Weekly Digest

An up and down week that ended better than it started. Starting to plot a 4K TV purchase in the not to distant future.

Westworld is starting to hit it’s stride – really enjoying it. Also enjoyed the first of the new Black Mirror episodes on Netflix.

Battlefield 1 on the Xbox One is an excellent game. Operations mode on multiplayer is epic, some of the best multiplayer I’ve played on this generation of console. Coupled with a strong story mode and a range of multiplayer options make it a great purchase.

Mini Metro is a cracking game on iOS. It’s a subway building game which is just made for a touch interface. Just £3.99 but a really essential buy if you enjoy gaming on iOS.


Playstation VR

It’s been over a week since the Playstation VR came out. I picked one up on day one thanks to a very early pre-order on Amazon along with a couple of move controllers, a camera and a copy of Rigs. I’d been really looking forward to this as the Oculus and Vive were just too big a purchase alongside a gaming PC and VR is of real interest to me. The Playstation VR is the affordable way to get into VR…but how good is it?

Opening the kit is the first surprise. Sony really have pulled out the stops and made it a treat to unbox. You lift open the main lid and there’s a box inside. Inside that box there are smaller boxes holding cables. Lift those off and you finally get to the headset itself.


It felt like opening a Russian doll crossed with tetris. What was also slightly surprising was the amount of cables. A bit unexpected but Sony had done a good job of numbering them all to make installation pretty straightforward.

The headset itself looks fantastic. It looks like something from the future in contrast to the Vive/Oculus headsets which are a bit more utilitarian. More importantly they’ve made it the most comfortable of the VR headsets to wear.


The band on top of your head supports most of the weight and hence for me feels more comfortable than the other headsets. It also works better for glasses wearers like me. You press a button on the front of the headset to move the screens forward and press in a button on the back of the headset and then pull forward to extend the headband. You then place the headset on and press in the front button to bring the screens over your eyes/glasses and then use an adjustment screw to tighten the headband.

It sounds harder than it is but it’s very comfortable to wear.

The cables are unavoidable really as it’s an add-on to the PS4 and the bandwidth required to get data to and from the headset is more than wireless can cope with right now but there’s no getting away from the mess it makes. There is a audio out and some controls close to the headset so you can easily control volume and plug in some buds of your choice.

The camera and headset tracking leaves a little to be desired. The camera and move controllers are 6 year old tech and it definitely shows in comparison with the Vive. I found during use that the tracking would lose alignment especially during daytime so curtains closed/lights out are the way to go to try and improve reliability.

The most important factor of any VR headset is screen quality and performance/framerate. The screens are pretty good given the price. Not up there with the Vive but good enough. I’ve found watching a video on the Playstation VR pretty jarring but gaming is generally OK. Coupled with the comfort of wearing the headset then most folk should be OK when gaming with the Playstation VR.

Despite some worries a couple of months ago I thought the launch lineup of games was really strong coupled with every headset having a demo disk so you can try a variety of games easily on day one. One tip – download the demo disk from the PS store as it’s the American version so has double the amount of demo’s compared to the UK disk. Anyway, some thoughts on my pre-orders:

Rigs – 3 vs 3 sports game in an arena where you are in a mechanised rig. Graphics are clean and detailed enough and frame rates excellent. I really enjoyed the game and reminded me of a VR version of Speedball.

Thumper – This is a fast paced rhythm game with great graphics and looks stunning in VR. Probably my favourite game of the launch titles.

Rez Infinite – A great looking and sounding game, if you liked Rez from 10-15 years ago you’ll love this in VR.

Driveclub – I loved Driveclub and was looking forward to playing this in VR but for me it was unplayable. Choppy and poor graphics and some real frame rate issues for me. Left me spinning!

I also enjoyed Battlezone and felt the graphics were well realised and fitted the style of game but that £50 was a bit steep for the game. In fact if there was one criticism of the launch titles it that some had a demo like feel to them so the pricing was a bit steep.

On my first nights play I ended up being physically sick. This was unexpected as I’d had no issues with the Oculus or Vive or with any motion sickness with games previously. Third corner on Driveclub left me feeling terrible so I instantly switched off, grabbed a sugary drink and waited for the feeling to wear off. It didn’t and 15 minutes later I waved goodbye to my dinner. I do suffer from migraines from time to time and do have some other health issues at the moment so wasn’t too put off.

The next day went a lot better, probably because I stayed away from Driveclub, but after just an hour I was left with a sore head and pain in my eye similar to a migraine kicking in. I tried one more session the following day with similar results.

Clearly the Playstation VR didn’t work with me.

I had checked the calibration, ensured it was setup properly but there’s just something about either the headset or me that was causing issues. After three attempts and having similar results each time without much sign of improvement I decided to return the Playstation VR to Amazon for a refund. I wasn’t prepared to train my brain or persevere to get to a point where it worked and in the meantime be repeatedly sick.

The Playstation VR is a great VR platform. Not as good as the Vive, comfier than the Oculus but importantly has a great launch lineup with the hardware available at an affordable price. Despite it not being for me I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to other PS4 owners.

Weekly Digest

Autumn starting to kick in and you can see and feel the change – wonderful colours and carpets of leaves around Glasgow. It also means darker mornings and nights. Need to make a bigger effort to get out during the day.

Playstation VR delivered this week but I’ll keep my thoughts on that for a future post apart from saying this – it’s very good. I’ve also been playing some Battlefield 1 and it is wonderful. One of the most atmospheric shooters yet.


Weekly Digest

Back at work and busy busy busy again. Health not great although weekend got better after a difficult Friday. Still enjoying the camera and the weather this week was really good for October.

More Halo and Fifa and weirdly thinking about a gaming PC after 10 years of not having one. I blame VR though next weeks PSVR may kill the urge for the short term.


10 Years on a Mac

Hard to believe but it’s 10 years since I moved from PC to Mac. 10 years! I’d been using an iPod for a few years when in 2006 Apple moved to Intel processors and updated their iMac design. It was all too tempting so I said farewell to viruses, tara to malware and hello to hassle free Mac computing. That was the plan and for the most part it’s been true. Here’s some thoughts on my Mac/Apple journey inspired by this post from Elaine Giles earlier in the year.

iMac up and running

Macbook ProI loved that first iMac and picked up an 80Gb iPod at the same time. The first three months was so good that at Christmas I bought a MacBook Pro. What a great laptop that was. Fast, quiet, quick to boot and the design was to die for. 2007 saw the release of the iPhone but it just wasn’t for me. No 3G, no app’s. It was a lovely first phone but not enough to make me move. So I stuck with my Sony Ericson, remember them, and waited for Apple to update their Jesus phone.

2008 saw Apple release the iPhone 3G, iOS 2.0 and the App Store. I jumped in and picked up a 16GB iPhone 3G and bought far too many app’s on day 1. Super Monkey Ball, MotionX Poker and Twitterrific were all stand out app’s even in those early days. The iPhone and success of the App Store started a shift in focus for Apple, developers and consumers.

Subsequent iPhones increased in power and performance and I lapped them up. The 3GS, the 4 and 5 all followed and unlike other phones they kept their value in the second hand market remarkably well.

In 2010 Steve Jobs revealed the iPad. I still remember myself and Shak both dismissing it as a big iPhone…and then a few weeks later queuing for one at the Apple store in Glasgow. For me it was definitely a consumption device. Magazines, books and comics all worked really well on the iPad especially the retina model which came out in 2012. At the end of 2013 I moved to an iPad Air which I still use today.

I tried a couple of keyboards during the various iPad’s I’ve owned and went through a few different styluses but none really stuck. I did do a few work related tasks on them but the iPad remained mostly a media consumption device. When the iPad Pro’s came out I was close to picking one up but stuck with the Air mostly due to the cost and initially being unsure of the 12″ iPad Pro.

2014 saw me move to the iPhone 6 and this year I picked up an iPhone 7. It’s a fantastic phone but it feels the end of the line with a redesign likely next year. Competitors are using better components and catching up on the camera front…and many feel their phone camera’s are now better than the iPhone’s but at least the iPhone doesn’t explode.

Back to the Mac
So iPhone and iOS has become the focus for Apple but I still love the Mac. May 2011 and I upgraded to a new iMac. This was a great machine – 27″ screen, SSD and really fast processor. In fact it was so good (after a 16GB RAM upgrade) that over 5 years later I’m still using it. It still copes with most things I throw at it although there are two main shortfalls. It really struggles to process 4k video which both the camera and drone support and secondly it’s not a retina device.

This is also true for the MacBook Air I picked up in 2012. Non retina and not in any way a powerhouse but it does the job for me in a few key area’s that the iPad Air doesn’t. So apart from the iPhone my other Apple products are all getting long in the tooth. I almost forgot – 2015 and the Apple Watch. It’s been OK and Watch OS 3 makes a big difference but I’ve not moved on to the latest version until I see some app’s that will make a difference. I don’t need a faster CPU to get a notification more quickly.

The sorry state of Mac hardware

The sorry state of Mac hardware

The main reason I haven’t updated the Mac’s is mostly thanks to the slow progress that Apple have made with Mac hardware. Certainly the move to retina is great but if I look at the current Mac platforms, they are all old. Buy a Retina MacBook Pro today, which is probably their flagship Mac platform, and the hardware is over 500 days old. That’s shocking. How many people are buying a Retina MacBook Pro today not knowing that the inner hardware is that old. Same for the MacBook Air although I’m assuming sales of the Air are now very small – the bezel looks dated and it’s a non-retina screen.

The Mac platform is clearly secondary for Apple. The Mac App store is a mess in comparison to the iOS version. The latest Mac release, Sierra, has very little for Mac users. Compare Messages in iOS which saw a massive upgrade in iOS 10 to the Messages in Sierra. Crickets. And where is the hardware from Apple that would support any sort of VR headset? If you are in any way interested in the Oculus or Vive platforms then a Windows PC is the only option.

What’s Next
Over the next 18 months I’ll be replacing my iPad, MacBook Air and iMac…and probably my iPhone too! With iOS and iPhone I have no complaints and I love the platform. My current thinking is that I’ll replace the iPad and MacBook Air with an iPad Pro. No idea on size, but the keyboard and Pencil support of both Pro models will leave me needing only one device to replace the current iPad and Air.

As for the iMac, that’s a more tricky decision. My gut feel is I’ll update to the latest Retina iMac and sufficiently future proof it with fast CPU, SSD and lots of RAM. However I don’t think I can ignore Windows for much longer so I can see me also picking up a 4K second monitor (to replace the current non retina 27″ ASUS) for the iMac and plug in a Windows gaming PC that will allow me to play with one of the VR platforms. That purchase will wait for one of them to be seen as leading as at the moment it’s early days in the VR space.

I depend on my Mac, more than the iOS devices, and it’s where I get most of my work done. Unless iOS devices and iOS itself see’s some significant changes I won’t be able to shift to being iOS only so I do hope that Apple release updates to Mac’s soon – the platform needs some love! Despite my negativity I won’t be leaving the Mac though. Even some stale hardware and unloved Mac updates are better than Windows 10 and it’s woes. Here’s to the next 10 years with Apple.

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