Posted on Leave a comment

My Virtual Experience

Its been a week now since I started playing with my Oculus Rift and I’ve got to say I’m more than a little impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Of course my feelings are mixed, but I can safely say that I cannot wait to see some finalised consumer products hitting the market.

 
The Oculus Rift Developer Kit 2 isn’t meant for consumers, but I wanted to give it a go anyway. So far my experience has been amazing, but VR sickness is a very real thing (as you can tell if you watch my gameplay videos)

 
Its been a while since any form of technology blew me away, but when you find yourself in a piece of software optimised and made to work in VR, you’re in for a real treat. Playing games that aren’t made for VR is intriguing, but it’s not a great experience. I tried to force games like Skyrim and GTA V to work in VR and even got them running, but things just didn’t look right and I couldn’t get that sense of presence everyone who uses VR talks about.

 
I moved on to try games and software made with VR in mind like Elite Dangerous and that’s when the fun began. Suddenly I was in a world I felt a part of. While sat in my spaceship I felt as though I could really reach out and touch the controls or interact with my ship. The feeling is just breathtaking.

 
It was this kind if gaming experience that made me believe that VR can be the next big step in gaming. On the flip side, using other demos available, I also came to the realisation that VR is going to be huge in other areas such as education and communication.

 
Walking around virtual museums, or taking a tour around locations around the world in the Rift is pretty impressive. Watching a huge virtual cinema screen is another big win. Unfortunately due to the low resolution of the developer kit these things aren’t perfect, but once the consumer version lands I can imagine myself using VR to replace things like TV’s and monitors.

 
The possibilities of VR are endless, and although the technology isn’t quite there yet, using the Rift has made me realise how close we are and what a massive potential the technology has.

 
I have to wonder, especially since my background stems from retail, what the impact of VR will be on online shopping. As these devices become mainstream I’ll be interested to see what companies get onboard and transform their online shopping experience.

 
Imagine being able to slip on your VR headset and walk around a virtual store and interact with the products. The sales staff, instead of being webchat advisors, would be real people using a VR headset themselves, interacting with you in your online session.

 
If this is done right it really could revolutionise how we shop online, but also help to bridge the gap between online shopping and high street retail. Most people might think this is a long way off, but I think it’s a lot closer than we believe.

 
So in conclusion VR is amazing! The time with my Rift has blown me away and left me a true believer in the technology. As I said, its been a long time since any form of technology really impressed me and now I can’t wait to see the final product.

Feel free to check out my two VR gaming videos!

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Review: TaoTronics® Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Stereo Headset Earphone

The TaoTronics Bluetooth headphones are pretty impressive, especially when you consider the relatively low price. I used mine while on the rowing machine and also jogging and found that they stayed in my ears despite the movement. They are very small and compact and the wire isn’t long which really helps to prevent them from getting tangled.

When i first opened the headphones up I was dubious of the design. They are small and the only thing in place to keep them in your ears is a small rubber hook that fastens snuggly inside of your earlobe. My first impression was that they would slip out of my ears the moment I started to do anything, leaving me wishing that there was a clip to go around my ears, however, as mentioned above, they never slipped out of place during exercise.

The other thing that left me dubious at first was the small rectangular control box on the right earphone. It has volume controls, play and pause controls, microphone, and also a charging port. At first I thought the box would add too much weight to the right earphone, causing it to pop out of my ear, but somehow it remained fixed in place.

They are small, compact, and stylish, never slipping out of place making them very well designed for sports and exercise. The question is how do they sound?

Well the quality is pretty good, beating my Apple earpods which will hopefully give you some idea of the quality. At their loudest volume the earphones didn’t lose quality and my only complaint is that the bass isn’t great. However both music and voice quality is spot on and I really can’t complain.

Would I recommend these headphones? Definitely! For anyone who is after light weight and compact sports headphones that also offer good sound quality these are worth checking out. Despite my first impressions and fears, these headphones performed beyond my expectations which was a pleasant surprise.

Please note I was sent this product to test and offer an unbiased review.

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

First Impressions: Half Life 2 Android Nvidia Shield

Recently I picked up a new Nvidia Shield Tablet and so far I love it. Obviously one of the first things I did was redeem my free copy of Half Life 2 and take it for a spin. So how does this amazing game hold up on an Android device? Are we anywhere near the stage of being able to use tablets for serious gaming?

Well the answer to the above is that it plays surprisingly well. Feel free to check out my gameplay videos that have all been recorded directly from my Nvidia Shield Tablet. The game handles well and I’ve only encountered a few slow downs in my 5 hours of gameplay so far. It tends to struggle a little when I blow everything on screen up or go a little mad with the gravity gun, but apart from that the device plays Half Life 2 amazingly smoothly.

If you really want to have a good time you’ll need a gamepad, in fact Half Life won’t run without one. Even if you hook a mouse and keyboard up to your device Half Life still won’t run. A minor issue but it works well enough with a decent games controller.

But what about that small screen? Well for starters it’s pretty much next to my face so it doesn’t really limit the experience. On top of that the display looks fantastic and really helps to bring the game to life. No issues with the screen size here! Although if I were to play on the Nvidia Shield Portable I’m not so sure I’d find it as enjoyable.

The 8 inch display on the Shield Tablet is just about perfect for gaming at the coach. My perfect set up is my Shield Tablet on the arm of the chair as I kick back and relax.

I’ve taken the game for a test run in console mode and I’m pleased to say it runs just as smoothly. Outputting onto my TV allowed for a true console like experience playing the game which again left me exceptionally surprised. The game looks awesome on a larger display and you can easily forget that you’re running it from a tablet.

I think it’s quite incredible to think how far Tablets and other mobile devices have come in such a short amount of time. It wasn’t that long ago that Half Life 2 was running on a current gen console! Within the year I honestly believe that Tablets will begin to really find a place in the gaming market, especially if they continue to get the support from developers such as Valve.

So is it worth playing? Definitely! If you’re a fan of Half Life and you happen to own an Nvidia Shield Tablet then why on earth are you not playing this game?

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Review: Soundpeats Qy7 Mini Lightweight Bluetooth Headphones

When I popped these headphones open the first thought that entered my mind was ‘How on earth will these stay in my ears?’ Well I’m not sure how, but they do stay in. They look stylish and are pretty lightweight. Normally I prefer to wear something that has a clip to go over my ear rather than headphones such as these which seem supported by nothing. However these are comfortable to wear and stay in my ears, they never slipped out and the cable attaching the two buds together never gets in the way.

On the headphones you’ll find a small micro usb port, volume up and down controls and also a power button. All of these ports and buttons are stylishly presented with nothing sticking out. At first they look like they will stick out of your ears, but to be fair they nestle in quite nicely (check out my attached picture)

Pairing these headphones is fast and easy. Once paired up with your device they will automatically connect once you turn the headphones on, making it fast and efficient.

The sound quality is fantastic for the price. The only time they skipped was during my more active periods such as running or cycling, but to be fair this was very rare. The headphones also cut out background noise and do a very good job of this. I’ve been using the EarPods that come with Apple devices and these headphones exceed the quality offered by Apples headphones by quite a margin, giving you a good indication to compare against.

If you’re after some lightweight and sporty headphones then these are definitely worth investing in, especially if you’re on a budget.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Second Chance Available Today

Morning all! Well today is the launch day for my short story Second Chance. It was originally a nanowrimo project that I’ve worked on and takes a different path to my normal writing, focusing on a supernatural romance genre. The blurb is below and if you like the sound of it then give it a read.

After her near death experience, Hannah’s life will never be the same. She is the only one who can see James, the man who saved her from certain death with his own life. 

Unsure if she is losing her mind, Hannah sets out with James to discover the truth, seeking to understand why he hasn’t moved on. However, something is coming for him, or so they think. 

In what soon becomes a race against time, Hannah finds herself desperately searching for a way to help James, reluctantly falling for him with each passing day, even though she knows it can never be… 

Grab it at:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MX7O3L0

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00MX7O3L0

Second Chance Banner.001

Posted on Leave a comment

My Smartwatch Excitement

So wearable technology is finally beginning to take off. We all expected it to but we’ve been left with sub par devices up until now. There are a number of manufactures bringing wearable technology to the market, and for the first time these devices are beginning to look like something people will actually want to use and wear.

LG G Watch R

Now this is a smart device that looks like a watch! I never thought that would be too much to ask for but apparently strapping some weird futuristic device to our wrists was acceptable in major manufactures eyes. Well LG decided against this, bringing a watch to the market that follows Motorola’s circular design. The device runs on Android which gives the user a fantastic range of features in this nice looking device. The thing that stands out the most in my eyes is the circular dial around the outside of the display, which mirrors traditional watches and helps the G Watch R to avoid standing out like a sore thumb.

Stylish, powerful and functional, this is a wearable that’s on my radar.

Motorola 360

After Motorola showed off their wearable I was a little shocked. It looked fantastic and its stand out feature was that it was circular. For some reason the desire for a circular smartwatch had never entered my mind until then, but now I had seen the 360 I couldn’t imagine ever owning a boring square device. I think it’s safe to say that Motorola really stole the show after Google announced Android Wear. All eyes were on the 360 and for good reason.

It has just landed on shelves in the UK and is selling out quickly, with positive reviews coming. I can’t wait to get my hands on one and take it for a test drive and see what Android Wear is really like.

Pebble

Now here’s a smartwatch that hit the market a little while ago but it is only just arriving in the UK, signing an exclusive deal with O2, a major UK telecoms network, for some of its products. Until recently the Pebble hadn’t really caught my attention, but after more research I’ve found myself genuinely intrigued by their smartwatch range.

After using a smartwatch for almost a year I’ve found my biggest pet peeve is that the battery life of these devices is awful. The Pebbles bragging rights are that their smartwatches will last between 5-7 days on a single charge. That’s pretty impressive given that the competition can hardly last a day. Now granted the Pebble does a little less but it still offers the essentials and gives customers a good variety of styles to select from.

All in all this is definitely a product launch to keep an eye on.

So those are the three devices that I’m looking forward to having a good play with this year. Of course next year we have the Apple Watch hitting the shelves and no doubt that will help to really drive this market. Until then however, we have a great selection to play with.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted on Leave a comment

Apple announces October 16th event

Well it looks like the time for the latest announcements from Apple are fast approaching! So what can we expect?

Well it’s that time of year when the iPad’s seem to get their refresh. I feel it is a safe assumption that we will see a new iPad Mini and iPad Air wielding touch ID and slimmer designs. Fingers crossed we will see a 13 inch iPad Pro/Plus (with mouse input support)

A refresh to Apples Mac line is most likely incoming, seeing their 27 inch display Mac gain Retina Display and perhaps we will see an updated Macbook Pro’s? Of course to go hand in hand with this I’m sure we will see a final build of Yosemite and find out exactly when it will see a public launch.

Should you be excited? Well I know I am, but only if that 13 inch iPad makes an appearance!