On Playfeed: Is being too good at Shadow of Mordor robbing me of a better experience?

Where's that train headed...?

Motion capture has been explained a million times on past DVD extras. The interesting thing about about "The Polar Express" was that Tom Hanks supplied the motions for four of the characters: a hobo, a boy, the conductor and Santa himself. Plus, they used 152 miniature motion capture sensors to capture facial movements as well. They've been hyping the "breakthrough" technology to publications for weeks before the release. Sure enough, the vistas and the animation has been heralded as stunning, except for a problem with unnaturally "dead-looking" eyes of the characters. We think that the box office results have been hampered by the marketing potential of the story, plus stiff competition. Last weekend, the film brought in only about half the box office results of The Incredibles, which was then running on its 2nd week.

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Read More | CNN

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Comcast DVR On Demand Washington RolloutComcast is finally set to begin rolling out new cable boxes with Microsoft's Foundation Edition 1.7 software beginning tomorrow to approximately 1 million subscribers in Washington state. Comcast and Microsoft inked the agreement last May, which saw Comcast grant Microsoft the rights to have their set top box software running on 5 million Comcast boxes. The new boxes will allow for much more functionality than you will find on just about any other box. For example, each one will come with a 120 GB internal hard drive and will have advanced DVR functions. This thing can do just about everything a standard TiVo can do, plus more. The dual tuner boxes will allow you to record two shows at once, and they WILL record high definition broadcasts as well. On Demand programming will also be available beginning tomorrow. As for Microsoft, they have just been itching to get into the living rooms of every American home. Along with the XBOX, and Media Center PC's, this is just another channel for them to do so. A Microsoft representative also stated that there is a possibility of having Comcast boxes and Media Center PC's communicate with each other in the future. You can check out the many features of the Foundation Edition 1.7 software by viewing this video.

Read More | Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Microsoft blocks modded Xbox from LiveThose of us, um, I mean those of you with modified XBOX's who were looking forward to fragging your friends in Halo 2, Microsoft has finally caught on. Right as Halo 2 launched, Microsoft updated the XBOX Live service to identify users who are trying to connect with a modified XBOX and block them from the service. If you try to connect, it simply won't work - even on boxes that have mod chips that can be switched off. If you go into the network troubleshooter, you will see the error that reads "Your Xbox console cannot communicate with Xbox Live because the software or hardware may have been modified". Damn.

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HP z545 Digital Entertainment Center



The line between personal computer and home entertainment system appear to be more blurred as each day passes. This is no exception with the all new HP z545 Digital Entertainment Center. At first glance it is a normal home entertainment receiver, upon further inspection, it houses Windows XP Media Center, an Intel Pentium 4 3.0Ghz w/HT, 512MB RAM, and ATI RADEON X300 SE Graphics Card with 128MB RAM, a 200GB hard drive AND a 160GB Personal Media Drive, a Dual Layer 16x DVD-+R/RW drive. Catch your breath, and we will continue. There is also an integrated Personal Video Recorder with dual TV tuners, a 9-in-1 memory card reader, 2 USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, gigabit ethernet, 802.11b/g wi-fi built in, and high-definition audio with 7.1 surround sound...phew!

With all this in a stylish case designed beautifully to blend in with the rest of your components in your entertainment room, the HP z545 Digital Entertainment Center definitely seems to be at the forefront of the living room media hub race, at least here in the US.

Read More | Sparktoblog
Compare Pricing | HPshopping.com
Flash Based iPod January 2005Word on the street is that Apple is hard at work on finishing up design on yet another iteration of the ridiculously popular iPod. This time it will be a flash-based model, most likely in the 256 MB to 1 GB range, according to AppleInsider. While Steve Jobs had previously stated that he felt that flash drives weren't really what people wanted, they have been selling like crazy. It is understandable that Apple would want to cut into that market, especially since the iPod easily owns 92% of the hard drive based MP3 player market. Look for the announcement on this one to be made at MacWorld this January. The new iPod is expected to hit retail for less than $200 USD.


Read More
| AppleInsider
Taking a break from our regularly scheduled tech news, I wanted to let everyone know about the different ways you can subscribe to Gear Live updates. We have three avenues that you can use at the bottom of the right-hand column, but who knows how many of you ever see them. You can use the images below to add Gear Live's feed to any of these popular digests:

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You will also see that we have added a ranking feature to the site, which allows readers to rank the stories on Gear Live. This may or may not be a long term thing, depending on the popularity of the feature.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Three XBOX 2 VersionsI would take this one with a grain of salt until we get more solid evidence, but The Inquirer is reporting that Microsoft plans to release three versions of the upcoming XBOX sequel. There has been talk lately that the big M was thinking about removing the hard drive to bring down the cost of the next system, however it seems that they may be planning to actually release three versions of the XBOX 2. The first would be the standard game console, sans the hard drive. There would also be an XBOX 2 HD, which would include the hard drive along with some PVR functionality. Apparently, these two would launch in Fall 2005. Then in 2006 (probably around the time of the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution launch) Microsoft would release yet another version of the XBOX. This one is said to be a full blown PC with XBOX 2 capabilities out of the box. It would have a monitor, CD burner, and all the other PC fanfare - I am guessing this will be very close to being just a Media Center PC that plays XBOX games, and I expect it to sell similarly as well as the MCPC product line does - not very well.

Read More | The Inquirer
Dog swallows cell phoneA Turkish petrol attendant recently thought his cell phone was stolen. He did what any of us would do - call your cell phone and see if anyone answered to try and recover the phone. However, when he made the call, he could hear the phone ringing nearby. It turned out that the ring was emanating from the stomach of his dog. Apparently, the dog got a hold of the phone, and swallowed it. Eventually, through the process of elimination, he was able to get the phone back. I don't know how willing I would be to check any missed voicemails after this phones recovery.

Read More | IOL
Best Buy Angel Devil CustomersDo you like shopping around for the best deal? If something has a cash back rebate or price reduction, wouldn't you be more inclined to purchase it from the store with the sale rather than another store that sells it for the regular price? So would I. Apparently, Best Buy thinks that by doing so that this makes us "devil shoppers" and thusly they would prefer it if we didn't shop at their establishment. On the other hand, shoppers who don't care about prices or discounts are more than welcome to shop at their stores. Best Buy will even go out of their way to welcome these "angel shoppers" to make the comfortable enough to spend even more money. The funny thing is, whenever I go into Best Buy I know about 100 times more about the products I am shopping for than the salesperson trying to sell me the item. Either way, look for Best Buy to start training their staff to cater to the "angel shoppers" of the world over the next couple of years.

Read More | Wall Street Journal

Design an iPod iSkin Contest Results



Okay, about a week ago we asked you to develop the next iPod because we are pretty sure our readers can out think Steve Jobs. Thanks to iSkin Incorporated, we even promised to send chosen winners a free iSkin product. We got a boatload of submissions, and were able to narrow it does to the five best. We take a look at the winners after the jump.

Click to continue reading Design the Next iPod Contest Results


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