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Hail and well met, citizens of Gadgetistan! I understand that you may have felt deprived of any gadget news last week, and I am truly, madly, deeply sorry. I was unavoidably detained, you see, by some people who wished to have words with me, and were determined to make that happen using the most dangerous weapons known to mankind: small children who had consumed way too much sugar (seriously, where’s the arms limitations talks when you need them?).

Having escaped their greedy clutches, I bring you this supersized version of Gadgetbox for this annual Day of Convenience (7/11, you see), in which we discuss news from the big three of video games, a way to see your wireless network, and my Halloween costume for this year.

The big three at E3

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) may have died and been reborn from its own ashes as a much smaller todo, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not still one of the premiere events for big announcements in the gaming world, and sure enough, all three console makers dropped some news on us this week.

First up, Sony. Before E3 had even started, they were making some waves by lowering the cost of their 60GB PlayStation 3 model by $100 to just $499. You know what that means, folks: the PlayStation 3 is now the same price as the low-end iPhone—watch out, Apple; this sucker has “iPhone killer” written all over it. As if that wasn’t enough, Sony rolled out the long-rumored 80GB flavor at the same time; it’ll run $599 (the same price as an 8GB iPhone, and with ten times the storage—coincidence? I think not). The 80GB model will also come packaged with racing game Motorstorm, so you won’t have to mortgage your house to buy something to play on your new game console. At their press conference they announced a slimmed down PlayStation Portable with a faster UMD drive, and video output for plugging into a TV. There’s even a special Darth Vader model—which, come to think of it, explains a few things about why they continue to insist on making the PSP at all. [Image via Engadget ]

Okay, that’s what’s up Sony sleeves. Microsoft, your rebuttal? Xbox head Peter Moore demoed a bunch of games making their way to the 360 this year, including BioWare’s much-anticipated RPG Mass Effect and the still mysterious Assassin’s Creed . But the big news was the pretty unsurprising pimping of Halo 3 , complete with a shiny new Halo 3 Limited Edition of the Xbox 360. And there was much rejoicing. Er. Yay. Decked out in Master Chief green (hopefully available for paint matching at your local Home Depot), the special console comes with a matching wireless controller, a 20GB hard drive, headset, play & charge kit, and Halo 3 content from Xbox Live (gamer pics and theme). You do not, however, get Halo 3 itself—say whaaaaaa? No pricing yet, but if it’s more than the Premium bundle’s $400 pricetag, than they’re going to be laughed out of town. It’ll be gouging Halo fanboys everywhere this September.

Finally, good old Nintendo. They know how to roll different , knowhaimsayin’? Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Amie took the stage to show off a couple of new peripherals: the much ballyhooed Wii Zapper (bundled with an as yet unannounced game, or $20 on its own), a Wii Steering wheel (for use with the forthcoming Wii version of MarioKart, which will also feature online play! Hurrah!). But the big news was an entirely new peripheral with an entirely new game mechanic: Wii Fit. This “game” is actually an exercise program packaged with what’s currently called the “Wii Balance Board,” a device you stand on that’s pressure sensitive. You do pushups, aerobic activities, and balancing, and it measures your progress as you go. Nintendo visionary Shigeru Miyamoto says that he’s more excited about this game than any other, and I’d be unsurprised to see it grab the same sort of attention as Wii Sports. Given the nature of the Balance Board, though, I wonder if maybe they’ll run into the same sort of injuries and warnings as they did for the remote. But at least you can finally legitimately use video games as an excuse for not going outside.

So that’s what 802.11 looks like

As much as we all love the freedom to roam on our wireless networks, unhindered by those pesky Ethernet cables, keeping your network in healthy working condition can often be an exercise in frustration. Router web interfaces are often less than forthcoming , and it’s hard to get an idea of what’s going on when you have to stare at a bunch of cryptic numbers and acronyms.

Belkin’s new N1 Vision router wants you to see what’s going on, and to that end it incorporates a built in LCD display that lets you view your network’s performance. The 802.11n router’s screen can display a “speedometer” of your network’s download and upload speeds, your bandwidth usage, how many devices are connected (useful for seeing if you’ve got any freeloaders next door—you know who I mean), a guest access key, and er, the date and time.

It’s certainly a cool idea, and the guest access key is almost worth the price of admission alone (no more digging around to find that essential piece of info). Then again, who wants to put their router out in open as a coffee table piece? Besides its novel display, the N1 Vision features 4 Gigabit ports and Draft 2.0 N-compliance. It’ll run you $199, which is a little pricey for a router, even of the N variety, but if the flash of that display gets your salivary glands going, you may very well be willing to part with the coin.

Ultimate Vader costume is impressive…most impressive

Admittedly, I’m not much of a Halloween person. I don’t do well in crafting costumes and I don’t plan ahead, as evidenced by the year that I went as Indiana Jones and the only thing I could find that would even vaguely resemble a whip was a coil of coaxial cable. Yeah.

Still, if ever I was to join wholeheartedly into the celebratory nature of October 31st, it would require the outlay of $850 to acquire this fully armed and operational Darth Vader costume. Cast from the original mold, this package includes gloves, armor, a full faux-leather jumpsuit, and all of the attendant flashing lights and boxes. Heck, they’ll even throw in an FX lightsaber. And the helmet comes with a device to mimic Vader’s signature heavy breathing, so you don’t even need to go through the trouble of taking a swim in lava for the full effect—though if you were really dedicated, that would hardly stop you.

Hell, forget Halloween—this is perfect for casual Fridays at work. Trust me, nobody bothers the Dark Lord of the Sith about his TPS reports.

[via Gizmodo ]

That’s it for today’s edition of Gadgetbox. Don’t forget to celebrate the Day of Convenience with the Slurpee flavor of your choice. We’ll see you back next week.

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