Tag Archive: Best


5. 2009 Audi Q5

Audi’s new compact style SUV, the Q5, reveals a new target of audience; the wealthy, fairly handsome man who’s going through his mid-life crisis but isn’t quite extreme enough to go for a Harley. – Audi. The Q5 uses the company’s new ‘Drive Select’ system, allowing the driver to individually select the perfect settings for power train, suspension and sport steering which results in the baby SUV to have amazing cornering capabilities and performance limits.

4. 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG

Mercedes have once again expanded the AMG portfolio with an SUV for when the kids are REALLY late for school. AMG’s heavily massaged 6.3 litre V8 pumps an impressive 510 HP and 465 lb-ft of torque, with a peak of 5,200 rpm. Several body upgrades have been brought along as well by AMG, including a larger chromed front grill, an AMG-designed full body-kit and 20-inch alloy rims. This monstrous SUV can definitely beat down that stretch of highway with ease, that is until you take a glimpse at your fuel gauge.

3. 2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

The German carmaker known for their high-performance sports cars have just unveiled the next generation of their SUV lineup, the Cayenne. Designed to excel both on the road and off, this mud-ready European beast has built its reputation around combining a high-performance motoring experience with proven all-terrain capabilities. The roaring 4.8 litre, twin-turbo V8 produces a highway-craving 500 HP and a terrain-craving 516 lb-ft of torque which results in a 0-60 time in less than 4.4 seconds. In more human terms, you don’t want to be up against this animal.

2. 2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged

Range Rover has a well-deserved reputation for forging through those tough terrains and climbing steep mountains with ease. Its little brother however, the Range Rover Sport, seems to maintain a perfect balance of luxury, speed, performance and off-road capabilities, resulting in a fair price. The direct-injection V-8 produces an impressive 510 HP and 461 lb-ft of torque, which gets this SUV to 60 in 5.9 seconds. Although the performance itself isn’t record-breaking, the amazing looks and engineering of the vehicle along with its impressive terrain capabilities put it very close to the top.

1. BMW X6 M

The European automarket has brought along all sorts of strange creations and concepts, which usually never end up going into production. The BMW X6, when released as a concept, was the same as any other concept vehicle; weirdly shaped, unreasonable but appealing to the eye. However, it wasn’t normal that the X6 found its way into production line and surprised most BMW fans. Although sales didn’t soar, the critically acclaimed X6 did become a success, managing to combine sexy-coupe design with SUV capabilities. The coupe-design was actually one of the biggest factors of the X6s’ success, as it not only brought physical similarities to a coupe, but performance-wise as well. Consumers and reviewers immediately noticed that the German automaker used a coupe-engine which produced specs that surpass some of BMW’s lower end sports cars. A roaring turbocharged V-8 produces 555 HP which pulls the 90 thousand dollar monster from 0 to 60 in less than 4.5 seconds, a time faster than cars half its weight like the Audi S5. BMW didn’t have the intention for the X6 to have off-road capabilities, but the X-drive that comes standard definitely proves its system when driving on snow or other slippery terrains. Overall, BMW’s X6 has the perfect formula of a coupe’s design and performance alongside a SUV’s off-road capabilities and power train.

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The most common question i get asked is simple: “What laptop should I buy?” Being a generally difficult person by nature, I usually respond with my own series of questions: “What size screen do you want? How much do you want to spend?” and so on. But sometimes people just want a simple suggestion, based on what I actually like. So, here is a jargon-free list of the current crop of laptops that I’m digging, either because they give you good bang for your buck, they excel in their specific category, or because they’re just plain awesome.

5. HP Mini 5102

Even though i’m not a big fan of netbooks, this one just stands out and forced its way onto this list. Being a sequel to its powerful predessecor, this little machine defenitely meets today’s standards, even for a notebook. It features the new Intel Atom proccessor with 1.66 GHz and 1GB of DDR2 RAM, more than enough for such a little computer. The build quality is one of best on any netbook on the market today, made of aluminum and magnesium alloy, some material nobody knows but sounds strong and complicated, so it suffices. The graphics are reasonable, a simple Intel GMA integrated chipset does the job fine. The machine overall stands out both performance-wise and construction-wise in today’s selection of netbooks and still manages to keep a steady price of $399.99.

4. Gateway NV7915u

In the past, desktop-replacement notebooks were never any interest to mainstream consumers, considering they were usually bulky, expensive and were never really fast enough to be compared to a desktop. Gateway (or Acer) addressed this ‘issue’ by introducing the NV79 series, more specifically, the 7915u. The 600 dollar notebook features Intel’s new Core i3 processor alongside 2.13 GHZ and 4GBs of RAM, specs that no-doubt compares to average desktops. It has a wide and glossy 17.3′ inch screen, perfect for handling multiple windows or just sitting back and watching a movie. At $599, it’s one of the cheapest laptops you’ll find at retail with Intel’s Core i3 processor. Only minor flaws like poor battery life and an awkward trackpad button give us reason to not favour the Gateway NV7915u.

3. Toshiba Satellite E205

At this year’s CES conference, one of the technologies introduced that captured everyone’s interest was Intel’s Wireless Display Technology, or WiDi. WiDi, however, needs to be compatible on computers to work, and one of the first notebook computers to include WiDi at retail is the $899 Toshiba Satellite E205-S1904, a model that’s exclusive to Best Buy. The E205 defenitely has some changed looks from its predecessor, the E105. Gone is the boxy  look, replaced with a sleek curved blue design. A new Intel Core i5 replaces the old Core 2 Duo, bringing some performance and power-management upgrades along with it. Still featuring a backlit keyboard, for $50 more than the previous E105 for improved CPU and wireless display technology, it’s arguably worth it, placing it third in our top five list.

2. Sony Vaio Z Series VPC-Z116GX/S

Because of the economy, recently, everyone is looking into value and low-priced computers, and has really taken the spotlight off the more high-end machines that are a bit expensive but fully-featured beastly masterpieces. Also due to the economy, many companies have limited their high-end notebook production dramatically, the same way automakers have limited their production of SUVs. Each of the famous corporations like HP and Dell have only one or two of these high-priced monsters, like the Envy 13 from HP and Adamo XPS from Dell, and from Sony, they’ve released a successor to their very much-loved notebook, the Z-series. In the latest refresh, the Vaio Z has a very fast Intel Core i5 processing unit with 2.4 GHZ and 4GBs of DDR3 RAM, an Nvidia GT 330M GPU which can be switched over to Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics for better battery life, a DVD/CD drive and a huge 256GB SSD (SSDs are much more expensive than regular HDs, even for less space) hard drive, which is a big portion of the $2,299 price. Price aside, the new Vaio Z is my 13-inch laptop of choice, as it breezed by many of the other 13-inch notebooks with slower CPUs. The trade-off though, is battery life. The Vaio Z has only a 3-hour batter life, which compared to other 13-inch laptops, like the Macbooks which has up to 10 hour batteries now, is a flaw. Although the price is out-of-range for most consumers, the price is definitely worth the bang on this machine as it powers by most other high-end notebooks with ease, placing it second on our list.

1. Macbook Pro 15-inch (Spring 2010 Model) – Core i7 2.66 GHz/4GB RAM/500GB HDD

Apple’s lineup of high-end notebooks have never been disappointing, especially the recently updated lineup of Pros. Apple’s upgrades to their devices have always been closely watched, falling into two main categories; major evolutions such as the switch to unibody aluminum construction in 2008 or minor spec upgrades like the iPhone 3GS. The Spring 2010 upgrade for the Macbook Pros however, don’t fall into either. The unibody construction remains the same, well actually, the physical attributes of the new MBPs are identical to their predecessors and the internal components are upgraded, but these are no minor spec updates. The Pros have made a switch over to Intel’s new Core lineup, both the mainstream i5 and the high-end i7 CPUs (unfortunately, the 13-inch still uses the Core 2 Duo processor). This requires new chipset construction(according to Intel) which carry onto the next upgrade to a more powerful and efficient GPU, the Nvidia GeForce 9400M and Intel integrated chipset, which switch between the two seamlessly and automatically when needed. The basic model of the 15-inch is priced at $1,799, but i’ve come to realize you get a better bang-for-your-buck with the highest-end model (Core i7 2.66 GHz/4GB RAM/500GB HDD) which values at $2,199. With the 13-inch stuck with a Core 2 Duo, this revamp seems like the 15-inch is their new powerhouse flagship model, deserving its prestigious standing on our Best Notebook list.

iPhone 3Gs – The iPhone 3Gs is Apple’s re-entry into the cellular market, a year after their large release of the iPhone 3G. The ‘S’ in 3Gs stand for speed, which comes in a couple ways; firstly, the processor is twice as fast as the previous one found in the 3G model, and provides smoother browsing and a faster general loading time. The third generation of the iPhone also expects better networking speeds, with carriers changing over to a HSDPA connection, capable of up to 7.2 mbps. In all aspects, the iPhone 3GS is a strong renewal of a great phone with noticeable improvements in speed.

Motorola Droid – The Droid is Motorola’s entry into the Android smartphone market, and it was their best release of any gadget since the Razr in 2004. This multimedia smartphone definitely puts Motorola to a head start in the fast developing smartphone race, with a great keyboard, an easy-to-use, very sensitive large touch screen and a beautiful design, both internally and externally. With a bigger screen than the iPhone’s, a better pixel-per-inch number and an astonishing 16:9 HD aspect ratio, videos look amazing and browsing is crystal clear. Overall, the Motorola Droid is a fully featured, multimedia, gorgeous smartphone, which can do more than you need, in both style and ease.

Blackberry Bold 9700 – The Blackberry Bold 9700 or simply Bold 2 is RIM’s remake of the very successful (at the time) Blackberry Bold. It basically addresses all of the issues that have developed over the past year including the problematic trackball, the bulky size and the not too impressive camera. The 9700 is being sold with Blackberry’s new 5.0 operating system which has improved many aspects, and also the trackpad is quick to being favoured over the previous trackball. This smartphone is finally a perfect mix of multimedia with formal enterprise business, making it the best revision of a phone so far.

Top 10 Console Games of 2009

Although i’m a teensy bit late, a list is always interesting to read. These are the top 10, in my opinion, console games of 2009. (Anything released on Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and PSP)

10.

Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time found its way onto our list as it shows a big improvement and detailed differences from its previous installment in 2008, Quest for Booty and Tools of Destruction. A Crack in Time exhibits surprisingly fun gameplay along with an interesting story line and also features new moves and possibilities for an open-world exploration type of interaction. The game definitely shows new innovation to the Ratchet and Clank series, though it has the ability to keep the traditional game formula, a perfect way to make its way onto our list.

9.

Batman: Arkham Asylum definitely fits into our ninth place with it’s action-packed, stealth-requiring adventure. After the Batman series made an extremely epic return with their Dark Knight in 2008, a proper video game should be a requirement, and it was. Arkham Asylum received dangerously high praise from critics, holding the Guinness World Record for Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever, receiving an average of 91.67 from game reviewers. The game is played in third-person perspective, enhancing Batman’s uncountable moves used to kill villains, but the reason behind the game’s great success is because the game isn’t only about killing, Batman uses “detective mode” to discover moods and stats about his enemies, and uses mainly stealth to get as close to his enemies as possible. This certain type of gameplay gives the player enough suspense to earn it ninth place in the Top Ten Console Games of 2009.

8.

In eighth place, we have Street Fighter 4 with its street-style traditional fighting. When Street Fighter first debuted in 1999 for arcades, there were lineups for the finger-smashing game of the year. Now, the 4th edition of the arcade game is back, with additional characters and  endless combos of punches, kicks and strikes. The settings of the game are rendered in 3D, but gameplay remains in traditional 2D plane, although the camera angle moves at time of dramatic effect, thus giving the game better graphics than any other arcade fighting game. This game is also very highly acclaimed by critics, receiving a 94 from Metacritic for its Playstation 3 version, and 93 for its Xbox 360. The game has also won numerous awards including “Reader’s Choice”, “Best Production” and “Best Graphics”, earning itself eighth place in our list.

7.

Rarely, do racing games make it to top lists of the year, only because shooters and adventure games are just that much more exciting. This racing game is different, solely because it’s not a game. It’s reality on your television and controller, unless a game could race through your veins while at top speed, and force your heart out of your throat when you stop. From the details of damaging your vehicle to the endless possibilities of customization, Forza Motorsport 3 is one the most realistic and interesting games ever released. Again, this game is highly praised by critics, with IGN calling it ‘One of the best racing games to ever be produced’, and even though i’m a huge fan of its strong competition series, Gran Turismo, I find it highly impossible to disagree.

6.

Having won numerous ‘Best Handheld’ game awards, we had to put it into this list, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars has one of the most addictive and in-depth story line ever to be released onto a handheld game. So far, games for the Nintendo DS have been, lack of better term, childish, very similar to the first year of the Wii. Although this game has a bird’s eye view and doesn’t have amazingly detailed graphics, its gameplay is extremely fun. This is no doubt the best game for Nintendo DS so far, and definitely deserved all those ‘Best Handheld Game’ awards, placing it sixth in our Top Ten list.

5.

The Killzone series, made exclusively for the Playstation, gives gamers another reason to choose Playstation over Xbox, a highly debatable point. Killzone 2 is our fifth place because it continues the tradition created by the first installment, action, thrill and intensity. The first-person shooter is more than just regular warfare, or killing aliens; it features fantastical worlds of fictional extreme characters with a suspense filled storyline. Speaking of storyline, the plot is extremely detailed to the point that it’s possible to create a movie, because right when you’re about to get comfortable, something completely unexpected happens, making it impossible for the player to put the controller down.

4.

Assassin’s Creed 2, known as the most “adventurous” game of 2009, must have its place on our list. AC2 continues its well known series with a perfect mix of action and adventure, a better form of “open-world” exploration and a more wide variety of missions than the first installment. The game however isn’t best known for its never-ending plot, but better known for its extreme detail to weaponry, characters and fights. This second game of the series features new ways to surprise your enemy and to use classic stealth more than just pure strength. One of the most widespread critically acclaimed games of 2009, receiving a Metacritic score of 91, Assassin’s Creed 2 deserves its prestigious spot on our top ten list.

3.

One of the most convincing reasons to change over to Playstation, balancing out Xbox’s Forza and Halo, Demon’s Souls tops anybody’s list, especially for just Playstation. It features never-before seen style of gameplay, where you are constantly playing in another soul, retrieving information for the real body. One of the most interesting and innovative features of Demon’s Souls that make it so outstanding is the level of interaction with other players online, even when you play alone. While in single player campaign, you will see white transparent ghosts, which are actually other players online, playing their own campaign. Also, a brand new feature, giving a level of teamwork never before seen in any game, is something called bloodstains. While you’re walking around trying to complete missions, there will be scattered bloodstains on the ground, which are actually where other players online, playing the same campaign, have died, and you can walk onto the bloodstain, and ‘activate’ it, which will allow you to see the last few seconds of that players life, so you can see how they died. This serves as a warning system, automatically given out to notify other players of how you died, to prevent them from making the same mistake. The features of online interaction are countless, meaning you’re never actually playing by yourself. Nobody has ever integrated such features onto single player campaigns, giving Demon’s Souls innovation that will definitely be adapted by future gamemakers. The amount of fantasy, action, adventure, innovation, suspense, thrill, horror and intensity given to this game definitely makes it worth its spot on this list.

2.

Known as the most epic and successful media release ever, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was one of the best selling and most critically acclaimed video games of 2009, selling over 4.7 million copies in under 24 hours. It’s campaign, although terribly short, has the most epic and jaw-dropping moments in any video game i’ve ever played. The reason behind the game’s success isn’t only because of the compelling campaign, its actually more because of the unparalleled depth of the multiplayer. A total of 70 levels and 10 prestiges, countless challenges, fully customizable callsigns containing emblems and titles, fully customizable kill streaks are just part of the reason Modern Warfare 2 has one of the best multiplayer sections ever. Though its place on this list is highly debatable, personally, i think Modern Warfare 2 legitimately deserves 2nd on our top ten list.

1.

The year of 2009 included some pretty badass stuff, with the release of the top grossing movie of all time and the death of the king of pop, but when it comes to games, there can be only one at the top. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves fits at the top of our list for countless reasons, but to list a few; this multiple time ‘Game of the Year’  winner has one of the most attention to detail, explosive, deep and visually stunning campaigns ever to be released onto a video game. The story line in this game has left a milestone in the history of video games, with countless magazines and reviews giving it a PERFECT score, if not even better. Critics calling it more than just ‘Game of the Year’, but one of the greatest games of all time. Receiving so many awards, the only con i can list for this game is that it has an ending. With graphics next to reality and countless ways to finish the campaign, its story seems like it was taken directly from a movie. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, in my opinion, deserves more than just the Game of the Year or Stunning Graphics, it is, by far, the best game for Playstation 3, deserving it’s prestigious placing on our Top Ten list.