Last year's Moto X was a modest phone. At the time, the then-Google-owned Motorola had created a new image for its handsets—moving on, once again, from its Razr devices—presenting us with a practical, mid-range smartphone that was well worth your money, but didn't quite have the pizzazz to make it stand out from other popular flagships from Samsung and Apple.
Titanfall has arrived, and with it, the first wave of officially licensed gaming headsets for the Xbox One. EA and Turtle Beach have teamed up to create the EarForce Atlas — a stereo gaming headset sporting Titanfall-inspired art, an around-the-ear design, and an adjustable boom mic. But in spite of the association with Respawn's much-anticipated shooter, the EarForce Atlas suffers from an uncomfortable build and merely passable sound performance.
Video game consoles have always struggled to keep up with rapid pace of innovation set forth by PCs, and more recently, mobile devices. In the last generation, the PlayStation 3 in particular was bound by proprietary processing technology and a rigid operating system that made software and new features arduous and costly to produce.
Google's Nexus smartphones have been the holy grail for die-hard Android fans since the original Nexus One was released almost four years ago. With quick software updates and minimal carrier involvement, users were able to truly experience Android the way Google intended. These devices never really sold well, at least compared to other smartphones from Samsung, HTC, and Apple, but that was never really the goal. The Nexus phones exist to proudly waive the Google flag, carrying with them a raw, brand new, and mostly untouched, version of the mobile operating system.
Stylus-equipped devices have become more and more uncommon over the last decade or so, but Samsung is still pushing the aged input method to new smartphones and tablets with its Note line of products. While many of us are completely content with just using our fingers, there are still those out there that enjoy hand-writing and casually drawing—and for that audience, the new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 - 2014 Edition tablet hopes to deliver a great combination of built-in stylus app support, solid hardware, and a trusty Wacom digitizer.
The 2DS is ugly. I picked mine up this morning, took it out of the box, looked at it, and thought "Man, that thing is ugly." If I had let my first impression end there, I would have done a disservice to a remarkable new piece of gaming hardware, because in addition to being ugly, the 2DS is an affordable, smartly engineered tool for playing games.Though aimed at budget conscious consumers, the 2DS doesn't feel cheap. The texture of the plastic is sturdy, more reminiscent of consumer electronics than the toy aisle. The unit is lightweight but has enough substance and span to rest comfortably in my fairly large hands.
The wedge shape of the 2DS was a source of some curiosity prior to release, but I discovered the tapering design caused the heavier upper-half to naturally brace itself against my supporting fingers, promoting a solid grip. Large triggers curve a full ninety degrees around the top-left and top-right corners of the 2DS, a smart accommodation for players of different sizes. I found myself curling my right index finger around the R button while aligning my left index finger with the edge of the 2DS and tapping the L button from the side with a fingertip. This ergonomic allowance is especially helpful when using the D-pad as a primary control, as bridging the distance between the crosspad and the upper-left corner of the 2DS would otherwise require a bit of uncomfortable stretching.
The analog disc has a nice travel and the soft face texture provides a good grip for my thumb. The small D-pad tucked below is perfect, vintage Nintendo. The primary face buttons are well-spaced and provide a tactile feedback with each press.
The upper screen is clear and quite bright. The narrower lower screen is also vibrant and responsive to stylus and finger touch. Colors transfer between the displays with a flawless consistency.
Sound from the front speaker is monaural, adequate but a little flat. Even at the highest setting, the speaker volume is quiet. Headphones provide much louder, clearer, and richer full stereo.
Despite being limited to a two dimensional display, the 2DS can capture 3D photography. Twin lenses on the back of the unit allow for 3D snapshots and video, though the manual focus for the outward-facing 3D camera is disabled. The player-facing camera is 2D only.
Sleep mode is activated by a toggle switch on the bottom of the 2DS. Network hardware is controlled from a menu.
Like Vita, the 2DS is too large to fit comfortably in a pants pocket. The absence of folding screen protection portends a strong possibility of scratches during transport. A sold-separately carrying case seems a foregone conclusion for prudent commuters or parents.
Built-in software includes a spartan web-browser, basic audio/video recording applications, a simple AR pack-in game, the Face Raiders minigame, Mii Maker, Streetpass, and a few other bells and whistles. Wireless networking and access to the Nintendo eShop are easy to set up out of the box, though an update is necessary before making any online purchases. While the in-system manuals and tutorials have been partially updated with 2DS instructions, some of them still reference the 3DS in visual examples. Many transition screens in the firmware also still identify the handheld as a 3DS.I sampled five native 3DS games on the 2DS: Paper Mario Sticker Star, Super Street Fighter IV, Mario Tennis Open, Blazblue, and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. All of them looked wonderful on the 2D display. Even Super Street Fighter IV’s 3D-optimized Versus Mode made the two dimensional transition with no ill effects.
I tried out a couple of Virtual Console games with satisfying results. Zelda 2’s vibrant palette was faithfully represented, and the D-pad handled Recca’s demanding control requirements with superb precision. I tested one DS title for backwards-compatibility, Taito’s Space Invaders Extreme. The 2DS handled the changeover admirably.
The 2DS shows promise as a viable, intelligently constructed platform with access to a superb software library. The $129.99 MSRP is certainly an attractive incentive, a full forty dollars lower than the next-cheapest handheld available on the market. After a morning fooling around with my new 2DS, I feel like I just got a good piece of hardware at a bargain price
The iPhone 5C is the iPhone 5 reborn. Underneath its new, candy-colored plastic shell lies all of the core components that made the iPhone 5 one of the best smartphones of 2012. But rather than just relegating last year's flagship to an entry-level offering in the shadow of the iPhone 5S, Apple has instead decided to repurpose last year's model to create something new, but still competitively priced. Do familiar specs dressed up in colorful new casing make the iPhone 5C more than just a retread and a product worth seeking out all its own?
Since the iPhone first launched in 2007, the look and feel of Apple's mobile operating system has remained largely unaltered. Although iOS has seen significant functional expansion and iterative design updates over the last six years, the user interface has been a constant. But now, in face of increasing competition and leadership changes, Apple is making its first substantial leap into a new, more modern design with iOS 7. But has Apple updated the OS for the better, and what, if anything, could still use improvement? Read on to find out.
With every major iPhone redesign comes the inevitable S series refresh a year later. Like the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 3GS before it, the new iPhone 5S takes last year's form factor and adds improved camera technology, a faster processor, and new features exclusive to the latest hardware. But while the iPhone 5S may be predictable, it's nonetheless exceptional, maintaining and improving upon Apple's outstanding software experience and the stunning design of the iPhone 5.
Android manufacturers have been trying their best to find ways to differentiate their devices from those of their competitors, with some placing more emphasis on build quality, while others have put more time into software features or customization options. To make the new G2 stand out, LG has relocated all of the hardware buttons that are typically found around the edges of a phone, and re-grouped them into one place on the back of the device with what it calls the "Rear Key."
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