Digital Life: Solved: how to watch the footie and X Factor at the same time
Picture the scene: you're settling down for a night in front of the telly. Your other half wants to watch The X Factor but you fancy the match on another channel. So it's either compromise or one of you gets banished to the small screen of the laptop or iPad.
But what if you could watch two things at once on the same TV? We get an intriguing tease of what might be possible via the new giant gogglebox by Philips, the 21:9 Platinum Series Smart LED TV.
This monster 58-inch telly has been designed foremost as a movie lover's dream screen. Its 21:9 ratio matches the ultra-widescreen format of the cinema, meaning you don't get those distracting black bars top and bottom while watching your favourite flicks.
But, most interestingly, Philips has finally found a use for those daft 3D glasses. Pop them on and the TV can show two different pictures to two different viewers. Admittedly, thus far it works only with videogames where two players usually compete in split-screen mode. Neither does it actually work very well, with ghosting from the other "screen" a real distraction.
If Philips can solve this -- and the problem of separate audio for TV viewing -- it could be on to a winner.
In the meantime, the Smart LED TV still has an awful lot going for it -- as well it bloody should with a price tag of €4,000.
Philips has poured all its engineering nous into this screen, resulting in jaw-dropping picture quality, decent sound and a host of internet-connected features.
Nonetheless, it doesn't have the same level of "apps" found on similar Sony or Samsung TVs nor is the 3D as good (as if that matters!).
But it's a handsome living-room colossus that will please ardent movie fans. Or at least those with four grand to throw around.
Once upon a time phone makers were hell-bent on making their handsets tinier. Now the trend has reversed due to touchscreens and bigger is better.
They don't come any larger than the Android-based HTC Sensation XL, whose whopping 4.7-inch screen has no equal save for its Windows Phone twin, the HTC Titan.
The extra screen real estate makes a real difference when showing off pictures, videos and web pages (even though it's not as crisp or vibrant as that of the newly launched, slightly smaller Samsung Galaxy Nexus). But the downside is that the phone is less easy to use one-handed.
The HTC's other ace is the quality of the bundled headphones, the result of a partnership with hip-hop icon Dr Dre's firm Beats. The improvement over standard 'phones is like night and day.
The Sensation XL costs €490 on pre-pay or €420 on the cheapest contract from Three.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Here be dragons, as the ancients used to say. The venerable Elder Scrolls series, grounded in the medieval swords and sorcery world of Tamriel, opens a fresh chapter with the sudden rise of fire-breathing monsters.
Every evil must be answered by a hero and that's where you come in, the only warrior in Tamriel capable of slaying the dragons. But to think of Skyrim as mere hack'n'slash fodder would be to do it a huge disservice.
In the great role-playing traditions of the series, the main storyline serves only as a backdrop to the vast panoply of places and events to explore. Every nook and cranny of the icy province of Skyrim teems with characters to assist, beasts to fight and loot to plunder.
Skyrim's scope is simply awe-inspiring. Just roaming the land, gazing slack-jawed at the natural beauty can be an end in itself. Even the copious glitches (YouTube is filled with clips of silly bugs) remind you the game designers built the world to allow almost anything to happen.
Forget the eurozone crisis, forget the bad news on the way in the Budget. Invest everything of yourself in Skyrim.
Dance Central 2
The original was the pick of the Kinect crop last year, doing for dancing what Rock Band did for instruments. DC2 contents itself with a subtle upgrade -- most notably a welcome debut for two-player mode -- and a bunch of 44 new tunes.
It remains a tough sell for anyone with two left feet -- following the moves of the avatar on-screen requires no little coordination and concentration. But when you nail a track the sense of elation is immense.
Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge
Better late than never, eh?
Scheduled to arrive before the Rugby World Cup, JLRC missed a huge sales opportunity but the wait has been worth it.
Much more so than the lame official RWC game, it captures the complexity of rugby and always makes you feel in control of the flow of play.
With a good tutorial and a wide range of content including international competitions, if you buy one rugby game this year, let JLRC be it.
If your gaming memory stretches back to Elite and Wing Commander, you'll recognise Fusion: Genesis, a hybrid shooter/RPG. You're plonked into a space war between five factions and forced to choose sides in a complex series of missions.
Graphically impressive and bursting with ideas, you can't help but feel that toning down the scattergun approach would have made FG a better game.