Mario Odyssey: My New Addiction

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In my opinion the 3rd hit title to land on Nintendo Switch arrived last friday and arguable the most iconic of the three, Mario Odyssey. If you are a fan of Nintendo at all you should know the other 2 titles but if you dont its Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Zelda: Breath of the wild. 😉

Now I’m going to be honest right off the bat, I’m still very early into Mario Odyssey, (I blame Stranger things) But already I’m getting that similar feeling I had when I first played Mario 64 on the N64. (PS Mario 64 is still king)

Of course the lead character being Mario gives that sense of joy when free roaming the different levels buts its the new companion Cappy who is fast becoming the star of the show. No longer restricted to just butt bouncing and fireballs, Cappy can be used in a multitude of different ways and combinations, some of which can only be used with motion controls. This new movement/attack adds a new dimension to the Mario universe and also adds another nifty trick of being able to posses and and control other characters within the game.

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I plan on updating once I’m more in depth with the game as a serious binge is due over the next few days but I can already see this maybe creeping into my top 5 Mario games of all time. ( Mario 64 – Super Mario Bros 3 – Super Mario World – Super Mario Bros – Super Mario Kart)

Have you brought the game? How are you getting on so far? Comment Below

Stranger Things: Probably the best show in the last 5 years

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To really explain just how good Stranger Things is will be difficult, instead I’m going to try and share my thoughts on why season 2 was every bit as good as the first season and in some areas better.

Firstly if we look at the key characters, Mike, Eleven, Lucas, Dustin and Will, each of them evolved somewhat, not too much but enough to know that they have all clearly been through something traumatic and are looking at readjusting to normality. There’s certainly more mini stories going on within the show, some characters have grown in confidence, while others have shrunk further into there shell either way you see the true impact on how each character is dealing with daily life.

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Of course supporting cast from season one are also key to this new season along with some new faces ( Bob is awesome) and it’s a great blend of on screen relationships and solo performances.

The essence remains from season one, and what I mean by that is that nostalgic ingredient classic 80’s movies use to have, despite being a 2017 production. The scale has been massively upped for this time around, as season one dealt with a single threat the Demogorgan but this outing ups the danger level with multiple threats to battle throughout the latter episodes.

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While I was binge watching on Netflix at the weekend, I couldn’t help think this is a bit like Goonies meets Silent HIll in terms of the tone especially in some key episodes and despite how random that may sound, it works phenomenally well.

Overall this is a really special production and from the early episodes of both season 1 & 2 you know that this is the real deal.

If you have never seen the show I strongly recommend you take the plunge, but if you do, make sure you commit and don’t watch while in the background doing something else, invest in the show and you will be rewarded with not only a visual masterpiece but a epic story which really does give nothing but entertainment value.

Pixel Book: Impressions

The Pixel book is the latest laptop from Google with a hefty price tag it aims to compete in the realm of high end Macbooks and Surface books. So lets address the elephant in the room…..Chrome OS, and more importantly, why does a high end Chromebook exist?

Before I give my answer to that question I’m going to highlight some areas of the Pixel Book which stand out and make this different to all other Chromebooks.

 

There is no doubt, the Pixelbook is a beautifully crafted piece of tech, it sports a similar design blend of glass and aluminium supported with strategically placed soft touch rubberised pads to aid multiform. The weight is somewhere between tablet and laptop so its extremely light and the device overall is incredibly thin.

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Down the left hand side you get a USB C port, 3.5m jack, volume rocker and power button. Down the right a single USB C port, its minimalist but that what makes it so appealing.

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The keyboard itself is a joy to use, I’m typing this blog right now on the device and its an instantly comfortable experience. Reasons for this I put down to good key spacing and travel when pressing the keys and as for that track pad…….simply amazing, its both smooth and precise.

In case you where wondering where the speakers where, they are discreetly hidden behind the 360 hinges and they actually produce pretty good output for a laptop.

Speaking of hinges, the device can be used in 4 ways:

*Laptop

*Video Mode (Consuming video)

*Tent (Presentations)

*Tablet

The 12  inch screen resolution is sharp and vibrant, and content I’ve viewed so far is very good, it does have some large bezels surrounding the screen but its not a deal breaker.

User experience is as expected, it flies through any task thrown at it. You can run multiple windows without ant distraction and it even supports snap to window when you are feeling ultra productive.

Google Assistant makes its debut on the Pixelbook with its own dedicated key and works in the same way it does on the pixel series phones.

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I really like the Pixelbook, its capable of doing around 90% of what I need a laptop to do, that other 10% unfortunately is what prevents it being a primary device for me, because I need specific programs such as Photoshop, Light room and Final Cut Pro for my content creation and Chrome OS simply doesn’t have the software support to cater to that. The Pixelbook does support the android play store (no longer in beta) but not all the apps on there are optimised for the device.

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So is it worth the £999/$999 price tag….I think on specs and build alone then yes absolutely and for someone plugged into the whole Chrome OS Eco system its the best Google has to offer. Can an I recommend it over other devices that share the similar price tag and have that little bit extra, depends on the user, for my use then probably not but as a secondary device to compliment maybe a desktop then its perfect.

So in answer to the question asked at the start, Google wanted to build the best most powerful Chromebook ever made, they are serious about hardware and this is a statement to the other competitors that they mean business.

Let me know your thoughts, would you buy a Pixelbook? Leave me a comment and let me know.

MadeByGoogle….Pixel2 XL

 

So Google introduced us to the new family of Made By Google products and despite the many leaks previous, Google were able to show off a few surprises.

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Im just going to share my thoughts on one of the newly announced products and thats the Pixel2 XL.

Design, Right off the bat I’m  really really impressed, if I had one criticism of the original Pixel XL was that it could be referred to as underwhelming when compared other handsets but Google have addressed this with a much improved edge like design, although its not quite edge to edge like the latest S8 range or LG V30 its hugely improved. The handset still sports the glass and aluminium two tone rear signature design which is now IP67 rated and has an new coating which kind of resembles plastic but its definitely aluminium underneath.

One other notable thing when looking at the front 3d Gorilla glass 5 pOLED screen is that above and below it is two from firing stereo speakers……..finally.

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Performance of The Pixel 2 XL continues the breathtaking buttery smoothness of its predecessor and this is aided by the 4GB of ram and snapdragon 835 chipset, meaning this handset glides through anything you throw at it without so much of a hiccup or stutter.

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Google Assistant has a few new tricks, not only has it contextually improved via machine learning to give you a more human conversational element it also has a brand new Google Lens aspect which is able to identify what you look at via the camera, and provide you information or action around its result. There is also a new way to action “OK GOOGLE” and thats by squeezing the sides of the phone…….yep you heard correct, its called Active edge and right now its not re-mappable to do anything else but it would be pretty sweet if that could be enabled later.

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Camera has always been a big focus for google and since last year the competition has only increased. Recently DXO ranked the iPhone 8 Plus and the Note 8 top of the pile with 94 but Google has ripped back that title with a whopping 98. Now personally DXO rankings I take with a pinch of salt and my advise is not to take them as gospel, like with anything thats there opinion based on a test they created…..so its not one size fits all. What is worth noting is that high end smartphone cameras all perform superb these days, so preference plays a big part image result. A couple of really impressive new elements are portrait mode on the front and the rear, both producing amazing shots and video recording is now support with not just EIS but OIS also. Overall the Pixel 2 XL takes phenomenal images and once again Google have nailed that post processing creating clean crisp results.

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Now Playing is a new lock screen feature that will activate when you are in the vicinity of music and the device will then identify the artist and track. From here you can click on the info and then you have the option to play from music source ie play or Spotify, watch the video from youtube or Vevo, or even see more info on the artist. I really like this feature as music identification is not something that been lacking from Google assistant.

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Early impressions suggest that overall Google have once again produced a really impressive smartphone. I will be doing a full review once I get an actually hands on with the unit but for now this could be the android phone to beat.

Let me know what you think, comments below.

 

Galaxy Note 8: The King Returns

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Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock you know what happened with last years Samsung Galaxy Note 7, so I won’t delve into the failings of the 2016 device.

Yesterday I finally got my hands on Samsung’s latest flagship and it’s safe to say even after 24hrs……it my new favourite device.

Design

Based on the same form factor as the Galaxy S8/S8+ released earlier this year, the Note 8 continues the trend of curved super Amoled infinity gorilla glass 5 front and back which sandwich a metal frame. The overall shape has a more square look which I can only imagine is to provide more surface area for the SPen along with the curvature being less prominent when compared to the S -line.

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Cameras

Sporting a new dual camera setup, you can now take more specialised portrait photos using the tele photo lense. Both cameras have OIS along with a new live photo effect which enables you to control the bokeh effect both pre and post capture.

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I’ve always felt Samsung provided realy strong optics and with the addition of a secondary camera it’s only strengthened that trend. It’s still early days but I’m really impressed thus far and I will continue to put its through its paces over the next few weeks.

S-Pen

In essence the Note 8 shares many characteristics of the S8/S8+ but one key difference is the addition of the S-Pen. Not only has the this become a more natural writing tool it also acts as a very good navigator and selector in just day to day use as the more intricate precision is wonderful to use. With features such as screen write memo, smart select and live message to name but a few, the Spen is still a major differentiator between other OEM handsets.

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Last year the Note 7 really impressed me, until it was taken away following the issues. This year it feels like an old friend has returned and he’s bearing gifts and that’s a good thing.

There is so much to the Note 8 and I will look forward to exploring them over the next few weeks.

 

Did you order a Note 8? What are your thoughts?

 

Apple Keynote: My Reaction…

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Apple held  its biggest Keynote event to date yesterday, and on its 10th anniversary of the iPhone it debuted the event at the Steve Jobs Theater.

A fitting venue for what we all knew what was coming either by just following Apples’s annual pattern of previous releases or from the hundreds of leaked info regarding the new device and I do mean hundreds, some to the extent where Tech reviewers across the globe where being sent mock units based on leaked images which the majority proved 100% accurate.

Despite knowing what the device would look like I was still gassed, and on 24 hours of reflection, I wasn’t disappointed. Apple introduced 3 new handsets, the iPhone 8, iPhone 8+ and the iPhone X (pronounced 10).

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Both iPhone 8’s carry the same footprint of its predecessors the iPhone 7’s with some internal spec bumps, new colour coded variants and a glass back to support wireless charging…..yep you heard right….finally. Apple probably missed a trick here, they should of really named these the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus because in reality thats what they are, had they done that the similarity in devices could of been swallowed much easier by the press on first reaction.

The star of the show was the “One More thing” and the all new iPhone X was brought out in all its glory. Price aside, this is the story, this is the revolutionary move many wanted Apple to make years ago but didn’t and this is what will be the most desirable and elusive device Apple has ever made.

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The iPhone 8’s go on pre order on the 15th and will be available on the 22nd, the iPhone X will go on pre order 27th October and be available on the 3rd November. The X is what I will be going for, but the starting price of £999 is just madness…..I mean this is 2016 Mac book territory.

Ive include some brilliant event and device coverage video from some of the top tech reviewers in the game below, do make sure you check them out for a more in depth overview.

Did you watch the Keynote? Will you be buying one of the new device? Leave a comment below.

VERGE

MRMOBILE

JONATHANMORRISON

MKBHD

TECHRADAR

 

 

Why I keep going back to the OnePlus 5…

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It’s been well over 2 months of owning the OnePlus 5 and I have to say, it may well be one of my favourite phones of the year. What makes it so good you say, is it flagship killer features, is it the Dual Camera….for me its the package that OnePlus brings to the table. This has whats lead me to making frequent recommendations to friends and family. Let’s look at the areas I think matter.

DESIGN

Originally some said the phone was a carbon copy of the iPhone7 plus but once you get the phone in your hand, that’s where the comparisons end, in fact I prefer the design from OnePlus, from the slim overall chassis to the slim profile, the OnePlus 5 is a joy to hold and to use, and I have no trouble using the device in one hand. I also added one of the genuine carbon cases on mine and it still maintains its slim design which is also a bonus.

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SOFTWARE

Android software has always felt fragmented due to the different OEMs adding there own layer, think  touchwiz or LG UX as a sample, both have been historically terrible in regards to the smoothness when transitioning from screen to screen and also failing the test of time with lag. The Pixel set the standard last year with a buttery smooth software that just worked every which way and I think that would have to be my number one experience but firmly in second place is what OnePlus has done, the simplicity of stock with just a sprinkle of OnePlus is a wonderful blend so much so I’ve not even been tempted to add a launcher.

Weather I’m using multiple apps, streaming movies and video, music and gaming the one plus doesn’t stutter or skip a beat, it’s slick, smooth, and effortless and as yet to show any sign of lag.

BATTERY

I don’t really deal in screen on time because my usage can alter from day to day, what I do care about is will it get me through a day comfortably……and in this case the answer is absolutely. My habitual usage over a week stems from Spotify, Youtube, Netflix, Amazon videos, Audible and of course social networks along with the odd picture now and again. If you ever do get caught short you have the added bonus of the DASH charger which can only be described as ridiculous, it even makes the fast charging on Samsung or Pixel seem slow and dated.

PRICE

For me the this is the cherry on the cake, If you ignore the reduced prices on other flagships such as G6, S8 or S8+ then you have to be impressed at the £449/499 price tag, I cant think of a single other phone I would recommend above this for the price point, granted the Pixel XL has dropped to £449 but it didn’t launch at that price and its nearly 1 year old. OnePlus are also doing a current student deal campaign which means students can get a further 10% off (UK).

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Overall the OnePlus 5 really is a great device, the specs alone make it a powerhouse (Link Below) but it’s the all round package of price and user experience that really set this apart.

Do you have a OnePlus 5? How’s your experience been? Comment Below.

Full Specs

Netflix DeathNote misses the mark.

Back in October 2006 I doubt anyone really knew how successful a new show called Deathnote would become but what happened over the course of 6 months and 37 episodes was nothing short of phenomenal.

The series seemed to bridge hardcore anime fans and newcomers to the genre and it’s safe to say sparked a cult following internationally.

The story is based around an intelligent boy who discovers a notebook with the power to kill anyone who’s name is wrote in it. Light begins targetting the criminal underworld but as he uses it more and more his God complex grows leading him to believe he is an omnipotent force.

Fast forward to present day, Netflix have brought the rights and have spent 50million plus on turning the fan favourite show into a feature length movie,  a brave move in my opinion.

I watched last night hoping it wasn’t another ‘Dragonball Z evolution’ on our hands and although it wasn’t as bad……it wasn’t that good either.

Netflix DeathNote is ok at best, and I’m probably being generous because I know the original source material.

The first problem is that the pacing of the film is all wrong, too much to soon, so you never get to understand the characters let alone their story and motivations. The next big problem is the casting, bar William Dafoe as Ryuk pretty much every other character choice was a bad one with the clearest example of this being the lead, Nat Wolff aka Light Turner.

In the original Anime Light quickly embraces his new power and has a clear plan on how to make the world better, when compared to the netflix movie the character is basically a teenager struggling with the morale dilemma of this power while also far to interested in impressing his girlfriend Mia. Id even go as far as saying the love story becomes a touch Twilight in nature which just sinks the movie further.

So where do Netflix go from here…..I still believe the project has legs but more as a TV show in which all you would need to do is recast for the characters and stick to the original source material, but as for the movie it’s a complete let down.

Let me know your thoughts, did you enjoy the movie? Comments below.

Note 8: Samsung play it safe

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Samsung took the lid off their latest flagship the Galaxy Note 8 and despite it being one of the worst kept secrets in the tech community, there was still some cool stuff to be unveiled.

The device is very much the same design language of the S8/S8+ , metal frame sandwiched in QHD + super amoled infinity glass and minimal bezels.

The new rear camera was the star of the show at Unpacked with not one but two 12mp cameras on the rear, one wide the other telephoto and both with OIS. This is different to what other manufacturers have done previously and to support it you can capture images with both cameras at the same time. In theory this should provide images with more detail, but I will reserve comment until I get to sample for myself.

Battery was clearly and big area of contention after last years concerns and Samsung certainly didn’t shy away from A) what had happened and B) what they had done to rectify the issue. What stood out over the repetitive apologising and mentioning of the new 8 point safety check was that the Note 8 comes with a 3300mAh battery, when compared to the S8+ which carries a 3500mAH, that came as a surprise, but all things considered it makes perfect sense.

Overall my early impressions are positive and Im excited to have some hands on time with the device.

Check out the Samsung website for a full spec rundown and see below for a couple early hands on videos from some key tech tubers.

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Mr Mobile

Unpacked: 8mins

Pre orders look to begin today with a launch date of the 15th Sept and a hefty £869 price tag to boot. Will you be doing a pre order? Is it worth an upgrade over the S8/S8+? please leave a comment below.

12 Hours and counting: The Defenders

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12 hours and counting till the hotly anticipated ‘Defenders’ lands on Netflix, I for one am very excited. The forming of this team of street level heroes seems like it’s taken forever from the debut Daredevil season one which landed on our screens back in 2015 and brought with it a much darker undertone from what we were use to from Marvels previous adaptations.

Daredevil was the first introduction into one of the defenders, and it’s fair to say was an instant hit and still my favourite to date. Over the the last two years we have been treated to Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil season 2 with the introduction of the Punisher (My favourite character and many others) all equally as good and then finally Ironfist, which unfortunately was a let down when directly compared to the others.

Defenders will see the unlikely quartet all come together to fend off a new evil and save New york city and expectations are high for what should be a new benchmark in the marvel TV series.

Running order of previous shows:

Daredevil Season 1

Jessica Jones

Daredevil Season 2

Luke Cage

IronFist

Defenders

Punisher (TBC)

Will you be binge watching this weekend? What has been you favourite so far?