Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nokia goes Windows 7

At the Mobile World Congress 2010, Nokia announced that it will have Windows 7 as its flagship operating system for its products. This announcement was hinted thru Stephen Elop's memo earlier hinting that Nokia needs to keep up with the latest in the software side while admitting that they have been facing a tough time nowadays that a lot of mobile phones have risen to the challenge.

There are mixed reactions about Nokia embracing Windows. One of these was that Nokia has to differentiate itself from other mobile companies. It does not want to fall under the same category as that of other companies embracing Android and releasing Android-based phones. I'd beg to disagree on this point because Symbian OS which has been their flagship OS eversince is also the same OS that other companies have been using throughout the decade. It seems that their decision to leave Symbian is like admitting that they have done poorly on the research and development of the operating system eventhough it is now open-source and Java developers are still at large. Over the past few years, we have seen only a few enhancements to the OS and while they continue to ramp up their phones to cater different classes of people, they just haven't gotten emphasis on the software.

Microsoft who has rebooted its Windows mobile OS will greatly benefit from this partnership but the question is how fast will they be encouraging developers to code in their mobile OS. They haven't had any success in the handheld industry which is why the rumored Zune handheld console is still a myth which I believe is definitely something they've considered making but unable to deliver.

Nokia on the other hand has noted that since they have the innovative hardware and design which consumers are still embracing will definitely benefit on the software Microsoft offers because they just need to focus on the business they excel on. With a limping Symbian OS, their products are still what consumers want. User-friendliness is one of Nokia's biggest assets and so does Microsoft. The problem will be if they can deliver that same user-friendly mobile phone with a unique look that will make consumers think it is still a Nokia phone.

- With Nokia dumping Symbian OS, what will happen to its developers? Symbian is Java-based and since Android is a relative, they will most likely go Android since they don't really have other options.

- What will happen to Symbian OS? I believe that with proper funding or just even emphasis by the community, Symbian is still worth focusing the efforts. It is still a sound OS with strong foundation. The only problem is that Google, who is active in the open-source community, has also a business to take care off and their mobile OS preference is Android.

- What will the difference of Nokia-made Windows-based phones be to other competing Windows phones? At the end of the year we may be able to take a look at Nokia Windows phones but other companies have a headstart and already have released Windows 7 phones.

- Will Rim be the next to follow Nokia's footsteps? Blackberry products have been almost purely catering on business phones. And nowadays, they are marketing products for the masses. Problem is that they are a few steps behind in technology and most especially their OS.

Many people were disappointed with Nokia's decision and that includes me. If they have just given proper research and development on Symbian this wouldn't have gotten into a three-way battle on mobile software supremacy between Microsoft, Apple and Google. These three companies are taking their software influence to a new heights and right now Microsoft is back in the ballgame.
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Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Future of Handheld Console

More than twenty years ago, Nintendo was one of the pioneers in the campaign towards invention and innovation of handheld consoles which later on evolved into products such as Game Boy and then the recent Nintendo DS. Eventually, Sony caught up and challenged Nintendo and produced one of their own, the Playstation Portable.

Nowadays, the two giants finally have competition and probably the one affected a lot by this era gearing towards everything mobile is Nintendo. Apple’s bold and quick move to go from simple iPods to a larger screen with touch screen features like iTouch and then later on evolving into iPhone which now has motion-sensing capabilities too has made quite a ruckus that the gaming audience grew massively wide. With the popularity of downloads, Apple launched iTunes and Apple Store and later on allowed downloads of casual games causing another shake up in the gaming handheld scene. Going back to Nintendo, who, back then at around 2004 was kicking Sony’s PSP’s butt with the DS, got ourselves wondering, are they still the king of handheld console?

It’s a well-known fact that the DS is by large a better portable gaming device than PSP largely because of Nintendo’s innovative product and experience in this business. The success of DS also proved that pure hardware upgrade is not always the key towards a great gaming experience which also had an effect on the current console battles. But with the arrival of iPhone and iTouch, and mobile phones with gaming capabilities, consumers are now becoming more satisfied with an all-in-one mobile device. Slowly but surely, electronics companies have incorporated camera, video, Wi-Fi, internet and even office utilities into mobile phones. Nintendo’s launch of 3DS, which is due about two months from now, is still widely appreciated mainly because of their unique push to innovation once again which is another first in handheld gaming – a portable 3D gaming experience. Their success comes from a resume of rich gaming industry experience which still attracts gamers and non-gamers alike. However, 3DS lacks the capability to text and call which is clearly one of the main features of a handy device that more and more consumers are looking for – a one-stop shop gadget.

This article ends with more of a question if Nintendo can keep up with all these recent technological breakthroughs rather than being bold and predicting their demise in the gaming industry. Also, Sony which is still at infancy stage of creation of handheld consoles may have been hit harder. Apple and Microsoft which are also entering the handheld arena know for themselves that they are not experienced enough in gaming but have one of the most powerful weapons in them – their Operating Systems. Google has been pushing for its Android OS which may also be a key factor in the scene as well. In the end, experience, innovation and true passion in gaming will prove to be the characteristics of those who will survive in the future together with embracing the constant change of technology.
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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Play Wii Games in Dolphin

Happy New Year everyone! It’s been almost five months since I wrote something on this blog. Anyways, I’ve been playing with casual Wii games on the PC for two weeks now thru Dolphin. Here are simple steps on how you’d want to play Wii eventhough you don’t have an actual Nintendo Wii console:

1. Visit http://www.dolphin-emulator.com/ to download the Dolphin Wii emulator. Originally, Dolphin was an open-source emulator developed for GameCube games. After years of lack of attention to developers, it later on picked up the pace as other sets of developers found out that the Wii console’s design didn’t vary too much with the GameCube’s. Since then, it was incorporated with Wiimote and nunchuck detection capabilities via Bluetooth. One thing to take note of is that you need to have at least a dual core processor and a high end video card to achieve the normal frame rate for normal Wii games.

2. Download Nintendo Wii ISOs. The main advantage of Wii games played in Dolphin over the actual console is that it can play any region version. Just like Xbox 360, the Wii has region versions such as NTSC-U (USA), PAL (European) and NTSC-J (Asian). This is quite annoying frankly for gamers who don’t really know about regional settings because not everyone knows that you can’t just plug-and-play a game in the console actually be able to play it. I don’t know about the modified version but as mentioned, Wii is a region-restricted console meaning you won’t be able to play a video game if it isn’t the same version as your console. This has proven to be one of the most underrated features of Dolphin so far, IMHO.

3. Play using either the keyboard or real Wiimote and nunchuck controller. If you just want to try out Dolphin, try opening a Wii ISO which requires limited motion-sensing features and just configure the computer keyboard to get started. One good game to test Dolphin thru the keyboard is the game “New Super Mario Bros.” which is an old school game reinvented. If you have a real Wiimote and nunchuck controller, you can use it to play games via Bluetooth. This is quite easy to play with. Detection should be easy as the Wiimote vibrates when it is detected by the emulator.

4. Play in HD/ Full HD. One of the weakest selling points of Wii is its graphical resolution. You won’t be able to play in HD and Full HD in the actual console. Its selling point is the motion-sensing games. After all, motion-sensing games don’t require the gamer to be keen on graphics since they are also focusing on their movement on the game too. The game development has also been focused more on how to create innovative games based on motions. However, since we are in the high-resolution era and we are talking about a console emulator running in your computer which has an upgradable video card and varying resolution, developers incorporated the HD capability to perhaps even attract the hardcore gamers to take a look at the future of Wii’s second-generation console. In fairness to Nintendo and Wii game developers, even if the graphics their console does not support next-gen resolutions, they’ve managed to develop games which are eye-pleasing thru technologies such as Cell-Shading which has been rampant on Cartoon-based games.

5. Play in 3D. I haven’t actually played Wii games in 3D because you have to buy 3D glasses which is around $150-200 but this is a huge boost in the development concept of Dolphin. And since Sony’s push to go 3D even without the glasses as Nintendo’s 3DS offers, Dolphin may be able to get an upgrade anytime soon – provided you also have a 3D glasses-free display.

6. Open source. Curious on how Dolphin is implemented? Forget the binaries and start tweaking the actual emulator. This is a great way to help the community in innovating perhaps one of the best emulation program to date – Dolphin.
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