers everywhere will be buying and playing on the “broken” servers they complain about.
We finally have an official name for the successor to the Xbox 360 legacy, the Xbox One. Microsoft unveiled the sleek console today during their hour-long press conference in Seattle. The company gave us all a shot of the future and the future looks good.
I’m digging the sexy look of the console, it looks like a modernized companion piece to any living room set up. I wish they would have dropped the piano black finish though, that tends to collect more dust and grime than a matte finish. The new controller is a sexy beast, something that would be imagined for a sci-fi show instead of real life. MS didn’t change the Xbox One controller so much but yet it looks so fresh. They do claim they’ve redesigned the infamous D-pad.
What we know so far about the Xbox One is it has 8GB of RAM, an 8 core custom-built CPU, blu-ray drive, USB 3.0, WiFi Direct, HDMI Kinect 2.0 and happily a 500GB hard drive. No word on if we can swap out bigger drives but I would say it’s a given. Good out of the gate specs for the “future”.
Backwards compatibility is a no go for the Xbox One due to the brand new architecture running the system. The system is powered by three separate operating systems, the new Xbox gaming system, the Windows kernel and a custom-built OS to get those two to play nice. After seeing it run, I’ll gladly lose BC for the features being brought forth. One thing is the deeper integration with the new Kinect sensor. Plop down in front of the One and say “Xbox On” and it instantly starts up for you. Using Kinect to flip channels, switch to different sections of the console was breathtakingly swift.
We didn’t see much of the games slated for the Xbox One which is sad and makes me feel as if Microsoft is forgetting why they’re #1 right now. We got a glimpse of Forza 5, a new game from Remedy called Quantum Breaker and at the end of the show was a big show off of Call of Duty: Ghosts. The trailers looked amazing but no actual game play. We’re told that we will get more of the games at E3. We do know that achievements will transfer over the One.
Launch is a tentative “this year” and no price is yet set. I expect it to drop at $399 personally. We’ll keep digging up the juice for you geeks so stay tuned!
After the muck up Microsoft has done with the antiquated DRM (digital rights management) on the Xbox One, many are now looking to Sony to present a next gen console that is used game friendly.
Twitter is the battleground where the new war is waged and the banners all say #PS4noDRM. Tweets are tagged with the hashtag, retweets are sent. Blows are close to being dealt and arrows are notched. The boiling oil is simmering.
It’s a simple but effective way for consumers to say how they feel and what they want. They want Sony to stick it right in the nose of Microsoft and say “Hey, play all the used games you want. Borrow your friend’s copy of Infamous Second Son. Have fun with your expensive gaming console, we’ll stay out of your way”.
Sony executives have to be listing as the grassroots campaign builds up steam. And listen they should as the console war hinges on which console policies stay consumer friendly. Microsoft has shown so far they would rather make policies that hinder the gaming community, policies that have enraged a large section of the community. MS has made things much, much worse with their “Mums the word” policy on the used games.
Sony has the chance to win back the market share they lost with the bungled PS3 launch. They
could should make a single declaration that they won’t ban used games, that renting and borrowing will be a-okay with them. It would be a glorious revival of the brand.
Want to tell Sony that used games should be allowed in the next gen? Start tagging tweets with #PS4noDRM to get it trending. Tell Sony, hell tell Microsoft, that you won’t stand for it. Join the movement.