Saturday, September 4, 2010

Xbox Kinect

Microsoft's announced that a shiny new Xbox 360 Arcade replacement -- with 4GB internal flash memory, a matte finish, and built-in 802.11n WiFi -- will be shipping August 3rd for $199.99. A stark difference in capacity to the current 250GB model, but at least it's cheaper. Looking ahead to November, the standalone Kinect, it's coming for (yeah, you guessed it) $149.99 with Kinect Adventures. Act surprised, Microsoft would really like you to. As for the pièce de résistance -- that'd be the 4GB console, Kinect sensor, and game -- that's due out "this holiday" for $299.99.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Droid 2

Now, let's turn our attention to perhaps the Droid's single biggest pain point: the QWERTY keyboard. To get to it, you slide the phone open, which feels exactly like the first Droid -- there's no spring mechanism, and you've still got a little bit of friction to overcome as you slide. Some like it, some don't, but it feels solid without a hint of wobble. Anyhow, Motorola clearly heard the complaints loud and clear with the keyboard itself, killing off the oversized (and completely unnecessary) d-pad to the right side of the keys and giving each individual key a little bit of doming so that you can feel them out. Many old Droid owners have probably long since grown used to the flat, barren wasteland of their keyboards, of course -- but for anyone considering throwing their hat into the Droid arena for the first time, being able to feel those keys even just a little bit should make the transition far easier (seriously, they're just barely domed, but it's enough to get the job done).

Motorola's also made considerably better use of the keyboard's layout, too; heck, the original model inexplicably left two keys as blanks, an unprecedented move on a mobile device where real estate is always at a premium. No longer, though: the Alt and Shift keys are now double-width, the duplicates on the right side have been removed, a Back key has been added, and you've got a dedicated Alt Lock key, presumably useful for when you're going to be dealing with a lot of numbers. They were also able to eliminate the keyboard's Menu key by moving the screen's capacitive Menu button to the far left side, meaning it's now closest to the keyboard when it's open and pretty easily accessible. That's all well and good, but we wish Motorola would just pick a configuration for these capacitive buttons and run with it -- owners of Droids who are upgrading to the Droid 2 are going to have a devil of a time getting used to the new layout for at least the first few days of ownership, we imagine (fortunately, it's the same layout as the Droid X).