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Sunday, 11 March 2012

VLC 2.0

The release candidate version slipped out a few days ago, but those waiting for the final release will be glad to know that version 2.0 of the open source VLC media player is now officially available for download. It's being dubbed a "major" release of the software, and with good reason. In addition to some UI changes (a big change in the case of the Mac version), VLC 2.0 also brings with it faster decoding on multi-core processors, GPUs, and mobile hardware, and the ability to open yet more file formats, including a number HD formats used by professional users. Also making its debut is support for Blu-ray playback, although it's being dubbed an "experimental" feature at this time. It also promises to fix "several hundred" bugs. Naturally, it remains completely free as ever


We've tested VLC 2.0 on  Windows xp, 7 Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) and it's fairly simple to install it. If you fancy installing it by hand, the developers provide a source code archive, but be warned that it has a ton of dependencies and something is bound to go wrong.

Thankfully, The VideoLand Project also provides packages for every platform imaginable, ranging from Ubuntu to FreeBSD and Solaris. Canonical has listed the latest version of VLC on their repositories, giving users the possibility to install it even faster.


The first thing that will positively struck the users is the fact that it feels incredibly light. We have to keep in mind that the VLC media player comes with a gazillion of options and that it's designed to run any media file format out there.

It would be impossible to get through all the features, but we'll do our best to present the most important and useful ones.

Let's start with the most obvious function, that of a movie player. Users can set it as default media player, but it also works by drag and droping files on the main window. It's really simply to interact with VLC and it features clear buttons on the interface, like play, pause and stop.

Most people will use only the basic options of the software, but under the hood there are a lot of tweaks that can be done and this is were the strength of the software resides.

The Preferences can be accessed by right click on the main interface and selecting Tools. User have access to interface settings such as skins (although I find that the default skin works best) and Privacy/Network interaction.

Everything is divided by tabs and easy to access. The Audio tab provides options for the Output module and various effects.

In the Video section you can set the player to run on Accelerated Video Output, to perform deinterlacing, to run various effect in real time, and to set the location for video snapshots.

VLC 2.0 also supports subtitles and offers all the possible features that you could think off, like On Screen Display, various encodings, and effects (outline, thickness, etc).

The media player also has numerous options for MKV files such as GPU decoding, various x264 presets, effects, and video quality post-processing level.

No media player would be complete without a vast array keyboard shortcuts, and VLC has them all. Almost everything you can do through a mouse click, it can also be done with a combination of keys.

Morover, VLC 2.0 benefits from other options, such as streaming, IceCAST, playlists, sound equalizer, codec information, track synchronization, visualizations, and many more. In fact, this app probably has any feature you could imagine.

The Bad

When an application is great, it's hard to find faults with it. I usually find stuff that affects the functionality of any software, but VLC has virtually no problems. I'm sure people will find plenty of wrong things with it, but overall it is one of the most complete programs I have ever seen.

However, there is only one issue, which is so small that's hardly worth mentioning. The preferences menu has advanced options for hard core users, but once it's activated it doesn't fit in the small window pane and it can't be resized.

The Good

I actually don't know where to start. Whether is the wealth of options available or the shear simplicity of the program, VLC has it all and makes no excuses for it. Despite of the huge number of features it manages to keep them well hidden and on the tip of the user's fingers.


I can't think of a better media player for any Linux distribution. It's light, it installs really easy, and has all the options you can imagine. At this moment it has no rival in functionality and design and I can only hope that the next version will not make us wait another three years.

GTA3 10th anniversary edition for handhelds

Before Niko Bellic, there was a man who was known as Claude, who was just as willing to terrorize Liberty City back in Grand Theft Auto III. If fond memories of carjackings and Flashback 95.6 are starting to rush back, know that Rockstar plans to sell you a fresh copy for your iOS or Android devices come December 15th. And just so we're clear, the $4.99 redux is a full re-release -- not some watered-down version with an alternate story line. Already counting the days? Peep the list of compatible devices after the break so it's not all for naught. Go on, we've left you a surprise.

What we’re hoping for here is not only a good experience on the iOS platform as is usually the case, but an above-average experience on out brand new quad-core Tegra 3 processor toting Transformer Prime tablet. NVIDIA has sent down the word that this game will be optimized for the Tegra 3 processor, so we’re sure we’ll be seeing some amazing gameplay, and with the device lineup shown for compatibility right out of the box, there’s something else you should all see clear as a bell:

Apple iOS Devices: iPad 1 & 2, iPhone 4 & 4S, iPod touch 4th Generation
Android Phones: HTC Rezound, LG Optimus 2x, Motorola Atrix 4G, Motorola Droid X2, Motorola Photon 4G, Samsung Galaxy R, T-Mobile G2x
Android Tablets: Acer Iconia, Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Dell Streak 7, LG Optimus Pad, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10.1, Sony Tablet S, Toshiba Thrive

These devices, with the exception of the Apples and the HTC Rezound, all tote the NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor. This would normally mean that NVIDIA would be releasing the game on their Tegra Zone app store (connected to the Android Market, of course), and the game would be exclusive to Tegra processor holding devices, at least at first. Instead there is that strange addition of the HTC Rezound, which is a device running a Qualcomm processor.

So we’ll see when the time comes how many devices are ACTUALLY compatible with this game, if it’s just NVIDIA-laden machines or if any dual-core or higher can work with the game. Only your device will know for sure! High five until then!

Ipad 3? Not Quite

Everything you need to know about Apple’s 2012, third generation, new iPad, including Retina display, A5X chipset, and 4G LTE connectivity

Apple’s third generation, 2012 iPad, called simple the New iPad was announced on March 7, 2012. It looks virtually identical to the 2011 iPad 2, but its technology is far more advanced. It has a 2048×1536 double density Retina display, a faster Apple A5X chipset with dual-core CPU and quad-core GPU. Likewise, 4G LTE radios are available in the U.S for AT&T and Verizon, and in Canada for Rogers, Bell, and Telus. Battery life remains an astounding 10hrs on Wi-Fi and an equally amazing 9hrs on LTE. The front camera remains a disappointing VGA quality, but the rear camera has bee significantly upgraded to 5 megapixels. While there was no Siri, Apple’s artificially intelligent, voice controlled assistant, the new iPad did get Dictation for voice-to-text.

The new iPad will be available on March 16 in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and the US Virgin Islands.

Pricing remains the same as previous generation iPads, with 16/32/64GB models in Wi-Fi for $499, $599, and $699 and 3G/4G LTE models for $629, $729, and $829.

New versions of iOS have traditionally come with new models of iPhone, and while the incremental x.1 version of iOS has traditionally come with new models of iPod touch, there wasn’t one last year (not really) and so iOS 5.1 falls to the iPad 3.

iOS 3.2 was a major new version, bringing iOS to the big screen, tablet style user interface for the first time. iOS 4.2 was fairly big, re-unifying the platform and bringing all the iOS 4 features like multitasking and folders to the iPad for the first time.

The iPad got iOS 5 day and date with the iPhone back in October, however, so we’re probably not looking at anything nearly as profound as the last two years.

iOS 5.1 has yet to go Gold Master (GM), but that will probably happen at the March 7 iPad event, with release to follow a couple of days before the iPad 3 hits stores.

In addition to some small changes already seen in the iOS 5.1 betas, like the ability to delete Photo Stream photos, faster fast camera access, and fixes to some privacy bugs, there are still a few cards left for Apple to play.

With a Retina display screen, the iPad 3 will have a higher pixel count than a 1080p television — 2048×1536 vs. 1920×1080. With a faster processor, regardless of whether it’s dual- or quad-core, it’ll be able to handle video better than ever before. 1080p content just seems like a natural fit, and a great way for Apple to show off that new display and all that new power.

Whether iTunes begins to offer 1080p content, and how much they can offer, how soon, and in how many regions is another question. In some areas, ISP bandwidth caps may prove prohibitive even to an average amount of 1080p content. Likewise, even with 4G LTE, the ability to stream 1080p would likely be extremely limited if not blocked outright.

But having even simple support for local 1080p — however you get it on the device — sounds absolutely reasonable.

Mario meets Portal??

Two genre defining games from completely different eras: Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. and Valve's Portal. These two games managed to give Platformers and First-Person Puzzle Games a solid place in the video game world. But what if Nintendo teamed up with Valve and recreated the famous Mario game with Portal gun mechanics? They didnt, but someone else did. 

A complete from scratch recreation of Super Mario Bros. with a focus on perfectly imitating the feel the 1985 classic gave us. Then give Mario a portal gun, add puzzle game mechanics from Portal and there you go. And if that wasn't crazy enough, play 4-player coop, with everyone having their own Portal gun!

  • Complete recreation of SMB
  • Elements from Portal
  • Portal gun that shoots portals
  • 4-player simultaneous coop
  • Level Editor that was used to create the levels in the game
  • 33 different hats
  • Downloadable Mappacks
  • Game modifiers for extra fun

Mari0 is an instant hit with one million downloads in the first few days. Mari0 is playable on windows, linux and mac.
So what are you waiting for?