Nintendo stole the show this year with the Wii U a new console and controller concept that won't hit the market until sometime next year. Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata detailed some of the features.
I had a chance to give it a try with some prototype games and the device was light and responsive, except for the one time it froze and had to be restarted. The games make you move around a lot. For example in one of them called Battle Mii you turn your spaceship by rotating your body.
In another game called Shield Pose you try to block arrows sent from a far off pirate ship. While the console and controller are new, the company said that it will be backward compatible with all games and controllers. With the announcement of the first Wii a few years back, Nintendo lost hardcore gamers, but gained casual ones. With the announcement of Wii U, the company is hoping to win back serious gamers, but whether that happens remains to be seen. Nintendo didn't announce any hardware specs, pricing or a specific release date.
Nintendo wasn't the only one introducing new hardware, Sony did as well, but before getting to any of that, the company apologized to users and customers for the mutli week outage of the PlayStation Network.
Sony quickly switched gears and moved on to game demos and announcements like the PlayStation 3D display, a 24" low cost 3D TV that will be out later this year and bundled with an HDMI cord, a set of active shutter glasses and Resistance 3. A unique feature about the TV is that in two player mode, rather than playing split screen, each player sees something different. One set of images is sent to player one, another image is sent to player two. I tried it out and it does in fact work. Sony wouldn't detail how, but it likely has to do with the active shutter glasses. The bundle costs $500.
Sony also showed off the PlayStation Vita, what we previously new as the next generation portable.
During my hands on I first noticed that the screen is incredibly crisp and there's a lot of detail. The device itself is light, weighing not much more than some cell phones. Some game developers took advantage of the touch pads, like in this golf game that lets you change things in the game by swiping on its backside. Other developers took advantage of the device's accelerometer making you spin and turn the device to control characters in the game. The Vita will be available this holiday with the WiFi version priced at $250 and the WiFi 3G version at $300.
While Sony and Nintendo focused a lot of attention on hardware and handheld devices, Microsoft spent most of its press conference on Kinect and new features developed for it. It showed how you can control your TV and search the Internet by speaking commands.
It also showed off how you can control the storyline of a game by speaking with characters.
Microsoft also introduced Kinect Fun Labs, where one of the applications instantly creates a life like avatar and another one lets you digitize your favorite objects.
From LA, let's head north to San Francisco where on Monday Apple CEO Steve Jobs, while still technically on medical leave, launched Apple's iCloud Service.
iCloud will let users store documents, calendars, contacts, photos and music online and distribute them to other devices, including Macs, iPads, iPhones and Windows PCs.
STEVE JOBS, CEO, APPLE: "Keeping these devices in sync is driving us crazy. So we've got a great solution to this problem. And we think this solution is our next big insight. We're going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device, just like iPhone and iPad or an iPod Touch. And we're going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud. Because all these new devices have communications built into them, they can all talk to the cloud whenever they want."
The service will launch in the fall and be free. Users will have 5GB of online storage, and music, books, apps and photos won't count against that total. Apple will introduce three new apps to work with iCloud for documents, photos and music. Perhaps the most anticipated is iTunes in the Cloud. It will let users share their songs bought through iTunes with as many as 10 devices. For $25 a year, an additional service will offer cloud access to songs ripped from CDs.
Back here in LA, we got an update on the AR Drone helicopter from Parrot. We first showed you it at CES in 2010 and it launched here at E3 last year. This time around the company announced that the drone will be flyable by Android, Symbian and bada devices.
ARFree Flight will hit the Android Market in July. For iOS devices a new game, AR.Race is available in the App Store that lets pilots create a race track and then fly it. The company also announced a challenge for pilots, tasking them with outflying company experts. More information is available on their website. The AR Drone still costs 300 dollars.
With all the talk about Kinect for Xbox 360, people with a limited amount of space may feel left out. The system makes you stand a certain distance away and for gamers in dorm rooms, apartments or other small spaces, that might be impossible. To help solve that, Nyko introduced the Zoom, a wide angle lens adapter for the Kinect sensor that cuts the distance you need between you and the sensor by 40%. That means that two people could stand in a space that could normally only accommodate one. The Zoom goes on sale in August for $30.