Digital Life: Samsung's tablet may look pretty slick, but it's no match for the iPad
Ronan Price checks out the latest in gizmos and games
You can instantly see why Apple called in its legal attack dogs. Glance at the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and you'd swear the new Android tablet was an iPad. Separated at birth these twins were.
The courts in Germany agreed and banned it from sale for patent infringement. Similar legal skirmishes are ongoing in Japan, Australia and South Korea.
It's such a shame that Samsung's design department seems to consist of one bloke and a photocopier because the Korean firm has shown itself to be the master of elegant hardware many times before.
Ironically, the Tab 10.1 is Samsung's best tablet yet, beautifully proportioned, fast and light.
Don't confuse it with the Tab 10.1V, a 10-inch tablet exclusive to Vodafone that came out in May.
That too was an incestuous cousin of the iPad, albeit one who'd eaten all the pies.
The new, improved Galaxy Tab 10.1 has been slimmed to the point where it's actually lighter than the iPad even though it's a fraction wider.
But herein lies the tablet buyer's dilemma.
If you can buy a machine that's a doppelganger for the iPad but costs the same and lacks the vast range of tablet software available for the Apple platform -- why would you?
Apple already sells more iPads than tablets by all other makers put together, commanding more than 75% of the market.
Until the Android world sparks rapid development of tablet apps, Apple's dominance is assured.
Sure, you get the usual suspects -- Facebook, Twitter, Angry Birds, and so on -- in their full tablet glory on Android.
But the list trails off pretty quickly, paling beside the tens of thousands for iPad.
Samsung tries to improve the Android experience with its own music and ebook stores built in but they're no threat to the iTunes juggernaut.
Even the minor victories such as the ability to play flash video and the inclusion of higher-resolution cameras won't sway many people.
Paradoxically because of its iPad obsession, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 lacks extras found in other Android tablets such as USB ports or memory-card slots that might attract buyers looking for something different.
Kudos to Samsung for engineering a sexy bit of kit such as this but if it has any hope of competing, slavish imitation will not win the day unless the price is substantially lower.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 starts at €480 for the 16GB WiFi version, identical to a comparable iPad.
Other versions with 3G are available through Vodafone starting at €400 with a two-year contract.
RATING: 9 / 10
The Resistance series has always teetered on the edge of greatness.
The opening chapter was a launch title for the PS3 with a lot of promise but aside from its novel weapons ended up a standard first-person shooter. Resistance 2 amped up the spectacle and introduced such innovation as 60-person online multiplayer.
But the impressive scale of the battles against the alien invaders couldn't quite paper over the cracks in its narrative and samey combat.
The final part of the trilogy aims for a more intimate vibe, if that's possible in a shooter about glowing monsters ravaging the Earth.
Early scenes echo the raggle-taggle band of survivors last met in Half-Life 2 or Homefront. Deftly handled shifts in pacing -- from desperate firefights to melancholic encounters with desolate communities, and back again -- elevate Resistance 3 above the usual mindless shooters.
Once more, the unusual weapons are the stars of the show, despite competition from beautiful scenery and grotesque enemies.
Who can resist the gun that shoots through walls or the grenades that make the monsters literally puke their guts up?
But rounded out with a less ambitious multiplayer mode (just eight on eight this time) and co-op single-player, Resistance 3 finally makes good on its threat of greatness.
RATING: 7 / 10
When the creative director of your game leaves before the end of production, that's never a good sign.
Now the studio that made Bodycount has been unceremoniously shut down days after its release. Such a troubled birth is reflected in the game itself.
Pitting you as a mercenary caught between two warring factions, this shooter has all the right ingredients -- big guns, magnificent scenery and tricks such as airstrikes on call.
But brainless enemy AI and copious bugs chip away at the long-term appeal of Bodycount.
Madden NFL 12
RATING: 8 / 10
The venerable gridiron series lumbers on with a few tweaks for the new season but it will hardly be enough to woo owners of previous editions.
That's not to say it doesn't serve up a great game of football. But despite new collision systems and additions to franchise mode, casual players will be hard-pressed to spot the difference on last year's outing.
Bits and Bytes
• Wanna help find ET? SkyNet is the latest philanthropic project to use spare capacity on millions of home computers to scour vast amounts of data for the good of mankind.
You don't even have to download any software and when you visit the SkyNet website, your computer's brain will sift through information gathered by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Australia.
It's hoped that if millions of people do the same, it will help reveal new galaxies, stars or possibly even extra-terrestrial life.
• YouTube has added some nifty video-editing tools to the site, enabling you to trim clips, minimise camera shake and tweak footage-quality.
You can find these new controls when you upload a video.
• First the book, now the movie. Comedian Tony Hawks travelled around Ireland carrying a small fridge for a bet a decade ago. He wrote a successful book based on his experience and last year recreated the feat in a film version.
Now you can watch the whole thing streaming online for a limited time only.