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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Club Nintendo pouch arrrived

Yeaahhh.... ordered on Monday, shows up on Thursday! I love how fast Nintendo Canada sends me stuff!

True to Nintendo form, it came in a very basic package-- just the pouch in a clear plastic bag, but with one addition: a little thank-you note from Club Nintendo:

It says, "THANK YOU for your feedback! We hope you enjoy your Club Nintendo reward. Your valuable input helps us create new opportunities to bring smiles to our fans."

The pouch is a bit big compared to my DS Lite, but it's not freakishly so.

This is what it looks like with my DS Lite inside:

The pouch is reversible. As can be seen in the pics, the red side has a little 8-bit Mario and the word "Nintendo" on a patch that is stitched onto the pouch. The inside is a beige-ish colour that has the "Club Nintendo" logo printed on the corner. I think the Club Nintendo logo actually looks a bit better than the Mario one...

Both sides feel very velvety & soft. It's simple but this is what a gadget pouch should feel like. I can't wait to put my 3DS in this thing.

Thanks Club Nintendo!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ordered Club Nintendo pouch

Wooo... a few months ago I was cleaning up around the house, sorting among other things my games stuff, like Gameboy Advance cartridges & PSP UMD games paraphernalia that was laying around.... and some of that was a bunch of Club Nintendo game registration codes.

So last week I pulled some of those out of the drawer and entered them into my account. Yesterday I went back into my account to fill out some followup surveys for those games I registered (had to wait 7 days) so I could get some more Club Nintendo coins. And yesterday I had enough to get the pouch they're offering!

250 coins for it. I ordered the red, and it's reversible. I ordered it to go with my upcoming Nintendo 3DS that I'll need a pouch/case for since I don't think it comes with one... it does come with a charging stand though......

The only thing about this pouch is that it says it's for the DS Lite, DSi, DSiXL..... DSiXL? The pouch must be big if it fits that thing. I think the pouch dimensions are listed as 8" x 5"... so that does seem rather large. I'd prefer it be more sized to go with my upcoming 3DS, which from what I can tell will be about the same size as the DS Lite. Sure, that means I could probably use a DS Lite case for it... but at least this one's free. And kinda snazzy.

I ordered the case 2/21/11, and I think it ships from Richmond, BC.... I remember the stuff I've ordered previously from Nintendo Canada arrived very quick. So I'm hoping it will arrive in a few days. Oh well..... just have to wait & see.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones

I really like my PSPgo PSP-N270 Bluetooth headphone remote, it's good quality and compatible with all my BT devices, but it still needs a wired set of headphones. Sure, they don't have to be tethered to the device but they're still tethered to the remote... and they get in the way sometimes. I've been looking for a true wireless BT headphone solution for some time.

I saw the HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones [listing at The Source] on sale at The Source... I tried to research them to see if there was any review information out there but all I could find was Marc Saltzmans' Youtube video (which I will post at the end of this review).... apparently The Source has a no-return policy on headphones, so I ended up taking a chance-- plopped down my $39-something (including tax) to try them out and give a review!

What's in the box:
  • Headphones
  • proprietary power adapter-to-USB cable
  • 2 sets of rubber in-ear bud thingies
  • instruction foldout
  • nylon carrying pouch which feels really gross & smells funny

Product specifications (from the instruction foldout):

  • Bluetooth V2.1+EDR
  • Support profiles: Headset, Handsfree, A2DP, AVRCP
  • Operative range: Class 2, 10 metres (approx. 30 feet)
  • Battery: 170 mA rechargeable lithium
  • Talk time: up to 9 hrs
  • Music time: up to 8 hrs
  • Standby time: up to 16 days

They have a really small form factor. They fold up nicely, I could see these being very pocketable and in that respect even more convenient than my PSPgo bluetooth remote... I usually clip that to my shirt and wrap the headphone cord around my neck. With these, just take them off & slip them in my pocket.

The yellow stripe separates the 2 parts of the "cup". The outer side has a bit of a soft rubber feel which is comfortable when touching, say, while operating the controls or whatever. The inside of the cup that faces your head is hard plastic, but it doesn't actually touch your ears so it doesn't affect comfort.

I thought the band that connects the ear pieces was just a regular cable, but it's not-- it's a stiff flexible band that pulls the ear pieces toward your head keeping them in your ears. This is the direction of the pressure when it's stretched as if wearing it:

Despite that squeezing, it's fairly comfortable and feels very secure on the head.

As mentioned, the HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones come with 2 sets of (medium & large size) rubber in-ear buds that you place over the actual headphone speakers:

They are soft rubber, but they kinda stab into your ear canal... like if you take a single sheet of paper, it's soft & flexible, right? But if you roll it up into a tube and push the end against something, it's quite rigid. That's sort of how the tube part of the buds feel.

Even though the rubber buds do a fairly ok-to-good job of outside noise isolation, for some reason the audio quality through the headphones is not as good.... it is amplified though.

So I've been using these foam covers I got from the Dollar Store years ago, for my PSP-1001(!) headphones.

They feel a lot more comfortable, the audio quality seems a bit better but there is no outside noise isolation.

I like the stylish control buttons, they kinda remind me of the Sony Walkman logo...

The buttons are easy to press, and are very clicky. In fact, they are a bit too clicky-- it's good that they are tactile enough to know you pressed them without being able to see them, but as they're right up against your ears, the clicking of the button presses is quite loud. There's also a lot of travel to them-- as in you have to press down on them quite a bit to register a press-- so you can't just press them with an index finger alone, you need your thumb to pinch the headphone cup when you press a button.

The bluetooth light flashes very infrequently, it seems like every 10 seconds or so. I suppose that's good for those that don't necessarily want to be a big flashing beacon while walking down the street or whatever. The instructions say that when the battery is low, it will flash red once every 15 seconds... once every 15 seconds??? Like who's gonna even notice that?? Not that you can even see the light while wearing them... so it may be difficult to tell when the battery runs out before it's too late.

Hold down the POWER/PLAY/PAUSE button for 4 seconds to turn the headphones on/off. Hold it for 7 seconds to pair the headphones with a device. I've paired them with all 3 of my BT devices: my Toshiba NB-205 netbook, Sony PSPgo, and my HTC Legend Android smartphone.

The right side has a port for a proprietary power adapter-to-USB cable. There's no wall adapter, you can only charge via USB out of the box. I suppose I may need to get a USB wall adapter some time, but for now I'm using my PC to charge it. And don't lose that proprietary cable... or uh-oh!

The power port on the headphones has a flimsy rubber stopper to cover it, but it never seems to stay in. I also think it will break off after a short time. It feels cheap.

Connecting the HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones to my devices was fairly easy. I did have a bit of a hiccup when first pairing it to my HTC Legend, which is odd because it's the easiest of my devices to deal with bluetooth headphones-- the PSPgo remote had no trouble pairing with it. But it wasn't a big deal at all and eventually the HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones paired with it fine. The only issue I have now is the PLAY/PAUSE button doesn't work with the HTC Legend-- it worked ONCE, but since then it doesn't seem to any more. Odd.

I paired the headphones to my PSPgo, and all the button functions work well with it. Had no problems pairing it. Of course the PLAY/PAUSE and TRACK+/- buttons don't work in SensMe, but I think that's more a problem on the PSPgo end as the other remote has the same issue.

And when I need to re-connect the HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones to my PSPgo after using it with another device like my phone, when I connect it it gives me this error:

But it still connects. Go figure. I have similar/worse problems with the PSPgo BT remote after using it with other devices also, so I also chalk it up to another PSPgo BT issue rather than the headphones.

I haven't used the MIC on the HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones yet, so I can't comment on the quality of it or the phone functions. In his video, Marc Saltzman says something like "there's a MIC, but these are primarily headphones" which sounds like the MIC is probably nothing to write home about. Still, with it's placement it might be better than the PSPgo remote's MIC.... I haven't used that one either but I can't see it as being very effective. At least this one is close to your face.

So the sound quality of the HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones.

Unfortunately, sound quality is mediocre.

They don't sound BAD necessarily, but I've been rocking my Creative EP-630 earbuds on my PSPgo Bluetooth remote, and those sound really good. They are my favourite earbuds, I have 2 pairs of them. Maybe I am spoiled since I rarely use average sounding earbuds anymore.

The audio from the HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones is a bit muffled. Yes, bluetooth audio in general is not as good as through regular cables, but I'd say the PSPgo Bluetooth remote audio has better fidelity... but it also have a bit of background hiss, like Sony's Mega-Bass system used to. The HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones don't have any hiss at least. And using foam covers rather than the supplied rubber ear buds slightly improves the audio quality.... but again, at the cost of lack of noise isolation that the rubber buds provide.

The range is advertised as 10 metres, about 30 feet. With my PSPgo, I find that the HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones do work at that range (with a some audio cut outs) but with my HTC Legend, the range is much much shorter. I'm not sure why, because my PSPgo remote also has the same range and it's the same with both the PSPgo and the HTC Legend.

I bought the HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones on sale for like $34.99... apparently their regular price is $70.00? $70.00 is way too much for these, but if you're looking for some affordable bluetooth headphones in the under-$50.00 range, there's not much selection in Canada. In the U.S. they seem to have much more choice like from Amazon.com or wherever, but here in Canada I've rarely (maybe never) seen bluetooth headphones for $35.00. Don't expect too much from them, but they're compact, easy to use, fairly comfortable (when using foam covers) and work as advertised.

If you only need one bluetooth headphone device, I might the PSPgo remote over these because it's pretty good and works surprisingly well with other devices like my HTC Legend... though I haven't tried it with an iPhone/iPod touch and can't guarantee it'll work with all devices. But for a budget set of bluetooth headphones, this isn't bad... not that we in Canada have much choice.

Marc Saltzman's HeadRush Adrenaline Bluetooth headphones video overview :


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Xperia Play is coming

Oh yeah.... I've been waiting... for this announcement that Sony Ericsson teased, like 7 days ago? And it's here, though most of the details have been leaked already, we had to wait for official word on the important ones-- the specs and the release dates. Coming in March(?) for the U.S. with Verizon. No info yet on release date or carrier for Canada. UPDATE: MobileSyrup is reporting that Rogers will offer Xperia Play "Spring 2011".

Engadget has a brief hands-on here.

Joystiq has the full specs posted here. Basically it's got a 1GHz Scorpion ARMv7 processor, running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and the phone has 400 MB of onboard storage.... which doesn't seem like very much. I think the operating system takes up a big chunk of that, I know that the phone will use bunches of it during the day, *AND* installing apps/Android games fill that space up.... so it doesn't go very far. I know that some people will say, "Android 2.2.+up lets you load apps to the SD card....".... yeah, *BUT* a lot of apps don't support that feature. Newer ones are more likely to do so, but most of them still don't seem to. So while it's great that theoretically Android 2.2 & up lets us do that... in REALITY it isn't all that useful in day-to-day Android phone use. Yet. Oh yeah, it also comes with an 8GB microSD card in the box.

Xperia Play weighs 175g, which seems a bit heavy... isn't the full-size PSP around 200g? Another thing I've noticed is that there are a lot of people who post on the articles about Sony Ericsson phones that they had really bad experiences with them. I've seen more than a few "I am so glad I switched to an HTC..." type of posts... I'm not sure about the newest HTC phones, but I'm currently using an HTC Legend and I reeeeeeeally love it, personally... but just looking over the Xperia UI and these disgruntled owners really gives me pause about Sony Ericsson phones. Not sure if it'd be worth the expense to get one...

But the Xperia Play does look fun simply because of the buttons. I don't know what would stop people from using it for GBA emulators and PS1 emulators rather than buying the games through Playstation Suite. And I seriously doubt there will be much PSP crossover games coming to the platform.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Xperia Play officially announced?

IGN is reporting that the Xperia Play-- a.k.a the PlayStation Phone-- was revealed to the (American) public at large via an ad during Super Bowl XLV yesterday.

So is it finally "outed"? I've heard the cost to have an ad play during the Super Bowl is $100,000.00 per second. That's $3 million for a 30 second ad. Wow, $3 million already spent in promoting the device.....

What disturbs me is apparently the ad they showed was that DISTURBINGLY CREEPY one that "leaked" onto the internet last week... the one with the thumbs....

I'm loathe to actually post it here, I was originally gonna just link to it [right here], but what the hell, if you haven't seen it yet, here it is:

It just creeps me right out. Even worse than those awful PS3 baby ads....

So what we're seeing with NGP & Xperia Play is the branching off of the PSP brand:


  • bigger screen/overall unit
  • proper analogue sticks like a PS3 console
  • games that promise to challenge the graphics/production quality of PS3/home console


Xperia Play:
  • small, portable
  • downloadable PS1 games through PlayStation Suite
  • hey it's a phone too! Now you GOTTA carry it around with you, amirite?

In a way, the Xperia Play is a spiritual successor to the PSPgo. I still love my PSPgo (in fact I'm going to go play it as soon as I'm done writing this post) Merging it with a phone, and Android may be a good idea... it will definitely be a portable device, especially running Android. Not sure how useful the dual analogue touchpads will be, but I suppose they're mostly there for PS1 support.

Sony is really hedging its bets with these 2 handheld directions. We have to understand that the handheld gaming market is way different now than when Sony entered it with the PSP in 2004/2005. Phone gaming is HUGE. Sure, people complain about the quality, but it's UNDENIABLE that the majority of gaming is done on peoples phones. Are these casual gamers who don't care about the latest Kingdom Hearts entry or other big game franchises? Maybe... ultimately, who cares?

Nintendo & Sony have to scramble to adjust their handheld strategies to compete with the overlapping phone market. By cozying up to Google's Android, Sony might be on the right track with that.

Still not sure how I feel about the Xperia Play though. I am warming up to it, but if I were to ever get one I think the majority of my gaming on it would be GBA emulated games, and using a free PS1 emulator. Playing GBA games on a virtual touchscreen D-pad is annoying.