The NPD Group has released its monthly report on sales in the physical retail sector of the video game industry for August, and due to dramatic figures on both sides of the scale, the industry as a whole remained essentially flat as far as its overall year-over-year income comparisons are concerned.Overall hardware sales were down 40 percent as compared with August of 2012, with the entire segment bringing in just $90.8 million. Nintendo’s 3DS appreciated its fourth month in a row as the best-selling piece of hardware in the US, while Microsoft’s Xbox 360 enjoyed yet another podium finish as the best-selling home console, selling 96,000 units.Meanwhile, year-over-year software sales were up by 23 percent: $293.4 million this August as compared to $237.9 million last year. Eight out of August’s top 10 best-selling games were launched during the month, with the entire list achieving “more than double the sales” of the top 10 games of August 2012, according to NPD Group analyst Liam Callahan.The list, available in full after the break, is topped by Madden 25, Saints Row 4 and Disney Infinity, the last of which also played a major role in the Accessories segment’s $136.7 million of income – a seven-percent increase over last year. “Combined with sales of Skylanders accessories, one in every three accessory sold this month was an Interactive Gaming Toy,” says Callahan. Madden 25 (360, PS3)Saints Row 4 (360, PS3, PC)Disney Infinity (360, Wii, PS3, Wii U, 3DS)Splinter Cell: Blacklist (360, PS3, Wii U, PC)Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (360)Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (3DS)NCAA Football 14 (360, PS3)Payday 2 (360, PS3)Final Fantasy 14 Online: A Realm Reborn (PS3, PC)Pikmin 3 (Wii U)
The first four screenshots of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter are in-game, during gameplay moments, developer The Astronauts promises. There are no cut-scenes in the game at all, though the screens look more like oil paintings or concept art, showing a beautiful forest marred by moments of blood and signs of death – precisely the tone Ethan Carter is going for.Ethan Carter is a first-person discovery game starring occult detective Paul Prospero. Paul is a simple, serious man, and he knows that this will be his last case, one way or another, as explained in the game’s beautiful mini-comic (which is accompanied by gentle music and sound effects). Ethan, a young boy, disappears after a brutal murder, and Paul must uncover the dark mysteries of the town to find him.The Astronauts, composed of former People Can Fly developers, are focused on immersive storytelling and “clammy unease,” creating a psychologically creepy mood more than making people jump from their seats. Ethan Carter is due out this year for PC.”With its mixture of a beautiful world with the haunting and macabre, this story is for adult players,” The Astronauts writes. “That said, there is no combat in our game. If our game leaves any scars, you won’t be able to see them. Also, we want gamers to experience the story of Paul and Ethan at their own pace, and without the need for sedatives.” Gallery: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (9/19/13) | 4 Photos 4 +1 Show full PR textWhat’s this about?After seven months of hard work, we’re ready to reveal what our game – a weird piece of horror fiction called The Vanishing of Ethan Carter – looks like. We’re releasing four in-game screenshots from the first few minutes of the game. We don’t plan to have any cut scenes in the game, so these screenshots all derive from actual gameplay.What’s the game about?In The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you play as Paul Prospero, an occult detective who receives a disturbing letter from Ethan Carter and realizes that the boy is in grave danger. When Paul arrives in Ethan’s home of Red Creek Valley, he realizes things are even worse than he imagined. Ethan has vanished in the wake of a brutal murder, which Paul comes to see might not be the only murder to investigate. Using both regular and supernatural detective skills, Paul must figure out what happened to the missing boy.A few weeks ago we released a short prequel comic:http://www.theastronauts.com/2013/07/prequel-mini-comic/How do you play this game?Via a First-Person Perspective, you explore and interact with the environment in order to discover the truth. Paul has a supernatural gift that allows him to visualize the final moments of anyone who’s been murdered. The more clues you discover, the clearer and longer Paul’s vision. Exactly how much you are able to discern from a corpse is entirely up to you. You might discover the motivation of the murderer, or find a hint of where to go next – or both.Why are you making this game?We believe video games are a largely untapped medium for powerful storytelling possibilities. Every developer with a deep interest in the storytelling side of gaming uses different ways to let players live through a story: from interactive dramas like The Walking Dead to story-exploration games like Gone Home to online adventures like Journey. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is our own attempt to tell a multi-layered story while keeping the player completely immersed and constantly engaged-with the unique sense of presence only video games can offer.What kind of horror game is it?The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a “weird fiction” horror, meaning our focus is on atmosphere, mood, and the essential humanity of our characters. With its mixture of a beautiful world with the haunting and macabre, this story is for adult players. That said, there is no combat in our game. If our game leaves any scars, you won’t be able to see them. Also, we want gamers to experience the story of Paul and Ethan at their own pace, and without the need for sedatives. It’s less about pure terror and more about clammy unease.What platforms and when?We’re currently developing the game for PC, but we’re hoping to eventually bring it to next-gen platforms. We’re in full production, but we don’t have a set release date. It’s a question of months, however, not years.Who are you?We are The Astronauts, a small – eight people at the moment – team founded in 2012 by the ex-owners and leads of People Can Fly, creators of Painkiller and Bulletstorm. Our webpage is http://www.TheAstronauts.com, our Twitter is http://www.twitter.com/TheAstroCrew, and you can also follow Adrian, who is both writing these words and the lead designer on the game, at https://twitter.com/AdrianChm.
Right now, the Vita TV has only been announced for Japan, China and South Korea, and that’s a damn shame, at least for those of us over in the west. I was able to test out the little box’s two main functions (big-screen Vita games and PS4 Remote Play) during last week’s Tokyo Game Show kerfuffle, and the (approximately) $100 device did exactly what it says on the tin.My multiplayer Soul Sacrifice Delta session involved one Vita TV and three of the new Vita PCH-2000s, all networked together without any obvious complications. The game controlled well despite being co-opted onto a DualShock 3, ran smoothly and looked surprisingly good on the big screen. In fact, my repeated deaths at the hands of my own incompetence were the only discouraging part of the demonstration.The Vita TV’s PlayStation 4 Remote Play functionality also works surprisingly well from a mechanical standpoint, and I can totally see owning a Vita TV as a PS4-centric media extender for a bedroom or office. There was no perceptible input lag and Knack ran smooth as a whistle, though it’s worth pointing out that my test was under optimal conditions – real-world mileage likely varies. Still, what I saw of the Vita TV was very promising overall.
combo October 2nd. The Galaxy Note 3 will cost $199 down plus $21 a month for 24 months on T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plan, while the Galaxy Gear smartwatch carries its standard price of $299. Pre-orders aren’t open yet, but you can sign up for an alert right here — those who get on the list before the 15th will be registered to win a Note 3 / Galaxy Gear set for free. Show full PR textInnovation, Style and a New Mobile Experience Coming to T-MobileSamsung Galaxy Gear(TM) and Samsung Galaxy Note® 3 launching October 2BELLEVUE, Wash. – September 5, 2013 – Are you ready for the next big thing? T-Mobile US, Inc. (NYSE: TMUS) will launch Samsung’s first wearable experience, Galaxy Gear(TM), and the Samsung Galaxy Note® 3 nationwide October 2. Paired with the Galaxy Note 3, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch introduces an entirely new type of mobile experience by intelligently connecting and sharing everyday moments with quick glance notifications, hands-free calling, music control and an array of innovative features.”The next generation of Samsung Galaxy products are pushing the boundaries of mobile innovation and how people manage and enjoy their lives,” said Jason Young, vice president of product marketing for T-Mobile US. “T-Mobile is pushing boundaries too. Only America’s Un-carrier offers the latest Samsung innovation with the boldest offers in wireless – no annual service contracts, unlimited data on a nationwide 4G network and the freedom to upgrade affordably when you want, not when you’re told with JUMP!(TM)”Pairing a dramatically simple unlimited plan with premium Galaxy devices isn’t anything without a blazing fast network. T-Mobile is delivering 4G LTE at a breakneck pace – reaching 167 million people across the U.S. in 116 metropolitan areas as of early-August. The company continues to make rapid progress towards its goal of reaching 200 million people by the end of the year.The Galaxy Note 3 will be available for $199.99 down with 24 equal monthly device payments of $21.00 with T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear will cost $299.99 (plus taxes and fees). To be the first to know when T-Mobile will start taking orders online for the Galaxy Note 3, customers can sign up for alerts at https://explore.t-mobile.com/samsung-galaxy-note-3. Those who register before September 15 will automatically be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a free Galaxy Note 3 and a companion Galaxy Gear.Samsung, Galaxy, Galaxy Note, Galaxy S, Super AMOLED, and S Voice are all trademarks of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Other company names, product names and marks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and may be trademarks or registered trademarks.About T-Mobile US, Inc.:As America’s Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc. (NYSE: “TMUS”) is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The company’s advanced nationwide 4G and 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences for customers who are unwilling to compromise on quality and value. Based in Bellevue, Wash., T-Mobile US operates its flagship brands, T-Mobile and MetroPCS. It currently serves approximately 44 million wireless subscribers and provides products and services through 70,000 points of distribution. For more information, please visit: http://www.t-mobile.com.
How to set up Ubuntu Linux on a Mac — It’s Easy and Free,” the post described in full detail how those interested in learning more about one specific Linux distro could install Ubuntu in a virtual machine on their device. This post is an update to the original, with all-new instructions but still using the same framework — Oracle VM VirtualBox, which is an open source virtualization environment, and Ubuntu Linux.Why would you want to run Linux on your Mac, which features a Unix-based operating system in itself? Well, you may need to run Linux applications for your job as a system admin, or perhaps there’s some specific app that some kind soul has written to run on a variety of Linux distributions but hasn’t been ported to OS X yet. Whatever the reason, it’s easy to do and you can put it on your resumé.Step 1: Download VirtualBoxThe first thing to do is get the Virtual Machine environment installed. Rather than use either VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop, we’re using the free Oracle VM VirtualBox. Download VirtualBox 4.2.16 for OS X Hosts here, and save it to a convenient spot on your Mac.Step 2: Install VirtualBoxAt this point you have a file with a name like “VirtualBox-4.2.16-86992-OSX.dmg” either in the Downloads folder or on the desktop. Double-click it to mount the installer image and this Finder window appears:The instructions are right on the box! Double-click the VirtualBox.pkg icon, respond to the various prompts using the default values, and VirtualBox is installed in the Applications folder.Step 3: Download UbuntuNow it’s time to get the Linux distro that I used the last time — Ubuntu. Yes, I know there are plenty of other distros out there to play with and that some are better than others, but for the purpose of this post I’m trying to make this as easy as possible for readers to just experiment. Head on over to this page in your favorite browser, and click on the download button for the Long-Term Support (LTS) edition — that just means that version will be supported for a longer time. In this case, it was Version 12.04 LTS. By the way, if you have a fairly recent Mac that’s running Lion, Mountain Lion, or even Mavericks, go ahead and select the 64-bit version of the operating system.You’ll be asked if you want to make a donation to help development of Ubuntu; that’s up to you and you can also just try it for free, then donate later. The download will begin and several minutes later an .iso disk image file is stored on your Mac. This is used as an installation “disk” for Ubuntu.Step 4: Launch VirtualBox and create a virtual machinePop into the Applications folder and launch VirtualBox. A blank “Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager” appears. Click on the New button in the upper left of the window to start creating a new virtual machine. The first window you’ll see looks like this:I typed in a very original name for my virtual machine: Ubuntu. You may call it George if you wish. The type of operating system is Linux, the version in this case is Ubuntu (64 bit). Click Continue. A screen appears asking for the amount of memory you wish to allot to your VM. VirtualBox recommended 512 MB, but I selected 1 GB because hey, RAM’s good! Clicking Continue again, you’re then asked if you want to add a virtual hard drive to the new machine. Use the default “Create a virtual hard drive now” radio button, and click “Create”.The next screen asks what kind of hard drive file type you would like to use. I chose the default VDI setting, and clicked yet again on Continue. Now you need to select the storage size of the virtual hard drive on your physical drive. Once again, select the default “Dynamically allocated” and click Continue.VirtualBox needs to know the initial size of the new virtual hard drive and where you want to save it. I suggest using the default 8 GB setting, and default location — in your user folder (the one with the house icon in Finder). You can select another location if you wish. Click Create to continue.Guess what? You’re back at the Oracle VM Virtual Box Manager. With your new virtual machine selected in the left sidebar, click the green Start arrow. As your virtual machine boots, it will want to be pointed at the installation media — in this case, that’s the Ubuntu distribution file. Mine was called “ubuntu-12.04.3-desktop-amd64.iso”, but yours might be different dependent on the version number of the download. Select the distribution file by clicking on the folder icon, then using the standard OS X dialog to find and select it on your Mac. Once you’re ready to go, click Start.Step 5: Installing Ubuntu LinuxPretty easy so far, right? It gets even easier now, since Ubuntu practically installs itself.Here you have a choice — you can either just try Ubuntu, which means that you’re running it from the disk image, or you can install Ubuntu so that you can start installing apps and customize it. I suggest clicking the Install Ubuntu button.The next screen checks to see if your computer has at least 4.5 GB of available drive space (we set it for 8 GB earlier) and is connected to the Internet. Chances are good that if you’re reading this post on TUAW, you’re connected to the Internet. I checked both the “Download updates while installing” and “Install this third-party software” boxes so that my virtual machine received any late-breaking security updates, then clicked Continue.Next, an Installation type window appears. Since you’ve selected your virtual hard drive, make sure Erase disk and install Ubuntu is selected, and then click Continue. You should see something similar to this indicating that you’re connected to a VBOX HARDDISK:Click that Install Now button and you’re on your way. You’ll need to create a user for your virtual machine:Put in your name, the name of the computer (if different), pick a username, and then select and confirm a password. If you don’t care to log in every time you start the virtual machine, just select “Log in automatically” and click Continue. For me, I decided to require a password lo log in.Now you are treated to an exciting slideshow of features while the Ubuntu installer does its magic. When it is complete, you’re asked to restart the machine:As soon as your virtual machine reboots, you’re greeted with a login window (if you selected that option), and then move to to the Ubuntu Desktop using the Unity Desktop Environment:At this point, you can choose to play around for a bit, browse the Ubuntu Software Center (think of it as Ubuntu’s App Store), tweak settings, and otherwise make yourself at home. I would suggest, however, that before you do too much, that you make a few minor changes to your virtual machine. To do this, shut down your Ubuntu VM by clicking the little “power button” icon in the upper right corner of the window, then selecting Shut Down…Step 6: Final TweaksOnce you’re safely back at the Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager, click on your Ubuntu virtual machine in the left sidebar and click the Settings button in the toolbar. What we need to do is change the boot order so that VirtualBox knows where to look for the virtual machine file on the Mac.When the Ubuntu – System settings window appears, click the System tab:See that second item below Base Memory titled Boot Order? Initially, it’s going to show CD/DVD-ROM as the first item in the list. You want to change that by clicking on Hard Disk, then moving Hard Disk to the top of the list using the little arrows to the right of the boot device list. By the way, since your Mac doesn’t have a floppy drive, uncheck that Floppy check box. In fact, you can do the same to CD/DVD-ROM as well if your Mac (like both of mine) doesn’t have an optical drive.ConclusionI was surprised at how little time it took to set up the Ubuntu virtual machine this time compared with 2009. Of course, the iMac I installed it on is much faster than the one I used four years ago, and both VirtualBox and Ubuntu have gone through some changes as well. It boots a lot faster, too — from the VirtualBox Manager, it takes just 8 seconds to get to the login screen.Like I said earlier, you can choose to use any other Linux distribution if you wish to; I just chose Ubuntu because that’s what I did four years ago. But this is a fun and educational way to learn all about another operating system, and if you choose not to make a contribution, it’s also free.
One of the biggest features of the iPhone 5s announced yesterday is the Touch ID fingerprint sensor that is used for user authentication. Rich Mogull at TechHive has written the definitive Q&A about the sensor built into the iPhone 5s, and there are some fascinating things to know about the future of mobile security.The first thing Mogull points out is that the Touch ID sensor is based on a capacitance reader, which makes use of the fact that the outer layer of your skin is non-conductive while the subdermal layer is conductive. Mogull notes that when you touch the sensor, “it measures the miniscule differences in conductivity caused by the raised parts of your fingerprint, and it uses those measurements to form an image.”The ring around the sensor, which is embedded in the home button, is used to turn on the sensor and reduce signal errors. As Mogull says, the capacitance design is less easy to spoof than an optical reader (which a photocopy of a fingerprint can fool), less fragile and less prone to error due to smudged glass.Some internet wag has already created a meme that states that Apple would nab fingerprints to create a huge “name to fingerprint” database. Well, that’s not possible. The fingerprint is run through an algorithm to create a fingerprint template, a mathematical representation of your fingerprint. Mogull believes that the template is then run through a cryptographic hashing algorithm and combined with a random or unique number to further scramble the data.Apple mentioned during the keynote yesterday that the fingerprint data is neither transmitted to the company nor stored on their servers. Instead, it is stored only on the iPhone 5s. Whenever your fingerprint is scanned, the phone does the same template creation and compares the result with the stored hash.Mogull points out that while fingerprints are more secure because they are impossible to guess, fingerprints and passcodes are still examples of single-factor authentication. A more secure system would require a passcode and a fingerprint. Passcodes are still required if you damage your finger or break the Touch ID sensor.As for using Touch ID with iCloud and the iTunes Store, Mogull thinks that Apple will store the passwords for those services in the iOS keychain, using your fingerprint to authorize access. OS X and iOS handle stored passwords this way, and it emphasizes Apple’s comment that the fingerprint data never leaves the device.Mogull’s bottom line is that Touch ID could be game-changing, in that it makes security invisible. Apple noted during the keynote that it thinks of the iPhone to be a “key,” so it wishes to eventually make your phone and fingerprints be the keys to just about everything in your life. Imagine door locks or home alarms that are locked or armed with a fingerprint, or payments that can be authorized with a tap of a finger. In the long run, Touch ID might be the most important feature of the iPhone 5s and future Apple devices.
speaker announcement — and we’ve got five more names to lay on you right now. This November, we’ll be joined by Wikimedia’s director of mobile, Tomasz Finc, Leap Motion’s director of developer relations, Avinash Dabir, The One Laptop Per Child Association’s chairman and CEO, Rodrigo Arboleda, founder / CEO of Voltaic Systems Shayne McQuade and Michael Carroll, a professor of law at American University Washington College of Law and founding member of Creative Commons.And, of course, we’ve already announced a number of folks who will be joining us on November 9th and 10th, including LeVar Burton, Reggie Watts, Ben Heck, Peter Molyneux, Ben Huh and speakers from companies like Google, Sony, Pebble, Adafruit and The Electronic Frontier Foundation — and we’ve still got more to come. Check out the full list below. Rodrigo Arboleda, Chairman and CEO, One Laptop per Child AssociationAyah Bdeir, Founder, CEO, Little BitsJeff Branson, Educational Outreach Coordinator, SparkfunLeVar Burton, Actor, Director, Educator, co-founder of RRKidzMichael Carroll, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of LawAvinash Dabir, Director, Developer Relations, Leap MotionJill Fehrenbacher, Editor-in-Chief, InhabitatTomasz Finc, Director of Mobile, WikimediaMark Fraunfelder, Founder, Boing Boing, Editor-in-Chief, Make MagazineBeth Ferguson, Founder, Sol Design LabDavid Gerrold, Science Fiction AuthorBen Heck, Master Modder on The Ben Heck ShowBen Huh, CEO, CheezburgerJoichi Ito, Director, MIT Media LabTimothy Jordan, Senior Developer Advocate, Google GlassOskar Kalmaru, Co-founder, MemotoChris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc.Mike Masnick, Founder and CEO, TechdirtEric Migicovsky, CEO, PebblePeter Molyneux, 22CansPhil Molyneux, COO / President, Sony ElectronicsAnnalee Newitz, editor-in-chief, io9Julie Samuels, Staff Attorney, The Electronic Frontier FoundationBecky Stern, Director of Wearable Electronics, Adafruit IndustriesSonny Vu, CEO and Founder, Misfit WearablesReggie Watts, Musician, Comedian, Comedy Bang BangPat Yongpradit, Director of Education, Code.orgSee you in November — and don’t forget…If you’re a company that would like to work with us on an exhibition or sponsorship level, please drop us a line at sponsors at engadget dot com (DIYers and small startups, please ask us about our Indie Corner option)Want to win $25,000 to get your crowdfunded hardware project off on the right foot? Submit to our Insert Coin competition!If you’re a member of the media interested in covering Expand NY, including a special press-only preview on November 8th, please drop us a line using this form
If you’re reading this, odds are you’re going to have to wait quite a while for Black Desert. Yes, the game is finally getting ready to move into its closed beta phase, but this article is being written in English. You’re likely reading this somewhere other than Korea, which means that you’re not invited to that first beta and will have to wait until it gets released, then gets localized, then gets a release over here.I’m not saying it’s never going to happen, but I am saying it’ll probably be around 2038.Other than that, it’s been a quiet week for game betas. But there are still a lot of games in testing in the list down below, so you can certainly check one of them out. And as always, if something sneaked its way into having a full cash shop and no character wipe or something similar, let us know down in the comments. Massively considers a game to be in open testing if it has open, public signups and plans for a server wipe before its official launch. Self-described “open beta” MMOs that have soft-launched with functioning real-money cash shops will not be listed.Margonem (Garmory): SignupProject Gorgon (Project Gorgon): SignupSalem (Seatribe): Announcement, Signup, /r/SmashMuck Champions (Kis Studios): Announcement, Signup, /r/ (early access on Steam now)S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Online (CyberTime Systems): Announcement, Signup, /r/ (Russian-only)Taikodom (Gamersfirst): Announcement, SignupUFO Online (gamigo): Announcement, SignupUniversal Monsters Online (Bigpoint): Announcement, SignupWorld Alpha (World Alpha): Announcement, SignupWorld of Warplanes (Wargaming.net): Announcement, Signup, /r/ (launching Sept. 26)We consider an MMO to be in closed testing if it features either future test signups or an ongoing semi-private beta/alpha that cannot immediately and freely be accessed by the general public. Some are restricted by NDAs.Dragon Born (KoramGame): Announcement, SignupEarthrise: First Impact (SilentFuture): Announcement, SignupEldevin (Hunted Cow Studios): Announcement, SignupEnd of Nations (Trion): Announcement, Signup, /r/Grecca (Banbox): Announcement, Signup (in “open” alpha)Hearthstone (Blizzard Entertainment): Announcement, SignupHeva Clonia Online (OGPlanet): Announcement, Signup (testing starts September 19th)Infinite Crisis (Turbine): Announcement, SignupIngress (Google): Announcement, SignupLime Odyssey (Aeria Games): Announcement, SignupLine of Defense (3000AD): Announcement, SignupMU Rebirth (Webzen): Announcement, SignupOrigins of Malu (Burning Dog): AnnouncementOtherland (gamigo): Announcement, Signup, /r/ (development in limbo, possibly canceled)Starlite (Project Whitecard): Announcement, Signup (fka Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond)The Elder Scrolls Online (Zenimax): Announcement, SignupThe Repopulation (Above and Beyond): Announcement, Signup, /r/TUG (Nerd Kingdom): Announcement, SignupVenus Rising (FoxySoft): Announcement (fka Orgia Romanus; adult MMO, possibly NSFW)Warface (Crytek/Trion Worlds): Announcement, SignupWildStar (Carbine/NCsoft): Announcement, SignupSubreddit links helpfully provided by Steven Eyerman!Betawatch is Massively’s weekly report on the latest MMO alphas, betas, and other games still meandering toward an official launch. From ArcheAge to World of Warplanes, it’s covered here, complete with sign-up links so that you too can perform the unpaid quality-control work otherwise known as game testing. Drop us a comment if we’ve missed one!
gdgt go through the latest gadgets and score them to help you decide which ones to buy. Here are some of their most recent picks. Want more? Visit gdgt anytime to catch up on the latest, and subscribe to gdgt’s newsletter to get a weekly roundup in your inbox. Samsung F8500 SeriesWith the F8500 series, Samsung delivers exceptional picture quality that rivals some of the best sets from Panasonic. The F8500 series also comes loaded with Samsung’s current Smart TV suite, as well their voice- and gesture-driven control software. A cost of $1500 places it in the higher price range of plasma panels, so if you want to save a few bucks without skimping on quality, check out the ST60 series from Panasonic.Buy from $1597Read reviews and moreWhat does “stock” Android mean?Google’s desire to bring users pure, unaltered versions of its mobile operating system is why we’ve seen releases of Google Play editions of the popular Galaxy S4 and HTC One in recent months. But, what’s the difference between one of these “stock” devices and one you might get from your carrier? In our gdgt Central post on the topic, we explain what it means to buy a “stock” phone directly from Google.Fuji FinePix HS50EXRFuji’s latest enthusiast-focused DSLR offers well-executed controls in a nicely designed body that doesn’t skimp on photo quality. While not quite as cheap as it should be, the HS50EXR has every feature you need to take great photos easily.Buy from $444Read reviews and moreWhat are your favorite gadgets right now?As the fall refresh season rolls around for many of our favorite gadgets, we’d like to know which ones you’re currently in love with and use regularly. In this week’s featured discussion, we invite you to leave a comment about your favorite devices, and maybe even tell us what you’re looking forward to in the coming months.Basis B1 BandAll of the recent buzz about smartwatches hasn’t stopped Basis from bringing its watch + fitness device combo to market. The B1 Band is a stylish and well-designed wrist device that satisfies our desire to keep track of time while enabling a host of fitness tracking features. It’s water-resistant, takes your pulse and blood pressure, measures your sleep habits and workout details then uploads the data to its website. Unfortunately, at $199, the B1 Band is significantly more expensive than other fitness trackers. But, if you’re looking for a stylish option that also provides robust fitness metrics, you might be willing to ignore the price.Buy from $199Read reviews and more
Ubisoft announced that the Windows PC version of Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag will premiere on November 19, launching alongside releases for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.Black Flag tracks the swashbuckling life of Captain Edward Kenway, who heads up a high-stakes heist in the Caribbean. The new trailer above features Kenway’s accomplices, introducing his shipmates Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, and Charles Vane, among others.Assassin’s Creed 4 will hit the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U on October 29. Show full PR textExperience the brash, brutal, and adventurous life of pirates in Assassins Creed IV Black Flag. Take part in the incredible story of Captain Edward Kenway, a pirate trained by assassins, and establish a lawless republic in The Caribbean while searching for gold and glory with the help of history’s most infamous pirates including Blackbeard, Charles Vane, Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag will be released on the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, PlayStation 4 from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, Xbox One, Nintendo’s Wii U™ system, and Windows PC. The game will be available on the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, and Nintendo’s Wii U™ system on October 29, 2013, Windows PC on November 19, 2013, and as day one launch titles for PlayStation 4 from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and Xbox One.Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag tells the story of Edward Kenway, who falls from privateering for the Royal Navy into piracy as the war between the major Empires comes to an end. Edward is a fierce pirate and seasoned fighter who soon finds himself embroiled in the ancient war between Assassins and Templars. Set at the dawn of the 18th Century, the game features some of the most infamous pirates in history, such as Blackbeard and Charles Vane, and takes players on a journey throughout the West Indies during a turbulent and violent period of time later to become known as the Golden Age of Pirates.For more information on Assassin’s Creed, please visit the Assassin’s Creed Official Website (www.assassinscreed.com) and facebook.com/assassinscreed.
exclusive TUAW Deals, a handy list from Dealnews and our own hand-picked iOS and OS X selections.TUAW’s Daily DealsGripGo Universal Car Mount [On sale for $13.99, down from $29]Whether you’re driving across town or across the country, having your smartphone, GPS or MP3 player in an ideal viewing position is both safe and convenient. That’s where this GripGo Universal Car Mount for Phones & GPS comes in. Its unique polymer surface grips your hand-held device securely until you’ve arrived at your destination, then you simply peel it off the cradle with no sticky residue.Mounted on the windshield or dashboard, its rigid 8-inch boom mount and 360° pivoting capabilities allow you to tap away without your device moving around, and always get the perfect viewing angle.Save 51% off the GripGo Universal Car Mount at TUAW Deals. Please allow 3-4 weeks for shipping.Flexibits Mini Mac Bundle [On sale for $19.99, down from $40]Fantastical for Mac: Fantastical fits the bill perfectly, and allows for fast, easy event creation. Simply open the app, type in your event notes, hit return and you’re good to go. With an expressive and intelligent natural language engine you can write in your own style, it even automatically recognizes event locations. Plus it’s fully integrated with OS X 10.6 and above, so you can invite people from Contacts or Address Book integrate with Reminders to create to-do lists on the fly.Chatology: If you’ve ever tried searching through past conversations in Messages or iChat to find specific information, you know it’s incredibly tedious and frustrating, sometimes near impossible. Chatology is the simple solution to your information-gathering needs and will help you find messages instantly.Save 50% off the Flexibits Mini Mac Bundle at TUAW Deals. Upon purchase, you need to follow the redemption instructions located in your account to activate your software.iOS SoftwareAsphalt 8: Airborne [iOS Universal; Category: Games; Now free, down from $0.99] The best iOS arcade racing game series reaches a new turning point! Perform dynamic, high-speed aerial stunts in an intense driving experience powered by a brand-new physics engine.Animation Desk for iPad [iPad; Category: Entertainment; On sale for $0.99, down from $2.99] Animation Desk for iPad allows users to create hand-drawn animations on iPad. The drawing interface provided by the app resembles the real working environment of a professional animator who completes each frame of an animation on a specially designed desk, the animation desk.oneSafe – Secure password manager and data vault to protect your privacy and keep your secrets safe [iOS Universal; Category: Productivity; One sale for $0.99, down from $5.99] oneSafe stores your confidential information including your secret documents and keeps everything safe and easily accessible at the right place.Flight Unlimited [iOS Universal; Category: Games; Now free, down from $2.99] Experience the ultimate flight simulator. Flight Unlimited is a graphically intensive flight simulator that offers some of the best visuals in the App Store.Plunder! 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Give the correct answer and you move on to the next puzzle.Pivvot [iOS Universal; Category: Games; Now free, down from $2.99] Pivvot is a thrilling game of strategic avoidance that will consistently test and challenge your ability to make quick, impulsive decisions. Apple’s App of the week.OS X SoftwarePhotoBulk: Watermark, Resize, Optimize and Rename [OS X; Category: Photography & Video; One sale for $4.99, down from $7.99] PhotoBulk is easy-to-use bulk image editor that lets you add text / image watermark, resize and optimize hundreds and thousands of images or photos in just one click.Tick [OS X; Category: Productivity; On sale for $6.99, down from $9.99] Tick: Track Time, Get PaidMagicUnarchiver [OS X; Category: Productivity; On sale now for $0.99, down from $2.99] The Enolsoft MagicUnarchiver is an easy yet powerful program that can unarchive many different kinds of archive files. It will open common formats such as RAR, Zip, 7-zip, ISO, Udf, Wim, Tar, etc., as well as archive or create zipped files (7z, Zip, Tar) from other document formats.DoOneThing [OS X; Category: Productivity; Now free, down from $1.99] Instead of being a source of constant distraction, your computer should help you accomplish what’s most important to you every day.CalmDown [OS X; Category: Healthcare & Fitness; Now free, down from $1.99] Every day your computer stresses you out. Maybe it’s time it tried to help you relax. CalmDown is a very simple application to help you focus and relax.Candy Story [OS X; Category: Games; Now free, down from $2.99] If you love Candy Crush, you must try this. Candy Story is a match-three game, which has a story mode.YoWindow Weather [OS X; Category: Weather; Now free, down from $9.99] Beautiful animated landscape reflects the weather at your home. With YoWindow you can see the weather, not just numbers.AppyFridays [OS X; Category: Various; On sale for $9.99] AppyFridays is offering a Supreme Bundle that heavily discounts three OS X apps. Titles include Paint Supreme, DupeZap Plus and Car Maintenance. The sale lasts until September 20.Note: All prices are USD and subject to change. Some deals may expire quickly. TUAW is not responsible for third-party deals and cannot guarantee availability or quality of any particular product at a specific price.
The 10 people you need to know in WoW. For some reason it never occurred to me to write a counterpart on the people you need to avoid. While I think these unpleasant folks are less important and influential than the people you actually want to have around, there’s no denying that, once present, they can do a lot of damage to your ingame experience.If you haven’t had at least one supremely frustrating experience yet as a result of the douche-nugget brigade, you are fortunate indeed. For the rest of us, some of the following players will be all too familiar. The Asshole Tank”Shut up and keep up. You need the extra boss? Too bad.”Remember the Friendly But Easily Bored Tank from the first article? She has a counterpart with a less philanthrophic outlook on the world. We tanks would love to believe that all of our colleagues are good people with a deep sense of noblesse oblige on behalf of the playing public, but we know better.Here’s a sample of the Asshole Tanks that my guildies and I have seen recently:A warrior tank pulling all of the trash in Iron Qon’s room and then dropping group with a smiley in raid chat. Yes, it was a wipe.A ToT-geared monk harassing a mage in blues during a Scholomance PUG and threatening to kick him because “You can’t do half my DPS.”A paladin tank ignoring pleas from fresh 90s to kill a few extra mobs in Siege of Niuzao Temple so they could finish a dungeon quest.A death knight tank insulting all the “bads” for dying to adds he/she couldn’t be bothered to pick up on Megaera trash.A druid tank yelling at the healer in Scarlet Monastery because the latter couldn’t keep him alive through four Scarlet Hall Guardians while stunned.So why does this happen? As the Drama Mamas once observed, there’s a phenomenon in the game that we might call Tank Entitlement. Tanks aren’t as common as DPS and healers, and they usually enjoy fast queues in both the Dungeon Finder and LFR. No matter how poorly they play or how many people they antagonize, the odds of suffering any serious consequences are small; they’ll still have a short wait, an endless supply of players on whom to inflict misery, and the knowledge that a group can’t do anything without them. For some people, the combination of power and lack of accountability is toxic. Most players just tolerate the resulting abuse, because the trouble of kicking the Asshole Tank often isn’t worth the wait you’ll endure to replace her.When the Asshole Tank isn’t an Asshole Tank: Tanking is one of the game’s more high-stress jobs, and the role tends to attract a lot of blame (fair or otherwise). Even decent people will eventually snap if a group piles more and more responsibility on their shoulders rather than spreading it around a bit.The Bloodsucking Leech”Thanks for the flasks. Hey, do you have 500 gold I could borrow?”Beggars spawned some of the community’s earliest jokes concerning naked night elves dancing on mailboxes for gold, but some of the more enterprising ones set their sights on more lucrative targets — namely, you.Bloodsucking Leeches come in all ages and sexes, and the only characteristic they seem to share is an overweening sense of entitlement to aid. By no means is their beggary restricted to gold; one night you’ll find them in raid cadging flasks, potions, and food, and the next they’ll be wheedling expensive gear and enchants off the guild’s crafters. They promise to pay people back, reciprocate, or at least kick in a little for their expenses, but they never seem to get around to it. About the only time you can bet on their not being around with their hands outstretched is when you need some help:”I’m going to go farm Tiger Steaks for feasts. Want to come?””Sorry, cat’s on fire,” says the Leech as he vanishes offline.The real question is, where is his own money going? Pets? Royal Satchels for all of his alts? Magic beans? Nobody knows.When the Bloodsucking Leech isn’t a Bloodsucking Leech: The whole point of a guild is to band together for mutual aid, but the key part there is mutual. You’re not a Leech if you’re just hard up for cash after gemming, enchanting, and reforging some new drops, or if you don’t have a lot of gold but can help people in other ways.Sometimes just giving people your time is the best thing you can do. Unfortunately, our next winner is likely to abuse that.The Class Opportunist”Can we take my mage to ToT tonight instead?”Your first introduction to the Class Opportunist is likely to be in guild chat or local where she’s spamming requests for a run on her 8th toon at 90. She plays all 11 classes and on a good day is competent at one. Why? She spends each patch hopping from character to character, chasing the rising fortunes of certain specs rather than learning how to play one to its potential.If a certain spec is getting a lot of good press or is consistently at the top of the damage meters, expect her to pursue it with the single-minded devotion of a greyhound on a track. Never mind that you just spent the last patch gearing her warrior; she’s into her mage now. She doesn’t have enough time or experience playing any spec to get the performance out of it that good players can produce, and she’s upset that she’s nowhere close to the numbers she’s seeing on World of Logs and RaidBots. It must be a gear issue, she thinks, so she pesters everyone in hearing distance for runs, enchants, and epics rather than learning the class itself. When the next patch hits, the process starts all over again.The Class Opportunist is the alt addict from Hell, foisted upon the mortal world by Satan himself after his 10-man got sick of her crap.When the Class Opportunist isn’t a Class Opportunist: The Opportunist can be a godsend when she’s actually decent at playing her alts and your raid or challenge mode group is suddenly desperate for a particular class. She’s also a convenient person to have around if she’s gone to the trouble of leveling multiple professions across her toons. Auction House prices too expensive for you? No problem — she’s got the recipe on her hunter.A savvy guild will fob the Leech and the Opportunist off on each other, spawning an endless loop of favor-trading and saving everyone else an awful lot of time and money.The Passive-Aggressive Sociopath”The strategy’s not that complicated. I guess reading is hard … it’s just a joke. Calm down.”He might be a guild officer or an influential member, or maybe he’s just “that guy” in the circle of people you encounter regularly. If you’ve played the game for any serious length of time, eventually you’ll run into him, and it won’t be an experience you’ll forget.The Sociopath injects a little poison into any interaction with the people he deems inessential to his life. It’s subtle enough that you think you’re being over-sensitive, or that it’s not worth picking a fight over, or that other people haven’t noticed, but it’s there — a constant, contemptuous, low-level sneer. Like all poisons, it builds and builds until one of two things happens: Either you build such an immunity to it that you don’t notice it at all, or the concentration reaches critical mass and starts killing you inside. Confrontation is usually inevitable and will always be unpleasant. If the Sociopath is friends with the guild leadership or just too good at his job to be /gkicked, he won’t be going anywhere. You, on the other hand, might be.The saving grace of the Sociopath is that he’s rare. In 6 years, I have run into only four of them, and there’s a certain pattern to their play styles. One was also an Asshole Tank, one was a main healer, one was a healer and officer, and the fourth was someone who switched between DPS, healing, and tanking with some regularity. Interestingly, none was a dedicated DPS. They were all good enough that replacing them felt like a bigger hassle than the constant alienation of their guildies, but anyone who’s dealt with a Sociopath will know that’s a short-term solution at best. You can recruit and train new players, but you can’t train a Sociopath to be a decent person.When the Passive-Aggressive Sociopath isn’t a Sociopath: A Passive-Aggressive Sociopath is not simply a player you don’t like, or someone with the unenviable task of telling you that you’re doing something wrong.The Loot Betrayer”See ya later, suckers!”This entry originally started out as The Legendary Betrayer, but they’re a dying breed. The Mists of Pandaria approach to those beloved orange items has killed off a lot of the drama and heartache traditionally attached to them. Good riddance.However, the same principle is still at work with anyone who hangs around a guild just long enough to finish a tier set or nab an amazing trinket before applying to a more progressed guild. Their leverage is all the awesome gear that you now deeply regret giving to them over someone else. The bite is especially painful if they happened to share tier tokens or stat priorities with a plurality of the raid, which means they may have set these peoples’ gear progression back by a number of weeks or even months subject to what drops and when.Now that legendary items are available to anyone who’s sacrificed a goat at the altar of RNG, the items that seem to prompt this behavior most frequently are trinkets. They’re uncommon drops by design, and by the time a boss finally coughs one up, half the raid will be desperate for it. There is no in-game agony like the knowledge that you passed on a rare trinket for someone who took it and ran.Oh well. Here’s your Assurance of Consequence — an inflation-adjusted thirty pieces of silver! Pass the aspirin.When the Loot Betrayer isn’t a Loot Betrayer: This can be tricky. Guilds tend to be piqued no matter what when someone who’s gotten a lot of nice drops decides that greener pastures lie elsewhere. However, most of the players concerned aren’t Loot Betrayers. If you’ve attended raids faithfully, done a good job, and never caused problems, no one has any right to question your decision to leave, even if you had to hire a team of Sherpas to tote all your epics to the next server. However, if you’re the Passive-Aggressive Sociopath who /gquit and transferred with the guild’s only Val’anyr because someone with blue trinkets got Solace of the Fallen over you … you might qualify.The Chronic Underachiever”I’m doing everything right. Stop telling me how to play my class!”I like to play a little game in LFR called Spot the Ringer. Without fail, there’s at least one person who’s got crappy gear or an underperforming spec (sometimes both!) who nonetheless manages to trounce most of the raid’s performance.The Chronic Underachiever is not this person.At first, his numbers can easily be explained by poor gear or not being familiar with the encounters, but as time goes on, that’s less and less plausible. His DPS or healing or tanking improves, but not anywhere near as much as his gear suggests it should. Before long, he’s at parity with the rest of the raid but still lagging behind, way more than any class or spec difference could possibly explain. When you have several sub-5% wipes on progression raid bosses and you’re hunting for a reason, you can’t help but zero in on the player who’s doing half the damage of your other DPS with the same or better gear. And why is he dying so frigging much?When pressed about it, the Chronic Underachiever doesn’t acknowledge the problem or park himself in front of a training dummy to fix his rotation. He offers excuses:His add-ons were acting up.He was sick.His latency was bad that night.He was tired.He ran out of potions or flasks.He lagged through a crucial boss ability.His spec doesn’t do well on that boss.Aliens.Stuff like this happens to everyone; there isn’t a player in the game who hasn’t wiped to one at some point. However, they aren’t credible explanations for months of bad or inconsistent performance. Yet the more you pass along class resources or tips to the Chronic Underachiever, the pissier he gets.When the Chronic Underachiever isn’t an Underachiever: A degree of variability among DPS classes is preordained. It’s also true that there are “bad bosses” for particular specs and that this can be a persistent theme in certain tiers (e.g., the massive advantage held by casters over melee with the too-common Dragonwrath during Firelands). The issue gets murkier when you’re trying to evaluate tanks or healers, for whom damage taken or healing throughput is a dangerously simplistic way to “grade” them.And, while I imagine this goes without saying, a Chronic Underachiever who actively works to get better is at worst a Temporary Underachiever.The Indifferent Significant Other”Can my husband’s shaman come to SoO tonight?”This is one of the most common tropes in all of gaming.Jane comes to raid every night. She has good gear. She kicks all sorts of ass. She pops her cooldowns and solos Galakras down from 3% when everyone else dies to Flames. Yay Jane! Jane is amazing. You like Jane.Unfortunately, Mr. Jane plays too. He’s not as good as Jane, but Jane really wants to bring him to raids. Eventually a raid slot opens up and you have to give it to him so Jane is happy. Mr. Jane is happy too. The rest of the raid is very unhappy. Mr. Jane dies all the time and never reads the strats and never has flasks and is terrible and also is kind of a dick.You hate Mr. Jane. But if you kick him, Jane’s out the door too.See Spot drink.When the Indifferent Significant Other isn’t an Indifferent Significant Other: The problems with the Indifferent S.O. arise mostly from his pulling double duty as a Chronic Underachiever, a Class Opportunist, and/or a Bloodsucking Leech. If he’s not any of these things and is just helping you fill a raid slot while you look for a permanent raider, you owe the guy a favor.If Jane keeps pushing for his inclusion over his own wishes and the raid leader’s, the real problem is with Jane.The Drama Llama”You know, the officers were talking about you last night in vent.”There’s always a little bit of controversy in even the healthiest guilds. Personality clashes and strategy disagreements are common, as are worries about bad performance while you’re learning a fight. However, things usually don’t get ugly among mature people until they get personal, and that’s where the Drama Llama comes in. Left to his own devices, he is singlehandedly capable of destroying your guild when circumstances allow.The Drama Llama exists in two forms: The first gets involved in existing drama, and the second starts it. (Of course, there’s nothing to prevent someone from being both.) The former is someone who adores gossip, creates and passes it along religiously, and will believe anything about anyone with the possible exception of a fact. The latter is incapable of handling even mild criticism or a passing spat without seeing it as a personal attack. He’ll nurse a grudge against the person concerned, lick his chops, and wait for the best moment to bite back.Needless to say, this will usually happen at the worst possible time. Sometimes it happens when your guild gets its first Illidan kill and the Drama Llama (who’s already sitting on the Tempest of Chaos) decides to take Zhar’doom because he has more DKP than the shadow priest he doesn’t like. A shadow priest who, incidentally, had not been able to upgrade his weapon since Kara. You can guess what happened next.When the Drama Llama isn’t actually a Drama Llama: The Drama Llama is never right. It’s not about if conflict happens, it’s about how you handle it.The Haterade Chugger”Thanks, Blizzard, for ruining MY F@%*$&G CLASS!”I don’t think there’s a player out there who’s happy with Blizzard’s decisions all the time, but the Haterade Chugger’s turned it into a deeply annoying art form.The Haterade Chugger may well be a perfectly nice person until you get her on the subject of her class (or, in some cases, profession or faction). At that point, she turns into a frothing, bile-spewing, murderous rage-monster who cannot be placated, reasoned with, or for that matter, stopped. There’s no decision the developers can make that will prevent her constant fury unless she’s getting massive, game-breaking buffs in the next patch. She would consider this the logical result of a universe that had suddenly found its sense of justice. However, this will never happen.So the Haterade Chugger soldiers on, righteously angry about all the wrongs committed against the class that she has condescended to play, and woe to the person who ventures that, well, maybe her class really isn’t so badly off. The Chugger’s response will be so venomous and abrasive as to send everyone running for cover. An unchecked Chugger is guaranteed to become a Drama Llama, and one with an endless vendetta against players who are obviously too stupid to see what she does.For the Haterade Chugger, all of WoW can be reduced to double-entry bookkeeping in which she’s keeping track of how “good” her class is versus everyone else’s. Those books will never balance in her favor, and no one will ever convince her otherwise.When the Haterade Chugger isn’t a Haterade Chugger: The Haterade Chugger may actually be fairly accurate about her class’ problems, but deeply wrong about their place within the wider context of the game. I think most of us have had at least one Haterade moment — my own came in the early part of Wrath of the Lich King when Plague Strike allowed death knights to kill druids too easily — but it’s not something that should become a trend.If you can calmly and rationally evaluate your class and spec’s issues, suggest reasonable solutions, accept criticism, and always entertain the possibility that you might be wrong — go nuts. All the more power to you. The developers read the forums hoping to find posts like that.If you can’t, then please, we beg you, find something else to do with your time.Please note: The gender assignments used in this article do not reflect actual people. I’m simply alternating between them in the interests of fairness.
It’s Friday the 13th, and that can mean only one thing… it’s time to pre-order your iPhone 5c!The pre-order button is working on the Apple iPhone 5c page, meaning that you can pick your color, your carrier and all of the other details in preparation for delivery to your door next Friday, September 20.MacRumors is reporting that iPhone 5c ship dates have already slipped to one to two weeks for customers in Hong Kong, with other countries showing delivery on September 20. However, if you have the hots for a bright yellow 5c, you’ll have to wait a bit. It appears that at least one model — the 16 GB Yellow (GSM) Unlocked iPhone 5c — is showing a delay until September 25 for delivery.Holding out for an iPhone 5s? You’ll have to wait until 12:01 AM PDT / 3:01 AM EDT on September 20 to put in your order. Apple Stores will reportedly open at 8 AM local time on September 20 for those of you who wish to get your hands on that sleek gold iPhone first thing in the morning. While that means that we won’t have to wait in line all day in front of an Apple Store to buy a 5s, it also sadly means that we’ll be in lines all night…[via BGR]
IRL, an ongoing feature where we talk about the gadgets, apps and toys we’re using in real life and take a second look at products that already got the formal review treatment. We suppose if there are folks who’d prefer a gaming laptop as their primary PC, then there must also be a market for portable gaming mice. But would you pay $115 for one? Mad Catz Rat M gaming mouseNestled in my travel bag, alongside my headphones, FreedomPop MiFi and a Nintendo 3DS, is a tiny pocket containing a $10 travel mouse I picked up at Target. It’s terrible, uncomfortable and far too imprecise to handle much more than very basic web browsing. Normally, this isn’t much of a problem, since most PCs come with workable mousing tools built in, but as a PC gamer, there are times when I need something better. Lately, that’s been Mad Catz’s Rat M, a mobile version of its popular Rat 9 gaming mouse.Visually, the M is simply a scaled-down clone of the 9, but close inspection reveals it’s actually missing some functionality, too. The M, for instance, has only a single button below its scroll wheel, as opposed to the Rat 9’s rocker, and it completely abandons the horizontal scroll wheel used on the original. The mouse also forgoes a few of its big brother’s transforming features, including the ability to adjust weight and thumb rest positions. Still, it’s a versatile little rodent, with an extending palm rest, six traditional buttons and a four-direction thumb rocker that pulls double duty as the mouse’s seventh button. Best of all, its belly houses a 6,400-dpi sensor, offering more than enough sensitivity to handle fast-paced gameplay.The Rat M is comfortable, sensitive and well equipped, but it does still have some drawbacks. Mad Catz lists the mouse’s Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy compatibility as a selling point, but it’s hard to get the mouse to connect without using the included USB dongle. Worse, when you do get a Bluetooth connection running, the mouse often lags and jumps around the screen. It also has the unfortunate status of being the only device in my travel bag that requires AAA batteries. Blegh. Still, as long as you stick to the USB dongle, it’s a handy little gaming mouse. It is a bit expensive, though — $115 is a lot to ask for a mouse you’ll only be using on the road.– Sean Buckley
The weapons and gear used by Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell: Blacklist are now available in Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Online. Ubisoft says the cross-over is inspired by the successful Assassin’s Creed pack, which launched for the free-to-play shooter in February.The Splinter Cell: Blacklist pack is part of a new update Ghost Recon Online, which also brings the ability to gift items to others through the in-game store. Lastly, the patch is introducing a new map for the game inspired by the Middle Eastern city Peshawar, Pakistan called Khyber Stronghold. Gallery: Ghost Recon Online (Splinter Cell Pack) | 19 Photos 19 +15 Show full PR textTOM CLANCY’S GHOST RECON ONLINE® ANNOUNCES TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL® CROSSOVERSAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – September 26th, 2013 – Today, Ubisoft® announced the launch of a new crossover for its free-to-play PC shooter, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online®. Inspired by the success of the cross over pack between Ghost Recon Online and Assassin’s Creed® released in February, the Ghost Recon Online team is releasing new content from another major Ubisoft franchise: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell®.Following the release of the critically-acclaimed Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell® Blacklist™, Ghost Recon Online players will be able to use the weapons and gear of Splinter Cell lethal operative Sam Fisher to fully customize their in-game character for all three classes. “The spies of Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon Online’s Ghosts can now go toe-to-toe with the Phantoms,” explains Corey Facteau, GRO’s Producer at Ubisoft Singapore.Also new to Ghost Recon Online, players looking to gift items, including new Splinter Cell gear, will now be able to do so easily in the store.In the same patch, Ghost Recon Online is also revealing a new map. “Khyber Stronghold is the most ambitious map we’ve developed to date. We’re transporting our players to the Middle East, to a city inspired by Peshawar, Pakistan,” added Facteau. “Our community is more than three million strong, who we work to continuously provide new content for. Our goal is to keep their experience fresh and dynamic so we’re looking forward to seeing how they explore Khyber Stonghold and use Sam Fisher’s items in-game.”Ghost Recon Online’s first worldwide competition, announced earlier this month in partnership with the Electronic Sports League, ESL (EU) and North American Electronic Sports League, NESL (US), has just finished three of eight cups with a lot more action to come. Players can still register their clan for the competition and join the five remaining weekly tournaments.Play Now, Play Free at www.GhostReconOnline.comRegister for the competition on the official website here: http://www.esl.eu/eu/gro/news/227863/About Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online®Developed by Ubisoft® Singapore, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online® delivers a premium online-multiplayer-shooter experience that is downloadable and playable for free on the PC. Players can choose between three classes: Assault, Specialist, or Recon, to suit their particular style of play. As they evolve through the game, each Class can deploy unique Class Devices and other hi-tech equipment to enhance not only their individual combat effectiveness, but also that of their team. Players can enhance their game experience by using either in-game points or premium currency to purchase and equip their Ghosts with weapons, gear and other boosts. Tactical team play is crucial to victory in the fierce online matches with up to 16 players.About UbisoftUbisoft is a leading producer, publisher, and distributor of interactive entertainment products worldwide and has grown considerably through a strong and diversified lineup of products and partnerships. Ubisoft has offices in 29 countries and has sales in more than 55 countries around the globe. It is committed to delivering high-quality, cutting-edge video game titles to consumers. For the 2012-13 fiscal year Ubisoft generated sales of €1,256 million. To learn more, please visit www.ubisoftgroup.com.© 2013Ubisoft Entertainment. All Rights Reserved. Tom Clancy’s, Ghost Recon, the Soldier Icon, Ubisoft and the Ubisoft logo are trademarks of Ubisoft Entertainment in the US and/or other countries© 2013 Ubisoft Entertainment. All Rights Reserved. Tom Clancy’s, Splinter Cell, Blacklist, Sam Fisher, the Soldier Icon, Ubisoft and the Ubisoft logo are trademarks of Ubisoft Entertainment in the U.S. and/or other countries.