August 3, 2010 § Leave a comment
Just coming off the previous post, RIM have announced their “next-gen” phone as well as an update to the Blackberry OS software. My reaction is this: indifference. RIM needed to really pull their finger out and deliver something at least on par or better than what’s currently available. They haven’t, and my gut feeling is that they’re never really going to. That 40% slice of your customers who’re thinking of switching over to Apple or Android next time they buy a phone? Say bye-bye to them, RIM, because they are so going to do that.
Here’s the new phone, the BlackBerry Torch. By all means, check out the technical specs and the video gallery to get a better idea of how it’ll work.
Now, from my point of view, putting a 624 Mhz CPU in your flagship phone at this point in 2010 is a bad joke. Simply put, it’s already obsolete tech, and this also goes for the low res 480×360 display. The rest, such as the wi-fi, the 5 MP camera, the memory, the fully functional browser, the 3G, etc., all seems fine – but, so what? RIM didn’t need “fine”; it needed “awesome”. This is not an awesome phone; it is not an exciting phone. The new Blackberry 6 OS looks to have a cool UI, seems easy to use and has the necessary features – but, again, so what? Nothing new to see here, folks. This is a very boring phone…
And it’s confused, too. I actually think the form factor looks quite sleek, but RIM really need to let go of that hardware keyboard. It’s old-fashioned now and slightly embarrassing, all told. It demonstrates a clear lack of conviction in their design on their part; it looks like a device that doesn’t really know what it wants to be. I understand that the QWERTY hardware keyboard is kind-of a stalwart of the brand, but this was RIM’s “do or die” moment. You cannot afford to be that conservative in the mobile tech market; you just can’t.
In a couple of years’ time RIM’s BlackBerry may still exist, but they will merely be a footnote in the history of smartphones. In this market, fortune favours the bold, and the innovative.
June 7, 2010 § Leave a comment
I just realised that I never actually got around to giving my impressions on the iPad, despite making several fervent statements elsewhere. To sum up my original position, I thought it would underperform, and I happened to mention this on a friend’s status update on Facebook:
So, essentially my reasoning was: they’re entering into an unproven market; it’s too big; it doesn’t do all the things a laptop/netbook can do; it looks delicate; and it will become old tech within a short period of time. Ergo, it’s likely to fail.
Unfortunately, I underestimated one thing: the Apple factor – by which I mean the strength of the brand and Jobs’s (or his team of engineer’s) uncanny talent for designing accessible, shiny-looking user interfaces.
And why am I mentioning this all now?
October 12, 2009 § Leave a comment
So, I just watched Vicky Christina Barcelona, and it’s surprisingly good. Penelope Cruz is amazing in it and won a well deserved supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal as the batshit crazy Maria Elena; likewise, Javier Bardem exudes sensuality and an emotional intensity as Juan Antonio Gonzalo. Woody Allen weaves actually a quite complex narrative involving two American tourists – the Vicky and Christina of the title – who have very different ideas of love and whose philosophies are thereupon shaped by a chance encounter with the magnetic, sexy, Juan.
October 6, 2009 § Leave a comment
Off the Cuff is a new segment I’ve dedicated to in depth (and hasty!) critical analysis of anything I’m interested in. Essentially, it’s just like my Impressions posts but, hopefully, more focused and more definitive. These are to serve as micro-reviews in space of my full length features, and they are written almost immediately, with little editing or drafting. It’s probably not the best way of writing a review of… well, pretty much anything, but I don’t have that much time at the moment and sometimes I just want to express an opinion, to get it out there as fast as possible. At least this way I get to write more regularly.
I’ve really been up to so much it’s difficult to know where to start. I finished Bionic Commando in a matter of a couple of days, and it’s okay. The gameplay and swinging mechanic generally work well, which is good since it’s pretty much essential to what a Bionic Commando game should be.
There’s also a lot holding the game back. Surprisingly, one of those things is how quite charmless it is, especially in light of Rearmed. The tone is that grungy, faux-mature aesthetic that isn’t ridiculous enough to laugh at, so it just ends up appearing as ugly. There are also a couple of gameplay contrivances, one being invisible barriers, preventing you from exploring too much, in the form “radiation” zones– problem is, if you wonder too far out too fast you end up dead, again, and again, and again. The story and everything about it is also just total balls, and the characters are ALL unappealing, each and everyone unreservedly taking the opportunity to throw out some very crap dialogue.
One of the things they did get right, though, is the music, which sounds awesome. And the game is fun, when you aren’t falling to your death over and over. The in-game challenges that also double up as achievements are a very cool way of getting the player to experiment with their arsenal of moves and weapons, and it’s really very compelling. The graphics are also impressive, as are the set-pieces.
Still, it’s way too short, and, once again, GRIN have made a game that shows potential and a general understanding of what makes gameplay work, but it’s still too rough around the edges and short (did I already mention that?) for it to be worth anything over ten pounds. Nevertheless, a weekend rent is definitely the best bet here.