Welcome to my blog - Read and enjoy

Thank you for visiting my Scooby1970 blogspot. I update whenever I can and when I have something interesting to share. You will also find published work of mine at Gaming Illustrated. Gaming Illustrated is where most of my work now takes place, but I will transfer some of my more popular articles from there over to this blog, in extended format.

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I've just started a new blog for my upcoming book releases: http://mark-adams-writes.blogspot.co.uk/

Also check out my 10 Quick Facts for more sites I run.

Enjoy the blogs, and relive my ups and downs in life, view some interesting reviews and just enjoy the site. If you are interested in learning something about some of my favourite music then click here it's the official Jan & Dean Site that has taken me and my friend from across the sea, June many years to keep updated.

:) Mark

Monday, 30 April 2012

Avengers Assemble Review

The Avengers, or as it's called in the UK The Avengers Assemble (Marvel seem to think people might confuse it with the camp-spy-thriller of the same name that was on TVs during the 1960's) is an action movie based on super-heroes from the Marvel Universe. It loosely follows up from the recent films Captain America and Thor and brings together the Worlds Mightiest Heroes for the fight of their lifetime.

Marvel have tried many times to make great films, and for the most part they succeed. However, is Avengers Assemble the best Marvel film yet? Is it better than the two enjoyable Hulk films? Is it more action packed than the Thor film? Is it filled with more gadgets than both Iron Man 1 and 2? If it slicker than Spiderman? Is it dark like the worlds of Daredevil and Elektra? Is it as much fun as an X-Men movie? Well, to sum it up, it's all of the above and a hell of a lot more. Marvels The Avengers is a blockbuster of the finest quality in all departments, right from the off it's filled with funny one-liners, great action sequences and special effects that make your eyes pop-out in awe!

For comic fans myself it was a joy to watch the inter-play between characters such as Banner and Stark. These two characters in particular were fun to watch on-screen. Tony Stark is played by Robert Downey Jr who brings the comic book character of Iron Man to life on a par with how Hugh Jackman plays Wolverine (probably the greatest interpretation of a Marvel Character). Meanwhile, Mark Raffalo plays Dr David Banner in a way not seen since the TV series. For fans of the original TV show, its good to know that The Hulk in this film is voiced by none-other than Lou Ferrigno... The original Hulk!

Thor and Captain America carry on from the recent films, and both add a lot to the film. Again, it's nice to see these comic book characters brought to life with such great acting from Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans. Personally I believe that Captain America didn't have as much as a role as he could have had in the film, and this was a little bit of a wasted opportunity. However, Iron Man and The Hulk are such strong characters that they stole most of the scenes that they were in.

The rest of the cast were pretty much done correctly too. Scarlett Johansson reprised her role as Black Widow, however this time they beefed up the characters role and made her much more enjoyable to watch. Hawkeye was played by Jeremy Renner, and again this was close to the comic book character in almost every way.

The bad guy this time was Loki, Thor's brother. Once again played by Tom Hiddleston, and once again a joy to watch. For a bad guy, Loki was fun to watch and had some great one-liners.There's one particular scene which is played to great comedy effect when Loki has a fight with The Hulk. Let's just say the audience in the cinema erupted with laughter.

Avengers Assemble's plot is usual action-movie fare. The bad guys have stolen an energy force that opens a gate-way to another world so the bad-guys can invade in numbers. The invasion is particularly impressive, with some of the best CGI I have ever seen. Fight scenes are fun and full of action, and the movie is generally just one huge action-fest that has you glued from start to finish.

Now to the bad point of the film. As a fan of graphic novels (the new and grown-up word for comics), The Avengers also contain Spiderman!!! Why oh why was he missing from this film? Another Avenger who was missing was Wolverine, again he would have been awesome in this film. What people don't realise is that The Avengers have had hundreds of members over the years coming in and out of the storyline, but Spiderman has almost always been an Avenger! And Wolverine is in the latest stories. Apart from that, and the thought of how much better it would have been to have these characters, I will award The Avengers Assemble a glowing BLOCKBUSTER rating. It's a must own on blu-ray when it gets released, and if the end credits are anything to go by, the follow-up to it should be just as exciting.

Stop reading this now and go watch it!!!

Friday, 20 April 2012

iPad 2 vs Android Tablet

Lets face it, there’s a lot of controversy over which tablet are the best. There’s the Apple iPad crowd who insist that their tablet is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and then there’s the Android crowd who enjoy the freedom that Android brings them. As an owner of both kinds of tablets, plus someone who has used various models, I will endeavour to clear up a few points about which tablet are really the best for your needs.

The “Apps” – Applications really do matter.
The thing that you will hear people bang-on-about mostly of course, in all the advertising blurb is the App stores. Apps are “applications”, programs that run on your tablet and give you the freedom to do what you want, when you want. They come in three different forms, the paid-for apps that you pay a small fee for, the free apps that are usually supported by advertisements and the demo-app that gives you limited functionality until you pay a small fee to unlock its full potential.

Let me start by saying, both Android and Apple stores have thousands of apps. Forget the “My app-store is bigger than yours” argument, because at the end of the day both stores offer a mind-boggling amount of apps. What is important though is the quality of the apps that are available for download. On this score, Apple’s iPad apps win hands-down. Apple has a thorough process that only allows the best apps onto its marketplace, Google’s Android allow anyone to put an app on the store, and it really shows. For the most part, iPad 2 apps are simply mind-blowing. They make use of the iPad’s screen and precise touch capabilities and they just ooze quality. Apps on the Android store can really be hit or miss, and quite often you’ll download an app only to find it takes up a little corner of the tablet because it has not been optimised for tablet use. Apps on Android tablets really are a mine-field of trial and error; I’ve yet to experience a truly bad app on the iPad.

The “User Interface” – Getting around your tablet.
This is an area where opinions can be divided. Android tablets run Google’s Android Operating System (versions anywhere between 2 and 4) and Apples iPad’s run Apples iOS 5.1. For ease of use, iPad wins with its simple layout and press to use icon. For custom-ability and pretty widgets (eg. A display to show the weather, without having to click on something to access it), Androids tablets are the tablets to go for.

When it comes to speed though, even the fastest Android tablet seems slow compared to an iPad. Swiping the screen and going from page 1 to page 2, or even simply opening an app is silky smooth on an iPad 2, the same can’t always be said for an Android tablet. Little things such as opening and closing animations, fade-ins and fade-outs etc are also for the most part smoother on the iPad. This just makes the iPad 2 feel that bit sexier than any Android pad I have used. That said, Android’s Operating System has come on leaps and bounds in the last few months, and in every-day use the difference really is minimal. It’s a close one to call with regards to the “User Interface”, both are great to use depending on the experience you prefer.

Web Browsing
My one concern when buying an iPad 2 was the inability to play Flash websites. Luckily for me, times have moved on, and with the advent of HTML5 and a range of truly stunning apps for to replace certain websites, the web experience on the Apple iPad 2 is quite simply stunning.

I also have an Android pad, which of course handles Flash websites with no problem at all, and the same experience can be had with my pad that can be had with a desk-top. This makes the decision on which tablet to get an interesting one...

The one big difference is the speed at which the different devices handle the internet. Remembering that Flash adverts and content can be quite resource hungry, some websites on Android tablets seem to be a lot slower loading that on the iPad 2. Once loaded, you can smoothly scroll and zoom in or out on the iPad 2, but on an Android pad its not quite so smooth. Again, the iPad 2 experience is made that little bit pleasurable due to its silky smoothness.

Media – Video, Music, Pictures and more.
Both Apple iPad’s running iOS 5.1 and an Android tablet running Android 2, 3 or 4 are capable of all the media functions you can think of. With the correct apps they can all run downloaded films, music and of course view pictures.

With an Android tablet its just plug-and-play, where you plug in your tablet to your PC and usually you can just drag files onto the pad. Although that sounds simple in theory, I know many people who are not too tech-savvy who really struggle with that concept.

Apple of course have iTunes. Although I have been a basher of the iTunes software for many years, I have realised lately how efficient it is when plugging the iPad 2 into the PC. Everything is there in one app, and it really is simple to add and remove media to the iPad.

As far as apps go for media content, Apple’s store offer a fantastic range of software that I’ve yet to see on an Android tablet. Streaming tv from Sky Go, awesome apps from BBC and Sky with regards to news (making their Android cousins look mediocre and out-dated), photography apps, weather apps, magazine apps that are just not available on Androids platform. A best of app list is on the cards, but thats another blog, another day.

With the right software, both Android and Apple’s iPad offer great media experiences. What makes these experiences different is the next section, the screen quality.

Screen Quality – Where it really matters.
Tablet screens have come on a great deal over the last few years. However, the screen quality was the reason I decided to also get an iPad and use it now as may main tablet. That probably is the main reason for my iPad 2 purchase. I studied all the available Android tablets, along with the iPad 2 and iPad 3 and chose the iPad 2 because for its price I believe it offers the best quality screen.

What makes it stand out from the crowd? The screen just looks amazing! Its bright, vibrant and colours look “real” on it. Compared to other tablets, the iPad screen just looks right. I didn’t get the iPad 3 because for the extra £70 I don’t believe it’s a much greater display. I found it difficult under normal conditions to really see a difference that mattered.

If you want to read books or graphic novels (like I do!) then the iPad 2 screen just brings the pages to life. Yes, books and graphic novels look cool on Android pads, but the iPad 2 screen is just so much clearer. What’s more, the iPad screens are renowned for not picking up finger-prints as much as other tablets and it does seem a lot more resilient to your sticky fingers.

Battery Life
I’m going to keep this short and to the point. When I first bought my iPad 2 it had 50% battery power in it. I used it for a solid 5 hours before charging it, browsing the internet and downloading apps. That’s how good the battery life is on the iPad 2! A full charge really does give around 10 hours battery life, I’ve yet to have a ‘quiet’ day, so I have no idea the battery would last if just using as a book reader with wi-fi and blue-tooth off.

My experience with Android tablets has had me charging up the battery between 3 and 5 hours with minimal web browsing, game playing and reading, so there is definitely a difference in battery life between different tablets.

I like to think my opinions are not biased in anyway towards either Apple’s iPad’s or any of Android’s tablets. I think they both offer great value for money these days and whether you choose an Apple produce or a tablet running Google’s Android you will be happy.

However, comparing the experience to what you pay, the iPad 2 is £329 for the 16GB, wi-fi only model, most Android tablets are between £149 for the Android 2.x tablets and £499 for the Android 4.x tablets. At the price of £329 the iPad 2 tablet is the sexier, smoothest performing tablet and is priced smack-bang in the middle of the price range.