Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate gets a trailer, oh platforming bliss

Halloween may be my new favorite gaming holiday, the news keeps coming and most worth covering. This time around, it is from Konami, YAY! Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate is the title of the hour and we get some news to go with the trailer, the game comes out early 2013, and claims to boasts 20 hours of gameplay.

Happy Halloween, here's some box art

I will keep this short and to the point as all you really need to know is Dead Island Riptide news is here for the taking. April 23rd is the release date, the standard edition box art is above, and box art for the special edition is forth coming.

Painkiller Hell & Damnation struts it's stuff

Nordic Games has recently released a cinematic trailer for their title Painkiller Hell & Damnation (Painkiller HD), the fast paced FPS available now on PC and January for the Xbox/PS3. The trailer sure looks nice but don't to see any gameplay.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dokuro, the Vita 2D platformer with a lot of heart

What is Dokuro? It is a 2D platformer with a primary focus on puzzles and a secondary goal of cuteness. Dokuro is a skeleton, a peon in the Dark Lord’s army. The story, no different than most, begins with the Dark Lord abducting the Princess with the intent to force marriage, Dokuro sees this and commits to helping her escape the Dark Lord’s castle. The catch, she can not see Dokuro without the help of a blue potion that results in a transformation to a dashing hero. And now for the stuff you came for, how it plays.

This seems like a simple puzzler at first, taking you by the hand to make your way through the castle all while safely guiding the helpless princess. You will quickly learn what your little skelepeon has in his bag of tricks to escort the princes to safety. I said escort, and this companion isn’t the brightest princess, probably why the Dark Lord kidnapped her in the first place. The art style is great, the design strongly resembles a chalk board and a skill you will learn early on actually involves using chalk to complete puzzles.  Though the learning curve is nice and walks you through the principles behind what is necessary to guide your dream girl to safety. It does get rather difficult later in the game, and unfortunately resources to help with level execution is not as easy as one would think.
Dokuro is a surprising diamond in the rough. I was not sure what to expect from this title, it is surprisingly longer than I thought, although I did get stuck on stage 4. As a fan of platformers I enjoyed my time spent with the strong willed Dokuro, though I am not a huge fan of puzzle games, I still had a good time and did not fatigue the gameplay. The art style is great, simple but great, it does not try to be something that it is not. It is simply a 2D platformer that has a lot of heart, with a likeable cast of chartacters, and a look that is quite elementary. Dokuro is available now for download only on the PS Vita at the price of $19.99.

Book of Memories, not your typical Silent Hill

Konami has provided us with another PS Vita title, and this time around, it is Silent Hill: Book of Memories. This entry is exclusive to the Vita and is the first entry to feature multiplayer in the form of coop. This isn't the first portable Silent Hill, but this is an entirely new type of gameplay, a dungeon crawler. That’s right the over the shoulder survival horror game has gone full top down Diablo style. Daniel Licht, the guy behind the Dexter theme, is the composer behind Book of Memories, but enough of how much is different, what did not change is the legion of enemies from throughout the franchise. The premise is simple, a strange book  is delivered by an old postal service carrier that strongly resembles either Morgan Freeman or an old Ving Rhames and this book is a story of your memories that can alter the past when rewritten.
Yeah we all know that story doesn't end well, especially when the title begins with Silent Hill. It’s no secret I am a newcomer to the Silent hill series, with my first title being Shattered Memories for the Wii. Though new to the series, I have always appreciated the series for the ambiance of the game, it is so dark and eerie that most of the horror just comes with the uneasiness of the soundtrack and environments. This is all still present, it seems the only difference is the camera angle and controls. This isn’t a bad change, it is very similar to when Killzone went top down on the PSP. It plays very much the same, and I loved Killzone on the PSP. I like this however even more, because the online coop is fun and works well, the touch screen controls are convenient, and you have to carefully manage your inventory.

I was left thinking that was all? It was on the short side with seven worlds in all, though there is a lot of replay value that will have you coming back with a friend or stranger to find missed secrets and kill with some bad ass weapons. The other issue I had was with how frequently the game saves, or shall I say lack thereof. Each zone is about a half hour long and depending on how far you make it before meeting your dark demise, it can be quite irritating. Choose your inventory wisely, because your character packs light and open slots are valuable, much like spots for repair kits. Of course, this is all upgradeable at Ving Freeman's shop, but at a high price.

I feel that this is another solid title that the Vita so desperately needed. With an increase of good games, comes more support, and like I said after E3, Konami is going to have a good year. While it is frustrating at times, it does add to the satisfaction of completion and makes for tough decisions, something I think more games lack lately. This may not be a title for those that like the previous title’s gameplay and are not into the dungeon crawler style. Me being a fan of both, find myself losing track of time for a couple hours at a time, now focusing on the coop, loot and customizable items for my character.

One remote to rule them all, the Griffin Beacon

After being provided with Griffin’s Beacon, it has been a week full of adding devices and adjusting button layouts to control numerous devices throughout my living room. The Beacon is a personal media assistant that connects you and your Apple or Android devices to just about anything in your living room. This connection is brought together by Dijit, a free downloadable app with a laundry list of capabilities. The Beacon does not physically attach to your phone by way of dongle, but by Bluetooth, you connect the wireless device to a small box that relays the signal. It is hard to find a remote that handles absolutely everything you have connected media wise in your living room but let see if the Beacon is up to the challenge.

It seems everyone has a handful of devices these days, it is no longer TV, DVD, and Receiver, there is Tivo, and Apple TV, and gaming consoles, oh my. Most of us have also had one remote that has disappeared, stopped working, or been eaten by a dog. Griffin has been listening to someone because the Beacon does exactly what we all hoped for, one remote. This remote is always on your persons, you just need to make sure that the beacon device has a visible line of site to your devices. The app used on your phone or tablet, dijit, is rather easy to use as it walks you through the setup of all your devices, without codes or pointing two remotes at each other exactly three inches apart, standing on one leg. Syncing by Bluetooth, programming five remotes, and remapping/renaming buttons took less than a half an hour.

The downside to the Beacon were a couple of things, lag between devices and the bugginess of the app and connection. The lag is annoying at firs but after a weekend of usage, you get used to the sensitivity and the delay. One thing that would fix this greatly would be a patch that gives an option for haptic feedback so you can feel when the command is registered. The buggyness issue in which I had with the beacon was mostly with the app and the connectivity between the phone and the beacon. It is hard to tell what is the cause of the issue, but the same simple troubleshooting steps seems to always fix the issue but can not always be performed without having to get up off the couch.

In the end, I liked my time spent with Griffin’s Beacon. It is convenient to use your phone and/or tablet to control all of your multimedia devices. Unfortunately there are some devices in which are not compatible, my Sony sound bar being one, and gaming consoles being the other. The devices that do work with the Beacon, work well and like I said you can customize just about any aspect you like, from the buttons onscreen to the type of volume control. Just remember, in order for the beacon to work best, you will need a location in your living room for this four AA battery powered relay the size of about two Apple TV’s stacked on top of each other to have line of sight with each devices’ infrared sensors.

Roccat Savu, can it be the Kone [+] replacement?

Our friends over at Roccat have provided us with their recent gaming mouse, the Savu. The last gaming mouse in which I reviewed from ze German scientists at Roccat was the Kone[+] and it was a solid piece of equipment. The Savu is quite similar but with more polish, a more compact size, a stat and trophy system, and a higher quality build. Much like Roccat’s previous gaming mice, this one comes equipped with the world’s only 4000 dpi optical sensor for precision when you need it most. Along with the new features, this gaming mouse also comes with a lower price point of $59.99, so now that the details are out of the way, let’s see how it fares.

First and foremost I would have to say the new design and surface texture were the most noticeable changes. It now has a woven cord which not only looks nice but is durable as well, although it is a little stiff and adds slight resistance. The design is more compact and has a slightly lower profile, which felt much nicer on the wrists, which brings me to the texture. The top of the mouse has the same satin feel, but the sides that are molded to the right hand has a rough sort of grip tape surface that moves where you go. Lastly, the driver really shines, it is fast and easy to set up, the settings in which you can alter are beyond belief. You can map just about anything you would need to when gaming, the driver keeps track of all clicks, scrolls, and movements then provides achievements based on usage.

As for what I didn’t like, that would still be the lack of driver support for Mac users. Sure, the Savu can still be used on a Mac, but you do not get access to the driver and all the settings. Like I had said earlier, having the woven cord provides addition resistance, more than that I have seen with other wired mice. There is a shift button which allows to map a second set of commands, but I would have preferred Roccat provide the option to map a command to it in case you did not need a second set or preferred to use the keyboard as a shift key. Lastly, and I am still not sure why this bugged me so much, but the placement of the light seems like a silly change in comparison to that seen on the Kone[+].

When all is said and done, between the two mice, I preferred the experience with the Savu. At first I was not a fan of the new grip surface on the sides, but after using for 8 hours a day at work and when gaming, it became a very welcome feeling. The driver is really where this device shines. You can adjust any aspect of the mouse’s settings and fine tune to your liking with impressive results that will quickly be seen both gaming and working. It really is disappointing that Roccat has not addressed the lack of support for the Mac gaming community, it is growing quickly and receiving more support as of lately, it would become a welcome edition to the Apple gamer.

Cass puts the Marshall Majors to the test and is now a convert

Marshall just got into the headphone business and they are ready to be noticed. Jim Marshall started the Marshall brand in the 1960s during the evolution of Rock N’ Rock his amplifiers are now known in the industry for their rich sound and legendary influence. Hence the new era they are looking to make an impact on the headphone industry just as they’ve done in the past with their amps. I got my hands on a pair of Major Pitch Black headphones which retail around $120. From first glance the phones look very nostalgic in design like something you’d see hanging in a recording studio during the late 70s. The band looks to be wrapped in black jean denim and the ear cushions are super soft with a woven wicker type inard. The construction is fully collapsible so you can easily take them on the go. In addition to the compact design these headphones also feature a built-in mic and remote for usability with your mobile devices. The Major also comes equipped with a 6.3 mm adapter for your use with any sound equipment adhering to the standard.  
Throwing these headphones over your ears is eargasmic for an audiophile. You come to respect the comfort and the craftsmanship of the design in addition the quality sound that flows out of the cones. Designed with cable management in mind, you can’t get them tangled due the coiled cable design. The gold 3.5 mm plug allows music to pass through at the highest quality possible and you can hear the crispness of the music. The sound that comes out the cones is pleasant, whether you are listening to rock, hip hop, country or blues. Constant listening does not bleed your ears or give you ear fatigue and if you feel the need to crank the volume up there is no noticeable distortion. If you are looking for bass heavy headphones you won’t find them here, Major Pitch Black are an excellent studio quality headphone with a balance across all levels.   
  What you’re getting for the price point of these headphones is nothing short of amazing. I think I’ve found my new favorite set of headphones whether I’m working in the studio, in the office or on my mobile device. When I think of Pitch Black I will no longer think of Vin Diesel thanks to Marshall Headphones and for that I am grateful. I know understand why Pitch Blacks are the dark horse of the Marshall Headphone brand. If you are a musician, an audiophile, or just a customer looking for an excellent pair of headphones these will contend against anything you put them up against.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ubisoft is keeping us busy with Assassin's Creed footage

Up top we have the multiplayer trailer for Assassin's Creed 3. Chock full of the beautiful maps and boasting the numerous ways to take out your opponent, the trailer will no disappoint those waiting to see how the multiplayer will function. Down low we have the story trailer for Assassin's Creed Liberation on the Vita. Though not quite as exciting as the multiplayer trailer for AC3, it does show how pretty this game will look on the potent portable and some of the action sequences as well.

Platinum Games announces release date for Anarchy Reigns

In hopes to ring in the new year, Anarchy Reigns is expected to release on January 8th, Xbox, and January 11th, PS3, with a price tag of $29.99. I for one am looking forward to the multiplayer brawler from the action juggernaut,  Platinum Games, even though they decided to only release Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U, not cool. Also, coming from the same studio is Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance in February. Is it too much to throw something fast and fluid out on the Vita?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cass gets his hands on some futbol in PES 2013 review

Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 is the latest edition of the Pro Evolution Soccer series developed and published by Konami. This release features teams from the UEFA Champions League and marks the first time all 20 teams from Brazil’s National League Campeonato Brasileiro Series A are accessible in addition to over 81 national teams. PES Soccer 2013 is available on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo DS, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PSP, iOS & Android. Given the vast list of platforms to play this on, this will be the last year this game uses its current game engine. While unboxing this game you can feel the excitement by looking at the snazzy box art with the league seals.

Once loaded, the game starts off with you building your profile. This is a very thorough profile setup and takes about 10 minutes to configure and enter your online access code. There are a variety of game modes: Match Play, UEFA Champions League, Copa Santander Libertadores, Football Life, Online Community & Training so there is much to choose from when deciding on what to play. In addition to the multitude of game modes there are 6, yes 6, different difficulty levels to accurately find your skillset. I suggest starting off with Match Play to get a feel for the game which is great, the physics, the controls, the graphics and the music. The music blaring out the speakers fills the room with great Brazilian party anthems and more. If you feel your skill set isn't ready for competitive play head to the training section where you will acquire the knowledge and the moves needed to be a future superstar.
Overall, this game is great to have in your catalog for those die hard soccer fans. Especially if you are looking to break away from the commercialized FIFA brand. Solid gameplay, stellar graphics, a multitude of game modes and an excellent soundtrack. Call some friends over or play online, make sure to bring the chips because the party is just getting started.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

V-MODA Crossfade LP: Tough, Sexy, Huh?

We have another headphone review for our audiophiles out there; this time around we were sent the Crossfade LP. The LP’s are metal, over the ear, noise-isolating headphones. These cans have military grade durability, ergonomic comfort, and a variety of finishes/colors. The heart of V-Moda’s LP is the 50mm Dual Diaphragm Drivers that provide the balanced sound of multi-driver headphones without use of a battery. The LP comes with two removable Kevlar reinforced cable, one with a three button in line remote with microphone, colorful and customizable shields. Now, time to break down these bulletproof bad boys.
The beasts are bad, badass in so many ways. I will start with the look and design of the LP’s, they are incredibly solid and look like they can take some city miles. There is no plastic here, hell even the cords are wrapped in Kevlar, and you can customize the metal shields and wings with different colors and engraving options. With fashion comes form, as the headphones fit comfortably around the ear with a layer of memory foam to rest both comfortably and isolate outside noise. For the reason anyone would want the headphones, the sound, the mids are tight and the bass is deep. This is due to the massive 50mm driver and the difference can definitely be heard over the usual 40mm. From rock to rap these were able take whatever I threw at them and at any volume. I preferred it at higher volumes to get the whole experience and didn’t want to remove them.
After extended usage, the fit did get a little uncomfortable. At first they felt snug fit, which is nice and allows for a good amount of movement without fear of them falling off, but after about an hour and a half, I had to take them off and give my dome a break. The only other things noticed were at low volumes the highs are over powered by the bass, didn’t matter much though,  I like it loud. My problem is that the people around me aren’t always fans of what is flowing out and even better the lack of acknowledgement to their pleas to turn it down. After a while, the case is a touch on the excess side, unless you are traveling, as you can be certain your cans are safe in a stuffed carry on.
These are my favorite headphones so far, and while bulky and slightly inconvenient on the go, they do go with me everywhere. Sure they may not be the best for long amounts of usage without breaks. What was convenient and made up for this was the inline remote. A lot of headphones have the remote that contains a mic and one multifunction button without volume control. In true form of one-upping, the LP’s have a three button remote with volume control. At a two hundred dollar price point I feel they would make a great addition for anyone looking to take their personal listening to the next level.

Mashbuttons goes back to Little King’s Story

The time has come that Little King’s Story has resurfaced in a portable form for fans of the series and those that happened to have missed this gem when it originally released on the Wii. Little King’s Story was released by XSEED three years ago is now being released by Konami but this isn’t the underrated game you remember. This time around there is no Wiimote and nunchuk, and King Corobo’s quest is portable with a slew of new features specific to the powerful portable. The end goal is still the same, in that you take on the role of King Corobo and are tasked with winning back your kingdom from the Devil King, after taking on dark lords to rescue princesses across seven kingdoms. New to the Vita’s reincarnation in terms of features are upgraded visuals, use of both the front and rear touch screens, and online features.
I for one was ecstatic that this title was going to be remade and released on a console that was not the Wii. On top of that, it is now on the go, what could go wrong? This was such an underrated title and in my opinion still is. It has everything, and I mean everything it takes to be a good game, solid gameplay, character progression, great soundtrack, and a humorous story that makes numerous references to retro game titles. Though it looks childish I can assure you that adults will still find funny and over the top. The fact that you do not have to use Nintendo’s crappy controller to play this will actually be the reason I finish it this time and not quit after 30 hours because using the Wiimote and nunchuk sucked. For those that are oblivious to what the gameplay is even like, I would say Pikmin with a touch of Army Corp of Hell, with the story having a hint of Mario.
Save often! That is the best advice I could give, as you will likely die and when you do, you will go to the last saved game. This can easily be an hour or a couple missions previous. The game slows down often, there doesn’t even need to be a large amount of characters on the screen. This isn’t intolerable, but it does get irritating throughout gameplay. Lastly, and I’m sure fans of the original would agree with me, but I preferred the visual style of the original. There were much more entertaining cutscenes than that of the static anime images with text dialogue.  
New Little King’s Story is a great remake of a great game. While some changes were definitely for the better and others that the developer could have gone without, but one thing is for certain and that is this is the most entertaining game I have played for the Vita, and even though there are a number of things I preferred in the original, I felt the latest portable version is the better of the two. While the slowdown I experienced was the only issue that comes to mind, but the biggest reason to get this is because it was a very good game with poor controls in the beginning, but now the controls are solid and New Little King’s Story is a staple in the Vita’s slowly growing library.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mashbuttons Reviews Dishonored | Review

When you think Bethesda Softworks, the developer - you think grand RPG's that blur the line between MMO's and stand-alone single player experiences that put the player in wonderful worlds set with full backstory, lore and characters.  A few years ago, Bethesda, the publisher, started buying up a lot of smaller developers and have put out a few more titles than usual, but none have really made much of a splash...that is, until today's Arkane Studios' Dishonored.

Dishonored has been in my eyes, a slow-burn.  Originally showing up on our radar earlier this year with some in-depth demonstrations from trade shows like E3, and the like.  Dishonored was developed by a lesser known team, and I had my share of skepticism, however, it was the concept of the game, and the art style that harkened back to the days of first seeing Half-Life 2's dystopian City 17 that kept my interest.  And there's a reason for that shared art style; Viktor Antonov, is Dishonored's Art Director, who happened to be the lead on Half-Life 2.  Upon further research, Arkane Studios, didn't have much of a history...they were one of the many developers brought on to help Bioshock 2 when it was going through development hell, and even a cancelled project with Valve for a Half-Life spin-off based on the town of Ravenholm.  However, they do have a pretty key industry vet when it comes to stealthy titles, in Harvey Smith, who was a lead on Deus Ex (another, now classic, title that incorporates stealth, and is heavy on player choice).

Outside of this semi-boring preamble about the history of the guys behind the game, what is it about?  And is it any good?

Please continue through for the full story

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I-Mego's Walker Junior's takes a beating from Cass

Today I got my hands on the new noise cancelling Walker Jr's made by I-Mego Infinity based out of New Castle, Delaware. Delaware, what a lovely state! The Walker Jr headphones came nicely packaged with a soft carrying pouch, airplane adapter and 3.5mm stereo plug. Out the box you're given the option to travel with them ready to noise cancel out any plane, train or automobile. Pumping out high performance sound through the 40mm drivers, these powered headphones surround the ears with plush cushions. Stylish yet refined, these phones come with a detachable cord to decrease chances of tanglement which would normally lead to wear and tear on the plugs. In addition to the cord the Walker JRs are foldable and compact to fit in neatly in the enclosed pouch.

I really put these phones to the test by demoing some bass heavy material. Comparable to others in their price point, they were able to handle the lows, with enough juice to deliver the highs and mids. If you activate the noise cancelling switch you are ready to absorb some nice amplified sound. After about 5 mins of amplified sound I had to lower the volume due to ear fatigue and some distortion. I’d advise if you want to enable noise cancelling make sure you aren’t cranking up the sound. One thing I did notice was that people were able to hear what I’m listening to when I assumed they couldn’t.

There were a couple of things to note about the Walker Jr's. One, I put them through the Pink Floyd test and sound wasn’t as crisp as I’m accustom to. This may go unnoticed to the untrained ear but definitely a little chirpy when engaged in Noise Cancelling mode. Two, the fact that people around me can clearly hear what I’m hearing in my headphones. Imagine trying to listen to Lil Wayne in church, that’s a no no with these headphones. Aside from the ear fatigue, these are two things to consider when purchasing these headphones. 
All in all the Walker Jr's are a comfortable set of headphones with an average sound and very custom look. These headphones are ideal for travelers with a need for decent sound and noise cancelling and won’t hurt your pockets to acquire. Consider these a good gift buy for that traveler in your life.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Resident Evil 6 has the survival but is light on the horror

It is finally time, time to talk about the much-awaited Resident Evil 6 and how my experience was with the title. Capcom provided us with a review copy of their latest blockbuster survival horror franchise and in the sixth entry the outbreak is worldwide the story takes place in North America, Eastern Europe, and China. You will take on the role of Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, Jake Muller, and their partners during their respective interwoven campaigns. Also, this time around, you get online gameplay without having to pay additional to unlock it from the disk.  Its time to tell you about my experience with Resident Evil 6 now that it is finally upon us.

The gameplay is very similar to Resident Evil 5 with that you have to manage your inventory wisely to make sure you do not run out of ammo in the middle of the hoard. You must also give yourself a enough space from physical zombie attacks, though movement is still is still very limited while aiming, and not a brand new feature, I still forget I am now able to move and aim at the same time. The graphics look great, and that has always been a big part of my love for the series, since the Resident Evil 4, the zombies and locations have had a unique and cinematic feel you cannot find elsewhere. I was also a bit apprehensive about having 3 campaigns, each with two different playable characters, that they would look and play alike, but the situations are very unique and each character plays different than the other. I cant say much for the online,as it felt a lot like mercenaries in Resident Evil 5, not bad, just the same.

The bad, wait for it, is not the camera, I mean sure it is nauseating at first but once you fish through frustrating menu to adjust both the aim and the camera to be less sensitive, it becomes a lot friendlier of an experience.  Speaking of friendlier experience, what happened to the scares that come from a Resident Evil title, yes I admit that they weren’t really that scary to begin with, but I think each title made me jump with exception to this. That is not to say that the story and gameplay are bad because it isn’t scary, but horror is the staple of the franchise, with  F.E.A.R., Silent Hill, and Fatal Frame being the closest competition in the genre, all being horror titles. The biggest thing I wished had not changed was the single player experience, I liked the story in numbers 4 and 5, but having 3* short campaigns with five missions, it feels more about the online arcade gameplay variety over the one, solid and memorable, dedicated story.
In the end, I liked Resident Evil 6 a lot, as there is more replay value than that of games past with the different character styles, locations, and upgrades. Yes, I was not a fan at first as it was that a lot has changed, quick time events have not, but after playing through, I find myself looking back and wanting to best my score or find everything there is to see, and it is easier to do again in multiple smaller portions. Resident Evil 6, while still looking the same, has lost a part of what made it unique, but the arcade coop experience mostly fills that void. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Edifier’s Spinnaker sets sail to my desktop

Dubbed the Spinnaker from the design of these 2 speakers, spoiler alert, they were built to resemble sails. This 2.0 speaker system comes from a long list of award winning speakers and these 15 inch tall speakers have  a shape designed to enhance the audio experience. Each speaker contains 19mm silk domed tweeter, 2 ¾ inch mid range driver, and a 4 inch downfiring subwoofer. This device is also Bluetooth enabled and supports audio connectivity and control via wireless dome shaped multi functional remote. On top of all that, there is an optical input as well for use as a home stereo or secondary entertainment system. Now that these babies are plugged in and cranked up, lets see how they do.
I did not know what to expect as this was my first item to review from Edifier, and after the Spinnaker’s hands on time, I was in love. I am at my desk a lot, and while I currently use the Supertooth Disco as my speaker for the office, they are always being used for games or music. I have a backlog of items to review, so I hooked the rhino horn looking speakers up and locked myself in the office for two days with my Spotify playlist. These speakers are by far the best sounding speakers I have yet to review, the highs are bright and clear, the mids are full, and the bass was deep but does not overpower the mids and highs. I was skeptical about the lack of dedicated subwoofer and there is an input should you want to add one, but after 3 straight days of listening to a variety of music, there really isn’t a need for a dedicated subwoofer unless you must feel what you are listening to.

There are only a couple things that stand out negatively when I think of the Spinnaker as a whole. The first being the overall look, I understand that they are meant to look like sails, and I actually knew what a Spinnaker was before receiving the product but they look an awful lot like a horn, even if you know they are meant to look like sails, you cant un-see the rhino tusks coming from each side of my monitor. My only other issues is with the remote,it is a bit complicated and takes some getting used to, and this is why I am glad the set of speakers came with two credit card sized cheat sheets for the remote. While the multi functional remote is nice, especially with it being rechargeable, but the button on the top didn’t always seem like it would pick up what I was laying down, so I would have to really press on it in order to know it registered my input. Lastly and this is a personal preference, but the coating or metal used on the remote is like nails on a chalkboard to touch.
All in all, I loved this 2.0 speaker system. I did not know what to expect from Edifier and I am glad they sent the Spinnakers because they are truly a great pair of speakers. Whether you are using them for your computer, playing games, doing work, or in your living room as a home stereo,  these horn sail shaped speakers can fill a room with clear sound that  will get noticed by anyone in the room. Though I may not be a fan of the look of the speakers, I will admit they are unique and very eye catching. Most people that have come across my desk immediately ask about my African safari…rhino joke, but regardless to whether the look is liked or not, the sound that these bad boys put out will quickly make you think the modern poacher look is hot right now.

ECBC wants to make sure our toys are safe

Who is ECBC? They are a line of bags and cases from Southern California that specializes in function, comfort, and style when it comes to taking your laptops, tablets, and other tech toys on the go. We were provided with the Dart Laptop Tote, which is one of the many available bags from the B7, rugged ballistisic, product lineup. The Dart Tote is a compact tote that is made to protect laptops that are up to 13 inches along with space for a tablet, chargers and accessories. Available in black or grey, the B7 has a trolley handle pass-through and a padded shoulder strap to make it easier to go wherever you do, so let’s see if it will become a second skin or akward sling.
The build quality and fit are great, ECBC has definitely put a lot of time into making sure that the B7 series bag looks good while not consisting of unneeded bulk. The padding surrounding the laptop sleeve provided a snug fit for my 13 inch MacBook Pro, while the other pocket safely holds my iPad, charger, cables, note pad, and pens. This is a new one for me with the number of bags I have used over the past couple years, but one of my favorite parts to this tote was the trolley handle pass-through, you just slide the tote over the handle and when not being pulled atop your carry on, the pass through works as an extra layer of cushion between you and your laptop.

This is a compact, minimalistic bag which means that there is space for the essentials, but not much for anything else. Even a micro wireless USB dongle for a mouse sticks out enough that makes it difficult to get the laptop in the tote and closed for security. There is enough room to store a magazine with your chargers if you need to close the zipper, but it gets a little cramped. However, there is also the front pocket, but it is about the size of a boarding pass, so you won’t get the zipper closed.
I have been commuting back and forth about a week using this as my work laptop transport device to rely on. I loved the material, the build quality, and the comfortable fit when worn. But like I said, plan carefully and know your “necessities” as you don’t have much space for extras.Unfortunately, I am not the minimalist so it did not quite fit to my liking, the messenger seems the have the space that the tote is lacking, however this was a great fit for my wife, whose use consisted of taking to school, library, and study groups as it was convenient to toss in the bag and take on the go. With the build quality of the totes and the snug fit provided by the pockets, I am hoping to get some time with the messenger bag in the B7 lineup.