BlackBerries are still a thing, apparently

Up until a few years ago, I was a staunch anti-Apple consumer. I chuckled pompously at the sheep-like masses with small white buds buried in their ears as I listened to music on my phone. I rolled my eyes at the advent of the iPad, thinking it ridiculous that any person would need a computer and a weird handheld screen thingy. I dutifully plugged away on my six-year-old, virus-ridden and hopelessly slow HP laptop, thinking I was one of the valiant few doing humanity a favor. And then, with my tail between my legs, I became a convert to the Church of Apple. Once I made the switch to an iPhone, I never looked back. Now, you’ll almost always catch me with those little white plastic earbuds plugged into my head while I’m cruising Tumblr on my MacBook Air.


The thing is, once I crossed over, I forgot about everything else. Namely, that people are still actually buying technology that, to Millennials, could be already considered obsolete, much like 2008 Miley Cyrus.

Pre-tongue, post-Nick Jonas bb Milez toting a BlackBerry Bold 9000. Lest we forget. Source:

Pre-tongue, post-Nick Jonas bb Milez toting a BlackBerry Bold 9000. Lest we forget. Source:

BlackBerries (BlackBerrys?) are. Still. A thing. At least this seems to be the case, seeing that a limited, black and gold edition of the new BlackBerry Passport (which sported a redundant and kind of lame side engraving that read “limited edition”) released today sold out within hours. Cute, I guess, but kind of a yawn, because this proves that BlackBerry, like every other smartphone with the exception of maybe the Samsung Galaxy, is just trying to keep up with Apple. I mean, just take a look at the “highlights” of November’s BlackBerry Classic, among which were “a good touch-screen”, “very fast Internet” and “a keyboard”. Really, BlackBerry? I’m pretty sure any human exiting the womb after 2000 comes implanted with those same features. You’re essentially bragging about being a functional cellular phone.



All questionable marketing language aside, Samsung recently offered to buy BlackBerry for up to $7.5 million, to which BlackBerry laughed, flipped its hair and said “We’re totally fine. Really, we’re fine.” Well, I guess we can sort of believe that when certain celebrities still swear by their BBs. Despite striking a deal with Samsung to sell his last album and the fact that he’s been seen using an iPhone, Jay-Z still mostly relies on an old-school BlackBerry to carry out the day-to-day duties necessary to his role of Mr. Beyoncé. He even lent some props to the ol’ dinosaur celly in last year’s collab track with Daft Punk “Computerized”: “Start macking on my BlackBerry / She got jealous / I was tapping on my BlackBerry.” All that this shows us is that the best thing that rhymes with “BlackBerry” is “BlackBerry”. And also that none of this ever actually happened because we all know that he isn’t macking on anyone, except maybe Bey, who is obviously incapable of mortal, bacchanal emotions like jealousy.

Essentially. Source:

Essentially. Source:

So BlackBerry, what are you even doing? Okay, I get it. Why should you listen to me, lowly ’90s baby with capricious tastes in technology and an irreverent, entitled, know-it-all attitude? You’re going to valiantly keep trying to remain competitive in the market as long as it’s profitable for you to do so. That’s great. That’s the beauty of Western capitalism. But it won’t last forever, BB. And when it ends, I’ll be here for you with a big tub of mint-chocolate-chip ice cream. And an iPhone 6.



(Psst! Tech geeks should check out our take on gaming with the iPhone 6 plus.)

Gaming on the iPhone 6 Plus — yea or nay?

If you’ve been breathing and/or have registered a pulse in the last month or so, you’ll know that the iPhone 6 has officially entered the realm of mere mortals. Thanks to the benevolence of the Apple gods, overnight lines, Chinese resale controversies and a totally, utterly ridiculous amount of hype are a few of the heavenly things to have accompanied its release. But one main question occupying the minds of tech-addict gamers is — will this make my life easier?

Kyle Russell of TechCrunch explains how the iPhone 6 Plus’s wider screen will decrease his necessity to keep switching between his phone, laptop and/or PlayStation Vita. “It’s actually a surprisingly good device for [gaming],” he says, while demonstrating with an iPhone 6 Plus propped up on a table. “It’s got a great screen, it’s powerful.”

Spider-Man Unlimited is one of the games he tests out. Likening it to Temple Run, Russell mentions that it’s “addicting gameplay that you can do one-handed.” No controller necessary here, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used.

Consumers initially expressed concern that the bigger screen would make interacting with the device cumbersome with one hand, but Russell says that’s “perfect” for gaming. Lego: The Lord of the Rings is the second one he tests out, finding that the 6 Plus’s larger touchspace is perfect for two-handed gameplay when the device is used horizontally. “But at the same time, I feel like you’re missing out on having this giant 1080p screen,” he laments, which is understandable.

Ultimately, the bigger, wider iPhone 6 Plus is definitely more helpful to gamers. But there are, as always, sacrifices in image quality and “full” gaming experience when you’re playing on a hand-held screen. Either way, if you’re a gaming junkie and are due for a phone update, maybe the iPhone 6 Plus wouldn’t be the enemy.

Watch Kyle’s full video assessment here.



China Beijing’s flagship Apple store egged

China's flagship Apple store egged

Angry customers threw eggs at Apple’s flagship Beijing store today after its opening for the Chinese launch of the iPhone 4S was cancelled due to concerns over the size of the crowd.

Apple reacted to the scuffle by postponing iPhone 4S sales in its mainland China stores to protect the safety of customers and employees. It said the phone will still be sold online and through its local carrier.

Customers including migrant workers hired by touts in teams of 20 to 30 to buy iPhones for resale at a mark-up to Chinese gadget fans waited overnight in freezing weather at the Apple store in Beijing’s eastern Sanlitun district.

The crowd grew angry after the store failed to open on schedule at 7am. Some threw eggs and shouted at employees through the windows.

A person with a megaphone announced the sale was cancelled. Police ordered the crowd to leave and sealed off the area with yellow tape. Employees posted a sign saying the iPhone 4S was out of stock.

“We were unable to open our store at Sanlitun due to the large crowd and, to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, iPhone will not be available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being,” said Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu.

Other Apple stores in China opened today and Ms Wu said the iPhone 4S quickly sold out.

She said the phone will still be sold in China through Apple’s online store, its local carrier China Unicom and retailers which are authorised resellers.

Ms Wu declined to comment on what Apple might know about touts buying iPhones for resale.

China is Apple’s fastest-growing market and “an area of enormous opportunity”, chief executive Tim Cook said in October. He said quarterly sales were up nearly four times over a year earlier and accounted for one-sixth of Apple’s global sales.

Apple’s iPhones are hugely popular in China and stores are mobbed for the release of new products.

iPhones are manufactured in China by an Apple contractor but new models are released in other countries first. That has helped to fuel a thriving “grey market” in China for phones smuggled in from Hong Kong and other markets.

Last May, the Sanlitun store was closed for several hours after a scuffle between an employee and a customer during the release of the iPhone 4, the previous model in the series.

If you are located in the good old USA…..there is no need to throw eggs….just go online and have it delivered to your home.  Buy it from Walmart and save some money….


Batman’s Back in Arkham City!

Head to the iTunes store, Bat-fans! You can now download a brand new Batman adventure that sees the Dark Knight headed back into Arkham City to take on the likes of Solomon Grundy (above), Two-Face and even Deathstroke. It’s a bit of good news for anyone who’s been missing the Arkham City streets since the game’s release in October. No, it’s not the exciting new expansion DLC we’ve been waiting for, but at only $5.99, it’s a worthwhile addition to your collection and something new and pretty special for app-lovers.

Check out this review from Kotaku:

Batman’s Return to Arkham City is Triumphant, But Short

Batman Arkham City: Lockdown is an entertaining, graphically lush chance to beat your way through four of Arkham’s most notorious villains and their henchmen on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

It’s a visually rich, combat intense brawler that has you swiping and poking your way through hand-to-hand combat with Two-Face, Deathstroke, Solomon Grundy, the Joker and all of their henchmen. You get to level up your Batman, unlock a handy selection of gadgets and can even purchase four different takes on The Bat.
The $5.99 universal iOS game was developed by NetherRealm Studios, the folks behind Mortal Kombat, using the Unreal Engine, the same tools used to create the impressive Infinity Blade games for the iOS. And you can tell. Lockdown feels a bit like Infinity Blade Batman with a touch of Mortal Kombat thrown in for good measure.

Much of the game has players viewing Batman side as he stands a few paces away from his enemy, punching, kicking and ducking. Players swipe left, right or up to punch and kick. Some combinations deliver special attack combos as well. To dodge, you tap the screen at the right time and to deflect an attack you swipe down.

Occasionally, bad guys go into a sort of unblockable rampage mode. When that happens the glow red and you need to duck their special attacks, which are highlighted with exclamation points.

As you play through the game you earn Waynetech Credit which can be used to increase Batman’s training, giving him more health, faster reaction and stronger hits. You can also use the credit to purchase equipment. He comes with a rechargable health pack which can be upgraded. You can also by shock gauntlets, smoke bombs and unlock the ability to summon swarms of bats to attack enemies.

All of these specials appear as icons along the bottom of the screen. You just tap them to activate them in a battle.

The fights are broken down into sections of the city. Once you clear an area you’re returned to a map where you can select where you want to go next. The map includes four quadrants, one each for the villains. Each quadrant is broken up into four locations, three filled with henchman and the last the boss battle.

While boss battles always end with pretty straight forward fighting, they also contain some nice additional touches. In one you will be tilting your device to control the flight of a Batarang as it chances down an enemy. In another you need to tap the screen to break a hold.

Overall, Lockdown is a fun, surprisingly high fidelity experience. It does suffer from a little bit of chug on my iPhone 4, but not enough to make the game unplayable.

My chief disappointment was that the henchmen are a bit too similar, their attacks a bit too canned throughout the short-lived experience. I managed to play entirely through Lockdown in a single couple hour play session. Which is fine, but replaying the game, something Lockdown encourages you do to continue to unlock Batman’s abilities and equipment, isn’t nearly as fun the second time through. The game would be a lot more fun if they increased the variety of enemies and perhaps added new elements on additional play throughs.

Another neat addition to the game are the three other Batman suits you can buy. These suits, Animated Series Batman, The Dark Knight Returns Batman and Batman Beyond, aren’t just skins, they each adjust Batman’s health, damage and speed stats. They also seem to change his fighting style and animations. Each cost $.99, which seems a bit pricey to me, but I purchased Batman Beyond and am enjoying replaying the game as a completely new sort of Batman.

Finally, the game packs in an impressive, eclectic mix of extras. There are short bios for eight characters (including two I haven’t seen in the game yet, so maybe there are more surprises in store for me.). There are also achievements, 16 Wallpapers and, this is the most baffling, digital versions of the comics Arkham City #1, 6 and 7. I don’t know why those particular comics are included, nor why 2 through 5 aren’t, but it’s a nice freebie. Unfortunately the viewer is a major pain to use, but it is free.

Batman: Arkham City Lockdown is worth the $6 pricetag, but only just. If the team pumps out new, free content, the sort of free content we saw with Infinity Blade, then I’d say it is a must buy.

The Top 10 Video Games of 2009

Here’s Time Magazine’s look at the Top 10 video games of 2010, plus links to where you can snag these titles or the toys based on the hits!

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Some mornings you wake up in bed. Some mornings you wake up trapped in a wrecked train car that’s hanging off a cliff. That’s life when you’re Nathan Drake, artifact hunter. The charming, roguish Drake is after the secret of Marco Polo’s lost fleet, and it’s going to take a lot of fisticuffs and gunplay and problem-solving to find it. The hunt takes you through an unbelievable sequence of epic settings, one after another, each one topping the one before it: jungle ruins, mountaintops, Tibetan cities. As if that weren’t enough, the writing and voice acting are way above par for a video game. Seriously. Anybody who was disappointed by the last Indiana Jones movie — meaning everybody — should try Uncharted 2 instead.

Assassin’s Creed II for XBox
Assassin’s Creed II for PS3

Most sequels are creative flops, just cheap makeovers of the originals. Not Assassin’s Creed 2, a follow-up to the 2007 smash hit. This is a smarter, more polished version, with a visually stunning backdrop — Renaissance Italy. While the game looks beautiful, game play has been refined and tweaked for the ultimate open-world RPG experience. There’s even more assassinating, jumping from rooftop to rooftop and history lessons, with an emphasis on Renaissance art. Leonardo would be proud — except for those cheesy Italian voice-overs.

Halo 3: ODST
Just when it was starting to look like the Halo franchise was played out, Bungie took it for a sharp turn, down an alleyway and directly into the shadows. You no longer play the superpowered Master Chief; instead, you play, serially, the members of a squad of comparatively vulnerable Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. The squad is lost and scattered through the ruins of New Mombasa, on a secret mission the point of which its members are only gradually figuring out. It’s a dark, slow, jazzy, hard-boiled take on the Halo world — think Master Chief as Philip Marlowe.

Maybe the developers of Scribblenauts were bored with existing puzzle games, but something inspired them to think outside the box. In fact, that’s also what they want players to do. You’re presented with one objective at every level of play, with different parameters and limitations. Your quest is to capture the Starite, and you’re allowed to bring in help. Think a stapler or a dinosaur or a wizard can assist you in your quest? Simply type in the name of your chosen ally, and, poof!, it appears. As your vocabulary grows, so does your potential army of allies

Geo-Defense Swarm (available on iTunes)
I never thought I’d be sitting around singing the praises of the iPhone on this list. The hardware was just too limited — no buttons, no sticks, no tactile feedback. But hordes of developers have proved me totally wrong: this thing can game. Exhibit A out of dozens of quality iPhone games this year: Geo-Defense Swarm, a rich, fast-paced, visually stunning take on the tower-defense genre. Tricked out with neon-glowing candy colors that show off the iPhone’s ridiculously overpowered display, Swarm is a little masterpiece of interface design, balanced game play and clever level design.

New Super Mario Bros Wii
Welcome back, Mario. We missed you. The classic side-scrolling platformer is back with updated graphics and a multiplayer mode that’s so much fun it might supplant DJ Hero as the go-to party game. The story isn’t much different from what we’re used to and involves rescuing the princess because, yet again, she’s stuck in a castle somewhere at the other end of the map. But you get some nice 3-D effects and better use of lighting, which gives the screen more depth. What’s more, the little kids watching you play can join in the game as novices. Of course, that means there will be no one left to get you popcorn.

Borderlands for XBox
Borderlands for PS3
Borderlands for PC

Pandora is a down-and-dirty mining planet that resembles a trashed, irradiated version of the American Wild West. Your job is to scour that landscape in search of the Vault, a semi-legendary cache of technology and wealth. This mostly involves collecting an astounding variety of bad-ass guns and tooling around in funky dune-buggy-type vehicles with really bouncy suspensions while blowing away deranged and mutated bad guys. Borderlands is a marvel of hybrid game design: you add levels and skills as in a role-playing game, but you’re doing it in a sandbox-style open world while engaging in run-and-gun first-person-shooter combat. Add in astounding graphics and wickedly clever writing, and you have something that’s about as close as you can get to a perfect game.

DJ Hero WII Bundle with Turntable
DJ Hero Bundle for XBox with Turntable
DJ Hero for PS3 Bundle with Turntable

In a world of wannabe rock bands — enough already with the rehashed songs from yesteryear — DJ Hero offers a welcome change. With an incredible sound track of exclusive mixes and some lush nightclub graphics, DJ Hero is the new contender for best party game. True, it feels a bit awkward at first to be hunched over a plastic faux turntable, but once you start scratching and mixing, you’ll quickly fall into the groove. And where else could you blend Blondie with a mix of the Gorillaz or Daft Punk with Queen?

Batman: Arkham Asylum for PS3
Batman: Arkham Asylum for XBox
Batman: Arkham Asylum for PC

The ghoulish Joker may never scare movie audiences again, but the struggle between good and evil rages on with Batman: Arkham Asylum, which picks up right where Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight left off. Gotham’s savior finds himself trapped in Arkham Asylum, surrounded by every deviant he’s ever put away — with the Joker at the helm. Unlike earlier video-game adaptations of the DC Comics hero, Arkham Asylum is the total package, with compelling story lines and a kick-butt combat system. Of course, you’ll have to supply your own cape.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for XBox
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for PS3

This is a game that sends a message: Video games have something intelligent to say about contemporary military conflicts. In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, you hop around the globe, chasing the front lines of globalized, asymmetrical combat, where not everybody wears uniforms, war isn’t always declared, and the battlefield isn’t clearly marked — battles rage through suburbs, airports and people’s living rooms. There’s tons of raw, riveting military action in Modern Warfare 2, but it’s very much about how the game has changed: limiting civilian casualties and figuring out whom to fight and why are just as important as staying alive.

* * *

And for those of you who want to take gaming into the real world, we’ve got a huge selection of video game toys over in CmdStore’s Video Game Section! Check ’em out!

Top 10 Internet Moments of the Decade

The birth of Wikipedia, the death of Napster, the iPhone, Facebook and Twitter have been named by the Webby Awards as among the top 10 Internet moments of the decade.

Other events singled out by New York’s International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which bestows the annual Webby Awards, were Iran’s election protests, Craigslist’s expansion and the launch of Google AdWords.

The recurring theme among all of the milestones on the list is the Internet’s capacity to circumvent old systems and put more power into the hands of ordinary people.

The Webby Awards list of the 10 most influential Internet moments of the decade:

* Craigslist online classified site expands outside San Francisco (2000)

* The launch of Google AdWords (2000)

* The launch of online encyclopedia Wikipedia (2001)

* The shutdown of file-sharing site Napster (2001)

* Google’s initial public offering (2004)

* The online video revolution led by YouTube (2006)

* Facebook opens to non-college students and Twitter launches (2006)

* Apple’s iPhone debuts (2007)

* The use of the Internet in the US presidential campaign (2008)

* The use of Twitter during the Iranian election protests (2009)

Have anything to add?  Go ahead and comment….

New iPhone/iPod Touch app from the NFB

Good news for iPhone/Touch-toting indie flick fans! Here’s the word from CNet

Like indie films? Documentaries? Animation? Ho, boy, have I got an app for you: NFB Films lets you watch over a thousand movies on your iPhone. For free.

The “NFB” stands for National Film Board, a kind of Canadian PBS. The app taps the NFB’s mammoth library of documentaries, animated films, trailers (for upcoming NFB releases), and more.

All the movies are streamed to your iPhone, but there’s also an ingenious “watch later” option that downloads a selected movie for later viewing. However, these downloads expire after 24 hours, not unlike App Store movie rentals, but that hardly seems unfair.

NFB Films includes a Channels section where you can browse various categories, including Documentaries, Kids Cartoons, History & War, and Environment. There’s a search option, natch, and you can add movies to a favorites (sorry, “favourites”) list for easier access.

If you come across a film you want to share with friends, the app lets you send an e-mail that includes a link to the Web version.

A while back I went to see 10 Oscar-nominated short films–five animated, five live-action. They were all tremendously entertaining. Since then I’ve been a lot more open-minded to non-mainstream movie fare like this. So for me, NFB Films is pure iPhone gold. I reckon you’ll love it, too.

To me, this is a pretty awesome move. The NFB’s catalogue has something for everyone no matter what your interest and having them all available for free might be one of the most surprising-yet-awesome moves any company has made for an app yet.

Doom: Resurrection coming to the iPhone/iPod!

Hey, everybody! Remember Doom?

For a while, it was everything in the world of video gaming, first-person  shooters, gore and virtual terror before it was eclipsed by bigger names and bigger games in the years to come. Then came the ill-fated (and ill-written…and ill-directed…) Doom movie, which pretty much made it official that the once-proud franchise was officially dead. But no more! No, there’s a new Doom game on its way and it’s taking on a whole new medium while maintaining the tested and true formula.

From the . .

Doom Resurrection, a new game in the legendary Mars/Hell-set first-person shooter series, is coming to Apple iPhones next week. The game uses “downsampled” art from the PC and console hit Doom III, but is an entirely new game, with new plot unfolding across eight new levels with around five hours of gameplay. It has already been described as “one of the true next-generation games on the iPhone.”

id Software’s John Carmack, creator of the Doom series and game graphics guru, has led a team at Escalation Studios to create Doom Resurrection, with Carmack saying the iPhone is “a real game platform, not a tiny little toy.”

Doom Resurrection runs at 30 frames-per-second on the latest Apple iPod Touch, half that on early Apple iPhones. “The iPhone should be better in performance than the Nintendo DS and the PSP,” Carmack told VentureBeat. “But you can’t exploit it all because of software inefficiencies.” Carmack is currently set to meet Apple to talk about improving the iPhone for games.

Carmack is also hoping to introduce features to the game post-launch to take advantage of Apple’s iPhone OS 3.0. These could include co-operative multi-player gaming.