Hardware: Xbox 360
The Xbox 360 enjoyed its second year and titles continue to impress although the count is still a little on the weak side. The addition of 1080p output was a great bonus but one many people (myself included) can’t take advantage of without a HDMI cable and nobody seems entirely sure if the 360 can pump out a digital video signal (I doubt it).
On-line support is blooming although can get very expensive if you want all the extras for games you’ve already paid for – come on guys we put £40 down gives a few freebies!
The PlayStation 3 on the other hand is vapor ware here still in Europe and was notably absent from Japan’s premier Sony Building in Tokyo. Online the only people raving about it are those that were raving about it before it came out…
Nintendo’s Wii has been getting a lot of press for being fun (if tiring and occasionally dangerous to your environment) but with the console itself is effectively a re-boxed GameCube which didn’t impress 5 years ago and the graphics look very dated on the couple of titles I’ve been able to see. With rumors of a more powerful unit doing the rounds and nothing stopping anyone producing a similar controller for the 360 or PS3 can Nintendo stay a contender or will they go the way of Sega?
With consoles traditionally being loss-leaders for the first few years perhaps Nintendo would have been better off producing controllers and software for the 360 and PS3.
People often rave about how open-ended Grand Theft Auto is but lets be honest here – it isn’t a patch on Oblivion.
Like the aforementioned title you can follow the story or run off and do what you like. The difference here is that Oblivion is truly massive and is filled with interesting people, their stories and ultimately their sub-quests.
The graphics look absolutely gorgeous and show off the Xbox 360 very well – demands on the PC side are beyond what my desktop can deliver.
Surprise: Microsoft Office 2007
Microsoft took a brave step in reinventing the menu/tool bar that has been established for the last 10 years. Sure, the result isn’t a giant leap in terms of innovation but it is a joy to use and a big improvement over the older technology.
Importantly it shows a beacon of hope that there are people at Microsoft prepared to fundamentally change how people use their software for the better and not just deliver to developers (.NET, XML-HTTP).
Web site: YouTube
We were told repeatedly that this would be the year of high-definition yet despite large sales of HD ready equipment the content is still a bit thin on the ground (Sky HD, Xbox 360 and a smattering of HD titles). Sony hit another strike this year as another of their proprietary formats bombed – UMD video for the PSP – although sales of TV shows on Apple’s iTunes seem to indicate there is a market for tiny distinctly non-HD video.
The real winner on the video front has to be YouTube which goes on to show that whilst content is king there’s no reason you need to pay for it to be successful. Grainy, out of focus and copyright infringement seem the orders of the day but nobody cared – at least until a company worth suing brought them out (Google).
HTC phones and their branded variants have been popping up all over the web and in techies hands everywhere. Reviews are generally positive although I’m finding my TyTn sluggish in a couple of areas – something I hope the latest firmware will address.
Motorola meantime has been getting bad press over it’s Rokr variants.
Apple’s vaporware mobile phone continues to get insane coverage despite nobody having anything but speculation and rumors to go on. Cisco/LinkSys released an iPhone to which they own the trademark so I guess iChat Mobile is an option.
Web application: Google Reader
Google finally put it’s arse in gear and upgraded Google Reader to something not only usable but actually enjoyable to use. Now if only they could stream out the next 20 articles BEFORE I hit them so I don’t have to wait…
Rojo on the other hand deployed a screwed update and continually failed to pick up feeds complaining they were invalid or couldn’t be contacted despite other on-line tools were working just great. Bye.
With RSS becoming increasingly more popular something has to give and it’s news aggregation sites such as Slashdot and Digg which often reveal to you news you read several days ago and have already commented about at the original source.
* Yeah okay, not a proper award ceremony but a useful ploy to group otherwise unrelated content into a single post.