Posts Tagged ‘Tech Review’

Go out, go discover, go share – Gowalla.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

We love games. We love all types of ‘em. Video games, table top games, dice games, games of chance, trading card games, RPG’s, drinking games… and one day we’ll get that game of Gamette strip poker to happen. (Hey guys gotta have goals right?)

One thing that had been catching our eyes lately is the newer market of “Geo” tag gaming. It’s been relatively new the past year of so with mobile phone applications getting more sophisticated and such. The two forerunners being Foursquare and Gowalla.

To tell the truth, I never really wanted to try it to begin with. While it did seem vaguely interesting, I was hesitant of the social networking aspect of it. While we here at BG are big on social networking… I’m also hesitant to be the D-bag who sends you flowers for your facebook garden or wants you to answer questions about me. With that aspect, the foursquare users just seemed to kinda fit that bill. (I know I can imagine all the hate mail now)

So SXSW came to town this past few weeks in Austin Texas (Home of the proud Busygamer crew) and we also learned via web buzz that Gowalla is actually developed in Austin Texas made it’s debut around SXSW LAST year and had tons of local SXSW inspired trips and locations to visit. I actually happened to be rolling into the festival for my own devious personal reasons not business related, so in the tradition of trying out new apps on roadtrips (which I have somehow become accustomed to doing) I decided to try it out.

First off, the premise of geo gaming is pretty simple. You use your mobile device to “Tag” where you are. This is done by the simple action of “checking in”. The purpose is really a neat way to share the places you are going with friends. Of course, where the social aspect comes in, is that at certain places you can find “hidden” virtual items from place to place. Maybe a pint in a random bar, or a fish in a pond. These items get added to your profile, you can collect them, or swap them for other items people leave behind, or you can drop them in a spot others have not yet done so and become a “founder” of the spot. You also have the option of creating a spot for the first time if you are at a location no one on Gowalla has ever been before.

The purpose of all this? Collecting Pins man. You can get pins for all sorts of things, from visiting a certain number of spots, to creating or founding a certain number of spots, or even visiting a lot of bars or coffee shops (the bar pin should be no problem for us).

In addition to the pins, the people of Gowalla have put together series of trips you can take. (Being founded in Austin, there are some neat ones.) SXSW visitors were in luck as there were a number of SXSW “trips” you can take by visiting all the locations on the list. Gowalla had SWSW music, interactive, film and even keynote trips you could take. In addition to the specific SXSW trips they also had there BBQ Bonanza (oh the arteries are hardening now) and the Austin Bar Hop (which we will be gathering a group of Austinites in the near future to come along with us to complete!)

Besides the trips that are featured, it looks like the website also lets you make your own trips as well.

The most interesting thing about this app game is the slick interface. For a Busygamer who is always on the road and out of the office living life, it has become a neat way to “check in” to somewhere new, grab a hidden item (some which can be traded for actual goods IRL), and move on filling my casual gaming needs while I work on being a traveling man. It’s also handy because it lets you decide which check ins or pictures you want to post on twitter or facebook to avoid the “annoying guy who is always asking for help on mafia wars in FB” syndrome.

Because Gowalla is a world wide application, I cant wait to visit other cities to see the spots others have created and also making my own blazing a path where others have not been (already got a “founded” and “commissioned” pin thank ya very much). The app really makes you want to check a city out, as we were sitting around auditorium shores waiting for a concert to begin, looking for the time capsule and fountain we knew were nearby.

So far… Gowalla looks like a winner to us, and we’re pretty serious about that Austin barhop trip. If you are in the Austin area… keep a look out for us to advertise it in the coming weeks and you can come along. It’s kinda like getting a boyscout badge except that not all of us will make it back alive.

Gowalla is available FREE to download on the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Palm phones. Sign up and read more info at www.gowalla.com.

Tech Review: Acer H233H 23″ LCD Monitor

Monday, October 19th, 2009
Even powered off, the Acer H233H is a good looking monitor

Even powered off, the Acer H233H is a good looking monitor

I resisted switching to an LCD monitor for a very long time. The experiences I had with the early LCD monitors involved a lot of blurring, shadowing, poor response times, and pretty much any other complaint you could imagine. So I stuck it out with my 22″ CRT for much too long. I admit it, it was sheer stubbornness.

But my CRT was getting old. The colors weren’t quite as bright any more and I noticed some distinct issues after I upgraded my gaming rig. It just wasn’t cutting it any more. I’d upgraded my gaming consoles to an LCD TV and I was pretty pleased with the results so I decided to retire my old faithful CRT and do some homework on some LCD monitors.

I checked online, went to the local electronics store, talked to more than a few of my techy friends, but I wasn’t getting a really clear idea on what manufacturer I should be looking at much less a specific monitor. Fortunately, I stumbled across the newest addition to my gaming rig while looking for a birthday gift for a friend. And I am now the proud owner of an Acer H233H 23″ hi-def LCD monitor.

The first thing that caught my eye was the sharp, vibrant colors. The store had a copy of Spiderman 2 running on the monitor and it looked gorgeous. I found out that it was a Blu-Ray copy that was running to the HDMI input on the monitor which was one of the three available inputs. HDMI, DVI, and the ever steadfast VGA.

The monitor itself looks sharp with its high gloss black finish. The touch controls on the front of the monitor are back lit without being distracting and add to the overall high tech look. The base is removable so that the device can be wall mounted if that catches your fancy and has two small 1.5W speakers built in if you want to further minimize desk clutter. You won’t be shattering any eardrums with the integrated speakers but they don’t sound tinny or small like most built in speakers tend to.

Unboxing the monitor proved it to be very lightweight, and with its small footprint on my desk, I immediately found myself with considerably more desk space than ever before. I set up the monitor, plugged in my DVI cable and fired everything up. The initial set up went smoothly and I fired up Fallout 3 to put the widescreen settings through some paces.

With a speedy 5ms response time, I had absolutely no issues with delays. There was zero ghosting, zero blur as I ran across the Wastelands. The images were just as sharp and clear as I remembered the high def demo in store being. The clarity of the graphics were amazing, the colors were perfect, and I could not have been happier with my choice.

Of course I had to try a movie playing from my PC to be certain so I fired up Iron Man to see what would happen. I was most certainly not displeased with the results. Moving to the sides of the monitor didn’t result in loss of image until I was almost looking at the monitor straight from the side. There was no shadowing during the movie, the image was crisp and clear, and switching from the movie to the desktop was smooth with no afterimages or blurring.

The technical specs for the monitor are impressive on their own (40000:1 Contrast Ratio, 1080p capable, 1920×1080 output) but tack on the astethic presentation of the device and a very affordable price tag ($200 or less from most retailers) and the Acer H233H is a high value purchase for the Busy Gamer.

Gritskrieg – End of Line










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