October 14-16, 2005
Jacob Javits Center
by Justine Manzano
Arriving at the Jacob Javits Center on Sunday, October 16th, for the Digital Life Convention, I was immediately struck with a distinct hit of severe claustrophobia. The place was jam-packed with everything from fellow convention go-ers, to tables, to strange stuffed people like our new good friend, Ty, The Tasmanian Tiger from the X-Box game of the same name. Gotta love the costumes people get stuck in come convention time. Different aspects of technology graced the showroom, and I was determined to make my way to every single one of them. I don’t think I did bad.
The main attraction of the game portion of the convention seemed to be Star Wars Battlefront II, the new edition of the field combat Star Wars game that will be available for PC, PS2 and X-Box this Tuesday, November 1st. Getting a sneak peak for this game seemed to be the craze of the day and many lined up to play. There were also sections where you could play many new Konami games, including Castelvania: Curse of Darkness, which had some funky controls, Ty The Tasmanian Tiger 3 (which explains my run-in with him), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Nightmare 3, and Frogger: Ancient Shadow, among others.
You could even get a quick glimpse of the X-Box 360, the latest gaming system from Microsoft, due in stores December 15th—but that quick glimpse required you to be both very tall and very patient, as it was behind a ridiculous crowd and a glass case. Ah, well, I guess I’ll be able to see it a lot better when it hits stores…
There was also a chance to play Gametap, a game system emulator for the PC that allows you to play games that have been released on any platform, even arcade. I had a lot of fun playing an unnamed demo version (a fact that annoyed me—with all the fancy set-up, they couldn’t even put up a sign saying what game was running?) of a game that reminded me of the good old era of Double Dragon in which you walked through a 2-dimensional scene and fought your way through—no turning back.
There were even game tournaments given on rows and rows of consoles in sections of the display floor, pitting gamers against each other in games like MLB2K5 and Halo 2. You could play some awesome guitar riffs on Guitar Hero: The Game from Red Octane, in which you can play with a special guitar-styled controller and compete to be the number one guitarist. You also got the opportunity to play Quake 4 on the PC.
Xavix showed us their newest games like Jackie Chan’s Studio Fitness and Bowling. Xavix is known for their virtual reality style gaming that makes you feel like you’re really in the game. So, I liked playing as though I was aerobicizing. And I liked that they gave me a bag—all of the stuff I was collecting was getting fairly heavy—especially after pretending to bowl a 96. Yeah, I’m not a very good game bowler either.
Namco was at Digital Life promoting their newest mobile games and displaying the new, adorable little moving plush figures of Pac Man and his ghostly enemies. They were about six inches high, are nice and stuffed and roll around chasing after each other. According to the girl displaying them they are currently only out in Japan, but Americans should be ready for them to hit store shelves in time for the Christmas rush. I must say, playing with those things was my favorite part of the Digital Life Experience. But then, I am pleased by simple things.
Well, travel companions at the Digital Life Convention could mean one of two things. It could mean the collection of Piaggio Mopeds that were on display in a variety of gorgeous pastel colors. It could also mean great new ways to transport your MP3 player or laptop. One of these, is the adorable Iguy, which is an iPod carrying case with bendable arms and legs. There were many companies selling iPod cases, laptop cases, PDA cases and general bags, including Case Closed Bags and Causari who were selling their bags at the convention for 50% off.
With a million and one things already available for the iPod, including designer bags as mentioned above, there were loads of fun things available to those who download. For instance, I received a free Podcast of CBS' longest running soap opera, Guiding Light on CD-Rom. This soap opera has been around since radio was the prime mass medium, and it is the first soap to continue in this new innovative format. It will now be releasing Podcasts daily.
Also at the convention was file sharing pioneer Napster, showing off their new Napster To Go software. Creative Technologies showed up and were very good, answering all of our questions about the Zen MP3 Player. They informed us of the new Travel Dock docking speaker as well as the new Travel Adapter and the new mobile FM transmitter for the Zen. He then showed us the Zen Vision, Creative’s latest release in a truly competitive attempt to outshine Apple’s new iPod Video. Also, Creative gave me a free t-shirt.
As always, you always find panel discussions in these conventions. The one that was running when I entered the convention on Sunday was an Ebay Fireside Chat, moderated by Bill Howard, the contributing editor of PC Magazine, and its Panelist was Jim “Griff” Dean of Ebay University. Dean explained to his guests the ins and outs of making the most of your Ebay selling experience.
Throughout the convention weekend were various panel discussions and presentations including Hot Gifts For The Holiday Season, put on by Ziff Davis Media, who were also sponsoring the entire convention, Tips on how to get the most out of your digital camera by digitalcamerainfo.com and PC Magazine. Also from PC Magazine were shows telling you how to pick the best cell phone for you and a show highlighting the best of Digital Life. JVC and Camerainfo.com brought us a talk on how to make great home videos. G4TV and The Internet Mom taught us about technology for the fairer sex. Creative Strategies taught us about Apple’s new iLife and about how to fully understand all of the new handheld and wireless technologies available to us. These were simply some of the many, many discussions available to you when you visited Digital Life.
Toshiba gave a “Mobile Makeover” display. It was a sad little acted out performance showing the different lighter and cooler looking technology available from Toshiba. It didn’t hurt that everyone who stood around to watch got an entry in a sweepstakes to win one of the laptops. I entered—I lost.
Also on display was the Kameleon, a universal remote that you can customize. It has an LCD screen that changes. It can be programmed with a cable remote, a TV remote and a VCR remote. It should make watching TV even easier for us lazy folk.
My personal favorite software piece, as an amateur music and video editor myself, was the StikAx. This is software for your computer that comes with a hand held controller with about eight or so buttons on it. You load a couple of music and video clips into the software and can effortlessly switch between video clips with the click of a button. The gentleman at the table allowed me to play around with it myself, and it is very easy to use and fun, too. And it only cost $99. I found myself shouting “Christmas Gift” to my convention going companions as I walked away.
In the Sony Online section, new games Grip Shift and Everquest II were on display and free demo copies of Everquest II were given away. Also there, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans was the newly crowned Princess Antonia, gamer Anna Wainscoat, who was crowned as such after a nationwide search for the spokesmodel, a character from the game.
There were giveaways of magazines such as PC Magazine, Sync, and a small collector’s edition of Cosmopolitan. Cosmo’s presence confused me as I’m not 100% sure what they have to do with gadgets, but it was nice to get free stuff.
Ooooh…Timex Indiglo watches in pastel colored bands! Very cool! One could also find Best Buy, displaying their collection of mobile innovations. There was also the rather strange prospect (to me, anyway what does this have to do with gaming and tech?) of signing up for a NY Post subscription. There was a great place called Jinx showing their merchandise—a place with clothes and stickers with awesome gamer and computer enthusiast style phrases like “You are SO off my buddy list”, “Every time you download music, God kills a kitten”, and “Just one more level”. I bought two stickers from them.
In the end, while it was great to see so much cool stuff, a lot of people had problems with this convention. “That was a waste of an hour,” one convention goer said as they were leaving. “The last one had more things to purchase at the tables. Maybe it was just that I came on the last day, but every table I went to didn’t have it. And there wasn’t nearly as much free stuff!” William Arce, a convention attendee told me. On the other side of that, my friend was on line buying a Xtatix MP3 player when he told me this. Another attendee told me, “It’s like a crowded, noisy, electronic candy store!” A statement has never been more true. At times, I found myself feeling incredibly claustrophobic and struggling to hear people standing right next to me. But it was also very cool to look around and take in all the gadgets. All in all, I think that the good outweighs the bad. So, I’ll see you next year at Digital Life from October 12-15 at the Jacob Javits Center. For more information visit www.digitallife.com. Enjoy!