While we are in the midst of the college and NFL playoffs, there is a major event that just ended in Las Vegas. One of the biggest conventions in the world takes place at the beginning of the January each year. The Consumer Electronics Show has literally anything you could expect to see in the world of technology. I had the pleasure of attending and working at the 2011 CES event, and it was one of the most fun weeks I have ever had (even if my feet were killing me at the end of the week). CES is almost like going to a different world. Las Vegas itself is a strange place to go and is like nothing else in the country, but add CES on top of it, and it's a great mix of technology, gambling, nerds, and a fun time. When I was at CES (working for Samsung), the big thing was 3D TV's. That fad seems to have passed and moved on to 3D printers instead. Taking cool technology on a screen and putting it into real life is what it's all about between 3D printing and wearable technology. As usual, this year had the coolest gadgets and gizmos on display, most of which we won't see in a store or available for purchase for a while. Here are some of the items that stood out to me:
Best Tech TermOne of the big things this year was the phrase "Internet of Things". As boring and vague as that sounds, the IoT is a phrase that was coined for the communication that your tech has with other tech. It's the ideal that major companies such as Samsung, Intel, and more are using as they all try to grab a piece of the pie in creating the network that your whole life communicates with. Basically, it's almost a form of artificial intelligence that you as a user control, but that helps ease your life. Some things already exist, such as being able to change the thermostat or lock your door with your phone. However, those are all controlled by us. The IoT will be the platform that all of those devices use to communicate with each other, and the next big step is to make it where your devices use the IoT to communicate with each other...on their own. You don't have to unlock the door, then come in and turn the lights on, change the thermostat, turn the TV on, and start pre-heating the oven. When you pull up to your house, it will know, and "something" will do all of that for you. Creepy, right? More like inevitable, so get used to it. Another area where this is taking place is in your cars. We've already seen the creation of cars that drive themselves from the likes of Google, but now that technology is looking to grow even more, by communicating with your other devices and help "ease" your way of life. As long as the IoT doesn't become self-aware, then it's all cool.
Best Wearable TechWhen you think of the phrase "wearable tech," you typically think about the new futuristic watches, or t-shirts with heart rate monitors, or something like that. But I have to give it to a pair of ear buds that have changed what ear buds or headphones have ever been meant to do. Usually, we rely on our phones to help us keep up with our music, and maybe be a GPS while out running, or have a pedometer on it. Now, a company called Bragi has created ear buds that can do all sorts of things, wirelessly. "The Dash" are not only wireless headphones, but they also are a heart rate monitor, a hands-free device, a personal trainer, and have intuitive touch-based controls. This is the next evolution of wearable tech, and it's wearable tech that you actually might want to...wear.
Best Home Entertainment ProductI've written about this already, but Sling TV is the way of the future for TV. Dish is offering a package for $20 a month that gives you TNT, TBS, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Disney, ESPN, and ESPN2. No contract, just TV channels for way less than your cable bill. Check out my full write up here.
Best InnovationThis is a piece of technology that can change the way we interact with everything. Energous has created a system called WattUp, which wirelessly charges your devices from up to 15 feet away. Imagine that you had one panel in your room, and it could charge your phone, tablet, camera, computer accessories, game devices, and more all by just having them in the room with you. Wireless charging before has existed, but only if you at least made contact with a device. Energous has created something that sends out a charge to your devices by bouncing it around the room until it finds it. Before you think the charges it's sending out are radioactive and will deform your skull or something, it actually operates on the same waves that wi-fi does, and we've been around it for a while now and haven't died yet. This product isn't out yet, but it's coming and will change everything.
Best Celebrity AppearanceNick Cannon was there, Kanye was there, Snoop Dogg was there, Tony Hawk was there. But I have to give it to will.i.am for actually working on a piece of tech and showing it off. He's not the first celebrity to jump in with a company and help design a product, that happens all the time. But while most people just slap their name on something, or just show up to CES to sing a song or too, will.i.am has created something unique. His smart watch, i.amPULS, is basically a smart watch that doesn't need some other device to run on. It runs on it's own, and plays music, makes calls, reads your heartbeat, and shares all this information socially. He's also working on products that can be added to other pieces of clothing to communicate with the watch, and let the watch be at the center of it all, instead of a phone or computer.
Best Game TechRazer always has great products. I was able to check out some of their cool stuff at CES when I went before, but they always come up with something new to steal the show. Never mind that I'm typing this from a Razer keyboard and mouse. However, the Razer Turret is something to keep an eye on. PC gaming isn't going anywhere, but as the offerings continue to increase, the Razer Turret makes it where you can game from your couch on your PC with ease. It's obviously wireless, but the mouse stays put a little better due to a magnet in it keeping it on the pad. The whole thing is long enough it fits on your lap and with a full keyboard and mouse to control with, it makes gaming a breeze no matter where you are in the room. We'll see how the magnet holds up as it might make control a bit harder, but it's supposed to keep the mouse from flying off the pad when you shift your body. I also have to mention the Steelseries Sentry Eye Tracker. It may not really hold anything special for anyone because no one really cares where on the computer you're looking, but it might help with gamers who need to be focusing on the right things at the right time. If you're raiding in World of Warcraft, you need to make sure to look at certain things at the right time. This can help train you. It might not be a great piece of tech now, but it's possibilities down the line are great.
Weirdest ProductThe weirdest product has to go to Belty, a belt that auto-adjusts when you need it to. Just eaten a big meal? Belty can sense that and it releases a bit when you stand up from eating. It's basically a motorized belt (with a slightly bigger than I want belt buckle that holds the tech) that senses when it needs to change. It also keeps track of your different waist sizes which can be good for losing/gaining weight. The problem is when Belty becomes self-aware and doesn't let go. You're in the mood, but poor old Belty is hanging on for dear life. You see where I'm going.
Dumbest ProductMy nod for dumbest product has to go to Stir. Stir is basically a desk that auto adjusts at certain times so that you change position while working to get a little exercise. That's just what I want, I'm in the middle of working on a big project and 100% focused on my computer, and my desk starts lifting up in the air taking my computer away from me. Then right when I get situated standing up to continue working, it drops to the ground and takes it away from me again. I just want to sit in peace. If it's healthy to get up and walk around every 30 minutes to an hour, then set an alarm or something, don't take my desk away from me. I'm not saying it's not good to move around, I typically get up every hour or so and go do something else, but come on...
Most Unnecessary ProductThe Belfie Stick. Just listen to some of these testimonials on their website: “I got my squat game down on lock shooting belfies every day to check up on my progress!" - Marcos from Miami “I never again have to take pics in the bathroom. I can't tell you how many times Ive dropped my iphone trying to take pics. I love it! Thank God they invented belfiestick!” Lauren from LA “I can't believe they invented this, it's totally insane! Everyone is hurtin holding their phones trying to get the right precise angle. Bend over, snap a pic & done! Belfiestick rulez!!!.” Ellen from Michigan This was actually a product at CES. Thank goodness I know that someone out there has invented a stick that I can attach my phone to so I can take a photo of my ass. Look out world.
Dish announced today the launch of Sling TV at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In a nutshell, Sling TV is a service that only costs $20 a month (with no contract), but gives access to a handful of stations including ESPN. At launch, it will include: TNT, TBS, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Disney, ESPN, and ESPN2 - along with Disney's Maker Studios online content network. There is no word yet on other ESPN stations such as ESPNU or the SEC Network, but it doesn't look like that will be an option as of launch. Dish did announce that in the future, there would be add-on packages for $5 each that would add channels to the service. Each package would most likely be genre-specific in nature, such as a sports package with the other ESPN channels, a kids package with other Disney channels, and a news package with HLN, Bloomberg TV and others. Sling TV cuts the need for a cable or satellite TV contract, and provides you with a decent amount of TV for way less than you would pay a cable company. ESPN and ESPN2 make this almost worth it alone, much less the line up of Turner stations. The majority of TV I watch as a 28-year-old with the brain of a 13-year-old is sports related, or cartoon related. If I'm home in the middle of the day, I have my TV on TBS watching re-runs of American Dad, The Office, Seinfeld, Family Guy, and more. During primetime and on weekends, my TV stays on ESPN. Then late nights (8 pm and later) I tune to Adult Swim to watch even more re-runs of American Dad, Family Guy, and original shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Squidbillies, The Venture Bros. and others. This service looks perfect, and if I weren't automatically locked into a $70 a month service through my apartment with Charter, aka the worst cable/internet service on the planet, then I would be all over this. Whenever I make my next move, this will be on my radar. What makes this work is that you can watch it on multiple devices from the start, and I assume it will only grow from there. The list of devices include: Amazon Fire TV Amazon Fire TV Stick Google Nexus Player LG Smart TVs Mac / OS X Roku set-top boxes Roku Streaming Stick Roku TV Windows PC Xbox One Because this is like watching the actual TV channel, there are still commercials, so you won't get past that, but it's a great alternative to cable. Dish isn't the first to make a move like this. On top of products like Hulu and Netflix, HBO has announced that they are making HBO GO stand alone soon. But with a product like Sling TV, combined with Hulu Plus, Netflix, and HBO GO independent - I'll still be spending less than what most cable companies can offer. There are some downsides. First, none of the networks seem to be on board with this, so if you want to watch shows on Fox, ABC, CBS, or NBC - you're out of luck with Sling TV. That also means any sporting events on those stations are gone (although ABC events could likely still be available on WatchESPN). There are still some other major cable channels that aren't on board, such as AMC, FX, Comedy Central, MTV, and others - but that doesn't mean they can't join up in the future. There isn't a date yet that you can order the service. As with most things at CES, it's strictly an announcement of an idea or new product, but nothing more. Many things you see at CES, won't hit the mainstream until years later. There are things I saw at CES when I went last back in 2011 that you still can't buy today. Regardless, it's a great step to making things more available that we want, and cutting the price down on terrible cable bundles that give you plenty of things you don't want.
As we arrive at the end of the year, we can look back on all of the great things that happened in the world of sports, entertainment, gaming, and more. Everyone likes to reflect on the greatest moments of the year before we turn the calendar over and start it all over again, so I figured I would follow suit. I dive in and pick the best sports team, player, moment, performance, and more of the year. I also choose the best movie and music album of the year. In gaming, I keep it basic and go with best overall game of the year, and best eSports match of the year. A few of these things I might make individual lists of, such as movies of the year, but here are the best "things" of the 2014 calendar year in my opinion. To keep the homepage less cluttered, check out the list and videos after the jump.
Sam Mendes took the stage early this morning to unveil the future of James Bond and the name of the 24th film in the classic series. Along with the cast of the new film, and a brand new Aston Martin, the name of the movie was unveiled to the press to be "Spectre", a play on the old organization in previous Bond movies that appears to be making a resurgence in the rebooted timeline. Spectre, which stands for SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, was known for being run by Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who made many appearances in different Bond movies. Blofeld is known for his facial scar, along with always keeping his cat in his lap, and of course was the character that Dr. Evil was based on in Austin Powers. Christoph Waltz is rumored to be playing Blofeld, however, his character was announced as "Oberhauser." Hannes Oberhauser, in Bond lore, was a ski instructor and father figure to Bond while he was in college, but he mysteriously disappeared one day. According to the Daily Mail, Waltz is playing Hannes' son, Franz Oberhauser, who is actually Blofeld. Waltz is obviously one of the strongest supporting actors ever after earning Oscars for his roles in Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, so Blofeld or not, the performance is sure to be outstanding. The whole cast for the movie was at the reveal on the Bond soundstage. Of course Daniel Craig is back as Bond, along with Ralph Fiennes as the new M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, and Ben Whishaw as Q. Wrestler Dave Bautista, fresh off his Guardians of the Galaxy role as Drax, will play Mr. Hinx, no doubt a henchman and muscle for whatever character Waltz does play, be it Blofeld or someone else. Two new "Bond girls" will be making an appearance in this film. First, Monica Bellucci is playing the role of Lucia Sciarra, while Léa Seydoux will be playing Madeleine Swann. Seydoux has starred in many movies, including Inglorious Basterds with Waltz, and most recently, the controversial French film Blue is the Warmest Color. Perhaps one of the best additions to the team is Interstellar cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema. Skyfall's cinematography is what led it to be one of the best Bond movies ever, but it will be interesting to see how Spectre is approached compared to the first few movies of this timeline. You can view the entire announcement presser below, and get a look at the Aston Martin DB10. The nods back to the old school DB5 in the previous movies were nice, but if you've seen Skyfall, you know what fate that car met. Spectre is set up to be one of the best Bond movies yet, with an outstanding cast, and one of the best villains they could have chosen in Waltz. Check out the announcement below and get excited for the latest chapter in 007's history. The film is set to be released on November 6, 2015, and shooting begins Monday. "A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE."
2013 was a good year for movies. A lot of movies seen, and still a lot to go. Early on in the year, I didn't get out much to see a lot of movies between being at the radio station and doing other things. Late in the year, there has been so much out in theaters, that I still need to catch up to what is out. Here is my list of movies from best to worst from 2013. To explain my movie going experience and thought process, I don't think a movie has to be deep to be good. If a comic book movie is well done, then it's well done. The one problem I've always had with the Academy Awards is that they never seem to appreciate the work that goes into a movie of epic proportions, such as Star Trek, or Pacific Rim. The movies looked so great, and that is part of what made them good movies in my opinion. You go to movies to be entertained. If I'm entertained more, then the movie is better. So here are my top movies of the year. After that list, the movies I still haven't seen, but really want to (in order of how excited I am to go see them). I went through and counted, and I have seen 36 movies from this year, and this is the top 25. I then have 15 that I still want to see. ----- 1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty I have to say, I had low expectations for this movie, but it's definitely my favorite of 2013. I think one reason it tops my list is because the moral of the story hits so close to home. Through all of the stuff I've been through this year, and that I've seen other people go through this year, it tells a message that is 100% true. The daydreaming is something I often do, although not to that extent, but I think it's something we all do, but is never really shown in cinema. I had not seen the original movie, and I really didn't know much about the story going in, so that made this movie a great journey that I thoroughly enjoyed. 2. Elysium I thought District 9 was one of, if not the best movie of 2009. Neill Blomkamp hit a home run by bringing together science fiction and real life issues. Never before had I watched a movie about aliens, but didn't feel like I was watching a movie about aliens. The same holds true with Elysium. It was a solid movie, with Matt Damon playing a solid role (and I had just watched Behind the Candelabra like two days before seeing this). Despite all of the futuristic stuff in the movie, it was a real movie about the troubles and hardship for lower class citizens compared to the "1%". 3. Star Trek: Into Darkness Everyone will think I'm crazy for saying this is a top 3 movie of 2013, but it was a movie that kept me entertained the whole time. One thing that drives me nuts in movies is terrible CG, but this had great CG, great acting, and really introduced me to Benedict Cumberbatch for the first time. He is what really made this movie for me. 4. The Wolf of Wall Street Yes, this movie could have been rated X. Yes, they dropped quite a few F-bombs. All that aside, Leonardo DiCaprio was outstanding, Jonah Hill was hilarious, and the movie just worked. Rarely do I go see a three hour movie, no matter how good it is, and not check my watch at some point. I did in this movie too, but only because someone texted me. It didn't seem as long as it was, and it was solid throughout. And yes, there were lots of naked women. 5. World War Z Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate horror movies. Especially with zombies. But Brad Pitt and Marc Forster did it right. I haven't read the books that this was inspired by, but I am extremely interested to see where they may go with a sequel for this one. It was a very well done zombie movie that didn't embellish on the things that usually make zombie movies work - blood and guts. 6. American Hustle Despite it's nominations for picture of the year, the story of American Hustle didn't really do it for me. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, it is #6 on the list after all. The acting was great, and the music was outstanding. Reminded me of the original Anchorman soundtrack and how good that was. But the script just didn't do it for me. 7. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire The Hunger Games trilogy is something that I thought originally was going to turn into a Twilight series. A trilogy of books that girls read and fell in love with. However, they have both been solid movies, and as someone who hasn't read the books, I am genuinely intrigued on what will happen in the next two movies. Jennifer Lawrence has been great in these movies as much as the ones she's been nominated for Oscars for. 8. Now You See Me A movie I was unsure of at first, but turned out to be a pretty good film. A good group of actors, young and old, which did an outstanding job. When a movie that tries to keep you guessing until the end, actually surprises you with who actually "did it", then it did a good job. 9. The Host Now this was definitely a movie that was played up as a chick flick. And I can see how it would be. But it was actually not bad. The love triangle in it was a little too "Twilight-y" for me, and yes, I know it was written by the same person. But the alien/sci-fi story works better into a good movie for the average movie-goer such as myself than the whole vampire/werewolf thing does. I have to admit, I actually really liked this movie, so much so that it makes my top 10. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you give it a try and be open minded. 10. Oblivion This movie really intrigued me from the first preview I saw of it. It lived up to the hype, and it was a good sci-fi movie with pretty good acting from Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman among others. The rest of the top 25 after the jump.
It's day one of the college football season, but I can still make some time for some entertainment news. I saw on Reddit this morning where they cast James Spader to play Ultron in the new Avengers movie. Now don't get me wrong, I like James Spader, he plays a hell of a lawyer on TV, and I liked his appearances on The Office as well - but he's not super villain material in my opinion. I have faith that Joss Whedon can get it done once again with The Avengers: Age of Ultron, I'm just slightly disappointed that he didn't cast Paul Bettany in this role. For those who don't know, Bettany plays the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S in the Iron Man movies and in the first Avengers movie. There were a few possibilities that people thought were going to happen to bring about Ultron. More about it after the jump.
I've decided to take up watching movies in my free time now, watching more than I ever have before. For a long time, I had a lot going on - the Meltdown was going great, on top of calling high school football games every Friday, and heading down to Tuscaloosa each Saturday, plus of course we can't forget my 9-5 job. It all added up to being a lot of time where I couldn't see movies as much as I wanted to. So over the last couple of months I've started to see more of them, both in the theaters and at home via Netflix, HBO GO, movie channels on TV, etc. I haven't written much in a while, so this gives me a good excuse to jump in and stay fresh on the keyboard. Reviews for World War Z, Pacific Rim, and more.