Xbox One: Another Step Into the Future

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Today marks the launch of Microsoft’s latest gaming console: the Xbox One. This next-gen system offers an all-in-one entertainment experience, pulling away from the “games-only” stereotype of consoles of the past. What sets this console apart from its primary competitor in the PS4 is the variety of functions you can perform while using it. Paired with the newest version of the Kinect camera, this Xbox allows the use of voice commands to navigate the system’s software, seamlessly transitioning between different games and applications in a breeze. 

What is even more impressive is how the console revolutionizes the way we use and watch our television. Gone is the way of the past in which we had to flip through various inputs on our TVs to switch between games and our favorite television programs. With the new Xbox, you can find yourself playing one of the many new games available, and instantly switch to that UCF game you plan on watching on ESPN by simply saying aloud “Xbox, go to ESPN.” Almost instantly, the console pauses your game and takes you onto the ESPN channel as if you were changing channels on a remote! Even cooler, the system offers a “snap” function, in which you can play a game and watch TV at the same time on the same screen! This is truly a game-changer, considering how you don’t need to move an inch to switch between all of these different functions. 

For all of the fantasy football fans out there, the new Xbox offers an exclusive feature that you will all thoroughly appreciate. When watching NFL games, the “snap” feature will accommodate a fantasy football application that will update live on screen alongside the game! For example, let’s say you have Marshawn Lynch on your fantasy squad and you’re excited to watch the Seahawks play. You can have the game on with the fantasy app snapped to the side of the TV screen. If (realistically when) Lynch runs into the endzone for that TD you desperately need, your fantasy team’s score will update with his fresh points right in front of your eyes!

Microsoft’s new console has many scrambling with excitement thanks to the many innovative features that it offers. Once they can overcome the expected day one hiccups and patch up the software, you can expect the impressive console to make waves for years to come. 

Apple Keeps On Rollin’

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Having just come off of an incredibly successful release of the iPhone 5s (9 million sold in the first weekend!), Apple showed no signs of slowing down when it held a press event in which they unveiled their newest operating system software as well as their new generation of iPads. 

Early on in the event, Apple’s software chief, Craig Federighi, excitedly welcomed OS X Mavericks to the public. Federighi claims that the new software helps extend battery life when browsing on Macs, and features noticeable improvements in memory. He also mentions that the software provides better graphics support and offers many more apps. The best part of all: Mavericks, along with the latest versions of the iWork suite (comparable to MS Office) are available to all Mac users for FREE. You read that right, Apple has finally offered its high-paying customers a reward for their support!

If you thought that was all, you’re wrong. It was just the beginning. Apple’s head of global marketing, Phil Schiller, then took the stage to discuss the new lineup of laptops and desktops. Apple unveiled its new computers all donning retina displays, improved memory, improved battery life, faster processing speeds and minor price cuts for all models. 

I’ll skip ahead to the next amazing part of the conference: when Apple revealed the new generation of iPads. The biggest surprise of all was the first shown: the iPad Air. The iPad Air retains the same 9.7 inch screen that its predecessor consisted of, adding on a retina display. The greatness behind the iPad Air is how it retains the same large screen, yet sheds 20% of its thickness (7.5mm now) and drops to 1 pound. Aside from slimming down, the newest iPad packs a harder punch than ever before, packing an A7 chip, improved graphics performance, dual microphones, Siri support and extended battery life. The iPad Mini 2 now comes with a retina display and improved specs as well, if the Air proves to large to handle. 

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Overall, Apple threw a successful event. We have all come to expect Apple’s habit of revealing upgraded versions of its products at key points every year, and somehow pull it off every time. Apple has shown no signs of slowing down on its path to controlling the technology market. 

The Return of Hockey

It is finally that time of the year again: the return of the hockey season! Let me just start by saying that hockey is and always will be my all-time favorite sport. It’s that sport that I began to both root for and play at a young age. And, had I not injured myself doing so, I would probably still be out on the ice on the regular. 

But enough about me, the NHL is the real star of this blog post. The National Hockey League returns this year with some new offerings on the table. The league has decided to re-organize the structure of its conferences by going intro a two conference, four-division format. (for the specifics of the realignment, check this out: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=678456 

With the return of the league also comes the return of my favorite team, the Florida Panthers. The Panthers came out of the floodgates strong last night by winning their first game of the season on the road against the Dallas Stars. Their second overall pick in the 2013 draft, Aleksander Barkov, proved his worth as well by scoring his first NHL goal in his first NHL game. By doing so, it turns out that Barkov, who is 18 years of age was the youngest player to score in an NHL game since Ted Kennedy on January 8, 1944! As an avid supporter of the young offensive prodigy, I can only see great things coming from the kid from Sweden. 

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Aside from scoring in the draft, the Panthers made several crucial additions to the roster before the start of the season. One of these additions happens to be the signing of two-time Vezina Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion, goaltender Tim Thomas. Thomas, who is 39 years old, seemed decades younger in net last night as he finished with 25 saves and a .926 save percentage.

The season steams ahead as the Panthers face off against the St. Louis Blues on the road tomorrow night at 8pm. GO CATS!

“Grand Theft Auto V” Steals the Show!

Earlier this week in the gaming world, the history books were re-written. The release of the long-awaited video game “Grand Theft Auto V” was nothing short of spectacular. According to the game’s publisher Take-Two Interactive Software, the game brought in $800 million on its first day on store shelves (September 17th)!

Just to help put things into perspective, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” which holds the record for top opening day movie earnings, brought in $91,071,119. Mind you, it almost isn’t fair to compare the earnings between modern movies and video games, as you get a movie ticket for $10 and a game for $60. But it’s also important to note that a game like “GTA V,” with all of it’s violence and innuendos, can only be purchased by those over the age of 17. Harry Potter on the other hand, rated PG-13, was open to all of those middle schoolers who still fantasized about being wizards. 

It doesn’t end there though! Within three days of its release, “GTA V” had already surpassed the $1 billion dollar mark. No, that is not a typo; a BILLION dollars in three days! The previous record-holder, “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2,” reached this mark in a little over two weeks. So, mathematically speaking, it took “GTA V” a whopping 1/5 of the time to shatter the previous record!

With these earnings, the critically acclaimed video game will put the highest-earning famous Hollywood blockbusters to shame. That movie that we all heard about at some point, “Avatar” by James Cameron, hauled in nearly $2.8 billion worldwide during its time in theaters according to Box Office Mojo. If all trends continue, “GTA V” will easily surpass this mark by early NEXT WEEK, just one week in stores! It’s almost laughable how much of a cash cow this game is.

The way that “GTA V” continues to meet success, it will leave a trail of charred blockbusters in its wake, and look down from its perch atop the lists in record books.

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