The weekend (n.) the period from Friday evening through Sunday evening, especially regarded as a time for leisure. The Weeknd (also n.) a Canadian singer, songwriter and record producer who probably really enjoys the weekend. Here at TechRadar, we enjoy them both.
It’s my pleasure to welcome you back to another installment of Off the Radar, a column where I'll uncover the best shows, movies, music and games you should be checking out with your two and a half days of respite.
Why trust me? Week after week, I test a TON of products – everything from fantastic-sounding headphones and Bluetooth speakers, to the latest and greatest TVs and video game consoles. While I’m writing these reviews I consume a lot of content. (I know, I know, it’s a hard job but someone has to do it.) And rather than hoard all those great shows/movies/music/games, I want to share all those recommendations with you.
This week I got my hands on TCL’s exceptional 55-inch 55P607, a budget 4K television that boasts both types of HDR (HDR10 and Dolby Vision) and seriously changed my definition of what a budget TV could look like. I also spent some time with Samsung’s new HW-MS750 Sound+ Soundbar (also great) and I dusted off my HTC Vive for a reprieve from reality.
Without further ado, here are my top picks for the weekend of August 5. (Don’t forget: If you recently watched/played/listened to something good yourself, drop me a line on and I might just feature you in next week’s column.)
Watch: Castlevania / Tony Robbins: I am not your Guru
This week is a double dose of video recommendations. First up is Castlevania, the animated short series written by famed comic scribe Warren Ellis (famous for his work on Iron Man, Astonishing X-Men, Moon Knight and Hellblazer) that loosely – and I do mean loosely – follows the video game franchise. It’s a little too Ellis-y for me (i.e. bloody, meandering and machismo) but it is without a doubt the best adaptation the series has ever seen, and is well worth the one hour and twenty minutes it takes to watch all four 20-minute episodes.
If blood, guts and the tales of vampires aren’t really your thing, there’s a great documentary on Netflix called Tony Robbins: I am not your Guru that follows, as you might’ve guessed, Tony Robbins. (For those who have never heard of Tony Robbins before, think of Terence Stamp’s character from Yes Man, and you’ll be on the right track.)
Tony Robbins comes across as both deeply prophetic in his ability to see problems people in his audience are having and helping them cope as well as a complete snake oil peddler. It’s this juxtaposition between the two that make the film an interesting – possibly even inspiring if you believe in Robbins' ability to inspire life-long change – look at Robbins’ work.
Castlevania and Tony Robbins: I am not your Guru are streaming on Netflix (opens in new tab).
Play: Viva Piñata (via Xbox Games Pass)
If you saw last week’s column where I recommended Banjo-Kazooie (also available via Xbox Games Pass), you might be noticing a trend here. While at first glance it might look like I have an undying love for Rare – which I do – I’m also big on spotlighting games that didn’t get their due the first time around.
This week, I wanted to shed a light on Viva Piñata, a gem from the Xbox 360 era that’s worth revisiting now that we’ve put close to a decade in between us and the game’s initial release date. Hopefully, like me, those 10 years will provide you some perspective on this classic – you’ll notice how smooth the gameplay transitions from tutorial to open exploration and how nurturing piñatas becomes just as fun as collecting them towards the end of the game.
Of course, if those aren’t compelling enough reasons for you, try sharing the game with someone new: a growing gamer, a freshly interested friend or a spouse who has yet to find that one game to sink his or her teeth into. Trust me: Sweet, humble and charming in every way, Viva Piñata will be the game that finally gets them hooked.
Viva Piñata is available on Xbox One via the Xbox Games Pass service.
Listen to: Chamber Music (Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal album)
I’ll admit, finding a new album this week was a struggle for me. I listened to new tracks from Mura Masa and Arcade Fire, among others, and while I could highlight either, I instead chose to go with an old classic from my Spotify library: Chamber Music by Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal.
Now, as a caveat, I realize this type of music of music won’t be for everyone – it’s not exactly dance music and it’s about the furthest thing you can find from Top 40. But what you get with Chamber Music is an insanely interesting blend of music styles. Sissoko, hails from a long tradition of Malian kora players (a kora is best imagined as a cross between a lute, a banjo and a harp) while Segal is a classically trained cellist.
The story of the album goes that the two met, jammed together and realized that these two totally disparate types of music actually harmonized together. Instead of one instrument controlling the melody and one providing a background layer, however, the two instruments coalesce to form something unpredictable and electric. It’s weird, wild and different. But sometimes that’s exactly the kind of music we need in our lives.
Chamber Music is available for streaming on Spotify and (opens in new tab).
That’s it for this week! Like what I'm laying down? Disappointed by my picks? Send me some feedback at Nick [dot] Pino [at] Futurenet [dot] com.