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Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 15.53.35.pngStar Trek The Video Game is looking to boldly go where no licensed video game has gone before. Free of the standard (and destructively short) 9 to 12 month development cycle of the usual movie-to-game adaptations, Star Trek The Video Game has been offered the unheard of luxury of a full three year's worth of development and unparalleled access to the creative minds behind the films that spawned it. From art teams and set designers to the entire cast of J J Abrams reboot (returning here for voice over duties), Star Trek The Video Game is aiming for a level of authenticity that other movie tie-ins can only dream of.

The goal here is also to not only accurately recreate the Star Trek universe in game form, but to build a game that's worthy of attention in its own right. In a wise move, the developers have chosen to set the game between 2009's Star Trek and the forthcoming Star Trek Into Darkness movie. Though still canonical, they've got an original story to build levels around (one that sees Kirk and crew take on fan favourites the Gorn, here given a 21st century makeover since their rubber-suited days), giving them creative freedom to create the sort of interactive experiences that they want to bring to the table without being tied to an established narrative.Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 15.53.44.pngFrom the game's unveiling it's been branded quite unfairly as a Mass Effect knock off. Though J J Abrams' take on the Star Trek universe may well have taken inspiration from Mass Effect, it's worth remembering that Star Trek was pretty much the blueprint for Mass Effect to begin with. And in reality, they're two very different games.

While Mass Effect is an RPG with branching narratives and character customisation, this is very much a focussed action game, more in line with the likes of Uncharted or Gears of War. As well as cover-based shooting (the game has over 25 weapons each with dual-firing modes) you'll do a fair bit of puzzle solving and platforming too, running, jumping, hanging and shimmying around recognisable locations from the franchise.Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 15.53.37.pngThe Gears of War comparison is perhaps the most apt of all. No, Kirk and co haven't been turned into muscle-bound meatheads, but just as Gears of War had a keen focus on co-operative play, so too does Star Trek. Whether playing in single player or online multiplayer, every Kirk will have a Spock to accompany them and vice versa, whether controlled by a human or the AI.

This leads to many moments in the game where players will have to work together - one instance saw a disarmed Spock carrying an injured Kirk around a ship infested with Gorn soldiers. Kirk has to keep the enemies at bay until Spock can carry him to an operating table. Here, the player being Spock will have to quickly complete a minigame before Kirk is overwhelmed by enemies. Elsewhere gamers will be able to highlight points of interest for each other and request the other interacts with an out-of-reach object (or sends the AI buddy off to do their bidding). It's a thoughtful approach, considering Star Trek at its very core centres around the relationship of the two Enterprise officers. You'll even get a chance to pit Kirk and Spock against each other in mortal combat at one point, mirroring the classic scene.Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 15.54.55.pngThe game also wont be afraid of a set piece or two. A fun hands-off sequence demoed showed Kirk careering through space debris as he attempted to infiltrate the hi-jacked Enterprise unnoticed, while another saw Spock and Kirk dart from safe point to safe point around a large engine as dangerous rays intermittently fired towards them.

Easter eggs abound (keep an eye out for the number of red shirt deaths, while the fan-favourite tricorder now acts as an Arkham-style objective hint system), and care has been taken to re-create key locations such as the iconic Bridge in great detail. However, the level design on show so far seemed sparse and bland, as were effects such as explosions and lighting. Lip syncing looked awkward too, which could undermine the cinematic approach the game is aiming for.

The ambition is definitely there with Star Trek The Video Game, but were yet to be convinced of the execution. We'll have more on the game in the run up to its launch on 26 April. Keep checking back for more.

He's the daddy of all "Sim" games, from the original SimCity right through to the gene-pool tweaking Spore, but Will Wright has had only an advisory role when it comes to the new SimCity game, due out on March 8.

So what does he think of it, and more importantly, how did he play it? Wright spills the beans in the video above.

All in, he seems pretty impressed, particularly with the new game's curvy road tool, the zoomed-in view of each city and the way the game's focussed city specializations mirror the real world.

We were equally impressed with SimCity during our play through the beta testing period. Though we remain skeptical of the game's multiplayer modes, we called said that "the marriage of nostalgia and exciting new concepts seems to be working out well".

Click here to check out our full preview. We'll be conducting a full review of the game soon, so keep checking back for our definitive verdict.


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PREVIEW: SimCity - Reticulating splines for a new generation


Virgin Media logo.jpgSponsored post

The best and most modern broadband is that which is wireless. In an age where not just your computer, but your phone, tablet and laptop are all connected to the internet, getting the right wireless broadband is essential.

Yet you still need a decent connection. If you have a poor connection coming in, it doesn't matter how good your wireless service is. There is where you should look for the likes of Virgin fibre optic broadband, to give you the best of all these options.

The perfect deal

The main appeal of Virgin broadband, besides the high speed internet access itself, is that it allows you to mix and match deals to suit your needs. If you're after fast, wireless options, for instance, these are all easily customisable. Likewise if you're after TV and other Virgin Media options; it can all be added together to make one package designed around you. To compare broadband, find out more or see what else is on offer, look at their website.

Going wireless

The benefit of Virgin broadband is that it gives you access to all Virgin's addition quality services. Broadband options start from just £17.50 a month, which gives you access to the Virgin super hub. This little router is what gives you the best service; it takes the high speed broadband you expect and converts into a strong wireless signal that benefits the whole house.

The wireless signal allows more devices to access the router and, thus, the internet. If you have various devices to connect, and are paying for larger bandwidth to accommodate this, then this is something you'll want. Being able to save on messy cables is an added bonus, too.

Speed

Virgin broadband is available in three speeds; those of up to 30mb, those of up to 60mb and those reaching 100mb. Of course, it helps to know which is right for you. Whilst 30mb will suffice for a couple of people, families or more internet-dependant households may need 60mb to cope with the extra data traffic. If you want the very best, then you want to opt for the 100mb packages available.

All this can still be customised with the other options available, meaning you can easily take the fast connection you want and combine it with wireless broadband from Virgin. With further offers available, such as getting your first 6 months free, you can make the package even more tempting.

The end result, of course is getting the right internet for your home. With the option to choose from different speeds and wireless internet, as well as additional extras, it's a tailor-made service that gives you exactly what you're looking for, rather than charging you for extras you're not going to use.


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s4-browser-test.pngNew mobile browser benchmarking scores, reportedly from the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4 handset, suggest that Samsung's new flagship Android handset will tear through web page load times at speeds that'd make Usain Bolt quake.

The results, spotted by GSM Arena, are for a handset codenamed the Samsung GT-I9500, widely expected to be the Samsung Galaxy S4. Testing the handset's browser with the Browsermark 2.0 benchmarking tool, the alleged S4 managed a score of 2710, with Chrome 25 as the browser.

Lined up against competition from the LG Optimus G, HTC One, Sony Xperia Z and Google Nexus 4 (as seen in the chart above) it suggests the Galaxy S4 will be one of the fastest smartphones on the market when it comes to loading up web pages, and miles beyond the speeds capable from a Samsung Galaxy S4.

The Browsermark test goes so far as to call it "superior to 99% of all phone browsers".

Of course, benchmark tests rarely have a bearing on the feel of using a device in a real-world situation, but if the tests do indeed relate to a Galaxy S4 handset it is a promising start.

The Galaxy S4 is set for a big launch on March 14. We'll have all the details from the event here on Tech Digest, so keep checking back to see what Samsung have in store for smartphone fans.

In the meantime, why not check out our Samsung Galaxy S4 rumour round-up?

HTC-One-preview-pics-6.JPGHTC's slick new HTC Sense 5 Android re-skin looks set to land on older devices as well as the company's new flagship HTC One handset.

At least some of the new functions offered by the new UI will be making their way to the HTC One X, HTC One X+, HTC One S and HTC Butterfly, according to a new Facebook post from the company:

"HTC will be offering upgrades to some of its existing devices in the next few months, including global variants of HTC One X, One X+, One S and the HTC Butterfly. Also, note that some features enabled by the new HTC One hardware will not be available in the software updates."

So what's likely to make the jump to older handsets? We'd say BlinkFeed, the content aggregation service that HTC signed up so many partners for for starters; all parties involved their will likely be looking to maximise the reach of that feature (HTC will want to increase visibility of the headline feature of their new UI, while content providers will look to push their wares to as many users as possible).

Likewise the new clean fonts and stripped back design sensibilities will likely make the jump, as will tweaks to customise the app drawer.

However, it's highly unlikely that the Zoe camera features will make the jump. The new ultrapixel camera technology won't work alongside older camera systems.

No word yet on the roll out of the updates, but it expect it to be some time after the HTC One launches on 15 March. Find out more about BlinkFeed and HTC Sense 5 by clicking here.

happy-app-stats.jpgApps have permeated into so many different aspects of our lives that it's hard to remember a time without them. From checking maps on our phones to chatting with pals through IM clients, they now aid us through some of life's most basic tasks. Were you given the opportunity to turn back the clock to a pre-app time, could you now happily live without them?

For some of you, it seems the answer is no. According to a new survey by Apigee, 23% of app users "would be unable to feel happy" without the apps on their phones. Without a little Angry Birds these days, it seems some of us would end up just like this guy:
But that's not the worst part. Without apps, many of those surveyed now feel as though they couldn't complete some of the most basic of tasks; 20% couldn't find their way to work, 19% couldn't maintain a relationship, 10% couldn't even order food to feed themselves with.

What the hell has happened to this race of hunter-gatherers? We got out of the primordial soup without apps, but it seems as if their effect on our lives is to send us back to pre-Neanderthal times.

A bit of context is required here however. Though the survey was carried out across many territories, including the UK, Spain, France, Germany and the US, its total number of respondents numbered only 762. That's hardly a gigantic sample pool, so we're hoping they just happened to target app lovers in Hicksville.

Also, with Apigee being a company dedicated to selling API platforms to devs, its in their interest to make the entire world seem hopeless without apps. A little scaremongering is going on here for sure, but if you found yourself among those surveyed who can't feed themselves without an app, you should probably go seek professional help.

blackberry-z10-02.JPGDespite launching in the UK last month, US BlackBerry fans have been unable to get their hands on the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone. However, the wait for BlackBerry's flagship phone with the new BB10 operating system may soon be over, a tweet from BlackBerry's official Twitter account has revealed.

The Waterloo, Canada-based company tweeted that:

"BlackBerry 10 will be available across the US in a few short weeks," showing that the US release is still on target. At the handset's launch event the company announced the BlackBerry Z10 was launching on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon sometime in mid-March, and while a specific date still has not been given, it looks as though that launch window is still on track.

The QWERTY keyboard Q10 handset is expected to follow in May or June.

According to BlackBerry, the Z10 launch has so far been a success. European managing director Stephen Bates said: "The response we have seen exceeded all of our launch partners' expectations.

"Our partners have told us that they have sold out in some of their key locations".

RELATED:
REVIEW: BlackBerry Z10 smartphone with BB10 operating system

Tim-Cook-Apple.jpgThis may well be the biggest hint yet that Apple is working on the rumoured iWatch. During Wednesday's annual shareholder meeting, Apple CEO discussed the company's long-term plans, stating that Apple is "looking at new categories" for products.

Could these product categories include wristwatch accessories and televisions, accommodating the iOS-packing iWatch wristwatch and long-rumoured iTV? With Google's Glass augmented reality headset continuing to intrigue potential customers, Apple will be keen to appear to be innovating just as much as their Mountain View rivals.

As well as alluding to new products, Cook also went through the company's finances, discussing the recent stock drop, and admitting he doesn't like it anymore than his shareholders.

Speaking specifically about fiscal 2012, Cook revealed that Apple's stock pile of cash grew to around $48 billion.

This follows record last quarter earnings for Apple, reporting $54.5 billion in revenue and $13.1 billion in net profit, in part thanks to the sales of 47.8 million iPhones, 22.9 million iPads, 12.7 million iPods, and 4.1 million Macs. Updates to the Mac line, iPad mini, and full-fat iPad are expected to boost these numbers even further as the year progresses.

However, analysts such as Jefferies' Peter Misek believe that unless Apple can bring an innovative new product to market it is "potentially facing a very rough two year period".

amazon-cloud-player-ipad.pngAmazon have updated the Amazon Cloud Player app, bringing new iPad and iPad Mini optimised features to the version for Apple tablets.

Better accomodating the extra space afforded to Apple's tablet devices, the app allows users to access music stored on Amazon's cloud service, including both tracks uploaded from a personal library and those bought through Amazon's stores.

Tracks can be both streamed or downloaded to local storage, giving unlimited free cloud storage space to tracks purchased directly from Amazon's own AmazonMP3 store. However, if you're looking to upload your personally ripped CDs or downloads bought from another service you'll be limited to just 250 uploads and less you cough up for the £21.99 a year, 250,000 track premium version.

"Our goal is to make Cloud Player the most widely compatible cloud playback solution available, giving our customers the ability to buy their music once and enjoy it everywhere," said Steve Boom, VP of digital music for Amazon.

Steve Bernstein, director, EU Digital for Amazon, added: "With Amazon Cloud Player for iPad, we're excited to bring our UK customers another great way to access their music when and where they want it."

Amazon Cloud Player went live in the UK back in September 2012 following a successful US launch. Despite rivalling Apple's own iTunes Match and iCloud services, it made its way in app form to the App Store for iPods and iPhones last summer. Thankfully, the frustrating wait for an iPad version is now over.

Click here to grab the app.

galaxy-s-3-mini.jpgSamsung have announced the Samsung Wallet, a new app that looks set to rival Apple's Passbook when it comes to handling digital copies of tickets and coupons.

Launching alongside an open API to the app, Wallet will allow users to save tickets, coupons, airline boarding passes and other such materials into a single hub on Samsung mobile devices.

Wallet will offer location-based push notifications to alert users that a coupon in their app can be used somewhere nearby, while real-time updates to tickets that stand the chance of changing (like a different departure gate for a flight ticket, for instance) can also be sent to users. As with Apple's Passbook, the app can also be used to deliver barcodes to scanners.

Samsung already have plenty of partners onboard in the US, including MLB, Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Lufthansa and Walgreens, with the aim to making Wallet a ubiquitous service worldwide. And though NFC and NFC payments aren't yet supported, it's a feature expected to land in the near future, alongside news of potential credit card partners.

With the Samsung Galaxy S4 set to launch on March 14, don't be too surprised if Wallet features are among those getting top billing at the event.

REVIEW: Crysis 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

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review-line.JPGName: Crysis 3

Genre: First Person Shooter

Platform: Xbox 360 (reviewed) PS3, PC

Price: £37.01 on Xbox 360 from Amazon

£38 on PS3 from Amazon

£35.92 on PC from Amazon

review-line.JPGWe strap on our nanosuits and head out into the urban jungle of Crysis 3. Bow in hand, will this first person shooter make up for the disappointment that Crysis 2 proved to be? Read on to find out!

review-line.JPG2007's original Crysis game drew you in with visuals so stunning for their day that few were able to afford a PC rig suitably powerful to play it on. Once the allure of its sublime looks wore thin, it was able to keep you gripped through the replayable first-person gameplay that its open-world setting and Predator-like Nanosuit powers offered. Whether sneaking through the undergrowth with an invisibility cloak on or rushing in Rambo style all-guns-blazing with the power armour activated, each encounter with the enemy could be approached in numerous ways, all equally exciting.

But, as Crysis transitioned from being a PC-only title to being a multiplatform console game too, something became lost. Concessions were made. Though the console versions of Crysis 2 held their own visually, it was in part thanks to the fact that all versions of the game (PC included) were far more linear in scope than the first game and its spin-off semi-sequel Crysis Warhead. You were still a power-suit wearing badass, but the amount of choice you were given with which to approach Crysis 2's comparatively claustrophobic environments and challenges was limited. For all the power that the game's signature Nanosuit offered, you'd lost video gaming's most powerful weapon of all: freedom.crysis-3-1.pngCrysis 3 rights many of the wrongs made by its predecessor. While it never feels quite as expansive as the first game in the series did upon release, it's significantly more open than Crysis 2 was. And that's without compromising on the series' breathtaking looks, no matter which machine you choose to play it on.

Crysis 3 is set 20 years after the events of Crysis 2. What's left of the Manhattan that was ravaged by alien forces in Crysis 2 is now covered by a protective biodome, put in place by the menacing Cell network, who alongside the alien Ceph are the main enemies that returning hero Prophet comes up against.

This framing story serves the game excellently in two ways. Firstly, it's delivered with aplomb. Though it's a typically outlandish end-of-the-world plot delivered by developers Crytek, Crysis 3 handles its story with more confidence in this outing than with any Crysis game before. At its worst (towards the end of the game) it funnels the game into linear sequences for the sake of plot progression. But the delivery is consistently excellent throughout. Between the characters' utterly convincing facial animations and some top drawer voice performances, you'll be impressed with its presentation even if the story's content leaves something to be desired.crysis-3-3.pngSecondly, the presentation of the biodome itself. Given Crysis 3's pedigree, it'll come as no surprise that the game looks absolutely amazing, and the biodome setting is an excellent environment for the art teams to flex their muscles within. New York is now totally overrun with vegetation, bursting through the crumbling remains of skyscrapers and subways. Magnificent lighting and particle effects, along with detailed models and great textures make the game another technical 5-star performance for the Crysis franchise, but its the variety on offer here that really impresses. From swamp-like regions to wide-open plains to the sci-fi weaponry of alien nasties, it's artistically a superb achievement too.

What's most surprising is how well the game stands up on the console versions. Of course, a high-end PC, if you've access to one, is the ideal way to experience the game, where its maxed-out, hi-res visuals come as close to photo-realism as we've yet seen from a game. But even on the ageing Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles, and despite the wide level design, the game looks a real treat, optimised well enough for the hardware to avoid any chugging performance issues that sometimes popped up in Crysis 2.

From a gameplay perspective, the biodome setting is far more well realised than Crysis 2's locales too. Though the game has its moments of linearity, more often than not Prophet is afforded the opportunity to scope out his prey and plan numerous differing tactical approaches to encounters.crysis-3-4.pngStealth elements have been given the most care and attention in Crysis 3. As well as the Nanosuit's limited ability to turn you invisible for short periods of time, Prophet now also has a bow and arrows at his disposal. Using a tactical visor within the open environments you're able to track down enemies from afar and plan fiendish ways to take them down silently. Then there's the introduction of the bow weapon, so fun it is to wield that you'll likely use it for the majority of the game. The bow, capable of satisfying one shot kills tempered by limited ammunition is key to any successful stealth attack. Hearing enemy soldiers panic as they find an ally downed by an arrow is sadistically good fun, but creeping back up on the body to reclaim your spent, rare ammunition is tense. Successfully clearing an area without being detected feels like a real accomplishment, and the design of each level, paired with solid enemy AI, accommodates this approach very well. New skills such as the ability to hack enemy turrets and electronic mine-fields help to further widen the opportunities for creative death-dealing.

If anything, the quality of the straight-forward gunplay has been left in the shadows this time around. Though you've still got the option of boosting the Nanosuit's armour for head-on encounters, it feels simplistic and mindless in comparison to the stealth elements. The Rambo approach can see you dash through the single player game in 5 or 6 hours, and despite a wide array of weaponry and on-the-fly upgrades, it lacks the emergent chaos that made a similar approach in the original Crysis so much fun. Even in its final quarter, as the game encourages a gung-ho approach, it favours Call of Duty style set-pieces rather than madness orchestrated by your own hand.crysis-3-2.pngFor the most part, Crysis 3's single player campaign is a return to form then. And while the series' multiplayer modes have always felt a little tacked on, there's more thought gone into them this time around. While online standards such as deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag and King of the Hill are all present (albeit with the addition of Nanosuit powers), Crysis 3 introduces the intriguing Hunters mode. Here, two players act as Nanosuit wearing "hunters", tracking down and picking off a team of regular, player-controlled troopers. As each trooper is inevitably picked off by the more powerful predatory hunters, fallen troopers join the ranks of the Nanosuit team, until one trooper is left standing and victorious. It's a really tense game mode, and a unique one that could only exist within the gameplay mechanics of a Crysis game.

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Verdict:

More focussed than the first Crysis, but more liberatingly open than the second, Crysis 3 sees the series finding a successful balance between the demands of an open world and the desire for increasingly elaborate visuals. Still a graphical powerhouse, the franchise has a little more soul thanks to improved story execution and yet offers increased opportunity for sandbox-style emergent gameplay. Gamers with a penchant for stealth gaming will be those best served, but all looking for a shooter with a bit more brains and a hell of a lot more beauty will find something to enjoy with Crysis 3.

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4/5
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ee-4g-top.jpgEE's 4G roll out across the UK continues at a pace, with the companies superfast mobile download speeds hitting nine more towns today.

Barnsley, Chorley, Coventry, Newport, Preston, Rotherham, Telford, Walsall, and Watford are all now 4G-enabled, bringing the total number of towns covered by EE's LTE network up to 37.

With Ofcom's auction of the remaining 4G spectrum now completed, it'll be in EE's interests to offer as wide a spread of LTE coverage on its own network as it can before the likes of O2, Three, Vodafone and BT begin to offer their own services.

Some have argued that EE's relatively high pricing of 4G contracts has put off many interested in signing up for LTE speeds, and that a bit of healthy competition (and significantly lower pricing, as offered by Three) may improve the take up of 4G in the UK.

As for EE's 4G fortunes, the signs point towards a drop off in sign-ups. It added 201,000 new users in Q4 of 2012, 49,000 fewer than it pulled in during the previous quarter, despite launching in a handful of major larger cities during that period.

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REVIEW: EE 4G - One month living with the super-fast mobile network

adobe-photoshop-touch-top.pngAdobe's mobile Photoshop Touch app for iPad has been updated today, bringing with it new versions optimised for iPhone and Android handsets, as well as iPod Touch.

Putting many of the desktop application's picture editing controls in the palm of your hand, images up to 12MP in size can now be manipulated with full layer editing, alongside filters, tone and deep colour adjustment options.

The apps also come with 2GB of free Adobe Creative Cloud storage to sync images, letting you begin an edit on your smartphone and continue it seamlessly on a desktop or tablet device.

"Mobile phones are increasingly becoming the primary tool for people to take and edit photos," said Winston Hendrickson, Adobe's vice-president products, creative and media solutions.

"Adobe is dedicated to serving our customers' evolving creative workflow and we heard, loud and clear, that Photoshop fans wanted some core Adobe imaging magic on their smartphones."

The app is available now, priced at £2.99 on Apple's App Store or Google's Play store for Android devices.

Internet Explorer 10 finally hits Windows 7

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IE10-metro-logo.jpgWindows 7 users, Microsoft has not abandoned you! Though most of the Redmond company's attention of late has been on Windows 8, Windows 7 users today get the latest version of Internet Explorer, IE10.

In order to get Internet Explorer 10, you'll need to have Windows 7's Service Pack 1 installed. So long as you haven't blocked Microsoft from making automatic upgrades to the OS you should be fine, with it landing automatically through Windows Update. Also, anyone running IE10 Release Preview will also get the update today.

IE10 for Windows 7 shares many of the Windows 8 build's features, but doesn't have the full screen Windows 8 view, while Flash remains a separate plug-in that has to be updated manually.

What you do get though is built-in spell check and auto-correct, faster tab closing and default Do Not Track privacy settings. It's also up to 20% faster than IE9.

lg-wireless-charging-pad-top.jpgIs it a dinky vinyl record? It is a black mug coaster? No! It's LG' new WCP-300 wireless charging pad, said to be the smallest in the world.

Revealed at MWC 2013, the charging pad measures just 6.9cm in diameter and has been Qi certified by the Wireless Power Consortium, making it good to go for all your Nexus 4 and Lumia 920 wireless charging needs, amongst other compatible handsets.

"With the WCP-300, LG was able to deliver both portability with top-class charging capabilities in a device no larger than a typical beverage coaster." said Dr. Jong-seok Park, President and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company.

Using a standard 5-pin micro USB connection to push power to the pad, it's the first move in LG's long-term goal to have a stronger wireless smartphone range in the near future.

Hitting South Korean stores this week, it retails at KRW 65,000 (around £36). No word on UK release yet.

Considering LG's mobile presence at MWC 2013 has all been about big screen phones (here's looking at you Mr 5.5-inch LG Optimus G Pro) we have to wonder why they've gone for such a tiny charging pad. Sure, it may grab headlines, but with phones getting bigger and bigger, they may actually slip off of a smaller wireless charging pad.

wii-mini-uk-top.jpgNintendo have confirmed that their re-vamped, pint-sized Wii Mini console well be hitting UK stores on 22 March.

A smaller version of the original Wii console, Nintendo have been able to cut its price and its size by removing the original console's internet connection, SD Card Slot and GameCube game backwards compatibility.

However, Nintendo have yet to reveal exact pricing for the Wii Mini. In Canada (the only territory it is currently available in) it retails for $99.99, so we'd expect to see it hit UK stores at around the £80-£90 mark. However, considering the comparatively feature-rich original Wii now only costs around £80 (and half that again if bought second hand), Nintendo should really be aiming for a price tag around the £50-£60 if it's to hope to sell any substantial numbers of the console. Indeed, many gamers will likely now be holding out for the Wii U, which starts at around £240 for the basic pack.

Unlike the white or black original Wii consoles, the Wii Mini will come in a red and black casing, along with red Wiimote and Nunchuck controllers.

Nintendo have also announced a fresh slew of cut-price title being added to its Platinum games range to accompany the cut-price console. Mario Party 8, Wii Sports Resort, Mario Power Tennis and Super Paper Mario will make their debut as Platinum titles alongside the launch of the Wii Mini. Other Platinum titles already available include Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

We'll bring you precise pricing info as soon as we have it.

RELATED:
REVIEW: Nintendo Wii U

google_nexus_4_vs_samsung_galaxy_s3Google, makers of the Android mobile operating system, and Samsung, makers of the most successful Android smartphone range with their Galaxy line. You'd think the two would be best buddies, each helping to fill the coffers of the other. But in reality, it seems the two companies are becoming increasingly cautious of the other.

A report from the Wall Street Journal and highlighted by The Verge suggests that Google is beginning to fear that Samsung's mobile might could eventually make them a competitor, not a partner.

The WSJ points to a meeting held in 2012 in which Andy Rubin, head of Android, on one hand praised Samsung's success on the platform, but also warned that Google may find itself on the back foot if Samsung's Android popularity continued to grow unrivalled.

With Samsung accounting for 39.6% of the global smartphone market and the majority of that made up from Android sales, Rubin is said to have cautioned that Samsung may soon feel themselves in a position to make increasingly difficult demands from Google. This could be in the shape of feature exclusivity, with Samsung's smartphone popularity growing to such a point that they could threaten to launch a custom operating system that borrows heavily from Google's own, in much the same way that Amazon did with their Kindle Fire line.

As it stands, even Samsung's closest Android competitor HTC is flailing.

Google's defence? The purchase of Motorola Mobility, an asset that Rubin called a hedge against Samsung's growing popularity. With it, Google may be able to make their Nexus line the most highly sought after Android devices. The Nexus 4 set the ball rolling well in this direction, while the rumoured X Phone could capitalise on that momentum, improving Google's position against Samsung.

google-headphones.pngGoogle are said to be planning to launch their own music streaming service in Q3 2013 to rival Spotify, according to new reports from both the Financial Times and Bloomberg.

Google may beat both Apple and Amazon to the punch with a streaming service that offers a "library of millions of songs" to subscribers. Both Amazon and Apple have been rumoured to be launching similar services, though none have materialised.

Google's streaming service would be in addition to the Google Play music store already open for business from the Mountain View company, allowing for MP3 downloads, as well as cloud-locker storage for previously-bought songs.

Bloomberg tip the service to launch in Q3 of this year, but do not share any details on pricing, nor cross-platform compatibility. It may be in Google's interests to lock any such streaming service to their Android devices and Chrome OS, though record company's may be less keen to see the already-slim revenue from streams locked into a single platform.

Indeed, Google have been popping out more and more iOS apps in recent months, and the opportunity to further monetize users of a rival platform will likely be tempting.

ps4-launch-event-1.pngNew information on Sony's PlayStation 4 plans has been revealed following last week's glitzy New York launch event for the next-generation games console. No, it's not a shot of what the console actually looks like, but rather the possibility of an "all-you-can-eat" gaming subscription service accompanying the machine, as well as the news that every PS4 title will be available to download digitally alongside those that can be bought physically at retail.

"PS4 will be similar to PS Vita in that every game will be available as a digital download, and some will also be available as a disc," Shuhei Yoshida, Sony Worldwide Studios head told The Guardian.

Like PSN and the Xbox 360's XBLA games, some titles won't get a physical disc based release at all. This is because "of the flexibility of the digital distribution scheme".

"We can have more small games that might be free or available for a couple of dollars, or different services like free-to-play or subscription models," stated Yoshida.

Yoshida also hinted at a more comprehensive subscription service than what is already available with PlayStation Plus when the PS4 hits stores:

"As more and more services and contents become available digitally, we'll have more of an option to create attractive packages. So hypothetically we can look at different models - like a cable TV company. We could have gold, silver or platinum levels of membership, something like that.

"We can do subscription services when we have more content - especially now that we have the Gaikai technology available. With one subscription you have access to thousands of games - that's our dream."

As well as potentially shouldering the burden of a subscription model, the now Sony-owned Gaikai will also power the console's social features, such as live game streaming, screen sharing and Facebook and Twitter connectivity. Gaikai's cloud-streaming tech will also be the only way gamers will be able to play older PS3 titles on the PS4, as the console isn't backwards compatible.

Set for a "Holiday 2013" release, expect to see more information on the PlayStation 4 revealed in the run up to this summer's E3 gaming expo.

zte-open.jpgThe ZTE Open has been revealed as the first smartphone running the forthcoming Firefox OS from Mozilla to be made commercially available.

Aimed at the lower-end of the smartphone market, the device will run the promising new operating system on a 3.5-inch device with a 480 x 320 display. Powered by a Qualcomm MSM7225A chip with just 256MB of RAM, it shows that the Firefox OS seems to be a fairly lightweight, flexible mobile operating system.

Other specs include 512MB of internal storage space, a 3.2MP fixed-focus camera on the rear, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS and a 1200mAh battery.

Without an app store at launch, Firefox OS will rely on web-based HTML5 applications. Plenty of high-profile apps, such as Facebook, Cut The Rope and Nokia's Here maps are already available in HTML5 versions.

"ZTE continues to push the boundaries with the aim of bringing customers the very latest that mobile technology has to offer." said Mr. He Shiyou, ZTE EVP and Head of the Mobile Devices Division.

"ZTE has moved very quickly and has worked closely with us to develop a robust Mozilla Firefox OS smartphone," said Brendan Eich, Co-founder and CTO of Mozilla.

"Firefox OS brings powerful open Web technologies to the smartphone market, giving users more choice and more options that reflect their lifestyle."

The ZTE Open will be joined by the Alcatel One Touch as one of the earliest smartphones to sport the new OS. It's similarly spec'd out as an entry-level phone, with a 3.5-inch screen, 1GHz processor, 512Mb of storage (which can be expanded through a microSD card slot) and a 3.2 MP camera.

No word on release date or pricing for either handset yet. However, Mozilla have previously hinted at a 2014 launch for the Firefox OS in the US and Europe, though residents of Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela will apparently see Firefox OS phones popping up in stores before the year is out.

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