Smartphones and Phone-y Pricing

It’s that time of year.  All of the major players in the cellular and smartphone market are “leaking”, announcing, and releasing new phones, just in time for the holidays.

Motorola just officially announced the Droid Turbo 2 and Maxx 2, which are practically copies of each other, save for a couple physical features, and storage on shipment (the Turbo 2 coming in 32gb and 64gb options, and the Maxx 2 coming with 16gb).  Both are priced to what the market will bare, $624.00 (Turbo 2 32gb, no frills), $720.00 (Turbo 2 64gb, no frills), and $384.00 (Maxx 2).  Only the Turbo 2 is enabled in the Moto Maker web app, where frills are abundant, but the only extra cost is the “pebbled leather” option (at $24.00).

Phone Storage Cost
DROID Maxx 2 16gb $384.00
DROID Turbo 2 32gb $624.00-$648.00
DROID Turbo 2 64gb $720.00-$744.00

Google also announced two phones in September, and is shipping one of them now.  The Nexus 6P and 5X (the one that’s shipping now), and like Motorola, they have some options in storage, but not as many frills (only three case color options per device, not nearly as granular as the Motorola offerings).

Phone Storage Cost
Nexus 5X 16gb $379.00
Nexus 5X 32gb $429.00
Nexus 6P 32gb $499.00
Nexus 6P 64gb $549.00
Nexus 6P 128gb $649.00

Hardware comparison wise, the offerings from Motorola win in the camera field in just pure pixel capture.  The Turbo 2 and Maxx 2 come with a 21 megapixel camera built in, as did the Turbo and the international version, the Moto Maxx (not to be confused with the Droid Maxx, which is Verizon only), and the Nexus 5X and 6P come with 12 megapixel cameras.  Reviews from around the Internet say that the 6P is the superior camera in all lighting conditions, but they’re only comparing the 5X and 6P, not against the Turbo lineup.

Let’s focus on just the two bigger phones for the moment, the 6P and Turbo 2.  In terms of hardware, they are equal contenders, but here’s the differences between the two:

Nexus 6P Turbo 2
Networks All of them Verizon
Screen Size 5.7″ (~518ppd) 5.4″ (~544ppd)
Protection Gorilla Glass 4 Shatterproof*
microSD No Yes
Back Camera 12mp 21mp*
Front Camera 8mp 5mp
Qi Charging No Yes
Battery 3450 mAh 3760 mAh
Price (64gb Model) $549.00 $720.00

* We don’t know what Shatterproof means, and I haven’t seen any tests.  How much damage can it take?  Who knows?

** With the DROID Turbo (1), we have a 21mp camera too, but in order to use that, it forces the camera to a 4:3 resolution.  Don’t know if that’s still the case with the Turbo 2.

In that comparison, almost apples to apples, the price difference is $171.00.  The one with the bigger screen, the same chipsets and memory, and minor differences to features, is cheaper.

To the smartphone industry, I ask the question: Wat?

Why the obvious price gap?  Huawei produces the Google Nexus 6P, and is a newcomer to the market, when compared to Motorola, who created the first and most popular cellphone of all time, the StarTAC!  Shouldn’t Motorola have the resources and the contacts to make their phones cheaper?  Or way better than any of the competition?

And why does the price jump by $100 for the Turbo 2 32gb model to the 64gb model, when the Nexus 6P jumps only $50?  While I know phone storage is slightly different, a 32gb flash based storage drive is $20 for the cheap stuff, and a 64gb drive is $30 from Monster.  MONSTER.  The company that seems to enjoy ripping off customers!

So, dear Motorola, I will not be upgrading my phone to the Turbo 2 this year.  Your features are neat, but your price point doesn’t make sense.  Maybe next year.

Torment: Tides of Numenera – Sucessor

Today, I would like to point to a Kickstarter that began two days ago, and was funded in less than 6 hours.  Torment: Tides of Numenera.

Many years ago, there was a game called Planescape: Torment.  It was, and is, an epic game, with many, many paths to go down, be, and do.  Like many games, it has an ending scene, where all paths lead, but the amount of webbing between the start and the end are complex and can cross over to each other easily.

Now, some of the same people who did the original are kickstarting a successor.  Not a sequel, not a continuation or a branch off, but a game that has the same basic question: What can change the nature of a man?

It will be epic, I promise you.  Fund it if you can!

Obligitory Patent Troll

If you haven’t heard yet, the folks at Mojang AB (the makers of Minecraft), are now being brought under suit by Uniloc USA, Inc.

The funny part is, it’s not for the PC desktop version, it’s the Android Minecraft PE.  For something that the particular edition doesn’t do!

In particular, section 12 is where the “infringement” is laid out.

12. Mojang is directly infringing one or more claims of the ’067 patent in this judicial district and elsewhere in Texas, including at least claim 107, without the consent or authorization of Uniloc, by or through making, using, offering for sale, selling and/or importing Android based applications for use on cellular phones and/or tablet devices that require communication with a server to perform a license check to prevent the unauthorized use of said application, including,but not limited to, Mindcraft.

The Android edition has no communication with an authorative server.  The possible “license check” is done via the Google Play Market, so Mojang is definitely not at fault here.

Plus, “Mindcraft” != “Minecraft”.  Just saying.

Star Wars: The Old Redo

I admit it, I bought the Collectors Edition of Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR to most) when it came out.  I played for the first three months, then everything fell apart; it was yet another MMO.  Something to possibly eat into the great behemoth that World of Warcraft is.

Yesterday, I got wind, via MMO-Champion, that Electronic Arts (EA) was converting SWTOR to a free-to-play limited-trial model, another item similar to WoW (level 15 max), and enticing previous players with a 7-day window to play without having to re-up their subscription.  Tonight, I’m going to see if they’ve made changes and added things that should have been around since the launch.

Yeah.  Nothing’s changed.  At least, from my perspective, at a level 41 Smuggler/Gunslinger, with a level 2 in Legacy.

I find that the new Legacy reward system is lacking for lower level players, as Legacy is a leveling system all on its own.  Mechanics are still the same for combat, companions are still the same for trade skills…

Now you can color your armor to match.  Ooo.  Ahh.

Oh, and plus I’m being forced from my native server of Fa’athra to Drooga’s Pleasure Barge.  Where my character names are being taken by someone else.  As my server is now very VERY lightly populated, I find this odd, as we were a full server when the game launched.  But, as it happens, that’s the way it’s going.

So yeah, just going to pass on this, and realize I bought the CE version, and enjoyed it for a while.

Higgs Boson – A Quick Statement

Out of the 4th of July celebrations (including the 15 second “oops” in San Diego), CERN (our universe’s version of the Black Mesa Research Facility) believes they may have found the Higgs Boson!

And then there’s another term that’s floating around for that particular quark characteristic: “God Particle”.  Follow that up with the amazing amount of religious … individuals, claiming that the possible discovery (science is all about test-test-test to prove something exists or is a fact) is a clear sign that their deity exists.  I won’t say which group, as most groups claim the other group is wrong (in most things, even what the skin color was of the guy that was nailed to a tree), and all of them are stating similar “arguments”.

Higgs Boson is a theorized characteristic particle, that exists in what is called the Higgs field, and gives other particles mass.  The problem with figuring this all out, and observing the particle, is that the Higgs mechanism (both the particle and the field) exists for the tiniest fraction of a second.  We’re talking billionths of a second or more.  So CERN runs the Anti-Mass Spectrometer LHC, all day, every day, in hopes to glimpse that brief instant.

Sierra Nevada – Ruthless Rye of 2012

This month, I picked up a pick-and-choose 6-pack of ales that I wanted to try.  As with my post last year when the City of Surprise hosted a beer tasting festival (Oktoberfest), I will be taking notes, and giving an opinion.

Last night, I had a Sierra Nevada Porter.  That was good.  I mean really good.  But I’ll have to get another bottle (oh, darn) to give a proper review.  Tonight, however, I have a Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye, brewed for 2012.

Sierra Nevada - Ruthless Rye of 2012

Sierra Nevada - Ruthless Rye of 2012

From the label:

Ruthless Rye IPA is brewed with this rustic grain for refined flavors — combining the peppery spice of rye and the bright citrusy flavors of whole-cone hops to create a complex ale for the tumultuous transition to Spring.

I gotta say, they’re right on the “citrusy” part.  First flavor note out the door.  Deeper into it, and it’s got the rye, which is also the main scent of the drink.

The citrus part of any brew is a complete throw off for what I think it should be, except this one, which has the deep of the rye.  The color is good, a rich red-hue.  At 6.6% ABV, it’s got enough of a kick to make sure you should have something to eat with it.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Zynga vs. Everyone Else

Disheartening news just came though the /. newsfeed; Zynga, the publishers of so many of the Facebook games out there, has sued and settled with Vostu, a game company in Brazil.

The suit claimed that Vostu copied elements of Zynga’s copyrighted material (logo, website design, game design, etc…).  Not the smartest idea, in my opinion, but then, we’re looking at the pot calling the kettle black. Vostu has stated right back that Zynga stole what they are being sued about.

But, for all the copying and screaming of “I don’t want f**king innovation!” (thank you Mark Pincus), Zynga is not the only company doing this. Last month, SpryFox has filed suit against 6Waves LOLAPPS for the infringment, code theft, and complete a$$hattery surrounding the games Tripple Town (SpryFox) and Yeti Town (6Waves LOLAPPS).

Before I leave you with the official court document, I have a new entry to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

Earth – The Internet

Casual Games: None.

Granted, these kinds of things are being created all the time. However, they are all the same game, and the myriad of delicate changes to the interface make new “copyright” filings, and thus “new” games are being created. In greater scope of the Internet, the “casual gamer” is always searching for a newer, better version of the game they are currently playing, no matter the minute changes, or who the new game producer is.

For a similar comparison, see “First Person Shooter, War Depiction Game”, also known as Battlefield and Call of Duty.

The suit document:

Rep. Lamar Smith (or how I learned to stop worrying and love SOPA)

On the 18th of January, this site homepage will be host to the SOPA Blackout Protest.  First page view will encounter the truth of how the SOPA and PIPA (Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act) will devastate the Internet as a whole.

The small time business owners, bloggers, and critics will be under the scrutiny of the corporate hounds, and be brought down by their hunters (lawyers), for anything they feel like.  With SOPA, you are guilty until proven innocent.

This doesn’t mention all the message boards, mailing lists, personal bloggers, eBay’ers, Craigslist, hobby artists, Android /iOS developers… the list keeps going.  If you get snooped out, you get brought down.  There will be no more Internet.

Star Wars: The Old Republic – Things I’ve learned so far…

  • Empire side initial Sith Inquisitor quest dialogues turned me off by level 2.
  • Smuggler class is neat.
  • To use Armstech crafting skill, you need Scavenging and Investigation.  Even if Corso gets a bonus to Underworld Market, you won’t get Carbo-plas, a needed material for Armstech.
  • Don’t waste money and time to get Conductive Flux.  It’s 10 credits at a crafting vendor, versus 295 credits to run the mission.
  • Disassembling parts that you craft can result in learning higher-powered versions of the item.  I went from Skill Barrel 3 as a green item to a Skill Barrel 3 as a blue, then to an Advanced Skill Barrel 3 as a purple.
  • When focusing on crafting, just hang out in your local Cantina.  No sense in trying to run missions while your companion is out taking care of your other business.