Category Archives: toys

First Impressions: The Wii

I picked up a Ninentdo Wii this morning. I had to get up at 6:40am to make it to Wal-Mart by 7:00am to get it. They’ve been amazingly hard to come by lately. I normally don’t set foot in a Wal-Mart but last week I couldn’t make it to the Wii Lovefest at Best Buy, Circuit City or Target due to some family commitments. I was out of Wally world by about 7:35am and headed over to Target to see if they had any wiimotes. No on that adventure.

First things first, Nintendo, why oh why didn’t you make more Wiimotes? I mean, Wal-Mart gets 35 Wiis and they have TWO wiimotes. Two!! How can I play head to head against friends when I only have one controller? Bad bad.

Second, why oh why (sensing a trend?) didn’t you make more component video cables available? Most people that play video games these days and that are early adopters have TVs with component inputs and would love the 480p.

Okay, bitching aside…let’s get to the play! I picked up Zelda and a few other games. I haven’t opened them yet since I didn’t have time to check reviews and don’t want to open them until I’ve made sure they aren’t crappy release games. I’ll probably keep Zelda and I hear that Excite Truck is fun. I got Cars mainly because Allie loves that movie and it’ll be fun to have her cheer on Lightning McQueen or Mater.

Kudos for built in 802.11g support Nintendo! I don’t have to make my network vulnerable to every script kiddie on the block, however, I did have to put my network into mixed mode which I wasn’t quite as happy about. It connected, pulled down the system update and away I went.

I popped in Wii Sports and pulled up the game. Graphics? Not so great but it’s a free title and meant to show off the controllers so I forgive them there. Gameplay? Fun. Seriously fun to be able to move around and use your hands to box and bob and weave from the opponent. You really can work up a sweat in this game. The bowling was probably the most fun of them. The boxing was probably 2nd with golf a close 3rd. Baseball and tennis were just okay. In baseball it didn’t make it obvious that you could throw screwballs and splitters and curves if you held down different buttons. It didn’t also seem like I could control pitch or batspeed by slowing or speeding up my swing/throw. The tennis was just ho-hum. I still need to explore it a bit more and maybe do the training to see if they show any other hints.

Overall, though, you can definitely see what game makers are going to be able to do with the platform when they get going on it. With the Wii selling so well I think we’ll start to see more titles built with motion sensing in mind and really make the console shine.

The only other knock is that it’s not in high definition but if the games are more fun then that’s what really counts. And I can get an XBox 360 for my HD appetite if I decide to.

Now for the disclaimer. I didn’t read the manual yet so all of this might be in there.

Coming up next: Unboxing photos of the Wii! I couldn’t wait to put up the unboxing photos before I took some time to actually play the thing!

Games I’ll probably get: Madden and SSX (when it comes out).

Unboxing the Sony HDR-SR1

I decided to go ahead and keep the camcorder that I spoke of previously.  With the coupon we used it wasn’t as bad as paying retail.  It pretty much paid for the extended warranty which also covers accidental damage.  It’s funny because the accidental damage warranty is all dependent on how you word things.  For instance, if I dropped it in the pool it wouldn’t be covered, but if I said, “I spilled a 20,000 gallon pool on the camera” it would be covered.  Okay, not really but it depends on the type of accident from what I was told.  Anyways, you came for the photos, so here it is, still in the box along with the extended life battery:

Next thing, you gotta really want this camcorder since it clearly states that there is a 15% re-stocking fee if you return it and the box is opened.

Following the cutting of the re-stocking fee warning sticker we have what greets us as the top of the box is opened:

After removing the manuals, CD, and other documentation you see the familiar message that the manufacturer does not want you to return the item if it doesn’t work as expected.  I guess retailers kick the manufacturers pretty hard if things get returned for no good reason or if it’s too hard to use so they return it.

Look how neatly all the cables are packed up and stuff.

Here’s everything in the box.  The only thing really missing that would have been nice would be an HDMI cable.  Considering how much this thing costs and the fact that the folks that buy this camera are going to have an HD television and the fact that Sony makes these cables they really could have included one.

Then here are some various angles of the camera. 

           

         

I took some simple video clips with it yesterday and they look amazing.  Even in just okay light they looked great.  I can’t wait to take some video outside tomorrow under natural light and see how they look. 

Editing

Unfortuanately at this time there aren’t a lot of options for NLE work just yet. I’ve read some stuff about how using PowerDVD 7 Deluxe that you get a driver that can help you convert the AVC video that the camcorder records into a normal format that Premiere, Vegas or some other system can handle but I haven’t had a chance to try it yet.  I think I’ll probably store raw video on DVDs or an external hard drive for now in the native AVC format and then just work with converted MPG video using the included software.  I’ll primarily be producing DVDs for family members so MPG is fine for them.  I doubt it will be that long before I see more support for the format in things like Premiere, though.

Image Quality (Stills)

Still image quality is pretty good, especially considering it’s a camcorder.  Focus in low light situations isn’t spectacular but it’s not meant to replace my primary still camera.

Overall

I just opened it last night so it’s too early to tell but I like the camcorder so far.  I’ll post some small videos in coming weeks to demonstrate the camera. 

To Unbox or Not Unbox?

So I picked up a Sony HDR-SR1 today at Best Buy since my old Canon ZR45 MC was really starting to show its age. We have a ton of family events coming up in coming months including a trip to Disneyland, a new member to my sister-in-law’s family, a close friend’s wedding that Myleene will be the maid of honor for and the list just goes on and on.

At this point I don’t want to upgrade unless it’s HD because I’m not going to buy a crappy camcorder and a good one will run pretty expensive anyways for normal SD. I also don’t like burning directly to DVD and tape is a pain in the ass. That leaves the hard drive option. I’d love a solid state HD camcorder but that’s just not in the cards anytime soon. This camcorder records in AVC format which is MPEG-4 basically. Editing software is not the most plentiful but there are options. Sony just announced some newer models that produce HDV on miniDV and some DVD models that produce AVC but no new hard drive based models that produce HD. The new AVC models don’t talk about increasing the bandwidth that they supply to the DVD so I’m guessing that it won’t be improved even if there is a new HDD model this year. I suppose I’ll leave it in the box for another day or two to see if there are any more announcements from Sony at CES. If I don’t hear anything I’ll go ahead and unbox it since they’ll announce any new offerings there for the foreseeable future. The SR1 also has the advantage that it has a manual control ring on the front and some other good inputs for things like shotgun mics and so forth.

I’ll show unboxing photos if I decide to keep it.

Nintendo Days Are Here Again

It’s funny how excited everyone was over the superior graphics of the original Nintendo at the time it came out. I remember working as a page at the state capital (and no, none of the representatives made a pass at me..but we also didn’t have e-mail and instant messenger back then) so I could afford to be an NES and a TV to go with it. My dad wouldn’t let me buy a TV, though, so I had to use it on the main TV in the living room. A 2nd TV would have been a huge luxury back in those days.

My favorite games, or at least that I remember, were Contra, Castlevania, Mega Man, and probably Zelda. Remember the gold cartridge? What were your favorite games? If you Zelda, did you have the gold cartridge?

If you want to play some of the original games in your browser just check out this site.

My Next Toy…

…is going to be the TomTom 910. I was thinking of getting the Garmin Nuvi 360 or 2820 but after seeing that the 910 also has bluetooth for hands free calling, a 20GB internal hard drive (12GB free for music and other things), and will soon have US traffic data. It’s also about 200-300 cheaper than the Garmin devices. Supposedly BestBuy has them in stock near my house so I think I’ll swing by and take a look.

Myleene and I are tired of not knowing how to get somewhere new and trying to navigate on the printed maps from Google or Yahoo maps. They always seem to miss some important data. Plus, the nav systems can route me to gas stations, ATMs, and restaraunts among other things. When you have a 2 year old in the car a few minutes saved can mean the world! 🙂 This really really (I mean REALLY) would have come in handy our first night in North Carolina trying to find our way to Spring Lake.