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Twitter Introduces Vine Video Sharing App

Last year, Twitter took on Instagram with the addition of photo filters for its mobile apps, and now, it’s expanding into video. Today, the company introduced Vine, a video sharing platform that allows users to share six second videos as an embedded clip within their tweets. Twitter likens the concept to the video equivalent to the 140 character tweet. Like GIFs, the videos loop endlessly, but users can opt to include audio. But Vine isn’t limited to one steady shot, and videos can be captured over time at different angles and locations.

Unlike it’s recent foray into photo filters, Vine is not a feature baked into the standard Twitter client. Instead, the service can be used either independently or in collusion with Twitter. Users can link Vine with their Twitter account via a common login or they can create a new account entirely. The app can find friends who also use Vine by accessing your Twitter account, Facebook, or contact list.

Vine represents Twitter’s efforts to move beyond simple posts of 140 characters or less and develop a versatile media platform of its own. The app is available for free now via iTunes for iPod touch and iPhone with other platforms to follow.

Check out Vine in action and follow IGN Tech.

Scott Lowe is IGN’s resident tech expert and Executive Editor of IGN Tech. You can follow him on Twitter at @ScottLowe and on MyIGN at Scott-IGN.

By Scott Lowe

CES: Project Shield Hands-on Impressions

After last night’s surprise reveal of Nvidia’s Android-powered gaming platform Project Shield, we couldn’t wait to go hands-on with the device ourselves to put some nagging questions to rest. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long – today IGN got to poke and prod the console-in-a-controller to our heart’s content, as well as demo a variety of gaming experiences.

High Build Quality

The device itself is a bit heavier and a bit bulkier than a standard console controller, weighing in at around one pound. An average-sized pair of male hands won’t have any trouble stretching their index fingers to the trigers or their thumbs to any of the face buttons or analog sticks, but it does feel noticeably larger in-hand than an Xbox 360 controller. The four back triggers are set up exactly like the 360′s, with two “bumper” triggers along the top and two analog triggers just beneath. The four convex face buttons feel satisfyingly snappy.

In fact, the entire build of the device itself feels solid and responsive. The concave dual analog inputs seem to have no noticeable “dead zone” and feel high quality. Five center buttons (including another obviously Xbox-inspired detail in the central ‘Nvidia’ button) are used for various key Android functions like returning home or returning to the previous menu.

The non-detachable hinged screen is very thin and adds little to the bulk and weight of the device. Specific screen specs are still forthcoming, but Nvidia has confirmed that it is a 5-inch 720p display. When the screen is flipped shut gamers can access the device’s customizable cover plate. Like Xbox 360 face plates, these easily snap in and off the device, presumably allowing gamers to customize their Project Shield with a plate of their choosing.

The only real negative regarding Project Shield as a controller (beyond its size and heft) is the lackluster D-Pad. Classic gamers are once again out of luck – the device’s digital D-Pad is wobbly and disc-shaped and seems ill-suited for fine 2D control.

-Justin Davis

PC Game Streaming

We also got a chance to see Project Shield’s PC game streaming functionality — arguably one of its most alluring features. When combined with a gaming PC on a shared local network, Project Shield can remotely access any game you own, allowing you to stream and play HD games directly on the device. The company demoed Borderlands 2 running in realtime on the Shield from alongside a PC in the same room, demonstrating the low-latency streaming between the two devices. The game ran as if it was being processed and rendered right on the handheld. There was no recognizable lag between when commands were entered on the device and when they were reflected on the screen.

There are some caveats, however. In order to access the feature, users must have an Nvidia-based graphics card — 600 series or above — and have the company’s GeForce Experience optimization software installed. When the Project Shield is paired, the software detects the optimal graphics settings for its 5-inch 720p display, emphasizing high-framerates to counteract the impact of wireless streaming.

Between the simple cost of ownership of an Nvidia 600-series desktop or 600M laptop and the cost of the handheld itself, there is a considerable amount of effort and funds required to harness half of the device’s promise. But then again, Nvidia representatives made no effort to deny that Project Shield is a niche product. This is a product for a very specific audience of hardcore gamers. The question is: is the niche-within-a-niche the company is targeting large enough to make the Shield a growing, successful platform?

-Scott Lowe

Android Muscle

Project Shield’s very brief Dead Trigger 2 demo is too short to truly get a feel for what the platform’s Tegra 4 chip will be able to do graphically, but given that Tegra 3-optimized games are already approaching a level of visual fidelity akin to current-gen launch title, it’s safe to assume that high-end 3D mobile games will look fantastic on the 5-inch 720p display.

Beyond a strange game design choice (in this Dead Trigger 2 demo your gun fires automatically when your reticle passes over an enemy), the entire experience controlled as one would expect. Right and left analog sticks allowed for full freedom of movement. Actions like prev/next weapon swapping and lobbing grenades could be mapped to any face or shoulder button.

Project Shield seems a natural fit for console-style mobile games with complex button inputs. But reaching across the device to interact with the touch screen felt awkward – this is not likely be a platform suited for touch-heavy mobile games.

-Justin Davis

Many Project Shield details, including a list of supported games, a final name, and most critically, a price-tag, remain under wraps for now. Nvidia plans to ship the device in Q2 of this year, so answers on Project Shield’s remaining questions can’t be too far off.

The rapid rise of tablet interfaces and touch gaming means that Project Shield isn’t likely to disrupt the core mobile games industry in any major way. But at the right price, with the right list of supported games and with the seamless integration of PC game streaming this could be a very powerful console-in-a-controller for a specific audience.

Justin is Editor of IGN Wireless. He has been reviewing mobile games since the dark days of Java flip phones. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErrorJustin and on IGN.

Scott Lowe is IGN’s guru of Tech. He enjoys coffee, burritos, and moonlit walks. You can follow him on MyIGN Scott-IGN and on Twitter @ScottLowe. For more of the latest and greatest in technology, follow @IGNTech.

By Justin Davis and Scott Lowe

Google Quietly Kills Its Nexus Q Streaming Box

After launching to mixed reviews and slow sales, Google may have finally put its Nexus Q streaming media player out to pasture. As discovered by SlashGear, the set-top box — or, more accurately, orb — is listed as “no longer available” on Google Play. Of course, the Nexus Q has been listed as out of stock for months, but the recent change suggests that its current incarnation has been banished to the pages of history.

For those unfamiliar, the Nexus Q was introduced in June at Google I/O as an Android-based Apple TV alternative, giving users the ability to feed music, movies, and television from their smartphone or tablet to their home entertainment center. Shortly after its announcement, Google refunded pre-order customers and removed the device from sale due to overwhelming criticism from the media, which cited its high cost and limited functionality.

But the big question remains: is the Nexus Q gone for good? We’ll just have to wait until Google I/O returns to San Francisco in May.

Scott Lowe is IGN’s guru of Tech. He enjoys coffee, burritos, and moonlit walks. You can follow him on MyIGN Scott-IGN and on Twitter @ScottLowe. For more of the latest and greatest in technology, follow @IGNTech.

By Scott Lowe

Jony Ive’s iOS Revisions Likely to Ditch Skeuomorphism

The stark minimalism of Apple’s hardware design is frequently belied by software interfaces modeled on real-life objects and textures.

Skeuomorphism – a term for software interface design that references physical things – was in many ways the mainstay of Apple founder Steve Jobs’ design philosophy for touchscreen devices. Even after Jobs’ passing, Senior VP of iOS Scott Forstall kept the mobile operating system on a course that had seen it become progressively more skeuomorphic since it first debuted on the iPhone.

More than simple nostalgia, skeuomorphism is based on the idea that users feel more comfortable touching a device’s display (a classic computing no-no for more than 20 years) if it’s textured like something they’re used to handling.

And so we have the virtual bookshelf and page-flipping animations of iBooks, the card-table felt of Game Center, the faux paper-shredder in Passbook and the gray linen backdrop for notifications. This is why the default font in Notes is a Comic Sans knockoff. Possibly the worst offender is the almost universally-panned stitched leather of Find My Friends.

According to numerous rumors, Forstall’s pro-skeuomorphic approach was a minority position among Apple execs; and Jony Ive, who will take over most of his responsibilities, has reportedly not been shy about denigrating the practice.

The result of the shakeup, then, will likely be a major aesthetic shift throughout iOS (and, to a lesser extent, OS X). As one of Apple designers told the New York Times, “You can be sure that the next generation of iOS and OS X will have Jony’s industrial design aesthetic…. Clean edges, flat surfaces will likely replace the textures that are all over the place right now.”

Do you like Apple’s ersatz-textured software or would you welcome a change? Let us know in the comments.

Jon Fox is a Seattle hipster who loves polar bears and climbing trees. You can follow him on Twitter and IGN.

By Jon Fox

To E3 or Not E3?

There’s a rumor doing the rounds, printed in the February issue of Game Informer, that Sony and Microsoft are toying with the idea of breaking with tradition and making their full next-generation reveals away from E3. The two companies would throw their own snazzy press conferences entirely devoted to unveiling their new machines, known variously as PlayStation 4 / Orbis and Xbox 720 / Durango, weeks or even months before gaming’s annual jamboree in June.

The story states, “E3 in June may be the industry’s biggest event, but both companies want to give their systems their own limelight. That doesn’t mean E3 won’t be without its surprises. Next-gen games will be announced at the convention in preparation for the systems’ release at the end of the year.”

It’s true that E3 has some very clear advantages as a venue for new console reveals. The media is already in attendance, so there’s no worries about persuading invitees or arranging for journalists to attend. The world is thinking and talking about games, because that’s what E3 does.

There’s also a certain ‘level playing field’ aspect to E3 hardware press conferences. Hardware rivals have a lot of experience doing these things, the format is well understood, and the danger of being completely blown away by a competitor is minimal. In other words, it’s the safe and convenient option.

But Sony and Microsoft will be aware that, more than ever before, a console reveal is a massive cultural event that may deserve its own specific event, rather than being a part of E3. More people own consoles than ever before and spend more time on them. This is a huge story that does not need to piggyback on another event and, indeed, may be harmed by doing so.

Games consoles, they will also argue, aren’t just about games any more, and their placing in an annual games convention could diminish this aspect of the devices. You may or may not agree with this line of thinking, but it’s certainly shaped console design and marketing in recent years as well as games console use.

Sony and Microsoft see themselves as playing a much bigger game than merely competing with one another for the gaming market. Their biggest rival is Apple, which does host its own events to make big announcements. Apple has made a strong case for standalone product launches — not sharing the spotlight, launching on their own schedule, not being beholden to convention timing, and the general suggestion that their products are so transcendent that they are without rival. Do the games hardware companies feel diminished by hosting their big hurrahs as part of something else, and likely within a few hours and a few miles of one another? It seems likely.

And here brings another aspect. In days gone by E3 might make the front page of major newspapers or a slot on network evenings news. Big announcements like new consoles would get name-checked in these stories. But a new console from any of the big hardware outfits is big news in its own right. No media outlet can afford to ignore this story. So an announcement at E3 runs the risk of being lumped in with a catch-all ‘latest video games stuff’ story, while having to share the publicity with a direct rival.

How much better to completely own the announcement, to get some space away from all the other game-related noise.

A representative of games media.

If, as as is being suggested by Sony’s vice president of Sony Home Entertainment, Hiroshi Sakamoto, an announcement is made before E3, it also gives the games publishing third-parties extra opportunities to make their next-gen announcements without the sort of debilitating secrecy that would surround an E3-hardware launch. And, of course, Sony and Microsoft will still have E3 conferences to talk about games and other stuff they held back from the earlier reveal. Extra publicity is good.

Obviously, there will be issues of timing. Which company wants to go first, or is there an advantage in going second? But these are problems that attend E3 too. Hardware companies are known to be tired – like many of us – by the media’s insistence on E3 having a ‘winner’. Better to not hang early expectations for a multi–billion dollar launch on this silly convention (I mean the convention of choosing a winner, not, literally, the E3 convention which is an excellent event.)

Some will argue that attending conferences is expensive and time-consuming, especially in these days of parsimonious media managers and tightened budgets. And this is true, especially for media representatives who might have to travel from abroad to E3 AND a Microsoft event AND a Sony event, not to mention GDC, TGS, Gamescom, PAX et al. But although this is a valid concern, the hardware companies have got bigger things to worry about than making life easy for journalists.

This event might be called a ‘media-event’ but it’s not about people who work in the media, it’s about the consumers and fans of PlayStation and Xbox.

Because the fans will be watching, live and in their millions, likely through the very devices that tie them to these companies. That’s what this event is all about now. E3’s status as  a gathering point for the industry is irrelevant to this direct relationship. The media is, literally, a middleman. Microsoft and Sony desire as many people as possible to experience the event directly, and not through the filter of attending reporters

Theoretically, Microsoft and Sony could make their announcements without anyone from outside the company in attendance (though that might make for a sterile experience). It’s all being streamed live anyway and that’s a really good way to watch the show.

Although these events are exciting, and it’s a great privilege to attend them, their placement right before E3, piled on top of one another is actually kind of a pain in the posterior for journos who have to file stories on the run from one conference to another, usually with a lot of queuing involved. It can feel a lot like air-travel. There’s something nice about spending a day on just one story, it being one of the biggest stories of the decade.

There’s another argument, that a decision to hold the announcement away from E3 could damage the show itself, which is central to the health of the gaming business. But gaming, especially these days, is about more than console games and it’s about more than console launches. E3 will go on, it’ll be just fine.

Whatever the console companies decide, it’s clear that some time in the next few months we will all be watching new consoles being unveiled for the first time, hopefully without the spoilers of leaks. Wherever and whenever the announcements are held, it’s all going to be freakin’ amazing.

Colin Campbell interviews and writes about games pretty much every weekday. For updates and commentary, follow on Twitter or at IGN. Most recent articles have been on SimCity, Jurassic Life and Ni no Kuni.

By Colin Campbell

Oculus Rift: A Glimpse of Gaming’s Future

The first time I ever played Super Mario 64, I didn’t attempt to capture a star or defeat Bowser. I didn’t even fight a single enemy or venture into any specific stage. I simply looked around, wandering the castle grounds. I wanted to see Nintendo’s vivid new world – something I had never been able to see in any game before it.

I tend to do that when it comes to games that capture my imagination. Few do. In most cases I’m instantly running down a path, fireballs and guns and swords at the ready, enemies cowering in fear, bosses bracing for impact. But the games that do make me pause change my instincts entirely. I don’t want to fight, I want to explore. I want to experience my environment. I want to see the world before me.

Yet, when it comes right down to it, it’s not very easy to actually explore in video games. No doubt part of that stems from the fact that most games want players to go blow things up, not stare at the trees. Typically I’m limited to movement and vision through two analog inputs, be it motion, mouse or stick-based. I can move through a world, but lingering in it to look around has never felt all that great. In terms of combat, I’m often aiming where I’m looking, creating more restrictions. And because real life movement doesn’t at all feel as robotic as being guided by a controller, there’s always a sense of detachment, of that slight removal from a gaming experience. Really the only thing that prevents us from being completely put off from traditional gaming controls is one thing – we’re all used to it.

Rift: An entirely new gaming experience.

That’s why Oculus’s Rift is so remarkable. It’s virtual reality done right. It’s the right mix of technology and design that’s going to make a decades-long dream of tech companies around the world actually work. Best of all, as generally impressive as my hands-on experience was today, it’s massively reassuring to know that Oculus is just getting started, that it views all of its work so far as ‘Day Zero.’

At this point, Oculus is focused entirely 10,000 developer kits out the door, to establish a base line for game development, and then to work on getting its hardware to a comfortable and capable point for consumer interaction. What I played on today was effectively a 5.6-inch display held together by duct tape, sweat and tears. A more refined model sat in the distance, with an even bigger display in place, reinforcing the notion that this is a fluid situation. In the words of the company’s CEO, Rift will only get better from here, with lower latency between head movement and display, a faster rate of pixel refreshing to decrease motion blur, a lighter and more comfortable headset (which is strapped to your head with an elastic band), and more. In fact at this point the company won’t even say how much Rift might cost, or when the public might be able to buy it. Development is that early.

Rift contains two screens, displaying one image for each eye.

Perhaps that’s why this device is so amazing. It’s already so remarkably polished and wholly immersive, even in its infancy. Yet there’s a clear sense that this thing is going to change a significant portion of the way we play games. Maybe not today, tomorrow or next year, but virtual reality gaming has finally matured to the point where it will inevitably find its place along more traditional experiences.

My hands-on demo used Epic’s Unreal Engine 3, featuring world and character designs that effectively placed me in an Infinity Blade landscape. I had no other task than to look around and explore – which was fine by me. I was so immersed into this world that I just wanted to look around anyway. Rift uses two displays simultaneously, immediately creating a deep, engrossing 3D effect, one that you won’t snap out of, as your headset completely covers your eyes, and moves with you.

Experiencing virtual reality of this quality will change gaming. It will free gaming from the conventional wisdom that has governed it for decades. Even using aging tech like Unreal Engine 3, this castle landscape felt real, to the point I wanted to reach out and grab a falling snowflake, or try to touch the cold, stone pillars holding up a decaying building. This virtual world became more palpable, more real, more believable and instantly became more of a character than just about any other game world I had ever played through. And perhaps that’s the best way to phrase it. In the past, I simply played through worlds. I moved through them. This one made me feel like I was physically in that space. Living in it. Unable to look away, because it was all around me. It’s immersion on an entirely different level.

Oculus plans to keep refining Rift, making it lighter and more comfortable before its retail release.

That immersion does have some cost to it. As Rift’s technology currently stands, I found myself a bit nauseous after my 15-minute session, with a headache following shortly thereafter. I’m near-sighted, and was able to wear my glasses while playing Rift, which may have had something to do with it. Or it could have been the pixel refresh technology needing more work, as I found the motion blur that resulted from turning my head bothered me a bit. Regardless, these side effects don’t deter me from wanting to sit down with the device again. Knowing that it’s constantly a work-in-progress only assures me that this experience might not be an indicator of the future. And it might be something that requires adjustment over time. The first time I used two analog sticks to move in a 3D space, I thought developers were insane. Now it’s second nature.

Despite those issues, Rift is remarkable. And I don’t doubt that my descriptions will really do it justice, because this is something unlike anything you’ve ever tried. It’s that effective. It’s that transformative. Where exactly Oculus’s work will rank in the future history of video games remains to be seen. With support from companies like Epic, Valve and id, however, it seems reasonable to assume this device is going to be a very big deal very soon. It will get its chance to change the course of gaming. Based on what I saw today, it very likely will.

By Richard George

What We’re Learning About Wii U

Wii U is here, and we’re not only playing some of the biggest launch games, but digging through its options, manuals and more. We’re learning a variety of smaller facts about the Wii U, many of which you’ll want to know when you finally have the system in your hands.

Here’s what we’ve learned:

The Day One Update

We ran this story yesterday, but Wii U will need a Day One update to add Miiverse, Wii U Chat, the eShop and more. It’s something we’re having to do too – which is why you haven’t seen a deluge of coverage on Wii U’s operating system and interface. We don’t know more than that – like how much space this update will take, or precisely when it will be available, but we know it’s coming.

The GamePad’s Battery Life

You’ll be using the touch-enabled GamePad controller with your Wii U a lot. But how long will it last? Nintendo estimates 3 to 5 hours for the device, though cautions that variation will depend on what functions you’re using. Once your battery is dead, however, how much time will it take to recharge? Nintendo says it will take 2.5 hours to completely refill the Pad’s battery.

Internal is Internal

There has been a little confusion about where Wii U’s internal storage lives. Let’s clear that up for you. This storage is not housed in an SD card. In fact the system doesn’t come with one at all. This is internal storage that cannot be removed or adjusted, so choose wisely when you pick up a system. If you want that 32GB, you need the Deluxe/Black Bundle.

The SD Card Situation

So Wii U’s storage, as mentioned above, is interesting. There’s the internal space that comes with the system, but then there’s the ability to hook up a hard drive through USB (which we haven’t tested yet) and the ability to insert SD cards. Here’s a breakdown of what the system supports:

SD cards – up to 2 GB

SDHC cards – up to 32 GB

The system will not support SDXC or “UHS-type” cards. If you use a Micro or Mini SD card, you’ll need an adapter. One thing to keep in mind, is that while Nintendo often provides guidance like this, it’s entirely possible your larger SDHC cards might work. We’ll see. This is just their official guidance.

The Life of a Pro

We saw claims that the Wii U Pro controller would sport an impressive battery life just weeks ago. That turns out to be true – Nintendo says its new 360-esque controller will last up to 80 hours on one charge. Not bad. Recharging the device will take 4.5 hours.

Turning on the System

It’s possible to access your Wii U without even turning on the TV. The power button on the GamePad will enable the system, and allows you to access content without touching your TV. The best part – the TV Remote integration will let you then turn on the TV through the Pad itself. Pretty awesome.

But wait, there’s more. You can also access the GamePad and turn on your Wii U through the controller’s touch screen. Right within the remote interface is a button that says ‘Play Wii U’ – touch that, and your system turns on. Of course, you can also press the power button on the system itself – kind of how we’ve been doing it for decades.

The Wii Application

On Wii, you could simply insert a GameCube disc and access it through the system’s main grid-like menu. Simple enough. Wii U’s backwards compatibility is more complicated than that – the system appears to effectively boot into a mode dedicated to running Wii software.

If you’re wanting to play your Wii Virtual Console, Wii Ware or original Wii software, you’ll need to access the Wii application from your main Wii U interface. What’s more, you’ll need to use the Wii remote to navigate this environment, just as you did with the original system. It’s also worth noting that WiiConnect24 functionality will not work.

Wii U Accounts

We know Nintendo Network will have a role to play with Wii U, but we’re still waiting for details on that. For now, we do know the system supports up to 12 user accounts per system, represented by Miis. Save data, game logs and times and ‘other information’ is stored for each account.

Transferring from Wii to Wii U

We’ve got a full article right here – First Details on Wii to Wii U Save Transfers – but here’s the basic idea:

You can transfer your Wii save data, plus your WiiWare and Virtual Console games – and their saves – to your Wii U. Plus leftover Wii points, Miis and any other downloadable content. But you can only do this once, and you move all of your information from your Wii to Wii U using SD cards and an application you download to your Wii. It’s a bit convoluted, but Nintendo says it gets the job done. Oh, and you need your Wii and Wii U simultaneously active and hooked up, so don’t go selling the old system yet.

Read the article for more, and we’ll try to do a video guide as soon as humanly possible.

Digital is the New Print

The era of the giant manual accompanying a system is over. Remember the 3DS’s epic-sized launch manual? Wii U doesn’t have that. While it does have some printed instructions, much of its ‘how to’ information is stored in a digital manual embedded in system itself, accessible through the home screen. It’s an interesting move, but we’re also seeing the games themselves take a similar approach. It’s certainly easier than digging up a booklet you haven’t looked at in months or years, we’ll say that much.

There’s going to be plenty more to talk about in the coming days and weeks as Wii U’s launch approaches. We haven’t really been able to detail Wii U’s OS, and functionality like Miiverse and video chat aren’t even activated yet. Plus we’re hard at work on reviews, guides and much more.

Stay tuned. We’re just getting started.

Rich is an Executive Editor of IGN.com and the leader of IGN’s Nintendo team. He also watches over all things WWE, Resident Evil, Assassin’s Creed and much more. Follow him on Twitter, if you dare!

By Richard George

OnLive Was Acquired for Under $5 Million

When venture capitalist Gary Lauder purchased OnLive in August of this year, the company owed at least $18.7 million dollars, not including upcoming payments.

OnLive’s business model wasn’t working, so there was no way for it to pay back its creditors just by staying in business. Unable to raise further capital and on the verge of being shut down, the company had to liquidate its assets to pay back as much of the debt as possible.

Instead of a traditional bankruptcy, in which the company’s resources and intellectual property would have been sold piecemeal at auction, OnLive went through something called an assignment for the benefit of creditors. In normal terms, it sold for practically nothing; but selling it intact still made up more of the debt (about a quarter) than auctioning it off in bits and pieces would have.

It also laid off all its employees, though some were hired back to run the new OnLive.

Still, $4.8 million! Compare that to Gaikai, OnLive’s main cloud gaming competitor, which Sony paid $380 million for in July. OnLive’s patent portfolio for streaming games was reportedly pretty strong too, but as one analyst told the BBC, “the sum is a reflection of the absolutely dire negotiating position [OnLive] was in when it made the sale.”

Do you use a streaming games service like OnLive? Tell us why or why not in the comments.

Jon Fox is a Seattle hipster who loves polar bears and climbing trees. You can follow him on Twitter and IGN.

By Jon Fox

Meet the Beats Pill – A $200 Ultra-Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Coming in at half the price – and way under half the size – of its Beatbox Portable, the new Pill by Beats (available today) seeks to cram Beats-quality sound output into an even more portable package.

About the size and weight of a can of Red Bull, the Pill is tiny. But it comes packed with four 1-inch drivers, express bluetooth pairing via NFC and 3.5mm ports for input and output. And even though it’s smaller than the identically priced Jawbone Jambox, at 12 watts (over 5.2) the Pill should be louder and less prone to distortion at high volumes. Its battery (charged via micro-USB) is rated for up to seven hours of use.

Those little drivers aren’t suited to thumpin’ bass, of course. (Not that that will bother everyone; it’s just sort of what Beats is known for.) And consider that for just $50 more, you could have Logitech’s excellent (if less portable) UE Boombox.

Would you pay top dollar for any portable bluetooth speaker? Let us know in the comments.

Jon Fox is a Seattle hipster who loves polar bears and climbing trees. You can follow him on Twitter and IGN.

By Jon Fox

EA’s Origin Client Comes to Mac in Limited Alpha

After debuting on Windows two years ago, EA’s games digital distribution platform Origin has arrived on Mac as a limited alpha. Announced this week, the client is available to only “a few thousand users” in North America and the UK. While the client features the same look and feel as the Windows variant, many features are still forthcoming. For instance, the app currently lacks access to the company’s digital storefront, limiting functionality of the service to only titles already installed on your machine via other methods or clients. What’s worse, EA says that the storefront won’t be available until the final release of the client later this year.

Those who try out the alpha will, however, have full access to the service’s social features, cloud saving, and access the in-game Origin overlay on supported titles. Alpha testers will also get a free copy of PopCap’s Bookworm added to their library.

The alpha is available from Origin.com now and requires a minimum of Intel Core 2 Duo processor and OS X 10.6.8 or newer.

Scott Lowe is IGN’s resident tech expert and Executive Editor of IGN Tech. You can follow him on Twitter at @ScottLowe and on MyIGN at Scott-IGN.

By Scott Lowe