This week's edition of the Freeware Files may seem a little unusual, but hear me out. A number of you faithful Freeware Files readers are going to be receiving (or have received) awesome gifts from Santa/your parents/Best Buy this holiday season. Trust me--I checked the list myself. Caught up in the frenzy of new toys, phones, and gaming devices to play with, you've probably neglected your poor ol' PC for the time being.
A number of the goodies you're playing with actually have unique little third-party tricks for interfacing directly with your desktop or laptop. Yes, that's right. You can actually use the non-computer components and devices from your living room or pocket to enhance your normal PC use. And these aren't just little remote desktop hacks that let you see your PC's screen on your phone or something. I'm talking about hacks that blur the line between your PC and your game controllers or phones, unlocking new usefulness for your desktop system with devices that are anything but.
So, if you're the proud owner of one of these products, click the jump and see how you can use them to enhance your PC experience:
Here at Maximum PC, we love the Nintendo DS and its two suave screens just as much as the next tech publication, but now, we think we’re finally coming down with a case of DSitus. Let’s have a look through the recently updated DS family photo album, shall we? There’s DS phat, DS Lite, DSi, and – now introducing – the DSi XL.
So, what makes next year’s model so special? Well, for one, there are bigger screens, and then, well… pretty much just the bigger screens. More specifically, the DSi XL sports two 4.2 inch displays – as opposed to the DSi’s formerly formidable 3.25 inch displays, and the DS Lite’s pint-sized 3 inchers.
The latest heir to Nintendo’s portable dynasty – which also includes a bigger stylus, if you’re into that sort of thing – is expanding into America during quarter one of 2010. So far, there’s been no word on price other than that it’s "expected to be higher than that of the Nintendo DSi."
So, are you interested in nabbing a DSi XL, or is your portable game system fund still tapped after 2009’s DSi-PSP Go double-whammy?
Nvidia's Tegra platform continues to woo big-name customers, most recently attracting Nintendo, who reportedly is in talks with Nvidia to provide some extra oomph for its next-gen DS handheld console.
The deal marks a win-win situation for both involved. For Nvidia's part, no other handheld console would put Tegra in more hands, courtesy of the DS's 68.3 percent worldwide market share. And for Nintendo, tapping into Tegra gives the company's console a power boost sure to be well received by consumers and developers alike.
Until more details are released, we can only speculate on what the next DS might be like, but it's at least feasible that on top of the added muscle, it will also sport backwards compatibility with the existing DS library, assuming Theo Valich's sources prove reliable.
What will also be interesting to watch is how this relationship between Nintendo and Nvidia plays out in the home console market. Might Nvidia replace ATI as the graphics vendor of choice in whatever supersedes the Wii? We'll have to wait to find out.
We've seen modded NES systems before, but BenHeck.com forum member "airz" earned some serious geek cred on Thursday by cramming all kinds of goodies into an NES cartridge.
Airz took a foreign-made portable media player and hacked an NES controller to replace the player's buttons, then stuffed the whole assembly into a Super Mario / Duck Hunt combo cartridge. He then cut out an opening for the 2.8-inch LCD screen and the end result is a handheld NES cartridge capable of playing a complete library of NES games using the original buttons, while also serving as an MP3 player, FM radio, picture viewer, audio recorder, and more.
After going through 3 game cases, 2 controllers, and 2 media players to make the mod work, Airz said he's selling his awesome mod to recoup his losses.
While Asus ambitiously prides themselves on being innovators in design akin to Apple, they’re taking aim at Nintendo in the video game console market as well.
According to Jonathan Tsang, the Vice Chairman of Asus, they have “polished off” a video game system that they claim will rival the Wii. “We have a product we think is better than the Wii. But the content is complicated,” stated Tsang in an interview.
Asus’ problem isn’t with the hardware currently, but rather with the software. They have plenty of ways to design and produce a system, but their support on the software side is lacking. A console with no games isn’t bound to be very successful.
“Sometimes it is a chicken-and-egg problem,” Tsang continued. “We don’t have the chicken, so cannot have the egg.”
Reports have claimed that Microsoft is currently in the developmental process of creating a mobile platform that mixes many elements of the Xbox and Zune – earning it the nickname “xYz.”
The rumored handheld is reported to be “unlike anything on the market today … think of a mashup of the Sony Mylo, the PSP, and the iPhone… errr, the iPod touch; [the MS handheld] doesn’t need access to a phone network. Although the Microsoft handheld is definitely a converged device, this is not a Zune Phone. Microsoft won’t compete with its Windows Mobile customers.”
The device will supposedly be based off of Live Anywhere, for the most part. “There will be a single online marketplace; the lines between the Zune, Xbox Live and Sky marketplaces will blur when the handheld launches.”
Given that both Nintendo and Sony have strong footholds in the handheld gaming sector, it seems like a natural progression for Microsoft to move here as well. Let’s just hope that this rumored handheld takes less pages from the book of Zune and more pages from the book of Xbox.
According to a recent study at the University of Rennes, Brittany, Brain Age’s mind workout is no better than playing Scrabble or completing Sudoku puzzles.
The study, which was conducted on a group of 67 10-year-old children, had four groups; the first two did a seven-week memory course using the Nintendo DS, the third group completed puzzles using just pencil and paper and the fourth group did no extra work outside of their school curriculum. According to the results, children who trained on the DS didn’t show any significant improvements in memory tests.
“The Nintendo DS is a technological jewel. As a game it’s fine, but it would be charlatanism to claim that it is a scientific test,” stated Alain Lieury, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Rennes.
Despite this research, it’s expected that Brain Age will still sell very well thanks to Nintendo’s clever marketing, and gigantic casual gamer crowd (many of whom will probably never see this study).
We're not going to make any comments about your multi-platform setup at home, because it's okay to accept that your PC can live alongside your Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or Wii without major squabbling between the systems. But what do you do when your devices want to interact with each other? How do you get all of those movies, music albums, and Internet feeds on your PC to show up on your console and television set?
There are a bunch of solutions on the Internet today for streaming media from your PC to your console of choice. But that doesn't mean all of them are good. In fact, you'll never know whether a given tool works for you unless you spend the requisite half-hour installing it, configuring it for streaming, firing up your console, trying to connect to your PC, et cetera. It's a process. But at least allow us to do our part in reducing your streaming nightmare. We've rounded up a batch of our favorite freeware applications for streaming media from a PC to a console, as well as a handy encoding tool in case you still can't get your huge movies to work just right.
Click the link, press Start, and we're off to World 1-1 of media transcoding!
Straight out of the “yeah, they’re still doing that” file, Greenpeace has released this year’s Guide to Greener Electronics. Since last year there have been plenty of notable changes for the better, but even more for the worse. Nintendo’s score continues to plummet, and Greenpleace’s traditional enemy, Apple, has fallen to 14th.
Nokia comes in at the top spot with some notably high marks in the chemicals department, and sports and overall score of about seven over ten. According to the report, “Nokia scores very well on toxic chemical issues, launching new models free of PVC since the end of 2005 and aiming to have all new models free of brominated flame retardants and antimony trioxide by the end of 2009. “
Near the bottom of the scorecard is everyone’s favorite software giant, Microsoft, scoring only about three out of the ten possible points. “Microsoft remains in 17th position with an improved score of 2.9 points, which it earns mainly on the toxic chemicals criteria,” states the Report. “The company has committed to removing PVC vinyl plastic and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from its hardware products by or before 2010, and phthalates by the end of 2010.”
While there have been some that have spoken of the absurdity of the report, thanks to Greenpeace’s use of manufacturer information instead of conducting their own research, there are some validity to the numbers (as far as we can tell). Feel free to check out the report and draw your own conclusions.
From the Maximum PC Archive - Odds are, you already have everything you need to turn that big TV in your living room into an movie and music jukebox that will put all your media at your fingertips and amaze your friends. Whether you ripped your entire CD and DVD collection, purchase DRM-free content online, or you acquire your media from less legitimate sources, we'll show you everything you need to know to stream your audio, video, and pictures to your Xbox 360, PS3, or any other UPNP-compatible streaming device!