This week on The Shift, Shane Hewitt and I talked about Apple’s App Store Award winners, voting for the Game Awards, the Steam Deck giveaway during the Game Awards, amusement park sims, Amazon’s Kindle Scribe, Best Buy’s drone show in Vancouver, and the Volvo EX90 full electric SUV.
Technological World for November 30, consumer tech: Scribe adds a stylus to your Kindle, holiday drone show in Vancouver, Volvo's full electric SUV
You can write on Amazon’s newest Kindle, Best Buy’s hosting a light show with choreographed drones, and Volvo unveils the EX90 full-electric SUV.
Amazon’s Kindle Scribe adds a digital pen to your reading experience
Amazon’s newest e-reader is the Kindle Scribe, which is its biggest digital reading device and also the first to include a stylus.
The stylus is used for data input, of course, which tells you that the Scribe is used for more than just reading books.
Even with a larger, 10.2-inch screen, the Scribe is still a featherweight device, which is important if you’re using it for marathon reading sessions.
And while the Scribe has a stylus, the thing it does best is provide a solid reading experience. The digital ink technology, supported by lights for reading in low light, is the closest you can get to mimicking a book experience.
The addition of the pen adds to the experience, especially if you’re someone who likes to take notes in the margins of your books. With the Scribe you can’t actually write on the book itself, but you can attach a sticky note to any location in the book. You can also use the pen to highlight text.
One drawback to e-ink displays is the slight response lag when turning pages and there’s a lag when you’re writing with the pen, too, but you will acclimatize.
You can opt for a premium pen to get an eraser, which works as expected, and a shortcut button which can be programmed to trigger the action you use most often, like creating a sticky note or highlighting text.
You can also create new documents with the Scribe, and there are a number of templates you can use including schedules and checklists and lined and even music notation.
The other selling point of the Scribe is the ability to annotate PDFs and this feature is great in principle, poor in practice, because it’s just so difficult to get things into and out of the Scribe.
To import or export files, you need to use Amazon’s “send to kindle” service, which is essentially emailing things to yourself. This is a problem easily solved if only Amazon enabled you to log in to a cloud storage account.
The Kindle Scribe starts at $430 (basic pen, 16 GB storage) and goes up to $510 (premium pen, 64 GB storage). You can also get protective covers if you want.
This feels like a great starting point for a nouveau Kindle, but given that you can get a Kindle Paperwhite for $150, it’s difficult to justify the extra expense just to get a stylus.
Drone spectacle comes to Vancouver
Best Buy Canada is bringing some excitement to Vancouver’s Canada Place on December 2 and 3 at 6:00 p.m. in the form of a drone presentation.
Bright Skies is part of Christmas at Canada Place which also includes an “Avenue of Trees”. The 10-minute show will feature more than 300 drones which are choreographed to create holiday-themed animations.
Volvo reveals EX90 full electric SUV
Swedish car manufacturer Volvo has plans to sell only full electric vehicles by 2030, and as part of that amibition is going to reveal a new vehicle each year.
And it started a few weeks ago with the announcement of the Volvo EX90, a seven-seat SUV that the company says will have a 600 kilometre range and the ability to charge to 80% in only 30 minutes.
One of the features that Volvo has built into the EX90 is bi-directional charging. That means it not only pulls electricity into the battery, but it can also push electricity out. Conceivably it could charge another vehicle, or your house.
This isn’t functionality that will be immediately useful and it’s only going to be rolled out in select markets in the beginning. But its inclusion in the EX90 speaks to how the company is looking ahead.
The EX90 is equipped with a host of sensors including cameras, radar, and lidar, and it uses Nvidia’s Drive platform which compiles information from those sensors to “create a real-time, 360-degree view of the world.”
Technological World for November 30, games: App Store Awards winners, Game Award voting, rollercoaster simulation games
You can vote for your favourite games in the Game Awards, play some other favourites on your iPhone and iPad, and I chase down where amusement park sims have gone.
Apple’s App Store Award winners announced
Every year, Apple’s curators who keep an eye on software in the App Store decide on the best apps of the year.
Games making the cut include Apex Legends Mobile, from Electronic Arts, and Inscryption, which is recognized for its Mac computer version. There’s also the intriguing Moncage, which is a puzzle game serving up optical illusions for you to interpret and make sense of.
Game Awards voting is open now
And fans get to have a say in the decisions, too, without breaking the system.
Winners of the awards are “deteremined by a blended vote between the voting jury and public fan voting”, with 90% of a score coming from the jury and the remaining 10% coming from fan votes.
Big category nominees include:
Game of the year
- A Plague Tale: Requiem
- Elden Ring
- God of War Ragnarok
- Horizon Forbidden West
- Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Best ongoing game
- Apex Legends
- Destiny 2
- Final Fantasy XIV
- Genshin Impact
Best indie game
- Cult of the Lamb
- Neon White
Other categories cover the various genres and there are five awards for esports.
Valve giving away a Steam Deck every minute of the Game Awards live broadcast
This just in: Valve will be giving away dozens of Steam Deck handheld consoles (512 GB edition) during the live broadcast of the Game Awards.
Rollercoaster sims let you build your own amusement park
A question came in on the Shift last week asking whether there’s been any updates to RollerCoaster Tycoon, which a listener remembers playing on a computer running the Windows XP operating system (circa 2001).
This series of games put players in the role of an amusement park designer and operator. The objective is to design the rides, construct the park, and operate it. Think the Sims go to Disneyland.
The original RollerCoaster Tycoon came from the brain of game designer Chris Sawyer and was released in 1999.
Games in the franchise have appeared regularly, some being received better than others.
The first two original games that Sawyer designed have been ported to Android, iOS, and Windows 10 as Rollercoaster Tycoon Classic.
If you’re interested in a modern console experience, look to Planet Coaster, which is available on PS4, PS5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet suffer from serious performance issues, but it may not matter, Steam’s annual Autumn Sale has good games for computer players.
Visual defects can’t keep a good Pokemon game down
Nintendo’s newest entries in the popular Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet, are groundbreaking in so many ways. Not all of them great.
Let’s start with the good stuff. Scarlet and Violet, developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo and the Pokemon Company, provide a full, open-world adventure game experience, allowing players to truly explore the region of Paldea. This shift alone brings the franchise into the modern gaming world.
That innovation is matched by a change in how the game’s activities are presented to you. There are three main quests to work through and each of them has an independent storyline. You can move between these anytime you want, mixing up the gameplay and getting some real variety.
There are new Pokemon to meet, too, including the starter choices Fuecoco, Sprigatito, and Quaxly, and the legendary Koraidon and Miraidon (which you get depends on whether you’ve picked up Scarlet (Koraidon) or Violet (Miraidon)). The creature designs are more inventive than they’ve been before, too, like the Cetitan – an evolved form of Cetoddle – which looks like a massive whale with legs. It might sound weird, but it looks amazing.
The music in Scarlet and Violet is also a level above what we’ve had before, with melodic themes that vary as much as the environments in the world, and hooks that stay with you.
All of this comes with what can only be thought of as a cost. Because technically and graphically, Scarlet and Violet have issues. Animations clip and cut out. Sometimes they disappear altogether. When it’s raining in the world the graphics slow to a crawl. Creatures and objects fall into each other in strange ways. The game outright crashes on occasion.
The resident Pokemon expert in my house laughed through every one of the glitches and performance issues we encountered. And it’s likely that the biggest Pokemon fans will be just as willing to ignore the many visual defects in these games.
Game Freak and Nintendo do not get a pass for releasing a game with so many issues, and I’d hope that they find a way to continue improving this franchise while getting a handle on the performance issues.
It would be a shame for people to start laughing at their beloved Pokemon games for the wrong reasons.
Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet are available now exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. Rated everyone.
Steam’s annual Autumn Sale has deals for everyone
For those gamers in your life who play on computers more than consoles, the annual Steam Autumn Sale is where you should look for gift ideas.
The sale runs until November 29, and there’s great curation at Steam, so you can get some advice from other gamers in making your gift-buying decisions.
Consider Cyberpunk 2077, which is half price at $40, or the just-released Spider-Man Remastered, on sale for only $52.
You can get eight games in the Far Cry franchise for only $58, or individual games for between $3 and $16. Or all the games in the Doom franchise for only $23.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is only $8, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is $15, and Left 4 Dead 2 is only $1.30.
Steam makes it easy for you to gift a game to someone, too.