Step up your game, Call of Duty Elite unveiled

There have been rumors, there has been speculation but now we can put it to an end. Project Beachhead has an official name. Call of Duty Elite… Before everyone freaks out though and goes into a hysteria that COD is now Pay to Play lets clear up some things. Keep in mind you can do it the entertaining way with this Activision / Call of Duty breakdown or you can get to the nitty gritty in the wall of text that follows the video. Actually I suggest watching it anyway for comedy factor and the teaser at the end.

 

Activision is bringing this in to step up their game in the COD world, often players follow the game for years and never have a way to stay in touch with other players across the 360/PS3 or PC, today that changes as it offers players the ability to track friends and their performance online through Black Ops, MW3 and future COD titles in the series. The focal point is trying to make a community out of an existing huge user base that rarely interacts outside of matchmaking.

Accessing Elite comes down to what platform you have available, the plan is to launch it via web, mobile and of course the game consoles themselves. You can track your friends while you’re on vacation or on a break from work. The idea is the COD world gets much deeper as a community and allows users to learn from the vast amount of stats floating around about each map. Elite plans to bring detailed stats abotu players, recent performance, gameplay and more across all the maps online.

For those on the fence about it and worried about the implementation, Elite plans to launch as a public beta this summer as an expansion to Black Ops, keep in mind that Elite was in early stages as Black Ops launched so the full feature set will not be available. You can check in for more info on the Elite website though to keep tabs on when the beta goes live so you can get a better feel for yourself and buddies that might not make it in.

In the end they want to bring 3 key features to the game, connecting with other players over groups, clans and tournaments. They want players to connect in a new way by having a community that never sleeps, for gamers in late night sessions they can find like minded people. For those who have certain social interests they can find those as well. Nothing is really off the table at this point. Competition is their next goal by bringing challenges that cater to hardcore gamers and casual ones that take a more relaxed approach. Finally they want Elite to train players to improve their game and bring competition in new ways with heat maps and play by play information for their last game.

What does all of this cost? For many, nothing. For those who want additional services and hassle-free game content additions they’ll be setting a price point on a Premium level offering as we close in on MW3 in November.

Call of Duty Elite Website

Dead Island gets box art!

Possibly one of the most wicked games this year, Dead Island keeps it up in all areas with the release of their cover art for the game. Check out the gallery for full size images of the cover art on the PC, 360 and PS3, just be prepared for the full size onslaught. For those that are a little daring, it wouldn’t be hard to flip this into some nice wallpaper as well.

I’ll be previewing Dead Island at E3 with Deep Silver this year upstairs so I should have a full report after the show. It seems they’re just waiting out the next week before breaking anything too huge out of the box.

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Current Round-Up of the Recently Revealed SDCC Exclusives…More To Come!

It’s almost that time of year again where deodorant is sparse and perspiration is aplenty.  Comic-Con is right around the corner, July 21st to the 24th to be exact.  There is some news, although undoubtedly, over the next few weeks more news will surface and we will quickly see how in debt we will be by the end of July!

The most buzzed about so far has to be Hasbro’s Cobra Commander and Starscream exclusive.  You read that right, G.I. Joe AND Transformers all in one!  Cobra Commander flying around in Starscream, crossin’ over just blowing everyone’s mind.  The price for this has yet to be released but chances are it’s not going to be cheap.

 

 

“That’ s no moon, it’s a space station.” Well, not quite but its still pretty cool.  Hasbro is also releasing a gigantic Deathstar.  The Deathstar is really just the box, inside the awesome box are 12 Star Wars figures.  These are not your run of the mill “Return of the Jedi” figures, they are “Revenge of the Jedi” figures.  Hasbro has been releasing a retro Stars Wars line for awhile now and these are obviously in line with that.  The line for this exclusive will be around the entire convention center (maybe I exaggerate) so get it if you can!

 

 

Mattel is offering everyone’s favorite part of a S’more, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  This guy is huge, 20”, and super adorable.  He is a bit pricey, $70, but c’mon he’s the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!!    Those who not be attending Comic-Con are not out of luck,  Mattel always offers their exclusives(after the convention ends) on their website mattycollector.com for those who are not able to attend the convention.

Mattel:

  • Young Justice Superboy in Cloning Chamber-$20.00
  • Hot Wheels Back to the Future vehicle (still being kept under wraps)-$35.00
  • Hot Wheels Franken Berry Vehicle-$20.00
  • DC Universe Swamp Thing (Con exclusive comes with 2 mini-figures)-$30.00
  • Voltron-Blazing Sword Voltron-$30.00
  • Masters of the Universe Classics Polly Pocket 3 figures-$20.00
  • Masters of the Universe Classics Queen Marlena-$25.00
  • Green Lantern Kilowog-$25.00
  • Green Lantern Carol Ferris Barbie-$35.00
  • Monster High Ghoulia Yelps-$20.00

IDW:

  • World War Robot Heavy Bramble Limited run of 300 -$65.00

NECA:

  • Gremlins Gizmo Comic-Con Edition with accesories-$?

Entertainment Earth: Booth #2343 These can be bought at the convention or can be pre-ordered at entertainmentearth.com

Hasbro:

  • Marvel Legends Modern Heroic Age Thor 6″-$?
  • Dark Purple Sentinel-$?
  • Indiana Jones Figure Gift Set (includes Indiana Jones, Toht, Marion, Satipo, Indiana Jones with German Disguise, and German Mechanic)-$?

Sideshow Collectibles:

I will be updating as more news comes in!

Netflix now available on Android devices!

Today in Netflix announced support for specific Android phones! Streaming over 3g or wifi is recommended but with the emerging 4g market expansion, streaming should be no problem.

There is a party pooping issues though, No tablet support and the device list is a bit limited as of now.

If your phone is on this list, you are now able to drain your battery life even faster!

1. HTC Incredible with Android 2.2
2. HTC Nexus One with Android 2.2, 2.3
3. HTC Evo 4G with Android 2.2
4. HTC G2 with Android 2.2
5. Samsung Nexus S with Android 2.3

Although no official word to confirm, it is a safe bet that the list will expand in the near future.

Source:
http://blog.netflix.com/2011/05/normal-0-false-false-false-en-us-x-none.html

VW aims for WRC again with VW Polo R

VW for new rally fans doesn’t seem to set off many bells. Today marks a change to that as they unveil the 2013 Polo R which they’re aiming to get into the WRC circuit. The engine is set to crank out 300HP from a 1.6l turbo charged engine in all wheel drive dressings. Given the ties to Audi and many other companies it isn’t that much of a shocker though.

The company has leaked a few concept images to the public with the perk of a giant youtube clip as well. When WRC lost Subaru and Mitsubishi the event felt like it was losing steam, now, it has a new lease on life with many companies from the past returning to power it up.

Hopefully Subaru decides to get back into the game, although the 2012 leaves much to be desired so maybe after the next refresh. A full roster of the worlds best would be great to see.

Hyperkin brings 1800mAH of love to the 3DS

Hating how the 3DS drains your battery like crazy? Wishing there was a way to get some extra life going on that really made a dent? Well. Now there is, Hyperkin has the 3DS Powerplus on deck to deliver an additional 1800mAH on top of your existing 3DS battery.

But how can they perform this madness?

The battery sits over the base of the unit to secure it, it adds about 1/4″ of additional thickness and 2.2 ounces of weight to the system. While doing this it still allows for a battery indicator and 3DS functionality to the fullest. Check out the pictures for a better idea about it.

The Powerplus is set to hit this summer in $19.99 form, how well it holds up is unknown but hopefully it will allow players to go a little longer on the go without having to hook up to an outlet before crashing.

Assassins Creed: Revelations announced!

And… Ezio is back again.

Assassins Creed: Revelations is the final chapter to the his story and it seems like it might just be the greatest one yet, as Ezio goes through a journey of discovery walking the path of his mentor Altair. The journey will take him to new lands in pursuit of the Templars as they gather in Constantinople for a takeover. Add in some multiplayer with new modes, maps and characters and the game gets even more life as it presses everyone to test their skills in a new atmosphere.

Also on the plate is the ability to play with the construct of Desmond’s memories and the Animus to uncover the mystery of his past so the future is clear.

Unfortunately for more information we’ll all have to wait, the game will be shown in detail at E3 2011 this year. I can say I’m actually pretty interested to see how the series will wrap up this time around but hopefully it wont take months to get a PC version ported.

BAMFAS budget speaker buyers guide

I’ve seen a lot of forum posts and friends looking at speakers lately, there’s a lot of mystery behind what makes for a good set and how to get the most for your money on a budget. I’ll outline below a small section of how I go about picking speakers for myself or what I look for when reviewing a set of them. Without wasting too much time lets jump into the fray and get this going.

First a few key items.

  • Be honest with yourself, what do you want to do with these speakers?
  • Do you want to listen to music? watch movies? play games?
  • How important is 5.1 to you? Do you have the space and mounts to set them properly?
  • What type of listener are you?

I’ll go by category and you can go from there

2.0 / 2.1
5.1 / surround

2.0 / 2.1
Stereo speakers are coming back into the mainstream right now, everyone is using sound field emulation to try and create a surround effect. They do work but it depends on your needs. Because this is a 2.0 / 2.1 section we’re not focused on that to begin with.

  • Frequency response, anything around 28-45Hz at the bottom end, the top end is almost always 20-25KHz
  • Speaker size is a sensitive spot with a 2.0 or 2.1 system. Without a sub you want bigger satellite speakers, most come in a 2.5″ – 4″ variety, bigger is better in a 2.0 system as it usually gives you a lower frequency response. In a 2.1 system try to aim for a 3″ speaker, it’ll still give decent midrange.
  • Tweeters are something to shoot for if you’re aiming for full range, it also means that the midrange doesn’t work nearly as hard.
  • Cabinet material – most computer speakers have a plastic shell, some are even using metal now, ideally you want MDF or some wood composite. In a 2.0 system you probably will not get this. In a 2.1 be sure that the subwoofer box is some time of wood though as plastic will sound awful.
  • Subwoofer size in a 2.1 for music should be at least a 5.25″ speaker or higher. Some older sets came with an 8″ speaker for extremely good low frequency sound. 4″ subs are punchy and often lack any good range so try to avoid them at all cost.
  • Wattage is the worst measure of a good system, most people gauge what they by on simply this rating. What needs to be understood is the following.
    • RMS – If you’re looking to go by power ratings look at this and look at the distribution by channel. If you’re lucky you’ll get something like 25w x 2 for the front speakers and maybe 30w x 1 for the subwoofer in a 2.1 system or just 25w x 2 for a 2.0 system. This is the real power rating you’ll see in daily use.
    • Peak / PMPO / Burst / Max – This is the curse that haunts audio purchases. On a 50w RMS system you may see a peak or PMPO rating as high as 1000w, this is false and honestly just for chest thumping because it’s a theoretical peak level. Your speakers and amp will fail before you ever reach it.
  • Good power on a 2.0 system is around 35-50w for a bedroom or smaller area.
  • Good power on a 2.1 system will be around 40-65w or slightly higher, the boost here comes from the subwoofer not added power to the satellites.
  • This configuration works best in games and music, movies will sound alright but you’ll need to focus on speakers with 3D surround effects if you really want to run 2.1 or 2.0 and get a decent feel.
    • Budget brands – Logitech Z, Creative Inspire, Altec Lansing
    • Midrange brands – Logitech Z, Creative Inspire
    • Expensive brands – M-Audio, Logitech Z, Creative GigaWorks, Altec Lansing

5.1 / surround
Surround sound was huge in gaming for almost a decade, every major company got in on the game and it’s actually a bit hard to find a respectable set now. For the movie fan or hardcore gamer, these can be essential for a good experience.

  • Frequency response on a 5.1 set usually hits around 30Hz flat, some systems do try to claim lower but if you’re around here you’re good because most games and movies only go that low during explosive sequences or heavy crashes. Try to avoid anything that starts in the 40’s though because chances are you’ll have a lot of bottoming out from the speaker.
  • Speaker size is often pretty fixed on these sets, don’t be shocked if everything you find has a 3″ driver going for it. The response will be pretty decent.
  • Tweeters are welcome on the front or center channel speaker, generally if you get them in the front you get them in the back. If you go for smaller size enclosures expect to lose these as part of the compromise. Watch the frequency response of the satellite speakers if you get a set without tweeters, the midrange may be too high for your liking.
  • Cabinet material on a 5.1 set is almost always plastic for the satellites, try to go with something that doesn’t sound or feel too thin, you will lack the deeper tones but at least it will not produce a hollow tone. The subwoofer is usually wood composite or MDF on these systems, if it’s plastic I suggest running.
  • Input connections matter quite a bit depending on the use, I’ll outline the potential connections below.
    • Stereo / headphone jacks – These are great for PC systems to get 5.1 sound, almost every motherboard now supports 5.1 output from the back panel. If you plan to get 5.1 out of a gaming system or DVD or Blu-ray player you need something else. If you try to use it on a console you’ll just get bad emulation from the right and left front channels or sometimes stereo sound x5.
    • TOSLINK / S/PDIF jack – Perfect for the console hookup or DVD or Blu-ray player setup. Be sure to get a set that has the same input as your player or system though (most gaming and dvd systems use TOSLINK optical cables). Some PC systems also support this and it makes cabling a lot easier to setup. This is the more universal solution for most people.
  • Control pods are important to consider, are they easy to understand, do they have bass and treble control or even dedicated subwoofer volume control? Do you want theater modes as well? How are they designed? Some of the best control pods don’t need fancy looks, in fact spring tension on the knobs can be annoying when you’re just trying to up the volume a notch. Look for these qualities.
    • Surround modes – What does the control center feature? Can you adjust front, center and rear? Do you have Dolby and DTS support?
    • Stereo modes – Not everything you use will be in 5.1, for music the preferred method is stereo 5.1 or stereo x5 to just share the channels through all the speakers.
    • Input select – Was made popular by Logitech, if you plan to run multiple systems you should consider this for sure.
    • Control knob – Sounds silly but some control systems are designed around being futuristic looking while having really terrible function. If you can try before you buy I suggest doing this. If the control looks poorly built or handles terribly it will only get worse.
  • Subwoofer size matters, with 5 smaller speakers the sub will need to be located close to the user or in a sweet spot by the wall for the best spot to resonate. Most midrange speakers in this field don’t hit the lower end of the midrange, as such voices and natural sound are way too high so the sub in these sets covers that up. Aim for at least a 6.5″ speaker, although many companies are now using dual 5.25’s or 6’s instead which are okay. Few companies still give you an 8 or 10″ speaker.
  • Wattage is a nightmare on 5.1 systems, if you buy a computer set or a HTIB setup you’ll deal with insane power figures on the box. 1000W or 2000W aren’t uncommon and should only make you facepalm to see them. The following will look familiar for guidelines.
    • RMS – If you’re looking to go by power ratings look at this and look at the distribution by channel. If you’re lucky you’ll get something like 25w x 5 for the satellites and maybe 50w-70w x 1 for the subwoofer in a 5.1 system. This is the real power rating you’ll see in daily use, don’t aim too high as you’ll usually just get distortion at max power or it’ll overheat.
    • Peak / PMPO / Burst / Max – This is the curse that haunts audio purchases. On a 150w RMS system you may see a peak or PMPO rating as high as 2000w, this is false and honestly just for chest thumping because it’s a theoretical peak level. Your speakers and amp will fail before you ever reach it, expect this rating even from name brand companies.
  • * Good power on a 5.1 system is around 125-200w, most systems are high rated by default for the subwoofer power. Be sure to focus on speaker sizes and frequency response levels.
    • Budget brands – Cyber Acoustics
    • Midrange brands – Logitech Z, Creative Inspire
    • Expensive brands – Cambridge Soundworks, Klipsch
    • Legacy brands – Klipsch Promedia, Logitech Z, Creative GigaWorks, Altec Lansing

Hopefully this helps a bit, be sure to know your products before you buy them, ask for specification sheets when you need them so you can have an informed decision on those big purchases.

For those looking for buyer beware tips, avoid anything too good to be true, it almost always is. Sets from the back of a van, from a swap meet or other events are often false for ratings and use some of the cheapest components. It’s a deal until you set it up and hear the results, avoid the scams and take the time to get something with a real warranty that has been produced in the last few years.

To the audiophiles reading this, you already know what you’re doing so pretty much… this entire thing doesn’t apply to you.  Thank you for your time though, hopefully it was entertaining.

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