-Adam Royal

 

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The first question asked when a new phone is released usually has something to do with how it stacks up against the competition. The HTC One managed to walk an entire crowd of people through a smartphone unveiling without once mentioning details about the components, numerical specifications, or even what version of the Android operating system the phone runs.

Samsung’s approach to the Galaxy S3 user interface, the TouchWiz overlay, focuses on organic elements. Their whole “inspired by nature” theme is represented in water droplet notification tones, the use of bright natural colors, and a soft, flowing approach to animations. TouchWiz is also packed with features that are dormant the first time you turn the phone on, but allow the user to create a compelling and unique experience. You can move apps across desktops be moving your phone through the air, or allow the camera to keep the screen on as long as it can detect your eyes.

The TouchWiz Nature UX has grown since its launch to allow for multitasking and an enhanced sharing tool through Multi-Window support and Smart Share Direct with NFC control. The longer you use the phone, the more it becomes your own personalized experience.

The new HTC Sense user interface, one of the key points to the release of the HTC One, focuses heavily on delivering an experience to the users. The “BlinkFeed” — basically a full-page content feed filled with social media, images, and blog posts — grabs content and organizes it in a way that HTC has determined through intense research into what users will want. This feed consumes one whole page of the desktop, and HTC expects that most users will treat this as their home page.

The One’s new camera features HTC Zoe, a software tool designed to grab a handful of frames around a photo you want to take and use it to create a short video clip. HTC is the editor and producer in Zoe, with the user as the cameraman and the customer at the same time.

If you’re looking to personalize your HTC One, Sense offers a handful of helpful themes for both the homescreen and lockscreen that will allow you to completely re-skin the UI to fit your needs. The whole experience is very pleasing to the eye, and allows users of any skill level to appreciate the phone.

 

Hardware

If you were to compare the specs of these two phones on paper, the Galaxy S3 would lose hands down. This isn’t surprising because the Galaxy S3 was released right around a year ago. The One’s Snapdragon 600 offers a 40% bump in performance over the S4 Pro, which is one full generation ahead of the Snapdragon S4 in the Galaxy S3. In other words, the HTC One is faster and is able to do more with less battery drain. The 2300mAh battery in the HTC One is likely to last longer than the 3300mAh expansion battery that is available for the Galaxy S3.

If you’re not all that concerned by what’s under the hood, the design decisions between Samsung and HTC offer a considerable choice. Samsung’s design is one of flexible, removable plastics. The battery and microSD card slot on the Galaxy S3 serve as a constant reminder that you can expand this phone at will. If a users wants to add wireless charging to their Galaxy S3, they can simply replace the battery plate with one that supports the technology. It’s a flexible design that many users appreciate knowing exists even if they never use it.

The HTC One continues the line of completely sealed phones with its aluminum unibody design. This has two major implications — no expandable storage and no replaceable battery. There are only two storage options and no microSD, but in return you get a phone that feels remarkably solid and absolutely smooth from edge to edge. The The 1080p screen on the HTC One feels like it could outshine the sun, while the Super Amoled display on the Galaxy S3 shows incredibly color richness with very deep blacks.

The two phones offer very different hardware choices, but neither one is necessarily better than the other.

It all comes down to you

Samsung and HTC have very different approached to the smartphone right now, in both hardware and software. Samsung is looking for the the best way to grab as many users as possible and let them figure things out for themselves. HTC has made a very targeted approach for users who are interested in consuming and creating media for themselves.

If your smartphone is a constant source of entertainment, whether its music, movies, or games, the HTC One is your phone. If you’re not really sure what you want from your phone, but you’re really interested in everything, the Galaxy S3 will keep you busy for a long time, even if you decide you’d like to root the phone and explore the ROM community.

There’s also price to consider. The One is going to be available for $199 on a new contract, while the now year old Galaxy S3 is headed out the door as soon as its successor — like the Galaxy S4 — arrives some time this spring. The Galaxy S3 will be available on deals and specials that the HTC One won’t be on for a long time.

The cast of X-men: First Class will be back in the middle of it mixing it up with the original cast.

 

 

 

 

 

-Chris Zaragoza

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Bryan Singer recently talked to IGN to talk about X-Men: Days of Future Past, and there are a few things that I think fans are going to be happy to hear. First of all he’s going to use the film as an opportunity to fix some things that went wrong with Brett Ratner‘s X-Men: The Last Stand. It will be easy for him to do that since the new X-Men film includes a time travel element.

IGN: One thing that’s interesting about the alternate universe/timeline in Days of Future Past is that it could potentially give you the opportunity to revisit things that happened in the third film in terms of characters and endings that you might like to see changed.

Bryan Singer: You mean, what you’re politely saying is, “fix s**t.” Is that what you’re saying? That’s what I’m hearing. [Laughing]

IGN: [Laughing] Maybe…

Singer: There’s going to be a little of that, a few things I can repair.

IGN: Are fans going to be pleased with these things you will be repairing?

Singer: I think so, I think so, yes.

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That means there’s a possibility that we can actually see James Marsden back as Cyclops and Famke Janssen back as Jean Grey who had their characters die in The Last Stand. When Singer is asked if he’d like to see these characters in the next movie he said,

Who wouldn’t? Who wouldn’t? [Laughing] That’s all I can say.

It would be amazing to see them come back. The director goes on to talk about the time travel story elements, and explains the balance between the First Class characters and original characters.

The movie takes place at different times. It deals with, I don’t want to say time travel, but time displacement. A form of time travel which is steeped more in the X-Men [mythos].

The majority of it…or that part of it, takes place in the early 70’s, 1973. So Nixon is a character, and there will be different styles and automobiles. And there will be some futuristic, as well as retro, technology which you haven’t seen. There are science fiction aspects of the movie, and then there’s some retro science fiction that the X-Men films haven’t had quite yet. So we’re exploring that, which will be fun. And there’s an attitude [difference]. We discover our characters, particularly the younger characters, at a different place in their lives. Every character you discover in this movie is in a completely different place than you’ve ever seen, emotionally, and it’s about them moving through that. Hilarity ensues!

Singer also talks about expanding the X-Men movie universe, and that they are thinking about how they can do that.

I think that if you really examine the X-Men universe it’s every bit as big as the Marvel universe. There are lesser characters, but if you take certain characters there are a myriad of films you could make, and stories you could tell, with these characters as individuals. Wolverine being one of them, and that’s currently being done. But you could really mine this universe. I’m glad to return to it and I’d like to get more involved in it because it hasn’t really been orchestrated – somewhat with the Wolverine pictures – but I think there is a lot more that one can do.

It’s just something we’re thinking about. Really my big focus was this movie. Because it’s really massive, and we’re going to start shooting soon. But we’re talking, [producer] Lauren Shuler Donner and I, and we’ll see.

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With Singer back on board, I’m confident we’re going to see another great X-Men movie! Are you happy to hear that he’s going to be fixing some things, and that there’s a possibility we’ll see Cyclops and Jean Grey back for more action?

It’s set to be released on July 18th, 2014. Simon Kinberg wrote the script, and it is based on Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s comic book storyline, Days of Future Past, that ran in “Uncanny X-Men” #141 and 142 back in 1981. The story is set in an alternate future where surviving mutants have been thrown in concentration camps, Sentinels are patrolling America, and most of the X-Men have been hunted down and killed. The present day X-Men are forced to stop a key event from unfolding in order to keep that future from occurring.

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So far the confirmed cast members for the film include Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, and Hugh Jackman.

The cast of X-men: First Class will be back in the middle of it mixing it up with the original cast.

-Chris Zaragoza

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Captain America is one of my favorite Marvel characters, and I’m very excited to see what directors Anthony and Joe Russo are going to throw at us. Marvel President Kevin Feige recently talked to Variety about the films he’s working on and when talking about the comic book film genre he said,

“If it is a fad, it’s one that lasts 30 to 40 years, as the Western did, because each one is so different. There’s an opportunity to graft almost sub-genres onto them.”

He then goes on to reveal that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is going to be more of a political thriller,

“Our first Captain America film was a World War II picture, and the next is a political thriller. They all have their own textures and patinas, and that’s what is exciting about it.”

I enjoy political thrillers, so the fact that this is going to be the tone of the movie is great news!

Chris Evans is set to reprise his role as Steve Rogers, with Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, and Cobie Smulders reprising their roles as well. Franchise newcomers include Anthony Mackie in the role of the Falcon, Frank Grillo as Crossbones, and Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter. The film arrives in 2D and 3D theaters on April 4, 2014.

 

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-Chris Zaragoza

 

Recently leaked concept art images from Iron Man 3 show both space and hulk buster armor sets. There is no telling if these are going to be in use during the movie or just added for future installments as Iron man is set to be a part of the Guardians of the Galaxy and of course Avengers 2. This may also be set to be used in the rumored Planet Hulk/World War Hulk movies.

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Either way I’m loving that we keep getting more and more greatness from the Marvel family of movies. Now if they could just get all the rights under one roof to give us a REAL civil war movie…

 

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-Chris Zaragoza

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     A press release has just been issued by  Margaret Weis Productions (creators of 2005s Serenity RPG) that they have received the licensing to make a Firefly tabletop RPG!

In the press release, Margaret Weis Productions says they are looking to release products this spring both in print and digital formats. We will also most likely receive an update of the Cortex System, which was the basis for the Serenity tabletop RPG. Margaret Weis writes, ”

This project is a dream come true for me. I have been such a long-time fan of Firefly! I look forward to working with my crew to take us all back out into the Black!”

Margaret Weis Productions have also developed tabletop RPGs for other popular franchises, includingLeverageSmallville, and for Marvel Comics.

They had previously teased this possibility but were unable to say anything officially as they were still negotiating with Twentieth Century Fox.

 

What do you guys think? With Fox licensing this property so much recently could another run be possible? Maybe Alan Tudyk’s plan to release at least another season via netflix isn’t SO crazy.

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The $19 TrackR is a like a leash between your wallet and your mobile phone. It’s a Bluetooth-enabled wafer of plastic that fits in your wallet or pocket. You pair it with your phone, and whenever the TrackR and your phone get separated both your phone and the TrackR start beeping.

The app also takes a GPS snapshot of where your wallet was at the moment of separation in case you didn’t hear the alert. Tap a button within the app to make your wallet “ring” in case your looking for it around the house or in the dark. The technology works both ways, which means your wallet can beep to alert you that you’re leaving your phone behind. Works with your iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, new iPad, iPad mini and the new iPod Touch.

Hello Kitty launched into space by 7th grader

12-year-old Lauren Rojas and her dad, Rod, built a balloon-lofted Hello Kitty space-capsule for her science fair project in Antioch, CA, and launched it 17 miles above the Earth’s surface, recording its journey with video cameras and various sensors. The video is spectacular, especially the moments right before and right after the balloon burst and the parachutes deployed.

“We spent about one month planning and executing it,” he said. “We used a company called High Altitude Science in Colorado to get the equipment, the weather balloon and flight computer.”

Lauren and her father mounted small video cameras on their rocket-shaped gondola to record Hello Kitty’s journey. The balloon reached an altitude of 93,625 feet (17.73 miles), Rojas said. There, the air was so thin that the balloon burst, sending Hello Kitty from the sky. It landed in a tree 47 miles from the launch site, according to Rojas.

Girl Launches Hello Kitty Doll Into Space [Katie Kindelan/ABC]