Sony announced not one but two new video game consoles this week at its PlayStation Meeting at the newly dubbed PlayStation Theatre in Times Square, New York. The first console unveiled, which was widely expected to launch here, was the PS4 Slim. Of course, Sony doesn’t call it that officially, but it’s something gamers have become accustomed to during a console’s lifecycle. The updated PS4 is slimmer, lighter, and more energy efficient than the original model–it’s about 30 percent smaller and cuts power consumption by 28 percent to be more precise. Other minor differences: it boasts faster Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), a third USB 3.1 port around the back, and the optical port’s been removed. Other than that, it’s got the same guts and glory that the OG PS4 always had. The heftier PS4 will phase out of market when PS4 Slim drops September 15. For $299, you get the console fitted with a 500GB HDD, a copy of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and an slightly updated version of the DualShock 4 wireless controller. The new DS4 features a secondary light bar above the touch pad, as well as USB communication. Preorder today.
Now let’s move onto the most exciting news of the event. “We realized that for the very highly discriminatory gamer, there’s always a desire for advancement and they want it in this generation…We are adjusting and accelerating our innovation cadence,” said Sony’s Andrew House to a crowd full of anticipation. In essence, what House is saying that Sony doesn’t want to make gamers wait any longer for a new, more powerful console. Instead of announcing the PlayStation 5, Sony’s taking a page out of Microsoft’s playbook and making a new console to “complement” the standard PS4 and sit right alongside it. Enter PlayStation 4 Pro. Jump after the break for more. READ MORE PlayStation 4 gets a mid-cycle boost with PS4 Pro: all the details inside→
BB-8, the lovable android from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is about to get a major upgrade. And I’m not talking about Episode 8, I’m referring to the actual BB-8 toy by Sphero! The company’s showing off a new accessory for its BB-8 called Force Band and it allows you to control the android using The Force! Okay, fine, it’s hand motions detected by a wristband–but still! In addition to pushing and pulling BB-8, the wrist-worn Force Band will also have you acting out your favorite Light Saber, blaster, and Force battles; those distinct sounds emit from the band in Combat Training mode. In addition, you can go hunting for digital “holocrons” in your environment–sound familiar? (Cough, Pokemon Go!) The Force Band is compatible with Sphero’s other robots, too. But who are they kidding? BB-8 and The Force is a perfect (Bluetooth) pairing.
Seeing is believing, so check out the Force Band in all its glorious action in the video embedded above. It comes out on September 30 for $79. Or, if you don’t have Sphero’s BB-8 yet, you can buy the android-band bundle for $199. Preorder today. Oh, and one more thing: Sphero’s made a limited edition “Battle-Worn” BB-8 sporting the wear and tear of Resistance missions. Gotta love it! He’s paired with the Force Band for $199. All the above can be preordered today. May the Force be with you, always.
Sia, Aussie vocalist whose wigs never go out of style, is back with a brand new single and she’s enlisted dancer Maddie Ziegler to star in another one of her wild music videos.
The new song is titled “The Greatest” and the music video opens with a hashtag stating “We Are Your Children.” It’s not made clear if this is the name of Sia’s next album, or if it merely refers to the many youthful sprites featured in the video. In typical Sia fashion, she is not present in the clip; Ziegler shines by dominating the zany choreography. The song, as expected, is another Sia smash that’ll have your grooving along in no time. The music and the choreography sync like magic–Sia and Ziegler are truly an artistic match made in heaven.
Sia’s latest, “The Greatest,” can be purchased on iTunes, streamed on Spotify, the works. Note that the single includes a verse from Kendrick Lamar, while the music video leaves that out.
Following the one-two punch that was 2014’s 1000 Forms of Fear and this year’s This Is Acting, I cannot wait to see what Sia has coming soon. With one of the industry’s most utterly unique voices and undeniably catchy sounds, Sia’s next moves are hotly anticipated. I’m still high off This Is Acting, and now this! READ MORE Sia & Maddie Ziegler team up again for new single “The Greatest”→
Took ’em long enough! Today Netflix finally made the inevitable official: Stranger Things will return in 2017 with a second season. The 80s nostalgia-infused sci-fi adventure was the streaming service’s breakout hit of the summer, and it was widely expected that The Duffer Brothers would be given the opportunity to explore Hawkins, Indiana, The Upside Down dimension, and beyond with more episodes. In fact, the new season ups season 1’s episode count by one. And get this–all nine episodes have already been titled and the Duffers included the “chapter” names in the Season 2 announcement video embedded above. Can’t help but wonder about “The Lost Brother!”
Now, as excited as we all are about more Stranger Things in the pipeline, the series will be returning without its short-lived and most beloved character. That’s right, I’m talking about Barb. Poor Barb. Barb, who was kidnapped by The Demogorgon and ultimately swallowed up by the creepy-crawlers of the Upside Down. Or was she…
Francis and the Lights just released my pick for song of the summer. Never heard of ’em? Neither had I, until last night, when Kanye West tweeted out a link to the music video embedded above, claiming it, “My favorite song this year.” The track, titled “Friends,” is intrinsically pop, with a calm buildup that climaxes into a groovy medley with kaleidoscopic sounds and wavy echoes. The minimalist music video, expertly directed by Jake Schreier in a single shot, is the perfect compliment to the song. Francis Farewell Starlite–the musician behind the Lights–and his erratic dance moves are prominently featured here. Kanye makes an appearance as does Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. The video culminates in cool synchronized dance choreography that effortlessly draws you into the fun they’re having. The combined power of Kanye, Justin, and Francis’ electronic coos is nothing short of hypnotizing! If you are a fan of Vernon’s ethereal touch on West’s Twisted Fantasy tracks “Monster” and “Lost in the World,” then Francis’ “Friends” will surely soothe the soul.
If you’re like me and feel compelled to explore Francis and the Lights’ discography, let me help you with that. From 2007-2013, Francis released four EPs and they’re all available on iTunes. In addition, he scored the sci-fi drama Robot & Frank, which happens to be directed by the music video’s helmer Schreier. Francis recently posted a new song called “Thank You” on SoundCloud, and he’s currently on tour with Bon Iver. And if “Friends” sounds like something you’ve heard before, you’re not alone; Francis sampled the song in a track he produced for Chance the Rapper, “Summer Friends.”
The very first standalone Star Wars movie is coming soon, and to (ahem) celebrate, Disney and Lucasfilm shared this Rogue One sizzle reel at Star Wars Celebration in London this week. The nearly three-minute reel takes you in front of and behind the camera, giving you an inside look at how much effort is going into making the world of Star Wars come to life outside the confines of the three trilogies. Episode VII director J.J. Abrams was praised for his use of practical effects in The Force Awakens, and it looks like Rogue One helmer Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) is taking a page out of Abrams’ playbook. The gritty war zones that makeup Rogue One are littered with real explosions and imaginative creature costumes. Of course, these moviemakers simply couldn’t put on the show without pushing the limits of CG animation, but it’s good to know that where possible, what we end up seeing on the big screen is the real deal.
Go on and enjoy the reel; in it you’ll also hear from the cast and crew and maybe learn a little more about the resistance fighters’ daring mission to steal the Death Star plans. Celebration attendees left the panel with the first official poster for Rogue One, and you can eyeball it after the break; that tropical locale in the teaser and sizzle reel now has a name and it’s Scarif. Also screened at the panel but not released on the Internet (yet) was the second teaser trailer for the flick; spoiler alert, it ends with the mother of all teases: Darth Vader is back!
Looks like Disney’s got another winner up its sleeve! Following Zootopia, Big Hero 6, and Frozen is Moana, the first Disney film to star a Polynesian princess. 16-year-old Moana, voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, is about to embark on an exciting adventure of self-discovery across the vast Pacific. The official logline reads:
From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.
This is merely a teaser trailer, and it already looks and sounds great. Moana is directed by the filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker, the same duo behind such Disney classics as The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Original music and score is provided by Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina (The Lion King), and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton). The song featured here sounds a little familiar, does it not?
Summer’s just around the corner, and gamers know exactly what that means. E3 is in town, and The Big Three console makers are ready to show off the best they have to offer. For 2016, Microsoft took a big swing by introducing loads of new hardware, including a new Xbox console debuting in August, as well as its next-gen beast due out in 2017. Sony and Nintendo, on the other hand, laser-focused on their respective games library. The PS4 is on the verge of transforming into a virtual reality conduit, and Sony packed quite the punch with its PS VR launch lineup. Nintendo, meanwhile, lifted the veil off the next game in the coveted Legend of Zelda franchise and it looks spectacular. If there’s a theme to be had here, it’s that all three companies are churning out visually splendid and heart-pounding experiences coming to systems this year and beyond. It’s a great time to be a gamer.
Apple kicked off its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) this year by introducing big updates to its four major platforms: watchOS, which powers Apple Watch; tvOS, the driver behind Apple TV; OS X, the desktop operating system running all Macs; and iOS, the mobile operating system that gives life to iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. These platforms see updates on a regular basis every year, but with WWDC in town, they aim to change the game in ways in could only imagine. You may be disappointed to hear there were no hardware unveils this time around, but fret not because these software updates demoed today are worthy of their own stage. The breakdown is after the break. READ MORE WWDC: Apple brings big updates to its four major platforms, including Siri for Mac→
Microsoft’s making a point with its latest glimpse into the future. Instead of choosing a side in the race to develop virtual and augmented reality technologies, the Windows maker is embracing a mixed reality, and it’s a vision that aims to break down the barriers between our physical world and the endless potential of a virtual space. Powering the company’s mixed reality is Windows Holographic, a platform embedded inside Windows 10 that enables end-users to transform the physical world around them with interactive holograms. In the video demonstration above, Microsoft promotes a collaborative experience where multiple users can virtually meet up, plan, and execute ideas in real time.
Collaboration is the key here. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the gamer featured in this clip is not wearing Microsoft’s HoloLens hardware. In fact, he’s sporting a VR headset designed by HTC called Vive. It’s one of the more popular VR devices out today, a direct competitor of Oculus’s Rift. So what is it doing here, featured in Microsoft’s mixed reality demonstration? Well, MSFT aims to bridge the gap (see a trend here?) between competing VR and AR offerings by opening up the Windows Holographic platform to partners including HTC, ASUS, Intel, Dell, HP, Lenovo and other pioneers in the PC market. Whether or not Microsoft succeeds in becoming the definitive holographic interface is a question for another day, but you must commend its forward-thinking initiative for inclusivity.
The first step in creating this future was taken in March when Microsoft began shipping out the first HoloLens units to developers. The company says that there are already hundreds of Windows Holographic-infused apps in the Windows Store today as developers continue to mine the headset and its underlying, universal platform for its potential across a multitude of industries including entertainment and education.
With the Rift and Vive out in the wild, and Sony’s PS4-powered PSVR device just around the corner, VR is about to blow up and it sure will be interesting to watch Microsoft respond with a decidedly different approach to our VRARMR future.
The CW, CBS’ sister network, is the little network that could, sustaining itself mostly with superheroes and vampires over the years and more recently with critically acclaimed comedies. For the upcoming 2016-17 TV season, the green-hued net has 3 new dramas and 1 new comedy entering the fray, so let’s take a look.
This fall, Supergirl is moving from CBS to The CW where it will join producer Greg Berlanti’s crop of DC-based superhero shows including Arrow, The Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. CW head Mark Pedowitz promises the “biggest [crossover event]” is in the works. Supergirl will continue on in its Monday-at-8 timeslot followed by Jane the Virgin. On Tuesday, The Flash will open for new hour-long romantic comedy No Tomorrow and on Wednesday, Arrow will aim to attract viewers to new drama Frequency, an adaptation of the 2000 science fiction thriller. Thursday pairs the hot Legends of Tomorrow with veteran Supernatural (which is entering its 12th season!), and Friday sees The Vampire Diaries joined with the low rated but critically touted Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is relocating from Monday.
The single new series being held for midseason on The CW is Riverdale, a live action drama based on the characters from Archie Comics, also produced by Greg Berlanti. For fans of The Originals, Reign, iZombie, and The 100, fear not; though they are all being benched in the fall, they will return sometime later in the season.
CBS is the last of the Big Four Networks to present its fall schedule and preview its new series slate. In all, The Eye has 5 new dramas and 3 new comedies coming soon, and of the 8 new programs, six are ready to go come fall.
ABC’s new entertainment president Channing Dungey doubled down on single-cam sitcoms, and CBS’ newly appointed entertainment head Glenn Geller is following suit by also injecting two weeknights with two-hour comedy blocks. The Big Bang Theory, the most-watched comedy on TV, will anchor Mondays in September and provide a solid lead in for the new Kevin James (King of Queens) multi-cam sitcom Kevin Can Wait. 2 Broke Girls and The Odd Couple will follow, and returning procedural Scorpion will close the night at 10. When Thursday Night Football concludes in late October, Kevin Can Wait will move into the 8pm slot and it will be paired with another new stay-at-home dad sitcom, Man with a Plan, toplined by Matt LeBlanc (Friends). New legal drama Bull, inspired by the early career of Dr. Phil and starring Michael Weatherly (NCIS), gets sandwiched between NCIS and offshoot NCIS: New Orleans on Tuesday. Wednesday is home to Survivor, Criminal Minds, and, Code Black. In late October, Big Bang will anchor another night, Thursday, and help draw eyeballs to Joel McHale’s (Community) fresh laugher, The Great Indoors. Returning sitcoms Mom and Life in Pieces complete this second two-hour comedy block on the Eye’s schedule, and new hospital-set drama Pure Genius bookends the night at 10. Friday will open with a modernized version of MacGyver and it will lead into returning crime procedurals Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods. With The Good Wife over, Sunday’s lineup now looks like this: NCIS: LA, Madam Secretary, Elementary.
New series being held for midseason include dramas Training Day–starring Bill Paxton and based on the film but taking place 15 years after it–and Doubt, a legal procedural and Katherine Heigl’s (Grey’s Anatomy) return to network TV (Orange is the New Black‘s Laverne Cox co-stars).