The odds have always been stacked against Call of Duty: World at War. This sequel revisits an undeniably exhausted FPS setting—World War II—and wasn’t designed by series creator Infinity Ward, but Treyarch has delivered a sufficiently compelling shooter. World at War doesn’t bring any lasting innovations to the FPS genre, but it has enough unrelenting shootouts and dramatically scripted events to keep us immersed in the action.
Ah, the fashion mouse. You know the one: It’s designed by the industrial design team of the moment, and it not only lets you move your PC’s cursor but also tells everyone that you care about Design (you know, with a capital D). Unfortunately, what this mouse tells anyone who knows about mice is that you’d rather use an incredibly uncomfortable device that looks cool than one that properly fits your paw and gives you good control over your cursor. Despite a more than competent laser-powered sensor, the Arc Mouse falls squarely in fashion-mouse territory.
The Arc is, ostensibly, designed to be a travel mouse, and its size and shape are indeed suited to that purpose. When you fold the back of the mouse up and snap the USB transmitter dongle into the magnetic receptacle, you get a mouse that’s small enough to fit in a pocket. That’s great and all, but it’s just not comfortable to use.
No one makes a big open-world role-playing game like Bethesda. That’s what the Elder Scrolls games are famous for, and that’s what the company has brought to the post-nuclear-holocaust milieu of Fallout 3. The game takes you to the world outside Vault 101, the charred remains of the Washington D.C. metro area 200 years after the nukes flew. Truly, Bethesda has built an amazing world.
And this world is the star of the game. Fallout 3 is massive—closer to a single-player MMO than a traditional, linear single-player RPG. As you explore the Wasteland, which surrounds D.C., you’ll meet hundreds of people, many of whom have their own stories to tell, and find hundreds of locations to explore. These range from fully fledged towns to survivalist outposts to ammo caches to camps for the various factions that populate the land. As in Oblivion, you control your progress through the game. Should you choose to skip the main quest, you can explore the world and look for adventure, completing quests and reaping the rewards along the way.
We had the LaCie 730 delivered to the Lab as a possible contender for our upgrading feature (page 25)—at $5,000 and change it’s certainly a comfortable fit at the high end of the price spectrum. Of course, it wasn’t just the price that intrigued us. The LaCie 730 includes a number of features that set it apart from other monitors we’ve reviewed—as well as one oversight that keeps it from attaining our highest praise.
While most monitors that come to the Lab sport 6- or 8-bit panels, the 730 has a 14-bit panel, which should greatly increase the color depth of this monitor. Additionally, the 730 includes an LED backlight rather than the more typical cold-cathode fluorescent backlight. An LED backlight should produce a truer black than a CCF because unlike the CCF, LEDs can switch on and off while a CCF is always on (for this same reason, an LED backlight should also reduce the amount of light seepage at the edges of a monitor). However, the first LED backlight monitor we reviewed, ViewSonic’s VLED221wm (May 2008), was able to create the darkest black we had ever seen but couldn’t differentiate the darkest grays in our grayscale test.
It’s been almost a year since we tested Pinnacle’s original PCTV HD Pro Stick TV tuner. In that time, Pinnacle has fixed many of the original product’s shortcomings. The new PCTV HD Mini Stick is even smaller than the original HD Pro Stick, which was itself the size of a fat USB memory key. You could easily chuck the 1”x0.5” PCTV HD Mini Stick in your bag and never notice it. The remote is also slimmed down considerably and could slip into your back pocket comfortably.
For more than a year, LG has been sitting pretty with the only 6x Blu-ray burner available for retail, but now that Sony’s BWU 300S offers 8x BD-R write speeds, LG’s supremacy has come to an end. Sort of.
The 300S is uncommonly fast—given the right circumstances. The drive managed to fill a 25GB BD-R disc with data in a blistering 13:56 (min:sec), compared with the LG GBW-H20L’s time of 22:16, but only when the drive was fed manufacturer-recommended Panasonic 6x media. And good luck finding that—our online search for the media was fruitless. When using more common 4x media, the 300S stuck closely to that speed rating, taking 22:56 to complete the same task.
We were pumped when we heard that Seagate had broken through the terabyte barrier with its 1.5TB Barracuda drive—it’s not only the biggest consumer drive available, but also represents the largest jump in capacity we’ve seen. We typically expect capacity increases to be accompanied by performance decreases, but this drive is quick on its feet despite its gargantuan size.
Thanks to perpendicular recording, the Barracuda manages to pack 1.5TB of capacity onto four 375GB platters on a 7,200rpm spindle with a 32MB cache, which allows it to keep pace with four-platter 1TB drives like the terabyte Barracuda and the WD Caviar Black.