cutting through the potty Archive


The PlayStation Vita First Edition Bundle

Last week, Sony announced a bundle for its upcoming Vita handheld console:

The U.S. bundle includes a PS Vita 3G + Wi-Fi model, a limited edition case, 4GB PS Vita Memory Card, and Little Deviants game for $349.99 (MSRP). The Canadian bundle includes a Wi-Fi model, a limited edition case, 4GB PS Vita Memory Card, and Little Deviants game for $299.99 (MSRP). Best of all, you can pick up the PS Vita First Edition Bundle on February 15, 2012, so this is your chance to play before everyone else.

Lets break this down to see if its worth it in the U.S.

  • PS Vita 3G system – $299.99
  • 4 GB Vita memory card – ~$32 (The memory card price has been announced in Japan only, but we’ll assume the US price is similar. )
  • Little Deviants Game – $39.99
  • Limited edition case – $15 (unknown, but assuming it’s worth between $10-$20 MSRP)
  • Total: $386.98
The interesting thing about this bundle is that the added goods are actually useful. Sony’s unfortunately going with a proprietary memory card format and there’s no internal storage, so it looks like a memory card is going to have to be a “required” purchase. Assuming that, you’re basically getting Little Deviants and a case for $20, which isn’t a bad deal.
However, the biggest pause for concern with the bundle is whether or not you need the 3G model of the Vita. Though plans haven’t been announced yet, it’s not looking likely that we’ll be getting free service ala the Amazon Kindle. To add insult to injury, download sizes are limited to 20 MB, basically ensuring that game downloads are off limits. Even if the 3g plan is as low as $10 a month, is the ability to play multiplayer games on 3G worth that? I’m going to go with “No.”
Unless Sony comes up with a similar WiFi version bundle, I’d recommend passing on this. A $50 premium and potential monthly charges kill the value proposed by the bundle.

via PlayStation Blog.


Sony NGP (PSP2) Announcement Reaction, (Or How I Got A Nerd Boner Last Night)

Originally published on Lalawag

Last night during their Playstation Meeting 2011 event in Tokyo, Sony announced their next portable gaming device, the PSP2 “Next Generation Portable” (NGP).

This baby’s got almost every gaming and technological innovation from the past 5 years, including dual touchpads, dual analog sticks, dual cameras, six-axis motion sensing, a high resolution OLED display, 3G and WiFi connectivity, and heck why not throw in that built in GPS. There’s a laundry list of features so we’re going to windmill slam that spec sheet right in front of you here:

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What You Need To Know About The Nintendo 3DS

This piece was originally posted on Lalawag here

Yesterday, Nintendo announced that their latest handheld console, the 3DS, will be available on March 27th for $249.99. We’ve got the quick and dirty rundown of what you need to know about the system and also our take on whether you need to buy one.

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Cutting Through The Potty: ‘Antennagate’ Apple iPhone 4 Keynote

Cutting Through The Potty is a new segment where we break down large announcements into TL;DR takeaway points, provide real world-based conclusions, and posit some nitpicky snark (if applicable)

The issues surrounding the iPhone 4’s antenna have been fodder for one of the biggest product backlashes in recent memory. I’m sure most readers are aware of the fact that the iPhone 4 seems to lose cellular reception if you hold the phone in a “natural way.” Today, Apple addressed those concerns in a 30 minute presentation along with a Q/A session.


  1. Free Cases – Every iPhone 4 owner gets a free case until Sept. 30. You can choose from Apple’s Bumper or other unspecified 3rd party ones. If you bought a bumper already (but not any other case) you’ll get a refund.
  2. No Restocking Fee Refunds – If you continue to be dissatisfied, Apple will allow you to refund the iPhone 4 within 30 days of purchase with no restocking fees. You will also get your AT&T contract refunded too.
  3. There Is A Reception Problem, “But It Only Affects A Small Percentage of Users” – Though it was obfuscated in the presentation at first, Apple did acknowledge that the iPhone 4 did seem to suffer from a real issue of losing cell reception when gripped. Jobs wasted no time in pointing out that Blackberry, Android, and Windows Mobile phones also exhibit the same behavior. He then concluded that this issue only affected a small percentage of users.
  4. The Stats Support That Conclusion – Lots of statistics were presented to put the problem in Apple’s perspective. Out of the 3 million iPhone 4’s sold, only 0.55% of those reported problems to AppleCare. 1.7% of iPhone 4 users have returned their phone, compared to the 6% return rate of the iPhone 3GS. 5,000 people have emailed Steve Jobs personally saying they have no issue. iPhone 4 drops less than 1% more calls than the iPhone 3GS.

My Take:

Let me start by disclosing that I am indeed an iPhone 4 user and that this antenna issue did affect my phone. I can make the bars go down on the display by covering up the antenna at the right spots. It’s a neat parlor trick that you can do at parties and bars, but honestly hadn’t noticeably affected my real world use of the phone. However, I don’t like the nagging feeling that the way I hold my phone could cause decreased usability. It’s a crappy feeling to be lurking in one’s subconscious. Hence, I bought a bumper not only to prevent reception problems, but also because i liked the gripability of the case and the buffer it creates for putting the phone down on public tables.

Nothing in the presentation was especially surprising. The announcement of free cases to given away (and refunds for previous bumper purchasers) was certainly welcome and a sigh of relief that I didn’t just get jacked $32. The restocking fee waiver seemed like a no-brainer too. I doubt most people would return their iPhone 4’s over this, so it’s an easy bone for Apple to throw.

All the stats Jobs rattled off were a nice way to shift perceptions away from the “overblown” media hype. I mean what looks better: 16,500 people have complained about the issue to AppleCare or that 0.55% of all iPhone 4 users did? (Hint: they’re the same) Can’t blame them for doing this though, the tech bloggers and mainstream media have made this out to be a “doomsday”-like scenario. Even non-techies know about this issue. It’s only fair Apple gets to frame perceptions too.

Troll all you want on the web about principles and Apple apologists, but the antenna is simply not a deal-breaking issue. If you’ve decided that the iPhone 4 is the best phone for you, go ahead and buy it. Yes, it’s an admitted issue. No, you shouldn’t interpret that as the Scarlet Letter and avoid the phone solely because of it. Shit, take advantage of the 30 day grace period Apple is giving you now. You can always return it if the antenna issue bugs you so much.

Ultimately, both the media and Apple can be attributed blame for this mess. Consumer Reports’ “non recommendation based on the antenna issue” was simply a shameless attempt at retrieving relevancy again. Apple’s an easy target now because of their success and prominence. It doesn’t hurt that people love reading this stuff too. We’re a society that delights in schadenfreude, especially when the most successful are involved. While it’s easy to poke fun at Apple’s egomania and hubris, there has to be some sort of journalistic restraint involved.

Apple also fucked up in not addressing this as a problem sooner and by initially blaming the user for “holding it wrong.” It’s one thing to stay silent, but it’s another to dismiss a clearly demonstrated problem by blaming the customer. Had they been more transparent and admitted the issue earlier, the media may not have been able to reach the fever pitch that it has in recent days. The issue may even have been contained and forgotten by now.

The Snark:

  • So Steve Jobs rattled on about “working their butts off” over the last 22 days to find solutions and the solution was “show videos of other smartphones dropping bars when gripped”? That’s the best their $100 million testing facilities employing more PHD’s than a full NBA roster could come up with? Come on, at least show us some “hard numbers” as the fruits of your labor. Anandtech has written up two very detailed and articulate reports using less than $100 million of equipment. Tell me why Apple can’t provide us with something similar instead of talking down to us like we’re Luddites (or the New York Times).
  • Along those lines, I got why they showed one of each Blackberry, Android, and Windows Mobile phones, but why the Droid Eris? Why not show something more relevant, like an EVO or Incredible or even a Nexus One? Maybe these phones didn’t exhibit so many dropped bars…
  • image courtesy of

  • Think someone failed on the slide showing the table with the 3 other phones’ “Min” and “Max” bars. Those columns on the table seem to be flipped.
  • Gruber asked the Apple execs if they used bumpers or cases for their iPhone4s. Each of them whipped out their phones to show that none of them do. That’s a  pretty telling image.
  • Steve Jobs explained the delay in making a public stance by needing to collect “hard data”. It’s understandable, but there’s no reason to let this fester without comment for so long or blaming the customer for “holding it wrong.”
  • Steve Jobs gives himself plausible deniability on his public email replies by saying that “some of them are made up!” Great, now we’ll never know which assholic dismissals are real or not.
  • On the topic of the iOS 4.0.1 update yesterday that “fixes” the reception display algorithm: Someone brought up the fact that Apple supposedly “fixed” the reception bar display algorithm two years ago. Jobs feigned ignorance at this. Uh huh. I still think two years ago they updated the display to show 5 bars even when reception wasn’t that good and now that it’s bit them in the ass, they’re changing it again. Cell phone reception bars are such a load of crap. Personally, I’d love an option to show real dB readings.