Back in July, Alienware flew me and lucky Geekzoner Stuart over to Melbourne for their FIFA Euro 2012 game off. The best part of the day (for me) was visiting GameMasters, the exhibition about all the games and consoles from yesteryear. At the time, I recommended flying to Melbourne just to see the exhibition (read my original blog post here).
I have amazing news - the exhibition has jumped the ditch and opens today at Te Papa.
I highly recommend skipping work for the day and spending all day in the exhibition. Even if you aren't a gamer, you will thoroughly enjoy seeing how far gaming has come, and actually being able to play on some of the older consoles. A full list of the available games is here.
GameMasters closes the end of April 2013.
I was involved in giving feedback on the very first ASB app a few years back - at that time it was just a wrapper around a mobile site, and we received it via Dropbox. It was a good first attempt at a mobile app, this latest release however is streets ahead of where ASB started.
The biggest killer feature in this app is the TradeMe integration - it makes paying a seller for a successful auction super easy. See the video below for more info:
(video here about collecting a payment if you are the seller)
Other nice changes are:
- Multi-tasking ability - if you swapped to another app, such as Gmail, to check an amount or bank account details, and went back to the ASB Mobile app, you'd need to login again. They've now fixed this so you can return to the ASB Mobile app (within a 2 minute timeout) and continue on where you left off (this was my biggest pet peeve).
- Branch locator gone - this has been removed from the initial login page. I had issues with this while in Europe, with it swapping between Cape Reinga and Invercargill as my nearest branches, based on what country I was in at the time.
- Quick balance updates - you can now specific up to three accounts to view the balances off, rather than just one.
Great work ASB!
I'm only an ASB customer, I'm keen to hear how this compares to the mobile apps of the other competitors - please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The best way to summarise this book is from their website:
My Little Geek is an ABC book all about geekdom
I came across this book a few months back off a suggestion on Twitter (it's written by a Kiwi), but had to wait to blog about it until we've given it to friends who have just had their first child. With it's big colourful illustrations, and geeky theme, it's the perfect gift to get for new parents, to help their little one, on their way to becoming an uber-geek.
Available from the clever folk at Mighty Ape.
While Sony's offerings were nice, they were far more than I was prepared to spend ($600 range). Doing some quick research online, I found Phitek's Blackbox C20s, and at only $157 from JB Hi-Fi they were just what I was looking for.
The Blackbox earphones aren't new to the market - Rod Drury (Xero) reviewed them back in 2007, and Mauricio Freitas (Geekzone) later that same year.
The flight to the east coast of the USA isn't a short one - 13 hours to LAX, then 6 hours across the continent. I chose earphones as I knew I'd be spending much of my cattle-class flight asleep, and headphones aren't comfortable to sleep in (a trip earlier this year to Europe with my Bose AE2s taught me this the hard way).
The C20s are really comfortable to wear, and I kept mine in for most of the flight there and back (approximately 40 hours of flying in total). They come with a hard carry case to keep everything together (a blessing especially when trying to find them in your carry-on in the dark) and they come complete with an airline adapter (dual pins), extra ear-buds, cable clip and a AAA battery (if the battery goes flat, the earphones still work, just without the noise cancelling).
If you own an Apple device, it has a small remote on one of the cables to answer/end calls, plus play/pause/next/previous music track control. Included is an adapter to allow the earphones to work with all non-Apple devices.
After turning on the noise-cancelling (there's a small slide switch on the battery pack), the difference is phenomenal: the aircraft cabin turns to near silence. It doesn't block out all sounds, but the continuous, monotonous drone of the aircraft's engines disappears. Even when I wasn't listening to music, I kept them in my ears to block out most of the background noise.
The sound quality through these earphones is superb. While the devices I was using aren't known for their high fidelity audio output (my laptop and Android tablet), the earphones allowed me to fully appreciate the sound they do put out. I'm by no stretch an audiophile, but to my amateur ears these sound amazing.
I highly recommend these earphones - they look good, sound great, are a fantastic price, and, even better, are developed by a company here in NZ.
On Thursday, Geekzone moderator Stu (BighammerNZ) and I were invited to Sony's headquarters in Ponsonby, Auckland as part of their "Sony Open House" promotion. It was a launch to show off the new stuff in Sony's technology line-up.
In brief we saw:
- VAIO Duo 11 - Sony's tablet offering, it slides up to show a full QWERTY keyboard under it's 11.6" screen. Wasn't too impressed with it as it felt too heavy and clunky when compared to the much nicer Apple iPad/Samsung Galaxy Note/Microsoft Surface.
- Walkman F800 - slim, phone like device running Android. Much smaller form factor, and far more power than the old tape playing Walkman I used to own.
- SANS410/SANS510 - new compact speakers offering 360 degree coverage, all controlled through an app through your home WiFi. Sounds great, packs a lot of punch, definitely see myself buying one for home.
- MDR-1 headphones - with a wireless bluetooth version and a noise-cancelling option, very comfortable, over-the-head style headphones. My only concern was they are very pricey ($400-500 range)
- Personal 3D viewer - these are a head-mounted display that when you put it on, it gives the impression of watching a 20m wide screen, 20m away. It's a surreal experience wearing them (this model doesn't have the integrated earphones as the previous one did) and with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, it's very easy to forget about the world around you. You can focus each eye individually, and the headbands easily adjust to fit any size head. At around $1,100, they are expensive for something that can only be used by one person at a time. Very cool tech none-the-less.
The real star of the evening was their 84" 4K TV, which I can only describe as:
(sorry I have no decent photos from the event)
Pictures and video really can't do justice to how amazing this TV is. At 84" it really makes a statement. The 60" TV Sony had setup next to it was dwarfed in comparison. I kept reminding myself that it was just about twice the size of my tiny 46" screen at home.
4K is a stunning picture, 4x better than current HD. The big issue at the moment is there is little content (other than up-scaling existing HD which looks pants) available. The demo content we did watch was amazing - think of the first time you saw HD content when compared with standard definition.
If you get a chance to see this in person, I highly recommend. You'll be blown away with how truly amazing the picture is.
How much to get one of these bad boys in your living room? $35k.
I'll happily take any donations to my "buy Nate a new TV fund".
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The views and opinions represented on this blog are personal and belong solely to the blogger and do not represent in anyway those of 3Bit Solutions Limited or any other company.
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