Our field report after playing the first few hours of Batman's latest adventure
There's a point early on in the third installment of Warner Brother's Batman Arkham series when our hero is unable to save someone from getting murdered. The victim is a completely corrupt menace to society, but Batman still attempts to save the man's life. Gotham City would clearly be better off if the guy wash pushing up daisies, but the Caped Crusader knows that we can't just go around murdering the bad guys, or look the other way and let someone else do the dirty work. At the same time, Batman (especially in this early phase of his career) wouldn't hesitate to break your face or crush your larynx if he decided that you were a bad guy who is in the way of him doing good things. Since he's conditioned himself to peak of physical fitness, it's not a difficult task...
Before you know it, you'll be able to mosey down to the local Target department store and buy an Amazon Kindle; no internet use needed. The popular ebook reader has been showing up in a few retail locations for the past few months, but now we've got a date for the full-scale rollout. All Target stores will have a supply of the Kindle by June 6th.
Presumably, this will offer consumers the opportunity to try out a Kindle before they buy it. With the online only model, many people never hold a Kindle until they receive it in the mail. Target stores have been selling Sony ebook readers for years, but the Kindle has proven to be attractive to consumers even without a retail presence.
The price is expected to remain the same, at $259. We still feel like the price needs to drop for the device to be truly competitive. Do you know anyone that's more likely to buy one if they can try it first?
Both Acer and Dell (under the Alienware brand) showed off new 23" 120Hz LCD panels that are compatible with Nvidia's 3D Vision. We got to try both of these monitors out at their respective meeting suites. Previously, the largest 3D Vision capable monitor you could buy was a 1680x1050 22" Samsung display, which forced you to choose between gaming in 3D and full HD. But both Acer and Dell's monitors run at 1080p, making paying a premium to adopt 3D Vision a bit easier to stomach.
But there's still one limiting factor neither of these makers have addressed with these monitors.
The newly released Chumby One arrived in the mail today, and we couldn't wait to see how it compared to the original digital connected companion device. The Chumby, in case you haven't heard of it, is a multi-function gadget that can serve as an alarm clock, RSS reader, gaming device, or music player. It connects to the internet with Wi-Fi, and runs user-created widgets to do cool things like read your Gmail or send you Twitter updates. You interact with it through a 3.5 inch resistive touchscreen, but it also has an accelerometer inside, since it's made to be held and encourages user interaction.
We liked the first Chumby an awful lot, and the One doesn't look like it's meant to be a successor or replacement for that. In fact, we're not sure not exactly sure how the Chumby One is being positioned in the marketplace. One the one hand, it's a budget model, sacrificing the original's squishy appeal for a significant price cut.
On the other hand, it also adds new functionality that makes it a better device than the Chumby Classic.
If the Voodoo Envy was HP's answer to Apple's Macbook Air, than the just-announced Envy 13 and 15 laptops are diect responses to Apple's Macbook Pro lineup. Sacrificing edgy styling and ridiculously-thin dimensions (seriously, who cares anymore?), the new Envys are built more for performance to meet the demands of the high-end market. These are definitely not underpowered thin-and-lights -- the 13.1-inch model packs a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo, 3GB of DDR3 memory, and an ATI Radeon HD 4330 discrete graphics card. The 15-inch model is even more powerful. And both support an innovative battery slice add-on for prolonged use.
Read on for our full impressions of both laptops and a large gallery of hands-on photos!
HP's newly announced Mini 311 netbook isn't the first ION-powered portable we've seen -- the Lenovo S12 and Samsung N150 both equip Nvidia's low-powered graphics accelerator (the equivalent of a 9400M). But HP's 11.6-inch offering is possibly the first accelerated netbook with the potential to break into the mass market. Part of that is due to its aggressive $399 pricing, which isn't shabby considering that the system is equipped with an Intel Atom N270, 1GB of DDR3 memory, 160GB storage, and a relatively high-resolution display. We got some hands-on time with the Mini 311, running several processor-intensive tasks to see if the ION chip makes a difference in real world performance.
Read on for the full specs, impressions, and more pics!
It's no secret that the music industry has been in a bit of a bind over the past decade or so: they claim illegal downloading has lost them millions in sales while distribution deals with companies like Apple have left the labels feeling as though they've lost control over pricing.
Meanwhile, consumers have seemingly endless ways to download, stream and discover music. Streaming sites like Pandora, Blip.fm, Hype Machine and Last.fm are all great ways to listen to music from your browser while you're online, but picking specific artists to stream can be a haphazard process. Buying music presents a whole new set of problems, with companies (iTunes, Rhapsody, eMusic, Amazon, Zune Marketplace) that all offer different pricing models and collections of artists.
Spotify (Windows, Mac, Linux, Free BSD), which has had a popular debut in Europe and the UK, is a new music service that hopes to streamline the way we both stream and purchase new music. The company was launched with the blessing of several major labels, in a refreshingly forward-thinking move on the part of the music industry. Because of this, Spotify is able to stream full, high-quality tracks from these labels without fear of retribution. Though not yet available in the US, we got our hands on a beta-code to test out the service.
Today Toshiba's taking the wraps off its new netbook. That's right, the same people who brought you the original ultra-portable, the Libretto, are rolling out their first sub-$400 netbook! We got our hands on a pre-production sample of the NB200-series netbooks.
Toshiba sat out the first generation of netbooks, so they could address shortcomings with the genre, and at first glance the NB205 seems to make good on that. The main typing keys are full-size and use a chiclet-style design. When paired with Toshiba's standard-sized touchpad (the largest we've seen on a netbook to date), this is an extremely comfortable laptop for typing. Toshiba claims 9.5 hours of battery life (we haven't tested yet, but we'd expect 6ish hours in a real-world scenario).
Geeks have to be suckers for Bluetooth headsets. Don’t believe me? I have purchased no fewer than five Bluetooth headsets ranging from Plantronics, to Cardo and Motorola in the last two years.
Among the most disappointing was the Voyager 855. Although it fit my tiny ear canals well, the reliability of it was, well, everything you’ve come to expect of a Bluetooth headset. Sometimes it would connect with my admittedly mediocre Windows Mobile phone and sometimes it wouldn’t.
It didn’t help that the audio levels were just too low. At least the noise cancellation was top notch. Still, I had to chuck it for two Cardo units: The S-640 and the S-800. I had the highest hopes for the S-640 clip-on unit and carded ear piece. Unfortunately, incoming sound quality was dismal and the lack of noise cancellation made conversations in my beater with original struts impossible. Did I mention that it too was quite flakey with the Bluetooth connection. The S-800, however, was quite reliable. It locked onto my phone and worked fine. The volume was also almost painfully loud when set to max. The UI was good and the quick dial feature that let you access the first few slots in your speed dial was awesome.
I only use my headset in my car and turn it off when not in use. Initially I could get a week or two without having to recharge it. That turned into a week and now it seems like it needs to visit the charger every three days.
Dell teased us with a brief showing of their new Adamo laptop line at this year's CES, but after that first peek, we were all left hanging with only a mysterious website to satiate our curiosity. Today, Dell has finally officially announced the Adamo notebook line, which they call a "luxury brand notebook designed for the luxury conscious consumer." We got to play with the Adamo at a recent press preview meeting, and can confirm that this beauty is indeed luxurious -- easily worthy of envy. We have a ton of Adamo unboxing and close-up photos after the jump, but here are the technical details that you care about:
Adamo's launch models are 13.4" inches (screen resolution is 1366x768) , priced at $1999 for a 1.2GHz Core 2 Duo U9300 with integrated Intel X4500 video, 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, and 128GB SSD running a custom skinned Vista 64-bit. Dell has also custom skinned the Bios to match the Adamo aesthetic.
External hard drives (up to 500GB) and Blu-Ray drives are also available, both of which match Adamo's styling.
Dell told us that Battery life rated at 4 hours, even though the press release states 5+.
Physically, the Adamo measures only .65" thick (thinner than the Voodoo Envy), and weighs in at 4 pounds. Aside from the Dell and Adamo logos, the notebook's rigid surface --made from aircraft grade aluminum -- bears no other unsightly marks or stickers. Even the Windows authenticity sticker is hidden in a magnetic cover in the back.
Built-in ports include 2 USB (with power share, so you can charge devices even when Adamo is off), one eSATA/USB combo port, Display Port, RJ-45 (Wireless N is included), and a SIM card slot for mobile broadband. The Adamo has no Express Card slot nor microphone jack, though a tiny mic is embedded to the left of the keyboard.
The Adamo is now available for preorder, shipping March 24th in Pearl and Onyx colors. A $2700 model is also available in foreign countries, and sports a 1.4GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a built-in 3G wireless card.
Read on for our large gallery of unboxing and hands-on photos.