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GENNUM nXZEN User Review

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Category: Headsets
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EyeToy: Kinetic 
PS2 
Score: 4 of 5 stars 
Players: 1-4 
Publisher: SCEA 
Developer: SCEE London 
Studio 
Rating: Everyone 

S

candalous.  What’s 
next, a La-Z-Boy 
bench press? 

 

Actually, the merging of 
video games with an exer-
cise regime may seem like 
a paradox but the folks at 
PlayStation might just have 
something here. What better way to lure 
couch-potatoes into the crazy world of 
health and fi tness. 

At the same time, the door has swung 

open to attract all of those health nuts 
who once pooh-poohed video games. If 
you don’t have time to go to a gym or 
don’t like that sweaty atmosphere, you 
can work out at your convenience at 
home. 

And with a New Year’s resolution to 

get in better shape, the timing is perfect. 

The fi rst bit of exercise required is 

scaling above the misconception that 
a video game couldn’t possibly offer a 
benefi cial fi tness program. 

In fact, Kinetic was devel-

oped in association with Nike 
Motionworks, a professional 
sports research lab. It comes 
with an EyeToy USB cam-
era that puts your image on 
TV and analyzes your every 
move to provide immediate 
feedback on your perfor-
mance. 

There are two on-screen 

personal trainers who take 
you through a 12-week cus-
tomizable training program 
that follows the internal 

clock of the PS2 for a strict 
regimen. 

The workouts incorporate more than 

20 exercises inspired by aerobics, mar-
tial arts, kick boxing, dance, yoga, and 
pilates. 

You’ll be required to answer ques-

tions about your current level of fi tness, 
age, and weight in order for the game 
to assign one of three diffi culty  levels. 
Kinetic will then generate a 12-week 
program consisting of a well-balanced 
workout routine three times a week. 

And just because there’s no human 

other than yourself to disappoint, don’t 
think that slacking off will go unnoticed. 
If you miss a workout one day and don’t 
make it up the next day, you’re in for a 

scolding from your personal trainer. 

It’s quite evident Kinetic is more about 

exertion than awe-inspiring graphics. 
Certainly, some of the on-screen envi-
ronments of the trainers are striking, like 
the rooftop garden with a big city skyline 
backdrop. But the icons that fl oat onto 
the screen — brightly-coloured orbs, 
discs and other objects — to direct your 
movements are goofy, cartoony silli-
ness. 

Still, that shouldn’t detract from the 

workouts, which are not so infantile. 
The training is focused on four specifi c 
fi tness zones. A cardio component offers 
high-energy dance moves and requires 
your on-screen image to reach for fl oat-
ing targets. 

The combat zone provides an aero-

bic challenge with short, intense games 
using quick reactions and fl exibility  to 
destroy on-screen icons. 

The mind and body zone uses tai chi 

exercises and yoga to build concentra-
tion, breathing, balance and posture. 
Slow and easy is necessary for these 
games  in which you must break beams 
of light or move a disc about the screen. 

The Toning zone works on body con-

ditioning in the abdominal, upper and 
lower body regions. These are things 
like sit-ups and lunges and thankfully, 
there are no icons to destroy. A graphic 
at the side of the screen indicates which 
part of the body you are working. 

Kinetic is original and effectively 

exorcises the criticisms that video games 
promote laziness. It also give s a new 
purpose to the EyeToy, which has been 
a letdown to this point. And it promises 
to revolutionize the relationship between 
kids and parents, with the latter actually 
encouraging game play. 

Video ‘game’ even nags you
into a strict fitness regimen

Darren 

Bernhardt

The StarPhoenix

Saturday, Januar y 7, 2006            Saskatoon, Saskatchewan            The StarPhoenix            

G1

GAMING, GIZMOS & GADGETS

a weekly report on computer, electronic and video games

I

’ve tested a number 
of Bluetooth wireless 
cell phone headsets in 

recent months, and the one 
from Gennum Corporation, 
a Canadian company, is the 
best.

It’s called nXZEN, and 

the headset is available at 
Future Shop, Best Buy and 
online at eCost.com for 
$175.

The nXZEN is the only 

headset on the market to 
use two microphones.While 
two microphones won’t 
mean much to you as the 
user, it will make a huge difference to anyone 
you’re calling. The idea, according to the folks at 
Gennum, is that the two microphones allow “the 
chips to register the time and distance between 
sounds and amplify the speaker’s voice while 
eliminating background and ambient noise.” 

It works. I’ve made a bunch of calls from out-

side, where wind noise usually causes problems 
for people I’m calling. Everyone has said how 
well they can hear me. It also worked from the car 
with the window open and the radio on — clearly 
better than any other set I’ve tested.

The nXZEN doesn’t have an earbud like most 

of the other headsets, rather it has an earbud that 
goes into your ear like a good quality earphone 
does. This makes a huge difference for the 
wearer. You can hear a lot better because a lot of 
the extraneous outside noise is fi ltered out. The 
earbud takes a bit of getting used to because it’s 
pretty large.

One of the smallest Bluetoth headsets on the 

market, it is one by 3.3 inches and weighs just 
17 grams; you can hardly tell you’re wearing it. 
The headset has a digital signal processor that can 
perform 120 million instructions per second. The 
closest competitor comes in at about 32 million. 
This power produces up to four times more noise 
reduction than anyone else’s headset. The nXZEN 
offers seven hours of talk time and 100 hours of 

standby time considerably more than any other 
headset I’ve tested.

The nXZEN comes in two fl avours. I tested the 

basic $179 model. The nXZEN PLUS  is $199, 
and comes with a connector and an external 
earbud so users can hook up to their MP3 players 
and use their Bluetooth headset to listen to music. 
Answering an incoming phone call is as simple as 
hitting a button.

Bluetooth technology is making cell phone use 

a lot safer as more and more consumers decide 
headsets are a much safer way to go than trying 
to use a cell phone in the car. Because Bluetooth 
offers very good quality reception over a short 
distance and no wires to get tangled up in, it’s fast 
becoming the preferred technology for cell users.

PROS: Bluetooth! NO WIRES! Great sound, 

small size, easy setup and people at the other end 
can actually hear you when you’re outside. 

CONS: The earbud takes some getting used 

to because it really sticks into your ear. At $179 
MSRP for the nXZEN it’s fairly expensive.

You can e-mail Hill at: mhill@sp.canwest.

com, and fi nd past columns on the web at: 
http://www.canada.com/topics/technology/col-
umnists/hill.html 

Listen-up! This is the best

Murray

Hill

The StarPhoenix

nXZEN 

from Gennum 

Corporation

G

ames: Step up to the microphone and get your 
groove on in Konami’s Karaoke Revolution 
Party (PlayStation 2, Xbox; $59), a family-

friendly video game that challenges players to sing to 
more than 50 karaoke mainstays. Songs range from 
classics such as Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and 
Culture Club’s Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? to 
newer hits by Madonna, Lenny Kravitz and Beyonce. 
Warning: the virtual audience may boo you offstage 
if you hit a sour note or fall out of the song’s rhythm 
(or if ou pull an Ashlee Simpson and just mouth the 
words). Co-ordinated gamers can also plug in a Dance 
Dance Revolution mat controller to sing and dance at 
the same time. Visit www.musicineverydirection.com 
for more info, images and videos.

Gadgets: Think of it as a BlackBerry on a diet: the 

Motorola Q (www.motorola.ca) is the thinnest QWERTY-based push e-mail 
device in the world (11.5mm), plus it’s a cellphone, web surfer, multimedia 
player, digital camera and productivity tool. Due out over the next couple of 
months (Canadian carrier and price to be determined), the “Q” runs on the 
new Windows Mobile 5.0 platform for reliable and powerful performance 
and smooth synchronization with your Windows-based PC. Similar to the 
BlackBerry, this Bluetooth-enabled device houses an intuitive thumbwheel 
for one-handed control, and also includes stereo-quality speakers (and 
speakerphone feature) and a Mini-SD removable memory card slot for 
music, photos, videos or games.

Gear: Now that your DVDs and video games offer multi-channel sound 

instead of just left and right audio, those who prefer to listen privately with 
headphones won’t have to lose the surround sound effect. The Zalman 
Theatre 6 headphones ($80; www.zalmanusa.com) delivers true 5.1 sound 
— much like the fi ve speakers and subwoofer lining your family room. 
Three multi-coloured 3.5mm jacks can be found at the end of the headphone 
cord, designed for a centre channel, rear and front speakers. Many 5.1-sup-
ported sound cards on a computer — such as Creative’s SoundBlaster Live! 
and Audigy cards — offer three female jacks at the back of the card so plug-
ging in these headphone cords is a cinch. Enjoyment in a home theatre setup 
may require inexpensive mini-to-RCA converters to plug the headphones 
into the back of a stereo receiver.

(NATIONAL POST)

Anyone can rise 
to stardom with
family-style game

Marc Saltzman

CanWest News Service

 Konami’s Karaoke Revolution Party is available 

on PlayStation 2 and Xbox

EyeToy: 

Kinetic 

for PS2 

provides 
personal 

trainers to 

whip you in 

to shape

Every little thing you need

.

Still taking batteries out of your kids’ toys 
for the TV remote? Have you no shame?