Digital Life: The phone with two brains that's a secret speed demon
Published 03/05/2011 | 05:00
Bigger brains don't automatically mean higher intelligence -- otherwise the world would be ruled by the sperm whale, which tops the animal kingdom for sheer volume of grey matter.
It's what you do with it that counts.
That's the dilemma facing the new LG Optimus 2X mobile, which is the first on the market to boast a dual-core processor.
Dual cores have been common in computers for years but only now have the boffins conquered the technical hurdles to shrink the same technology into a mobile.
Essentially, it gives the device two brains and in theory makes everything run twice as fast.
The LG 2X looks not unlike many other premium Android phones, slickly designed and with a generously proportioned four-inch screen.
Light, yet solidly built, the 2X shows little outward sign of the horsepower under the bonnet.
Switch it on and it fairly zips along -- scrolling smoothly, launching apps in a trice and rarely pausing for breath.
But there's still a sense that nothing takes dramatic advantage of that extra oomph yet -- it's as if you were driving a Ferrari on an Offaly back road.
It may be the world's fastest phone but it feels only slightly nippier than single-core rivals.
But the 2X does have other tricks up its sleeve that make it worth recommending. The phone's big screen is impressive enough, delivering crisp and colourful visuals.
However, an HDMI port enables connection to a big-screen telly, all the better to show off the 2X's ultra-high-def video-camera footage, play games or simply to watch downloaded video.
Naturally, all this electronic brawn costs the 2X battery life versus similar rivals and, unfortunately, the phone runs a slightly outdated version of Android.
The LG 2X costs €500 SIM-free but is expected to be available on contract with O2 shortly.
Sony Ericsson failed to translate its early success in mobiles into the competitive smartphone field, only beginning to hit its stride with the Xperia X10 last year.
The jury's still out on its new 'PlayStation phone' but it definitely has a winner in the new Xperia Arc.
So thin it must live on a diet of cigarettes and water, the Arc somehow fits in a 4.2-inch screen, a superb eight-megapixel camera and the latest Android software.
Like the LG 2X, it can connect via HDMI to your telly if that gorgeous screen isn't enough for you.
The skinny buttons are a little awkward and someone should be shot for placing the headphone jack on the side.
But otherwise this is one classy contender from the Sony Ericsson stable.
It costs about €90 on the typical cheapest contract or about €450 on pre-pay.
Originating as the university project of a handful of computer science students, Portal was adopted and adapted by game giant Valve who polished it into something wonderful.
A bite-sized puzzle game soaked in bone-dry humour, its genius rested on the use of a special gun.
It could create a pair of portals with which transport yourself and objects around the levels as you try to escape a fiendish experimental lab.
In Portal 2, Valve fleshes out this inspiring premise into a full game, stuffing it chock-full with mind-bending puzzles, cutting wit and laugh-out-loud performances from the voice cast.
From the droning rambling of Stephen Merchant -- Ricky Gervais' gangly writing partner -- as a droid to the sinister calm of Ellen McLain as arch-villain GLaDOS, Valve nails the atmosphere.
When you've conquered the brain-scrambling solo levels, Valve hands you another beautiful gift with the co-op mode.
Riffing on Laurel and Hardy-style comedy and doubling the number of portals to play with, it's the icing on the cake.
Tiger Woods PGA 12: The Masters
Another year, another update to the Tiger franchise. But wait, come back. This isn't the usual spit and polish maintenance release.
For beginners, a virtual caddy will set up your shots until you get comfortable.
And, obviously, the Masters tournament features heavily while not excluding other events -- 15 courses await your clubs.
Unlike the real Tiger, this virtual version hasn't lost its mojo, boasting better graphics, thoughtful controls and a whole heap of golfing goodness.
Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
That tortuous title shows just how deep the producers are digging to mine this popular series.
But the Lego crossover has always been a mark of quality and the Clone Wars is never less than entertaining for its legion of young fans.
Still, there's a sense the franchise is treading water, content to regurgitate its brick-bashing and slapstick humour in a new setting.
The cartoony graphics have been buffed up and more variety introduced to gameplay.
But its sometimes confusing and over-complicated objectives may deter a young audience.
A remake of 2009 role-playing game for PC, Torchlight faithfully follows the classic Diablo formula on this download-only title for Xbox. Choose a hero and plunge into the dungeons to battle monsters and collect loot.
Streamlined controls and a constant stream of upgrades sustain the interest but the lack of multiplayer grates once the short campaign has concluded.
Bits and Bytes
Sony warns PSN users to check accounts Surprise
- Sony will be feeling the fallout for months from the hacking of its PlayStation Network service, which went down for several days after "an intrusion".
The personal details, not including credit-card numbers according to Sony, of up to 77 million members of the free service were compromised by an unknown hacker.
PSN customers, of which there are approximately 400,000 in Ireland, are advised to check their credit-card statements and change their login password as soon as possible.
Visit the PlayStation Blog for more information and updates on the status of the service.
Surprise! Nintendo's Project Café is coming
- Nintendo quietly revealed a successor to the wildly popular Wii console by burying the announcement in its annual results last week.
Codenamed Project Café, the system won't go on sale until at least next April and details of its abilities have been kept under wraps, though it's likely to get an airing next month at the annual E3 games conference in LA.
Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata said the birth of the new console was motivated by the fact the Wii had lost the power to surprise customers. Not bad, though, for a machine that has sold more than 80 million units.
The 'who's who' of web giants and geniuses
- Voting in the annual Webby Awards -- known as the Oscars of the internet -- has now closed but you can still browse the nominees, which include everything from big-brand media organisations to tiny startups in almost 70 categories.
If nothing else, it'll deliver a happy evening of serendipitous surfing to destinations you never knew existed.