Tech in Review: Sennheiser, Smartcasual and 80 Days
Days and Days
I want to take a moment to talk about my all-time favorite iOS game, 80 Days. The title has just had an update bringing it to Windows and Mac, with a little extra content thrown in too. It’s an interactive fiction game loosely inspired by Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days.” You play Passepartout, loyal valet to the staid Phileas Fogg, who’s made a bet he can circumnavigate the world in 80 days. You have to haul your master (and his bags) across a steampunk-inspired globe so that he can win his bet. What’s really amazing is the branching narrative: Every time you get to a city, there’s a multitude of routes you can choose, all with surprising results. It’s a superbly written tale, with fascinating little vignettes of life, beautifully sketched locales and constant touches of humor. Each playthrough is totally unique and the second you finish one journey you want to set out again, in search of another adventure. I’ve solved a murder mystery in an airship over the Pacific Ocean, spent a night of passion with a former slave in New Orleans, stood on the wing of a giant mechanical bird as it swoops over Burma… I can’t recommend it highly enough.
$40 on iOS and Android, $77 on Mac/PC via Steam. inklestudios.com/80days.
A couple of Hong Kong startuppers have just launched a new networking app called Smartcasual, aimed at making meetings with new people easy. How does it work? Easy: You log in to LinkedIn on your phone and you let the app know when you’re free. It then shows you who else is around the area and also free to meet over the next few days—or hours. The app is focused on Hong Kong’s startup scene, says one of the app’s developers, Ignacio Martín. “If you work in a startup you don’t just need tech people,” he says. “You need lawyers, marketing people, lots of different industries.” It’s a one-stop platform to help bring them together. Best of all, says Martín, just by downloading the app its users have “already expressed their willingness to meet someone new, which makes it easy to collaborate.” Seems to me there are definitely applications beyond making startups easier. Think of it in use at a trade fair or convention, for example, which is all about meeting the right people ASAP. Right now, the developers are concentrating on growing their user base and they’re actively encouraging feedback—so check it out and let them know what you think.
Free on iOS; Android coming soon, smartcasual.co.
Finding a pair of headphones that both look and sound good is a seemingly impossible task. On the one side you’ve got Beats headphones which are only good if you LOVE BIG BASS WUB WUB WUB, while on the other you’ve got high-clarity Grado cans which sound great but look as if you’ve stolen them from a high school language laboratory. Which is why I’ve always liked Sennheiser’s retro-tastic Momentum headphones, which managed to hit both sight and sound on the head. And they’ve just picked up an upgrade or two: The new Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless cans, soon to be released in Hong Kong, now come with Bluetooth and built-in active noise cancellation. If you’ve ever been on a flight, you’ll know the virtue of active noise cancellation, which can make everything around you almost eerily quiet. It’s fantastic, unless you happen to be crossing a street and looking the wrong way. The only problem? The price. At a retail price of $3,800 and change, you’ll be paying for the privilege of looking (and sounding) good.