Digital Life: No glasses required -- why all eyes are on the new 3D smartphone
Amid a very crowded market, your average mobile must do something radical to stand out. And what could be more special than the first 3D phone on the planet?
What's that? You couldn't give a toss about 3D, it's overhyped, undersupplied and unnecessary?
You wouldn't be alone in that view, dear reader, but for those who like to live on the bleeding edge, stay with me.
Consumer apathy hasn't stopped LG from building the Optimus 3D, the first handset on the market with which you can record and play back in the third dimension.
The best thing going for it is that no special glasses are required.
Using the same technology found in the Nintendo 3DS, the screen puts on a convincing display of depth whether you're checking out your pictures and videos or playing a 3D game.
All you need to do is keep your head in a sweet spot about 30cm from the phone.
There's certainly a novelty factor in snapping 3D video and pictures, which can easily be uploaded to YouTube's 3D channel for public consumption.
But the handful of 3D games is never going to rival Nintendo's catalogue and missing altogether is any kind of video/TV service besides the limited wares of YouTube 3D.
The Optimus 3D is a well-made phone with a big bright screen, but if 3D is not your thing, the bar for Android smartphones has been set higher elsewhere by the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S II or HTC Sensation.
It costs €540 SIM-free but is expected to be available on contract very soon.
If you're not sold on a 3D phone, how about a 3D tablet? No? Hey, come back here.
LG, bless 'em, hope to gain an edge over other Android tablets with the Optimus Pad 3D which is now available at the Carphone Warehouse.
With dual cameras on the rear, this nine-inch tablet can record video (but not stills) in 3D.
But you will need glasses to see the effect -- albeit the cheap red/blue ones supplied by LG -- and it's not nearly as impressive as that of its stablemate phone.
Once you've explored the awkwardness of 3D movie-making with a tablet, the paucity of other 3D content begins to chafe.
Precious few games or video clips with an extra dimension mean that the Optimus Pad must be considered more as a regular Android tablet than anything else. At nine inches, it's a nice size but its glaring Achilles Heel is the price of €850 for the 32GB/3G edition.
That puts the Optimus Pad at a huge disadvantage against competition from the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab -- not to mention the all-conquering iPad.
Real Racing 2 HD
They won't admit it but traditional gaming giants such as Sony and Nintendo are terrified by Apple, with the App Store making it difficult for the big guys to keep charging €30 or €40 a pop.
But few iOS games have the sophistication and depth of the €8 Real Racing 2 HD, a driving simulation with one huge weapon in its armoury.
RR2 is the first (and thus far only) game to pump out full high-definition (1080P for the geeks out there) to your TV.
You will need an iPad 2 plus the €30 HDMI adaptor but once you're hooked up you're looking at a gorgeous game that wouldn't disgrace itself on the PS3.
It's not comparable to Gran Turismo 5, for sure, but you get 30 cars, 15 locations and 16-player online multiplayer.
The TV shows the racing action while the iPad itself continues to act as the controller and displays telemetry such as speed, etc.
It can be a bit distracting glancing from screen to screen but the effect is exhilarating.
Naturally, the game can still be played solely on the iPad display -- it works on the original iPad too -- where the thrills still hold up.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
Originally just a bonus score mode in previous Resident Evil titles, Mercenaries has been spun off into a full game for the series' debut on 3DS. Stripped of the intense, spooky storyline, though, Mercs struggles to make its mark purely as a third-person shooter.
Recycling locations and characters from the last two RE games, you face a gory race against time blasting through hordes of zombies.
It still looks suitably impressive and is stuffed with content. But it feels much like a stopgap before the next true instalment of Resident Evil.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Dark of the Moon conforms to the fate of the previous Transformers tied-in, a competently assembled shooter featuring tall robots knocking seven shades out of each other.
Despite considerable variety between characters and their weapons, the game never feels more than generic filler, dogged by sluggish driving/flying sequences and the absence of any sensation that you're controlling 30-foot-high metal monsters.
harry potter: deathly hallows part II
Spare your pennies and avoid this monotonous, disappointing finale to the Potter saga.
Despite casting its net wide for playable characters (including Seamus Finnigan and Professor McGonagall), simplistic gameplay (Gears of Wars meets magic wands) sucks any life out of the lovingly rendered world of Hogwarts.
Bits and Bytes
Free traffic info
> Google drove one more nail into the coffin of satnav makers with the addition of free traffic information for Ireland and 12 other countries.
Now when you visit Google Maps, you can add a layer to show where the worst jams are building up. Unlike in other countries, Google can't yet show you its prediction for Irish traffic at different times of the day but that surely is coming.
maps.google.ie3DS price cut
3DS price cut
> Thinking of buying a Nintendo 3DS? Well, don't. Or at least not yet.
After sluggish sales of the 3D successor to the incredibly popular DS, Nintendo has slashed the price by a third but it won't take effect until August 12.
Retailers aren't obliged to pass on the cut but expect most game stores to charge about €180, down from the current €250.
BBC on the iPad
> Irish TV addicts have finally been granted (legal) access to the BBC iPlayer with the international launch of the catch-up service on iPad.
It'll set you back €7 a month or €50 a year.
Initially, it will focus on serving classic programming instead of recently broadcasted shows. But you'll still be able to see relatively recent series such as Dr Who. You can also download the shows for offline viewing.