The events of 2004 left the world with many hanging questions. With 2005 up ahead, we are left with an air of uncertainty for several issues, both foreign and local. Beneath it all however, one question continues to resound the online forums and street talk. That question being, "Will World of Warcraft run in my underpowered Macintosh?" It makes perfect sense -- carrying around your Mac portable with built in WiFi, logging onto a wireless hot spot and connect to the best game ever made by mankind. It's more or less an admitted fact that Mac portables, which make up the minoroty (and therefore a more exclusive "other side of the fence") of portable computing can't hack gaming as well as its Windows counterparts do. It seems that everybody had this question in mind -- "have Mac, will try to play World of Warcraft" .. note the operational word is "try." Here is a link to the answers of that question, covering a whole range of Mac portables. And just to answer, yes WOW will run on an 800MHz iBook with maxed out 640MB RAM and 32MB of video memory (all settings turned to low). You get around 17 frames per second, which is pretty bearable considering WOW is an adventure game, not a first person shooter.
December 2004 Archives
For the record, this is the first non gadget-related post! Thank you dear readers for the overwhelming support for the magazine. We've got a lot in store for 2005 - seriously! From the staff and editors of m|ph magazine, may you and your families have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a GADGET-FILLED NEW YEAR!
Say hello to Creative's Zen Micro mini HD player! "Hello!" Late this year, Creative stepped up to the podium to announce an aggressive move to challenge Steve Jobs and his iPod music empire. I merely shrugged shoulders upon hearing this until I read a review of their latest music player, the Zen Micro. From looks alone, I would bet that the iPod Mini has met its match. It's almost scary, actually. Click below to read more! Here are a few things I like about the Zen Micro: - 5GB of music: thats 1GB up from the iPod Mini, which allows you to store around 166 more 192kbps bitrate songs (I found 4GB a bit too small, but 1GB more? Hmm .. okay.) - Though slightly more expensive by around US $49.00, it is feature-packed compared to the iPod Mini, boasting an 32-channel preset FM Tuner, voice recorder and 10 attractive colors - The ability to sync your Outlook data which is one feature I find to be so .. wow! - A removable battery (the first batch of units come with a free extra battery); 12 hours of battery life as compared to the iPod's 8 hours and the extra battery only costs US $40.00 - An attractive remote control which is considered to be a necessary accessory, but sold separately (grawrr!!) First Impression Bottomline: The Zen Micro captures the look and feel of trendy portable music players (namely the iPod) and adds several features which were present in the Archos, Rio Carbon and iRiver players, yet suffered in aesthetic beauty.
I just received the press review kit for Nokia's most anticipated game for the N-Gage for 2004, called Pathway to Glory. The kit comes with a copy of Pathway to Glory, official artwork posters, an audio CD of the game sountrack (wow!!) and an electronic copy of the press kit, miscellaneous product images, and in-game screenshots. The game embarks on a marvelous audio and graphics experience, giving gamers a WWII soundtrack inspired from popular war flicks like 'Band of Brothers' and 'We Were Soldiers.' As for gameplay, players control a squad of five soldiers in a turn-based, isometric viewed action environment. Each soldier can be assigned to different classes such as the medic, ranger, heavy weapons specialist, and radio operator, which allows for precision air strikes of key targets. The game is definitely immersive - Pathway to Glory marks the end of 2004 for Nokia's local game releases, a big bang if you may call it that. PTG also makes use of the global battlefield service which allows you to connect to a world server to complete missions with people from around the world via GPRS. What's next after PTG? How about Pocket Kingdom, Nokia's first MMORPG for the N-Gage? As long as Nokia releases titles like these, they are sure to have a captured audience, especially in light of the PSP and Nintendo DS portables. Check out future issues of m|ph for a full review of Pathway to Glory.
Have MP3 player? Wish you could connect it to your car’s stereo system? Unfortunately, most head units are not mobile device-friendly. But I found a device that might help. Well, okay, it isn’t exactly as much a device as it is a new head unit, but see if it makes sense to consider this. There are typically three ways by which you could connect your beloved iPod (or Creative? or generic MP3 USB device?) to your car. The first is for you to check if your head unit comes with a provision for connecting an Auxiliary In adapter. If so, good luck in finding the adapter. The second way is sheer ugliness: get one of those cheap cassette adapters that you slip into your head unit’s cassette slot, its long tail of an auxiliary wire snaking out of the slot like an unwanted tapeworm (is there any other kind?), to be plugged into your mobile device’s headphone jack. Not a pretty picture, and the sound, trust me, is baaad. Third way would be to get an RF modulator, which is a doodad that transmits your music into an FM radio station channel. You sacrifice some clarity in the process of compressing your music to fit FM limitations, but this seems to serve the purpose for the average listener. Well, here’s the fourth way: buy a new head unit. And I’m not talking about you suddenly up and spending a fortune just to get your MP3 player into your car. I’m talking about a cheap head unit that actually makes it easy for you to connect mobile audio. The irony of it all is that the unit comes from ProLine, a brand that’s more known for dirt-cheap car audio rather than cutting-edge tech. And yet they are probably among the first in the market to come out with a head unit that actually comes with a CD In jack right there on the face plate where it’s most accessible! (Why didn’t Alpine think of that before?) And here’s the clincher: the unit, the Proline GBX3210EQ, is only Php 1,850 at Phasetron in Park Square 1, Glorietta Center, Makati City. That’s practically impulse-item priced for people desperate to get their iPods into their cars! (There's a cheaper model with CD In as well but, with its manual radio tuning knob, it looked too, uh, cheap even for budget gadgeteers to consider!) Of course this solution won’t be for everybody. Audio snobs would shirk at the thought of putting something named ProLine into their vehicles. And yet if you don’t give a flying fig about terms such as dynamic range, distortion and channel separation, who cares? Here’s one quick and dirty car audio solution for the MP3 player-toting set!
The Philippine Macintosh Users Group celebrated their Christmas Party at the Cafe Bola, Greenbelt 3 just this afternoon. Since the launch of their new website, the PhilMUG online (as well as offline) community has hit the 'beyond 1,000' member mark. Aside from the great food, MUGers were treated to a screening of Eli Africa's 14-minute documentary entitled "Selling Songs of Leyte" which won him an award in the New York Film and Video Festival! What else makes this video special? It was edited entirely on iMovie! Raffles, prizes, and more raffle prizes (!!!) including PhilMUG and iPod shirts, Mac accessories from Digital Walker, Canon bags, Wi-Fi prepaid cards from LMK as well as subscriptions to m|ph magazine (yeah we love the local Mac community to the very bottom of our soft and warm hearts) were among the many exciting prizes Santa Kenneth and Elbert the Elf gave away that afternoon. A Very Merry Christmas to PhilMUG!
"Oh my God your ex has a new boyfriend! I saw it on Friendster last night!" Now you can stalk your best friend's ex wirelessly ... with your cellphone! This service, called Friendster Mobile is a new feature from one of the world's best peer stalki- err networking website. Registration with your mobile phone is free but browsing charges do apply when surfing through WAP. (On a related note, Globe now charges P0.15 cents per kb). Sending Friendster messages will allegedly (through unconfirmed yet technologically-adept sources) cost P5.00 per transaction, although SUN Cellular charges P2.00 per message. Hmm if you ask me, it might make more sense to just send your friend a regular text message - since he or she will most likely have a cellphone anyway. The service is available for Globe, SMART and SUN Cellular Subscribers.
m|ph talk is a weekly interview with interesting people in the mobile tech industry. This week’s interview features Aiza Tancinco and Erick Garayblas of eSoft Interactive, the most successful local publisher of games for PDAs. eSoft Interactive first made a name for itself with Marble Mania, a hugely popular game for the Pocket PC platform. That was soon followed by other games like Tower Mogul, Traffic Jam, and Word Challenge. This year, they released palm OS versions of some of the more popular ones, and they continue to make waves in the PDA game world. Find out more about the dynamic duo behind this successful company. m|ph: ok, for the benefit of those who may not know eSoft Interactive yet, tell me a little bit about your company. Aiza: eSoft Interactive is a Philippine-based software company specializing in game development for various platforms m|ph: What about the two of you as individuals ? Aiza: As for me, I'm an avid gamer and a part time writer, aside from my job at eSoft. I'm also currently finishing my MBA at Ateneo Erick: I'm an avid gamer as well and enjoy drawing cartoons while not programming. I also consider game development as a hobby, not only as a profession. m|ph: How did you guys get started developing games for PDAs? are you long-time PDA users? Aiza: Yes we are Erick: yes, my first PDA was a Palm IIIc and I really enjoyed it way back then. Aiza: I also had a IIIc. Aiza: Erick then bought a second hand HP Jornada (which we still have). m|ph: When you started developing games, the Pocket PC platform was way behind in terms of popularity. Why'd you decide to start with that instead of the Palm OS? Erick: We found out that there was fewer software titles for those devices (Pocket PC) then compared to Palm Aiza: We are also Windows programmers. Erick: We came from a Windows programming background so developing for the Pocket PC was a lot easier than Palm OS. m|ph: How did eSoft get started? Erick: Our first game was actually done in eVB (Visual Basic for embedded devices) and it was called The Fly Aiza: It was actually Erick's brainchild. It’s about this fly that you have to trap with walls. A friend suggested that we sell it online, so we did. Erick: We found out about Handango and the growing user base for Pocket PCs so we decided to sell it commercially. Aiza: Primarily, we just developed games for our own use. Erick: Surprisingly, many users found it cool and eventually we released another game. Erick: Our first hit was actually Marble Mania, a Bejeweled clone. Way back, there was no Bejeweled for Pocket PC so it was really popular. Aiza: Imagine the reaction we had when we got our first check in dollars! m|ph: Did you guys buy yourselves something special with that first dollar check? Erick: No we didn't. Our first check was like $24. Haha! Aiza: But we were proud, man. m|ph: By this time there are hundreds, maybe thousands of games available for both platforms. How do you choose which game to develop next? Aiza: We do a bit of a study. Erick: Our first criteria in making a game is that it has to be something that we'll enjoy playing – this is the most important factor. Aiza: Then we make a study, depending on what games are not yet in the market. m|ph: What's your formula for success? How do you make your games different from similar offerings by other developers? Aiza: We do a lot of R&D (or so we claim). We keep on buying games for the PC, for consoles, phones, even board games. Erick: Well, we always make sure that all our titles are fun and that it gives great value for money. If we think our game can be sold for $20, we sell it at half the price instead. Aiza: That's our edge--we sell our games at lower our prices compared to our competitors. Erick: The game has to be something we can develop and create based on our resources and abilities, not something that requires a 10-man team or thousands of bucks to produce. Aiza: And we can come up with good games with the help of Erick's art direction; he does like 90% of all the artwork. Erick: Aiza does most of the storytelling part. Aiza: I do most of the writing and the marketing and the level designs. m|ph: How much time do you devote to R&D? Aiza: Hahaha! I play like 3 hours a day, PC or Gameboy. And of course, our games. Erick: For R&D, we play an average of 2-3 hours per day and immerse ourselves to different types of games. m|ph: As with almost every program, I suppose that there are cracked versions of your games floating around. And Filipinos are not exactly know for using licensed software... Aiza: True, true m|ph: is that a big problem for you? How do you guys deal with software piracy? Erick: To be honest, (sad to say) our country is not our primary market. Aiza: That's the big concern and that’s why we refuse to market here. But we do have plans in the near future, we haven’t give up hope. Erick: We deal with it by lowering our prices and giving customers an offer they can't refuse. This does not totally eliminate piracy but it can be minimized. m|ph: What do you think needs to be done to encourage Filipinos to go legit? Aiza: It’s really in the prices; we need to lower prices. Erick: Yes, and most Filipinos nowadays are going legal and that’s a good sign. Erick: As an example, Tower Mogul is priced at $14.95 but we sold it for several Pinoy Windows Mobile members for P400 m|ph: You've proven that a small company with lots of talent can be very competitive in your industry. Any advice to people who are thinking of going into the same business? Aiza: Our vision is to become one of the most recognized game development companies in the world, and for our country to be known for it. Every time we release a game, we put a little something Pinoy in it, or when we send out emails, we say that this news comes from Manila, Philippines. And we have the little Philippine flag in our site. Erick: To succeed in this industry, you have to have passion and determination in what you're doing. We’d like to position our country to be known in the game industry. It’s an untapped market that is really, really profitable for our country because we have lots of IT and creative people here.
Now this is what I would call a freakin' cool gadget. The Bluetooth PowBOX is a portable music player that has Bluetooth wireless connectivity built-in (hence the name, duh!) which is not only good for wireless data transfers, but the Bluetooth PowBOX can also be paired to a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone so it can double as a wireless headset. The best thing I like about the PowBOX is that it would display the name of whoever's calling you on its LCD screen (assuming the name of the caller is in your phone's address book). Oh, and you can even dial a number from the PowBOX unit itself without having the need to pull out your mobile phone. The Bluetooth PowBOX Portable Wireless Communication Device will be available at your suking tech tindahan by next week at a price of P12,990. More info about the Bluetooth PowBOX can be found at iTech's website
Being the large, publicly traded company that it is, it was only a matter of time before Yahoo! had to enter the crowded enough field of consumer electronics. Yahoo!’s initial electronic enterprise involves a line of "ultra compact" DVD players (speaking of “Enterprise,
Perhaps wanting to follow Apple's success in expanding the iPod market with the iPod mini, O2 Asia has launched the Xda II mini, and damn if this isn't a sexy little PDA-phone. Based on sightings, anecdotal evidence, and some unofficial statements from dealers and telco officials, the Xda II is the number one PDA-phone combo by far in the local market. This new version--smaller and cheaper--should bring nothing but good news to those put off by the size and price of current PDA-phone combos. On the plus side, the Xda II mini has a fast processor, Bluetooth, and a 1.3-megapixel camera. On the minus side, it doesn't have a number pad or keyboard--bad news for one-handed heavy texters. While there's no official annoucement yet on when it will be available locally, the O2 Asia web site does list several stores in the country where you could expect to buy this baby. For those curious about the technical specs, the full list is here.
One of the most addictive puzzle games for PDAs is back, and it’s louder than ever! Bejeweled 2 has arrived and, for fans of the original Bejeweled, this second edition does not disappoint. The graphics are flashier, the sound reverberates, and you even get intermission graphics. Bejeweled 2 now features four play modes, namely Classic, Action, Puzzle and Endless. Classic gives you the traditional game play, while Action gives you the timed game. Puzzle presents different boards that you have to clear up strategically, and Endless is, well, like never-ending solitaire. Game play is spiced up by the presence of two new objects: get four gems in a row and you get a Power Gem which, when cleared, explodes along with the other gems around its periphery. Get five gems in a row and you get a glistening Hyper Cube (although I can’t see the cube in it). Clear the Hyper Cube and it disposes of all similar gems on the field using bolts of electricity that’s quite fun to watch. (There’s also supposed to be Time Bombs, but I haven’t encountered them yet…) Bejeweled 2 requires Palm OS 5.0 (where it can take advantage of landscape mode if available) or Pocket PC 2002 or higher. A Windows version is also available. You can get this troublingly addictive game at www.astraware.com/palm/featured/bejeweled2.
If you were fortunate enough to get an invitation to the launch of the spanking new BMW 1-Series (described variously as either the entry-level Beemer or the practical Beemer… you take your pick), you would have received one of the most interesting invitations to a commercial event in recent memory: a 64MB USB flash drive, complete with neck-strap, intro CD, USB extension plug, and a feel-good black box. If you didn’t catch the invite, don’t feel too bad. The USB drive says “BMW 1 Series,
|If youve been branded by your friends as being OC more times than youd care for, then a labeler is definitely going to be your kind of gadget.|
As Christmas rolls down the halls, we take time out to ask all our avid readers: Have you gotten your November issue of m|ph yet? It's big, it's bright, and it's in a very, very hot pink! November's issue featured cut-rate substitutes for pricey accessories, people who pack a lot of gear, the best of the sub-10,000 peso phones, what Moore's Law means for gadget prices two years from now, kiosk camera prints, and people who stick with the old (devices, that is). And then there's the columns, the editors' picks for best freeware apps, and of course the reviews. Lots of reviews! We reviewed the Nokia 2600,the Siemens C65, the Panasonic X500 and the Panasonic X300 phones, the Anextek SP-230 Pocket PC Phone, the iPAQ 4700 PDA, the Olympus Mju Mini digital camera, the MSI M510C Megabook laptop, and lots more! Happy reading!