Kinect with Xbox 360 BlackAfter a long wait, Microsoft’s Kinect for the Xbox 360 went on sale in the US yesterday among fanfare and dance party in New York’s Time Square and the company is expecting to sell 5 million of its new controller-free gaming systems this holiday shopping season. We have been waiting and waiting for this little marvel – previously called Project Natal – for months.

Though Microsoft has made us wait for another week as the Kinect will hit the European markets on November 10th, we decided to have a look at what the tech gurus are saying about this small motion sensing camera that is expected to change the future of gaming as we know today. While I was expecting over the top reviews about the Kinect, just like we had very optimistic expectations from the controller, I was really put off to see the complete turn around in the opinions of the opinion makers.

Tim Carmody at the Gadget Lab explained how motion detection works in Xbox Kinect and also believes that it is different from a traditional game controller.

Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360 02

“A traditional videogame controller is individual and serial: It’s me and whatever I’m controlling on the screen versus you and what you’re controlling. We might play cooperatively, but we’re basically discrete entities isolated from one another, manipulating objects in our hands.

Kinect is something different. It’s communal, continuous and general: a Natural User Interface (or NUI) for multimedia, rather than a GUI for gaming.

But it takes a lot of tech to make an interface like that come together seamlessly and naturally.”

The other technology analysts seem bit disappointed at the moment though mostly because of the price tag of $150 (£93) just for the controller and $50(£31) each for a single game title.

Ross Miller at Engadget believes the Kinect as hardware is great, but there’s plenty of room for software engineers and UI designers to improve. However, he expects Microsoft will continue to pool resources into improving the experience for a good while.

Comparing Sony’s Move, Nintendo’s Wii and Microsoft’s Kinect, he says “By the numbers, picking up Move starter bundle and an extra controller is the same price, and in that setup you also get a two-player experience. Move’s Sports Champions is arguably a stronger bundled title compared to Kinect Adventures. But really, we feel like both systems — along with Nintendo and the Wii — are just taking a different approach to the same issue. Where does interaction go next? How do you bring it to the living room? Back to the Kinect, though: we think there’s some fighting spirit inside that glossy shell, but it’s definitely got a lot of growing up to do first.”

Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360 03

Confused like hell, Jason Chen at Gizmodo also doesn’t seem much impressed with the game titles available right now and the price tag as he goes on to say “Having only 1 title out of 17 launch games truly do something compelling and new isn’t a very good launch, especially for people who don’t like dance games. Right now, the answer to the fundamental question of “are you having fun with Kinect” is, unfortunately, “not really.” Unless you like dance games. The potential is there, but you need to think of Kinect like the launch of a new console: Wait until the games you really want are available—or maybe even the next generation.”

Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360 04

Similarly, Ben Kuchera at Ars Technica is also critical of the motion sensor’s high price tag with little selection of games. He also believes that it will not remain a button-free controller and “Microsoft is going to release a Move-style controller for the Kinect within a year or so. Both gamers and developers are going to be frustrated by all the things the hardware can’t do, and they’ll demand a way to interact with games using at least one or two buttons. It’s not a coincidence that so many games at launch are in the same few genres, you know. The hardware simply can’t handle much else.”

There’s one exception though, David Pogue at the New York Times seems optimistic and believes that the Kinect, like Xbox 360, will be the saviour for Microsoft in the hardware and concludes, “the Kinect’s astonishing technology creates a completely new activity that’s social, age-spanning and even athletic. Microsoft owes a huge debt to the Nintendo Wii, yes, but it also deserves huge credit for catapulting the motion-tracking concept into a mind-boggling new dimension. Just this once, the gods have lifted the Curse of the Microsoft Hardware.”

While we trust the opinion of these technology big guns, we’ll keep our fingers crossed and wait to get our hands on the “game changer”.

This post originally appeared on mouse2house blog where I regularly contribute on Technology.

, , , , , , ,

Holiday GiftsWith the 2010 holiday season coming, all the companies in the technology market are gearing up to capture their market share. What’s on your holiday shopping list this year?

If you’re anything like the millions and millions of web users around the world, you might be thinking of purchasing a smartphone, a tablet, a gaming consol or a few other geeky essentials for your friends and loved ones — or even for yourself.

According to data from Hitwise Intelligence, a web and search analysis firm, what we search and browse for leading up to the end-of-the-year holidays has a strong correlation to what we actually buy, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. This kind of information, while invaluable to retailers and marketers, is also fascinating to us as gadget geeks.

We took a look at market share and web traffic stats from the last week of August; here’s a breakdown of how pre-holiday stats stack up for the most popular consumer electronics products:

Apple Is on a Roll

With major releases throughout the year, Apple’s new iPhone 4, iPad and revamped line of iPods are guaranteed to show strong holiday shopping numbers. This brand grabbed five of the top 20 spots in consumer electronics-related markets for the month of August alone — that amounts to 42.1%.

Most of this attention centers on the iPhone, which launched a new fourth-gen model over the summer, and iPad, which hasn’t stopped making headlines since its debut this spring.

But a healthy amount of consumer interest is also focused on Apple’s new iPods. Many of these bite-sized devices hold more data than ever before and are priced to sell. The iPod shuffle sells for $49, and the new touchscreen, iOS-powered iPod nano starts at $149.

The company also refreshed its MacBook Pro line this year.

In other words, as a hardware manufacturer, Apple had a gangbusters year, rolling out product after product, some of which are entirely new. It would be fatuous to think Apple wouldn’t have an equally gangbusters holiday retail showing.

Still, we’ve been keeping an eye on Android OS’ not-so-slow advance in the mobile market. While this multi-manufacturer platform has a somewhat fragmented set of devices and release dates, we are hearing rumors, “trumors” and verified reports of several exciting, holiday-timed launches. Samsung’s Tab, for example, is an Android-powered tablet that is set to launch later this fall on all four U.S. wireless carriers.

The bottom line is that although Apple is the heavyweight to beat in terms of hardware and gadgets, there’s still plenty of room for other manufacturers and retailers to succeed this holiday season.

Games and Gadgets Make Great Gifts

By far and away, the two most dominant verticals in consumer electronics will be gadgets and gaming.

Gaming consoles as well as the games themselves are generating a huge amount of interest with consumers, and many companies are planning on holiday launches.

Microsoft’s Xbox is taking the lion’s share of consumer interest right now, we feel due in large part to the upcoming launch of Kinect, its controller-free interaction system. Several Mashable staffers got some hands-on (or rather, hands-off) time with Kinect during a visit to Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters; to say we were impressed would be a huge understatement. Kinect’s hardware is priced to sell at $150, and the Kinect bundle will be available to shoppers beginning November 4.

As far as non-Apple gadgets are concerned, HTC’s Desire and Samsung’s Galaxy S line are both performing well. One product that took us by surprise was the Kymera Magic Wand, a gestural remote control that’s half Avatar, half Harry Potter. It’s been available for some time and sells for around $78 (£49.95).

What Are Your Predictions?

So, what’s topping your shopping list (and your wish list) for the 2010 holidays so far? Are you enamored of the new Droids? Are you eyeing the reduced-price Kindles? What games, gadgets and software are most interesting to you right now, and which do you think would make the best gifts?

Let us know in the comments what consumer electronics products are piquing your interest right now, and be sure to give us your holiday 2010 predictions, as well.

(Via Mashable)

, , , , , , ,

It only takes knowing one Lost fan to understand the addictive power of television. But not everyone has the time or energy to hunt for hints about who is good, evil, or dead this week. iPhone apps let the obsessed fan keep tabs on his or her favorites before, during, and after the episodes air.

With season and series finales looming, the time to gather every scrap of information is nigh. These 10 apps use

Read the rest of this entry

, , , , , , , , ,

The iPad is the first embodiment of an entirely new category, one that Apple CEO Steve Jobs hopes will write the obituary for the computing paradigm that Apple itself helped develop. Photo: Dan Winters; tablet: Stan Musilek

Everyone who jammed into the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on January 27, 2010, knew what they were there for: Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ introduction of a thin, always-on tablet device that would let

Read the rest of this entry

, , , , , , , , , , ,