Opinion » Cybernaut

E3 a yawn



It's fair to say that the 2012 edition of the E3 electronics expo was a bit of a dud. Neither Microsoft or Sony showed off their next generation consoles, and the Nintendo Wii U next generation presentation was a bit of a joke with few details on how much it will cost or what core games will be available at launch later this year. The Nintendo fanboys were thrilled with the return of Pikmin and other Nintendo staples, but shareholders were clearly not.

In a way, that's what E3 is all about; companies give you a peek at the future and the market votes on that future by buying or selling shares. The message to Nintendo was loud and clear — compete with Xbox and PS3, or else.

Myself, I'm keeping my Xbox.

Speaking of which, Microsoft probably had the most compelling E3 show of any of the major tech companies. A short-list of announcements includes Smart Glass, a technology that allows interactivity between devices running Windows 8; more Kinect commands and integration; a new Windows Music service to compete with iTunes that will launch 30 million songs, and that will probably be available by subscription; Internet Explorer integration directly into Xbox; and a heap of new television channel options including basketball and hockey. And, of course, there were exclusive games — Halo 4 and Gears of War 4, plus numerous others.

The Xbox is perfectly positioned to become the perfect home entertainment system — however, some expected Microsoft to show off the next generation of the console, but it looks like that probably won't happen until the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

It seems that shareholders didn't mind the lack of a new console that much, and Microsoft got the biggest stock market bump of any company.

Sony's E3 was all about games, which some found disappointing — no new console and not much to sell the Playstation Vita portable device; arguably the best gaming gadget ever created, but hampered out of the box by the ridiculously short battery life and the popularity of smart phones that also play games. A Vita price cut was expected to grease the wheels but did not materialize.

Still, with franchises like God of War, Beyond Good and Evil and The Last of Us turning heads, shareholders were forgiving and Sony's shares also got a bit of a bump.

Father's Day technology

Dads are notoriously hard to shop for. Not only do they never seem to actually want anything, they're generally very attached to the things they have. They don't want flowers or breakfast in bed, and in many cases a day at the spa is pretty low on their list of priorities.

But no dad can resist a good gadget, and technology, as I've written before, makes a great gift.

Here's a short list of ideas for dad this year:

Kindle Touch, Kobo Touch — If dad is a reader, he will love an e-reader. Portability, the ability to increase text size, and more make today's e-readers must-have devices, even if you already have the tablet and phone. The screens are easy on the eyes, ordering new books is simple and you can get literally thousands of older, copyright-free books at no cost whatsoever.

Easy Rider — Skateboarding has been around so long now that almost every skater in my neighbourhood is over the age of 40. Enter the Easy Rider, a $600 electric skateboard that uses pressure-sensitive controls to accelerate and brake. The tires are big and bumpy to absorb rocks and pebbles. Visit www.zboardshop.com.

Wilson Juice 100 BLX — Is dad a tennis player? Chances are, if he plays hard or has been playing for a long time, he may have some issues with his head or wrist. Tennis Elbow or carpal tunnel made worse by vibrations through the racquet. A lot of manufacturers try to compensate for the vibrations, but Wilson's new Juice racquet is the only one with six basalt/carbon strips inside to dampen vibrations. Essentially these strips increase the surface area of the racquet to absorb more energy without increasing the weight.

Garmin Forerunner — Is your dad a runner? A mountain biker? A hiker? I recently received a Garmin GPS watch as a birthday present, and I couldn't be happier with it. There are a lot of different models, but even the most basic will record data from whatever activity you're doing (except swimming on lower end models) and then upload it to the GarminConnect website where you get a blow-by-blow of your activity — time, distance, average pace, pace during different sections, a downloadable GPS map of your activity and more. You can also combine the watch with a heart rate monitor to get even more data — and a baseline to figure out if you're getting fitter or faster. It's not a new idea, but it's well executed.