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Empire Blogs

Empire StatesFirst Look: Seagate GoFlex Cinema

Posted on Tuesday December 20, 2011, 15:01 by James Dyer in Empire States
First Look: Seagate GoFlex Cinema

There’s a reason why, even now, Macs refuse to come with Blu-ray drives. It’s not (just) because the late Steve Jobs wanted you to download HD films off iTunes but because the visionary technologist believed that physical media was in the midst of its death throes. Whether he was overstating the matter or not, the rise of digital media and the emergence on these shores of UltraViolet (the studios’ downloadable answer to DVD) certainly mean that digital copies of movies are increasing their foothold in the home entertainment market. The problem is that for most people it’s hard to know how to make the most of it all.

Broadly speaking there are three principle methods of enjoying digital media in your home. The first is to stream directly off the Internet via services such as Netflix or LoveFilm. The Second is to stream your own media files across your home network (which we’ll cover in some depth in an upcoming article). The Third, and arguably the simplest, is to stor...

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Infinite LivesIn Search Of The Ultimate Xbox Controller

Posted on Tuesday September 20, 2011, 15:32 by James Dyer in Infinite Lives
In Search Of The Ultimate Xbox Controller

With Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 each vying for position as this Christmas’ obligatory time sink, the need to get a leg up on the multiplayer league tables has become rather more pressing. While the average thirteen-year-old can put in a dozen hours a day to develop pixel-perfect sniping and nanosecond reflexes, we ‘mature’ gamers (ones with, jobs, wives or iPad editions to put out) simply can’t compete. It’s with this catch-up mentality in mind and the bitter taste of a recent CoD defeat at the hands of a cackling German teenager fresh in my mouth (“I am ze master, you are ze noooobie!”) that I set out to do the only mature, responsible thing left to me. Cheat.

There are literally dozens of different controllers out there and I’ve tried them all. But extra tactical buttons (thank you Mad Catz) or adjustable thumbsticks (Razer, please stand up) have only provided the smallest of performance boosts. To take my game to the next le...

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Empire StatesHands On: Monster Vision Max 3D Glasses

Posted on Monday June 13, 2011, 17:24 by James Dyer in Empire States
Hands On: Monster Vision Max 3D Glasses

The thing with 3D TVs is that, generally speaking, they only come with one pair of glasses. Sure, you can send off for a second pair but they’re far from cheap and, because each manufacturer’s frames are only compatible with their own sets, you need to start again if you upgrade your display. Sounds like a niche in the market and cable giant Monster has stepped in to fill it with the Monster Vision 3D Max glasses: a pair of catch-all, universally compatible 3D specs that you can use at home, at a friend’s and anywhere else you happen to encounter a 3D telly.
The frames themselves are pleasingly large, coming in a large, Buddy Holly-esque design and instantly providing greater peripheral 3D vision than the specs that came with out office set. Setting them up is simple enough: if your TV has a 3D sync port then you’re laughing – just plug in the glasses’ base unit and away you go. Ours didn’t, unfortunately, but Monster has though...

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Infinite LivesHands On: Razer Onza

Posted on Tuesday May 10, 2011, 12:15 by James Dyer in Infinite Lives
Hands On: Razer Onza

There’s no denying that Microsoft’s Xbox controller is a glorious piece of engineering. After a brief misstep with the original Xbox’s colossal ‘batarang’, the smaller, svelter model has proved an able gaming companion across two generations of consoles. But it’s not perfect. The digital D-pad is lacking when compared to Sony’s DualShock, the triggers are a tad stiff for twitch shooting and the thumbsticks lack the pixel precision that PC gamers enjoy with a mouse. It’s that last point that I’ve always pined about, especially during heated Call of Duty matches with the rest of the office – most notably when I fail to snipe John with the Barrett, only to have him run up and stab me in the face. Fun times.
I’ve gone through buckets of third party offerings over the years and, by and large, all third party 360 controllers have two things in common. Firstly, they’re all wired, rather than wireless. Secondly...

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Empire StatesTake Your Brain To Another Dimension

Posted on Thursday November 4, 2010, 12:18 by James Dyer in Empire States
Take Your Brain To Another Dimension

Since Avatar crashed onto screens last year, 3D has been the buzzword of choice for filmmakers and cinemagoers alike. Like it or loathe it, the entertainment landscape has changed and titles now come to us, more often than not, in three eye-popping dimensions. Whether you buy into it largely boils down to whether increased immersion in a movie justifies the extra hit to your wallet – that and looking like an Elvis Costello caricature for ninety-odd minutes – but while a lot has been said for and against the rise of 3D in cinemas, the more pressing question, from my point of view, is whether this technology has a place in the home. So, in the interests of science, I set out to embrace this new wave of home entertainment technology and see if it's really worth turning your living room into a budget IMAX.

Surprisingly, the physical upgrade to 3D home cinema nirvana is a relatively painless one. On the one hand, you do need an array of 3D-capable kit, but on the other you probably already ...

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Comic-Con 2010Panel Report: Captain America, Thor and The Avengers

Posted on Sunday July 25, 2010, 14:30 by James Dyer in Comic-Con 2010
Panel Report: Captain America, Thor and The Avengers

There have been a great many weird and wonderful panels at this year’s Comic-Con. Tron Legacy saw an 8,000-strong queue stretching around the block and a crowded auditorium all shouting “De-rez!” at Joe Kosinski. Scott Pilgrim ended with Edgar Wright leading a bunch of fans out of the panel to a screening of the film like some kind of bearded pied piper. Resident Evil: Afterlife even resulted in someone getting stabbed. But none of that (not even the latter, which the surreal sight of a guy in a Harry Potter t-shirt being handcuffed and frog-marched out of the hall by a phalanx of San Diego's finest) could measure up to what has been the most fan-pleasing event of all at this year’s Con.

The Marvel Studios panel kicked off with Joe Johnston’s adaptation of The First Avenger himself, Captain America. The director referenced Raiders of the Lost Ark as an influence for the film (never going to go down badly) and insisted that he wants it to have a modern feel - "We'r...

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Comic-Con 2010Comic-Con Videblogisode 1

Posted on Saturday July 24, 2010, 07:37 by James Dyer in Comic-Con 2010

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Comic-Con 2010Panel Report: The Other Guys

Posted on Saturday July 24, 2010, 07:23 by James Dyer in Comic-Con 2010
Panel Report: The Other Guys

Panels come in a great variety of shapes and sizes here at Comic-Con. Some are deathly dull (anything in room 9, for example), some are punctuated by bombshell exclusives (Del Toro to direct Haunted Mansion) and others stand out thanks to the explosive footage on display (Tron Legacy). The rarest of panels are those that, thanks to the chemistry, wit and charm of the participants, are simply entertainment in their own right. Sony’s The Other Guys was one such panel.

Director Adam McKay and stars Eva Mendes, Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell were electric, all four of them slinging zingers left and right and generally taking the piss out of each other and the audience (in an extremely good natured way.) Fanboys and girls were treated to a selection of Anchorman quotes from Ferrell, who announced what a pleasure it was “to be here in the Whale’s vagina.”

But as amusing as Ferrell (who stole the show with his Megamind panel performance and continued his stand-up routi...

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Comic-Con 2010Panel Report: RED

Posted on Thursday July 22, 2010, 23:08 by James Dyer in Comic-Con 2010
Panel Report: RED

Retired Extremely Dangerous is what RED’s title stands for, but while a film about aging, retired CIA spooks might not seem like a kick-ass property, even those unfamiliar with the graphic novel have got to respect the film’s cast pedigree. Representing the stellar lineup, Helen Hirren, Karl Urban and Mary Louise Parker are all in attendance at the panel, not to mention John McClane himself, Mr Bruce Wilis.

You can’t help but respect Mirren, who turns up wearing a Harvey Pekar t-shirt (to explosive cheers) and goes on to joke that with her and co-star Morgan Freeman in the film, audiences “have got both the queen and God in this film.”

If the Pekar nod got Mirren mega geek props then Urban sets out to top that by shouting at the crowd: “Are you out of your Vulcan minds?” in his best Dr McCoy. Cue mass screamage and wailing as the Trek contingent makes themselves known. Urban really is geek catnip: every time he speaks, or if one of his co-stars e...

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Comic-Con 2010Panel Report: Salt

Posted on Thursday July 22, 2010, 21:55 by James Dyer in Comic-Con 2010
Panel Report: Salt

Who is Salt? That’s the question surrounding the next film up at the Con. Although, to be honest, the answer seems pretty obvious to us: It’s Angelina Jolie, who’s here alongside director Phillip Noyce, Priducer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and improbably tall spellcheck nemesis, Liev Schreiber. The trailer for Salt gets people into the spirit of things and it's straight into the panel.

It probably goes without saying that Jolie’s entrance causes a geekgasm of tsunami-like proportions as she walks onto the stage. She’s the biggest star at this year’s Con and the fans here gave her a suitably A-list welcome, screaming an assortment of largely unintelligible greetings – most of which we’re assuming were complimentary. The person to Empire’s left is bouncing up and down like some kind of incontinent jack-in-the-box and… yes, he appears to be crying. At this point we’re feeling a little uncomfortable.

Schreiber steps in to joke t...

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