Digital Life: Sony's new Reader still can't hold a Kindle to Amazon. . .
Two things always strike me about my morning and evening commutes: 1) at least half the train owns an iPhone; 2) anyone using an e-reader almost invariably chooses a Kindle.
The first choice is debateable, a consequence maybe of the relative affluence of commuters in general. The second is inevitable, a reflection of Amazon's superior technology, book catalogue and pricing.
There are many other e-readers out there but none cut to the chase the way the Kindle does. You want a book? You got it, in seconds (while in WiFi coverage, of course).
But the Kindle is not unassailable. It has its weaknesses. If only the opposition would exploit them.
Most e-readers use the same e-ink technology, including the new Sony Reader PRS-T2. It means the Sony looks, feels and works very much like the Kindle Touch -- long battery life, massive storage, efficient touchscreen, light and slim.
But the book-buying experience is vastly different. Because Sony cannot be bothered to set up an online store in Ireland, a user has little option but to browse websites such as Eason or Waterstones on his or her computer, download the chosen ebook and copy it across to the PRS-T2. The purchase and download can just about be done on the device itself via WiFi, but it's a clumsy, painful experience.
Contrast that with the couple of clicks required on Kindle. It's not as if Eason, Waterstones and others are any cheaper -- in fact, they're usually more expensive.
But all is not lost. The Sony has a trick up its sleeve -- one Kindle would do well to replicate.
Remember those old-fashioned things called libraries, from which you could borrow books? The Sony actually knows what they are.
So a handful of Irish local libraries (distressingly described as "UK libraries" on Sony's Irish site) in Dublin and Kildare will lend from their small stock of ebooks for up to 21 days, so long as you're a member. It sure beats paying for books.
The Sony Reader PRS-T2 costs €140, fractionally more than the equivalent Kindle.
If more libraries signed up with a wider range of books, it might be worth considering.
It will go down as one of the biggest cock-ups in Apple's history for which we got a rare apology. In an effort to divorce itself from the growing influence of Google, Apple built its own mapping technology for the iPhone software.
Unfortunately, the data is riddled with glitches, errors and omissions. I cannot believe Steve Jobs would have tolerated such a train wreck.
Fortunately, it's simple to revert to Google's map data by visiting maps.google.com in the iPhone's web browser. It may not be as full featured but at least you can trust the information.
Twelve months on from the refined magnificence of FIFA 12, surely there was nowhere to go with the next instalment but for trivial tinkering? Yet FIFA's makers have found a new gear, a higher level of sublime football that's almost as much fun to watch as play.From the amusing games you can play while the match loads up to the broad range of training exercises, FIFA 13 works hard to appeal to newcomers.
It's the tweaks to ball control that veterans will notice. You'll enjoy the unpredictability of every tackle .
Stuffed with extras and reaching new heights of polish, FIFA 13 is the gaming equivalent of world champions Spain -- it has no equal.
Madden NFL 2013
Another annual revision of a sports games, albeit one less popular and less perfect. Sure enough, Madden 13 doesn't shift the goalposts from last year, merely buffing up its fine game of football with an extra layer of lacquer.
You've got to love the more realistic collision animations plus the smoother passing game. Even so, it's no FIFA.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Via a chequered past, you never know which Transformer game is going to turn up. Lame movie tie-in or an enthralling original loyal to the lore? Happily, Fall of Cybertron leans to the latter.
Thanks to a startling array of weaponry and locations, TFoC works hard to keep your interest.