Lugging Stuff Around! Computers, Cameras, Gadgets

On Saturday, June 30, 2012 0 comments

As many of you know, I totally love my electronics, computers, gadgets and cameras. And the only way to really enjoy them is to "have them with me"! So at the end of the day, it is alway a quest to find the right bag/luggage/backpack/etc. to get the job done. Now my gear can include quite a bit including a full-frame (larger) Digital SLR camera, some larger zoom lens, a flash, tripod, 13" Macbook Air or 15" Macbook Pro, an iPad, Sony Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, a Canon S100 pocket camera, some work papers, power supplies and cables. Now each product i reference below might not carry all this equipment but I am looking for the right bag for the right occasion. And at the very top of my priority list is a bag that can handle good sized pieces of equipment but is at the same time small, light and durable to fulfill its function.

I need solutions for the everyday commute, something to haul my camera gear for an afternoon out and about or when traveling abroad, luggage for an overnight or week-long excursions. The scenarios are endless and so are the options. I can easily see a half-dozen bags I typically use each and every month. So the following is a selection of luggage I have or wish I owned after some extended research and tested.

Everyday Carry Along
Okay, let's start with the everyday solutions. Now, I have the usual laptop, iPad and some small gadgets I carry between home and work. Most days I like a casual piece that is rugged, trusted and secure...but when I am heading off to a meeting or something I like a more professional solution. Depending on your needs, I will provide a few everyday bags to get you and your stuff to the office (or Starbucks)!


No list of a cool briefcases that are truly designed to "live the life" is complete without including the Filson's Padded Computer Bag. This piece is constructed from an industrial-weight rugged twill that is designed to carry quite a load of gear. You'll find a padded laptop pocket that can safely carry most laptops except for the 17"+ variety and 3 other full-length sections to hold your other papers, tablet computer and the like. You also have a front zipper compartment that accommodates your cellphone, pens, business cards and other accessories. All your stuff is shut tight by beefy two-way brass zippers and a leather snap closure. This is a bag that matures with you. It only gets better with age. Owning one of these comes at a price...I mean a decent amount of money. Now the adage goes, you get what you pay for...especially if it is a Filson! ($315'ish 16 1/2" x 14" x 7 1/2")

If you are more of the backpacker variety and are looking for that pack to make your daily commute with...I love the Crumpler line of products from Australia. Not only are they an incredibly quality piece of work, they also have personality. These pieces speak for themselves. While they have a wide assortment for every conceivable application your laptop, travel and camera gear...for the backpack folks looking for a general laptop commuter or travel bag I would lean toward their newer Crumpler Dry Red No. 5.

If you have read any of my other write-ups, you know I am particularly interested in the products that do what they are meant to do as efficiently as possible...all the while making me look cool ;-). When it comes to these types of bags I am looking for the smallest, lightest and most effective in carrying my stuff and getting that stuff in and out with ease. This backpack does that for me. The number one thing I am looking for is a padded compartment that can hold a 15" laptop (and room to spare for a iPad) and is easily accessible as I travel through security at an airport. The laptop storage compartment is accessed through a convenient side zipper. The main compartment holds your books, papers and the front zipper pocket has a good selection of pockets and slots to hold your other gadgets. And if all that isn't enough, the pack comes with a cables accessories pouch so you don't have chargers and the like all over the place. Nice, neat, well organization and light! A great backpack...as a matter of fact, I like this backpack so much I am even considering this series of pieces as my next set of luggage due to their light weight and quality construction...I just wish they had a wheeled suit bag! ($175 18" x 13 1/2" x 6")

Wheeled Cases
I would be remiss if I didn't talk about my trusty Tumi wheeled laptop bag, I have the previous version of their latest Alpha Deluxe wheeled laptop case for many years and can't speak more highly of it, the company or their service. This is my go to bag for extended travel and needing to carry a fair amount of gear and materials. I can really load this thing down with some heavy stuff which could includes a large 17" laptop, iPad, camera gear, portable game system (or two), cables, chargers (when are we going to get to a universal standard for charging devices!) and probably a few backup print outs of presentations or reading material for the flight. And all this can go with me onto the plane and will even jam under a seat in extreme cases or easily go in an overhead bin. It is only too big as a carry-on for those really small commuter flights and a few small regional jets I find in remote parts of Asia and abroad. Beyond that, this is it. If I am heading off to London or Sydney...this is the bag going with me.


The bag is well organized into some discrete sections that allow me to make sure everything thing is easily found when needed and can compress down to 10" deep for a lighter load. You have a section for files, a padded laptop section, Tumi's Tracer feature that includes a unique code in each case to help locate it in case of being lost or stole. You have several exterior pockets to make accessing cellphone, smaller gear (passport, pens, business card)...even a water bottle holder! The exterior of the bag is also very rugged as Tumi really pioneered the use of ballistic nylon to the consumer market 30 years ago. And you get a second case/sleeve to carry your laptop in situations when you don't want to haul the entire set. Again, all this comes at a premium but your years of use should help balance the cost over time. ($795 17 1/2" x 15 1/2" x 10)

As a side note, I have in recent years pick up several pieces of Briggs & Riley luggage for assorted members of the family. While my personal luggage is currently Tumi, I have been very impressed with the B&R pieces. They are very well constructed, thoughtfully laid out and from my perspective seem to wear better than my Tumis. Keep in mind that I travel a great deal and anything will show wear and tear but I have a few more frayed pieces of string and loose screws on the Tumis. So, I would wholeheartly recommend B&R as well I just haven't had much time with their computer cases and the like. I think if I was going to buy a new wheeled, professional case...I'd lean toward the Briggs & Riley Medium Executive Rolling Brief. Inside you will find three sections (computer with airport security checkpoint separate sleeve, organizer and a file section) to help keep everything organized. Will haul laptops up to the 15.4" variety and padded pockets for your other tech. And the bag can be expanded two inches to make sure you have everything with you and it is all protected behind an exterior of ballistic nylon. ($399 16" x 14" x 8")

Hauling Camera Gear
Some times I just need to throw a Digital SLR and lens in a suitcase and go. I don't need to bring the full setup of lens and the like. In those cases, the Crumpler Haven is a wonderful solution. This protective bag can house your camera and a lens or two depending on which size you get (S, M or L) and then put the whole set in your backpack or luggage and you are ready to go. This isn't rocket science but a simple, padded bag to safeguard your camera gear is totally worthwhile. Inside the bag are two velcro dividers to help keep your fragile camera gear from banging into each other. The top opening folds closed to keep everything snug and the exterior material is water resistent for added protection. (Large size: $60 10" x 9" x 5 1/2")

Still in the "small zone", let's look at the very cool CaseLogic SLRC205 Camera Sling. This is a beautifully sleek bag that can hold most consumer-level Digital SLR cameras. It features a very innovative sling what you slide the camera lens first into the slot inside the bag and the camera is suspended from there. The back of the pack is a padded air-mesh that makes it comfortably breathable. The sling design makes it easy to access your camera by just sliding the strap around until the bag is in your hands. My only issue is that the sling function only works off of your left shoulder. This also happens to be the shoulder I run my camera sling off of. So this case didn't work well for me as is but for others this most likely is not as big of an issue. From there it is an easy step to open it up and snatch the camera quickly. Even though this is a very small case, it can accomodate a small tripod mounted on the outside. ($45 8 1/2" x 4" x 5")

Moving up in size you have two primary camera bag options; 1) backpack or 2) shoulder/messenger. In the small backpack zone, my current "walking around for the day bag" is the Lowepro Flipside 200. Again, I favor small, compact and lightweight over having all my gear. I prefer to force myself to "just enough" equipment...maybe I'm just lazy? ;-) Anyway, what I love about this bag is that it will accomodate my full-size Digital SLR camera with a very large 70-200 zoom lens plus a second or even third lens as well as some other small gear. Mind you, this is not a big bag...you will need to get down to what you will need for the day. What is great about a small bag, is that you can move with ease through crowded streets, jumping onto a subway, entering buildings and at no time have to overly worry about hitting people with your backpack. And the Flipside has the added security that access to the bags contents is from the back. There is also a hideaway tripod holder that helps you haul that small tripod you might need for those night shots and the like. You also have a handy mesh side pocket for some personal items or a bottle of water. Speaking of water, this bag is pretty tough and water resistent. ($60 8 1/2" x 6 1/2" x 16 1/2")

Other small backpacks I currently like include the Kata 3N1 series (v20 - $80'ish), ThinkTank Streetwalker ($150) and the Crumpler Karachi Outpost (S - $230). And if I had to pull the trigger tomorrow on a new bag to replace my Flipside 200...it is a toss-up between the ThinkTank and Crumpler. I really need to play with those some more to get a better feel.



I haven't spent much time with a messenger bag solution but am tempted to. I really like how some of those bags make it very easy to get the camera in and out while on the move. I also am digging the California Sunbounce Sun-Sniper Strap-Surfer...a big name for a cool solution. This strap attaches to the shoulder-strap of your messenger and turns it into a very nice side holster type of hang. Check out the video to see what I mean...



Two messenger bags I really like from my initial research are the Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home and the Tenba Small Messenger. I want to spend more time with them but they are both big enough to hold a camera body and a couple good sized lens. Crumpler makes an array of smaller and larger sizes of the Million Dollar Home series depending on the camera gear you are taking with you.


Taking ALL My Camera Gear
Last but not least is the logistics of getting all my electronics and camera gear to a new city for an extended stay. As I mentioned, I tend to have my Tumi Wheeled Laptop case that carries a fair amount of computer and gear and I will also haul along my Lowepro Flipside 200 with my camera and a couple lens. Some of my additional camera stuff can kinda fit into the Tumi. But there are occasions when I want to have it all! That is when I need to roll out a larger, wheeled camera bag. For that, I rely on the ThinkTank International v2.0.

The ThinkTank International v2.0 meets all the international carry-on standards which is key as you really don't want to check all this precious gear. But should the occasion come that you need to check this bag, it comes with a TSA combination lock to lock zipper. The bag also has a security plate with a unique serial number to help you retrieve it in case it is lost or stolen. Even though this case is visually small in appearance and easy to stow on a plane, it can actually carry a substantial amount of hardware. Imagine two pro-sized Digital SLR cameras, two flashes, four large lens, your 15.4" laptop and assorted other pieces of equipment. And on the side of the case you will find a handy tripod carrier. This bag really helps out if you have a wide assortment of camera and video camcorder equipment to bring with you.

Just Carrying A Camera?
I previously mentioned in this piece that I was interested in the Sun-Sniper strap for a messenger bag. If you are still using the camera strap that came with your Digital SLR or larger consumer camera...you really should look at a sling/strap. These are awesome! I have recently been testing out the Black Rapid RS-5. This type of sling takes the weight of the camera off of your neck and also makes it very easy to grab, aim and fire before the subject you wanted to take a picture of is gone! While the RS-5 worked well, I felt the shoulder storage compartment was too small, yet too heavy and caused the top to slide down on occasion. I have since moved onto the RS-7 model ($60) which is even $10 less and does exactly what it is suppose to. I know what you are saying...$60 for a camera strap????!!!!! But trust me, if you are carrying a decent sized camera around all day...this is a life-saver!

Conclusion
All of these products listed are of the highest quality and something I would be proud to own. Yes they all have their limitations and it will be up to you to decide if one bag is better for your needs than another. I would also point out that many of the bags I have talked about have smaller and larger siblings should your needs be slightly different, just check out the internal and external dimensions on the products websites for that level of detail.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and if you haven't already chosen to follow me on Facebook or Twitter, please do so now. Thx

LarryLarry Pacey, award-winning designer tracks the latest news on consumer products, electronics, appliances, smart devices, networking and the gadget lifestyle.
For the latest news follow me on:

------------------------------ OR -------------------------------



Please comment below and share your thoughts. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to email me at wouldntmind@gmail.com.

Just my 2-cents,
Larry
Enhanced by Zemanta

Apple Macintosh Announcements including Macbook Pro Laptop with Retina Display

On Tuesday, June 12, 2012 0 comments


The Retina display is Apple's branding for a monitor in which the individual pixels making up the images on the screen are not discernable when viewed at a normal reading distance. That all the dots vanish into one continuous image. This technology was first introduced on the relatively small iPhone 4 monitor, then on to the slightly larger iPad display.

Apple has made the leap and introduced this technology onto the Macintosh Macbook Pro laptops. Showcasing an amazing resolution of 2880 x 1800 (or 5.1 million pixels), you can expect text and high contrast graphics to appear crisper and cleaner. I am talking about a notably cleaner representation on screen. I invite you to check out the incredible amount of detail and screen real estate that you will have on this desktop via the Apple Macbook Pro product page. The negative is that as you start to work with higher resolution imagery and the like to fill up the screen, you will see files sizes continue to grow. Just something to keep in mind!

Not only is the display gorgeous but the entire Macbook Pro has been redesigned from the ground up! The product is impressively thin...just .71 inches and 4.46 pounds to be exact. Included in this sleek package is a quad-core Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor running at speeds of 2.7GHz and support for 16 gigabytes of RAM. You also get the NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M to push those 5.1 million pixels around in real-time.

Other Macintosh thing announced?
Mountain Lion is Apple's next Operating System release which is expected to launch in July via the Mac App Store for $19.99. This update centers around better internet services integration such as improved iCloud support to make it easier to share your files across your Mac, iPhone and iPad. And the more interesting addition is the substantial integration directly with Facebook's services. This includes syncing your contacts, sharing directly from the Safari web browser and Notifications screen updates. All the Apple Macintosh apps are updated to leverage the new high resolution display including Mail, Safari, iPhoto, etc.

Another exciting enhancement for me is the AirPlay Mirroring feature that allows you to display your Macintosh's screen with a TV connected to an AppleTV device for simple, wireless presentation sharing.

If you'd like to see a video that highlights all the updates coming next month...check it out on Apple's website.

Other things that happened but were not announced?
New Smart Case for iPad!!!  As you probably know from previous posts, I have loathed the magnetic Smart Cover the Apple offers. It leaves the back of the device exposed AND the magnetic part slips and disconnects all the time. Finally Apple is offering a full case now that is similar to the cover but adds a protective backing.

The case is extremely well fitted as you would expect from Apple and is made from polyurethane and offers the low-profile angle for keyboard-like typing on the screen. Would have liked a leather option and am not blown away by the six color choices but this could be the nicest offering I've seen in a sleek case offering.

Lame Mac Pro Update...what more can I say? Maybe a little history first. The MacPro is the full-sized desktop computer that Apple has sold for many years. The current version was introduced in 2006 and I am typing this write-up on that computer. What I like about the desktop computer over the iMacs is that ability to add new capabilities to the platform. This specific MacPro has a ultra high-speed Serial ATA interface to drive my RAID drives and an updated videocard for enhanced graphics. I utilized the half-dozen USB and Firewire ports, the four internal hard-drives and a slew of other peripherals.

So what has Apple done? Pretty much nothing. The update included some new processor options which doesn't even include the new chips Intel introduced last quarter? The package still utilizes the same video card launched in 2009!!!!! This update was not even worth doing. I get it. This package is not mass market and doesn't warrant support when they can sell you an iMac that will last a few years and then you just junk that and buy a new one. They don't like that I am operating on the same system for 6 years!

I'm sure they will kill this category...they probably already have and that is why we got this lame update that just helps them clear out inventories??? But it is a shame, I really like the option to support new features and capabilities via PCI cards and the like.

Okay...after writing all that...Tim Cook just sent an email confirming a new MacPro is in the works and is expected next year! He says, "something great" for the Pro's. I guess we are back to the usual Apple waiting game :-)

There was a slew of iOS (iPhone/iPad operating system) updates but those get a bit geeky and I will cover that when iOS6 gets released.



LarryLarry Pacey, award-winning designer tracks the latest news on consumer products, electronics, appliances, smart devices, networking and the gadget lifestyle.
For the latest news follow me on:

------------------------------ OR -------------------------------



Please comment below and share your thoughts. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to email me at wouldntmind@gmail.com.

Just my 2-cents,
Larry

E3 2012 - Nintendo Wii U Game Introduction Video Highlights

On Thursday, June 7, 2012 0 comments

I've compiled some video highlights from Nintendo's Electronic Entertainment Expo Wii U game introductions. The video gives you a quick sneak peak at some of the games and features you can look forward to on this new gaming platform launching later this year.

Overall the Wii U's game graphics looks like higher resolution versions of what you are use to on the original Wii. But it is clearly a more powerful system and does feature some 3rd party games similar to what you see on an Xbox 360 or Sony Playstation.

While it wasn't announced, Microsoft and most likely Sony will have their new gaming systems at next year's show for launch during the 2013 holiday season. So for a brief period of time, Nintendo's graphics will be on parity but we'll have to wait and see just where Microsoft and Sony take their platforms to see if Nintendo will once again lag on the platform wars.

Now Nintendo has proven time and time again...it is all about the games and not graphics BUT the issue is that a 3rd party publisher like Ubisoft, EA or Activision want to release their titles on all platforms and Nintendo typically suffers from the fact that it's platforms are not able to accomodate a port of game from the other systems. So 3rd party content tends to be limited to what companies want to make Nintendo original content or heavy-duty/stripped down version.

For launch, since the Wii U is in the ballpark of Xbox 360 we are seeing some ports like Assassin's Creed 3. But this will probably dry up after the first year.

So check out the video to see some of the games in action...





LarryLarry Pacey, award-winning designer tracks the latest news on consumer products, electronics, appliances, smart devices, networking and the gadget lifestyle.
For the latest news follow me on:

------------------------------ OR -------------------------------



Please comment below and share your thoughts. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to email me at wouldntmind@gmail.com.

Just my 2-cents,
Larry

E3 2012 - Sony PS Vita - Very weak showing!

On Wednesday, June 6, 2012 0 comments

I don't even know where to begin. What was Sony thinking? They bring out a a killer new piece of hardware in the form of a mobile gaming powerhouse called the PS Vita and then pop out some uninspiring games to go on it? Did they think developers would jump on to a platform they are not even supporting with their own killer content to drive sales?

Okay, I will give you that Uncharted on the PS Vita was a very good game. And there is some nice "online arcade" quality titles available that are worth playing if you have the device. Highlights of the show were Little Big Planet, Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation and Soundshapes...all very solid offerings. But after that, your kinda looking at 25 mediocre titles from the demos at the show. Just not enough excitement to pull the trigger on another piece of hardware to carry around.


What was I hoping for? How about a handful of top-tier 1st party titles like an original God of War? Instead I get Playstation One classics? Come on! You are killing me! This is a powerful device that I am going to play 10+ year old games on? IF that was the caliber of content you were going to push...you should have lower the specs on the hardware and sold it for $100!

I realize the economics of the thing. Small installed base...doesn't justify development dollars. But then you shouldn't build the thing and sell it to me! It is kinda a self fulfilling situation as it stands. Make the bet or don't even try.


This was definitely not the year of the handheld gaming console. Sony largely forgot to talk about the platform in their press conference and Nintendo pretty much did the same thing??? Mobile smart devices are clearly winning out here and that is a very sad state of affair. Having a quality mobile gaming device with physical controllers makes all the difference. But the device needs to have the content to justify owning it and carrying it with you.

I really don't know what to expect at this stage but if you are remotely considering buying a PS Vita...don't! I guess Sony has "one last chance" to resolve this at the Tokyo Game Show in September. But I am not holding my breath.



LarryLarry Pacey, award-winning designer tracks the latest news on consumer products, electronics, appliances, smart devices, networking and the gadget lifestyle.
For the latest news follow me on:

------------------------------ OR -------------------------------



Please comment below and share your thoughts. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to email me at wouldntmind@gmail.com.

Just my 2-cents,
Larry

UPDATED: Hottest Games Worth Seeing from E3 2012

On Monday, June 4, 2012 0 comments



Here are some sneak peaks at some of the top "potential" games at E3 this year...



Ubisoft delivers another amazing demo...


Aassassin's Creed finally evolves from 2 to 3...new additional settings and characters...


Laura deserves a good return to gaming and I'm hopeful that this product delivers...


Halo 4...with a whole new team and big shoes to fill!


Metal Gear has been a favorite of mind...even with the freaky characters and story-lines. I have really enjoyed the innovative stealth gameplay. It will be interesting to see how this game evolves the universe.





Rayman Legends exclusive to the new Nintendo Wii U



Resident Evil 6 - I still remember jumping out of my chair in RE1 when the dogs came through the window!


Star Wars 1313 - A more mature and dark story around a very lethal bounty hunter. A major collaberation of art talent across the Lucas groups.


And for those old-school simulation folks...an impressive looking new SimCity in heading our way!


I still haven't played the original Skyrim that came out last year. Everyone says it is great but takes an RPG-level of commitment that I just don't have at this time.



More to come...


LarryLarry Pacey, award-winning designer tracks the latest news on consumer products, electronics, appliances, smart devices, networking and the gadget lifestyle.
For the latest news follow me on:

------------------------------ OR -------------------------------



Please comment below and share your thoughts. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to email me at wouldntmind@gmail.com.

Just my 2-cents,
Larry

Microsoft Pre-E3 2012 Press Conference

On 0 comments


In a nutshell, Microsoft is leaning forward on XBox 360. I guess if that is all you have...you work with it. The XBox 360 is still a very capable gaming console that delivers a quality gaming experience. And nearly every demo that Microsoft is showing has some form of Kinect feature such as gesture or voice commands.

Let's talk games...

That the very top of their gaming arsenal is the latest Halo game cleverly titled Halo 4. Now it should be noted that this is the first original Halo game not developed by the series creators Bungie. The new developers, 343 Industries are a studio created by Microsoft to oversee the brand with the departure of Bungie. The game includes the return of a long thought dead race...the Forerunners, new AI and I'm sure new gameplay features such as the new head-up display tech shown today.


Another title highlighted was Ubisoft Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist. This series has done well and the quality is always top-notch but for some reason I tend not to play through these games.

New features include nice subtle Kinect features like the ability to be hanging off a ledge and make noise to summon a guard to the edge so you can take him out.

Splinter Cell Blacklist is due out in the Spring of 2013.


In the sports section, Microsoft highlighted the addition of Kinect voice command features. Madden 2012 really looked to take the best advantage of this with support for pre-snap audibles, calling your plays and most impressively...the ability to call out a single players name!


Another title that is suppose to be completely controlled by the Kinect gesture and voice is Fable: The Journey.

In this game you cast spells and control objects in the environment without a controller in your hand.

It is a grand vision and hope to spend some time testing this out in the near future.

We also got to see a new Forza car racing game takes all the physics and car choices from the past games in the series and takes you onto the open road. This idea of taking a game and expanding into an open world is the hot trend today and we should expect to see more of this across other game series. This latest Forza will be available October 23, 2012.

XBox 360 as the entertainment hub...
Microsoft continues to highlight that the Xbox is not just a gaming device but also provides you with an access to many of the popular video streaming options. They also believe their device is the easiest to use with features like the integrated Bing Voice Search feature that allows you to search for your content by name or genre.

How about a fitness hub...
Nike and P90x are both gunning to offer fitness products this year with support of the Kinect!

Second Screen anyone?
Did Microsoft steal Nintendo's second screen Wii U thunder? We are seeing a demo of an application that they inferred would work even with iPad??? I'm sure it will work better on a Windows 8 tablet :-)

It is a bit unclear what the tablet does beyond what is currently available as a second-screen device. They demo HBO Go application on a tablet synced with content streaming from the XBox...but doesn't it do most of this already? If this all adds up right, Microsoft is trying to introduce an AppleTV competitor?


More games...
Tomb Raider, Resident Evil 6, South Park, Dance Central 3 and yes...Call of Duty: Black Ops II. I'll provide more detail and footage from the show floor when it opens tomorrow.

Should you want to watch the full press conference...here you go!




LarryLarry Pacey, award-winning designer tracks the latest news on consumer products, electronics, appliances, smart devices, networking and the gadget lifestyle.
For the latest news follow me on:

------------------------------ OR -------------------------------



Please comment below and share your thoughts. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to email me at wouldntmind@gmail.com.

Just my 2-cents,
Larry

Nintendo Talks About The New Wii U

On Sunday, June 3, 2012 0 comments

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata discussed the new Nintendo Wii U and the underlying philosophy of the platform. The system is clearly a derivative of the original Nintendo Wii with more graphics horsepower but the key upgrade is the Wii U Gamepad. The Wii U Gamepad is a large controller with traditional videogame controls, a tablet-like touchscreen and the ability for the controller's screen and gaming console hooked up to the TV to interact with each other.

The Wii U Gamepad has been modified a bit since we saw a prototype at E3 last year. Gone are the circular controllers for more traditional gaming stalks. The system also features a better grip shaping on the back and a Near-Field Communications reader and writer.

Nintendo expects that this controller can take the place of your traditional TV remote. I am a bit dubious with this but will hold judgement until I can get more time with it in this configuration. They did reference the fact that their would be some niceties such as the ability to scroll your channel guide on the gamepad screen.

First and foremost, the controller is your game controller. And leverages the concept of a "second screen" interacting with your TV or other traditional Wiimotes. Examples quickly shown included the ability to aim your pitch or catch a ball in your glove via the gamepad screen.

Other examples included laying the gamepad on the ground where it would show your golfball on its screen and you could swing a regular Wiimote like current Wii games. Another game seen above allowed you to flick throwing stars from the gamepad to the tv screen.

The screen is a touchpad and works with a stylus so you can do all the things you would imagine with a tablet or Nintendo 3DS

The Wii U Gamepad is an independent device. You can play games on its screen without the TV.

And content on the gamepad can be shared on your TV similar to Apple's Airplay service.

Nintendo will also be offering a more traditional gaming controller, not unlike the Microsoft Xbox 360 controller. Nintendo says this controller is designed for extended play sessions.

The area that Nintendo is very focused on is building a gaming social network. Clearly this service has all the usual messaging and postings.

When you log into the gaming system.

You will find your Mii, other people on this system, your friends and other people playing the same game. 
There is even the ability to leverage the gamepad's front facing camera to start a video conference with something.
You can keep in contact with everyone via the gamepad, so others can use the TV.

Messages and chat can be via regular keyboard text or using the drawing metaphors Nintendo has leverage on their past Gameboy DS offerings.

Developers can deeply integrate the social network into the game for real-time updates.

You can browse the web on the gamepad.

While not available at launch, Nintendo says that they see their social network extending to regular messaging channels such as your smart device.

And what Nintendo press conference wouldn't be complete without a quote from their famous game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario and Zelda to name a few).

If you were wondering what the Japanese text above his head was...it roughly translates to "Creating Something Unique". And I will give Nintendo credit for making a device that really could capture someones imagination about what would be possible with a dedicated second screen. And as long as the system has enough juice to drive all the potential, this would be an exciting new platform for gaming.

I will endeavor to push through the most relavent and exciting new product information coming out of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this week in Los Angeles.



LarryLarry Pacey, award-winning designer tracks the latest news on consumer products, electronics, appliances, smart devices, networking and the gadget lifestyle.For the latest news follow me on:

------------------------------ OR -------------------------------



Please comment below and share your thoughts. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to email me at wouldntmind@gmail.com.

Just my 2-cents,
Larry