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Digital Life: Will Sony's new PlayStation phone cause Xperia hysteria?


Sony Xperia Play

Sony Xperia Play

Panasonic HDC-SD40

Panasonic HDC-SD40

On fire: Crysis 2

On fire: Crysis 2


Sony Xperia Play

Rumours of a PlayStation phone have circulated for years, but the reality always stayed tantalisingly out of reach as Sony dithered. Now that the iPhone has cornered a sizeable chunk of the gaming market, Sony has finally responded with the Xperia Play.

Attempting to merge the best bits of the popular Android smartphones with the gaming goodness of the PlayStation lineage, the Xperia Play ends up something of a mongrel.

It looks like a chunky smartphone but conceals a slide-out keypad with the familiar PlayStation-style buttons for more accurate control of games.

As an Android phone, it's solidly made but nowhere near as swish as rivals from, for example, HTC.

On the games side, the button layout undoubtedly trumps the iPhone for easier gaming but the selection of launch titles (six of which are bundled free on-board) lacks inspiration.

A few classics date from the days of the PS1 but many are simply ones available for other Android phones that make no use of the buttons.

Gaming fanatics will also be aware that Sony will launch the tasty-looking successor to the PSP in about six months. It doesn't incorporate a phone, but will have 3G capability. Sony also slashed the cost this week of the existing PSP to €130, which at that price is very tempting.

Factor in the Xperia Play's buggy software and the confusing, messy buying experience and you sense the iPhone has little to worry about.

Sony plans to release other phones to support the Play platform and may iron out these kinks in time. Until then, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is an expensive gamble.

It costs €500 on pre-pay from the Carphone Warehouse and about €250 on a typical €45pm contract from the networks.


Billed as the world's lightest camcorder, the Panasonic HDC-SD40 fits handily into your fist yet still captures decent high-definition video.

At a push, you could squeeze it into a jeans pocket or a small purse while feeling confident it could do the job of a much bigger camcorder.

With a 16.8x zoom and enormous battery life, the SD40 ticks all the basic requirements too, even if it lacks many of the fancier features of bigger rivals such as on-board storage -- you must supply your own memory card.

About the only complaint is the lack of a wide-angle lens, which makes life awkward for close-up shots.

The Panasonic HDC-SD-40 costs €400.


Game On

Crysis 2


Rating: 9.5/10

The original shooter brought tears to the eyes of many a gamer -- mainly because of the painful cost of buying a PC powerful enough to run it properly.

Crysis 2 sets a new benchmark for photo-realistic graphic fidelity on the PC but incredibly the developers have also engineered a remarkable faithful version for PS3 and X360 too.

As in the first game, it's a futuristic military shooter in which the suit maketh the man.

With New York stalked by alien invaders in a post-apocalyptic nightmare, nothing stands in their way except you in tight-fitting lycra.

But no ordinary fabric this, the nanosuit can withstand grenade blasts, propel you 30 feet in the air or render you invisible.

With this delicious arsenal, Crysis 2 creates a thrilling experience, giving you far more tactical options than the likes of Call of Duty.



Rating: 8.5/10

It may be only a remake of the criminally overlooked Wii classic Okami but Okamiden recreates the dreamy Oriental vibe to a tee.

You play a dog fighting evil spirits who've taken over your land but the twist stems from the ability to create or repair objects simply by drawing on-screen.

Clever and original, Okamiden is a welcome change.

Yoostar 2


Rating: 7/10

If you've ever sat in the cinema looking up at the big screen and thought, "I could do that", Yoostar 2 gives you the chance in the comfort of your living room.

Using the Kinect camera, it enables you to record yourself and friends acting in scenes from classics such as The Terminator and The Godfather, with your image inserted alongside or instead of the real actors.

The game rates your performance for timing and accuracy but it's much more fun just to upload the resulting clips to the web for everyone to have a laugh.

Technical hitches and the lack of longevity aside, Yoostar 2 has the makings of a good party game.



Rating: 7/10

A novel idea from an Irish company, Sumo uses your webcam to track motion as you battle a series of enemies to knock each other down Sumo-style.

Control is more natural with fingertips on the iPad, but Sumo feels too much like a tech demo.

Rayman 3d


Rating: 7.5/10

A cheeky remake of an age-old platformer, Rayman 3D recycles 1999's Rayman 2 with an added dimension.

That said, the 3D works effectively and the original's charm shines through, even though the familiar camera problem remains.

Bits and Bytes

UK radio stations in one handy site

  • Radio fans can't fail to be impressed by the new Radioplayer website, which hosts 200 of the UK's top stations in one place.

Whether you're a fan of the BBC's output or some of the more esoteric channels such as Kerrang, you'll find it conveniently here.

The search engine could be improved but Radioplayer says it's working on it and promises to have more than 300 stations available within months.


Firefox upgrade gets even faster

  • The latest and greatest version of one of the world's best web browsers launched last week and of course, it's free to download.

Firefox 4 offers more speed, better security and easier ways to search.

Go get it -- you have nothing to lose.

www.mozilla.com/ en-US/firefox/new/

Commodore 64 gets back online

  • If you ever get nostalgic for computing's early days, you will be heartened to learn the Commodore 64 is making a comeback.

The machine, which was first released in 1982, has been re-released in a limited form for several months.

The company has ambitious plans to build a modern computer inside the old beige box design.

It will run not only Windows 7 but also the old C64 operating system -- all on the clacky keyboard beloved of many.

www.commodoreusa. net/CUSA_C64.aspx

Irish Independent