Blue Snowball Microphone Review

Be sure to visit IGN Tech for all the latest comprehensive hands-on reviews and best-of roundups. Note that if you click on one of these links to buy the product, IGN may get a share of the sale. For more, read our Terms of Use.

Blue is a respected name in the world of microphones, and for good reason. Its offerings range from the entry-level to professional, and each mic is well-made and excellent at capturing accurate, natural sound. The Snowball (See it on Amazon) is the company’s entry-level USB microphone, and at $70 it’s aimed at people just getting into streaming, podcasting, or recording voice-over for video. The main difference between the Snowball and a more expensive microphone is the number of capture patterns, and the fact that it comes in a desktop mount. There’s also a cheaper model, the Snowball iCE, that lacks the capture patterns of the standard Snowball, but otherwise the two are identical.

Continue reading…

Powered by WPeMatico

WWE’s Bray Wyatt And Sister Abigail Storyline Is A Bad Idea

The WWE’s current Bray Wyatt/Finn Balor storyline has been going on for close to half a year. And yet, somehow, even though both men have exhausted their narrative possibilities, WWE is continuing this feud for at least another month. This past Monday, we learned that Bray Wyatt will finally introduce Sister Abigail–his oft-referred to mentor from his promos. This is a terrible idea.

At one time, back when Wyatt was the heir apparent to the Undertaker, this might have been exciting. Now, it feels like a cheap, short-term solution rather than a long-term commitment to Wyatt’s success. Sadly, that’s nothing new.

Like the Undertaker, Bray Wyatt debuted as a heel; the two of them share the same dark appeal. Undertaker had his Creatures of the Night. Wyatt has his sheep-masked Fireflies.

The Undertaker was supernatural. He could shoot lightning. He could float from the rafters. He could shrug off beatdowns and sit up like Dracula. A brand new wrestler, attempting the same sort of schtick in 2017, would probably be laughed out of arenas.

And this is why WWE grounded Bray Wyatt in reality. He was a backwoods cult leader who–with the exception of a 2015 feud with the Undertaker–had no magical or otherworldly powers. His only powers were his charisma and his voice, which dripped with religious fervor. Like Undertaker, Wyatt was a monster. But unlike Undertaker, Wyatt could conceivably exist. And that’s what made him so disturbing.

Wyatt’s promos made little sense, but that was the point; they were the product of an addled, delusional mind. And it was during these monologues that fans learned about Sister Abigail.

What we know about her has been relayed through rambled mutterings, and Bray himself is not the most reliable narrator. But the basic idea is that she raised him, probably in the abandoned cabin that Wyatt delivered his promos from. The now iconic rocking chair is probably hers. And she made Wyatt the leader of her cult before she died. Fans have speculated that she might have been a nun, which is where her “Sister” designation comes from.

Sister Abigail is dead and buried beneath the floorboards of the Wyatt cabin. We know this, because the week after Randy Orton burned down the cabin, Wyatt went inside to retrieve Abigail’s ashes, which he then used to “baptize” himself..

At least on the surface, introducing Sister Abigail might seem like a good idea. But it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. This will be akin to killing a golden goose–the “unmasking Kane” moment of 2017.

It’s better to leave this part of Wyatt’s personality and personal history vague and abstract. Not everything needs to be spelled out and defined. A character like Wyatt’s thrives on mystery and half-truths, left open to interpretation. Take away the mystique, and the character loses its appeal. It’s that hope of learning more that keeps fans coming back.

Whoever WWE assigns to perform Sister Abigail will face an uphill battle. Thanks to social media, fans will treat her as the wrestler who is performing Sister Abigail, rather than Sister Abigail herself. And narratively, because Sister Abigail is dead in-storyline, this whole premise is a stretch. How did she come back to life? Was she alive all along? Was she resurrected? Has her spirit possessed another wrestler’s body? WWE fans know this is all fiction, but we still look for consistency–the fictional universe has to abide by its own rules.

Speculation is running rampant over Sister Abigail’s casting. Due to a suspicious looking tweet, many fans are theorizing that NXT wrestler Sage Beckett will perform the role:

No Caption Provided

And then on Thursday, there was another, more substantiated rumor floating around that Wyatt himself would be Sister Abigail–that she is an alter-ego, who Wyatt will put on a different costume and makeup for. This seems a bit odd, but it might actually be the best solution, as it reaffirms that Bray is just an unstable man rather than an otherworldly being.

But whether Sister Abigail is Beckett, another NXT prospect, or Wyatt himself, there is one thing for certain: A one-off gimmick, no matter how cool and creepy it is, has not and will not get Wyatt over by itself. It didn’t work in 2014, when Wyatt paraded a choir of sheep kids out on Raw. It didn’t work in 2015, when he possessed the Undertaker’s powers. And it didn’t work earlier this year, when he fought Randy Orton in a gonzo-style House of Horrors match.

Because you see, Wyatt ultimately lost all of those feuds. The solution to getting Bray Wyatt over does not require lighting tricks, lens filters, ‘found footage’ camerawork, or Sister Abigail reveals.

Wyatt just needs to actually win–decisively, consistently, and cleanly. There is no amount of smoke and mirrors that can compensate for a losing track record.

Wyatt has expressed frustration with this fan perception, most recently in an interview with Uproxx:

“Is that true? Do y’all really believe that? What are you talking about? You don’t know. You don’t know. So shh! Shut up, all of you, shut up! Shut up! … I was just World Champion. I was a Tag Team Champion last year. I beat Randy Orton, I beat Seth Rollins, I beat Finn Bálor on Monday. What are y’all talking about? What are you talking about? You don’t know. You don’t know.”

While it’s true that Wyatt held these titles, he held the tag titles for less than a month. He held the WWE championship for less than two months. Heck, Jinder Mahal has held the world title for longer than Wyatt did. It’s also true that Wyatt has individual wins over most major superstars, but many of those wins are due to hocus pocus shenanigans. And even if he wins a match here or there, he still loses the larger feud.

Wyatt shouldn’t even be feuding with Balor, because this is a feud that he cannot win. The company clearly wants to push Balor to the moon. Even if Wyatt wins this upcoming, inevitable Sister Abigail battle, he’s still going to lose the bigger war.

Wyatt needs to stay in the midcard, at least for the time being, where he can mentally torture someone for weeks and emerge victorious. His recent match with Goldust was a great example of what Wyatt can do to get his notoriety back.

There’s no rambling promos. There’s no “lights out” special effects. One cannot build a career on gimmicky spots. One builds a career on wins. So long as Bray Wyatt is stuck in high profile feuds as a glorified jobber to the stars, he will continue to produce diminishing returns. This upcoming Sister Abigail reveal is yet another small crack in his mystique. And if WWE continues on its current path, then Wyatt won’t even have that a couple of years from now.

Powered by WPeMatico

Pimax 8K VR Headset Offers Impressive 200 Degree FOV, But With A Few Sacrifices

The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift could both use sharper screens and a wider field of view (FOV). Technology company Pimax hopes to overcome these issues with its 8K VR headset, which features two 3840×2160 panels for a combined 16.6 million pixels. This is considerably sharper than the Rift and Vive, which both use 2160×1200-resolution screens. Pimax also ups FOV to 200 degrees, which is roughly twice that of the Rift and Vive. In many ways, the headset achieves its lofty goals, but it does make other technical tradeoffs in its current Kickstarter state.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6

Because 8K is so graphically demanding, Pimax’s VR headset has a built-in scalar that upscales 4K content to 8K. However, this requires a lot of bandwidth, so the head-mounted display (HMD) requires two DisplayPort connections. This is in stark contrast to the Vive and Rift, which both require a single HDMI cable.

Pimax will also use Valve’s lighthouse tracking technology. The company suggests that its HMD will work with any SteamVR game as a result. Pimax says it’s trying to incorporate games from Oculus’ store onto its platform as well, but has yet to receive approval.

I tried underwater demo theBlu and Fruit Ninja VR on the 8K headset with a gaming laptop that had a GTX 1080, which performs more similarly to a desktop-class GTX 1070. The HMD uses curved optics to encompass most of your FOV, and it works well for the most part, covering most of my horizontal and vertical vision. In terms of image clarity, I didn’t notice any undesirable screen-door effect, and it was hard for me to discern any pixels from the limited time I had with it.

In its current state, the Pimax headset does have some issues. Where the Rift and Vive use an OLED panel, the Pimax headset uses an LCD one, meaning it lacks contrast. Its black levels don’t look as dark as they do on the other HMDs, and its colors also aren’t as vibrant. There’s also distortion on the outer edges of your peripheral vision. Pimax says that this is a software issue that will be tweaked before launch.

One major issue with rendering at such a high resolution is that it can be very graphically demanding on hardware. While the HMD is capable of running at 90Hz, like the Rift and Vive, Pimax tells me that performance was hovering in the 80 FPS range. This is problematic because lower and more inconsistent frame rates can lead to motion sickness. The company is hoping that more powerful graphics cards will alleviate these performance issues in the coming months and years. Regardless, after taking off the headset, I felt slightly cross-eyed. This could be due to the fact that the current build of the headset does not allow you to physically adjust the interpupillary distance (IPD) between its lenses, but Pimax tells me the final version will include this feature.

In terms of ergonomics, the headset felt lighter than the Vive and Pimax says that it will be on par with the Oculus Rift’s weight at one pound. It uses a facial interface foam and head straps that are most similar to the stock HTC Vive ones. It doesn’t come with headphones, but Pimax says that there will be an optional audio strap that looks something like HTC’s Deluxe Audio Strap, with the ergonomics of Sony’s PlayStation VR headset.

In addition to the audio attachment, Pimax asserts that its HMD will support a wide variety of attachments. Among these is one that will eventually allow the headset to become wireless, which the company is aiming to release in July 2018. There will also be attachments that include fans to keep users cool, eye trackers, and hand trackers. I had a chance to try out the prototype hand tracker, which works similarly to the Leap Motion and does a decent job at tracking your fingers, though it only tracks your hands if they’re in front of your face. In addition, its accuracy was slightly off as it looked like my virtual hands were slightly higher than my real ones. Pimax says this might be a configuration issue, as I did not undergo the full setup process.

The standalone 8K headset, which will work with Valve’s current Lighthouse trackers and controllers, starts at $499 if you back it now on Kickstarter. If you want the complete package with Pimax’s own upcoming lighthouses and controllers, it will cost you $799. The headset is on schedule to ship in January for Kickstarter backers.

Powered by WPeMatico

Code Vein English Gameplay: 16 Minutes Of Exploration And The Queen’s Knight Boss Fight

Those looking to fill the gaping, Dark Souls-shaped hole in their lives have been keeping a close eye on Bandai Namco’s Code Vein. Dubbed “anime Dark Souls” by many, it draws heavy influence from From Software’s acclaimed Souls series, most notably in its difficulty.

GameSpot recently got some hands-on time with the English build of Code Vein, which is similar to the one shown at Tokyo Game Show but features a little extra time to explore and the opportunity to face a boss. Of course, we captured our experience for your viewing pleasure.

We weren’t given an indication of how far into the game the section we were exploring was, but with the suite of powers, gifts, and equipment, I get the feeling that it’s not the start of the game. The above gameplay has a few deaths and backtracking edited out, so enjoy 13 minutes of uninterrupted monster killing.

The fearsome Queen’s Knight boss, as you’ve no doubt gathered, can be quite tricky. However, I managed to bring her down–albeit on my eighth attempt. Since the Queen’s Knight is very aggressive, I opted to use my buffs and saved as many healing items as I could before stepping into the fray. Check out the fight below.

We’ll have more from Code Vein soon, so if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen so far then make sure you keep your eye on GameSpot for more coverage.

Code Vein is slated to release in early 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. We recently learned that it will not have an easier difficulty setting; instead, players will be able to freely change their character’s stats during the course of the game to adapt to new challenges.

Powered by WPeMatico