Digital Life: On your marks, get set, go -- with the watch that keeps you on track
Published 16/11/2011 | 06:00
I'm in danger of becoming an exercise bore. As a recent convert to running, even I don't quite recognise the chap who stares back at me from the mirror these days.
Suddenly, watercooler chats about last night's Apprentice have been replaced by monologues about personal bests, lactic acid and lap splits. No wonder no one talks to me any more.
But it was fortuitous timing for the new Nike TomTom Sportwatch to land on my desk for review.
Any enthusiastic runner won't be satisfied with plodding along a regular route without feedback or logging best times. Or is that just a guy thing?
An iPhone and the free Nike+ GPS app has served me pretty well so far, providing motivational music, visual indicators of pace and distance and voice feedback. But it's a little awkward to carry, which is where the Sportwatch comes in.
Chunky and a little gaudy, you wouldn't wear it on a night out, but otherwise it resembles a regular wristwatch. Hidden inside is a GPS receiver that will track your run and report a blizzard of stats include pace, distance and calories used.
When you get home, plug the Sportwatch into your computer via its cleverly concealed USB connector and all that data gets slurped up into the attractive but desperately slow Nike+ website.
Here, you can ogle Google maps of your routes, clock your slow points, set up training programmes and connect with friends to compete for fastest times.
Unlike competing sportwatches, the Nike TomTom doesn't display as much information on the watch itself. But it has the benefit of simplicity -- one button press and you're off and running.
On the downside, battery life isn't great, lasting just a few runs. Gym bunnies should note it's useless for the treadmill -- even using the free pedometer attachment was wildly inaccurate. One 5km run was recorded as 3.5km, for example.
The Sportwatch costs €200, less than many rivals but at the expense of on-board complexity. Serious runners will find it lacking but hoofers like me may not be bothered.
The HTC Titan is for all those people who wished the screen on their phone was bigger -- much bigger. With the humongous 4.7-inch display on board, your photos, web pages and movies all look so much more appealing, helped by the mostly excellent Windows Phone 7 software.
But unless you're a big multimedia fan, the Titan's large face has its disadvantages. Traversing so much screen with your fingers actually makes the phone more difficult to use one-handed, from typing to swiping at icons. The supersized HTC is also a lot less pocketable than many other smartphones.
The HTC Titan costs €200 on the cheapest 18-month Vodafone contract.
Have you ever sat in the cinema watching a blockbuster and itched to get involved? To take the gun out of Bond's hand, to cast a spell with Harry, to make a death-defying leap like Bourne? Congratulations, you're a gamer.
The Uncharted franchise has tapped into that cinematic dynamic, interspersing authentically acted cut-scenes with knockabout action lifted from an Indiana Jones flick, all set in gorgeously rendered landscapes.
After several hours of Uncharted 3 you can't have failed to notice its makers' masterful grip on the language of film. Via artfully chosen camera angles, cliffhangers and other familiar tricks, you're transported from the grimy back streets of London to the lush fields of France, a sinking cruise liner and then to arid desert.
But at the back of your mind is a nagging sense that you're only a bit player in this drama. This should be mostly a game, not a movie, but Uncharted 3 occasionally lets the mask slip for too long.
The fast-moving plot and beautiful scenery will keep you motivated but somewhere, somehow Uncharted 3 crosses a line it shouldn't.
The robust multi-player action is well worth a look too, though, taking cues from Call of Duty while imposing its own colourful personality on the shootouts.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time
Barely a year has elapsed since the flawed but intriguing time-straddling Shattered Dimensions, Spidey's last outing. Clearly, Edge of Time takes its DNA from its predecessor but lacks sufficient gestation to become a fully rounded individual.
EoT offers two playable Spider-Men a century apart, with a barely a whisker of difference between them, and a half-baked notion that the actions of one affect the world of the other. One for the fanatics only.
The Adventures of TinTin
It would have easy for this movie tie-in to go down the usual road of a 3D platformer and everyone could have knocked off early to go down the pub. But to their credit, the team behind the revered Beyond Good and Evil chose option B, a quirky 2.5D adventure with a distinctive art style befitting the wackiness of Hergé's creation.
Even with echoes of Mario and Shadow Complex, it's no classic but scores one for originality.
Bits and Bytes
• What were you doing on July 24 last year? More than 80,000 people volunteered footage for the Life in a Day project, which edited the best submissions into a 90-minute movie overseen by director Ridley Scott.
Distilled from 4,500 hours of video, the project was first shown in cinemas but now you can enjoy the whole thing on YouTube.
It's well worth a look for an amazing snapshot of one day in time.
• The Irish games industry bucks the recessionary trend with many major companies putting down roots here.
Perhaps the most interesting crossroads is where the games, movie and music industries meet, a point to explored on Thursday at the Filmbase discussion panel in Temple Bar.
Open to the public, it will include contributions from industry leaders such as PopCap and leading screenwriters and musicians.