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I've never spent £30 on a webcam before. I normally go for £10 smartprice version, but as I needed a microphone and the only ones in stock either locked awful or cost over £20 I bit the bullet and went with my flexible friend.
The webcam takes still photos at 1-point-something megapixels (1280x960). Acceptable to print at a normal photo size at a push and video at VGA (640×480). It has auto focus and a microphone both perform admirably. The end result of these dull mumbling is that as a webcam it works very well, the people at the other end of the call see and hear you clearly.
Set up of the device is simple enough, if you have the CD, insert that and wait for it to ask you to plug in the device and it is all done. If you don't plug in the device and Windows will ask the internet for what it needs. Either way a quick, painless process on both Vista and Windows 7.
Beyond that of a good quality webcam it sports three additional features. The lest important of which is the button which starts up Microsoft Live Messenger. Or in my case starts the installer for Microsoft Live Messenger when ever I move the camera. As the button can not be reprogrammed and I have no wish to use Live Messenger this feature is more an irritation to me.
The base of camera is a flexible bit of plastic, allowing the camera to be used either on an LCD monitor with the flex bit as a hook onto the back of the monitor or on the desktop by making an S shape. The head twists independently from the tail. This works well enough, but I find it hard to position it well, and end up fiddling it a fair bit, hitting the button mentioned above. I expected this to break after a short amount of fiddling but it has remained firm.
The last is the software, this allows a number of funky effects to be applied. As the software support face detection it can superimpose a hat or silly hair or it can enlarge facial features such as eyes (giving you a weird Manga look) or mouth. Fun but I do miss the simpler effects of cheaper devices such as a snow fall or pixelated screen.
Overall this is an great little device. Small, attractive (as much as a webcam can be) and good quality video. What more can you ask for?
The Advent 4211 is a rebranded HCI Wind. The general reviews for the Wind will be apply for the Advent 4211.
The Advent 4211 is part of a new wave of "SSCs" (Small Cheap Computers). Low powered computers sold cheap. In general they come in two sizes (8" and 10"), most use the with the same hardware under the hood. The current standard is a Intel Atom 1.6GHz, between 512 MB and 1GB of RAM and a Intel 945 graphics adapter. The different brands then change the quality of the screen, rearrange the keyboard and increase or reduce the build quality.
The Advent 4211 is a on the high end of specifications range, with 1 gig of RAM (upgradeable to 2) and a 10" screen. This provides the tiny little machine with more than enough umpf to do some demanding tasks well above the stated use of web browsing and checking email. I have run some fairly weighty applications and it handles them in its stride. Until I tried a modern game. While the CPU is for its size is impressive the graphics card is very poor. I was not expecting it to run X3, I am disappointed it can not handle Halflife2 - a four year old game. Especially as on paper it should be able too.
While it has a high specification at £280 it is cheaper than most. So corners have been cut, the most obvious is the cheap quality of the screen (and I don't just mean small, one has to accept small when dealing with Netbooks). The second place noticeable cheap point is the internal speakers. My mobile phones internal speakers sound better and have a high max volume. The overall build quality is also affected. It is not badly build, but the plastic is has a "SmartPrice" quality.
On such a small device, the keyboard and mouse pad need to be well designed to be usable. I'm not a fan of mouse pads, but this one does move mouse cursor when you ask it to, and not (as I find with some) when you are typing. Plus it has the buttons in the correct place, under the mouse pad. The alphanumeric section of the keyboard is a good size but alas the "lesser used" keys such as punctuation are 1 /2 sized which I find a tad irritating. Plus the control and the Function button are the wrong way round. I end up with c, x and v's filling my documents as I fail to copy and paste.
The battery is a small 3 cell job. Very light (as is the rest of the machine) and easy to fit but a real pain to remove. For normal use on the move this seams to be adequate, I used the device for 2 and a half hours on a long trip, and it still had juice left. I have also done some more formal tests. I played a standard definition video full screen in a loop and unplugged the power supply. It lasted a respectable 78 minutes. When running on battery it has a rather neat "Low Power" mode that dims the back light and sets the CPU to half its normal running speed. I re-ran the experiment in this mode but with the screen of full brightness - however got only 80 minutes of life.
The shipped software is lacking, consisting of just the god-awful Microsoft Works and the OS+drivers. But with Open Office a free download I see no reason to stick with Works. A device meant as a "Internet terminal" should ship with firewall and anti-virus software, but alas both are missing.
For a netbook it is well connected with three USB 2.0 sockets (two on the left and one the right), a SD card reader, a standard VGA connector, Ethernet (all on the right), blue tooth and WiFi (G not the new N). I've only used the WiFi a few times but it found a signal quickly, and connected without issue. Unfortunately one of the USB ports has become a little temperamental and will not accept every device I plug into it. It is fine with my mobile phone but ignores my mouse and DSL modem. It also comes with two standard-sized audio jacks. By default this is mic and headphones, but the audio drivers will let you change them and asks you what you have plugged in each time you plug something in. A feature I found pointless, and luckily you can set defaults. You might have noticed that most of the connections are on the right. On the left side between the two USB ports and the power port is a large air vent from which you can hear the fan whirl when you ask it to do something CPU heavy.
Overall I really like this machine. It is just the right size to put on airplane table, runs all the applications you need and looks great, if a little cheap. Sure I'd love it to play Halflife2 but it is under the magic £300. However I can only recommend one if you are in the market for an ultra portable. If not then you can buy a desktop computer for £300 that would blow this out of the water.
Before I start on the game I want to warn you off this game due to the Digital Rights Management. EA has decided that all there paying customers are evil pirates (of the software not FSM kind) and so you can only install this game three times before you have to phone EA and beg to be allowed to play the game you have legally purchased. It also interferes with the running of some applications, such as virtual CD and DVD drives and CD writing software. After all you bought this game; you are so going to steal it. For this reason alone it would be very hard to recommend this game. It would have to be shiny vision of wondrousness for me to put up with all that...
Cool builder with a basic game attached.
Well, three basic games attached. The creature "RPG" (Role Play Game) where you click on stuff (either with a friendly click or an attack click) until one of you falls over. If it is not you that falls over your experience points, sorry DNA goes up. When you have enough DNA you can customise your critter with +5 feet of sneakyness and +3 hands of striking. The builder here, and throughout the game, is fantastic.
When you have done that for an hour or so you advance into the RTS (Real Time Strategy) section. It matters not how well you are doing - it would take effort not to advance after a few hours. The first (Tribe) when playing as "good" is way too easy. Just give the enemy a gift and then play songs until they surrender. Playing as evil is a little more difficult, but not much. This sort of game the last bad guy should be hard, but by this time you have all the +5 Blings of Doom so it is a walk in the park.
The second RTS section has some cool points, but over all is too simplistic and when you have 8 cities you get a dooms day device. The last four cities should be a challenge but instead you have an insto-win button. It does have some very cool ideas, it is shame the game only lets you take a glimpse at the before deciding that the concept is too difficult.
The last game, Space is an economy/trading game with the funkiest zooming ever but awful controls.
This game gives the best screen shots ever with really groovy looking everything. In game and you begin to notice than your beastie does not quite walk right and the Imperial Walker devastating your city skims not walks and despite all its weapons being downward facing, it is using mortars.
Over all, even on hard while blind (if your beastie has no eyes the game emulates senses vision thing - very cool) the game is too easy. Each slice has had too much taken out, leaving a shell of a game style and a cool builder and the A.I. is too relaxed. In Creature you are never hunted; in Tribe they will happily sit and listen to you play songs until you get it right and civilization they don't attack with any great force.
I am a fairly light user of Dooyoo (and its peers), I only post when I have something I feel strongly enough to review and can post more than "Gah the controls suck" (R* Wii Table Tennis I'm looking at you). Looking at my stats I get on average 30 paying reads per review so I am one of the lucking 80% that will befit from the new system. However I do think it needs some work.
The issue with reads being reduced to 1.5p is not all that great in my opinion. From my experience of Dooyoos peers this is still very competitive, and 50p for just putting pen to paper is a great bonus.
The churners however I do think distract a little. Looking on the front page one person has posted 50+ reviews in the last two days, and at time of writing the front page "New Reviews" section only contains reviews by this one author. I am not a fan of this level of posting, even though if the reviews posted on at a time would all be fine (done this way the poster would also earn more, I know once I noticed they were churning I ignored). I don't really see a good method off stopping this. The reviews are what Dooyoo want. I would like to see the 50p not being paid out until the review has proven to be useful (say after 5 somewhat useful or above rates) just to reduce the flow a little. If you want to churn you can, you just will not profit from it as quickly.
The lack of paying crowns in the community sections I can understand as a bone of contestation, and even though I don't post in that section I would like to see it re-introduced.
You know how I started this review with "I only post when I have something I feel strongly enough to review", I lied. I don't care one way or the other in this case (once the number of churners settles down). Have I rambled on for 150 words? Yeap great. That will be 50p thankyouverymuch.
Super Paper Mario is a mixed bag; it contains some sparkling examples of excellent game play and wit, but for each jewel you will have to fight through lashings of dullness and repetition. I would heartily recommend a "director cut" version of Super Paper Mario (at half its length) but Super Paper Mario is too wordy and repetitive.
Wii games will live or die by its control system, and luckily Super Paper Mario has not gone down the "forced waggling" route. The basic controls take after Super Mario Bro. on the NES with the wiimote held sideways akin to the original NES controller. It does require the odd waggle for special features but they play well and feel natural.
The plot is shown via cut scenes with a lot more dialog than is really necessary. Combined with the complete lack of voice acting and awful artistic choices such as Count Bleck obsession with saying "Bleck", Nastasia constant erring and O'Chunks spelling of "teh" leads to a plot that despite being fairly good for a Mario game makes you just want to skip and get to the action.
The action as I've said is a mixed bag. The game plays like any other platformer but with small bits of RPG mixed in. Alas much of the platform sections are bland to say the least, and down right poor in some extreme cases. For example the first time you control Princess Peach leads you down a selection of completely bad-guy free identical looking hallways. A section much later starts with you gaining the Star (makes you large and invincible) and clearing the bit of the world you are in of bad guys and scenery (when large you smash through everything). When you get to the other end you find a clue and have to head back to where you started, back over the area you have just completely cleared, and it has not respawned. This is my biggest grip with the game, the amount of time you have to trundle over the same area doing almost the same thing. Nintendo would do well by playing Halflife 2 with the commentary on.
But not all is bad; it does have moments of absolute brilliance. One set piece has one of the Koopa run to a ? block take the star and chase you across the level, the nerd chapter is wonderful and Level -1 is great fun.
The RPG part of the game includes side quests, levelling up and talky bits. I don't get side quests in a game where the universe is in danger of being swallowed, especially ones as silly as "go and get my magic ball from my friend". You are the last chance for the world and you are sent to retrieve a magic 8-ball?! It just does not make sense to me. The talky bits I've touched on above. When they hit they hit hard and long.
Many of the puzzles are enjoyable, but the ones that stay with you are the one that had you type please five times, the one that had you hit three blocks twenty times in order and the one that had you doing nothing but hit the left key for five minutes (or in my case, have a cup keep the left key down for five minutes while I played on Facebook).
The graphics for this game that are copied and pasted from early games are great. Not next-gen but look good none the less. The backdrops are also very nicely done and the drawn-in effect is brilliant. But I think this had eaten up all the art departments budget so the new work like Count Bleck are simple shapes thrown together in vector drawing package. Looking at them I am reminded of my local library with its 80s "cool" bright pink and snot green logo. I think this was the plan. Retro is in. Some fashions however should be forgotten.
Audio in this game is great; the only downer is the lack of voice acting. I understand this was likely an artistic decision, but it was in my opinion a bad decision.
I know I've missed out the details of the plot, and the irritation that is Flipside and its pointless lost wonderings looking for the per-magical thingies to open the door for the collect the real magical thingies. Nor have I gone over the 2D/3D stuff. I don't find it adds that much to the game however. If you want an overview of the plot then I'm sure the intro is on YouTube. And I have described Flipside now.
While I am glad I bought the game, I could not easily recommend it. For each sparkling set piece you have to fight speech boxes and badly designed levels, and I am not sure they are worth it. Rent it for a weekend; see if you can get past is gapping issues to find the few wonders that lay hidden within.
Tech Say are survey site, of which there are plenty, from You Gov to Ciao, so what makes this one different, and is it worth joining up?
Tech Say, as you might have guessed by its name is a specialised survey site and deals solely in technical surveys and target only IT professionals. No Brand Index or If Asda Smart Price Soap Was A Person Which Would He Be here, instead questions about the MIMESweeper and its effect on your email infrastructure. If you are not interested in such questions you might want to head off to a more interesting review now and ignore Tech Say.
Surveys, Frequency and Screening
I seam to get about one survey a month, which is less than the general survey sites. I am also very frequently screened out; out of the past eight months I have been accepted for just a single survey! Half the screening questions threw me out the moment I said I was a developer, and not in charge with the purse strings. The second half had very in-depth technical questions, I'm guessing they twigged on that I really did only know the basics about NAS, Exchange and various other tech.
The survey I was accepted for was... hard. They are after a person who configure scary looking boxes in server rooms with flashing blue lights and that is not me. I fumbled my way though the questionnaire, but I don't think they gained much useful information, and I found it rather dull. If I was the sort of person who did said blue flashy light configuration I might have got more out of it.
In length it was about 20 minutes, this is on par with other survey sites. The time to be rejected depends on the survey, the half that only want people with purchasing powers end very promptly (a minute or so), while the ones that want people with some knowledge on the subject can take a good five minutes before you get the boot.
Many people say they don't do survey sites for the money. I don't really believe them. Tech Say has set a high threshold for pay out at $50 (~£25), not as high as the one-cheque-in-two-years YouGov but much higher than Ciao at a tiny £5.
Each accepted survey nets you an impressive $10; significantly higher than anything I have done on YouGov, Ciao or TNS. Just five accepted surveys will lead to a payout.
Being kind souls they hand out $1 for being rejected. At just under 50 pence the rejection pay is very close to YouGovs standard payout.
As of yet I have not earned enough to receive a payout. When such a wonderful thing happens I will update this review. The money will be sent as a check in your locale currency. The company are part of Global Market Insite who also do "Global Test Market", the reviews for this site are positive when it comes to paying up.
Unfortunately TechSay has decided to give you "Tech Points" rather than plain cash. I am not a fan of points, miles and the like, preferring a simple amount in cash. This does mean that at some point in the future all you points could drop drastically in value. You also have to multiply by 0.05 when deciding if this survey is worth your time.
The site is simply laid out as a set of tabs across the top of the page for each of the functions (Profile, balance, help and the like). But as it is a pure survey site, and does not keep a profile of you the amount of widgets to play with is very limited.
Registration is simple enough, a few personal questions such as your address and business title. After confirming your email address you in.
This site pays a large amount per survey, but the rarity of the surveys, combined with the low chance of being selected to participate means this site is not as worth while as it first appears.
*****1. How long, on average, does it take you to get rid of someone trying to sell you something over the phone?******
Depends on my mood, I'm on the TPS, so don't get many, if I'm board I'll say I'm on the TNS and ask where they my number from. Over and over again. I know I'm a nastie horrid bunny.
******2. What is the most expensive object you have ever broken on purpose? ('when angry' counts as 'on purpose' even if you regretted it soon afterwards)*****
My body through years of pizza derived abuse combined with alcohol and a complete lack of exercise. I'm having a go at fixing it now via the SimpleFit.org program, but I still eat to many large stuffed crust pizzas all by my self.
Otherwise a doorframe as I locked my self out, so kicked the door in. Very enjoyable (hopefully the landlord will never find out).
******3. If you buy something for 99p with a £1 coin, do you really want the 1p back? ******
Yes, they go in a coin sorter. It goes CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK. Not quite as much fun as the shredder but cool. I now have 30 pounds in 10 pence pieces or less. I should do something with them at some point.
******4. What was the last thing you shouted while alone in a car? ******
I can not drive, so have never been alone in a car. I'm learning to ride at the moment (slowly). I've mumbled some not very nice things then, but all aimed at me not controlling the bike correctly.
******5. What is your typical path through a supermarket? ******
I meander, often getting towards then end of my trip and then remembering the stuff at the front of the supermarket. I normally pass the pizza isle, the video games isle and the place where the cherries live with some other green stuff.
******6. Do you lick the underside of the foil top when eating a pot of yoghurt? ******
******7. How many greetings cards have you sent in the last 12 months?******
Very few, I don't really do them.
******8. A criminal maniac invites you to "Pick a city for destruction, Mr. Bond." Which one do you choose? ******
Sorry, no cities I care enough about to warrant its destruction.
******9. Which font do you use most often?******
Our company has decreed Tahoma to be the font of choice, so for writing documentation & emails I use that.
As a developer 90% of what I do is in a fixed-width font, Eclipse (a programming editor) defaults to Courier New while the command line uses Lucida Console.
******10. If you had the choice between a petrol chainsaw or a bread knife, which would you use for felling a small tree with a 1" diameter trunk? ******
Despite nearly cutting a finger off with a chainsaw I'd still use one of them.
******11. On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that you know when to use a semicolon?******
English: Two maybe three. Word however has a fairly good idea about the correct placement of semicolons.
Code: Ten and when I forget one Eclipse flags it as an error.
******12. What proportion of the CDs you own are in their original cases right now?******
100% I'd guess. Once I've ripped a CD and have it in iTunes I don't touch the CD again.
******13. Favourite colour black or white?******
******14. How accurate is the time on your watch?******
I don't own a watch; I can not stand having something dangling on my wrist. My mobile however is synced with my computer, and that is synced with some clock on the internet.
******15. What you wearing right now?******
I am wearing blue Asda smart price jeans (£3 - great value) and a Asda George shirt. And strange Greek knitted slippers made by my grandmother-in-law.
******16. Have you ever written to, emailed or telephoned a newspaper, radio station, TV programme etc? If so, what did you say?******
I sent a quick email to the Metro once when they posted some rubbish about video games causing all the worlds problems. It was not printed.
******17. Do you, in the most fundamental depths of your soul, give a crap about the extinction of the Red Cockaded Woodpecker?******
I'd like to say I do, but that not to say I really do that much to help it. I do try to be green. I'm just not very good at it.
******18. What is the cheapest thing you've bought with a debit or credit card in the past month?******
I don't think I've used my debit or credit cards this month (other than at a cash point). I've used my Asda store card to buy a slice of lemon curd meringue and a sausage roll a few times this week as I'm too lazy to cook.
*****19. Favourite books?******
Story: Discworld and Harry Potter, but I don't read enough.
Otherwise: Design Pattern by the Gang of Four, and Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering by Robert L. Glass. Two books I recommend to anyone interested in Software Development.
******20. What is your most favourite meal?******
Pizza or Euros (Greek Kababs) Yum.
This device just looks great; every geek desk should be littered with oversized Lego bricks, but the premium price tag, loud disk drive and large power supply are enough to put off all but the hardened geeks better half.
Pure Geek love, the shiny red plastic with its six large Lego dimples would take a prime location on any ones desk. Its front face has just a single red light glowing under the shiny plastic. The sides are plain shiny red plastic but with obnoxious grills at the rear, barely noticeable when the device is facing you but stick out when it is sideward. The back has USB & power in and a power button.
The Power Block
The external power supply is almost half the size as the device. Sure, it lives under your desk where none sees it, but the thing is huge and heats up. Great for putting you feet on during a cold winter night, not so good for the rest of the year.
It is quite loud, almost as loud as my Laptop, which is quite some feat as my laptop is a large desktop replacement nick-named "airhock" as if you turn it over; the fans would easily let it double as an airhocky board. I’ve got use to the constant whirling of my laptop but if you want silent nights this is not for you.
It does feel a fair bit slower than my internal SCSI hard disk. So I did some basic testing by writing some files to them both. In simple terms writing a small file to the internal hard disk was twice as fast as writing to the brick(*1). Writing large files in small chunks was equal (*2). Finally writing large files in large chunks put the internal drive slightly ahead, but slightly (*3).
The shipped USB cable is a little too short, and limits where the device can go. It is also USB only, which is a shame as personally I’m running out of USB slots. The laptop version has a Firewire edition, but that is only 120GB.
The device is 500G (465 usable when formatted as NTFS). This is more than enough space for most people. Given a large game would take up about 10G (2) it will fit 46 large games. Or you could look at it as about 27 television series in HD quality. Either way it is more than big enough for some time yet.
While not compatible with either Lego or Duplo they are compatible with each other, and with the smaller (2 by 2-block rather than 2 by 3-block) laptop versions. Alas this does not mean they will share a single power supply, or do some cool automatic RAID array. Two power supplies under the desk are two to many. Also the colour is defined by the size (red is 500 and 250, white is 160 and blue is 320) so having a funky looking stack would mean requiring a large amount of USB ports, power sockets and a mix of drive sizes. Not at all ideal.
Like all modern USB hard disk drives it is plug & play. Virtually installation free.
It was about £10 more expensive than "none-designer" external hard disks when I bought it from a small shop in Tottenham Court Road. It was also about £10 cheaper than other "designer" external hard disks.
Do I Recommend It?
Off course I do, it is an oversized Lego brick, and thus the essences of geek-cool.
I though I’d show what test I did run so fellow geeks could pull them apart, and tell me how I should have done them. Both drives have been scandisked and defragged prior to running these tests. All other applications were closed. Any suggestions please leave a comment, and I will run the updated versions, and update the review.
*1) dd count=1 bs=1M if=/dev/zero of=/cygdrive/X/test.zero
Returning 32MB/s and 70MB/s.
*2) dd count=1000 bs=1M if=/dev/zero of=/cygdrive/X/test.zero
Returning 23MB/s each.
*3) dd count=1 bs=1G if=/dev/zero of=/cygdrive/X/test.zero
Returning 22MB/s and 25MB/s.
2) Microsoft Flight Simulator is 13GB and Supreme Commander is 8GB.
This is a lovely bit of kit. A simple install and one-click set up on the devices makes this idea for any none-tech with Nintendo kit looking to get online. The one problem with it is it is Nintendo only, it will not work with a PSP or WiFi enabled mobile phone.
What Is It?
In simple terms it shares your broadband internet connection with your Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii so you can play WiFi games (marked blue circle containing the words Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection on the box) over the internet. You do not require a Nintendo WiFi USB Connector to play such games, if you already have Wireless (many Broadband providers now supply a Wireless Router) you can use that instead, however this is much simpler to set up on the Wii and NDS than other methods.
Ive installed this twice the first when I originally purchased it was a breeze. Inserted the CD, clicked install. The only fault is that the please insert the Nintendo WiFi USB Connector text was small, and not accompanied with an icon. This could mean you miss it and think that the install is not working (as happened to me). It auto-detected everything it was meant and hey presto it was done.
The second time (to jog my memory for writing this review) it encountered an error. But being End User Friendly it gave no clues on how to fix it, nor (unlike the Datel WiFi Max) the ability to manually install it. After some playing (and forcefully uninstalling the Datel WiFi Max) I got it to install.
If (as in 99.9% of cases) you computer is set up exactly as the installer expects then this is very simply to install, just watch and read the text in the install window. However if it is not (if say as you have Internet Sharing enabled for a different device) then you have no method of diagnosing the problem.
Setting Up Devices
Both the Wii and the NDS have a WiFi USB Connector button, to set up simply press that button, go to your desktop computer, open the Nintendo WiFi USB Connector Registration Tool (blue circle in the system tray (the thingie next to the clock)), find the device in the list and right-click Grant Permission. Both the NDS and the Wii worked first time without any issues.
When I first bought this I only had Windows 2000, but this device requires Windows XP or above, quite a high requirement when other devices of a similar ilk will work on Windows 2000 or in some cases even Windows 98.
It only works for Nintendo hardware. A PSP, WiFi laptop or mobile phone will not be able to connect to the internet using this device.
It has got the name of my Wii wrong. When it was first installed it was correct, but now it shows up as box-box-box-box.
Once in a blue moon the software crashes on start up. I have to go into Task Manager and kill the process then unplug and plug in the connector.
It lacks a base, and instead comes with two bits of sticky back Velcro so you can Velcro it to the wall. But the heat of the device unglues the sticky back of the sticky back Velcro and leaves you with a sticky-back white USB stick and useless Velcro stuck to the wall.
In my Datel WiFi Max review I went on a bit about security. I dont know the details of the security this devices uses, but given I can not see it during a scan scan for access points on my phone and as I have to grant permission to connect Im going to assume it is secure from people hijacking my connection. However I would not assume it is secure from people monitoring what Im up to. Fine for games of Mario Kart DS, but I would be wary of checking my online email on the Wii. The likelihood of anyone check up on you is very small, so here Im being paranoid.
Improvements Id like to see
I would like some more parental controls on it, so I could block internet play on some games, and see what games are currently being played by each console. Also Id like to be able to implement a white list of websites sites the consoles can access. This device is great, but would be very helpful for a parent to be able to easily monitor and restrict what their children are up to online.
I email tech support asking if it could be installed on Windows 2000. I received a very polite response in a timely manor. The answer was no, but such a polite and quick no it seamed worth mentioning.
At about £25 it is the same as the Datel WiFi Max, but unlike the Datel WiFi Max only works with Nintendo hardware. If you are sure (as I was some time ago) that you will never get a none-Nintendo device this is not an issue, but if (like me) you find your self drawn to the PSP (LocoRoco :) ) you end up having to choose between buying a new device, or leaving the PSP un-networked.
Do I recommend it?
Do you plan, or have any none-Nintendo WiFI kit? If so then the Datel WiFi Max is a better buy, but even so I think this is a better bit of kit. The software is ships with is great, the hardware feels hardy for what it is and the setup on devices is very easy.
Apparently this is a port of a budget Xbox title, but I have not played it so I can not compare. This is a simple racer where instead of speed you get a Monster Truck. So run over cars, and make stuff go smash? Nope, very little running over of stuff but you do get "insane" (with a lot of plings) jumps.
Cheep. Really really cheep. I enjoyed the opening sequence (which tempts you in with the idea of running over flash sports cars, something I can not find in-game) but once past this you are in the land of the Ugly Cheep Cartoon Text.
You have to confirm everything, normally with a confusing message for which none of the options really make sense. For example the continue button asks "are you sure you want to exit". Finally it also does not auto-load or auto-save your game, something that no game should do. The save system is silly, rather than simply select a save slot then drop you back to the main menu, you select a save slot, get asked for a name (something you have already given), then it drops you back to the select a get slot screen. Did someone fall asleep in a User Interface lecture?
The game play really is Stock Arcade Racer. Do "tricks" to earn boost, never touch the break button and boost along the straights. Nothing what so ever wrong with Stock Arcade Racer, but nothing new or exiting about it either.
Steering: it is a fairly obvious step; make tilting the Wiimote into steering. Every racing game on the Wii will do it. Acceleration and breaking is done by the 1 & 2 buttons, or at least I think the breaking is done by the 1 button, it is not the sort of game that you break in.
To do said "insane" jumps you wiggle the controller as you jump in the way you want the truck to go. So a large O shape will backflip. I’m sure this worked well in the head of who ever designed it, but alas the transition from idea to implementation did not go smoothly, and so just feels clumsy and awkward.
You can also "Boost" (game play wises this appears to do almost nothing) by pushing the Wiimote towards the screen, this also is awkward to use.
It should not make a difference but it does. If I saw one advertised on its own I would not even consider it, but using it does make the controls feel better.
It would not be fair on the Wii to compare it to the latest 360 or PS3 wonderness, but we can compare it against the PSP. Burnout on the PSP has well crafted models flying round great looking tacks. They show what a talented designer with a low poly budget can do.
M 4x4 WC has simple and uninspiring trucks roll round a circuit that takes a passing nod to its supposed host location - Athens has some grey half-built buildings, a blue sky and a cardboard cut-out of an ancient Greek building in the skyline while Egypt has some sand and oversized tourist tat.
The few model animations are dull and limited but this is not surprising for a car racing game. The two-state destructible scenery consists of a few models badly and overly zealously placed around the track.
It is not all bad however; some of the effects are rather pretty. Boosting while offers little to the game play looks great. A motion blur effect is applied to the screen, given a nice impression of extra speed.
Now for the kicker, reading reviews on this game suggests it has worse graphics than its XBox counter part. One very much hopes this is down to budget constraints or pushed developers rather limitations on the platform. The Wii is in a bad position if graphically it can not keep up with budget XBox (original) game.
I was proof reading this review when I noticed I had left out audio, which is not surprising as it has nothing worth mentioning. It has no in-game music tracks, a single stock engine sound and some rubbish techno type stuff for boosts.
The game ships with ten tracks, none offering much in the way of variety, just different backdrops to familiar feeling tracks as all the tracks are built up using a very limited supply of base elements, the Flamethrower, The Bouncy Bit, The Bonuses and the Flaming Barrels with some turns mixed in for good measure.
The career mode has you go over each of the tracks in weekly races, other no variation in goals such as high jumps or even timed laps. It gives no sense of accomplishment with each win, but rather feels like a set of Quick Races added on as a "career mode" is needed for this type of game. Given that the intro sequence had you splatter sports cars and do a cool looking smash-the-lights chicanes I find the lack rather disappointing.
As you compete you unlock additional trucks (14 in total) and get points to spend on upgrades to your trucks statistics such as speed and handling. Not that well thought out, as if you spend it all on speed for one truck you end up making the game easier not harder, the first time I finished the World Circuit I was 20 seconds ahead of my nearest rival.
Value for money
A pound is maybe a little too far £5 would be a fine price for this fun but simple budget game, plus an extra £5 for the steering wheel. I paid £15 for it, but Game as it for £20, and Amazon has it for 35!
This game feels like someone said they needed a presence on the wii, what would be quick and cheep to port, and it done badly would not damage the IP. This has lead to Poundland gaming trash, it is enjoyable but still trash.
If you see it for less than £5 on eBay (including shipping) and nothing is on at the cinema, do think about it, it will give that five pounds worth of entertainment.
The game supports "decals" to customize your trucks, but no hint in the manual on how to do so.
The manual suggests you experiment to find out all of the insane jumps, but to be completely honest I have had no desire to do so.
Some quick notes before we start:
1) The difference between this device and the one with for PSP on the box is just the box. The hardware, software and manuals inside the box are identical so any reviews for that are valid for this, and vice-versa.
2) Any analogies made in this review are overly simplified and slight wrong as analogies always are.
3) As a tech I am not really the target market for this device.
What The Hell Is It?
In the simple terms this devices lets other WiFi enabled kit (e.g. NDS, PSP & Wii) access the internet by piggy backing of your computers DSL connection. This means that you can browse the internet on your PSP or play Mario Kart on your NDS when they are in range (it covers my flat and garden).
When the CD is inserted, you are given two options PSP or DS. The basic difference is the name of the wireless network, and one (the PSP) adds some extra software for converting, and copying music and videos to your PSPs memory stick. I was installing it for my PSP, my DS as well as my mobile phone, so I selected the DS version. With only a 32M memory card in my PSP I could not fit movies onto the PSP. I did latter play with the PSP version (and included a quick overview of the extra software below).
The install seamed to be going fine, and I was asked to insert the dongle, the computer whirled away for a few moments, and according to the instruction book I should have been presented with a dialog box. The computer stopped whirling, and started to idle - still no dialog box. I looked in the Start Menu for any new icons and found none.
After a few restarts, and a few more attempts at following the manual I gave up, found the installers to run on the CD and manually ran them.
Ive asked my brother who also bought one of theses, and he had no problems with the install, so this might be an isolated incident.
The install all in all was quite easy, finding the applications on the CD was not too difficult to do, and when the installer works it is very simple.
Ive checked these against my brothers settings, so this is not down to my unorthodox install.
(Yeay analogy time) You have just bought a nice new front door. By default it remains open, and does not include a lock. It also has a sticker on it stating if Im open, please feel free to come in and eat some cookies.
That is very much what this device defaults to. Wide open access for anyone passing. Some might say that securing your WiFi connection should not be needed, as any computer that uses your network is breaking the law. This is a legal sticky point, passing computers & PDAs/phones can (a fair few are) set to passively look for open, unsecured access and then make use of them, on the assumption that if you did not want to share, you would have at least put some form of token security on it. Personally I feel this is a fair assumption.
I am not impressed with the defaults of this, it should use at least apply a WEP key (this effectively removes the free cookies sign, and adds a very simple keypad lock to the front door). While this offers little security against a determined attacker, it shows to the passer by that your connection is not going for free.
Even better would have been to describe how to enable MAC filtering (a fingerprint lock), set up a WEP key, and even hide your SSID (cover your front door in brick-style wallpaper). While none of them other that much more than token security to the determined hacker, they do show that you are making the effort to keep the connection secure. Plus very few people are determined, especially as a few doors down will be an open network to abuse.
The WiFi configuration UI
While fine for an IT person such as my self, it would mean nothing to Joe User. None of the controls are explained in a language Joe User would understand.
Wizards and walk-throughs are needed here for this to be an end-user friendly application. All sadly lacking, the PSP user-content application includes a reset settings button, but as that resets to the default wide open I do not think it is of any use.
The PSP user-content application
After installing, and playing with the base applications which are installed as part of the DS install, I installed the extras that are added for PSP users. Im not a big fan of the software, the custom interface flashes when you click anything and it refreshes the on your memory stick window frequently. However converting a movie, and copying it across is nice and simple.
As you might have guessed with some of the above, Im a little paranoid when it comes to WiFi. Now to let you all in on a secret, one that will give you very secure WiFi. When it is not in use unplug it. Now this might not be practical for everyone, but as I live in a small flat, and only want it for playing the odd game or making a Skype call on my mobile this is practical for me.
Ive spent some time setting up this little dongle. Such as hiding the SSID, added each of my devices to the MAC filter and setting a nice long password, so when I decided to plug it back in after about of month of none-use I was very annoyed when it had lost all my settings, defaulted back to wide-open, and lost the network bridge settings (the bit inside it that connects the DS to the Internet).
Using the default setting, and my secured settings Ive had no problems getting a connection and playing. However after it looses its settings it is a bit of a pain in the bum getting it configured again as it has had problems finding my internet connection.
Do I Recommend It?
If you only have a DS, and never intend on buying any other WiFi kit (as I did quite some time ago) I recommend the Nintendo WiFi USB Connector. It defaults to secure settings (requiring you to grant permission on your desktop before it will let any DS access the web) and the UI is nicely designed and user-friendly. However it is Nintendo DS only.
If you already own extra kit, or are thinking about a PSP in the future, this is a handy little bit of kit, and if you are either not fussed about security, or are willing to put the effort in to secure it yourself then Id recommend this, but would recommend you check out any alternatives first, you might be able to find something with nice wizards to help secure it.
Lets get big the negative out the way to start with. The load times are very bad. From the PSP menu to playing a game takes an amazingly long one minute 55 seconds. Restarting the current map takes 15 seconds. It is simply not possible to have a "quick blast". Alas this is an issue with the PSP more than just this game.
The graphics are lovely. Clear pictures of blue sky, cities and wildlife, the only faults I can come up with for the graphics are - No cockpit mode, not quite enough stuff in a city and the wildlife is not animated. The lack of a cockpit might annoy some hard-core flight sim fans but the wildlife is just me being picky. The lack of stuff in a city does let the game down a little, but only a little. The buildings which do exist are well placed, and nicely modelled, and give the impression of a city and not a grey blocky texture on the ground.
I was pleasantly surprised with the controls. I was expecting either every button to be doubled up, or the controls to be too simple. Instead we have a great mix, only one button is doubled up (the start button is both flap control, and landing gear up/down). The controls take almost no time to get use to and more importantly work well. They could do with some improvement, or at least an extra few keys, the flaps are a three-state toggle. Not a large problem on its own, but mixed with the shared start key it does mean that sometimes instead of bringing the gears down I switch the flaps to "normal flight" instead of "landing".
It does not have enough training missions; it jumps from a single engine training aircraft to a jet, with no missions between explaining the difference. It has 19 post training "missions" (9 civilian, 10 military), and 10 "Challenges" just enough to make the game worth buying, but not enough to completely satisfy.
The music is fine but bland background music. Does not make you want to run out and buy the album, or turn it off and get and MP3 player out. The in game effects are adequate, and the voice overs do the job.
Do I recommend this game? I know this is a bit of a cop-out, but what are you after? If it is a hard-core flight simulator, then the PSP is the wrong platform. This might get you by when you are away from Microsoft Flight Simulator X, but it is no replacement. An arcade flight sim, you would be better off with Ace Combat X, while this has dog fights and military missions, it does not have many.
A mix of the two, or a light flight sim to waste away a lazy Sunday afternoon this is your game. It is simple to pick up and play and great fun without being too easy.
This is my first venture into the MoH franchise so the fact this is meant to be amalgamation of the best bits of the other games does not bother me.
The game follows three commanders as they take their teams across a country, liberating villages, stealing papers and killing Nazis as they go. The three overall stories are well done, with cinematic cut scenes, and well thought out mission briefings. However the missions themselves are not so good. While the maps are beautifully crafted, the objectives are overly simple, and as the AI simply respawn do not feel like a mission but just a death match. You can not clear an area and then move on (as the map seams to want you to do) as the AI will have simply respawn behind you or in the case of one map just in front of you while you look at the respawn point in your sniper rifle. This truly kills any suspension of disbelief.
Your team mates are a little dim. They will walk into your line of fire, run onto grenades they throw, and mostly ignore cover. You can not give commands, so any tactics are removed.
All AI respawn rather than either arrive from an off-map location, or simply die. The AI will also scream things like "Incoming" just after we have taken out a squad of Nazis, or "Good shot" shortly after I’ve missed with a machine gun. The AI needs some work both in its very repetitive speech patterns and its use of cover.
The keyboard and mouse are how the Gods intended man to play FPSes. It was not until Rainbow Six: Vegas on the 360 did I admit that a game pad could work. So my purchase of MoH was in part to find out if a single (rather rubbish) thumb could pull off a decent FPS control system. I had very low expectations. MoH: Heroes comes with four different control systems. All just about work, and all are ever so slightly broken. Not so broken as to make the game unplayable but enough to lessen the fun. The PSP really could do with a second thumb stick, and the sticks being a lot more sensitive.
Graphically I am very impressed. As I have mentioned above the maps are very well designed, and well textured. The models are also impressively done, and the HUD icons are nice and clear. Unfortunately some of the animations are off, and the Nazis will sometimes skim around in a strange manor.
As I have mentioned, the missions are overly simple almost to the point of being dull. The flip side to this that are great for a quick blast for when you have five minutes spare. Not good for hard-core gamers, but good for casual gamers looking for a fun FPS.
A great addition to the game, however I've only used it twice. Both times it was easy to find games with players.
Overall, an enjoyable selection of team death match games in a nicely done story line. Not as impressive as I was hoping for with limited "team" action, and has not made me want to buy the other games in the MoH franchise.
I would find it hard to recommend this game. It is not a bad game, but I feel it should be better. I feel very mean for saying that, as it is a good, fun game.
Nine mini-games designed to teach you how to use the Wiimote, but given that the point of the Wiimote over a traditional controller is that is was intuitive you have to question this games reason for existence. Combine that with the simple unfortunate fact that many of the games feel like technical demos and you have an uninspiring selection of play-once games.
While I want to review each game individually, the graphics of the games can be nicely lumped together. All bar one are Nintendo-style cartoony graphics. It suites the games and that is significantly more important than poly counts and high definition textures. Should this game be on even on the 360 or PS3 I would expect it to look very much as it does on the Wii.
Game Play: We start on a high; this game is fun, real good fun. But it is just a laser gun game, nothing new and exciting here. Really nothing exciting, same set of events over and over again. Play a few times then you may be left wanting a real Wii Duck Hunt, but not this game.
Controls: It is a laser gun game. The controls work nicely as they have been done many times before. It does support dual wielding, a fun edition.
Game Play: In a word: Dull. Find two identical Miis, find you, and find the odd Mii out. Designed to help you target using the Wiimote, but the Shooting Range does that better. This is simply filler, and bad filler at that.
Game Play: Rather than controlling the swing, and leaving movement up to the computer (like Wii Sports), you only control the movement. And you only control the moment on a single plain. Or as it is commonly called: Pong.
Controls: Rather than press the left and right buttons, you move the controller left and right. Much better than using a D Pad.
Game Play: Make you Mii strike the same pose as a silhouette bouncing about in a bubble, and move the Mii over the bubble. Sort-of almost fun. It is designed to teach the player about Wiimote twist feature.
Controls: Point using the Wiimote, change poses using the A and B buttons, and twist by twisting the Wiimote.
Game Play: Air Hockey clone, and not a great one. Board is too small, feels to slow.
Graphics: Unlike the other games this is not in the cartoony Nintendo style, but instead in neon madness. It works for the game.
Controls: Move the paddle my moving the controller, rotate the paddle by rotating the controller. Rather cool.
Game Play: I have found this very dull in single player. However Im not a billiards/pool/snooker fan.
Controls: The controls are rather cool. Point at the ball for where you want to hit it, point away from the ball to rotate, and pull back, and then push forward to hit the ball, very immersive.
Remember the fishing games you had as a kid, with little magnets, paper fish and flicking your younger brother with the fishing rod, this is an electronic version of that. But without the ability to flick Miis on the ear with a virtual fishing rod. Cool technical demo, but not so great a game.
Controls: Like billiards, the controls are immersive. Move the Wiimote and the onscreen rod moves about. Flick it back to bring in your catch.
Game Play: Ride a cow down a farmyard course while knocking down poor defenceless scarecrows. Insane but rather cool. One of the games that could be made into a full game in its own right I think. A simple, fun racer with no bases in realistic physics, just the kind of racer I like.
Controls: Hold like a steering wheel, rotate forwards to go faster, backwards to slow down (like a throttle on a motorbike), and tilt the Wiimote to steer. The controls do feel right, and show just what the Wiimote can do for a game.
Game Play: We started on a high, and we end on one. Tanks puts you in control of a toy tank in a wooden block playpen, with the goal of blowing up other toy tanks. A very enjoyable technical demo, showing a small amount of what the Wii control system can do.
Controls: You use the Nunchuks thumb stick to move, and the Wiimote as a pointer to aim the interpedently rotating turret.
Do I Recommend It?
I do not regret buying this, but it has spent no more than a few hours in my Wii, and I dont think Ill be reaching for it when I want to show the control system off, Ill be reaching for Wii Sports.
If you can find it cheap then pick it up, but dont go out of your way to buy it, it simply is not worth it.