Month: October 2020

Legendary James Bond Actor Sean Connery Dies at Age 90 4

Legendary James Bond Actor Sean Connery Dies at Age 90

Film legend Sir Sean Connery has died at age 90.

His son, Jason Connery, told the BBC that he passed peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by family at his home in the Bahamas, having “been unwell for some time.”

Sean Connery brought James Bond to life on screen, starting with 1962's Dr No.
Sean Connery brought James Bond to life on screen, starting with 1962’s Dr No.

After leaving school at age 13, working a variety of odd jobs, and serving in the Royal Navy for three years, Connery began acting in a 1953 production of South Pacific. His biggest break came in 1962 when he was chosen to portray James Bond in Dr. No, the first adaptation of Ian Fleming’s novels.

He defined the iconic (albeit dated) role of Agent 007, portraying him in seven films, including From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, and eNever Say Never Again. Fan polls regularly name him the best Bond actor; even Roger Moore, the actor who went on to replace him as Bond, “maintained Sean was the best ever.”

His other iconic appearances include Murder On The Orient Express, The Hunt For Red October, Highlander, and The Rock. He also famously portrayed Harrison Ford’s father, Professor Henry Jones, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In 1987, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Untouchables, where he played Irish-American cop Jimmy Malone.

Sean Connery was knighted in 2000 and retired officially in 2006, growing discontent with the state of Hollywood after starring in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and declining offers to star in the fourth Indiana Jones film. His final acting credit is 2012’s Sir Billi, an animated feature produced in his native Scotland. He was an unflinching proponent of Scottish independence.

Connery co-starred alongside Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Connery co-starred alongside Harrison Ford in 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe (Nintendo Switch) Review

Pikmin 3 Deluxe (Nintendo Switch) Review

Pikmin 3 was one of my favourite games on the Wii U. It took the classic series to new heights while taking advantage of both the ill-fated Wii U gamepad and the secondary Nintendo Wii Remote controller options. Ultimately, Pikmin 3 gave players a robust selection of input and control options for enjoying the game.

Thankfully, most of the control options found in the original Wii U release have translated over to the Nintendo Switch port of the game, and for the few missing elements, such as the lack of a dedicated secondary-screen, the portability of the Switch more than makes up for its absence.

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Pikmin 3 Deluxe – Nintendo

At its core, Pikmin 3 is the same great game that released on the Wii U, with an added epilogue in which players assume the role of Captian Olimar, the protagonist of the first two entries into the series, and one of the late-game characters of Pikmin 3. For those who missed out on Pikmin 3 on the Wii U, in essence, Pikmin 3 and its predecessors is a fun twist on the RTS genre.

Instead of controlling soldiers or any other typical, RTS character permutations, Pikmin 3 instead gives players access to the titular Pikmin, which come in various flavours that determine their unique skills, strengths and weaknesses. Pikmin 3, in particular, introduces two new Pikmin types to the game, a stone/rock Pikmin and an airborne, white Pikmin.

Pikmin 3′s narrative sets up the primary goal of the game, repairing the ship and securing enough food to bring it back to the native homeworld of Koppai, which has been plagued by famine. One of the selling points of the Pikmin series is the scale in which the worlds are presented. Both the player avatars and Pikmin are pint-sized heroes that are more akin to insects, such as ants, while the world itself is inhabited by flora and fauna much larger in scale. For example, fruits, the main resource in the game, such as grapes and pears, are massive colossal-sized collectables that require the deployment of Pikmin.

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Pikmin 3 Deluxe – Nintendo

Each level can be explored multiple times to find all collectables and secrets, with a time limit of 13 minutes making up a single day. This hard-time limit forces players to micromanage their Pikmin and squad leaders in the hopes of collecting enough fruits and resources to convert into juice which are then rationed into the ship. Running out of juice will end the game, with a maximum of 99 days to complete the base game.

This may sound difficult, but Pikmin 3 does a good job in balancing itself, which should make it more than doable for the vast majority of players that play the game. In terms of new content, Pikmin 3 mostly rehashes the DLC found in the original while adding new elements such as co-op and a new epilogue starring Captain Olimar which remixes old stages with new objectives.

My favourite way of playing Pikmin 3 Deluxe when docked would have to be with the detached joy-cons, as they feel similar to the Wii remote controls found in the original release. Unfortunately, however, I did notice several instances in which the accuracy of the controls felt off, sometimes, to the point where the controls would get locked to to angle until I paused the game and recalibrated them.

Playing in handled also felt great, with the game looking pretty decent, masking most of the aliased image quality thanks to the smaller screen of the Switch vs the TV. Overall, Pikmin 3 Deluxe looks fantastic, especially considering the original game came out almost a decade ago on hardware that was fairly dated even for the time.

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Pikmin 3 Deluxe – Nintendo

The addition of co-op is likely the biggest new draw to this version of Pikmin 3, making Pikmin 3 Deluxe best reserved for owners of the original Nintendo Switch with TV-out capabilities, as the game does not offer online co-op, making the prospect of split-screen rather unpleasant if not impossible for Switch Lite owners. Despite this, for those who may have missed Pikmin 3 on the Wii U, Pikmin 3 Deluxe is a great port and should be tried for anyone looking for something a little different that still has that distinct, first-party, Nintendo charm.

Limited Edition Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Gunnar Givaway

Limited Edition Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Gunnar Givaway

With the release of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla almost here, CGMagazing has two pairs of the new Gunnar Enigma, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Edition up for grabs. Gunnar have long been the leader in gaming and computer eye-wear, giving a comfortable, and stylish eye wear solution to reduce eye strain, and with a game as long and as immersive as Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, the time has never been better to give Gunnar a shot.

The fine folks at Gunnar the Enigma, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Edition are a fantastic option offering a comfortable option for gaming on console or with your gaming PC. The Enigma feature a solid plastic construction with GUNNAR’s patented Amber lens which will help you play for longer and improve your focus. They also block 65% of harmful blue light and prevent dry eyes. They also feature smudge resistant and anti-glare coatings, and feature wide format lens helps you see every magnificent detail of this Viking world.

Here is your chance to win yourself a hair of these new, limited edition gaming glasses from CGMagazine and Gunnar. We will have two pairs to give away, and the contest is currently only open to the Mainland US and Canada. If you want your shot at winning yourself a pair, fill in the information below. the contest closes November 10th, with winners announced shortly after. Please note the contest is open to 16 years or older, and must have a valid mailing address.

Everwild Loses Creative Director 2

Everwild Loses Creative Director

This week has seen the departure of two Xbox Series X|S exclusives’ directors — first Halo Infinite, and now Rare’s upcoming fantasy adventure, Everwild.

As reported by VGC, creative director Simon Woodroffe resigned from Rare Studios earlier this month, following an extended absence. No reason has been announced publicly at this time.

“We thank Simon for all his hard work on Everwild and wish him the very best of luck for the future,” said Rare Studios head Craig Duncan in a statement to VGC. “The Everwild team are in good hands and passionate about building a game that will give players unforgettable experiences in a natural and magical world.”

Everwild trailer reveals Rare's next game for Xbox One - SlashGear
Rare’s enigmatic new IP Everwild is the second Xbox exclusive to lose its director this week. (Microsoft)

Little is known about Everwild, first announced at the Xbox Games Showcase in July. Microsoft’s website describes it as “a brand new IP from Rare” where “unique and unforgettable experiences await in a natural and magical world.” It will launch on Xbox Game Pass immediately upon its release.

Following the game’s reveal, Duncan told Polygon, “Part of the reason we haven’t talked a lot about Everwild is because we’re still feeling a lot of these things out. We’re still playing around with gameplay ideas. We’ll have plenty to say in the future on that, but … we have an idea we feel really passionate about, and we think there’s something special.”

With Everwild‘s development still so fluid, it’s unknown how Woodroffe’s departure will impact the final product or its intended launch window. Executive producer Louise O’Connor (Conker’s Bad Fur Day), lead designer James Blackham (Fable Legends), and art director Ryan Stevenson will lead the project in his absence.

Asus Chromebook Flip C436 Review 6

Asus Chromebook Flip C436 Review

If you’re in the market for an easy-to-use laptop for the bare-bones simple stuff, the Asus Chromebook Flip C436 is worthy of consideration. This 13” laptop boasts a 14” FHD display, and the full flip flexibility of a 360 ErgoLift hinge that — paired with its responsive touchscreen — allows full laptop-to-tablet functionality. It jumps out of the box ready and raring to go; all you have to do is take a few minutes to set it up with a google-friendly email account (and go through a few setup options) and you’re off to the races.  

Who should use a Chromebook over a more traditional laptop, you may ask? Honestly, it’s ideal for writers, and it’s perfect for students. With minimal distractions, it’s easy to focus on your work, and the setup of the Chromebook allows you to quickly access whatever you may need. A shortcut to Google docs is right there in the main dock, ready for you to quickly access your work, along with a shortcut to Google Chrome, Gmail, and YouTube. And if you’re writing and need to look something up mid-sentence, there’s a search button right above the Shift key on the laptop’s keyboard, so you can quickly learn the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow without even touching your trackpad.

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Asus Chromebook Flip C436

Also on the keyboard of the Asus Chromebook Flip C436 is a refresh, back, and forward button, as well as a lock key and a fingerprint sensor. If you need to deter prying eyes, you can lock your screen in less than a second, then unlock with a touch of your finger. The keyboard is backlit and sensitive to your touch, so when you’re not hammering away, it fades off to be a little less obtrusive. The keys have a friendly font to them, and with 1.2mm key travel, my fingers have been flying across the keyboard in the process of typing this all out. 

Of course, all these convenient keys must come with a price. The search button replaces the Caps Lock key, which isn’t a huge inconvenience (there’s still two twin Shift keys), but it is a bit of a nuisance if you’re trying to loudly express emotion at something (or, yanno, title headers or what have you). That said, you can easily turn on/off Caps Lock by holding the alt+search keys. The fingerprint key sensor replaces the Delete button (not to be confused with backspace) which can be frustrating if you’re doing a lot of editing, but this is a common feature — or lack thereof — for Chromebooks. But on the plus side, the trackpad is a comfortable 13cm wide, so whether you’re using your left or right hand (hell, go for both), there’s plenty of room to play. To do the traditional right click, you instead tap the trackpad with two fingers. These work-arounds are all easy enough, but they do take some getting used to. 

So that’s the good and the bad, now it’s time for the ugly. While it does have very impressive computing power — a powerhouse 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor — by nature of the Chromebook, it’s still somewhat limited in what it can and can’t do. You have apps available in the Google Play store, but some apps are designed for mobile use, so they can be a bit awkward on a larger screen. 

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Asus Chromebook Flip C436

Additionally, some apps just won’t work on the Chromebook. The big one that I miss is Zoom, which — in our increasingly digital world — has become vital for anyone working from home. You can still log in for remote meetings, but the full desktop app isn’t available, which is somewhat limiting if you use the chat function often (as I do). And when I did try to Zoom in for a meeting using the very limited app that I could download, the Chromebook kept dropping my internet connection, so it froze quite a bit. Naturally, this was wildly inconvenient. 

You’ll have access to whatever games you can download in the Google Play Store, but if you’re an avid gamer, this probably ain’t gonna cut it for you. Similarly, because the Chromebook runs on Chrome OS, you won’t be able to use most Windows or Mac programs (unless there’s an equivalent in the Google Play store). You also can’t really do any photo or video editing, so if you’re a content creator, this is probably not a good fit for you either. But if everything to need to do can be done within a web browser, then you’re pretty well set. 

I should also add that the camera isn’t anything to write home about. Which, really, if you’re using a Chromebook, a high quality built-in camera is probably not high on your list of demands. It’s serviceable for Skype calls or Zoom meetings, but it does very poorly in low lighting, and the image can be rather grainy.For the price you’re paying for the Asus Chromebook Flip C436, you’d expect better.

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Asus Chromebook Flip C436

All that aside, let’s get into the actual details of the laptop itself. At 13.7mm thin and a weight of approx 1.1kg, it’s not going to break your back (or your bag straps) if you’re hauling it around all day. The Asus Chromebook Flip C436 comes in slick Transparent Silver or a gorgeous Aerogel White, which subtly changes colour as your viewpoint shifts, giving an iridescent sheen in shades of pink, blue, red, and purple. It’s ultra-light, ultra-slim, and ultra-convenient. You could flip it around to function in laptop, tent, stand, or tablet mode, so again, for students, it’s a great all-in-one option. 

Want to get a bit more hands-on? You can flip it into tablet mode and use the latest Universal Stylus Initiative (USI) 1.0 standard (not included) to either write notes by hand or let your artistic creativity soar. Is it time for a movie night? The Omnidirectional quad-speakers by Harman Kardon offer surround-sound, so if you’ve got it flipped to tent or stand mode to stream video, you’re not losing out on audio quality. That said, I found that when in laptop mode, the speakers had a bit of tinny reverb during dialogue, however, when flipped around to any other position, the sound was more clear. 

There is, of course, a 3.5mm headphone jack, along with a MicroSD card slot and two USB-C ports, one on either side. The charge cable plugs into these USB-C ports, which means you can plug the cable in on either side to charge. Great versatility. The battery can last up to 12 hours on a single charge (and only takes approximately 1hr 15min to fully recharge), so you can carry it from class to class (or desk to coffee shop, however you work) without concern. With just the USB-C ports, however, it won’t work with a traditional USB or HDMI cable unless you get an adapter (which does not come in-box). However, you can cast media to your other supported devices.

Asus Chromebook Flip C436 Review 2
Asus Chromebook Flip C436

The Asus Chromebook Flip C436 also features an LED-backlit Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 display with 178° wide-view technology, so you can flip the screen basically flat without any kind of glare. This is great if you — like me — recline on a couch with your knees as a laptop stand and need to have the screen almost flat in order to get a nice, clear view of whatever the heck you’re doing.  

The Asus Chromebook Flip C436 is surprisingly pricey at $1,299.99 CDN. Typically, one would opt for a Chromebook in order to save money. While the design is sturdy enough — and the processing impressive enough — it seems like a big, expensive leap from the other touchscreen flip models Asus offers, which range from roughly $400-$700. But again, it’s a lighting fast  powerhouse of a Chromebook, ready to take on just about anything you could throw at it.

To be perfectly frank, as someone who uses mainly web-based functions and lives their entire life in Google Docs and Sheets, the Asus Chromebook Flip C436 is pretty fun to use. It’s fast, it’s user-friendly, and it’s convenient. And, let’s be honest, it’s a looker. I’ve been using the Aerogel White model and I’m smitten. I wouldn’t use it to run a remote desktop linked to my office computer, I wouldn’t use it for gaming, but for writing, watching, and listening? It’s a stylish and sturdy option. You’ve just gotta be prepared for that price tag. 

Scarlet Hollow Episode 1 (PC) Review 1

Scarlet Hollow Episode 1 (PC) Review

Scarlet Hollow proves not all horror games need jump scares or hyper violent animations for them to work. Its execution in a horror visual novel works well through old-school mysteries and slow buildup in its short time.

Its chills come from an old-school suspense and discovering that not everything is as it seems when players sink further into a brief episodic tale. The first episode, free on Steam, does a great job in settling new visitors with a cast of likeable characters. They each give players opportunities to navigate the town, which later rewards curiosity with unsettling moments. These are also well-executed, enough to pull players along for more episodes in the future.

Hand-drawn by artist Abby Howard, her range of neo-gothic horror and monster making are in full force. It’s also a Kickstarter-based collaboration with indie studio Black Tabby Games and injects pure creativity for the sheer fun of it. For Scarlet Hollow, this thriller changes with characters and each panel springing to life at players with a constant motion of choices and text dialogue. If Scarlet Hollow sounds like a motion comic, that’s because it plays out like one with some welcome layers. In the likes of Telltale‘s series of point-and-click games, much of Howard’s production is idea-driven through characters. Players can quickly become comfortable under a toned colour palette, blended with a campy but noir atmosphere to ooze Stranger Things or Gravity Falls. Fans of these franchises will feel immediately welcome at the moment they wake up in a bus carrying them to Scarlet Hollow.

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Scarlet Hollow – Black Tabby Games

Of course, the game is set in the titular town of Scarlet Hollow. Players are thrown into an all-too familiar mystery story, but finds its footing by introducing some of Howard’s unique characters. Despite their shared tiredness from living in the town, I was impressed by how their quirks and identities unfolded in discussion. Instead of throwing exposition, each dialogue choice is more subjective than other past titles including Telltale Batman and Mass Effect. This gives players a satisfaction of interacting with characters the way they actually would. Stellar writing makes these characters, frozen in panels, realistic and immediately likeable from Episode 1. Going against point-and-click nature, Scarlet Hollow actually sends some chills by touching on human themes. But when Howard brings her brand of supernatural monstrosities in, players could be dropping their jaws at the sheer sight of things they’ve been investigating. This drops a huge horror ball, making Scarlet Hollow effective in executing scares. This is backed by a bone-chilling whisper of unknown entities in a dark forest or the sudden freezing of a soundtrack for the next panel.

Characters like Tabitha paint a gloomy scene while her introversion creates more questions than answers in early chats. In fact, it’s made more impressive that the game’s short first episode can pack enough mystery and payoffs before the credits roll. Howard’s experience of building the tension comes from its real-world factors, while the real scares come from adding in the supernatural when players least expect it. I was completely thrown off by the change in tones once the first episode dove into other characters. The choice of following them throws players into different rabbit holes, each given their own set of strange myths and weird characters. Stella becomes the first in a handful of main characters who can take players out on an adventure, later uncovering a sinister presence which border on the horrifying to unbelievable. Howard throws no punches during these scenes and its gory images are a taste of bigger, bitter revelations. Scarlet Hollow‘s horror relies on the player’s curiosity, which builds its payoff up as they continue.

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Scarlet Hollow – Black Tabby Games

Its denizens, though cynical and forgotten, are also carrying some secrets of their own. Its first episode takes a customizable player into the outskirts of town, where they immediately meet their first character. Without delving into spoilers, the story starts off compelling and uses death to take itself seriously right away. Your distant relative has recently passed away, but also knew your late mother who used to own a mine at Scarlet Hollow. Surprisingly, its dialogue is just as hilarious as they are dark. Players can find their first chat with a random bus rider a joy as they overshared details about their spouse and wet peanuts. This is where a wide range of choices are unpredictably reflected on by characters, who are weird enough to play along to your sarcasm or outright compose themselves.

Little interactions like these give Scarlet Hollow some incredible depth which makes them likeable. It’s worth noting that players have a right to be invested in each character, as there are romance options. But Episode 1 saves most of your tension for later and establishes your relationships one introduction at a time. In a game which is 95% dialogue, Howard and Black Tabby Games have a clear understanding of the fourth wall – enough to manipulate it for different play styles. Somehow, the world still manages to play differently despite a lack of interactive point-and-click objects, navigation or environment scanning.

In the effort to set Scarlet Hollow up for future episodes, the game does way too much to keep you alive and well with characters. It’s actually difficult to cause your own demise, even with a slew of negative dialogue choices. Some characters turn a cold shoulder, while most tolerate you as the plot thickens. By solidifying its characters in Episode 1, it’s also softer than most horror games with less consequences. Critical decisions have no time limits like Telltale, giving players more than enough time to calmly avert a situation. Its scariest moments deliver, but fall short of striking at players without a proper fail state in Episode 1. Those looking for modern hard horror would be a bit jaded, but find comfort in a slower and softer brand of spookiness from Scarlet Hollow.

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Scarlet Hollow – Black Tabby Games

Its pacing manages to cram an entire universe within a mere 30-45 minutes. If players read all of the dialogue and respond to most of its Explore options, Scarlet Hollow becomes a more satisfying experience. Each choice opens another narrative point which is remembered, while rare dialogue can lead to some pretty cool opportunities. Some of these border on finding out how a character ticks, to straight-up following them in a mystery adventure. This gives the game some incredibly big replay value, letting players experiment their decisions out of curiosity. Howard’s adorable renditions of a pug are worth returning to, though you can’t pet Gretchen yourself. But that’s just the tip of the story-branching iceberg. I’ll admit Scarlet Hollow goes backwards by not overstaying its welcome and its Netflix-episode length is way too short by episodic game standards (which can play out at two hours minimum).

The aforementioned play styles are a game-changer and Scarlet Hollow adds accountability to every question and response. Right before the game starts, players can choose two traits which grant players “skills”. Each of these open up exclusive dialogue and decisions which impact the story’s path. Those with the Street Smart trait can mix it with Mystic, giving them an ability to question sketchy individuals, pick locks and even have premonitions like Until Dawn. It’s a great addition which deepens the experience of Scarlet Hollow while modernizing the delivery of idea-driven horror games. The decisions can even be life-changing for certain characters in the most critical moments. One particular climax in Episode One has you choose the safety of a character, while some traits can even negate that hard decision. But it’s fun to replay the episode with various traits, which are enough to change the chronological set pieces.

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Scarlet Hollow – Black Tabby Games

I’m excited to see how my time at Scarlet Hollow continues in Episode 2 and beyond. The game has a knact of delivering bite-sized suspense, even if it seems like players are at a safe scene. But its seeds sewn in Episode 1 are worthy of saving a game and starting new ones with traits to see multiple stories unfold. It’s carried by characters with a dreaded charm, making decisions much harder for players later on. But with the discoveries you make early on, Scarlet Hollow sucks you into a mission to continue knowing about the terrors behind its town. Without jump scares, combat or even dying, Scarlet Hollow brings old-school discovery-based execution back to the horror table.

PlayStation App for Android and iOS Receives Major Overhaul, PS Messages Reintegration and More

PlayStation App for Android and iOS Receives Major Overhaul, PS Messages Reintegration and More

Starting today, users of the PlayStation App on Android and iOS devices can expect several significant changes, including a redesigned UI front end.  According to PlayStation Senior Vice President Hideaki Nishino, who announced the revamp on the PlayStation Blog, the changes are aimed at amplifying your connections with friends and the games you love to play even when you’re away from your console.”

To begin with, the user interface has been visually slimmed down in order to make it easer for users to  observe what activities their friends are up to, see details about the games they have recently been playing and review their Trophy List.  PS Messages, an instant messaging system that was once a component of the PS App but in recent years was segmented off into its own standalone app (to the delight of practically no one) has been brought back into the fold, allowing users to seamlessly communicate with all their friends via a single app.  Existing messages and threads will be carried over from the defunct PS Messages to the new app.

Speaking of carrying over, the new Voice Chat and Party Groups system recently introduced in the PS4 system software update 8.00 will also make its way into the App, love it or hate it.  This will allow players to create party groups right from the PS App, and voice chat with up to 15 friends via smartphone.

On top of these social features, two quality of life improvements have been made to the PS App that will likely prove invaluable to the majority of its users, even if they never use it to communicate with other people.  The first addition is a  “natively integrated” PlayStation Store that will offer users a faster shopping and browsing experience, complete with the ability to remotely set up downloads of games and add-ons directly to their PS4 or PS5 console.  The second new feature however is certain to be welcomed by every PS5 owner thanks to the near-uncomfortable 664GB of space on the console’s internal SSD, which is the ability to remotely manage storage space on the internal drive.  Players will be able to select games installed on their console for deletion if they are running out of room, and they can also sign into their PS5 via the App and even launch a game right from their mobile device.

Finally, users will be able to keep up with all that’s happening in the world of PlayStation via a new tab called the Explore tab, which acts as a feed in which official news from Sony’s developers and the PlayStation Blog will bubble up in real time.  Ideally, when taking into account the overall integration of PS Messages, the PS Store and storage management for PS5 into the new PS App, PlayStation users at the very least can look forward to less time spent time jumping between standalone web and mobile PlayStation apps and more quality time spent gaming, whether it be alone or with friends.

The latest version of the PS App can be downloaded from either the App Store or Google Play.

Source: PlayStation
Prime Gaming's November Freebies Revealed 2

Prime Gaming’s November Freebies Revealed

A new month brings a new offering of content for Prime Gaming members, packing over $400 of value in addition to a free Twitch channel subscription.

Among the new games offered this month are A Knight’s Quest, a lighthearted action-adventure; open-world RPG Smoke and Sacrifice; Victor Vran; the hand-drawn Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan; and Lethis: Path of Progress, a steampunk city builder.

A Knight's Quest and Victor Vran lead Prime Gaming's November offerings.
A Knight’s Quest and Victor Vran lead Prime Gaming’s November offerings. (Amazon)

Halloween offerings Dead Age, Layers of Fear, and Silver Chains are still available until November 13, along with a collection of over twenty SNK arcade classics, including series such as King of Fighters, Metal Slug, and Samurai Shodown.

Madden NFL 21 will see the first of 11 loot packs that will be available over the next ten months for players who want a leg up on the opposition. Other unique loot drops will be available for Rocket Arena, Apex Legends, Valorant, League of Legends, Roblox, Black Desert Mobile, and Smite.

As always, members can redeem their bonuses from the Prime Gaming site.

Ring Video Doorbell (2020) Review 9

Ring Video Doorbell (2020) Review

Ring has been on the forefront of home security since 2015 when the first video doorbell launched. Now in 2020, the company, now owned by Amazon, unleashes a refresh of the base model video doorbell. Costing $124.99, this is a great starting point for any smart home setup, and has just enough features to keep even the most tech-minded people happy—even with Ring finding ways to upsell recording on such a competitive product.

The 2020 Ring Video Doorbell  has all the major features you would want to see from a modern smart device, especially one owned by Amazon. Now working with Alexa voice commands, able to be connected to IFTTT applets, a full 1080p camera, and all the other features people have come to expect from Ring; this iteration of the base model video doorbell feels like a worthy upgrade, especially for someone who may already own the first generation offering.

Look & Design

Ring Video Doorbell (2020) Review 7
Ring Video Doorbell (2020)

Little has changed from the Ring lineup. The Video Doorbell has all the design cues we have come to expect from the company, opting for a simple silver and black look (Also available in Venetian Bronze) it stays in line with the range of Ring products already on the market. It is a modern looking device that has enough classic flair to fit most home setups. Size wise it is in line with what we have seen in the past and with other Video Doorbells in the range, with it measuring 4.9 X 2.4 X 1.1 inches.

At the top of the Video Doorbell you will find the iconic camera, that watches the walkway for approaching people, along with being used for video confirmation of packages or deliveries; and a microphone for any person to describe why they are at the door. On the body of the device you will find the main button that will light up during setup, and when someone rings the doorbell. Looking at the bottom of the device the speaker that is used for the chime, and for two-way communication should that be needed.

Under the hook of the Ring Video Doorbell you will find a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi radio, and a built-in rechargeable battery, rated for around 6-12 months on a single charge based on use. This is one area that we found a bit frustrating while testing; with most of the lineup having easy to remove batteries, this iteration requires you to take the full unit off the wall when a charge is needed. While Ring has made this process as easy as possible, requiring only a few screws to get things off and charging, and you can hard-wire the device should the wires still remain from a previous doorbell to keep the Video Doorbell changed continuously.

Video Doorbell Features

The 2020 Video Doorbell has bumped up the camera compared to the 720p of the original, and now offers a full 1080p camera with a 155-degree field-of-view that also uses infrared for black and white video at night. The doorbell will record video the minute the button is pressed, along with when the Doorbell detects motion in front of the camera (although this can be adjusted based on needs and sensitivity).

With Ring now being an Amazon company, it is no wonder that Alexa connectivity is now baked into the Video Doorbell experience. It is easy to setup—with Alexa or any Echo speaker alerting you of someone at the door, or other settings that can be adjusted to fit your needs. This year’s model, as outlined above; features IFTTT applets, to adjust it based on your smart home setup, and now features connectivity with select smart locks, making the smart home process far less frustrating as you try and connect all the divergent elements.

The 2020 Ring Video Doorbell uses the same app that all other devices in the Ring ecosystem use. It has become a feature filled app, that makes setting up and installing devices as easy and painless as possible. The features you know and love are all hear, from how the doorbell functions, what the sensitivity is for the camera and alerts, along with live feed of your front porch should you ever require it.

As with all Ring products, the company does not skip a beat on offering a premium upgrade to your service with the Ring Protect Plan that costs $3 per month or $30 a year. This plan will offer 60 days’ worth of storage for video including snapshots and video sharing for a single device. Should you have more than one Ring product, the Plus plan would be a better option, costing $10 or 100 a year, with this including professional monitoring should you own the Ring Alarm.

Video Doorbell Install

If you have ever installed a Ring device before, the 2020 Video Doorbell is an easy proposition to add to your current setup. If not, download the app, and the process is outlined with prompts that make the installation. simple and straightforward. It is about placement and ensuring it works on your particular housel, but even with some minor adjustments, the full process should take most people less than 30 minutes.

From finding Wi-Fi to connecting to Alexa, Ring has made the installation process as easy as possible. There are now more direct settings to ensure it works with your particular setup. As the Doorbell can alert you based on needs, this is one area that could take some adjustment, if is it too sensitive, you will have constant alerts of movement, too lax, and you won’t know until someone rings the bell, it is about balance, and even with some experimentation, things should be up and running in no time. 

In testing, once setup correctly, the doorbell did a good job of sorting out when to alert the phone, and video from the Video Doorbell was clear and sharp, giving a great window into what happened outside the testing house. Should you have more Echo products at home, such as the Echo Show, you can use it as a view finding for the Camera, giving a much more connected smart home, one that integrates all aspects and devices you own. While this may be too much for some people, it was fun feeling like I was in a house from the future.

For the price, the Ring Video Doorbell (2020) feels like a great option for anyone looking to expand, or start on their smart home journey. It has all the features we would want from a video doorbell, and while it is obvious where Ring cut corners to hit the price point, it manages to maintain a slick modern look that we have come to expect from the company. While lacking some of the more advanced features, if you want a video doorbell, few options can compare on features and price to what Ring brings to the table, even if I am not a fan of the upsells for recording.

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