Posted on January 31st, 2009 No comments
It’s been a while since the pre-Rock Band 2 (RB2) / Guitar Hero World Tour (GHWT) debate of which game would have the better peripherals. For me, a drummer, I have been most interested in what the makers (Harmonix, Mad Catz, Red Octane, and Ion) had in store for the new games. See our initial preview from July.
Now, that both games and kits are available for purchase across basically all of the consoles, it’s about time I got some hands-on time with each drum kit. In this post, I will talk about the drum kits for RB1, RB2, GHWT, and the growing world of modified electronic drum kits. I will briefly talk about the kit for Rock Revolution though will keep it short due to lack of hands-on.
Rock Band 1
The first drum kit on a console ever. Great and flawed all at the same time. Four pads, and a kick drum plugging into your console (or wireless for PS3). Has a total of five inputs.
* Songs played on expert are pretty darn close to the real thing (though that’s more compliments to the software, not the hardware).
* This kit can help the rhythmically challenged, get quite good on getting, hands and feet operating independently…similar to real drumming.
* The pads are loud, just too loud. My wife regretted me purchasing RB1, because no matter where she is in the house, she can hear me “click, click, clicking” away at the pads.
* The pads have little (to no) bounce, making the kit nearly impossible to play perfect on difficult songs with lots of repetitive notes (i.e. 1/16 or 1/32 notes). You will inevitably miss notes, due to the lack of bounce.
* Dropped beats. I believe, due to a combination of no bounce and sensitivity issues, nearly all fast songs will have dropped beats on occasion.
* Kick pedal will break. I was surprised that it took me nearly four months to break my kick pedal, since it’s made of poorly reinforced plastic. It took me only 2 weeks to break my second. Now, the broken pedal is covered with duct tape.
Rock Band 2
I got a chance to play this kit today, at my local Circuit City. Visually, it looks 95% identical to the RB1 kit, just some slight coloring differences. Four pads and a kick pedal. New pedal is metal reinforced, but don’t let that fool you. Reinforced in the middle, not the bottom. Cymbals available to add on, to enhance realism but not change game play. Extra (unknown) input in the back, no details announced. Possibly a 2nd kick pedal add-on.
* Pads are considerably softer than RB1. Great improvement.
Better bounce. Immediately, the bounce is noticeable. You will get less hand cramps on this kit, and you may be able to perfect Don’t Fear the Reaper (if you desire).
* Wireless. If the RB1 wires bothered you, they have been removed.
* Cymbal addition. Mad Catz has been licensed to add on up-to three cymbals. They were not on the set in the store, but should improve realism if you are looking for that. They map to the same pads as the toms, so you will have two options for the same note.
* Kick pedal still built with flimsy plastic at the base. Although the middle is metal reinforced, the point where I broke two pedals is still flimsy. Expect it to break.
* Cymbals cost extra. I would pay for these, though wish it could come pre-packaged.
Nice, must have improvements over the RB1 kit. Nothing revolutionary, but solid evolutionary updates (just like the game itself). Need to build a better kick pedal though, or users will be forced to stock up on duct tape.
Guitar Hero World Tour
Three soft, quiet, bouncy pads, and two cymbals. Big plastic kick-pedal. This set has six inputs, where the RB kits only have a total of five. You basically get an extra cymbal on this kit, but interestingly lose a tom in place of a 2nd cymbal.
* Quieter pads than RB2.
* Good bounce.
* Set plays well over all.
* Kick pedal might be prone to same breakage as RB1 pedal.
* Kick pedal doesn’t have a place to lock on. So, it can easily slide around the floor if you aren’t playing on a carpet.
* Software glitch. I haven’t seen this, but there was reported some cross-talk and missed notes on the set, though looks like it’s been corrected with a PC-base software patch.
A good set. Quite a good 1st attempt from Red Octane. Nice having the cymbals all packaged in one. As a drummer, the more pads available the better…I like that. I’m not sure about the extra-soft pads. They feel unusual to the touch. Need more playing time on them.
Set with the most number of pads. I believe 6 plus a kick. The actual set though, is odd shaped pads on one flat surface, and a kick pedal. I have not heard much as far as reviews on this.
* More pads is always good, and challenging.
* Odd shaped pads looks bizarre, and I’d imagine difficult to get used too.
* No cymbals, or cymbal option to purchase.
Although, I state that more pads is better, the RR game looks quite bad.
So, I don’t see any reason to look into a drum kit for a game that I don’t plan on buying.UPDATE 02.01.2009: Strike that last sentence since I have bought GHWT kit and have no plans on buying the GHWT game. Plus, without any cymbals (or expansion options), this kit actually falls behind the others.
Ion Drum Rocker
This is an actual electronic drum kit, made by a low-cost e-drum kit maker. It’s as close to the real deal as we have seen so far. 4 drum pads, 1 kick pedal, and up to 3 cymbals. It’s designed to work with RB (1 & 2) with 5 total pads, but has possibilities of working with GHWT too.
* Real pads, on a rack, to be positioned wherever you want.
* Quiet pads.
* Good bounce. No more missed beats due to bad drums. All missed beats are now your fault, not the drums.
* For drummers, this is the official kit to get.
* Expensive at $300. UPDATE 02.01.2008: It can be found for around $270 now.
* Kick pedal is actually cheap and flimsy. Designed for hi-hat, but instead Ion put it in the package as the kick pedal. Recommend Ion users upgrade to an additional Ion kick pedal package.
* Setup will take a while. Unlike the other kits, that setup in minutes, this will take you hours to set up…and days to get perfect.
* For non-drummers, there will be a steep learning curve.
Ion built this kit based on their $250 (non-RB electronic drum kit). They took away some components of that kit, and added in some RB specific, and sell it for $300. High on price, but solid on quality. It’s not the type of quality a long-time e-drum drummer would expect, but for the hardcore RB or GHWT drummer, this is the kit to get.
There is lot’s of noise going around the electronic drumming community about taking a high-end e-drum kit, such as something by Roland or Yamaha, and connecting it to consoles. This has been achieved by a handful of people so far, where they’ve modified the chips on the RB1 kit, and bypassed the signal via MIDI output to their e-drum kit.
There are several success stories of this in the RB forums, and we plan to join that pack. Instead of retiring the RB1 kit for the RB2 or GHWT kit, I’m in the process of gathering the parts to connect my Roland/Yamaha e-drum kit to work with RB2. I will be working on it later this week, and will document the steps as I go.
- For the hardcore RB drummer, save your pennies and get the Ion Drum Rocker. If 300-beans is just too much, we understand. Both the RB2 kit and GHWT kit’s have huge advantages over the RB1 kit.
- For the average RB2 or GHWT player, I’m a bit torn, but would probably say my 2nd choice would be the RB2 kit (assuming the add-on cymbals worked as expected)…though, I need more time with the GHWT kit.
- For the completely insane with bottomless pockets, stay tuned for my post on the modded RB1 / Roland / Yamaha mega-kit that I’ll be bastardizing this coming Friday.
UPDATE 01.31.2009: This post was originally posted in November 2008. I’m updating with newer info and reopening comments. Now, I own the GHWT kit and have an update.
* The GHWT kit plays quite nice with the hi-hat (yellow) pad in a more realistic location. Though, the additional cymbal (orange) does nothing for Rock Band. That’s too bad. It would be great if Harmonix did some software updates to allow the orange pad to act as the Rock Band cymbal (blue or green) during in game play.
* Though the yellow pad can be slightly awkward in Rock Band when it is used for a tom-tom. It’s not terrible when yellow is used for a tom, but definitely awkward and unrealistic.
* The GHWT kit has a MIDI port (thanks Grant for pointing that out in comments). I wish I realized that comment two months ago. The MIDI port opens up a whole new world of game drumming. (See other posts regarding using a real electronic drum kit.)
* Also, the GHWT kit has an additional port for a 2nd kick drum pedal, allowing double-bass drum in the upcoming Guitar Hero: Metallica. Very nice for the hardcore heavy metal drummers.
* With the realization of the MIDI port on the GHWT drum kit, this opens up a world of drumming possibilities. I’m moving GHWT to the 2nd place spot over the RB2 drum kit.
1st: Ion Drum Rocker
2nd: Guitar Hero World Tour
3rd: Rock Band 2
2nd & 3rd (tie): Rock Band 2 & Guitar Hero World Tour
4th: Rock Revolution
5th: Rock Band 1
Posted on January 30th, 2009 No comments
NEXT WEEK IN ROCK BAND! OK rockers, it’s been a couple weeks of so-so downloadable tracks for Rock Band (for me at least). Well, things’ll be-a-changing come next week.
Classic Thin Lizzy, Pretenders and Pat Benatar, plus some kid music. Hey Harmonix…my wife, my kids, and I thank you! For PS3 and Xbox 360 fanboys, get ready for it. For Wii peeps, well, keep a waiting.DLC Week of 2/3 – Thin Lizzy 3 Pack, The Pretenders, Pat Benatar & More!
Here’s the DLC announcement arriving on the week of 2/3. We’re busting out a 3 pack of Thin Lizzy anthems from their new live cd, and backing that up with classic singles from The Pretenders and Pat Benatar, as well as two tracks from Nikko!
Here’s the full scoop:
Thin Lizzy – Boys Are Back In Town (Live)
Thin Lizzy – Cowboy Song (Live)
Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak (Live)
The Pretenders – Precious
Pat Benatar – Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Nikko – Break My Heart
Nikko – Don’t Tell Me
All tracks are original master recordings.
These tracks will be $1.99 (160 Microsoft Points) a piece, or $5.49 (440 Microsoft Points) for the Thin Lizzy 3 pack, with the exception of the Nikko tracks which will run $0.99 (80 Microsoft Points) each.
You can find these songs in the Xbox Live Marketplace on Tues Feb 3rd, and in the Playstation Store on Thurs Feb 5th.
*** Dates for Rock Band game tracks are tentative and subject to change. ***
For all DLC song credits please go here.
And, as always, for awesome background information on our DLC and other articles please visit the Rock Band ‘Zine
Posted on January 29th, 2009 No comments
Straight from the desk of Sean at Harmonix:Regarding the 5000 songs comment
There has been a lot of discussion over a recent article that stated “MTV said it plans to increase the number of available songs this year to as many as 5,000.”
In an effort to clarify and put some context around that number, please see the original quote on ArsTechnica.com from an interview with Alex Rigopulos, CEO and co-founder of Harmonix, during this year’s CES.
In that article, Alex stated:
“That said, one of the great promises of the (Rock Band) catalog moving forward, as the catalog expands from 500 songs to 5,000 songs or whatever in the coming years, is that we’re going to be less constrained from a genre standpoint, and I think you will see us starting to branch out into… whether it’s country or R&B and jazz or funk, or things of that sort. With the critical mass of the “rock” core covered, of course we’ll keep expanding it, but the critical mass is covered, so now we can start to branch off in ways that haven’t made sense in the past but will make sense moving forward.”
We hope this clears up any confusion.
Posted on January 28th, 2009 3 comments
THIS WEEK IN ROCK BAND (and guitar hero)! Holy moly, there is a plethora of Rock Band and Guitar Hero news to talk about. So, let’s give a quick overview, then discuss in comments.
* MTV execs have been quoted by Billboard and GameDaily that the Rock Band series will have 5,000 songs playable for the game within the 2009 calendar year. Holy headlines Batman! We are getting closer to the 1,000 mark every week, but how are they planning to pull of the miricale of pulling off about 50 90 songs a month week? We’ll see. Meanwhile, Guitar Hero World Tour might be nearing the 200 songs mark…well behind Rock Band.
* Nickelodeon has a TV movie, Spectacular, coming out soon. Two songs fromthe soundtrack will make a Rock Band appearance. Hey Harmonix, my two year old and four year old thank you. They were getting bored playing Avenged Sevenfold and Mastadon.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment just announced that it plans to use Rock Band to promote the Nickelodeon TV movie, Spectacular!, which airs February 16th.
Two songs from the film — “Break My Heart” and “Don’t Tell Me” — will be available for 80 / $.99 each on the Xbox Live Marketplace from February 3rd, and the PSN from February 5th. Come March 31st, the DVD release of Spectacular! will include a redemption code for a free download of the two songs, via the Rock Band music store.
* We already know the Grateful Dead 02 Pack came out this week for download. See earlier post for details. Sorry, the Dead is not my cup of Joe, but maybe it’s yours.
* Wii is getting regular download updates for Rock Band, though it’s typically stuff that’s already been released for Xbox 360 and PS3. Wii (we) are happy for our Wii readers to get six classic tracks this week.
Another week, another bundle of Rock Band DLC oldies for the Wii, which according to the press release should be available now.
Individual Tracks (200 Wii points apiece)
“Attack” – 30 Seconds to Mars
“Gimme Three Steps” – Lynrd Skynrd
“Live Forever” – Oasis
“Just What I needed” – The Cars
“Siva” – Smashing Pumpkins
“Tell Me Baby” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Fun fact: the Rock Band series has about 559 songs. At this point, Wii owners have access to 212 of them, leaving 347 songs to go. At 6 songs per week — not counting any future DLC — we should see Wii owners catch up to everyone else some time before mid-2010.
* Let’s wrap up with an occasional Guitar Hero update. One, Metallica is coming out next month and I may very well buy it. I now own the GHWT drum kit, plus I have it connected via MIDI to my real electronic drum kit. It would be fun playing some Metallica on drums.
* Guitar Hero World Tour…I have to admit it, is kicking Rock Band’s ass in downloadable music lately. And the ass-kicking continues this coming month. Incubus, Bob Seger, and more. If I owned GHWT I’d be picking up a few of these tracks immediately.
Much like it did last month, Activision Blizzard has announced three new DLC packs for Guitar Hero World Tour due out in February.
Acoustic Track Pack (440 / $5.49)
“Drive” – Incubus (160 / $2)
“New Slang’ – The Shins (160 / $2)
“Wonderwall (Oasis cover)” – Ryan Adams (160 / $2)
Wings Track Pack (440 / $5.49)
“Junior’s Farm” (160 / $2)
“Hi Hi Hi” (160 / $2)
“Jet” (160 / $2)
Bob Seger Track Pack (440 / $5.49)
“Old Time Rock and Roll” (160 / $2)
“Her Strut” (160 / $2)
“Get out of Denver (live)” (160 / $2)
The Acoustic Track Pack is coming Thursday, February 12, followed by Wings and Seger on the two Thursdays after that, respectively, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii.
And that my friends is THIS WEEK IN ROCK BAND (and guitar hero). You’re welcome. Leave your thoughts on this weeks montage of RB and GHWT news in the comment section.
Posted on January 28th, 2009 1 comment
You may have read an earlier post where I was comparing three fitness software apps for the BlackBerry Storm; Ascendo Fitness for BlackBerry, PumpOne Mobile, and Gym Technik. Well I haven’t gotten around to writing up a full comparison yet. In fact, I still haven’t seen what PumpOne can do. I have ruled out Ascendo since it was not Storm-friendly when I tested and was more app than I needed. I will cut to the chase and say that I use Gym Technik for my daily (wishful thinking) exercise tracking.
Gym Technik is completely web-based, with a web client for the desktop and a web client for the BlackBerry. You are due for a full review, but work (the job that pays me, not this one) has been busy and I haven’t been able to write the review. So, instead I will post the news update verbetim from Gym Technik announcing their new features. In short, I love the new desktop features, and like the BlackBerry Storm features. It’s available for all BlackBerry models, and yes you iPhone guys can use it too.
Here’s the announcement, with my review coming sometime in the not-so-distant future:
The team at Gym Technik has a big announcement that we’re excited to inform you about. We’ve just upgraded the Gym Technik application and added a slew of new features, all of which were requested by you and your team – other Gym Technik members!
New Features Now Live
Gym Technik has just been upgraded and we’re excited to bring to you the following new features that so many of you have requested the last few months. This upgrade is automatic and free so all you have to do is just login and continue using Gym Technik as normal and you will see all the new changes. Below is a quick rundown of our new features:
·New home page when you login
Instantly view informative summaries about both your workouts and body stats as soon as you login on your home page. You will also see a much more intuitive navigation to other portions of the site
·Articles at your fingertips
Informative articles, both featured and latest, displayed to you on your home page as we update them. Now you’re always in the loop on the latest informative articles from Gym Technik
·Workout and Routine Library
This is probably our most exciting new feature. We’ve built out a workout library section where you can find pre-built workouts and routines each within its own category. So if you’re looking for a new routine or just need some guidance in building out your workouts, browse all the categories within our workout library and in one click add any of our 60 published routines to your own workout library and begin to track on your calendar and your smartphone.
As an extension to our workout and routine library, we’ve built out a content driven library where you can browse through for fitness tips, nutritional advice, lifestyle articles, and smartphone tips. So if you’re looking for that extra bit of motivation or want to learn a few tricks on the latest integrations with your smartphone – The Gym Technik library will have what you need in here.
·More exercises and more images
Gym Technik has extended it’s already extensive exercise list with new exercises requested by many of you. We’ve also added videos and images for almost all of our exercises so you can now get the guidance you need for any new exercises you add to your routine.
·Edit or delete your custom exercises
This was probably the most requested feature so this is sure to excite many of you. Now you can edit or delete any of your custom exercises that you’ve already created
Now with Gym Technik, you can track both your workout stats AND the progress of your body through photos. Upload photos of yourself using your smartphone or directly from the web site and tag each photo to a body part to visually watch yourself get closer to your goals.
·Enhanced user interface for smarthones
We have taken a lot of your suggestions and improved the user interface of the smartphone application. Improvements will be seen across all smartphone handsets.
·Faster experience on mobile
We have optimized the way images load up to give you a faster experience on the mobile application. And to make it even faster, you can turn images off in your mobile settings.
We are proud to announce that Gym Technik is now multi-lingual, with our first language launched in German at www.gymtechnik.de
With the launch of all these new features and the enhanced user interface, Gym Technik no longer supports Internet Explorer 6.0. So if you’re using IE 6, you will have to upgrade to version 7.0 or use Firefox, Chrome, or Safari to enjoy all of our new features.
Again, this upgrade has only been possible thanks to the overwhelming submission of feature requests we’ve received from all of our members and we sincerely appreciate this feedback. We are already planning for our next upgrade which will contain more exciting features which are once again driven by exactly what you’ve asked for – so stay tuned!
And if you haven’t taken the opportunity to get in touch with our team to share your ideas, then make sure you do by visiting the “Support” section of our website and letting us know how you feel we can improve. We’re always listening.
The team at Gym Technik wishes you a great 2009 and a year in health.
Team Gym Technik
Posted on January 27th, 2009 4 comments
GHWT Drums + MIDI Capable Drum Kit = Professsional Drumming on Rock Band 2
Do you love playing drums on Rock Band, Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero World Tour, or Rock Revolution? Do you have a real electronic drum set (i.e. Roland V-Drums, Yamaha DTXPRESS, etc) and wish you could use your real electronic drum kit instead of the toy drums that come with the game? After months of research, I have learned there is a very simple solution. It’s not free, and not necessarily cheap, though it is easy to setup and I have confirmed it works.
I have successfully done this setup on the Xbox 360. Others have confirmed success with the exact same setup on PS3. I don’t know about PS2 or Wii.
Let’s break this up into three sections: Shopping List, Basic Setup, Pro Setup, anything else.
* Guitar Hero Drum Kit: Currently you can only buy it used as it’s not available new by itself. If you want new, you have to buy it packaged in the Complete Band Kit. If you do not need the GHWT game or an extra guitar, you can do what I did. I bought the Complete Band kit and sold the game and guitar online.
Links to used kits and Complete Band Game:
* MIDI Cable: Length depends on how far away you will position the GHWT kit from your e-kit.
* Electronic Drum Kit/Brain with Assignable MIDI capabilities: I’m using a very old Yamaha TMX, many others are using Roland, Yamaha, and Alesis products. If you can manually assign a MIDI voice to your “drum brain”, then you will be fine.
NOTE: If you don’t already have an electronic drum kit, you can expect to spend $500 – $5,000 to get an electronic drum kit.
Ok, now that shopping is done, I will talk about set up on the next post… (Trust me, it’s easier than you might expect).
Posted on January 27th, 2009 No comments
I think there is a simple recipe to call something an iPhone competitor, or as many like to call “the iPhone killer”. After using the BlackBerry Storm for more than two months, and analyzing the mobile device market, I can say the Storm is not an iPhone killer.
The simple determination is about how RIM designed the software for the device. They adapted the tried and true BlackBerry OS for touchscreen and keyboard-less environments. That in itself makes the Storm out of contention for the iPhone killer title. To be a real iPhone competitor, a software/OS developer has to do what Apple did. They need to start from scratch and build an OS for the device. Apple did it, RIM did not. It doesn’t make the Storm bad, it just does not make it an iPhone competitor.
Now, Palm’s upcoming webOS (on the Palm Pre) as well as Google’s Android (on the G1) have the potential of being iPhone competitors. Simply, because Google and Palm did what Apple did, they built a mobile OS from scratch focusing on new hardware and new touchscreen capabilities.
As of now, the G1 still has a way to go, but has potential. Palm’s webOS is not yet in the hands of the public, but looks to be a direct rip-off of Apple’s iPhone OS.
This story will continue, but we can close the door on the iPhone OS and the Storm OS being competitors. There is no competition here. iPhone OS was built for capacitive touchscreens and other newer hardware. The Storm’s OS is adapted for the same types of technologies, but is not a rewrite. Case closed.
Posted on January 26th, 2009 4 comments
Alright, ready for this? My Rock Band 1 kit is not working. The red pad is dead. I’ve tried doing that solder modification (and using the Highly Liquid MSA-P) a bunch of times to get my real electric drums to work. Everytime I try, I fail. I do not know how to solder.
It’s killing me not being able to play RB on drums, or use the e-drum kit that I put together last year.
So, I did some research today. I learned that the GHWT drums has a MIDI-IN port, which I could likely plug my Yamaha/Roland kit into the GHWT kit and play through it. I’m going to go to a local store tomorrow and pick up the GHWT drums.
If that works, I’ll be able to let my kids use the GHWT drums and plug my real kit into the MIDI-IN port when I want to play.
I’ll keep you posted.
If you have any info on the MIDI capabilities of the GHWT kit, or any other similar modifications, let me know in comments.
UPDATE #1: I just got back from Circuit City where I picked up Guitar Hero World Tour (Complete Band) for $151.99, 20% off the original $189.99. That comes with the game, a guitar, and drums (of course). I’m going to setup the drums tonight and first confirm the GHWT kit works with Rock Band 2. Assuming that works fine, I will then test out the MIDI port on the kit to see if I can get my Roland/Yamaha kit to pass though the GHWT kit and work with Rock Band 2.
Since my receipt says “Final Sale“, if it doesn’t work, I will probably just sell the whole GHWT package on eBay. Fingers crossed that I just solved my ongoing drumming dilemna. Oh, I have no interest in keeping the Guitar Hero game or guitar…unless someone gives me a reason to keep them, they will be up on eBay by the end of the week. Stay tuned for an update tomorrow.
Posted on January 23rd, 2009 No comments
NEXT WEEK IN ROCK BAND! We just got work from the guys at Harmonix on what will be on the Rock Band download docket for this coming Tuesday.
From the desk of HMXHenry:DLC Week of 1/27 – Grateful Dead Pack 02
Here’s the DLC announcement arriving on the week of 1/27. We’re busting out our second Grateful Dead pack, bringing you six more tracks from one of the jammin’est bands around. Seriously groovy stuff. The Grateful Dead Pack 02 will contain the following tracks:
Hell In a Bucket
Don’t Ease Me In
Cold Rain & Snow
Doin’ That Rag
Fire On the Mountain
Uncle John’s Band
All tracks are original master recordings.
These tracks will be available on Xbox 360 in the Xbox Live Marketplace on January 27th, and they will be up on the Playstation 3 in the Playstation Store on Thursday January 29th. We’ll have more information on upcoming Wii DLC posted shortly, so keep posted to this thread for more info.
These classic Dead tracks will run $1.99 (aka 160 Microsoft Points) a piece, or $9.99 (aka 800 Microsoft points) for the full Grateful Dead 6 pack.
For all DLC song credits please go here.
And, as always, for awesome background information on our DLC and other articles please visit the Rock Band ‘Zine
I’ll be honest, I didn’t buy the first Dead pack and am less likely to get this one. But if you are a Deadhead, I’m sure you are fired up right about now.
What say you?
Posted on January 22nd, 2009 No comments
After spending a whopping five hours with the new leaked OS, I’m ready to drop a bullet list of first impressions. I installed the leaked Storm OS update this morning, on top of the previously leaked OS (184.108.40.206). My first impression is based on features that I didn’t see in earlier releases. See other posts for my feedback on earlier releases.
First Impression of Leaked BlackBerry Storm Update (220.127.116.11):
* Application Center. Old icon is back, replacing the new icon in previous OS updates.
* MySpace Application. Added to the Application Center. I’m not a MySpace user, so doesn’t excite me much.
* QWERTY keyboard now available in portrait mode. The keyboard has not been vetted with the entire OS, as the setup screen still only offers SureType and MultiTap. Also, the new portrait QWERTY keyboard, has some characters that run off the keys. Looks a little bizarre. Though, I’m glad to see a QWERTY option for portrait. It is a nice add-on feature.
* Landscape QWERTY Keyboard. Displays larger letters on each key. Keys remain the same size, just larger letters.
* Home Screen. Larger text on icons, only on home screen in portrait.
* Icons. Scroll smoother than earlier releases.
* Camera / Video Recorder. UI is transparent, showing more of the image on screen. This was in the last update, but I only confirmed today that the Video Recorder had the UI update. Camera appears to take quicker photos.
* LED. No more issues with LED after disconnecting Bluetooth. This issue arose in the previous OS update.
* Phone. Test throughout the Phone application is larger. The larger text may be nice for some users, though in some areas there is text overlap. Text overlaps specifically during a call where the display says, “My Number”. The text and my phone number slightly overlap.
* Pictures (Media Player). First load took about 20 seconds to load. After first load, all was fine.
* Videos (Media Player). Does not play over A2DP (Bluetooth Stereo) headset. This issue has been in all recent OS updates, and is quite disappointing. It existed in earlier OS releases and have been gone for three recent updates.
* Music (Media Player). Long podcasts, over 1.5 hours, can not pause/skip past the 35 minute mark. If paused/skipped after 35 minutes, the podcast restarts. This happens in the Music player, as well as 3rd party PodTrapper.
* Voice Notes Recorder. Still does not save voice notes. They record, and appear to save. Though, when you go back to view the list of recorded notes, there is nothing. This has been around for several OS updates.
Stability seems fine, so far. The big update is the portrait QWERTY keyboard. It’s a nice first attempt, and could you a little fine tuning. The biggest negatives lie in the Media area, which is unfortunate for a potential great media device. No Bluetooth for videos, Voice Notes not saving, and Music player still missing some key features (bookmarks, skip buttons, long podcast capability).
I’ll use this leak for the next week, and make updates to the post as needed.
My Gadget, Game & Gizmo Obsession …blogging about mobile stuff, gamer stuff, and other stuff since 2007 (MyGGGo.com)