Gamers, listen here! Today the house that built Mario formally announced the Wii successor. Sure details are sparse, but at least we’ve got confirmation that something new and exciting is on the way, and it’s coming sooner than you might think. In a press statement out of Japan, Nintendo refers to their next-gen console as the “Wii’s Successor System” and they say a “playable model” will be shown off at E3 in early June, followed by a launch in 2012.
What can gamers expect from the next-gen Wii? The only official word to come out of Nintendo (besides the aforementioned press release which is sitting after the break) is provided by company president Satoru Iwata: “We would like to propose a new approach to home video game consoles. It’s difficult to make 3-D images a key feature, because 3-D televisions haven’t obtained wide acceptance yet.” They’ve managed to bring glasses-free 3D to their portable 3DS, but the technology to make the magic work on larger scale just isn’t there yet. So what then might Iwata be referring to when he hints at a “new approach” to video games?
Late last week Kotaku reported that, according to undisclosed sources, the next-gen Wii will utilize an entirely new breed of controller. In addition to housing eight buttons and two analog sticks, the new controller is rumored to also boast a 6.2 inch screen and a camera. They say: “The 6.2-inch screen will receive data wirelessly from the Nintendo console and presents an array of options, from putting the player’s inventory or map on the controller screen, to allowing players to combine it with the controller’s camera to snap photos that could be imported into a game or even turning it into some sort of glorified viewfinder (we’re unclear about whether the camera on the controller points at the player or can be outward-facing; we’ve heard both — maybe it swivels?).” Then they propose: “You could think of the new Nintendo console as turning your living room into a glorified mega-DS…. your TV is the upper-screen; your controller is the lower touchscreen.”
Other Wii 2 rumors to chew on… The new controller will not replace existing Wii-motes, as the system is said to be backwards compatible with all current Wii games. The often labeled Wii HD will be capable of running games at HD resolutions (up to 1080p) and it will be more powerful than current-gen systems (read: Xbox 360, PS3). And finally, the next-gen Wii is internally referred to by its codename “Project Cafe,” so go around saying that to your friends if you want to act all cool like you know everything. Though these rumors are certainly intriguing, let’s all anticipate the E3 reveal where Ninty will formally lay out the specifications, controller scheme(s), and perhaps a launch lineup.
Kanye West: ‘Watch the Throne’ coming this week?; unreleased track “Eyes Closed” leaks; The Muppets sing “Monster”; and more
Ever since Kanye West’s magnificent album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy released on November 22, things have been pretty quiet on the West front. Besides downloading the holiday-themed G.O.O.D. Friday joint “Christmas In Harlem” and watching a leak of the upcoming “Monster” music video hitting the ‘Net, fans have been sitting idly by rocking out to “Dark Fantasy” in anticipation of another major release dubbed Watch the Throne. It’s a collaborative album between rap gods West and his mentor Jay-Z. Originally ‘Ye billed it as a 5-track EP but after time he admitted enough tracks would be made to consider it a full-length album. Sweet music to fans’ ears. So what’s all the hub-bub about it spreading around the Internets today? Well… at a New Years Eve party in Las Vegas West (drunkenly?) announced, “Watch the Throne, coming in one week!” So what does that mean? One of two things, in my humble opinion: (1) The album will come out this week (highly unlikely since Ye’s Def Jam record label has not even confirmed its existence); (2) West was referring to a possible lead single called “Watch the Throne” (highly more likely). I’ve heard whispers that case #2 is the winner, and the album is looking at a March drop. Whatever the case, though, something is going down soon so be ready.
Update (1/6): Looks like I was right. Today ‘Ye posted a Twitpic of the elaborately designed lead single artwork and it’s called “H-A-M.” The track will drop 1/11/11, that’s next Tuesday.
Side note: The New Years Eve party I mentioned earlier… it took place at Las Vegas’ Marquee Nightclub and so many celebrities made an appearance. Besides ‘Ye and Jay Z, Rihanna, Diddy, 50 Cent, J. Lo and many others enjoyed the night’s festivities. Click here to browse through a gallery of hi-res photos from the party. And look after the break to watch some videos from it (one includes ‘Ye screaming the “one week” announcement).
Next up is an unreleased track featuring vocals from West and John Legend. ”Eyes Closed” made its rounds today, spreading like wildfire in an unfortunately tagged now tagless version. Sources say the track was originally intended to be included on Twisted Fantasy but in the end it didn’t make the cut. Rumor has it that the West-produced beat will be handed off to Snoop Dogg who will use it (with Legend in tact) for his upcoming record Doggumentary Music, due out March 8. Preview and download the track below. If the lyrics sound familiar to you that’s because you’ve heard that before in the BET Cypher video and West’s “Dark Fantasy” track.
Download: Kanye West – “Eyes Closed”
This news bit is short but sweet. Over at Amazon you’ll find a preorder page hyping a “G.O.O.D. Friday [Import]” audio CD. Is West prepping an album to publicize his free G.O.O.D. Friday tracks? There better be some bonus tracks or slick artwork and packaging or what’s the point?
Two more things. Today two video cropped out that are West-related must-sees. The first features classical vocalist Josh Groban belting out Kanye West tweets, and the other is a Muppets mashup of the Twisted Fantasy track “Monster”. Yes, Piggie Minaj makes an appearance. Watch the videos after the break. (Click here for more…)
At any given time, we’re looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them. It’s in our DNA to develop new form factors and natural user interfaces to foster productivity and creativity. The Courier project is an example of this type of effort. It will be evaluated for use in future offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time. – Frank Shaw, Microsoft Corporate VP of Communications
And just like that, Microsoft confirmed and, unfortunately, denied the Microsoft Courier. Back in September Gizmodo broke news that Microsoft had a magical tablet of sorts in the works; pictures and even a video of the prototype device had found its way into the mainstream. Then came October and November, and those months brought more leaked video and images. Then as recent as last month hard details surfaced; this “digital journal” running an advanced varient of Windows Phone 7 with enhanced UI features like dragging, flicking, copy & pasting, and “pocket”-ing all of a sudden started to come alive. And then the words of Frank Shaw shut it all off. The Microsoft Courier, the future proto-tablet that could, ceased to become a reality.
According to sources close to the matter Microsoft did hire an internal team to work on the Courier and there were actual plans to tranform it into a marketable device. However, Microsoft just recently ordered Team Courier to close up shop. Reasons, unknown. Although the Courier prototype we’ve come to know and love thanks to a slew of leaked renders is dead and gone, all is not for naught. We may very well see the innovative user interface deisgn come to fruition in some other Microsoft project(s) in the works. But it’s a shame, really. Microsoft–you had something BEYOND AWESOME with this thing! Oh well, Windows Phone 7 will have to fill the void.
Sure, due to low ratings FOX’s Dollhouse didn’t last long for creator Joss Whedon and star Eliza Dushku. But that doesn’t mean they are parting ways so quickly. From Dushku’s mouth to our ears, she and Whedon will be working together again, this time on a feature film: “I would say that we would [be working on something new very soon]! I think we’re going to work on a kickass feature together that we’ve been thinking about for a few years.”
The dudes over at Slashfilm have geniusly tied this comment to a future Whedon project, a horror movie called Goners that features a female lead. In 2005 Whedon described it:
It is a fantasy thriller, it is pretty dark and it’s all me. So people will pretty much know what that means if they look at my body of work. But it’s a new universe set in the present day with a new concept for me and a new bunch of characters. It’s been a long time since I got to do that, so that’s really fun.
It’s the story of a young woman’s journey that involves a great deal of horror and some heroics.
Though we can’t be certain that such a connection exists, news that Whedon and Dushku have something in the works is more than exciting. You can be sure I’ll be keeping my ear to the ground on this one and will report back with new details as they surface.
Let me preface this by saying that the following is all speculative since Amazon does not comment on rumors. Here’s the story: Last summer the market hosted the idea that Amazon could potentially acquire Netflix. This idea was quickly shot down by analysts because at the time it did not make sense for Amazon, a company who is quickly phasing out the sale of physical items like books and CDs in favor of streaming and downloadable content, to purchase Netflix, a company that relies heavily on the distribution of physical DVDs. But that was then and this is now. Netflix’s latest quarterly earnings shared the following infomation: the total number of Netflix subscribers grew by one million in Q4, reaching a new milestone of 12 million subscribers total; 48% of its customers streamed at least 15 minutes of Internet video, that’s up from 28% last year; and they expect at least 66% of its subscribers will watch movies over streaming video by mid-2011. In sum, Netflix has certainly become a more attrative buy for Amazon for two reasons: (1) Netflix has a huge customer base; (2) their subscribers are watching way more video with the Instant Watch streaming service, rather than opting for DVD rentals. Amazon has a $54 billion market value and could easily eat up $3.4 billion Netflix. If Amazon has plans of such an aquisition they better act soon; Netflix is getting more expensive every day. Its stock hit an all-time high this week, up 22% to $62.33. This could certainly shake up things in the industry, making Amazon an even stronger force in the growing digital market.
Word on the street is that Kanye West’s fourth studio album, follow up to the auto-tune inspired 808′s & Heartbreak, is near completion. It comes from Kanye’s cousin and collaborator Devo Springsteen. He shared these thoughts on his Twitter account: “Heard the new Kanye West album. Inspiring…” Sure, evidence of its completion is not bursting from the seams with this one, but something is there. Since nothing official concerning a new album has come from the Kanye camp, it’s hard to know what stage it’s at. However, Springsteen did hear something and he enjoyed it enough to share his thoughts on Twitter. I’m hoping Kanye goes back to his roots with his next album, leaving auto-tune behind. Don’t get me wrong; 808′s & Heartbreak is one of my favorite concept rap albums, but I feel that Kanye needs to really shine with his next outing. And the only way for him to prove to everyone he can still impact music is if he goes back to where it all started.
Out of the boring status quo comes a netbook with specs that don’t mention Intel Atom, NVIDIA Ion, HDD, and standard def. Chrome OS, that browser-as-your-operating-system concoction from Google, is coming soon and it will come installed inside a Google-designed netbook of their own. According to the IBTimes, the “Google netbook” looks to be one beast of the netbook: it will be powered by an ARM CPU and NVIDIA’s Tegra graphics chip; it will feature a 10.1-inch TFT HD multi-touch display, 64GB SSD, 2GB RAM, and other goodies such as WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth, an Ethernet port, USB ports, a webcam, a 3.5mm audio jack, a multi-card reader, and more. According to the latest rumors, the device will be subsidized with a 3G plan and will end up in the sub-$300 category.
I really hope these specs are fact, not rumor. A netbook with an ARM CPU and NVIDIA’s sweet Tegra graphics would be a welcome addition to the netbook mix. Tegra can only be found inside Microsoft’s Zune today, and it deserves more than that!
In related Google news, Google will be holding a press conference on January 5 where they will likely announce the coveted “Google phone,” the Nexus One. Search, browsers, cell phones, netbooks, oh my! Google world dominance is starting to gain hold.
According to the HDGuru, DirecTV plans on launching the first 3D HDTV channel in the US sometime next year. It’s been reported that DirecTV recently shot a brand new satellite into orbit that supports the addition of a 3D channel plus other regular HD stations. The satillite becomes operational in March 2010, so that’s the earliest a 3D channel could pop up. HD Guru’s “sources” tell him that all current DirecTV set top boxes will receive a firmware upgrade that will enable it to receive the 3D programming. But remember, in order to watch 3D on your television, you need a TV that supports it. DirecTV is expected to make this announcement at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show; TV manufacturers like LG, Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic are planning on showing off their latest 3D HDTVs as well.
Thing is, I don’t think we are ready for 3D programming yet. Hell, we are just getting used to high definition! A hefty percentage of America finally owns decent HDTVs, and now the industry expects us to go out and buy a new 3D-supported TV. I think not. Let’s stick with 3D in the theatres for now (Avatar and Up were the first 3D movies I thoroughly enjoyed); slowly but surely the industry should allow it to enter the home.
According to the latest round of rumors the reveal and shipping date of the Apple tablet device will be delayed until the second half of 2010 due to component switches.
The source says Apple will ship two versions of the tablet; one with a 9.7 inch LG OLED display that may cost around $2,000 and one with a larger 10.6 inch TFT LCD display costing between $800-$1,000.
…gotta love rumors.
Here’s the scoop, Coop. Details surrounding the anticipatory launch of Microsoft’s codenamed Project Natal has apparently been leaked from a “behind-closed-door meetings in the UK between Microsoft and third party developers.” According to the leak source, Natal will launch in November 2010 from a low, low price anywhere between $50-$80, thus making it quite the “impulse buy.” Natal will come packaged with an initial set of 14 games. Microsoft will manufacture 5 million units (that includes standalone and bundled-with-Xb0x 360s units) for a worldwide launch. Pretty sweet if you ask me.
Major League Gaming forum member “ToM MoReLLo” claims to have leaked some screenshots from Bungie’s highly anticapted Halo: Reach, the next installment in the Halo first-person shooter series. In the post MoReLLo shares information on new weapons and mission descriptions that relate to the events that happened in first Halo novel, Halo: The Fall of Reach. Though these images could all be fakes they look pretty legitimate to me, especially with all the other details surfacing with them. Bungie plans on unveiling the Halo: Reach beta to the masses (or everyone who purchased Halo 3: ODST and received an invite code) in 2010.
On September 15 clothes, sneakers, and accessory designer Bape will unveil a new t-shirt in collaboration with Kid Cudi in celebration of his new album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, which releases that day. The image above has been spread throughout the Twitterverse and is the most likely candidate for the t-shirt design. If you’re interested in getting your hands on one of these exclusive shirts, be prepared to wait on a long line outside the SoHo NYC Bape store on the 15th.
The Financial Times has joined the gang of rumors pointing to an Apple tablet device coming out in the near future. The FT is adding credibility to these rumors with the following information: the screen size “may be up to 10 inches diagonally;” it will run the iPhone OS; it will connect to the Interner via WiFi; it will have a book marketplace (think Amazon’s Kindle service). Here are some direct quotes taken from the article: “[The] tablet-sized computer [will ship] in time for the Christmas shopping season, in what the entertainment industry hopes will be a new revolution.” “[The] touch-sensitive device… will have a screen that may be up to ten inches diagonally,” and while it will “connect to the internet like the iPod touch, it’ll probably [do so] without phone capabilities.” Apple is known is release updated iPods and Mac desktop/laptop revisions in September, after the back-to-school season. This tablet device could very well slip into the launch window between this time and the holiday season. According to the FT, Apple is apparently rushing to complete this device and have it on store shelves by Christmas.
In other Apple-related news, Apple has decided to join forces with major music label companies (namely EMI, Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music Group) to come up with a plan to make consumers want to buy entire albums rather than single tracks when shopping at the iTunes Music Store. In order to stimulate consumers to go beyond the single track and dive into the entire album of a particular artist, Apple and said music labels will soon include ”interactive booklets, sleeve notes and other interactive features with music downloads.” Up to this point, users have only received PDF files with their album downloads that includes only album liner notes. According to an insider, “…it’s not just a bunch of PDFs; there’s real engagement with the ancillary stuff.” Executives commented on this new initiative code-named “Project Cocktail:” Apple wants to make bigger purchases more compelling by creating a new type of interactive album material, including photos, lyric sheets and liner notes that allow users to click through to items that they find most interesting. Consumers would be able to play songs directly from the interactive book without clicking back into Apple’s iTunes software. Would you be enticed to pay for entire albums instead of single tracks if these kinds of additions were tagged with your purchase of the album? Both the Apple tablet device and Project Cocktail are rumored to be released side-by-side as soon as this September. Let’s cross our fingers and hope these rumors come to fruition; sounds like really cool stuff is on the way.
Hot on the heels of Apple’s third quarter conference call comes yet another rumor concerning the third-gen iPod touch. According to Wired, ”a well-connected source tells us…that Apple’s factories in China are already manufacturing iPod Touch models with integrated cameras and microphones.” The source adds that these new models will be available to purchase “in two to three months.” That timeframe falls right after the back-to-school sales season when Apple usually drops its updates to its iPod and Mac desktop/laptop product lines. If these rumors are indeed true, the iPod touch will evolve even more into an iPhone clone device. In fact, with built-in Wi-Fi and a microphone, users will simply have to download an app like Skype to make phone calls. Also, suggested by Wired commentors, “one could combine a microphone-equipped iPod Touch with the Verizon MiFi personal hotspot creator to enable the iPhone experience on Verizon’s network! I can definitely see this heavily supported iPod rumor coming true. Only time will tell.
The whispers of a Apple tablet/netbook device began in March. The rumors of such a device have been newly rejuvenated today by China Times:
“Taiwan’s high-tech supply chain companies said Apple will debut its first netbook in October; Apple will pose itself to tackle the Christmas shopping season. Three corporations – Foxconn, Wintek, Dynapack have received direct orders from Apple…Because Apple will adopt touch screen technology on its netbooks, Apple will not target low-end consumers, avoiding direct competition with Acer, Asus, as well as their less-than-500-dollars netbooks. Apple’s netbook (or a “tablet” as many call it,) will probably be sold at around $800 USD each.”
The device will purportedly have a 9.7 inch screen. Anaylists and comsumers alike beleive the aforementioned Apple device will either be an over-sized iPod touch/iPhone-type product running the mobile version of Mac OS X or an entirely new hardware that resembles current netbook-like mini laptops and/or a tablet ‘slate’ device. Whatever the case may be, I am glad to see the rumor mill turning as well slowly but surely reach the end of the summer and enter Q4, the time when Apple annually updates its iPod and Mac product line.
*Note: The image above is a mockup (read: not real).