Disney Infinity Review – To Infinity and Beyond!

DISNEY INFINITY Starter Pack Wii

Activision’s mighty “Skylanders” series is no doubt a success, and the newly released “Disney Infinity” also will leave kids begging their parents to buy them more collectible figurines.

The starter pack consists of Sulley from “Monsters University,” Mr. Incredible from “The Incredibles” and Captain Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean.” But wait, there’s more. More figurines from each of these franchises can be purchased individually or in special packs, unlocking them for gameplay.

Each Play Set comes with a short campaign putting you in the universe of each character. Sulley uses stealth techniques to scare his Fear Tech rivals; Mr. Incredible punches a lot of robots in his quest to stop the evil Syndrome; and Jack Sparrow must sail the seas to stop his nemesis, Davy Jones. I found Jack Sparrow’s campaign to be the best one, as it felt like a more fleshed-out game with its mix of sailing and on-ground gameplay.

Sulley’s adventure is much more slower paced, and it quickly becomes boring. To reach the full potential of each Play Set, you’ll have to spend much more money after the initial $74.99 purchase. Each campaign can be played co-op, but only figurines specific to their universe can be used together. Mr. Incredible can’t team up with Sulley to scare his rivals, but you can purchase Sulley’s buddy, the green and one-eyed Mike, separately to join the universe. Also, some parts of the campaign can only be unlocked by certain characters, which is a little disappointing.

The massive Toy Box mode in “Disney Infinity” shows the game’s truest potential. Here, players can pick through hundreds upon hundreds of objects to make their own perfect world. Race tracks, sports games, battle arenas and much more can be created.

Elsewhere, the terrain can be altered, houses can be plunked down like balloon house from Pixar’s “Up,” and each world can be populated with tiny versions of Disney characters.

It’s very easy to lose many hours in this mode, and it definitely is the brightest part of the game.

It’s a little overwhelming at first after the game kind of plops you into the Toy Box after a fun, playable introduction. I admit I lack creativity in these type of games, so you’ll never see a tour of a magical world from me on YouTube, but the in-game tutorials are very helpful.

Unfortunately, on the Wii U version I played, loading times aren’t exactly fast when you want to switch over to a different part of the game. Also, there are numerous menu options to slog through, at times slowing the pace considerably. Slowdown continues after a character loads into the world, at one time so bad my Wii U actually froze.

The starter pack will give you some mileage, especially with the massive Toy Box mode. But “Disney Infinity” does a great job at encouraging you to buy extra content. Besides character-specific unlockables in the solo campaigns, there’s a Hall of Heroes section where you can proudly display all the characters’ statues — as long as you buy them in real life. There are a bunch of them, too, even spots for future releases like from “Toy Story,” “Wreck-It Ralph” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” I foresee many Disney figurines on kids’ Christmas lists this year.

Two other Play Sets are available right now: “Cars” and “The Lone Ranger.” These cost $34.99 each and come with new campaigns and all sorts of other goodies. Individual figurines cost $12.99 each and special three-packs will save you a little money at $29.99.

Don’t forget about Power Disc packs, either. These objects are placed underneath figurines on the Disney Infinity Base to give them special power-ups and to enhance the environment. Two discs come in a pack for $4.99, but watch out: These are blind packs, so you don’t know what you’re getting. Right now there are 20 available, and unless you’re the luckiest person in the world, be prepared for duplicates.

Disney Interactive Studios has invested a lot of money into making “Disney Infinity” the next big thing. Despite a lack of polish here and there, it looks good so far. Kids will enjoy everything it has to offer — and parents’ wallets will cry.

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Sony Nex 6 camera review

The Sony NEX-6L/B 16.1 MP Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens and 3-Inch LED (Black) is the latest addition to the NEX line of mirrorless compact cameras announced in September 2012 alongside with the more consumer-oriented nex-5r, the NEX 6 just below the flagship NEX 7 in the product lineup and shares the same body style and styling as well as many of the flagship model features.

In my opinoion mirrorless cameras suffer from viewfinder problems, pretty much all of them do. They’re just not as good as DSLRs in this respect and without a mirror may never be. As long as the light level is reasonably low, looking at the viewing screen is acceptable, but when the light gets bright, like here in San Antonio you have to do something else. With the old Panasonic GF1 (I never invested in the EVF for it), it was basically worse than a point-and-shoot in outdoor daylight. It was a point-and-hope.
 
But to the positive side. The NEX-6 gives you a much refined and greatly more workable system. The viewing screen is much better and more resistant to reflection and glare than than GF1’s. And, when the light overwhelms the viewing screen and you have to switch to the EVF, it’s right there, built in, at the correct position on the camera for easy use, so it can be doable, with a very good eye-control switchover—block the EVF and the viewing screen turns off and the EVF turns on. It happened a few times that I blanked my viewing screen by holding the eyepiece too close to my body, but it’s a very minor inconvenience. Generally it works great.

PlayStation 4 is a masterpiece in progress

Sony knows how to make a marketing splash for their product launches. Turning The Standard Hotel’s lobby into a PlayStation logo was cool. Putting software demos of upcoming PS4 games was a nice touch. But renting out one floor to color the room lights blue so the hotel looked like a giant PlayStation 4? Winning.

The PlayStation 4 hit store shelves Friday, but Sony gave select media a chance to play the console early. The review event was held at The Standard Hotel in Manhattan’s Meat Packing District, right on the Hudson River. Sony rented out most of the hotel, with security so tight on every floor, and badges required just to move around.

However, with several hundred PlayStation 4s in the midst, Sony wasn’t planning on taking any chances.

Sony gave media a chance to play several video games, including many that aren’t scheduled to hit store shelves until early 2014. A few of the titles, including “Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition,” “Killzone Shadow Fall” and “Knack” really stood out.

However, the guest of honor was the PlayStation 4. The new user interface is clean, not as cumbersome as the PlayStation 3′s UI. The 8gbs of hardware memory allow the console to run multiple tasks.

The PlayStation 4 has many features that will benefit gamers (and nongamers too). One of the coolest features is the ability to broadcast/stream gameplay. Two services, twitch and Ustream, let gamers broadcast their gameplay via a live stream. It’s integrated into the PS4. As soon as your game launches, just press the SHARE button to get your broadcast live. A word to the wise – opt for a wired connection if you are going to stream. If not, it could end up being a very laggy stream for watchers.

You loved how you performed a headshot from over a mile away on “Call of Duty?” With the press of a button, you can publish your clip/screenshot to Facebook.

Here's the PlayStation 4 review kit from Sony.

Here’s the PlayStation 4 review kit from Sony.

Players will also enjoy the party chat feature. On the PS3, players didn’t have the option to chat with each other if they weren’t in the same game. Now, that’s not a problem. You are watching Netflix and want to chat with a friend playing “Knack?” Done.

There’s also a way cool app available to Android and iOS devices, similar to Microsoft’s Smartglass software. It allows users to access several PS4 features via the table/phone.

However, the PlayStation 4 is light on exclusive content at launch. Most of the launch titles are also available on the Xbox One, as well as the Sony PlayStation 3, the Microsoft Xbox 360 and other devices. Sony has said there won’t be a gaming drought. Let’s pray they keep their promise.

Also, if you bought the Sony PULSE or PS3 Wireless Gaming Headset, neither headset will work with the PlayStation 4. I have a set of Turtle Beach PX5 wireless/Bluetooth headsets and they only work via a workaround. The Bluetooth won’t connect to the PS4.

I’m add more in my FULL review of the PlayStation 4 later this week.

Overall, the PlayStation 4 will be a force to contend with as this generation of video games kicks off.

The Hobbit – Book Review

I bought The Hobbit novel, only lately after watching Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit An Unexpected Party’ movie 3 times. I was too very surprised by the story, direction and cinematography. I couldn’t wait for 2 more years to know what happened on Bilbo Baggins and his queer yet a very hearted journey, so i I picked up the book and started reading it right away!
The following is my honest, truthful to the heart review of the epic adventure novel!

My Review of The Hobbit:
The Hobbit is a very dramatically epic, though provoking and a whole heartedly fantastical adventure novel. I’m now in love with J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing style.

The Drama, action, and some comedic paragraphs portrayed in his writing style are very blended and transitions smoothly from in between fighting action scenes, puzzling the reader or just plain dialogue between characters, Above all the characters were very real (Bilbo felt very life-like, even tough at many times he was not mentioned in many scenes, his presence was always felt and his interactions between Gandalf and the dwarfs were always very exciting and full of joy.) J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing, especially with the long descriptive style of designing the scenes with excellent choice of words and experiencing the feelings of the characters is plain shining gold. Some poems even stick in your head and maybe very hard to fade them away!

The Chapters are displayed heavily by the lightness of characters, the surroundings, and the story setting with exhilarating description and masterful storytelling, while some chapters show darkness and vain(including some tension, comedy and drama) throughout the whole time.

This is truly a very extremely magnificent book. Full of thrills, rides, goblins, action and drama (with a hint of comedy). You’ll be biting your nails through this whole explosive roller coaster the entire time.

Truly The best children book of the 21st and the 20th Century! Period. Certainly the best book I’ve read and enjoyed in a long time.

After finishing The Hobbit, I’ve bought ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy pack. Can’t wait to get started on that too…

Knitwear that You shouldn’t Miss

Women clothing are many and varied probably representing the different tastes and preferences of ladies across the globe. What is of particular interest though is the knitwear and the versatility that it comes with. Knitwear has been around for quite sometime but it had not been taken seriously in fashion as it looked outdated.  In the contemporary world, the tables of fashion have turned and knitwear is up the chart of fashion and talk of town. Knitwear comes in different forms and designs from floral prints to just plain wears.

Blue&Yellow Oversize Panel Asian Sweater with Cowl-neck and Rib Hemline

Winter is arguably one of the difficult seasons to get clothing for that makes you look trendy. Because of the bulkiness and the many layers of clothing that one has to wear to keep warm, maintaining the element of fashion may not be as easy. The good news however that is as the season approaches, ideas of fashion knitwear to keep you trendy over winter are hitting the fashion headlines. I have compiled my own list of knitwear that you shouldn’t miss in your closet this season.

Diamond Print Cardigan

This is a piece of women apparel that is a must-have in your wardrobe during winter. It comes in different patterns giving you the choice and variety. The grid-like print of this long cardigan is complemented by its sleek cut. If you are a fun of mint green shade then this is the knitwear for you because you can team it up with trendy pants to make a strong fashion statement.

Drop Shoulder tunic

This happens to be one of my favorite’s knitwear and a definite casual bet this coming winter. I will opt for a loose fit tunic that will give me space to combine with other outfits. Boots for instance work well with this piece of fabric. Flats and moccasins are also great footwear to complement this effortless slip-on. To finally lock in the trendy winter look with drop shoulder tunic knitwear, you can add a statement necklace.

Grey Oversized Kable Knitt Stylish Winter Collection  Sweater

Nikon D600 the Affordable full-frame DSLR

Nikon D600 24.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)

It’s been out in the marketplace for a while now – but the conversation and questions continue to churn around the D600. Is it all that and a bag of chips? Or is there a catch? Is it a good choice for the working pro and how does it compare to Nikon’s D800? At a pricepoint that is majorly accesible, it offers similar features as the DX-format D7000 and seems to represent a big leap for photographers. For those of us who have been around for a while, it’s interesting to think back only 4 years ago when the D90 landed and changed the way we use our DSLRs forever. 

I’ve been shooting with a D600 for a few weeks, and I can confirm that there’s a huge amount to love about this camera. The 24-megapixel full-frame sensor delivers what is, for me, the perfect balance of high detail and low noise. It also allows for 5.5fps continuous shooting – a big improvement on the pricier D800′s 4fps. The controls are almost identical to the D7000′s, but that’s not a criticism – all the key functions fall under the fingers.

Having said that, the Auto ISO mode is more sophisticated than on the D7000 (adapting the shutter speed in line with the focal length) and is quicker to switch on and off. The viewfinder is as big as the D800′s, the screen is just as big and sharp, the weather-sealing equally substantial, and it includes mic in and headphone out sockets. It’s a little smaller and lighter than the D800 but it’s still a comfortable fit in the hand.

There’s not much to report about image quality. We know what Nikon’s JPEG processing engine is capable of, and it’s firing on all cylinders here. Details are sharp and noise is far lower than any cropped-sensor camera. It’s a little lower than from the D800, too, thanks to the lower pixel density.

But surely there’s a catch? Otherwise, the D800 is dead in the water. Yes, there are a few downgrades compared to the D800, which I’ll run through below (I’m not counting the sensor, which for me a sideways movement with its lower detail and lower noise). It’s up to you whether you see them as deal-breakers.

Smaller, simpler autofocus sensor

The D600′s 39-point autofocus sensor uses the same layout as the D7000′s. I’ve got no issue with the number of points – after all, Canon’s rival 6D only has 11. However, while the array of points largely fills the D7000′s viewfinder, they’re much more bunched in the centre of the D600′s full-frame viewfinder. This makes it harder to track erratic subjects. Subjects towards the edges of the frame require a focus-recompose-shoot technique.

No aperture adjustment during live view or video capture

Live view generally works well, taking about one second to autofocus – not great but better than many SLRs’ live view. However, while you can adjust the aperture value, it only adjusts the aperture blades just before you take a photo, so there’s no real-time preview of the depth of field.

Personally, I’m not too bothered about this. I’m more bothered by the limited aperture control for video. Here, the only way to adjust the aperture is by exiting live view, spinning the command dial and then re-entering live view. It’s not possible to adjust the aperture while composing a shot on the screen or while recording (unless your lens has an aperture ring). Shutter priority isn’t available for video, either – it’s fully automatic or fully manual only.

No 1080p/60 video

On the subject of video, it doesn’t seem unreasonable in 2012 for a $2,000 camera to be able to record 1080p at 60fps. There are enough $500 cameras that can do it. 60fps shooting is great for slow motion, but on the D600 it’s only available if you’re willing to drop the resolution to 720p. Then again, the same applies to the D800 too. Otherwise, this is an extremely capable video camera, with crisp details and the same colour output as in JPEGs.

No AF On button, PC sync or CompactFlash slot. Different button layout to other full-frame Nikons.

These issues might put off people considering the D600 as a backup camera to a pricier Nikon SLR, and who don’t want to have to give a moment’s thought when switching between cameras. For those coming from the other direction – perhaps going full-frame for the first time – there are easy workarounds.

AF-On lets you assign autofocus and shutter release to separate buttons to avoid unnecessary refocusing when taking a string of shots. The D600 doesn’t have a dedicated AF-On button, but either the AE Lock or front-mounted Fn button can be assigned to this task. You still get a dedicated DOF preview button as well as this Fn button.

PC Sync – add this for $20 or even just $3 with a shoe adapter.

CompactFlash – the fastest 16GB SDHC cards costs $40 – it’s not worth worrying about your old CF cards.

1/200s flash sync

A few comment posters complained about the relatively slow flash sync speed. This seems to be more a criticism of the general direction that Nikon, Canon et al are going – after all, 1/200s isn’t much slower than the D800 and D4′s 1/250s. Besides, switching the D600 to Auto-FP mode (short for Auto Flash Power), I had no problem syncing an off-camera strobe at 1/250s. If you want 1/500s flash sync to reduce the amount sunlight in your flash photography, get yourself a D40 – no current full-frame or cropped-sensor SLR that I know of can do it.

Obela Hummus Review

The dips had a slightly creamy, nutty flavour yet they would still be smooth enough to spread on a wrap or sandwich.

The packaging was great, I loved the beautiful rich maroon and the pictures of the ingredients on the front, which made the product feel more authentic.

I think the presentation is good enough to actually serve the dip straight out of the packaging at a dinner party (less washing up!).

They dips were quite thick and held all the bits of toppings (garlic, capsicum etc) in place even if you shook them up or moved them around (yes, I did). There was also a generous amount of toppings in each packet and I felt that they added some colour and excitement to the dip.

The hummus was very easy to eat with the Lebanese bread and between Wicko, Mum and I we managed to demolish a dip easily within about 20 minutes.

I think this product is versatile and tasty and is a great healthy snack to have in the fridge with carrot sticks, celery or even crackers.

I give it an 8.5/10.