Is this email evolved, or an evolutionary dead end?

Mailbox for iPhone review

As I sat down on the bench next to the building where today’s important meeting would be held, I grumbled as I checked the time on my phone. I would have a long fifteen minutes to wait before I had to walk inside and make an appearance, and I wasn’t too keen on waiting around idly. I should have counted my lucky stars, of course – I was terribly close to missing this meeting altogether, an unfortunate consequence of my terrible memory that resulted in my forgetting about this meeting entirely just moments before. Luckily I had Mailbox, the brand new inbox management application for iPhones, set to remind me of this meeting half an hour before it began.

Click here or “Read More” above to read our full Mailbox for iPhone review.

How does Nintendo's next generation console stack up?

Nintendo’s Wii U – hands-on first impressions

A photo I snapped during my demo.

It’s finally (almost) here, the hotly anticipated, next-generation console from Nintendo. Their first to feature rich, high definition graphics, the Wii U is defined not just by the higher quality games now possible by the Wii U’s significantly improved specs over the Wii, but by that new controller – half gamepad, half tablet, the Wii U’s controller will certainly be both a valued component of Nintendo’s new offering as well as a point of contention to those purists – those same people who were against the Wii’s overabundant use of motion control – in the gaming community.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to get the chance to try out the Wii U, though just for ten minutes or so. As such, I left much of the new console unexplored and all of my thoughts are merely off the cuff first impressions that may change as I spend more time with the console in the future.

Now that all that has been said and done, onto the good stuff – what did I think?

At a glance, the Wii U console itself looks very much like a slightly modernized version of the original Wii from 2006. It’s a small, unassuming white box that does very little to rouse any excitement – there’s nothing from the outside that gives any sort of strong impression one way or the other. It’s certainly a far cry from the XBox 360 and Playstation 3’s strong and masculine exterior. Nintendo chose quiet minimalism over strong and assertive, perhaps seeking to appeal to a wider variety of audiences than other consoles on the market. Either way, there’s really not much to say about it.

To touch on what everybody is most interested in, the new tablet controller – the first thing I noticed here is how absurdly heavy this thing is. I can tell right off the bat that the controller’s weight is going to be a double edged sword. On one hand, it feels sturdy and substantial; on the other, this is definitely a controller that the average person will get tired of using before long. It doesn’t feel as though it was designed with the average hardcore gamer’s all-night gaming marathons in mind. I can’t stress enough however how substantial and great the controller is to hold though – it may be a tank, but it’s a very well built tank. This isn’t something that feels as though it’s likely to fall apart after a couple of months of playing like the controllers standard on some other consoles.

The controller’s display came off as both revolutionary and compromised. Spoiled as I am to live in a world of high DPI displays such as what’s found in the third-generation and fourth-generation iPad, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the Wii U’s display was just a little too low res to my eyes. Images were mostly fine, however small text proved difficult to read. Jaggies (jagged edges) were found on images and text throughout. To put this into perspective, though, this really isn’t that big of a deal when you compare the display to the average computer screen, or the iPad mini’s display – it’s only when you live in a world of knowing what can be done with a high DPI display do you really get a slight sense of disappointment here.

Touch on the display was appropriately sensitive and targets and gestures were carried out easily. For my demo, I played a level of Rayman Origins and had to cut, swipe, circle, and drag on-screen elements, all of which felt as great and natural as your average high end smartphone. My slight disappointment with the display extended only to image quality – everything else felt great. The controller’s actual, physical buttons and joysticks were just as fine as you’d expect. Controlling Rayman was as easy as ever, and I didn’t ave any issues or feel at all uncomfortable with the ergonomics of the controller. Nothing felt particularly “out of reach”, though I did have to take a couple of seconds to search for the Start and Select buttons, but that’s really not an issue as people adjust to the controller’s button layout. While I had some issue with the button placement on the original Wii, I had no such issues here. Rayman made modest use of the touchscreen, nothing out of the realm of what one would expect on your average DS or 3DS game – so nothing to really write home about here.

It’s a bit unfair to judge the console’s graphical prowess and general “oomph” on Rayman Origins (seeing as this is a pretty basic, classic 2D platformer), but everything was amazingly crisp, colorful, and beautiful in a way that Wii games just never were. The game seemed to run at an amazing 60FPS and suffered no lag or slowdowns even as I was blasting my way through the most graphically intensive portions of the level I played in some sort of cannon. Again, there wasn’t a whole lot to draw many conclusions on other than that the Wii U is absolute heads and shoulders above the Wii in every aspect of performance.

Based on my experience with the Wii U, from a product standpoint, Nintendo’s got a real contender on their hands. Unfortunately, I believe that Nintendo made a mistake pricing the Wii U as high as they did – it’s entry price of $299 is significantly higher than that of the original Wii’s or other consoles’ on the market today. Kids are going to have to do a lot of begging to get their parents to convince them to put one of these under the tree this Christmas. I also question Nintendo’s decision to not bundle the more traditional Pro Controller along with the standard touchscreen one, especially on the Deluxe bundle that serious gamers will be more likely to go for. As excellent as the Wii U’s touchscreen controller is, its sheer weight and low resolution display might be enough to put off those hardcore players Nintendo desperately needs to capture this time around. Despite my reservations, I found the Wii U to be an exceptional product that will delight the average customer in absolutely every way. While I may have come across as a little critical here, the Wii U really met my expectations as one of the most exciting product launches in 2012. It just has yet to really exceed my expectations.

Rethink Digg: the launch of a new Digg

As you may know, Betaworks, the company behind the pretty popular mobile applications, has recently announced that they’ve purchased the rights to the Digg name and domain. The company didn’t say they got anything else – the extremely talented team, the old tech, just the name, really. This was perhaps a little over a month ago. Fast forward to today – the launch of a new Digg.

Digg v1 as Betaworks is calling it is an entirely new Digg experience. It’s a radical redesign of the beloved site, built from the ground up, with a new codebase, a new dedicated staff, and an entirely new and “modern” codebase. Nothing has been carried across but the name – even the entire userbase has been deleted and reset from scratch. So what makes this new, more adventorous Digg so different from the last incarnation, Digg v4?

Read our thoughts on the new Digg v1 after the break.

Facebook Camera for iOS hands-on

As you may of heard, Facebook today released a new application for iOS devices aimed at making it faster and easier to take, post, and consume photos on Facebook. Developed by a separate branch of Facebook than the original Facebook app and the newly acquired Instagram, Facebook Camera offers some interesting features on social photo sharing.

How does Facebook Camera fair? Find out after the break!