An Open Letter To Microsoft

Dear Microsoft,

It’s been over three years since the launch of the Xbox One and it’s great… mostly.

I have recently upgraded my Day One Edition to the new Xbox One S and you still haven’t addressed the key problems I have with the platform.

Why oh why does your console still send out IR signals for my TV and AV unit when I switch the console on remotely? I have a small PC in the bedroom in order to play games from the comfort of my duvet when I fancy a lazy morning or evening. It’s great that I don’t have to walk to the living room to switch on the console but it defeats the object entirely when it also switches on the TV and the surround sound amp that are also in that room.

Surely it can’t be that difficult to tell the Xbox not to send out IR signals when a remote connection is made from a PC? Sony manages to do this just fine. Switching on my PS4 from the console itself will just as conveniently switch on the TV its attached to, but switching it on from their Remote Play app or a PSTV will leave that TV alone.

I don’t want to disable the feature. Being able to walk into my house and shout “Hey Cortana, Xbox on” and have everything switched on and ready to go before I’ve even sat down is possibly the only decent reason to own a Kinect these days (thanks for the free adapter by the way) but I shouldn’t be expected to let this hinder another great feature of the console.

My second gripe falls under the same tree. Why can I still not play my Xbox One games away from the confines of my own home yet? With my PS4 I can use Remote Play from anywhere in the world with a simple app on my phone or laptop. With my Xbox One though, I have to be on the same WiFi network and using a Windows 10 PC. I can of course set up a complicated VPN to my home network but that’s not exactly user friendly nor does it even work that great as a solution.

Surely now that the new Xbox One controllers have bluetooth connectivity it would be really easy to make an app for mobile devices. Heck, even if you made the app exclusive to your Windows Phone platform I’d actually consider buying one of your handsets.

Lastly, why not make streaming my games easier while I actually am at home by not needing a PC to do it. Sony’s PSTV was a huge flop so I don’t expect you to follow in their footsteps but there is a very simple thing you can do without releasing any new hardware.

A lot of people like me still have an Xbox 360 lying around and even if they don’t you can pick one up second hand for less than £50 in most places. Why not make an app for the 360 that will allow you to stream from an Xbox One?

If any one at Redmond is reading this, kindly take note from this letter. Don’t take my ramblings as an insult to your system as a whole, nor am I saying that Sony’s console is superior because of this. You both have your merits and your flaws over each other but while I’ve been playing more games on Xbox One lately, these issues have been playing on my mind.

I don’t want any credit for these ideas, just please try make them happen.

Kind regards,

Adam.

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The 4K Games Console Debacle

The 4K revolution is slowly edging it’s way into more and more homes these days. Maybe not as quickly as the entertainment industries would hope for but this isn’t stopping them from advocating the technology and pushing out content for it.

Right now though, the only other people I know to have a 4K TV apart from me are my dad and just one of my friends. Being the early adopter that I am, I purchased the Sony KD-55S8505C a while ago. It’s big, it’s curved and most importantly, it has that hot new resolution… and I don’t mean that it’s going to quit smoking after New Years.

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Sony KD-55S8505c 4K TV

I bought it back in January this year (2016) and at the time was still just a little too soon to take advantage of the display. Now though, in the final stretch of the year, 4K content is becoming far more readily available. Netflix and Amazon both have a wealth of Ultra HD movies and TV shows to watch, Ultra HD Blurays are showing up in stores, plus both Sky and Virgin Media are updating their set-top boxes to be able to provide 4K TV channels to homes in the very near future.

But as gorgeous as the new Top Gear (*cough* sorry I mean Grand Tour) is to look at, it’s the future of gaming with this technology that I’m really interested in.

Sony has tried to pitch in first for the console side of gaming with it’s new PlayStation 4 Pro but the result feels to be a rushed attempt to cash in on the 4K hype train. Looking like two normal PS4’s glued together it’s also just £350 ($400). Compare that to a PC built to run games at 4K costing at least three times that amount, it would seem too good to be true wouldn’t it? And indeed it is.

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Sony PlayStation 4 Pro

Clever marketing will lead you to believe that it will deliver 4K gaming to your living room but in reality what it will actually give you is not even close to that. Games are simply upscaled to 4K, a process that (in very basic terms) artificially adds the extra pixels needed by duplicating the surrounding ones to display something in a higher resolution that it actually is.

The console just isn’t powerful enough. Yes it’s roughly twice as powerful as the regular PS4 but 4K is four times the resolution of 1080p HD (hence the name). When the regular console can only just manage rendering a game at 1080p, twice the power just isn’t going to provide four times that amount. With the extra power it does have, it can natively render games higher than 1080p HD resolution (somewhere between 1440 and 1800p depending on the game, also known as 2k) and then the upscaling handles the remaining jump to 4K (2160p). While this will result in a slightly better appearance, it is not the glory of a native 4K output. Not by a long shot.

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Screen Resolution Size Comparison

Sony has however taken advantage of HDR (High Dynamic Range), another new display technology that is quickly becoming the new buzzword in the TV world and in short, it allows a compatible display to show a much wider and richer range of colours. My TV is HDR compatible and having played an updated version of the Ratchet & Clank remake that supports it, the result is truly stunning colour representation and a dramatically enhanced image. However, thanks to a recent software update, the regular PS4 can provide your compatible TV with this information and not just the new Pro model further sinking it into pointlessness. The final major flaw with Sony’s new console is the shocking omission of an Ultra HD Bluray player, despite Sony being the lead company behind the new disc technology itself.

All in all then owners of the PS4 Pro are only going to get upscaled 2K graphics in games and can’t consume 4K content on the latest physical media. So what else is there? Sadly, nothing at the moment for consoles until next year. Microsoft announced its Project Scorpio console back in July at E3 which will be an updated and incredibly powerful  version of the Xbox One capable of true native 4K gaming but it won’t hit the shelves until late 2017.

In the meantime they have released another updated Xbox One, the Xbox One S. With only a small improvement to graphical power, on paper it isn’t any competition to the PS4 Pro but it does have some tricks up it’s sleeve. Not only is it far smaller and way better looking than the original Xbox One, it does gain some 4K abilities. It has updated Netflix and Amazon apps to view their Ultra HD content AND it has an Ultra HD Bluray player inside! Not only that but it also supports HDR for games and it will upscale them to 4K too, albeit from 1080p, but it does still make games look noticeably better if you have a 4K TV.

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Microsoft Xbox One S

Announcing Project Scorpio alongside the release of the Xbox One S was somewhat of a risky move by Microsoft. Showing everyone your new product and then telling them that in a year a newer and more powerful one will be out would normally cripple sales figures but this remarkably hasn’t been the case. The Xbox One S has been outselling the PS4 in the UK and USA for the last four months. On top of that, sales of the PS4 Pro have also been less than stellar so far.

Now this could be just the calm before the Christmas storm. Sales could boom as we get closer to the holiday season but I’m willing to bet that poor reviews of the console due to the above drawbacks combined with Microsoft’s announcement of whats to come from their camp could be holding people back from grabbing Sony’s latest machine.

Like Microsoft, Sony has also released a smaller update to their original console too, The PS4 Slim. This updated version provides no new features other than the inclusion of the updated controller and I think Sony really missed a trick here. What they should have done in my opinion is to have added the 4K media abilities to the Slim, making it a close competitor to the Xbox One S and then delayed the release of the Pro to fall in line with Project Scorpio. They could have used the extra time and money to produce a product truly able to provide 4K graphics and possibly keep themselves ahead in the console war.

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Sony PlayStation 4 Slim

Sony has seen success in its dominance in the current console generation so far but with their recent bad decisions combined with Microsoft’s new strategies, I strongly feel the the tables could turn here. Releasing their higher end model so early and with only a fraction of the power of their main rivals future console, Sony have really put themselves in danger of loosing their lead in the market they worked so hard to get this generation.

A Professional Rant

I’ve gone easy on Apple lately, I even own a MacBook Air (though it is running Windows) but I watched the latest Apple Keynote yesterday and whilst I was actually impressed with the new touch panel display above the keyboard, the new MacBook Pro’s are some of the worst products ever released by any company.

For one, despite the word “Pro” in it’s very name, only the two most expensive versions (the cheaper of the two being £2,349) feature a dedicated graphics card. All the rest have integrated Intel graphics, just 8GB RAM and a dual core processor.

That is not the specification of a professional grade computer product. That is consumer grade spec. These are not machines with the performance required by a professional to work with graphics or CPU intensive programs.

Secondly, and perhaps the most ridiculous, is the lack of any USB Type A ports at all. Not a single one. Apple have decided to only provide it’s users with the admittedly better but yet to be widely adopted USB Type C ports. This means that without buying an extra adapter, you can’t plug a regular thumb drive, hard drive or almost any of the peripherals that you may have already directly into any of the new MacBook lineup. This includes Apple’s own damn phones and tablets!

If you buy a new MacBook Pro and a new iPhone today, you cannot connect the two together without paying for an additional adapter!

This is from the company that prides themselves on their ecosystem and flawless compatibility between their products!

To make things crazier, some of the only devices on the market right now that are using the newer Type C connectors are Android and Windows phones and tablets which means they’re actually more compatible with the MacBook than Apples own mobile devices!

There isn’t even an SD Card slot. So you go take some pictures or shoot some video with your camera, then you want to go edit your work on your “professional” computer but you can’t because there’s nowhere to plug the USB cable in, nor can you take out the SD Card and plug that in either!

What if you’re a DJ and need to connect your mixers, turntables or sample pads into your shiney new laptop? Better buy a whole bunch of those adapters that cost £20 each from an Apple store!

To put the ludicrous price into perspective, the new Microsoft Surface Book which was announced just one day earlier is £550 cheaper for a model that has a dedicated GPU and also features a full removable touch screen, a Surface Pen, two full size USB ports, a DisplayPort and a full size SD Card reader.

What an absolute f*****g shambles Apple. An absolute f*****g shambles.

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MacBook Pro With Touch Bar
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Microsoft Surface Book

The End Of A Long Term Relationship

We all get that weird feeling when we know a relationship just isn’t working out. You know you should end it there and then but you stay for a while, hoping that things will get better but they never do. The longer you leave it the harder it gets and then one day, you just snap and you can’t take it anymore. You come to terms with it, you pluck up the courage and you say the fateful words “I think we should go our separate ways”.

This is exactly what happened between me and my past love, Sony Xperia.xperia-hero-z-black-1240x840-f535888737995291dfe31cae40a6d99f

In March 2013 Sony released one of the world’s greatest phones, the Xperia Z. It was beautiful, it was powerful and it was mine. Bored by plastic and terrible battery life that my Samsung Galaxy S3 plagued me with, I had already lost interest in the upcoming S4. I needed something special and the Xperia Z was it.

With a stunning waterproof design, a brilliant camera and excellent battery life it was quite simply miles ahead of the competition. I fell in love and parted ways with Samsung.

Sony and I had a lot of fun. We took photos in the pool and we lasted all day and night on a single charge. From there the relationship grew, the Z1 replaced the plastic frame with a sleek and robust aluminium one. Drops and tumbles were no match for it. Maybe be a dent here or there, but never did it break.

With the Z2 and Z3 we hit our peak. The design got even sexier and the camera just got better and better. With 20.7 megapixels we outshone everyone else and the stereo speakers made videos and games sound perfect.

Then came the Z5 (the Z4 was known as the Z3+ over here in the UK for anyone counting) and things took a turn for the worse. The new 23 megapixel camera was awful, producing noisy sub-par photos. The fingerprint reader was flaky at the best of times and the auto brightness was a joke. There was a complete lack of software innovation too and any cool features that we did have were taken away from us in the Android 6 update.

Sony had failed me and I knew it was time to move on. But where to? Who could comfort me in my hour of need?

In the distance, a familiar face appeared. It called to me, forgave me for leaving them behind all those years ago and handed me the phone I had secretly been dreaming of, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

It was gorgeous inside and out and I fell in love all over again.

Samsung have really pulled out all the stops with this one. The curved edge to edge screen is Galaxy-S7-Edgeunbelievably beautiful to look at. Everything from text, to photos and videos is vibrant and lifelike. Waterproofing has been added and the wireless charging from the previous S6 has been made faster. The battery will see me though till the early hours of the next day, or even right through to the end of the next day with the built in battery saving option switched on. The camera really has to be seen to be believed, I am blown away with each and every photo I take or video that I record with the 12MP Dual Pixel sensor. Optical Image Stabilisation is also included to make it almost impossible to take a blurry photo or shaky video.

To top it all, Samsung has added endless innovations to their software. A split screen mode lets me use two apps at once. The edge of the screen holds a menu with quick access to contacts, apps and more from anywhere. The screen also has an ‘always on’ mode that shows a clock and notification indicators so you can take a quick glance at it and not need to press any buttons to check up on things.

ALWAYS ON DISPLAY, SPLIT SCREEN & EDGE MENU

Double pressing the home button from anywhere activates the camera, even with the screen off, and it launches almost instantly. The camera itself has some neat tricks. 360 degree photos, animated gifs and a panoramic selfie mode to name but a few for still images. For video, 240fps slow motion, hyperlapse and even live broadcast options are available out of the box. Low light performance is outstanding, I never imagined a phone camera could be this good at night. The few features that Apple’s iOS has going for it are included here too like live photos and a selfie flash mode where the screen flashes brightly.

CAMERA SETTINGS

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CAMERA SAMPLES

A triple press of the home button reduces everything on screen to a small window to make it much easier to use with one hand. Speaking of windows, swiping down from the top corner of the screen will reduce the app you’re using to a resizable box you can float on top of other apps. Handy for watching YouTube while texting or browsing the web. The keyboard has the option for “swipe” style typing or you can opt for it to behave like a touchpad where holding down and then moving your finger will move the cursor around a text field.

ONE HANDED MODE & WINDOWED MODE

Samsung has incorporated a system wide clipboard that keeps a track of all your past copies of text, pictures or screenshots so you can copy and paste multiple things at a time. On top of this, when you take a screenshot of the phone screen you get a preview of the image and three options. One to delete it, one to share it and the last one, ‘Capture More’, will automatically scroll the page down and add it to the image. With this you can take one really long screenshot of a webpage or text message instead taking of several to get everything you need.

CLIPBOARD, SCREENSHOT OPTIONS, LONG SCREENSHOT & PRIVATE MODE

You can also activate a ‘Private Mode’ that is secured with a pin or fingerprint. Things like photos, files and documents can be hidden and only seen from within this mode. Great for keeping things safe from prying eyes. With the phone itself, Samsung have built in the option for the phone to recognise unknown numbers from directories on the internet and will also warn you if the number is known for scams or cold call sales.

Lastly, this is the first phone I have ever owned to get auto brightness exactly right. The Sony Xperia Z5 was useless. It took far too long to change and when it did it wasn’t the right setting. Too bright in dark situations so it would blind you at bedtime and far too dim in bright sunlight making it almost completely unusable outside. The S7 Edge though has perfect and instant brightness adjustment, making the screen always viewable and gorgeous to look at. Just another little thing that makes me love this phone so much.

All these features and more make for one hell of a device and while Sony doesn’t include ANY of them in their new Xperia X range, not even the waterproofing that it was once famous for, it’s easy to say that I made the right choice.

I’m sorry Sony, we had a good run and I really enjoyed our time together. I still love my TV and my tablet, but Samsung has won back my heart and that special place in my pocket that I keep my phone.

Goodbye, take care and farewell.

Click here to see the full specs on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

A Baffling Week At E3

So here I am, dusting off this corner of the internet and making a return to writing after several months of silence.

Now there is a handful of reasons why I’ve been quiet on the blogging front, all of which I will talk about another time. I’m at my keyboard today though to discuss some confusing announcements stirring up the gaming world at this years E3.

The world famous Electronic Entertainment Expo has just had it’s 2016 event and once again Microsoft and Sony left us all a tad bewildered and that’s even without including the somewhat eerie trailer for Hideo Kojima’s new ‘Norman Reedus Holding A Dead Baby Simulator’ that’s currently in production, Death Stranding.

Once again it’s the hardware developments that seem quite unclear to most of us outside the offices of Redmond or San Mateo. Barely three years have passed since the announcement of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and yet now both companies have shown us newer versions of their current generation machines that will be on sale later this year.

Instead of just being slimmer and better looking models of the same product, akin to the Xbox 360 Slim or PS3 Slim, these new machines will actually churn out more processing and graphics power than their older counterparts. While normally this would mark a new generation in gaming consoles, both Microsoft and Sony have stressed that these newer models will be sold alongside the originals and all future games for each platform will work on either machine.

How these games will run is still a bit of a grey area but I can only imagine it would be similar to PC games where you can adjust the level of graphical quality depending on your hardware, though I’m sure this will be an automatic adjustment that is made depending on what version of the console you install the game onto.

Whilst the new PS4 (codenamed PS4 Neo) wasn’t actually shown off at E3, it was officially announced the week before along with some information on its new abilities. Microsoft’s new console however, the Xbox One S, was shown off to the world in all it’s glory. Oddly though, there was no mention of it’s power increase, leading most of us to believe it was just a smaller and better looking Xbox One.

This doesn’t seem to be the case though as the Gears Of War creators confirmed that it has been given a CPU and GPU upgrade much like the PS4 Neo. It would be a reasonable assumption that this is largely to support one of the Xbox One S’s new features, HDR graphics.

Now I’m not going to explain HDR (or High Dynamic Range) here but in a nutshell a HDR compatible TV can display a much wider and richer range of colours, brighter whites and deeper blacks. It’s something Sony have been including in their new TV sets for a few months now but left no word as to whether the PS4 Neo will support the new technology like the Xbox One S will.

Sony were quite clear in stating that the Neo is a more powerful console and though they’re not likely to admit it, this will mainly be to support their new VR headset which is also due for release later this year. While they are adamant that the headset will work on the original PS4, there would almost certainly have to be some caveat they’re holding back on telling us. VR platforms currently require a fairly powerful PC to run at a high enough resolution and frame rate to be both realistic and immersive enough to not give you a headache or make you vomit during extended use. It is highly doubtful that either of those key factors wouldn’t have to take a hit in order to run on the older hardware.

Neither console however will support 4K gaming and this is where a lot of the confusion lies. Although both companies have mentioned 4K, this is purely for streaming video with the likes of Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. Both machines will now sport an HDMI 2.0 port to enable this and Microsoft has even confirmed the One S will have an Ultra HD Bluray Player (no word from Sony on that one).

Amongst all the terrible PR surrounding both machines, it has been made clear that the 4K abilities will be strictly for video services and it comes as no real surprise. Running a game at 4K resolutions is a remarkably demanding task and right now requires an incredibly powerful gaming PC. To fit that level of performance into something the size of a console and at an affordable price would be nothing short of impossible but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from making another, even crazier announcement.

At the end of their show they announced a third console that will join the “Xbox One family” due to release Christmas 2017. It’s Codename ‘Scorpio’ is about as much information we have at this point but Microsoft did make one thing very clear, it will run games in 4K. The machine will apparently be nearly 5 times as powerful as the original Xbox One and if that claim is true, Sony could be in real trouble and most likely need to produce a competing product or they could face losing their current lead in the console war.

Beyond that, very little else is known at this point and while a new games console is always exciting, it does pose some difficulties regarding the future of the current Xbox One and PS4 consoles. There are certainly a number of people that are feeling a tad disgruntled after already spending a considerable amount of money on something that now looks to be outdated far sooner than expected.

Whilst both Microsoft and Sony insist that the current consoles won’t be forgotten or left behind, it’s hard to see just how that will work in the real world and the next few years will certainly be an interesting if not baffling time for the gaming market and more importantly, an expensive one for the consumer.

What’s The Time Mr Cook?

So anyone that knows me will tell you that I’m not the greatest fan of Apple. The technology company that is, not the once forbidden fruit.

But while I will argue that they are not the great “innovators” that most people seem to claim they are, I will admit that they do hold the ability to encourage people to buy into new technology… and by “new” I actually mean old.

In recent years it seems that Joe Public is generally unaware of anything new in the tech world until Apple have brandished one with their logo. The MP3 player had been around for a while before the iPod, the smartphone and tablet had been around long before iPhone and iPad.

Much like the product I’m going to talk about in this post, I had all of these gadgets way before they gained a lower case ‘i’ and a plain white box. I’m of course going to be talking about smart watches and perhaps more importantly, why I’m actually disappointed Apple have failed with theirs.

Most professional tech journals and blogs tend to use the word ‘flop’ when talking about the Apple Watch, even the most biased of ones, and its hard not to agree. I myself work in the technology sector and have only ever seen two people wearing one. Those two being the Guru from my local O2 Store and my area’s Apple representative. I’ve seen far more of them in the window display of my nearest branch of CeX.

I personally see Apple as less of a technology company and more of a fashion company, making gadgets appealing to the average consumer and not just early adopting geeks like me or the ‘Q’ branch of MI6. With that in mind, something that you can actually wear should have been easier for Apple to sell than uranium to the middle east.

So why have they failed and why do I care?

I don’t think anyone can really pin point just why the Apple Watch hasn’t been such a big success but since you’ve been kind enough to read this far I’ll pose to you my own opinions.

For one, its far too expensive, even by Apple’s standards. The main advantage of a smart watch over a regular wrist watch is being able to view and interact with notifications from your phone without the need to get that phone out of your pocket or bag. Really handy in places where you can’t or don’t want to have your phone in hand such as a work meeting, the gym or somewhere there could be thieves. Since the Apple Watch can only do this when connected to the phone via bluetooth, a range of about 10 meters, from my point of view this makes it strictly an accessory. No one wants to pay the same amount if not more money for an accessory for their phone than the phone cost itself. Most people don’t even want to spend more than £10 for a case or a screen protector and when the phone is usually subsidised monthly over the term of a contract, people are even less likely to hand over a £350+ lump sum on top.

Secondly, I’ll point at it’s design. Now as much as I don’t personally like their products to use, Apple gizmos are generally always pretty to look at. Their watch however is underwhelming and dated in it’s physical appearance. It looks like it was designed a few years ago, and knowing Apple, it probably was. Compared against other smart watches currently on the market, it lacks any real style and especially when paired with the cheapest option of a plastic wrist strap, it has a slight ‘Fisher Price’ look to it. It’s biggest problem in this area is that it’s square. Most other smart watches at the moment have a round face, making it hard to tell that it’s a smart watch at all, just a regular watch and that leads loosely into my last point, it’s ability to be a watch.

The thing with smart watches is that they need to be a watch first and smart second. The Apple Watch is quite simply a terrible watch. To start with, the screen is always off until you either touch it or turn your wrist over, meaning you can’t just glance at it at any moment and get the time. Also, at the time of writing, it’s also not very customisable, leaving you with only the limited set of watch face designs that are pre loaded onto it and you can only use it with the set of straps that Apple supply for it. This is something I’m sure will change in future updates or versions but for now it leaves it looking very uniform and perhaps that’s what Apple wanted in order for everybody to be able to tell that it is an Apple Watch straight away but this isn’t great for a product that you wear rather than put into a pocket.

These are all factors that Android Wear has got right. Wear devices feature ‘always on’ displays and have a wealth of watch faces that can be installed from the Play Store. They also use standard watch strap fittings and can still allow you to interact with notifications from your phone even if the two devices are miles apart. So long as your phone has a data connection and the watch is connected to WiFi, the two can still communicate with each other no matter where they are. This allows Android Wear watches to be less of an accessory and more of a watch, independent of the phone and not just an extension of it.

So if Android Wear watches are so great, why do I care that Apple’s one isn’t? It all ties in with what I wrote at the beginning of this post. Apple are able to make niche products attractive to the consumer mainstream. I have had five different smart watches over the same number of years and I am still the only person I know that owns one. The situation takes me back to the early 2000’s when I was very early to adopt Windows Mobile smartphones long before ‘iPhone’ was even a word. It wasn’t until Apple entered the market that all of a sudden everyone wanted one. Again this happened with tablet computers and I had hoped that the same story would follow for smart watches too. I would love to see them become far more popular than they are currently as I find them incredibly useful and want to see the technology progress as quickly as smartphones have over the years but that won’t happen unless they do indeed become more widely used.

Perhaps if I’m right, and the key to a great smart watch is that it’s a brilliant watch first and a smart device second, then it needs a watch company and not a technology company to bring them to the masses. With companies like Tag Heuer reportedly bringing Android Wear based smart watches onto the market soon, then maybe we’ll finally see them used by more than just geeks like me.

It’s an interesting thought and one that only time will tell.

If you would like to know more on the watch that I currently wear, take a look at the My Tech page here.

Gaming & Adult Life

There once was a time, much like any teenage boy, when I played as many video games as I had hot meals. It’s hard to look back now and imagine having that much time to devote purely to games but it really did happen.

Now I’m (much) older and I have developed a wealth of interests beyond the box under the TV, such as writing this blog for example or going on a long walk or even better, winding down the end of the day with a glass of wine and an episode of EastEnders. All this means I have very little time left to play games so I have to be a little more selective with what I do play.

This isn’t so difficult really, as I’ve grown up very few games tend to actually peak my interest. No longer will I play something simply because I can decapitate an innocent bystander with a chainsaw, in my maturity I now only want to play something that has a vast and fascinating world to explore or a deep and rich story to get engrossed in. There are a few franchises that I will always continue to play much for those reasons like Halo and Tomb Raider, anything else would normally pass me by unless it managed to wow me at E3 or several friends have recommended it.

Beyond this though, I am very lucky to live in an era where we all have games consoles in our pockets. Gone are the days when gaming on the go was limited to a chunky wad of plastic, four AA batteries and a tiny monochrome display. Now our mobile phones can provide us with on the go entertainment and I for one spend much more time playing games this way than through my console.

I have three main types of games that I stick to on this format too. Firstly, I quite like infinite runner style games like Temple Run and Jetpack Joyride. They are quick and easy to pick up and can be played without too much thought, whiling away the the bus ride to work or waiting in the queue at the Post Office quite nicely.

The second thing I play on my phone are old games from my childhood, games that I loved so much that I enjoy playing them over and over. These are mainly PlayStation One games and then a few Master System and Mega Drive titles. The Google Play store has an abundance of emulators that will play ROM’s Moga Pro(essentially a file with all the information from the original cartridge or CD) of old console systems and sometimes they can even improve them slightly by up-scaling the graphics and sound. The experience is made even better with the Moga Pro controller accessory that is basically a bluetooth enabled game pad with an extendible clip to attach your phone to. This gives you real buttons and analogue sticks to play with so you don’t have to use cumbersome touch screen overlays. The Moga also works with most new mobile games from the Play Store so anyone that likes to play on their phone should have a look at getting one, I cant recommend it enough.

Lastly, I really enjoy puzzle games on my phone, my favourite of which is Monument Valley. This game had me glued to my phone for many hours and is easily one of the greatest games I have ever played, phone or otherwise. The game itself is set in a beautifully simple looking world where you have to manipulate parts of the scenery in order to move the character to the doors that lead to the next level. The twist is that you can only see the levels in a fixed birds eye view and moving the character from place to place is often a mater of perspective than reality, almost like an Escher drawing.

Monument Valley Monument Valley Levels

The only negative is that the game isn’t very long but an expansion pack has since been released making it slightly longer. It’s available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone so if you’re looking for something new and interesting to entertain yourself with then look no further!

Google PlayApp StoreWindows Store