Blue Mo-Fi Headphones Review

Blue Mo-Fi Headphones woman

I’ve had these headphones for two months and used them daily before writing my review. Always keep in mind how much time a reviewer actually spent with the item and how they used it before reading any review.

Right off the bat I can tell you that other than some Koss headphones I used in the late 90s-early 2000s these are simply some of the best sounding headphones that money can reasonably buy. I don’t remember the name or model of those Koss headphones but considering they were made in 1999-2000 they are way out of production even though I would recommend them as well. I’m only mentioning those Koss headphones because for many years those headphones set my standards so high for sound quality in headphones that I consider most headphones to have a garbage sound quality. These Blue Mo-Fi headphones however meet my high standards in sound quality, a nearly impossible feat. They are designed with a real audiophile in mind. With that in mind, know that the designers assume you know what you’re doing with your audio equipment. What I mean by that is that one of the first things you will notice is that these headphones don’t have a volume knob built directly into them. You have to regulate the volume from your audio source which can sometimes complicate their use but it’s also one less component that is less likely to fail over time. Volume regulation can be done directly from your sound source or through one of the modular cables the headphones come with.

The first things you will notice about the Blue Mo-Fi Headphones is how LOUD they can be. The headphones have internal batteries that require no maintenance. The only thing they require is charge should you desire to use the amplied modes. The headphones have three settings: OFF, ON, ON+. OFF is what a normal person will use or what you will want to use most of the time if you’re not doing anything intense. This mode is still pretty loud compared to other headphones and it’s fine for everyday use. ON is when they headphones start to use their internal battery to power the built-in amplifiers (notice I used a plural). In this mode they literally amplify their volume by about what to me seems like 500-700%. All while maintaining this power I didn’t notice distortion in sound quality. ON+ is what you will want to use if you are watching a war movie or listening to heavy metal/industrial/rock music. This mode seems to amplify the volume by about 1000% of what you hear in the OFF mode baseline. ON+ also seems to really kick in the bass compared to the other modes.

The headphones come with a warning on an external paper, in the manual, and on labels in the cable bags to be careful about setting the volume too high on the source of what you connect them to and rightly so this is for a good reason. Do you remember the intro to the movie Back To The Future where Marty McFly goes into Doc Brown’s garage and turns up all the speakers too high only to explode the entire sound system and nearly kill himself with the sound? Well, putting your sound source all the way up and on ON+ mode is sort of like that scene except that the headphones will be able to handle the output without losing fidelity but probably your ear drums will be destroyed! In other words, be careful, but the crazy part of my brain says to GO WILD and listen to them as loud as your ears can handle. Without exaggeration the Mo-Fi Headphones sound better and louder than the best music concerts and night clubs I have ever been to and that’s taking into account that in my younger years I liked to stand right next to where the speakers for those places were!

The sound is so crisp and loud that I am starting to hear parts of songs that I never knew existed. I’m even starting to hear all their imperfections. Since these headphones will let you hear everything from the source they will also let you hear any background noise that your source might have (that you probably never noticed before since you were using filtered headphones). On my main gaming PC I can hear the background noise the onboard soundcard makes because the headphones will boost all sounds from the signal source. This is only really noticeable to me when I have nothing playing. When I tested it with a better non-built-in sound card there was no background noise because of the superior components of the better sound card. When I tested them with my phone and a portable mp3 player I also heard no built-in noise. I only heard an internal buzzing sound when I was using them amplified and were charging them at the same time.

The next thing you will notice about the Blue Mo-Fi Headphones is how well constructed they are. All major parts are made out of metal. Every time I pick them up it feels like I’m picking up something that’s really well crafted. This feels as well constructed as the inside of a luxury supercar, they’re that refined. The side of the earpieces have hidden LED lights that light up based on the status of the battery (like when it’s charging, etc.). You can adjust the height of where the earpieces are positioned as well as the width of the top support so that people with any size of head can use them. The left earpiece has a connector which is modular so that you can connect one of the two cables it comes with to your preferred audio source. The cables are of different length so depending on what you intend to do you can swap out the cable on the fly depending on your needs.

The cables are also standard audio cables so they are easy to replace should they ever get damaged or lost. This is a huge advantage over most headphones as I can tell you throughout the years of always using headphones that over time cables WILL get damaged unless you are meticulous and/or don’t have any pets/kids. I’ve had to replace many headphones throughout the years usually because a major cable got ruined. One of the cables has a built-in volume adjuster control that will make life easier for you should you use a sound source with no volume control. The earpieces are so well constructed that they block out most external noises. Most of the time when people talk to me while I’m wearing them I can’t even hear them, especially if I’m playing something. This can be a huge benefit if you happen to live in a loud home like I do but there are down sides as well such as increasing the chance of missing phone calls. ;-] They’re great for helping you ignore the world and to me that’s always a good thing! The metal components feel cool and nice to the touch as well.

 

Blue Mo-Fi Headphones

The Good:
-Metal construction doesn’t mean they will fall apart or crack like plastic headphones usually do.
-Sound dampening will literally hide all external noises.
-They can be extremely loud while still maintaining fidelity.
-Modular cable lets you replace it should it ever get damaged.
-Standard audio cable lets you hook them up to almost anything.
-Built-in amp modes can amplify volume beyond what most people will ever need.
-Best headphones I’ve ever used for listening to rock music.
-Sound quality is so great they will make you want to go back and rehear your entire music collection!
-They come in a well packaged cube that’s worth keeping for storing them. Packaging also includes a bag for transportation as well as adapters that let you hook them up to anything.
-When used in amplified mode they will turn off to save battery should you close the headphones.
-One of the cables it comes with has a built-in volume control which is useful for connecting them to a sound source with no volume control (it’ll prevent you from going deaf!).
-No need to install any software or drivers to make them work.
-The manual is fun to read.

The Bad:
-High cost of $350 can be prohibitive for a lot of people but if you want quality you must pay for it.
-Metal components make them slightly heavier than lighter material counterparts.
-They must be charged in order to use with their amplification (this takes 3-4 hours according to the manual and what I observed in my testing). Good thing is that the battery lasts for a very long time (roughly around 12 hours of charge) and they can still be used unamplified if the battery is depleted. Charger also happens to use a fairly common connector.
-Although loudness is generally a good thing they can literally make you deaf should you crank them up all the way to a very loud sound source. Be careful!!!

Conclusion:
If you love immersion and especially music and can afford to get them these are a must own.

Technical Specs:
AMPLIFIER
-Output power: 240mW -THD+N: 0.004%
-Frequency response: 10Hz-20kHz -SNR, self noise: <105 dB
-Noise: < 20 uV -Battery capacity: 1020mAh

DRIVERS
-Type and size: 50mm, titanium-reinforced dynamic driver
-Impedance: 42 ohms
-Frequency response: 15-20kHz
-Enclosure details: Sealed enclosure with tuned damping materials

HEADPHONES
-Weight: 466 g (16.44 oz) -Outer dimensions (closed): 21mm x14mm x12mm (8.27” x 5.51” x 4.72”)
-Outer dimensions (open): 18mm x 29mm x 12mm (7.09” x 11.42” x 4.72”)

Retro Arcade Watch

Retro Arcade Watch

Forget about wearable tech wristwatches like Sony’s Smartwatch or Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. If you want a cool retro timepiece on your wrist, then look no further than ThinkGeek’s Retro Arcade Watch.

Retro Arcade Watch

Once we received the Retro Arcade Watch, we knew a review was in order to let you know what we thought of the watch and most importantly, if it is worth shelling out your hard earned cash. Read on.

Design & Function

The Retro Arcade wristwatch is chunky. Don’t let the chunkiness dissuade you though – it sits comfortably on the wrist with no nagging bits poking and prodding your arm or hand. This is no flimsy timepiece. Made from stainless steel, the case is made to withstand normal day to day punishment. The case (arcade cabinet) is adorned with Galactic Defense decals and also has a joystick and fire-button to add to the arcade machine realism. For pure awesomeness, when the fire-button is pressed, it lights up the hour indicators and marquee in red and also makes pew pew firing sound effects. To power all this awesomeness, the watch requires a CR2032 and SR626 button cell batteries, which are included.

Retro Arcade Watch

ThinkGeek didn’t skimp on the band either, they partnered the cool case with a black leather band with white contrast stitching. The end result being a unique timepiece that is a throwback to the golden age of arcade gaming.  

 

Display

In keeping with the arcade theme, the analog-style time is displayed with a combination of dials – space rocks for the hours and minutes, and a spaceship for the seconds hand. Did I hear you say Asteroids? Well, you said that, we didn’t. As mentioned previously, when the fire-button is pressed, the hour indicator dots are lit up in red, so if you find yourself in a dark alley and you need to know what time it is, just press the fire-button.

 

Coolness

It’s an arcade machine on your wrist that can tell the time and has awesome lighting and pew pew sound effects.

Retro Arcade Watch

How much cooler can it get? Well, if you could play Asteroids or Galaga on it, then I guess it would have been on the super side of cool. However, for under 50 smackers ($49.95USD) you get a watch that can tell the time and provide a coolness factor for free.

Verdict

If you are an Omega or Tag Heuer kind of watch wearer, then the Retro Arcade Wristwatch may not be for you. If you like to show-off your inner geekiness, then you cannot go wrong with this watch on your wrist. At the least, you will send tongues wagging!

An Optical Delight: No Scope Demon Series Gaming Glasses

No Scope Demon Series Gaming Glasses

In the world of competitive and casual gaming. Players will tend to go full out and search for any type of advantage. From high end machines to flashy accessories. Well I am here to tell you that you don’t have to break the bank to also take care of yourself.

No Scope Demon Series Gaming Glasses

Today I will be reviewing the first of many new reviews to the sight as I take on the No Scope Demon Series Gaming Glasses and put there claims to the test. I’ve “scoped” out other glasses that make similar claims and have seen there prices go in upwards of $85 dollars an even higher then that!! Well I am here to say you don’t have to break your savings to get not only a quality product but also a hidden gem that I believe will help you in the long run with those heavy gaming sessions! So sit back relax and take a read as I give you the information on these optical enhancements!

Pros:

Price point at $19.99 these glasses rival the ever popular Gunnar Glasses in desired results while not breaking the piggy bank. The lens quality is superb while lending its self to lessening eye strain during long gaming sessions.

High quality frame work while still being lightweight. During long sessions my normal glasses tend to move and bother me as they slide down some. Wearing my contacts and using the No Scopes allows me to not worry about any type of movement on the glasses as these seam to hold and fit very nicely on my nose.

Accessories like microfiber cloth and caring case are also included and much appreciated by users like myself.

Cons:

Do they come in white? lol

Overall:

For the price and quality of the overall product I believe you will not run into a better option then No Scopes Demon Series Gaming Glasses. These glasses are equal to anything on the market at a fraction of the cost. If you are looking to enjoy long gaming hours these are very beneficial and will reduce eye strain and also help you transition from long gaming sessions to sleeping hours as they reduce the blue light effect from monitors that may cause insomnia. These will forever be in my arsenal of weapons to take on the competition. Head over to NoScope’s website and enter code jhernandezog so they know I sent you.

Sincerely,
Josh”Shinhayabusa”Hernandez
Competitive Content Director
Obsolete Gamer

Final Verdict: 5/5 Obsolete Gamer Certified

MOGA: The Mobile Game Changer

MOGA: The Mobile Game Changer

Is your new year’s resolution to become an accomplished mobile gamer? To become an accomplished mobile gamer, you’ll need some precision control. Well, I think the MOGA Pocket Controller (MOGA) might be your weapon of choice.

MOGA - The Mobile Game Changer

All work ceased when the MOGA arrived in the office. We all just gawked at this beautiful sleek package on the desk. Who would be the lucky sod to crack open the controller and put it through its paces? Well, being the editor, there are certain perks and privileges that come with the job –  I wasn’t going to let anyone else get their grubby fingers on the MOGA.

 

Build Quality

MOGA - The Mobile Game Changer
The first thing that strikes you with the MOGA is its build quality – it is flawless! This little pocket rocket is one of the best looking controllers on the market. The piano black finish is gorgeous and the feel and control is akin to your PS3 and XBox 360 controllers, albeit a tad smaller for use on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets).

With dual analogue sticks, shoulder triggers and four action buttons, you will feel right at home when the MOGA is in your hands. The unit even has a ‘flip’ arm which secures your Android device up to 3.2in / 82mm in size – accommodating the market’s largest smartphones.

The MOGA draws power from two AAA (1.5V) batteries. You’ll get a fair few hours play on a pair of AAAs. We played with it for 6 hours and there was still lots of juice left in the batteries.

 

 

Compatibility & Games

MOGA - The Mobile Game Changer Let’s face it, what good is a controller if it can not be used on a myriad of games. Given the MOGA is for Android 2.3+ devices (we used it on a Samsung Galaxy S3), there are numerous games on Google Play that are ‘enhanced’ for the MOGA. Having said that, games that are compatible with the MOGA must run via its proprietary app, the MOGA Pivot App (don’t stress, it is a breeze to setup and use). Unfortunately, this means that your much loved retro gaming emulators can not utilise this controller. That aside, there are games being added to the library on a constant basis. You would be pretty hard pressed if you couldn’t find a swag of games that you could play using the MOGA.

 

Verdict

MOGA - The Mobile Game Changer
If you are a control freak and yearn for precision, then the MOGA Pocket Controller is for you. If you tend to play MAME or other retro system emulators, then you will need to look elsewhere. This is one great little controller that we highly recommend. 

Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 Thumb Drive

Now besides the technical stuff, the drive itself is sturdy which I like. Sure, you are not going into a war zone with it, or maybe you are, but just carrying around a thumb drive, you can find yourself dropping it or you dropping on it. ~J.A. Laraque

Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 Thumb Drive

So how do you test a thumb drive? The answer is pretty much the same way you test any other data drive, with software that tests read and write speeds.  We can tell you right from the start that the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 Thumb Drive lives up to the name Hyper by writing at 135MB per second and reading at 225MB per second. So what does this mean in the real world or better yet, what does this mean for a gamer?

Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 Thumb Drive

It’s pretty simple. Say you play M.A.M.E games or other old school games and want to be able to play them anywhere. Having a fast thumb drive with a lot of space allows this. The version we tested was 64GB which is incredible considering my first ever hard drive was 750MBs and cost me over $350. You can find this drive for about $65 on places like Newegg. So while it might be a little more expensive than your normal 4 to 8GB thumb drives, you are going for two things here, speed and space.

When transferring large files you will sometimes find yourself wanting this done in a hurry which is where USB 3.0 comes in. USB 3.0 is the latest standard and is about 10 times faster than 2.0 and this drive is even faster than your normal 3.0 USB drives. So for instance, if you had 12GBs of games to transfer, it might take up to 40 minutes with a USB 2.0 drive, six minutes with a standard 3.0 drive and 3 minutes with the DataTraveler HyperX. The question is, how important is your time?

Now read and write speeds differ because a thumb drive does not have all the components of say a SSD drive, but this is not really an issue when you are playing a game or watch a movie from your drive. I did both, even HD movies and it ran as smoothly as on my SSD at home. Don’t worry if you don’t have USB 3.0, it works with USB 2.0 but obviously it won’t be able to take advantage of the speeds you would get from 3.0.

Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 Thumb Drive image 1

Now besides the technical stuff, the drive itself is sturdy which I like. Sure, you are not going into a war zone with it, or maybe you are, but just carrying around a thumb drive, you can find yourself dropping it or you dropping on it. The good thing is the outer shell protects it and even with the protection it fits perfectly on different devices, not taking up space or blocking other ports. I personally like that you can clip the cover on the thumb drive while it’s plugged in because I have lost a lot of covers that way.

So you know from my other reviews that it comes down to cost. It is like this, when you combine, USB 3.0, faster than basic speeds and 64GBs you will get a higher price point. If you never transfer a lot of data and you don’t care about speed then a smaller more basic thumb drive is for you. However, if you are always transferring data, running applications and media from your drive and time is of great importance than the HyperX DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive is a great choice and totally not obsolete.

Gameboy Micro Famicom Edition

The Game Boy Micro is slightly smaller than the Famicom controller but it is very close in size.  I have smaller hands so the small size is perfect for me.  Plus I love the gold and red coloring on it! ~Alana Dunitz

Gameboy Micro Famicom Edition

Finally decided to dive in and pick up a Game Boy Micro, and not just a plain one.  Had to be the special 20th Anniversary of the Famicom edition one.  I’ve been looking for one for a long time then when it finally because available from a seller in Japan I had to get it!

Gameboy Micro Famicom Edition A

The Micro was made to look just like the player 1 controller on the original Famicom, so it seemed fitting to have since it’s the Famicom 30th Anniversary this year.

Gameboy Micro Famicom Edition B

The Game Boy Micro is slightly smaller than the Famicom controller but it is very close in size.  I have smaller hands so the small size is perfect for me.  Plus I love the gold and red coloring on it!

Gameboy Micro Famicom Edition C

Here is the Micro along side the special edition NES Controller inspired Game Boy Advance SP we got here in North America.  It’s crazy to see the difference in the screen size, and just the layout and size differences between the two.  But I honestly love both and I’m so glad I have the two of them in my collection!

Gameboy Micro Famicom Edition D

D-Link Gaming Router AC1300

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If you are not a big internet user and do not play a lot of games online then perhaps a more traditional wireless router would be your speed, but hardcore gamer or not, when it comes to the internet, speed counts.~J.A. Laraque

D-Link Gaming Router AC1300 (DGL-5500)

When it comes to gaming, online bandwidth and speed are extremely important. In some of our other reviews the question was if a specific device was good for the casual gamer or the hardcore gamer, but when it comes to your internet, a good router is needed no matter what type of gamer you are.

D-Link Gaming Router AC1300

The first thing you need to remember about PC Gaming is you are going to require the internet to get the most out of it. For the most part, PC games are going to be played online and require patches, content downloads and the ability to look up information or connecting with gaming community. If you are into multiply games or MMO’s, then a good internet connect and router is even more important.

D-Link Gaming Router AC1300

The D-Link Gaming Router is designed to give you control over bandwidth, but give specific aspects of your online life a speed boost. The first way this is done is with StreamBoost from Quadcomm which uses Traffic Shaping.

D-Link Gaming Router AC1300 Traffic Shaping

So what is traffic shaping, here it is in a nutshell. You control the flow of data to your online sources. Think of it like a river and you control where the water flows and how much flows to a specific area. So if you are playing a game like Diablo 3, and you are also downloading a video game demo while your sister is watching NetFlix and your mother is listing to music on Pandora, with traffic shaping, you can make sure your game won’t lag while also making sure the video and audio streams are interrupted and slow the download of the demo as it may not be a high priority.

D-Link Gaming Router AC1300

Now beyond control is speed and this I tested with different devices like my tablet and phone as well as my laptop and desktop. I did notice an increase in speed when watching shows on Netflix even if patching a game and downloading demos. This comes in handy if you are a serious multi-tasker like me. I often have ten or more browser windows open while streaming music, updating Steam or BattleNet and playing an online game. Keep in mind that this works with multiple devices in your home so if you have a lot of users connected to your wireless network this can help insure your game does not suffer crippling lag.

Now some people did not like the shape. I like to read the reviews of people who purchased the product on places like NewEgg or Amazon and while some of the comments and low scores are unwarranted based on issues such as shipping, there were some based on its “Coffee Grinder” shape. Personally, this doesn’t bother me at all, but I do know some of my friends who stack all their network devices on top of one another so I guess in that case it could be an issue. I also like the two green LED lights that tell me when the unit is on and when it is connected and the ports in the back are lined up fine.

D-Link Gaming Router AC1300

As far as specifications, speaking of ports, there are 4 ports for 10/100/1000M, these are wired connections and one for WAN to connect your modem. It offers IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n with wireless data rates up to 867+450Mbps and a frequency band of 2.4GHz/5GHz. This means you will be able to connect using the different networking options you may have available by your ISP or specific types of connections you specific devices will need. Pretty much all the current connection options are there. Another complaint was the USB 2.0 port because people felt it should have been USB 3.0 and I have to agree with them there.

D-Link Gaming Router AC1300

Another good thing is setup. The D-Link Gaming Router AC1300 comes with the main unit, an Ethernet cable, power adapter and a quick install guide. Trust me, this is a simple setup, and pretty much you plug it in, run the software and you are good to go. Now some people have talked about not using the StreamBoost and as a result you do not get access to some of the features in the UI interface. The interface is reached by entering the IP of the router and setting up your login and password.

Now if you don’t use StreamBoost then the network map that shows all the different connected devices and how much traffic each is receiving won’t be there. I read up on people who said that having the StreamBoost did not work for them in anything or that it even slowed them down. Now I did not notice my download speeds change, but updating games and streaming video I saw a real positive difference.

There were reviews that talk about the system not noticing some types of streaming so I tested it using different types from Netflix to Hbo2Go, Xbox 360 Videos, Twitch and Youtube and the software detected it correctly.  I also tested steaming on other devices like my Android phone and an Apple Ipad. I did this because of reports of it thinking a stream from NBA league pass online was general internet traffic and not a video stream. What this would mean is if it was not device or application aware, it would not properly designate what should get the proper bandwidth.

 D-Link Gaming Router AC1300

Now the important thing here is the price. At prices ranging from $150 to $179, a router at this price range could turn away those who might look at this router as only for the hardcore gamer the way you would be weary of purchasing a pair of $300 wireless headphones. However, here it is not just about gaming, it is about all your devices that use your bandwidth and if you have a lot of connected devices then going beyond the low cost option is worth it. If you are not a big internet user and do not play a lot of games online then perhaps a more traditional wireless router would be your speed, but hardcore gamer or not, when it comes to the internet, speed counts.

Overall, I am pleased with the D-Link Gaming Router and I noticed a big improvement with video steaming and updating and running of games. If you are a heavy internet user and a gamer then you should seriously consider getting this router. The system is easy to setup and get running and while the price point may be a little high, it is the additional features and performance boost that makes it worth the cost, totally not Obsolete.

SteelSeries H Wireless Headset Review

SteelSeries H Wireless Headset

SteelSeries takes quality seriously at all price levels which makes it an easier choice when it comes time to spend the big bucks on a great headset. ~J.A. Laraque

SteelSeries H Wireless Headset

Often when you are looking to make a purchase your thinking about what you need the product for and how much you are willing to spend. We also know that style, branding and personal preference often come into play. If you have read any of my reviews you know that I try to put myself in the shoes of the various consumers out there that will be making the decisions on what to buy. You will get the technical data you need and my personal options, but it is also about hitting the important points that a wide array of shoppers look to be hit upon when doing research to make the right choice.

SteelSeries H Wireless Headset

When it comes to headsets you often have two major camps, those who only use headphones when they have too, and those who prefer to always use a headset. So when reviewing the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset, I thought of those two camps first. Now before looking at the various decision points first thing first is the price. At $299.99, this is a purchase for someone that is serious about headphones. While spending for quality regardless of how much you may use a product is a smart move, those with a budget need to think as well as research before making the decision to spend this amount on any headset.

SteelSeries H Wireless Headset

Most likely if you are reading this review you are a gamer and I can say right off the bat that this headset is truly built for gaming. You have to keep in mind however, that just using the term gaming headset does not mean that it is necessary for gaming. Think of it like a home stereo system. I have friends over on the AVS forums that have spent thousands of dollars to build the perfect home theater system, but even they will tell you that it is not 100% necessary nor is it needed if all you do is watch a few hours a television a week. On the other hand, if you are seriously into gaming then the high quality sounds the H Wireless Headset delivers will not only increase the experience of gaming, but in competitive gaming the Dolby Headphone surround sound allows you to hear things all around you clearly which is a major plus for games where you hunt or are hunted.

SteelSeries H Wireless Headset

Now comfort is king, while it may be more important to those who always have their headsets on, comfort should be important to everyone. The memory foam padding on the headband and ear cups are seriously comfortable. I personally made sure to test this by wearing it during my off day working from my home office. I played music, games, talked on Skype and Ventrilo and watched Netflix. It was about 6 hours total of me wearing the headset and I never felt the need to take it off due to discomfort or because my ears were getting sweaty. The microphone quality is great and the Chat and Live Mix features balance the audio from games to music and movies to your voice and the voices of others. Also the wireless capabilities are about 40 feet and it worked from different highs through doors and other rooms of the house.

One of the questions about wireless headsets was battery life and interference. As far as battery life, again the H Wireless Headset knows what gamers need. They understand that when your battery goes low you need to pop in another one fast. The good news is the battery life is a little over 20 hours and the transmitter holds a secondary battery that charges while the other is in the headset. It is quick and easy to remove the plastic cover on the headset, remove the battery, pop out the other fully changed one in the transmitter, pop it in, pop the other in the transmitter to begin charging and get back to gaming.

SteelSeries H Wireless Headset

The transmitter itself is also a great feature. First, you get all the cords you need to hook up your PC, Xbox, Playstation even your television. You can connect the transmitter via USB or a standard AC power cable that is included. Now the box itself is very small, but stylish. It kind of reminds me of the Apple TV box. It is well put together with a clear display that shows you the various menu and settings options, volume and battery life. As stated, you can connect different and multiple devices and use the profile system to switch between them. You can also adjust the various audio settings using the transmitter menu and can be done for your different profiles. I have profiles for my Xbox and PC and played around with another for my friends PS4.

SteelSeries H Wireless Headset

Now interference, I really wanted to test this since people used to hate wireless headsets because of this. I tried everything from having a large number of other wireless devices to being near my microwave, my large speaker system and even outside my home far past the 40 feet distance. I never got any interference, not even with my phone, this is due to the frequency hopping and fixed audio stream that the H Wireless Headset has so there is no lag and it is low latency, in everything I did the audio remained smooth and clear.

SteelSeries H Wireless Headset

So here is the problem. As said, if you are a gamer who always uses a headset and are into seriously good gaming audio quality then the price point is not an issue. However, if you are not, it will be. Consider that one of the main critiques of the H Wireless headset is it does not perform well with other media. I do not completely agree, what I would say is that for the price and even just comparing it to other SteelSeries headsets I find the H Wireless headset did not make a vast improvement over other models.

I also own the Siberia headset and have for a while now, for under $100, I found it had great quality for gaming as well as music, movies and voice. Now obviously it is not wireless nor does it have all the features of the H and the H beats it in gaming. However, I used the Siberia for a long time and loved the way it played music and the surround sound I heard in TV and movies. It is also very comfortable and has similar noise reduction and microphone features. So the issue becomes, if you are not an avid gamer do you need the H series. My honest option is that you do not especially if having wireless capabilities are more of a bonus than a must.

SteelSeries H Wireless Headset

The H Wireless headset preforms to me just as well as the Siberia in music and movies, but it is within games that it shines and makes the price point understandable. Also it is additional features like the retractable microphone that hides away in the headset and glows red when you mute it which you can do via the buttons on the headset itself or the transmitter. You can also control the volume from both devices and for those with Bluetooth devices like Android or iOS, you can connect those to the transmitter as well.

Overall for the gamer who lives with his headset and demands the best in gaming audio performance the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset delivers that hands down. For those on a budget or who are more casual with gaming as well as headset use, perhaps the Siberia would be a better choice. Either way it shows SteelSeries takes quality seriously at all price levels which makes it an easier choice when it comes time to spend the big bucks on a great headset.

Product Notes and Statistics

SteelSeries H Wireless Headset

HEADPHONE

Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20000Hz
Weight: 297g (without battery)
Max Volume: 100dB* SPL @ 1kHz
Ports: Wired Mode / Share Port,
Chat port, mini USB FW update port

TRANSMITTER

Wireless Range: 12m (40ft) straight line
Latency: <16ms, fixed
Ports: Analog In, Analog Out, mini USB,
Optical In, Optical Out, Power
Battery Type: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 1000mAh
Battery Life: 20 hours per pack, typical usage

MICROPHONE

Frequency Response: 100Hz – 10000Hz
Mic Pattern: Unidirectional
Indication: Red LED on mute

BOX CONTENTS

H Wireless Headset & Transmitter
(2) Battery packs
(6) Cables: Optical, USB, Power,
Analog, Mobile, Chat
Power adapter with (4) worldwide plug ends

The Logitech G19s

Logitech G19s

Logitech G19s

When I look for a gaming keyboard it is not just about gaming alone. I also spend a lot of time writing on my PC, so, the question of response, feel and durability is important to me. Also, I care about style and having a board that looks good on my desk and matches the rest of my setup also comes into play. When I got to try out the Logitech G19s gaming keyboard, I made sure to take my time playing games, working on writing and school work and trying out all the different features and then asked myself, does the Logitech G19s meet all my needs as well as price.

Logitech G19s

So let’s get right into it. One thing about any review be it video games or hardware is the question of, how can the reviewer give an honest review if their job is to continue to review products and maintain relationships with companies. I found after a lot of trial and error, that the key is to recognize the different aspects of people’s decisions in purchasing a specific product. For the Logitech G19s, a big issue is price and at $199.99 it is completely understandable. What you have to do is really look at all the features and then your own needs, wants and budgets and ask yourself is it all worth it.

Logitech G19s

Let’s start with the LCD panel. I loved my little screen on my older Logitech keyboard. I am the kind of person that will have my performance monitor up on the screen and looking at it. With the Logitech G19s, I found the game panel feature well done and am constantly surprised at how many games show up in the display. I admit I never think of using the video playback or image slideshows, but I know people that have. There are also applets you can get to work with it and as a guy who used lots of mods in games like World of Warcraft, I liked this feature a lot. So this is just one feature, but you have to understand that it is also a decent amount of the cost, so for me it is a plus and I will use most of the features. If you would not then right there you should consider a different keyboard be it from Logitech’s other offerings or somewhere else.

Logitech G19s

Some of the features most people will use are the programmable keys. This is mostly for gamers as this is a gamer keyboard, but you can set the keys to do anything and I know one or two people who use programmable keys for work or school including audio and video editing programs. You can also set the keys to work with your mouse or microphone, for functions in Team Speak and other voice programs. Backlighting is also a feature more and more people use so having up to 16 million colors is cool. You can create profiles, set a specific color to a specific key and have different settings per game or program. I personally like just setting different colors for say W,A,S,D even though on this keyboard they are already painted differently.

Logitech G19s

The Logitech G19s also has two USB ports. Now I read other reviews to see what other people view as a con because it may not seem like a con to me. In this case, many people look at the fact that the G19s requires a USB connection plus a power connection as a con. I guess I can understand just based on the fact that there are other keyboards that do not require this. I however, do not see it as a con. I use a ton of USB devices so having extra ports is nice and on other keyboards I found sometimes they were underpowered. Power for me is not an issue so I rather know I am getting the most out of the ports, the LCD screen and backlights than worrying about plugging in another device.

Logitech G19s

Let’s get back to the price point. Another con talked about was boards the construction. I will admit here that even considering the different features, I did kind of hope the board would feel different. Now typing, even for hours, felt find one this keyboard. I like the height and size of the board and the key placements are perfect for me. As was the response, no ghosting and the key presses felt good. However, I have felt this way with other keyboards as well with a lessor price point. I consider all the technology that went into the Logitech G19s to justify a higher cost, but I wish more was done with the materials used on the board itself. Some people said the plastic felt cheap, but I don’t see that. I have seen and felt cheap plastic on toys, controllers and other keyboards and the Logitech G19s is not cheap, but for the cost I think there could have been more accents to the keyboard to really make it stand out. It is like having a BMW, but the inside is like a Nissan Altima, still very nice, but you expected a little bit more from BMW. As said, I like the feel of the keys, the media buttons and even the volume control, but a little higher end on the materials would have made the cost more understandable.

Logitech G19s

So is it worth it? To answer this question you have to ask yourself will you take advantage of all the Logitech G19s has to offer and does the style fit yours. For someone who is constantly on the keyboard, be it work or play, you will get a lot out of this keyboard, but if you have no need for say, the display or the macro buttons, then a different model would be best for you. One important thing to consider is longevity. I used my previous Logitech keyboard for a long time and still use it at work today. It is still just as good today as it was 3 years ago and still looks good. Even something simple like UV coating so the keys don’t fade is something to think about if you don’t want to drop more cash on a keyboard anytime soon. This is definitely a board for the serious keyboard user who wants total control, visibility, features and style. There is no doubt the Logitech G19s has that in spades.

[Our Hardware Reviews]

Apple Bandai Pippin

Apple Bandai Pippin
Yes Apple was into gaming (besides Macs) long before the iPhone. They teamed up with Bandai to make a console of their own.
Apple Bandai Pippin
The specs were pretty much like a Mac computer. It even ran on the same OS.
 Apple Bandai Pippin
Controller was a little plain and goofy though. Also less than 20 games were made for the system. Yikes…..

Arcadie Review

Arcadie

It is quite exciting receiving goodies in the mail. This time around, we received the cool looking Arcadie. On first impressions, the unit stands out – I love anything that looks like an arcade machine. Upon closer inspection, the packaging doesn’t give away too many details, just minimal information on the compatibility and the website of the manufacturer for more detailed specifications. I guess with finite real estate on packaging, you have to grab potential customers’ attention with colouring and buzz words.

Build Quality

Arcadie

The Arcadie feels quite sturdy and takes a bit of punishment. The joystick is nice and tight and centres itself, while the buttons have a nice click when depressed – no hint of sponginess. Can it withstand years of punishment? Well, having had the unit for a few weeks, that is difficult to determine. Only time will tell. Unless you wrench the stick and abuse the buttons beyond their normal use, then there should be no reason for the unit to breakdown any time soon. When playing games, we did find that we had to tilt the unit away from us so that we could get a better viewing angle of the screen.

Arcadie
Arcadie Alien Invaders is a beefed up Space Invaders clone that plays quite well.

Compatibility & Games

Straight off the bat, the Arcadie is compatible with Apple’s iPod and iPhone devices up to and including the iPhone 4S and iPod Touch (3rd and 4th Generation). Unfortunately, if you have an iPhone 5 or above, you miss out. Not only is the Arcadie hampered by limited hardware compatibility, it is also limited to proprietary software. The good news is, Zeon are releasing games exclusive for the unit and the best bit is, they are totally free (via iTunes App store). Let’s hope they keep on releasing more games for the Arcadie, as it needs them.

Arcadie

Before you ask, the games that are available are beefed up clones of well known retro classics like: arcadie Blasteroids (Asteroids), arcadie Alien Invaders (Space Invaders), arcade Ping (Pong), arcadie Tanks and arcadie Hop Along (Frogger) . The games are quite fun to play, but not for too long. The novelty of playing on an arcade stylised cabinet is still quite cool. If only the Arcadie was compatible with other retro released games on iTunes. It’s a case of, what might have been.

Arcadie

 

Verdict

For the price of the Arcadie (sub $25 AUD for the blue unit), it is worth having it as a cool item – either to show off on your shelf or act as a stand for your iPhone or iPod. Will you use it to play games or will the novelty factor wear off? These are valid questions that can only be answered on an individual basis. I do get caught up in the nostalgia that certain items provide and I can safely say that the Arcadie certainly does this, albeit in a limited fashion. If you have an iPhone 4S or an iPod Touch, this is well worth a look.

SteelSeries Apex [RAW] Keyboard

Hey internets! This is Liz Poisonkiss, altruistic gaming hedonist extraordinaire!

Once again, I got my hands on a great product that I just have to talk about. The SteelSeries Apex [RAW] keyboard is an overall win in my book. Oh, let me count the ways!

steelseries-apex-raw

First off, I must clarify something so that this review gains some perspective. I use my keyboard a LOT. I wear down most keyboards really quick.  I’m constantly writing papers for my graduate program, composing emails, and doing some pretty intense PC gaming. So I was glad to get my hands on the Apex [RAW] keyboard.

This keyboard’s a little bigger than my other one because it extends down to form a  hand rest at the bottom. I’ll admit to preferring a smaller keyboard to conserve space but what it lacks in compactness it makes up for in performance. It’s low key profile and responsive keys don’t miss a beat as my fingers fly across the keyboard. The anti-ghosting modifications don’t let my game slow down when every second counts. Also, don’t you just hate it when you’re gaming full screen and in the middle of a heated battle and suddenly the game minimizes and your start menu pops up? Yup, you’ve hit the Windows key. But never fear, this keyboard gives you the ability to disable the Windows key and avoid all that mess!

steelseries-apex-raw

Not to mention all the freaking macro keys! There are 17 macro keys with two levels at your fingertips that give you the ability to instantly access 34 macros all customizable via the SteelSeries Engine. That’s a refreshing time saver!

Oh, another deceptively simple but nifty feature that the Apex [RAW] keyboard has is drainage holes. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been writing late at night while enjoying a steaming mug of brain go-go juice (coffee) to have it spill all over my keyboard. At that point my work is abruptly interrupted as I run with my keyboard to the sink and say a silent prayer to the computer gods that my keyboard will not be a completely sticky unusable mess. At least I know that with this keyboard I stand a chance.

steelseries-apex-raw

Compared to its big brother (SteelSeries Apex) the Apex [RAW] gives you the essentials you need for a fraction of the price. For only $69.99 you get top notch long lasting performance on a budget (some of us have to pay tuition).

One more thing, I’m writing this review on my Apex [RAW] keyboard and I completed one semester (4 months) of work, emails, gaming, and it survived two coffee/drink spills. That’s why this keyboard wins.

liz

Tech specs:

Connection: Wired USB

Cable: 6ft rubber coated

Build: Plastic

Key switch: Rubber membrane

Backlighting: 8 brightness levels of white light

Gaming: 17 dual layer marco keys, extra arrow keys, Capable of disabling Windows key.

USB pass-through: No

Audio pass-through: No

Goodies: Low-profile keys, Anti-Ghosting technology, Media controls, Drainage holes for spills.

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 Review

logitech c920
logitech c920

I’ve been using this webcam for the past 5 months using it a couple of times a week. So far it’s been the best webcam I’ve ever owned. This camera is basically a Logitech C910 camera but on steroids.

Video Quality:
The C920 has a full HD resolution of 1080p which works when you are making your own videos and when video calling somebody, so long as your network connection has enough bandwidth (1 Mbps for 720p and 2 Mbps for 1080p quality). The maximum video capture resolution is 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps. The camera natively takes 15 MP pictures as well. The camera comes with automatic low light correction built-in so it is good for using it in a dark room (like at night). The camera also tends to auto-focus on one’s face which is a really useful feature especially when video chatting with other people.

Audio Quality:
It has dual microphones for recording in stereo as well as built-in automatic noise reduction (could help with barking dogs, etc).

Compatibility:
Supposedly the C920 only works on Windows systems, although I have ran into some people that made it work on Mac. Some people have even gotten it to work on most Linux distributions.

I’ve used it with Skype and Google Hangouts and it was detected and worked automatically on my system, which is great because I have many peripherals installed (2 microphones and another camera connected most of the time).

Software:
The camera comes with Logitech software that you need to install to be able to use it to its full potential. You need it to be able to do the crazy video effects such as putting on a robot head on yourself and other silly/trippy video effects.

Mounting setup:
You can mount the camera to your monitor with the plastic mounting clips it has like the ones most webcams implement. If needed you are able to mount the C920 to a tripod because it has the required threaded mount for it. It has a 6 foot cable which should be enough for most applications (you can always use a USB extension cable to extend it).

The swivel support is not as good as I would want it to be but if you know how to place the camera on the correct surface then it’s not that much of a problem.

Hardware Requirements:
First off you need a free USB 2.0 port or better. USB 3.0 is highly recommended especially if you intend to use the built in microphones as well as record/broadcast at full 1080p. I would say to have at least dual core but since quad core CPUs seem to be the standard minimum these days that shouldn’t be a problem. Still, that’s something to consider if you are going to use this on an older system.

Value:
At the time I wrote this review this camera costs $72 on amazon with free shipping. Now yes there are webcams out there for about $20 but most people that would get something in that price range don’t usually care much about image quality. If you have a web show this is the best camera you can buy for the money right now that supports 1080p, hands down.

Conclusion:
I highly recommend the c920 – the image quality is well worth the price.

SGB Commander

SGB Commander

Thought I would share something cool that I ordered online. I never realized that something like this existed until recently when I was on ebay. It’s the SGB Commander! What’s that you ask, it’s a controller made specifically for the Super Game Boy. The awesome thing is that you can use it on the Super Famicom or on the Super Nintendo since the controllers aren’t system specific.

SGB Commander

The A and B buttons are in the exact same spot as on the Game Boy, but if you look above that you will see buttons that are specific to the Super Game Boy like Window, Color, Speed and even a Mute button. So now you don’t need to go into the menu to change your colors or frame, you just hit the button. You can speed up or slow down the speed of your game so if you are stuck on a part in your game you can slow it down a bit to help you get through it. The addition of a mute button is pretty neat, though I’m not totally sure how much you would use it. The one thing that I really like about this controller is that it’s a little bit thicker than your usual Super Nintendo controller, but not quite as thick as a Game Boy. It definitely feels a lot more like you are playing the game right on your Game Boy though which is awesome.

Check out this video review from Satoshi Matrix.

Steelseries Sensei Pro Grade Laser Mouse Review

Hey there, internets! This is Liz Poisonkiss, altruistic gaming hedonist extraordinaire! Today I’m reviewing the bad-ass Steelseries Sensei Pro Grade Laser Mouse.

SteelSeries-Sensei-Pro-Grade-Laser-Mouse

First off, I want to just say, wow. For the last month I’ve been using this amazing piece of hardware to game, surf the web, edit pictures, write, and pretty much do everything I do on my desktop.  From the first moment when I tore the Sensei out of the box I was impressed by its ambidextrous shape and silver shine finish. It also feels good in my hand (that’s what she said!), the size is just large enough to let my hand rest on it but not so small I would get cramps after only an hour gaming. But looks and size aren’t everything (honest!).

SteelSeries-Sensei-Pro-Grade-Laser-Mouse

As I was about to hook it up I noticed the cord is well protected with a flexible protective weave that shields the cable from fraying. That’s why my last mouse started crapping out on me; I was thrilled to not have to worry about that. After I plugged it in, my new mouse just worked after about a minute. But this is no ordinary mouse, we’re just getting started!

Even though I enjoyed having a smooth responsive mouse to play with, I’ll admit I wasn’t going to be satisfied until I make this thing fit me and my style. So off I went to install the SteelSeries Engine on my PC. It was super easy to install and honestly this is when my jaw dropped. When I opened that control panel an ocean of customization options opened themselves to me! I was in heaven!

SteelSeries-Sensei-Pro-Grade-Laser-Mouse

Here are only some of the badass changes you can make to this mouse. There are three areas to change the color on it with, get this, 16.8 million different colors to choose from! Underneath, the mouse has an LCD display which you can customize with your own graphic and/or use to remind you which one of the tons of detailed macros you have active on the mouse at the moment.  You can customize the speed of your mouse to a blindingly fast 11,400 CPI because it has its own freaking processer in the thing! This mouse is more powerful than some of my first computers. The eight strategically placed buttons can be assigned to do anything you like although, just like any ambidextrous mouse, sometimes misclicks can occur while you get used to holding it. Seriously though, if I wrote about every way you could customize this mouse it would take too long! On the box it says, “the world’s most customizable mouse” and I’m starting to believe it. Suffice it to say this mouse can meet even the pickiest gamer’s needs.

SteelSeries-Sensei-Pro-Grade-Laser-Mouse

So how much is “the world’s most customizable mouse”? The Sensei Pro Grade Laser Mouse retails for $89.99. Can you believe it? A quality fully customizable professional gaming mouse for under a hundred dollars. I was really surprised at this because I know that the market contains lots of gaming mice with fewer features for more money. After using it and abusing it in my typical fashion, I think I can look forward to years of hard gaming with top performance using this mouse. I’m glad I got my hands on it and you’ll thank me if you do.

Tech specs:

 SteelSeries-Sensei-Pro-Grade-Laser-Mouse

SIZE AND WEIGHT:

Weight: 102 grams (0.22 lbs)

Height: 38,7 mm (1.5 in)

Width: 68,3 mm (2.7 in)

Length: 125,5 mm (4.9 in)

SPEED:

Default CPI range: 1 to 5,700 CPI.

Double CPI range: 5701 to 11,400 CPI.

BUTTONS: 8

FRAMES PER SECOND: 12,000

INCHES PER SECOND: 150+

ACCELERATION: 30G

SENSOR DATA PATH: True 16 bit

LIFT DISTANCE: 1-5mm

CABLE: 2m-6.5ft

Retro Duo Portable V2.0 Review

Retro Duo Portable

The Retro Duo Portable V2.0: another clone system to satisfy your nostalgic hunger. These so-called ‘clones’ are fast growing in popularity. Companies like Hyperkin and Retro-Bit have capitalised on the popularity of retro gaming by producing systems that can play your old console cartridges.

Retro Duo Portable

Retro-Bit is having a second crack at this caper by creating the Retro Duo Portable (RDP) V2.0 – a portable (to an extent) unit that plays SNES carts from any region without hacking or modifications. The RDP V2.0 is also capable of playing NES carts using the bundled RetroPort adapter, which sticks out like a sore thumb. The RDP V2.0 can also play Sega Mega Drive / Genesis cartridges using the RetroGEN adapter, which is sold separately.

Retro Duo Portable

Retro-Bit’s first attempt at hardware console creation was modest. The screen wasn’t too flash, the unit felt cheap and games compatibility was limited. They have learned from the experience and introduced a number of improvements for V2.0. These include: upgraded LCD screen, crisper sound, improved D-pad and button layout, better battery life (Lithium-ion) with LED indicator and most importantly, enhanced game cartridge compatibility.

Retro Duo Portable

The RDP V2.0 comes in a slick looking package. Inside you will find a vast amount of gear – the console itself, a plastic stand, TV/AV connection cable, power supply unit, RetroPort adapter, a controller hub and two SuperRetro controllers (which can also be used on your SNES!).

Retro Duo Portable

After playing with the unit for a number of hours (on one battery charge!), here are our thoughts:

Retro Duo Portable

The unit feels sturdy in hand and has a nice soft coating. It doesn’t suffer from that cheap feel you get from other ‘clones’.

Retro Duo Portable

The D-pad and button layout is identical to a SNES pad, so you should feel right at home. However, the shoulder buttons do let the controls down as they are too close to the cartridge slot, but this is only a minor niggle. The external control pads are great to use if you intend on hooking the RDP V2.0 up to a TV, or if you use them natively on your SNES.

Retro Duo Portable

We did have a few compatibility issues with the Super FX SNES games, but overall we were pleased with Retro-Bit’s claim of improved compatibility.

Retro Duo Portable

Using the RetroPort adapter to play your NES carts basically renders the unit ‘un-portable’. The adapter sticks out above the unit which looks damn ugly. But hey, if you want to play your native old NES carts, you will put up with this unsightliness. Playing the RDP V2.0 with the RetroPort adapter definitely got attention on public transport.

Retro Duo Portable

The improved LCD screen is better than the original RDP (it has an increased pixel count), but it has a long way to go. You still have to ‘angle’ or ‘tilt’ the unit to get the best visibility, which gets annoying after a while. There is a contrast reset button which has three preset contrast settings for brightness. The clarity is average when compared to modern handhelds; but considering the price of the unit, it is understandable.

Retro Duo Portable

The beefing up of the sound is great in theory, however we did find the sound became distorted at maximum volume with a distinct ‘crackling’ on certain games (Super Smash TV). The sound was fine when playing with headphones, however the placement of the headphone jack should have been placed on the side of the unit, not on top (it gets in the way!).

Retro Duo Portable

Should you rush out and buy the Retro Duo Portable V2.0? It depends, if you are happy emulating (legally) your 8-bit and 16-bit Sega or Nintendo games, then the answer is no. However, if you want a system that you can plug in your library of SNES, NES and Mega Drive carts, then the RDP V2.0 is perfect. The other plus to owning the RDP V2.0 is that you will safeguard your Sega and Nintendo hardware from further abuse, and let’s face it, these old consoles won’t last forever!

Verdict: If you like the sound of a console that can play your SNES and NES cartridges out of the box, then check this unit out.

The Retro Duo Portable NES/SNES Game System retails for $99.99USD at ThinkGeek.

Steelseries Siberia V/2 Review

Hey there, internets! This is Liz Poisonkiss, altruistic gaming hedonist extraordinaire! Today I’d like to discuss the merits of a super cool pair of headphones from Steelseries: the Siberia V/2 Full-Size headset.

Liz Poisonkiss

I’ve had these headphones for about a month now and have they seen some action! They have been smushed  in my backpack next to my laptop and heavy load of graduate study textbooks, tossed around wildly while getting caught around my feet and my cat’s paws, and it’s cord tangled and untangled repeatedly as I hastily put them away before class (or sex!). This sturdy piece of hardware took all my abuse and begged for more, working flawlessly every time I plugged it into my various devices.

So what kind of performance are we talking about here? I played games, made Skype calls, watched movies/TV, and listened to lots of music through these and I must say it was excellent! When listening to music I could hear the touch of the piano keys, the tangible twang of guitars, and the breathing of the performers.  I was particularly impressed at the bass reverberating in my ears as if I had a tiny portable subwoofer.  And the 3D sound was magnificent as well. While gaming I could head the footsteps of my teammates and enemies as I stalked around being all rogue-y. But when I was caught or a monster roared in my direction you better believe I jumped out of my seat.

Speaking of rogue-y types things, did you know that these headphones have a little rogue microphone hiding inside them?! Curled up in the left headphone is a tiny extendable microphone.  And besides soaking up clear and crisp sound, I love the fact that it’s retractable. It stays out of the way unless I need it.

Oh, and the comfortable leather pads around my ears are soft and allow me to ignore the rest of the world while I have them on. Yay for not being interrupted! And boy can I have these suckers on for a long time. Not only are the headphone pads comfortable, but the unique design of the headset’s headband doesn’t squeeze my head or place the weight of the device on my head allowing me to play for hours and hours. However, there is a risk of going deaf! Be careful, these guys go up to 11. I’m sure the handy in-cord volume and mic control can keep that in check.

Oh, and the nicest part about these headphones is the price. At $89.99 performance like this is a bargain. They come in a rainbow of colors so you can match them to your personality. No matter what you use these babies for, they are sure to provide you with years of premium performance. I just am crazy about these new headphones and anyone who enjoys premium performance for a great value will enjoy them too!

Tech specs:

steelseries-pink

Headphones:

Frequency response: 18 – 28,000 Hz

Impedance: 32 Ohm

SPL@ 1kHz, 1 Vrms: 112 dB

Cable length: 9.8 ft. (1 + 2 = 3 m)

Jacks: 3.5 mm

Microphone:

Frequency response: 50 – 16,000 Hz

Pick up pattern: Uni-directional

Sensitivity: -38 dB

Logitech G430 Surround Sound Gaming Headset Review

We have been using this headset for about two months daily before writing this review.

logitech g430 gaming headset
logitech g430 gaming headset

Cable/Wire:

The connectors are standard, gold-plated mini-jack audio connectors that are not just compatible with all computers but MP3 players as well. The main cable is thin and it splits into a cable that you connect to a sound source as well as a cable that lets you use the microphone. If you don’t want to use the standard audio connectors the headset comes with an adapter that converts the two plugs into a USB adapter. It’s recommended to install the software that comes with the headset should you wish to use the USB adapter with full functionality and support, as far as using it with a Windows PC. The cable is bright blue which is useful in the sense that it can prevent you from stepping on the cable since it is much more visible than a standard black cord. It also has a controller that lets you mute and unmute the microphone as well as adjust the volume of the headphones. The cable is long enough that they will be adequate for most situations.

Comfort:

The headset is light which helps the level of comfort in general and after extended usage. The ear pieces are soft to the touch and are easy on your ears. Since the earpieces are made out of cloth they won’t get hot (like most full ear headphones do) since they vent your heat successfully. This is great for marathon gaming (the kind that we usually do).

The earpieces can be rotated a full 90 degrees which make them easy to transport in most laptop carrying cases with no problems.

Construction:

This headset is mainly made out of plastic, rubber, and cloth. The thing most people will notice is the usage of the neon blue color on the earpieces and the headband.

We’ve dropped them (a couple of times) to see how sturdy they are on a tile floor and they only suffered minor damage that did not affect functionality.

Microphone:

We have tested the microphone with Skype, Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, and Raidcall and it worked great with virtually no configuration needed on our part. The sound quality is crisp.

The microphone can be muted either from the volume control in the cable or also by raising the microphone up from it’s working position.

Software:

The headset came with an installation pamphlet that directs you to download the latest software for the headset from the Logitech website. Once downloaded it installs an application that for the most part is dormant and becomes active when you connect the headset to your computer. You can use it to play around with the equalizer and other adjustments of that nature.

Sound Dampening:

When using this headset the material of the earpieces successfully blocks most outside noise. This is great for when working or gaming but it can result in people screaming to get your attention because the headset does a great job.

Sound Quality:

The level of fidelity is high in this headset. It does not distort badly even if set at maximum volume.

Loudness:

This headset gets loud which goes well with how successful they are sound dampened. They can be heard 5 feet away if you take them off and you have them reasonably high.

Surround Sound:

The 7.1 surround sound that is built into this headset works great with gaming and movie watching, for which they are intended. The surround sound features are designed by Dolby and they are effective in creating a realistic surround sound environment.

Value:

These headphones cost around $100 new, which seems like a reasonable price to me.

Conclusion:

I recommend these headphones over the similar Logitech G35 Headset that I reviewed earlier. They cost about the same and work better with less configuration on the user’s part. They are almost the same except that the G430 does not include the programmable sound buttons (that most people don’t use anyways), and they are superior because they have regular mini-jacks as well as the ability to connect via USB.

The Stinky Footboard Review

The Stinky Footboard

The days of video games that can be controlled with a joystick and two buttons are long past. Today’s hits seem to require more fingers than a human being has, especially on the PC.

Enter the Stinky Footboard from SteLuLu Technologies. This PC-based controller is plastic and metal pad that allows users to use their foot to control up to four different key functions. The keys can be custom mapped to any function.

Installation of the device is a snap and the customization software is easy to use. Users can be up and running, perhaps quite literally, in no time.

The controller itself takes a little getting used to, as reacting to on-screen action with a foot isn’t exactly typical on many games. A set of springs with different tensions were included along with a tool to quickly swap them, giving users of the product the ability to find a comfortable level of tension.

For first-person shooters, the Stinky Footboard proved to be a godsend. It was no longer required to remove fingers from important buttons to perform other on-screen actions, as those buttons could be replaced by functions on the Stinky.

To add a different element to the mix, a some old school titles were used for this review. The classic Pac-Manproved too challenging using the footboard, but it turned out to be quite fun to try the iconic Space Invaders with the unique controls.

The Stinky Footboard can also be used for non-gaming functions, including surfing websites.

The product itself is quite sturdy. A video shown at PAX East showed the Stinky Footboard being run over by a car and continuing to work with only minor case scratches. While that extreme was not used for this review, the product managed to survive hours of use by a 245-pound former pro wrestler without any loss of functionality. It continued to work like new, which is more than can be said about almost any other controller product.

In addition to gaming and work functions, the Stinky Footboard could be used as a solution for those with disabilities or injuries.

Overall, the Stinky Footboard is a sturdy solution to multi-tasking gameplay. Once a player gets used to it, they should find the extra functionality allows for a smoother experience while the product itself can truly take a beating.

More can be learned about the Stinky Footboard at www.StinkyBoard.com. They are also in the final days of a Kickstarter campaign with can be viewed here.

Quick Shot Controller for Sega Genesis Review

Quick Shot Controller

For a while I was having a little trouble with Sega Genesis controllers. For instance some times while playing an adventure game I would press the down button to make the character duck down, but instead because of the D-pad the character would only move left or right, rarely ducking. The character would only duck if I was pressing the down direction exactly in the exact middle of the D-pad. It was very very sensitive.

So! I received a Quick Shot controller in the mail and gave it a try. I was skeptic at first but I gotta say, all my problems disappeared! The Quick Shot control pad is so awesome! Super accurate and great control. It feels spot on and I’m so glad I found it. The cord is nice too because it’s not so damn thick, easy to roll up.

If you’re also having issues with your Genesis D-pad, try the Quick Shot controller out. They can be found relatively cheap on ebay or amazon.

The Game Genie

gamegenie

Long before there was an Internet to search for clues and codes to hack your way through a stubbornly difficult game, Codemasters brought a product into the game market which permitted access to your video game’s code, thereby letting you add unearned lives, power-ups, and so forth. The Game Genie was an accessory that you could insert into your game console, and then the game would attach to the Game Genie, allowing the Game Genie to act as an intermediary between the console and the game.

gamegenie

Many gamers found this helpful, and different Game Genies were produced for a variety of game consoles, including the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the Nintendo GameBoy, the Super Nintendo, the Sega Genesis, and the Sega Game Gear. Two different companies distributed the Game Genie over the years it was being manufactured: Galoob and Camerica, one of which (Galoob) was actually sued by Nintendo in an effort to prevent the Game Genie from being sold. Fortunately for many gamers, Nintendo lost their legal battle and had to pay Galoob for damages.

Time marches steadily on, however, and the Game Genie is now in the dustbin of gaming history, while Nintendo continues to be a gaming powerhouse.  All we have left of the Game Genie are the few units that can be found here and there in the retrogaming marketplace, and our memories. Speaking of which, see if the following ad brings back memories of how you salivated over the thought of finally mastering that one irksome game, if only you got a Game Genie.

iCade 8-Bitty Retro Wireless Game Controller Review

iCade-8-Bitty

I always felt that smart phones and tablets were a perfect platform for retro gaming and though you do not need a gamepad to enjoy those classic games, it vastly improves the overall gameplay giving you that old school feeling of playing on your NES.

The first thing I noticed when I received my 8-bitty is the NES inspired design. The pad feels a lot like the old NES control complete with the button layout except the 8-bitty also features two top buttons. The fake wood paneling on the side is a nice touch and the buttons on the 8-bitty feel sturdy so don’t worry about going button mashing crazy.

The back of the controller has a panel which you can remove with a small screwdriver in order to access the two AAA batteries inside. It also features an on/off switch which is great to save battery life. When you turn the pad on and it is paired with your device you will see the blue indicator light on the top left.

Let’s talk games. The 8-bitty works with classic gaming applications like Midway Arcade and Atari Greatest Hits. You can also see a list of compatible games the 8-bitty works with. Now I use it mostly for emulators on my Android phone including the MAME4droid which works perfectly with the 8-bitty. Nothing beats loading up some Final Fight and being able to use a real controller that is durable and comfortable to use.

Now one might wonder why you would want to carry around a controller almost as big as your phone. Also, there may be some conflicts with some games, mainly iOS games where you may need to play around with the button configuration or you may have to use strange button combinations in order to play. However, as more games accept external controllers this will become less of an issue. The truth is, as great as smart phones have become some of the classic games like Megaman and Castlevania still play best with a good controller and at $29.99 the 8-bitty fits the bill.

Nintendo Color Screen: Game and Watch Table Top

Nintendo Color Screen

The most spectacular games in the Nintendo Game & Watch series are the Panorama and Table Top games. Combining the excellent LCD based game-play that shines throughout the entire series with full color images, these were innovative as well as fun to play.

Nintendo Color Screen

The Table Top games were shaped like mini arcade cabinets, with joystick and all. In the 80s, owning one of these must have been close to being in handheld nirvana.
Nintendo Color Screen

The original name under which these games were sold in Japan was Color Screen(カラースクリーン), with strangely enough no reference to Game & Watch, although they are clearly part of that family. They were introduced in the rest of the world asGame & Watch Table Top.
Nintendo Color Screen

Four Color Screen titles were produced in total. The first two, introduced in early 1983, were Donkey Kong JR (ドンキーコングJR) and Mario’s Cement Factory (マリオズセメントファクトリー), pictured in this leaflet.

Later that same year, the range was extended with games featuring Popeye and Snoopy.

Even though the Color Screen had a bright (color!) screen, it consumed very little energy. It cleverly used a combination of regular black liquid crystals with sunlight projected through a mirror to create the images. According to this leaflet, it was able to run for three years on two C batteries without ever being switched off. It did not even have an on/off switch.

Creative Zen Style M300 MP3 Player Review

Creative Zen Style M300

I am writing this review after having owned the MP3 player and used it daily for the past 3 months.


Advantages:

– One of the first things one can notice about the Zen is its small size. Think of it like a fatter but shorter iPod.
– It is very light and you can hardly notice you are carrying it.
– No software installation required. You can add songs to it in their properly named folders almost as easy as if it were a digital camera.
– Amazing battery life! Up to 20 hours worth of life.
– Cheaper than some Apple products, with almost the same quality of construction. Amazing value!
– Built in radio function.
– You can expand it via MicroSD media up to 32 GB.
– Generic USB interface makes you be able to charge it almost anywhere.
– Bluetooth functionality that has very low latency.
– Although it is not official it has Mac support.
– Self-intuitive interface. I didn’t even need to read the manual the first time I used it. You can rewind and fast-forward a track by holding down the back or forward button.
– Supports the following file formats: MP3, WMA (DRM9), WAV, Audible Format 4, Audible AAX.
– Built in microphone that lets you record like an old tape recorder.
– Built in Equalizer function that has presets that cannot be modified.
– Can be used to view pictures as well.
– Since you can access it via Windows Explorer or your favorite file manager you can use it as a portable hard drive.

ZEN_Style_Feature

Disadvantages:
– Touchscreen can be too sensitive. It can be too small if you have hands the size of a troll!
– Cheap headphones included that aren’t that loud when outdoors. They are fine for indoor use.
– USB cable that it comes with is short.
– Screen is too small for its video playback capabilities.
– FM radio doesn’t work over Bluetooth.
– No FLAC, OGG, or M4A support.
– Limited video playback only supports SMV video files.

The NEC PC-FX Review

nec-pcfx

The PC-FX, like it’s older and far more popular brother the PC-Engine, isn’t actually a PC of any sort. You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise – it looks very much like a traditional tower PC and confusingly you will find Youtube videos of people running PC-FX games on PC hardware (using a PC-FX GA card, more on that later) but in reality it’s just a regular console, albeit one that could also play CD+G and photo CDs as standard.

PC-FX_Controller

The PC-FX’s strength was in its ability to play high quality full screen Full Motion Video (FMV) sequences at 30FPS, something that both the Saturn and PlayStation would struggle to reproduce to the same standard. Unfortunately the PC-FX had no other technical advantages over its contemporaries and in an era where 3D was king (regardless of how good it actually looked) the PC-FX struggled and ended up with just 62 games released over its four year lifespan.

PC-FX_BackupMemoryPack

While the console can rightly be considered a commercial failure, it’s still relatively easy to get a hold of. However the majority of the games require some grasp of the Japanese language to be enjoyable making English speaking discussion of the system’s library limited. Due to the PC-FX focusing mainly on RPGs and adventure games, a grand total of five titles can be considered easily playable by anyone – ‘Battle Heat’, ‘Tengai Makyo Karakuri Kakutoden’, ‘Chip Chan Kick!’, ‘Tyoushin Heiki Zeroigar’ and ‘Kishin Doji Zenki: Vajura Fight’. I have ordered them roughly by value, from lowest to highest. ‘Battle Heat’ can generally be found for around the $30USD mark, however prices rise sharply and just keep going – ‘Tengai Makyo’ is about $90USD and the cheapest, ’Zenki’ can be found for around $350USD plus shipping!

PC-FX hucards

This doesn’t mean the PC-FX is lacking in quality affordable titles however, just that such games are difficult to play without some understanding of written Japanese. The system has many remakes of classic titles – ‘Farland Story FX’, ‘Der Langrisser FX’, ‘Power Dolls FX’ (the suffix wasn’t actually used as much as I’m making it out to be), original exclusives like ‘Last Imperial Prince’, ‘Miraculum’ and ‘Kokuu Hyouryo Nirgends’ and even games that ended up finding some success elsewhere – ‘Wakusei Kougekitai Little Cats’, ‘Boundary Gate: Daughter of Kingdom’ and ‘Angelique Special’ all ended up with Saturn or PlayStation ports at a later date.

PC-FX_Mouse

Despite the short lifespan, the PC-FX still had a few interesting accessories – the official mouse suited the strategy games well and a memory card could be slotted into the concealed front expansion port if the player found themselves running out of space in the system’s internal memory. The final accessory isn’t actually for the PC-FX, but it is the most interesting – the PC-FX GA I mentioned earlier, is very much like the 3D0 Blaster – a PC card that allows users to play standard PC-FX discs on their computers. The card even included two controller ports to allow the use of standard PC-FX pads as well as s-video and composite out (just like a normal PC-FX) ports. Development software was available to buy (GMAKER Starter Kit and the GMAKER Starter Kit Plus), apparently in an attempt to stimulate interest and production of PC-FX games.

It’s easy to see why the PC-FX failed to generate much enthusiasm at the time – it was under-powered under-supported and expected NEC fans to ditch the vast PC Engine library in favor of a console that had adventure games as far as the eye could see (contrary to some rumors confusion, the PC-FX is not compatible with PC Engine software of any kind). However, as time has generally eroded prices and increased availability, what we now have is a quirky little system that didn’t really do much but did do what it did well. As an owner myself, I struggle to recommend it to others, but on the other hand, I can’t help but look at my PC-FX games and smile.

Kingston HyperX 3K Series 120 GB SSD

Kingston HyperX 3K 120 GB SSD

Although J.A. Laraque has already reviewed the 240 GB version of the Kingston HyperX 3K SSD, I reviewed the 120 GB version, comparing it to the Patriot Memory Wildfire 120 GB SSD and to my 3 TB Seagate hard drive.

The drives were all tested on my main gaming PC, which may be familiar to you from my Gaming PC Benchmark Guides. The specs are the following:

OS: 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate edition
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 3.7 Ghz per core 6 MB L3 cache AM3+ socket processor
Video Card: Sapphire ATI 6870 1 GB
Memory: Kingston HyperX 16 GB (4 X 4 GB) 240 pin DDR3 SDRAM 1600 (PC3 12800) Quad Channel Kit non-ECC unbuffered CAS 9 1.65V RAM
Sound Card: onboard sound via a Realtek ALC889 chipset
Storage: Seagate Barracuda XT ST33000651AS 3 TB 7200 RPM 64 MB Cache SATA 6.0 Gb/s 3.5″ internal hard drive OEM
Case: Thermaltake Xaser III LANFire VM2000A Case
Power Supply: hec X-Power 780W (peak) 600W (mean) ATX12V v2.3/EPS 12V v2.91 SLI nVidia Hybrid-SLI Certified CrossFire power supply
Peripherals: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD Burner

If you are concerned with the features of the Kingston HyperX SSD please read J.A. Laraque’s review as he talks about them in detail.

The benchmarks I use to test hard drives and SSDs are the AS SSD Benchmark, ATTO Disk Benchmark, and CrystalDiskMark.

Under the AS SSD Benchmark the Kingston HyperX 3k 120 GB SSD yielded:

AS SSD Benchmark Kingston HyperX SSD

Let’s look at the numbers in detail using Excel:

AS SSD Kingston HyperX vs Patriot Memory Wildfire

Under the ATTO benchmark the Kingston HyperX 3k 120 GB SSD yielded:

ATTO Disk Benchmark Kingston HyperX SSD

Time to look at the numbers in detail in Excel again:

ATTO Disk Benchmark Kingston HyperX vs Patriot Memory Wildfire

Under the CrystalDiskMark benchmark the Kingston HyperX 3k 120 GB SSD yielded:

CrystalDiskMark Kingston HyperX SSD

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Mambo Number 5 and by that I mean it’s Excel:

CrystalDiskMark Kingston HyperX vs Patriot Memory Wildfire

Conclusion:

Overall, both the Kingston HyperX and Patriot Memory Wildfire seriously beat the hard drive in just about every test as shown in these tests. Comparing both SSDs to one another the Wildfire is faster under two of the three benchmarks and the HyperX is faster in one of the three benchmarks. I normalized the score of all three reviews and took the average of the normalized scores and I must conclude that the Wildfire under most operations is about 12.74% faster than the HyperX. In order words, the HyperX is only about 88.70% as fast as the Wildfire.

Now I know you must be saying “Well I thought this was a review on the HyperX, why did it get less performance than the Wildfire?” Well, the Wildfire is a more expensive SSD and the HyperX is more inexpensive and more mass produced. For what you get, both SSDs are highly recommended, especially when being used for your operating system drive. So yes, the Wildfire won the performance race but most likely you will end up buying a HyperX because the performance is slightly less and the price is significantly lower.

Logitech G27 Racing Wheel Review

Logitech G37 Racing Wheel

For those of you that know me well, you know that racing is one of my favorite activities to do not just in the gaming world but in real life as well. As far as reality goes, I’ve owned a track ready racing Mustang since 2004. I’ve been racing cars since about 1997 both on the street and at the track. The first time I ever raced a professional racing go-kart was about 1989. The first racing games I’ve played were Pole Position and Pit Stop 1 and 2 on the c64. The first arcade racing game I’ve ever played was Sega’s Outrun with the arcade console feeling like a car with pedals, steering wheel, and shifter. I’ve played almost every racing game ever made from games like RC Pro AM on NES, the Top Gear series on SNES, Lotus series on Amiga, Chase HQ on the arcade, Jaguar XJ 220 on the Amiga, Grand Prix Legends on PC, every Trackmania game on PC, every Need For Speed game on PC and consoles, every Codemasters racing game ever made, etc. I was ranked in the top 10 US players for Trackmania Nations when they were doing the world championship for the game.

Today I will look at Logitech’s G27 Racing Wheel. It is designed to be used with PC and with the Playstation 3 console.

rfactor

Setup – Installation and Software:

The installation on the PS3 is basically a plug and play procedure. For PC, you simply install the software from the drivers CD that comes with the unit. Shortly after installing the software and drivers you get prompted to plug in the wheel to one of your USB ports and it will be detected. You will know that the wheel is detected because it will spin like a bat out of hell for about two to three seconds and it will flash the tachometer RPM lights. After that, you can calibrate the wheel if it is needed. Once you’re done doing that, you’re ready to use it. Configuration and sub-calibration can be done through whatever game you are going to play.

The Wheel also comes with (RFactor) which is a very popular racing simulator.

Logitech-G27-full-set

Setup – Assembly and Physical Installation:

The first thing you want to do is connect all the subcomponents of the wheel to the main wheel unit. This means that you will plug in the pedals, shifter console, and AC adapter unit. After you have done so, you may need to assess your gaming desk area to make sure you have enough physical space to mount the wheel properly to a desk or table as well as find a comfortable chair and distance to your TV or monitor. You also want to make sure that all cables are tucked away so that they don’t interfere as you use the controller.

Both the wheel and shifter have plastic screws which you can use to secure them to the edge of your desk or table. I have found that they can slide off sometimes if the bottom surface of your desk doesn’t have the right kind of surface for them to stick to. I wish Logitech would have added a rubber surface of the plastic area that holds the controller in place. To me without such a surface friction it is easy for the controller to become loose while using it. Since I’m a low-tech-fix kind of guy, this isn’t much of a problem. I recommend to either glue a thin rubber piece to each plastic end or the even easier fix is to use a piece of cardboard in between the surfaces (just make sure you screw the plastic screws as tight as possible).

You might have to be careful as well with the pedals because the bottom is plastic as well. Since I have a tile floor all over my house I had to use a small portable rug to place it under the pedals as well as putting a heavy object behind the pedals to keep them from slipping further (remember you’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on them with your feet).

Once you have setup the wheel as needed, the fun starts!

trackmania-nations-forever

Test On Multiple Racing Games:

I tested the wheel on RFactor, Dirt 2, Dirt 3, Dirt Showdown, Grid, Trackmania United, Trackmania Nations, F1 2010, F1 2011, and F1 2012. For most of the games the wheel was enabled through the game options of the game if it didn’t automatically detect it and set it as the default control method. You can enable the motion feedback to get a more real feel of driving a real car with the resistance would feel in a real steering wheel. I found that with the G27 it was more enjoyable to do so after first of calibrating it to feel as you need it to based on your driving style. Also, it was overall more enjoyable on racing games which are more simulator than arcade style racing games. Simulators need exactness, whereas most arcade racers can be played even with keyboard or a cheap handheld controller.

Using a racing wheel on games like the Codemasters F1 games is almost necessary. I found it nearly unplayable to play such games using just a pure keyboard. With a racing wheel such as the G27 it becomes a real F1 car that you’re driving rather than a musclecar like it would feel with a primitive controller. It’s all about precision when you use a wheel. For this reason although we have the computer technology to do it, we still use a pedal and steering wheel in real cars as opposed to using joysticks like a normal video game controller or the controller for an RC car.

Logitech-G27-Racing-Wheel

Construction and Feel:

The materials used in the G27 are sturdy and it feels almost like you are racing using a aftermarket racing wheel like a Momo steering wheel for a racecar. Although most of the parts are plastic the G27 is durable under most wear and tear situations.

The shifter is both soft and sturdy. I would compare it to using a shifter in a manual Japanese car like Honda Prelude or Nissan Skyline. The wheel itself has flappy paddles which can be used to much like in a real Ferrari or Lamborghini. It is a matter of personal preference and the G27 provides both the flappy paddles and the normal manual shifter. The wheel part has an LED tachometer, which is color coated green, yellow, and red, which makes using a manual gearbox a more viable option in your game.

Since the pedals are made out of drilled metal it feels like the pedals found in a modified street car or a racecar. As they are sturdy, it’s no problem to push down on them as hard as you can, if need be. With the inclusion of a clutch pedal that’s highly responsive you can power drift to your hearts content if you want to drive like that.

logitech g27

Conclusion and Recommendations:

If you are serious about playing racing simulators I recommend a wheel like the G27 to get the precision you need for competitive racing.

A racing wheel system like this one works extremely well when paired up with the Playseat chairs that are ideal for having a sturdy armature that keeps your controllers in place and gives you a much more realistic car feel. I haven’t tested the G27 with a Playseat chair but I have used a chair like that at multiple game conventions and they do make a huge difference and are much more favorable over using a regular chair and desk/table for setting up a racing wheel.

The G27 costs about $200 retail so it might be outside the budget for many gamers but then again there aren’t that many racing simulation gamers out there anymore and those that are into that genre are always concerned with having as good of a controller as possible to be able to execute precise maneuvers.

Astro Wars Review

Astro Wars - portable tabletop

Back in the early 80’s, the closest thing to having an arcade in your home was to have one of a plethora of electronic tabletops. In a sea of these portable tabletops, one stood out head and shoulders – Grandstand’s (Epoch developed), Astro Wars. Everything about this black and grey beast was and still is uber cool. It looks like a miniature arcade and it even plays like one. It has a 2-way metal joystick (for left and right movement) and one big plastic fire button – what more could you want !

Astro Wars - portable tabletop

Even after three decades, the hardware oozes coolness. Just look at the unit ! The display is a “vacuum fluorescent display”, or VFD (the box says Multicolour FIP Display !). This was used on consumer-electronics equipment back in the early 80’s, like calculators. Unlike liquid crystal displays, a VFD could emit a very bright light with high contrast and could support display elements of various colours.

Astro Wars - portable tabletop

The unit feels sturdy and can be powered by mains (6 Volt) or with four ‘C’ batteries. The unit is “portable” – perhaps only around the house as you wouldn’t want to lug it around.

Astro Wars - portable tabletop

So, how does this Astro Wars play ? Well, as a shoot’em up, it is quite simple – move your earth ship left / right to avoid missiles from the fierce squadron of attacking fighters and fire back to blast them into smithereens. Once you blast away waves of enemy fighters, warships and command ships, you attempt the docking manoeuvre – landing the upper module to the rocket part of your earth ship. Succeed with this manoeuvre, and you are given extra points. Speaking of points, once you reach 9999, the counter resets to zero and you have effectively “clocked the game”. When you do end up finishing the game, you still want to re-play it. Now that is saying something for a game that has been around for 30+ years. How many other games can you say that about ? OK, I hear people screaming Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, and yes, them too.

If you want a cool piece of gaming history with “pew-pew sounds” and a great game to boot, then hunt down this unit – you will not regret it.

Hands-On Review: Plantronics GameCom Commander

The folks at Plantronics have put out a limited edition headset for the ultimate pro gaming experience, the GameCom Commander. With a price tag of $299.99, I decided to take it for a spin and see about that.

Plantronics GameCom Commander

First Impressions:

The Commander comes in with a lofty entrance. A heavy-duty carrying case hides and protects the headset and all it’s attachments, complete with a heavy latch to attach the protective case to your belt loop, luggage or backpack.

The case will do it’s job in protecting the valuable headset inside. I tried everything to hurt this thing, from pulling and yanking on the latch to actually standing on the case and it took the abuse with no evidence of it. Considering I’m a former pro wrestler, I have to conclude that this is a pretty tough carrying case.

First Impressions Score: 9 out of 10

Installation:

The wires and attachments were easy to remove and connect quickly. The drivers also installed on my PC very fast. I was up and running within moments, a big plus to me.

The only real issue here is that the headset uses the standard Windows drivers, something those wishing to use it at home more often than outside events may not wish to be stuck with.

Installation Score: 9 out of 10

Sound Quality:

Outstanding. The 7.1 Dolby stereo surround sound ensured I could hear every detail, footstep and audio queue on every game and song I attempted to use with it.

A big assist here goes to the noise cancellation ability of the Commander. The basic design of the headset comes from headsets that were originally designed to block out the noise of jet engines. All I could hear was what I wanted to. Any outside noise, even the sound of my own voice, was blocked out.

The heavy duty microphone provided the clearest sound I’ve heard with a headset. Regardless of if you are using the Commander to call out enemy positions in the middle of a team deathmatch or making a Skype call, every word you speak will come out with incredibly clarity on par with anything out there.

Sound Quality Score: 10 out of 10

Form Factor:

The Commander has both highs and lows in this department. I’ll start with the good news first.

This headset is tough and will likely last longer than your keyboard and controllers will. As I noted earlier, I’m a pretty big guy and yet my experience with the Commander marks the first time I’ve ever been unafraid that I might break a headset. I considered giving it the same test that I gave the case and see if it could take me stepping on it, but opted not to since I have to return this sample copy to Plantronics.

The volume control uses a flat dial that makes it hard to accidentally bump in the middle of play. The odds of accidentally muting yourself in the middle of a firefight or blasting your ears off accidentally are low.

On the flip side, however, the Commander is almost too much of a beast to be comfortable to wear. The weight of the product might be too much for some users, and after extended use I felt considerable discomfort around my ears and jaw, as if the headset was putting far to much pressure. I found no easy way to adjust the Commander for a more comfortable fit, meaning that it may not be ideal for marathon gaming sessions or lengthy conference calls.

Form Factor Score: 6 out of 10

Overall, the GameCom Commander delivers the experience it advertises and is built to last for the long term. The $299.99 price tag brings along a tough-as-nails design that ensures your investment will survive whatever you plan to put it through.

I only wish it was more comfortable to wear. People of different shapes and sizes may have a different experience in that regard while others might not want to trade off comfort for sound quality.

Total Score: 32 out of 40

The Turbo CD Review

The ultimate accessory for video console gaming in the early 1990′s was not the Sega CD – it was the Turbo CD with a Super System Card.  This combination permitted owners of NEC’s TurboGrafx-16 gaming system to access some of the very best games available at the time, whether they were North American or Japanese releases, such as Dungeon Explorer II, Ys Book I and II, Lords of Thunder, and Dracula X.

The Turbo CD with TurboGrafx-16

The Turbo CD attached itself to the TurboGrafx-16 system, and the new world of CD gaming was opened up.  The Super System Card turned the Turbo CD into a Turbo Duo machine, with 256K of RAM (split 64K DRAM and 192K SRAM).  It also provided the most advanced bios for the T16 (version 3.0), which permitted its owners to play the “Super System CD” games.  The extra memory gave programmers the ability to use the entire color palette for their games’ backgrounds, which provided a much richer gaming experience.

So if this accessory was the greatest thing to happen to gaming since the release of the Atari 2600, why didn’t everyone own one?  Well, to begin with, it was an accessory for the TurboGrafx-16 system, which was fighting for ground in the Nintendo vs. Sega console wars, and losing.  It was also BIG, which was odd, considering the Japanese model it was based on (for the PC Engine) was quite small.  Perhaps the North American fascination for big trucks and luxury cars blinded the design team at NEC, since they clearly thought BIGGER was better.  Unfortunately, retailers don’t want giant boxes that are mostly Styrofoam or packaging today, and they didn’t then, either.

With a box measuring 59.5cm x 44.5cm x 26cm (23.4″ x 17.5″ x 10.2″), who had the space to display it, never mind stock it in any significant quantity?  Another reason was that, unlike the Sega CD, which included Sewer Shark, the Turbo CD did not include a game, which meant you had to add a little more cost to the final bill.  That leads us to the final, and most important reason why the Turbo CD did not catch fire in the gaming universe: the price.  NEC priced the Turbo CD at $399, which was a prohibitive price point.  Although the standard System 2.0 Card was included in the package, it only gave access to the standard CD games.  Only by purchasing the Super System Card could gamers access the Super CD titles (like Prince of Persia, DragonSlayer, etc), and this was retailing in the $80-$100 range.

Turbo CD Super System Card 3.0

So let’s review NEC’s market strategy for the Turbo CD:

  1. High price
  2. Basic function unless you pay even more money for an accessory for the accessory
  3. GIANT size
  4. No game

I’m not a rocket scientist, but this combination would spell disaster today for any peripheral’s sales, never mind during the height of the Nintendo vs. Sega console wars!

The TurboGrafx CD original box

So in the end, the Turbo CD was the best gaming accessory no one bought.  Today retro gaming is a both a popular and enjoyable pastime.  If you are a retro gamer with a passion for all things 90s, you simply need to have a TurboGrafx-16 with a Turbo CD system!  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I feel a need for some Lords of Thunder Super CD action coming on – awesome guitar riffs and amazing game play await!

Mini Stick: The Joystick for Gamers Review

Mini Stick - Image

If you are an avid PC gamer you might already be comfortable using the W-A-S-D or the arrow keys for control and moment in games, but for newer PC gamers and retro gaming enthusiasts this little invention could be right up your alley. The Mini Stick is a small joystick that you can attach to your arrow control keys using Velcro pads and because of its design you have the same range of movement you would have with a normal sized joystick like the classic Atari controller.

Mini Stick - Image

Now I personally used to use a funky control setup for playing PC games just due to not liking to use the W-A-S-D keys or the arrow keys. Over time I got used to the traditional set keys so switching to using the Mini Stick took time to get used too. Also, for typing and depending on how you move your hands around your keyboard you might find yourself bumping into it. However, this is easily solved by removing the joystick since it is connected using Velcro pads. By the way I did see if having the little Velcro pads left behind on the keyboard was bothersome and it was not.

Mini Stick - Image

Setting up is simple. You have the Velcro pads already attached to the Mini Stick and then three Velcro stickers to attach to your Up, Left and Right keys. Just make sure you secure the stickers well and press down when attaching the Mini Stick. With it installed I played some emulators first and the Mini Stick worked great in games like Mappy, Pac-Man, Alien Syndrome and 1942. I then tried out Guild Wars 2 and while using the mouse or a gamepad still proved overall better, the Mini Stick performed well and I found myself using it more and more.

Mini Stick - Image

Now keep in mind that you cannot be rough on the Mini Stick like you would an arcade joystick that is not the idea here. I did try the joystick between the ring and middle fingers move and it worked for a bit, but if you pull to hard it can come unattached. Where it worked wonders was with my sister who is not a big PC gamer, but is good at console games. She loved the Mini Stick and said it made playing PC games easier and more fun.

Mini Stick - Image

Overall for keyboard and arrow key games the Mini Stick gets an A+ and makes our Totally Not Obsolete category. At only 10 dollars, the Mini Stick is a great bargain and would make a great stocking stuffer with the holidays coming up. You can check out more on the Mini Stick on the official website.

Mini Stick - Image

Logitech G35 Surround Sound Headset Review

 

I’ve had this headset for about 5 months. Keep in mind how long a product was used when reading a review!

Logitech G35 Surround Sound Headset

Cable/Wire:

The headset connects through USB connector that is attached to a thick, very sturdy cable. This is great design improvement over other headsets that have a cable that’s thin and easy to get cut or broken. The cable is also long enough that you probably won’t need to get an extension for them. Even if you need an extension, USB cables are cheap to extend these days so that is not really an issue.

Comfort:

These headphones are extremely comfortable to use. The ear piece parts are well designed enough that it won’t make your ears sweat much and they will hug your ears providing great comfort as you use them. I haven’t gotten my ears to hurt by using these headphones for an extended period of time. I’ve used them 14 hours non stop and I haven’t felt uncomfortable during that period of usage.

Construction:

This headset is pretty sturdy. It seems to be made of aluminum, rubber, and the ear parts of imitation leather. I’ve dropped them from 8 feet and they only barely got scratched.

The headset has buttons on the left side of the ear muff that you can use to trigger functions such as launching your favorite media player, controlling it, reconfiguring them, etc.

Microphone:

The microphone works whenever you have the mouthpiece down; the rest of the time you can turn it off by lifting it up. The light on the piece helps you know when it is on or off. I’ve gotten good response from my guild/clan mates regarding the default sound quality of the microphone (tested using Skype and Teamspeak, using auto calibration).

Software:

It’s completely optional to install the software that comes with them but the software is useful for when tweaking the settings of the headset. The software/drivers sometimes go a little crazy if you decide to plug them in or unplug them during system critical points like in the middle of booting windows. From my experience this is a program that most USB audio peripherals seem to have versus traditional audio plugs. Sometimes I have to manually set my output to either be the headset or my speaker set depending on what I did.

Some games require you to quit them in order to use the headset correctly if you plugged them in while you were using speakers before. Usually the newer a game or program is, the less likely it is to have this problem. For example, Guild Wars 2 works like a charm but World of Tanks requires restarting the game for the headset to work.

Sound Dampening:

These headphones are extremely efficient when it comes to blocking out external sound. Usually when I am using them while talking to my guild on Teamspeak and my girlfriend is talking to me, I have to put one ear offset to be able to hear what she is telling me. I love this feature because I live at a house where there are plenty of loud noises most of the time (dog barking, people watching TV at airport noise level volumes, etc.).

Sound Quality:

For me, the best way to test sound quality is to play all different ranges of music on whatever audio equipment I’m testing. The sound quality is really good all throughout except for the bass when at maximum volume. Although the bass is decent enough when gaming, when playing bass heavy music you see a limitation in the bass feel of these headphones.

Loudness:

The G35’s max volume is loud enough to appease most users. I’ve had more powerful headphones in that past that were so loud that people two rooms away could hear them. Due to the better design, only the wearer can really hear the sound when they are worn.

They are loud enough that some games might shock you. I don’t classify them as being loud enough to make one go deaf but then again this is subjective.

Surround Sound:

The surround sound in these headphones is even better than the 5.1 Surround Sound speakers I use and they are also from Logitech. I was very impressed by them, especially when gaming and they make you have a significant advantage while playing a game with a good audio engine. The first time I used these headphones I was playing World of Tanks at 4 AM, at max volume, and it was amazing to hear cannon shells flying by and exploding all around me. It felt like actually being in a real battle.

The surround sound capabilities are specifically useful for hearing things behind you in games and in movies that take advantage of proper sound channel placement.

Value:

Right now the Logitech G35 Headset can be bought for about 90-100 US Dollars. I think that’s a fair price considering what you are getting.

Conclusion:

The Logitech G35 Headset is great to get if you are a gamer, live in a loud place, or need to use Skype/Teamspeak/Ventrilo privately with a good microphone.

The TurboGrafx-16

Tweeting back and forth with TheSocialGamer about the TurboGrafx-16 led to some serious retro T16 game-groovin’ on my handheld TurboExpress, replaying some Blazing Lazers, Dragon Spirit, and Bonk’s Revenge before calling it a night.

NEC TurboGrafx-16

The NEC TurboGrafx-16 Video Game System.

For those that have NO idea what I’m talking about, the TurboGrafx-16 was a video game system sold in North America by NEC (it hit the shelves in 1989).  It was known as the PC Engine in Japan, where it debuted 2 years earlier (those damn Japanese got all the new game tech!).  This was a killer system in its day: 16-bit graphics capable of 482 colors at once.  It suffered a pretty big drawback, though, with initially only 8K of memory available for the games to work under.  (As a comparison, the Super Nintendo had 128K.)

It came packaged with one game (Keith Courage in Alpha Zones) and one controller (called a TurboPad).  Some awesome games were available for this system, like Blazing Lazers, Neutropia, Order of the Griffon, Bomberman, Bonk’s Adventure, Alien Crush (and its sequel, Devil’s Crush), Cadash, Klax, and Military Madness, just to name a few.  You could hook up an accessory called a TurboTap which would allow you and 4 of your gamer buddies to play certain games (like Bomberman) for serious multiplayer fun.  Oddly enough, there was only ONE controller port on the system.

The TurboExpress handheld video game system (with TV Tuner)

The TurboExpress handheld video game system (with TV Tuner)

What made the TurboGrafx unique was how they promoted their handheld game system.  Most competitors used separate games for the console systems versus the handheld systems (like the NES and the GameBoy).  If you wanted to play Tetris on the NES and GameBoy, you had to buy one NES version and one GameBoy version.  But the TurboExpress (the handheld version of the TurboGrafx-16) used the very same games that it’s parent console used!  The games – called HuCards – fit in either system and played the same.  The TurboExpress even played in FULL COLOR!  Wow, back in the day that was an AWESOME gaming experience.

This is the TurboGrafx-16 with the TurboCD attachment.

This is the TurboGrafx-16 with the TurboCD attachment.

Another nifty accessory you could get for the TurboGrafx was the TurboCD, which allowed you to play the really great CD games that were out there, as well as play music CDs.  It came with a HuCard called a System Card which you put into your TurboGrafx to boost the RAM so the CDs could play (64K).  Another memory card, the Super System Card, gave you an additional 192K, which gave access to the Super CD games.  You haven’t played a 16-bit system until you’ve played Lords of Thunder.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Otz8kIUqN38[/youtube]

So why didn’t NEC rule the 90′s instead of Sega and Nintendo?  There are plenty of reasons that come to mind, such as the aforementioned 8K memory limit and an intially high price on the accessories that made it a gaming system juggernaut (the TurboCD and TurboExpress).  The real T16 killer was that the system was not embraced by 3rd Party developers.  Companies today should look at the history of the TurboGrafx-16 to see what happens when all your innovation and development comes inhouse.  Had NEC been able to bring more developers on board right away, the system would have had a massive library of games and accessories, which everyone knows is the gamer geek’s kryptonite.  Who knows how console game systems would look like today if NEC’s TurboGrafx had dominated the market? Perhaps Sony wouldn’t have been able to get a toehold because the TurboDuo drowned out their sales?  Maybe Nintendo would have skipped past cartridge-based systems right into a disc-based system like the GameCube right away?

Who knows?

The Atari Lynx

The Atari Lynx - 1

The Handy from Epyx, was the brainchild of David Morse, Dave Needle and the legendary RJ Mical. All three were the masterminds behind the Amiga. The collaboration of the device was done on a napkin in August 1986 – well before anyone else had thought of a portable gaming device like this. The Handy was the first full colour, 16-bit portable device. There are arguments till this day about how many ‘bits’ this device had. For me, it was, and still is 16-bit.

 

Epyx, not having the finances to take the product to market themselves were planning on selling the technology to Nintendo. Little did they realise, Nintendo was already working on their own portable device, the Gameboy.

The Atari Lynx vs The Nintendo Gameboy

When the Nintendo deal fell through for the Handy, Epyx approached none other than Jack Tramiel, owner of Atari at the time. Atari had attempted to create their own portable device (the Atari 2200), however, they could not get it right, so the Handy was perfect timing for them. The Handy became the Atari Lynx and the rest as they say, is history.

 

The Atari Lynx was released in the US in 1989 (1990 in the UK). The price of the unit was $100 more than the Gameboy. This price disparity, and the fact that Nintendo bundled the killer app Tetris with their unit, basically killed the market share for Atari’s new portable device. The original Lynx unit was bulky and also suffered from a short battery life – it chewed the 6 x AA batteries in no time when compared to the Gameboy. This just added to the woes of the Lynx.

The Atari Lynx Games

Atari eventually released the Lynx II, which was half the price of the original unit and was also smaller and cheaper to manufacture. The Lynx II introduced stereo sound and a pause button. This newer version also had longer battery life – a relief for avid fans.

 

As Atari thought they were on a winner with the Lynx II, along came Sega’s Game Gear in 1991. Although the Lynx was far superior than the Game Gear, it could not compete with Sega’s vast advertising budget and resources. The Game Gear was also backward compatible with the extensive library of Master System games.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKXScEpZ94Q[/youtube]

 

Even though Atari’s Lynx was relegated in the portable device market by the Gameboy and later by the Game Gear, it was still home to some awesome games and arcade conversions like: Chip’s Challenge, Klax, California Games, Blue Lightning, Rampart, Lemmings, Roadblasters, Paperboy, Rampage, STUN Runner, Xenophobe, Xybots and Zarlor Mercenary.

The Lynx fate was sealed in the early 90′s, not due to inferior hardware, but to better and smarter marketing from the likes of Nintendo and Sega. The device enjoys a cult following till this day in the retro gaming realm. So, do yourself a favour, grab a Lynx II. You will not be disappointed.

The Top 5 Sega Genesis Accessories

The Sega MegaDrive - The First Genesis

The Sega MegaDrive – The First Genesis

The rise and rule of the Genesis system led to some nifty accessories.  Here’s five of the coolest accessories that gamers could add to their Sega Genesis:

EA Sports 4-Way Play

EA Sports 4-Way Play

4-Way Play
EA Sports have been making sports-related games for decades, and back in the day Sega Genesis titles were where you went to get your Madden or NHL fix.  But many sports are team games, so Electronic Arts developed the 4-Way Play accessory. This handy little device allowed up to 4 players to play their favourite EA Sports games, so you could have a gamer Super Bowl party, complete with a little pre-game Genesis warm-up!

The Genesis Game Genie by Galoob

The Genesis Game Genie by Galoob

Game Genie
Some Genesis games were hard to beat.  Really hard.  (And some ridiculously easy, but I digress.)  Game Genie by Camerica/Galoob to the rescue!  All you had to do is pop the Genie into the Genesis and insert your game cartridge into it, enter the right code for whatever cheat you wanted, and the game suddenly became a lot easier!  (And you could use the Genie as a country converter cartridge for most games, too – but not officially…)

 

The Sega Channel by General Instrument

The Sega Channel by General Instrument

Sega Channel
Long before Internet online games, Sega came up with the idea to offer games by download.  This little box attached to the Genesis and to the cablevision line.  Players paid a monthly service fee to get access to unlimited access to 50 or so games, plus limited previews of new releases, as well as special versions of fan favorites.  The service is long gone, but still remembered fondly!

 

The Sega Power Base Converter

The Sega Power Base Converter

Power Base Converter
Before the Sega Genesis was a hit, there was the Sega Master System.  Although it never reached the market share dominance that the Genesis did, there were quite a few games and consoles sold.  Rather than tossing out the old games (like Phantasy Star!) gamers could pick up the Power Base Converter, which attached to the Genesis and allowed those SMS games to be played on their new Genesis.  8-bit gaming goodness on their new 16-bit gamer powerhouse!  Gamergasm!

Sega CD Accessory - Top and Side Mounts

 

Sega CD Accessory – Top and Side Mounts

Sega CD
If you had the cash, the Sega CD was a must-have accessory.  It came in two designs, a CD-player style for the older Genesis systems, which stacked on top of each other, and a top-loading style for the new Genesis systems, which acted as a base and the Genesis inserted into its side.  (The Nomad would be released later.) Some of the best games for the Genesis were released on CD-format, including Lunar: The Silver Star, Sonic the Hedgehog CD, The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin, and Earthworm Jim.  Now that’s quality retro gaming!

The SteelSeries Merc Stealth Gaming Keyboard Review

SteelSeries-MERC-Stealth-keyboard

Back in 2008, Denmark based computer peripheral company Steelseries acquired American computer peripheral company Ideazon; and with it, most of their products. One of those products was the Stealth Merc keyboard. The Stealth Merc was released in 2007, but it is still considered one of the best gaming keyboards on the market today, and after a few weeks of intense gaming with it, I can see why.

Steelseries has an almost neurotic attention to detail in all of their gear, and the Merc is no exception. From the moment you pick up the box you realize how much this thing weighs, at least five pounds. It’s also on the large side, 21 inches across to be exact, so you will want to make sure it fits on your computer desk.

SteelSeries-MERC-Stealth-keyboard

 

What makes the Merc Stealth stand out from the competition is the integrated “gaming terrain” located on the left side of the keyboard. There are 34 keys which represent all the keys on the left side of the keyboard (the ones most commonly used for gaming). They even tilted the keys at an 11 degree angle which was found to be the natural position for gaming. It was extremely easy to get used to, and after playing Tribes: Ascend for about 10 minutes I couldn’t imagine going back to the old way.  Also, the W,S,A,D, Shift, Ctrl, and Jump buttons, are rubberized; a nice touch!  The keyboard is backlit with three color choices (Blue, Red, and Purple), with brightness settings. You can also opt to have no illumination, but, you won’t.

To keep the size of the keyboard down, they have integrated the arrow keys, along with other keys normally located in the center of the board, to the number pad. If you want to use the delete key, for example, you have to turn off num lock. That being said, if you are someone who uses their computer for data entry, you won’t be buying this product anyways.

The keyboard is meant to be used hand and hand with their “Z engine” software. Z engine is a program that has preloaded gaming profiles that take advantage of the gaming terrain. There are about 180 profiles spread across three categories; FPS, RTS, and Shooter. I found it very easy to use, and it runs in the background taking up virtually no resources. That being said, even with the new updates, I found the preloaded profiles to be very dated.  Looking over the list, I believe Far Cry 2 was the newest title, and that was released in 2008. This really is not a big deal, though, since the default profile makes all the keys on the gaming terrain a copy of what is on the normal qwerty side of the board. Also, it is very easy to make your own profile for any game you choose. It would be nice to see Steelseries update their software with newer game profiles though.

SteelSeries-MERC-Stealth-keyboard

At first glance, I will admit the gaming terrain layout appeared like a bit of a gimmick and that I would probably go back to using the tried and true WSAD keys after only a few gaming sessions. I am pleased to say that I was wrong. I never knew how comfortable computer gaming can be! Aside from some outdated software, and pretty hefty size, I cannot find a single flaw with the Stealth Merc. It looks great,  and it feels great. I only wish I had this keyboard back in the days of the non-stop 48 hour LAN party. Consider this writer, officially spoiled!

You can pick up out the Merc Stealth Illuminated Gaming Keyboard for $89.99 on the Steelseries website.

Samsung Series 7 Gamer 700G7C-S01 Review With Benchmarks

Samsung 700G7C-S01 laptop notebookLet me just come right out and say that this is the fastest gaming laptop I’ve ever tested and played on. The system is a monster and I like to think of it more like a portable desktop than a laptop. The system has a full sized keyboard, including the number pad, which makes it ideal for gaming as well as work (unless you are used to a funky sized keyboard).

This review took place in August 2012 with version S01 with a review sample that was manufactured in May 2012.

Let’s look at the specifications of the Samsung Series 7 Gamer 700G7C-S01:

Operating System: Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

CPU
CPU/Processor: Intel Core i7-3610QM Processor
CPU Clock Speed: (Max.) 2.30 GHz
CPU Cache: 6MB L3

Screen
Display Screen Size 17.3″
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Brightness 400 nit

Memory
Standard System Memory 16GB
Memory Type DDR3

Storage
Hard Drive Capacity: 1.5TB with ExpressCache™ Technology, 8GB

Graphics
Graphics Chip: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M Graphics

ODD: Blu-Ray

Speakers: 4 W Stereo Speaker (2 W x 2) sub-Woofer

Web Camera: 2.0 MP

Connectivity
Wireless LAN: 802.11 abg/n
Bluetooth: Bluetooth v4.0
WiDi: Yes
Wired Ethernet LAN: Gigabit LAN

I/O Ports
VGA: Yes
HDMI: Yes
USB Ports: 2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0 (1 Sleep-n-Charge)
Headphone Out: Yes
Microphone In: Yes
Multi Card Slot: 7-in-1 (MS, MS Pro, SD, SDHC, MMC, MMC plus, xD)
RJ45 (LAN): Yes

Input Devices
Keyboard:101 Key Backlit
Touch Pad: Yes

Security
Kensington Lock Slot: Yes

Power
AC Adapter: 200 Watt
Number of Cells / Cell Type: 8 cell / Li-Ion

Design
Color: Black

Compliancy
ENERGY STAR Rated: Yes

Dimensions (W x D x H): 16.1″ x 11.2″ x 1.29″ ~ 1.96″
Weight 8.39 lbs.
Warranty 1 Year Standard Parts and Labor

Since most of our readers are gamers, let’s look at gaming performance!

Samsung Series 7 Gamer

Benchmark tests (performance review for gaming):

I only use benchmarks that are actual games (no Futuremark or games running with FRAPS). First off, I only use free benchmarks that everybody has access to. Also, I don’t believe in testing with games that don’t have a built in benchmark feature because that tests hard drive limits and you are rarely going to be playing your games recording it every single time you play them.

If you would like to know further why I picked these benchmarks read my old benchmark guide here.

Battleforge test settings:

Shadow Quality: Very High
Resolution: 1280×1024
Texture Quality: High
Fullscreen: On
Shader Quality: High
Anti-Aliasing: 8x
SSAO: Off
MultiThread Rendering: Auto-Detect
FX Quality: Very High
VSynch: Off
Cloud Shadows: Off
Glow: Off

The tests gave us an 69.7 average fps result, a minimum 5.9 fps result, and a 232.8 maximum fps result.

DiRT 3 test settings:

Resolution: 1280×1028
Refresh Rate: 60
Multisampling: 8 x MSAA
VSync: Off
Aspect Ratio: Auto
Gamma: 1.0
Night Lightning: High
Shadows: Ultra
Particles: High
Mirrors: Ultra
Characters: Ultra
Ground Cover: High
Distant Vehicles: High
Objects: Ultra
Trees: Ultra
Vehicle Reflections: Ultra
Water: High
Post Process: Medium (again this loves to set itself to this over and over so just leave it like that)
Skidmarks: On
Ambient Occlusion: Ultra
Cloth: High

Test results were that the laptop got 48.66 fps average and 40.14 fps minimum running the Dirt 3 with the previously listed settings.

Tom Clancy’s HAWX test settings:

Game version: DirectX 9 for legacy compatibility purposes
Screen Resolution: 1280×1024
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
Antialiasing: 8x
VSync: Off
Full Screen: On
View Distance: High
Forest: High
Environment: High
Texture Quality: High
HDR: On
Engine Heat: On
DOF: On

On this test we got an average of 181 fps and a maximum 353 fps.

Trackmania Nations test Settings:

Resolution: 1280×1024
Antialiasing: 16 samples
Shadows: Complex
Shader Quality: PC3 High
Texture Quality: High
Max Filtering: Anisotropic 16x
Geometry Details: Normal
PostProcess FXs: On
Force Dynamic Colors: On
Force Motion Blur: On
Force Bloom: On
Water Geometry: On
Stadium Water Geometry: On
Trees Always High Quality: On

The benchmark yielded a result of 79.6 fps.

X3 Terran Conflict benchmark test settings:

Resolution: 1280×1024 Fullscreen
Antialiasing: 8x
Ansitropic Texture Filtering: On
Anisotropic Texture Filtering: 16x
Glow enabled: On
Texture Quality: High
Shader Quality: High
More Dynamic Light Sources: On
Ship Colour Variations: On

The Samsung laptop got a score of 105.439 fps on the X3 Terran Conflict benchmark.

Samsung Series 7 Gamer

Hands-on Review:

The machine is very comfortable to work with. It does tend to get a bit hot and I recommend using it on a desk or tabletop.

The onboard sound of the laptop is amazing and comes with probably the best equalizer software I’ve ever used. It is made by Dolby Laboratories and includes many sound altering effects. The speaker setup is impressive and loud for a laptop. Using the software you can change the ambiance of what the speakers put out. Certain parts of the keyboard light up and will glow based on music being played on the computer based on your settings (it is on by default).

Since the system has a blue ray player, should you want to watch a high definition movie from a disc, you would be able to as well as enjoy it in HD with the high quality display that is extremely sharp in image quality.

The laptop has a physical knob that can be turned to adjust the different aspects of the performance regarding speed, fan noise, power saving modes, etc. When you switch into gaming mode the laptop does an animation showing a target lock-on cybernetic image that is an attention getter (this is on by default). I think having a laptop such as this one would want somebody to enforce their bragging rights and that cool animation is certainly a way to get people’s attention!

Running full power mode (no power-saving modes enabled) the laptop has a battery life of 2.5 hours for doing work (MS Office) level of applications. Longer battery life times are possible depending on using more power efficient power profiles. Since this is a gaming laptop, the battery life cannot be expected to be too long especially the more complicated a game is. With a system like this, I recommend using it plugged in via the AC adapter rather than running it off battery power.

The wireless card built into this laptop is so strong that it gets about 50% more wireless networks than my current laptop as well as stronger signals all throughout.

As far as the way the laptop looks on the outside, it looks like it’s a serious laptop that means business and I like that a lot. The machine looks sharp, sort of like what I would equate to the Aston Martin of modern gaming laptops.

Samsung Series 7 Gamer

Conclusion:

This laptop is ideal for a power gamer and user that needs to be able to take their desktop with them but cannot carry a tower, monitor, and speakers with them. The hard drive is massive (1.5 TB) allowing storage of many file libraries, which is rare on a notebook. The rest of the parts on the system make it a strong performer for nearly any computing need a power user will have, whether gaming, 3D rendering (strong video card), music editing/engineering, etc. The current price $1600-1900 as off 8/8/2012 is what I would expect a laptop like this to cost and is reasonable.

Run-down summary:

Pros:
-Can run every game that’s out there.
-Speakers sound amazing for a laptop.
-Enough hard drive space to install almost any game collection plus a huge file collection for almost everybody.
-Enough power to seriously game as well as run other operations such as 3D rendering and audio engineering programs.
-16 GB of RAM is more than enough memory for almost 99.99% of users out there to multitask like crazy.
-Super strong wireless card with support for all current wireless protocols.
-Has what I consider to be a real keyboard for a laptop rather than a tiny one that’s the usual punishment in most laptops, making it much better for a power user and gamer.
-Has external lights and knobs that let you manually change the features of what the laptop is doing as well as see hard drive operation activity, etc. This useful for when doing heavy applications.
-Easy to take apart (two simple covers with standard screws make life easier).

Cons:
-Can get hot temperature-wise. I didn’t have any stability problems even when gaming in a hot room.
-Too expensive for budget gamers, but then again they would probably most likely not be buying a gaming laptop.
-Can be bulky to move around (space and weight-wise), but then again I like to think as a really compact portable desktop.

Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD Review

When SSD’s first arrived on the market the price point alone made many people turn away from them, but as the prices began to come down, more and more people began to see the benefit to adding a SSD to their existing system. For more novice consumers and those who still find the price a little too high there are remaining questions about when and why to get an SSD. In this review we will cover the benefits of the Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD as well as the overall advantages to using a SSD.

Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD

Why an SSD?

So let’s start with the basics. An SSD is faster than your normal Hard Drive, much faster. The direct speed difference will vary on the model you get. Using the HyperX 3K we compared it to my previous hard drive, a 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s. The read and write speeds were many times faster with the SSD which translates into quicker load times and faster access of data. This means if you use it as your system drive Windows will boot and respond faster and applications will do the same.

For many gamers, an SSD is added to their existing system to be used as their game drive. What this does is improve the loading and access time of a game and this also comes into play online. Now an SSD cannot help you if your ISP is slow or you have bandwidth issues, but if you have applications running in the background along with your game, say Ventrilo, an SSD can manage the data better meaning a smooth gaming experience with no choppiness, which is a key in FPS, RTS and MMO gaming.

Beyond the benefits for applications and games an SSD can make an older computers seem newer by expanding its usability. Many times, especially for users who are not heavy into games, find themselves with a slow PC, not because of CPU or memory, but their hard drive. The speed and performance of an SSD can inject new life into your existing system even freeing the need to upgrade other parts. Finally, an SSD contains no moving parts so if you move your system a lot it can take the wear and tear that a traditional hard drive cannot.

The Breakdown

We tested the 240GB version of the Kingston HyperX for this review. For people looking to add more programs and games in addition to their operating system, this size is a perfect fit. This model is also lower in price costing a litter over two hundred dollars. For your O/S 100GBs of space is a good number to go with. I personally have used as low as 50GBs with a few applications added, but was always low on drive space. With this 240GB drive, you will have more than enough room for your operating system, your applications and games. If you collect media like movies and music you could add them as well, but its best to run those from a traditional drive as it does not really impact performance.

First thing you will notice is the size. The drive is 2.5 inches with a 9.5mm height, so it is much smaller than your traditional hard drive. The drive comes with a sturdy shinny metallic 3.5 inch bracket and mounting screws, so it can fit into any desktop case. The drive also comes with a handy screw drive that holds various bits as well as the screws keeping everything together and making installation very easy. Of course, if you are not comfortable doing your own installation you can ask a friend, but it is very simple to do and there are many videos showing how to install an SSD.

 

Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD

The HyperX 3K also comes with an USB external drive bay, which looks pretty cool design wise. This allows you to use your SSD as an external drive that you plug into your USB. This also allows you to take the drive on the road which is great for professionals or gamers that travel and since it supports USB 2.0 you will still get the speed and performance you expect.

The drive runs quite since it does not have any moving parts. This is ideal for those who want a silent running PC in their home or office. Another great thing about this drive is that it also draws less power and is cooler than a traditional hard drive meaning it will not add extra heat to your system or the environment it is in and overall is more energy efficient.

Here is a breakdown of the features for the SSD:

  • Features
    • SandForce controller technology
    • High-speed SATA Rev 3.0 (6Gb/s) transfer speeds
    • Advanced Wear-Leveling Technology
    • User-Configurable Over Provisioning4
    • Performance — incredible speeds for enhanced productivity
    • Reliable — much less likely to fail than a standard hard drive
    • Shock-Proof — dropping your notebook no longer means losing your data
    • Cool & Quiet — runs silent and with no moving mechanical parts to generate heat
    • Innovative — uses NAND Flash memory components
    • Supports TRIM — enhances device wear leveling by eliminating merge operation for all deleted data blocks
    • Supports S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology)
    • Guaranteed — three-year warranty, free technical support and legendary Kingston reliability.

Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD

Defining Technology

So when looking at the top SSD’s you will want to understand the technology that comes with it. Let’s take a look at some of the terms and breakdown their meaning for those not familiar with them.

Sandforce Technology: Sandforce is the processor for Flash Storage devices. Also known as the controller, it is key component of the drive. Sandforce is known for making top rate SSD processors, which contains additional features that improve the performance and power optimization for a drive and the longevity of the SSD.

TRIM: TRIM in a nutshell is Windows 7 memory optimization for SSD’s and was best explained to me like this. When you write something to your drive think about writing on a piece of paper. When you want to get rid of the paper you would toss it away. With a computer you are not tossing the paper, but erasing whatever you wrote on the paper to use again. With an SSD, you may delete or erase a page, which can be a word doc or an entire program, but the SSD needs a stack of papers, or what is referred of as a block before it deletes them. However, when it’s time to delete the block, since there is more than one page to do, it can take time and that time taken can slow down the SSD. TRIM anticipates that you will need to delete that block sooner or later so it does it ahead of time so you do not run into that large block being erased that slows down your system and in turn your SSD runs at optimum speeds at all times.

S.M.A.R.T: This stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology. This is the early warning system that something is going to happen to your disk drive. SMART monitors your drive and its main function is to detect and report and various indicators of reliability giving you a heads up of potential issues. When SMART finds something wrong you have the option to prepare for an outage by backing up your data and getting a replacement drive. In addition to having a warning to back up your data disk drive manufactures may be able to use the SMART data to find out where issues occurred in their drive and even help them make changes to prevent other issues from occurring. Think of it as the little black box for your SSD.

ATTO Disk Benchmark on my old drive
ATTO Disk Benchmark on my old drive
AS SSD Benchmark on my old drive
AS SSD Benchmark on my old drive
Crystal Disk Mark on my old drive
Crystal Disk Mark on my old drive

Testing

One thing to keep in mind when testing is how the drive is being used. You will often see faster speeds if you run tests on a free drive being used for gaming than one that you already installed Windows on and then ran the tests. The HyperX features 555MB/sec read and 510MB/sec write speeds, but again these can vary depending on the software and testing conditions. However, the overall speed difference over a traditional hard drive is unmistakable as you can see in the benchmarking screenshots below.

AS SSD Benchmark on the Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD
AS SSD Benchmark on the Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD
ATTO SSD Benchmark on the Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD
ATTO SSD Benchmark on the Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD
Crystal Mark SSD Benchmark on the Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD
Crystal Mark SSD Benchmark on the Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD

As you can see compared to my previous hard drive the HyperX is much much faster in both read and write speeds. As far as daily use, the different is night and day. When logging into Windows after a reboot the load time is cut down to a few seconds. With my old drive, it would be up to a minute before all my programs would open and be ready for use.

This is another point for SSD’s specifically the Kingston HyperX. If you run a lot of programs and/or have a number of programs that start automatically like instant messenger programs and anti-virus software, a faster drive dramatically drops down the loading time of those applications. Even using programs such as Microsoft Office I can see the different when it auto saves or I save the program myself. Finally, for those who work with audio or video programs an SSD is a must for quicker access of your work and loading times.

Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD

Final Thoughts

Kingston offers a 3-year warranty with this SSD as well as customer support via their website. In addition, a toolbox software download is available. The Kingston Toolbox enables you to read your drive information such as Serial Numbers, Firmware versions, and S.M.A.R.T. attributes.

Overall the Kingston HyperX SSD is one of the fastest drives on the market at with a price in the low 200’s, it is perfect for the advanced or novice user of any budget. The speed and reliability you get with this drive will make any system better, and for those who demand the best performance it is a must have.

The Razer Anansi MMO Keyboard Review

The Razer Anansi MMO Keyboard

There are always a number of requirements for gamers looking for the perfect keyboard. One of the most important things is the key placement and additional keys or functions that allow the user to more easily play their favorite games. The Anansi MMO keyboard from Razer gives gamers a number of options to make gaming easier and thus allowing you to pwn.

One of the first things you will notice are the seven thumb modifier keys you can press just below the spacebar. These keys allow you to press the standard one thru seven keys you see in most MMO’s for your various spells or abilities. These keys can also be used for combination keys such as “Alt-Control” or “Shift+Alt” allowing you to put off your abilities and spells faster and with less movement so you can play more.

The Razer Anansi MMO Keyboard

Second, you will notice the five macro keys on the left hand since of the board. These keys can be configured to allow you to combined key strokes to pull of multiple combinations of spells or abilities in games, of course within the games design.

Razer’s configuration software allows for a ton of configuration options. You can literally change every key function on the board so in essence you can make any key a hot or macro key.  You can also configure the backlighting, which shines though each key and if you wish, set the backlighting to randomly change color (16 million of them) which is pretty awesome when playing in a dark area.

The Razer Anansi MMO Keyboard

The keyboard itself has a good length and low profile, which works well for small and large hands alike. Al l the basic functions keys are there including the numeric keys and while not mechanical, pressing the keys feels comfortable and gives a good feedback response be it in games or typing. The keyboard sits stable when using the legs or lying flat and is sturdy so you heavy key pressers will not have to worry about damaging your keyboard.

I did find myself hitting the caps lock keys when going to type the “A” key, but I found that was more my own issue than the keyboard. You can also lock the Windows key, which is great for those who have ever been in the middle of an FPS game and found themselves kicked to Windows by a missed key stroke.

The Razer Anansi MMO Keyboard

Now it does take two USB ports to run the Anansi so make sure you have the room and there are no port connections on the keyboard itself so you are unable to connect another USB device or headphones. Overall, the keyboard itself is a prefect mix of style, functionality and durability that will make any gamer happy. You can pick up the Razer Anansi for about $99.99.

Tech Specs:

  • 7 thumb modifier keys
  • Over 100 programmable Hyperesponse keys
  • One-button profile switching
  • Five additional gaming keys
  • Optimized key matrix
  • Gaming mode option
  • Easy access media keys
  • Approximate Size : 515 mm / 20.28” (Width) x 190 mm / 7.48” (Height) x 20 mm / 0.79” (Depth)
  • Approximate Weight: 1020 g / 2.24 lbs

Hardware Requirements

PC with USB port
Windows® 7 / Windows Vista® / Windows® XP / Mac OS X (v10.5 to 10.6)
Internet connection (for driver installation)
At least 35MB of hard disk space

Synthboy

synthboy

Obsolete Gamer is always looking for cool new projects that feature classic games and what could be more classic than the Gameboy handheld system. Check out this project on Kickstarter that brings new life to the retro gaming system.

Dust off that first gen Gameboy as we have a very cool interface dock that converts the handheld gaming system into a state of the art 8-bit sound machine. There is a growing community of musicians and audio artists that are using these old gaming system sounds.  We have used some of the achievements from the 8-bit community and created the SYNTHBOY+.  Easy to plug into your mixer or home stereo with all of the various outputs. Midi IN/OUT makes it easy to connect to almost any keyboard.  We have a limited number of units available on Kickstarter.com.

synthboy

Link Here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/763704741/synthboy

So please grab one and support the effort to save these older gaming systems and rock out to some old school Tetris sounds.  This is recycling at its best.  We really wanted everyone to be able to get one of these, so we went smaller and more affordable. You can even send in your working Gameboy and we will modify it for you.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxZ4J6cj8-A[/youtube]

Thank you for your time and I hope you love the old gaming system sounds as much as we do.

Creative: Live! Cam Connect HD Review

Creative-Live-Cam-Connect-HD

Most gamers are on the leading edge of technology and communication. We keep in contact with our friends and gaming buddies via instant message, voice communication and video chat. The Live CAM connect HD from Creative allows uses to take full advantage of those forms of communication and more with a sleek design and reasonable price.

Design

Creative-Live-Cam-Connect-HD

The glossy black design and sharp styling’s of the Connect HD complements any computer setup. The unit itself measures 0.8 by 2.6 inches and is made of hard durable plastic. The unit comes with a clip-on mount that allows you to connect the cam to the top of a monitor or to a laptop lid. The mount itself allows the cam to be adjusted and pivoted in multiple positions so you can find the perfect camera angle for whatever you are doing and even place it on flat surfaces like your desk.

Software

Creative-Live-Cam-Connect-HD

The great thing about the Connect HD is right out of the box you can use it. Just plug it into your PC or Mac via USB and on Windows 7 operating systems, it will automatically install itself, so right away you can begin using the device for video chat or Google hangouts. Plus, the Connect HD is Skype HD certified at 720p and works with other video communications such as Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. For PC users you can take advantage of the Live! Central 3 software bundle and tools such as video editing and a movie maker.

The bundled software is easy to use even if you are a novice. You have tabs to the right that allow you to play around with effects such as avatars and various visual effects. The settings tab allows you to adjust the picture including brightness, face tracking, zoom and other features to improve or tweak overall video quality. You can also adjust the built in microphone. Additional you can take snap photos from Live Central and record video. Best of all you can directly upload your videos to YouTube with a touch of a button.

Video

Creative-Live-Cam-Connect-HD

The Connect HD records in HD and has a built in H.264 hardware video processor. H.264 is used for video compression of high definition video meaning you get the quality without taking up to much space and using too much CPU resources, which is important when steaming video or using video chat as it keeps you from experiencing lag or the stutter/choppy motion you sometimes see with lesser web cams.

The Connect HD Liquid-Crystal lens auto focuses and records video at up to 30 frames per second and looks incredibly crisp and clear in 720p HD. Now for other video chat programs HD may not be supported but the video quality was still very clear and the colors vibrant.

Audio

The Connect HD comes with a built in microphone that does a great job at picking up the sounds you want and leaving out the ones you do not want. With its noise-canceling microphone, your voice comes in clear in Skype or even voice only programs like Ventrilo. In addition, background noises and sounds are not picked up as long as you have noise-canceling active, which is great for conversations or web meetings.

Conclusion

Overall, the Live Cam Connect HD from Creative offers clear HD recordings and video for Skype and other video chat programs for a reasonable price. The audio is clear, and background noise is eliminated. The software is user friendly and the device can be easily setup almost anywhere. Definitely a good choice for the price-point and features. You can find the Connect HD for about $60 on Amazon.

Video Game Controllers

Game-Controllers

Having played a ton of console and computer games, I have of course used a ton of different controllers. This is not so much a listing of the best or even all that I have used, but more of a look at some of the controllers I played the most on and my opinions on them.

Atari 2600

Atari 2600 Controller

This was really the first controller I used a lot. At the time, it was perfect as it worked fine for all the games I was playing on the 2600. However, looking back I realized that sometimes it was hard to really control a game where you needed quick moments. The joystick at an arcade has a locked base so you could really move it around or do the in-between the fingers thing. With this controller, it was not really possible. Once games that had multiple buttons came out this controller was dead to me, but it is a classic no doubt.

NES Controller

NES_controller

This was the controller that started me down my path of console gaming because it was my first D pad controller. I remember trying to get used to it playing Mario and even turning the controller along with my body thinking it would help me maneuver. Once I got used to it I thought this was the best controller ever. That was until I discovered how much more comfortable not having a rectangular controller could be.

Super NES Controller

snes-controller

Still one of my favorites, the SNES controller took what I loved about the NES controller and improved upon it. Not having sharp corners to deal with was much better on the hands especially for those long marathon gaming sessions. The six button controls meant you did not have to worry about missing buttons for games and even the top buttons were easy to reach and use.

Sega Genesis Controller

Sega-Genesis-Controller

I was already deep into the NES when I got my Genesis and so I felt their controller was not a good fit. Obviously, it was missing the buttons I was used to, but I did find that I liked the D-pad better, especially for fighting games. On the negative side it felt too big, which could be that they were pushing for the older crowd and calling the SNES the kids system.

N64 Controller

N64-controller

I had so many issues with the N64 and the controller was one of them. Seriously, I thought the design was a giant step back; it just seemed big for no reason. Now, having the stick control was nice and from that we got used to it for later consoles including todays, but the button placement seemed like a step backwards as well and that Z button was useless in so many games. I am sure a lot of people liked the controller, but for me I was ready to move on.

Neo Geo Controller

neo geo controller

I only knew one person with a Neo Geo and he was that rich kid everyone hated secretly but was friends with him to play with his toys. I liked the button placement of the controller, but that D-pad did not work for me at all. It was more of a analog stick design to me which at the time I was not used too nor ready for, add to that it felt like a Genesis controller, all be it smaller, I just preferred by SNES.

Turbo Grafx-16 Controller

TurboGrafx-16-Controller

The TG-16 was like owning a sports car in high school. Most people did not have it, but they wanted one and it looked so cool and had cool games like Ninja Spirit. Now the pad itself had a cool look, but again had issues with the button placement and was pretty much a copy of the NES controller but with turbo switches. Another thing that hurt the TG-16 was not only did it only come with one controller, but you needed to buy a turbo tap to use more than one.

Playstation Controller

playstation-controller

This would become my second favorite controller. At first, I felt the extended tips were unnecessary, but later I found it worked for a variety of handling styles and was confortable. The button placement was perfect and worked with all their games and ports. If there was a complaint, it was the D-Pad. I felt for fighting games it was a bad choice, it did not allow for the roll needed for a dragon punch in Street Fighter. Sure, you could play fighting games and get used to it, but if I could but the Genesis D-Pad on this controller, it would be perfection.

Sega Dreamcast Controller

Dreamcast_Controller

When I saw this, I thought the N64 controller went on an all pizza and Mountain Dew diet and this is what it became. Yes, I understand the little memory card slash game thing that needed to fit inside, but seriously it was way to big even for basketball players. I thought they would sell ad space on the damn thing and then we go back to an older button placement design a bad position for the stick and the D-pad was sub-par. I loved the system, but hated this controller.

Atari Jaguar Controller

Atari_jaguar_controller

I cried when I saw this, it was a mix between the worst of a Sega Genesis controller and a Coleco vision controller. I only played Alien vs Predator on this system and as cool as that game was the controller turned me off big-time. I kept wishing I could remove the telephone pad and just used the controller. However, I did find it funny that instead of a start and select button they used pause and option, it was like they were being different for difference sake and it failed.

Xbox Controller

xbox_original_controller

This controller worked well for me as I got used to not using the D-pad for everything. While I felt the controller itself was a little too big it had decent button placement and once you learned what the white and black buttons were for it all came together. Again, for advanced fighting games it still felt off, the d-pad was ok, but far from perfect and having the white and black buttons be smaller just made using them in games more of a hassle.

Overall, the 360 controller is still my favorite (sorry PS3 fan boys) I think it is a perfect fit size wise with good button placement a good D-pad and analog stick placement. Now we have a new generation coming down the pipe, let’s see how they do on the controller front.

Diablo III Hardware Checklist

Diablo 3

A whole lot of you are gearing up for the release of Diablo 3 tomorrow so besides calling out sick, ditching your date and neglecting your hygiene you want to make sure you have all the necessary items to play, undisturbed in the best possible way. Here is a list of items you just might need or can use for your upcoming day of gaming.

The EON 11-S from Origin PC

Origin-EON-11-S

Let’s start with hardware, yes, obviously you need a gaming system to play D3 and if you have to be at work or at school why not take your gaming with you. The great thing about this laptop is it small, but powerful enough to run the game the way it’s meant to be played and you just might trick your boss or teacher into thinking you brought it in for other reasons. Check out our breakdown of the EON 11-S.

The Diablo III headset from SteelSeries

SteelSeries-Diablo-III-Headset

The last thing you want during your game time is distractions and outside noise. The Diablo III headset is ultra-comfortable and keeps external noises out so you can enjoy only the sounds of the game. With its retractable microphone, you can chat with people in game or using a voice program and not miss a beat. Finally, it just looks cool and its Diablo branded, who wouldn’t want this. Check out our review on the Diablo III headset.

The X-Rocker Pro-Series Game Chair

X-Rocker pro series Gamer Chair

One might think sitting on your ass all day is easy, but it isn’t. Especially for us 30+ gamers you want to make sure you can stay seated for long periods of time without hurting your back or your tailbone. Just like your grand-pappy, perhaps being able to rock back and forth will keep you from catching a clot as you lay the smack-down. Check out the stats on the chair here.

The 30 Widescreen monitor from NEC

PA301W-BK_NEC

Diablo III is like stepping into a movie and just like you want the best movie screen you will also want a top notch monitor for your gaming pleasure. The PA301W features a 2560×1600-resolution screen with a 1000:1 contrast ratio. The screen also features an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the display’s brightness based on lighting conditions lessoning eyestrain from prolonged use, which is perfect for the marathon gaming session you will be putting in. Check out the monitor specifications here.

Game On

Now you have the gear and you have a nice quiet place to game. You will want to keep the area cool and clear and have a big waste basket around for all the food wrappers and if possible some recycling because it’s just a good thing to do. Set your phone to vibrate, your instant message status to, “Leave me alone noobs I’m pwning Diablo 3” and leave reality behind. Just don’t end up on the news because you neglected your kid or your house burned down with you in it.

Atari’s XE Game System

A lot of notable anniversaries in video game history will take place during the course of the year.  Others may not be as notable, as we’ll learn about today.

Atari XEGS

The Atari XE Game System (XEGS) turns 25 years old this year, a date that most industry experts might not notice.  Thanks to the efforts of Nintendo and a series of new hits in the arcades the video game industry had come roaring back in 1987.  Former industry king Atari wanted a piece of it, and tried in several different ways.

After re-releasing the original Atari 2600 as a value priced system and shipping the previously cancelled Atari 7800 product from warehouses, Atari introduced the XEGS in 1987.  Little more than a redressed Atari 8-bit personal computer, the XEGS aimed directly at Nintendo in television commercials, touting it’s own lightgun and items such as keyboard, disc drive and joystick.

The XEGS also boasted of a huge library of games available for play due to backward compatibility with previous Atari products.  While technically true, the game library was deeply aged by the time the XEGS hit store shelves.  Most of the XE branded games in stores were simply repackaged Atari computer game titles while others were translations of other home computer licenses as Nintendo had exclusive deals signed for almost every other arcade hit.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZ2xuoSkv2Q[/youtube]

The Nintendo Entertainment System had gained more than 90 percent of the market by 1988, leaving the XEGS in the dust along with Atari’s other product.  It wasn’t the last time Atari took aim at Nintendo, however.  Years later Atari would introduce it’s own handheld system, the Lynx, to compete with Nintendo’s GameBoy.  In 1993 they also introduced the 64-bit Jaguar, the last new console released by the legendary Atari.

Despite a short run, the XEGS and games can be found on eBay and other online sites fairly easily today.

Origin PC: The EON 11-S

When mini’s came out people kept asking for a powerful laptop that could be used for gaming in a smaller size and since then we have seen a few on the market. For the most part people want the latest processor, powerful graphics and good battery life and the EON 11-S looks to have those in spades.

Origin-EON-11-S Black

The EON 11-S is an 11-inch notebook that sports third generation Ivy bridge processors from Intel, that alone screams power for the pc gamer. In addition, the EON 11-S features the NVIDA GeForce 650M video card with Optimus 1.2 technology. The Optimus technology is important because it extends your battery life meaning, you get the graphics you need for games, but without the need to remain plugged into an outlet 24/7.

The breakdown of the system includes an Intel Core 2.5GHz i5-2520M with 3MB cache or 2.1GHz i7-3612QM with 6MB cache. Next, up you have the Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM. The EON 11-S uses the Intel HM76 Express chipset, features an 11.6-inch HD display screen with 1366 x 768 pixels resolution and comes with Windows 7 64-bit.

Origin-EON-11-S Red

You can configure the system with up to 16GB DDR3 RAM, up to 1TB 5400rpm hard drive or up to 512GB solid state drive or up to 500GB 7200rpm hybrid drive. Finally, the EON 11-S has Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi and a 1.3-mega pixels web cam.

Talking design, the EON 11-S comes in three colors Matte Black, Mate Red and Glossy Silver you can choose from their new laptop case design or the original design. For those looking for a more personal touch Origin PC offers top cover painting for an additional fee.

Now the question is what kind of size, battery life and price are we talking about. Well first off, gamers rejoice because the EON 11-S offers up to 7 hours of battery life with its 6-cell battery, which is perfect for those long gaming sessions far from an outlet. Size and weight will not be an issue either with it weighing in at only 3.9 pounds. Here are the dimensions, 11.2 x 8.1 x 0.5-1.4.

Origin-EON-11-S Silver

So what is the most important question, what is the price. The base unit costs only $999.00 and that is not a stripped down unit. The only thing that makes me a bit sad about this laptop is the lack of a backlit keyboard, but everything else looks pretty sweet. Overall, the EON 11-S is a great notebook for gamers or anyone who wants a powerful laptop that’s portable with great battery life.

You can check out the EON 11-S here.

iCade 8-Bitty

iCade 8-Bitty

ICade has been pretty awesome at creating retro gaming hardware that you can use in conjunction with your iPad, iPhone and Android device to play retro video games pretty much anywhere. Check out our first look at the iCade arcade cabinet from CES 2011.

Recently iCade released their 8-Bitty, a retro gamepad that looks and feels like the classic NES game pad. The device is wireless and uses blue-tooth connectivity allowing you to pair your pad with your Apple or Android device. The pad features four buttons and the classic D-Pad and it fits in your pocket. The 8-bitty runs on two AAA batteries and has a power saver mode so you are not always replacing them.

Now the pad will work with all iCade games and comes with the Atari Greatest Hits app, which features over 100 games, however you only get Missile Command for free, but can purchase all 100 games for $14.99.

We hope to bring you a hands on review soon, in the meantime check out the product page here.

The Logitech G9x Laser Gaming Mouse Review

The Logitech G9x -1

After a few weeks of abuse, we are ready to review the Logitech G9x laser gaming mouse.  This mouse brings back memories to old trusty G5 Laser mouse. The G9x laser gaming mouse brings an excess of great features. Interchange grip control, onboard memory, on the fly adjustable DPI and weight-tuning system. The G9x packaging is reasonably large and follows Logitech’s green and black theme. Alongside the manual and driver/software CD packing you’ll also receive the additional grip and weights for the mouse.

The Logitech G9x - Weights

When you first look at the mouse the design looks to be a bit bizarre but when you hold it with your hands it gives you a great feeling of control and it gets better. The interchangeable grip allows you to drop that smooth surface the mouse original comes with and allows you to replace it with a textured grip. The textured grip is not rough enough to feel like you are holding a piece of sand paper but gritty enough to where it won’t slip of your hands when you build some moisture. The bottom pads give the mouse a gentle glide over your mouse pad but other flat surfaces will work just as well.

The Logitech G9x - Profile

                The forward and back rockers are positioned in an extremely comfortable position in reach of your thumb without the feeling that you may accidently press it. The scroll button has a smooth glide as you use it and its placed high enough where you won’t press on the right or left mouse button. Right bellow the left mouse button you will find the DPI rocker. This is a poorly placed rocker considering you have to let go of your left mouse button in order to adjust DPI sensitivity not to mention that the rocker itself is extremely narrow, you could end up hitting the left mouse button in the process. The weight tuning system is inside the mouse, you will have to take the exterior surface off in order to make adjustments. This was a bit awkward seeing that you would like to get a feel for the mouse with the weights and you have to take the exterior shell off every time you want to tune it.

The Logitech G9x - Case

In conclusion, the Logitech G9x is a considerably small gaming mouse compared to other vendors but fits well on large hands. It is a heavy mouse with no weights but the best part is you can make it heavier using the weights provided in the package. The performance while gaming is amazing and shows large improvements over older models.  The build quality is excellent and the USB cable is durable overall design is outstanding besides the weight tuning system. The mouse is ready to go out of the box to the point that the provided software isn’t really needed. The software does give you the ability to change profiles using the mouse on the fly once you take the time to set it up.

The Logitech G510 Review

Logitech-G510

The G510 is the heir of the G110 and has undergone quite a handful of upgrades, the most viewable is the LCD display on top of the keyboard similar to G15. The G510 comes prepackaged in Logitech’s standard green and black colored theme box in a stylish yet elegant boxing to reduce the chances of receiving a damaged product due to improper shipping or miss handling. Logitech’s sales team did marvelous job detailing the products highlights on the outside of the box so even if you never heard and or read about the product you can get quick condensed facts about the keyboards features all located on the back of the box. The box includes paper documentation, a CD including software and driver support; which I personally like, there is nothing worse than receiving and item that you cannot use because the manufacturer failed to include drivers or software. A palm rest was also included as part the keyboard accessories.

Logitech-G510-Gaming-Keyboard

At first glance the G15 seems like a hefty keyboard but holding it in your hands shows it’s light weight yet still inhibit a sturdy feel. Along back top section of the keyboard are two legs used to tilt the keyboard. The bottom back section of the keyboard has to two large rubber sections, which perform a great job at keeping the keyboard in place. The key placement follows a traditional pattern so besides the new macro buttons on the far left side and the new function buttons on the top row it’s an extremely clean design. The USB 2.0 connector is attached on the center of the keyboard right behind the back of the newly added GamePanel  LCD and on the far left upper corner is an on board USB audio which supports 3.5mm sockets.

Logitech-G510-Gaming-Keyboard

Installation is a breeze; I’ve always loved this about all Logitech products. The Logitech Gaming Software gives you fast and easy access to all related controls on the keyboard mainly GamePanel LCD, Profile settings adjustments and backlit color control. The customizable “G” command keys on the left can be edited via this interface but it’s not required since you can set them on demand. Profiles can be saved on the keyboard itself so you can take you pre-configured profiles on the go from machine to machine! It’s extremely easy to setup, sync and manage profiles using the gaming software so easy that and end user wouldn’t really need to read a manual in order to use.

Logitech-G510-Gaming-Keyboard

I enjoy bad news first so let’s get the cons out of way, after a few weeks of usage I’ve ran into a few things which I don’t particularly enjoy. I’m a full keyboard typist and I’ve noticed that the G command keys on the far left take up quite a bit real estate making the main keyboard a bit uncomfortable. I’ve found myself hitting the ‘G3’ or ‘G6’ command key when stretching my pinking while trying to use the ‘Esc’ key. This may be something that I would probably get accustomed to over time but its rather gloomy that the change over from a traditional and or ergonomic keyboard doesn’t carry over to well in this regard. I would get rid of 2 macro rows and work on the keyboard layout design to make it more comfortable to use for full keyboard typist. Second issue I have is the overall feel of the USB cable. The cable itself is too rigid in my opinion, I feel that the material should be more flexible and or perhaps the usage of a different material would be in order to give the keyboard ease of use while moving it around the desk.

Logitech-G510-Gaming-Keyboard

Now with the bad news out of the way let us cover the pros! The macro keys are great addition for RTS games although it has usage for MMORPG I feel it has a stronger attunement towards RTS. Reaction time is fast when using the macro keys even on long command playback. The illumination provided by the G510 is remarkable! You get a soft color tone under directly lighting conditions but a subtle glow under poor lighting conditions. The choice of picking the spectrum of your choice is great compared to picking from a handful of colors like its previous predecessors. The rocker control for the volume is smooth and a well placed mute button is right next to it, right above these two mainly abused controls are the multimedia key handling play, pause, stop, forward and back. The GamePanel LCD is a great addition I see myself viewing the panel while gaming and even debugging code as I sit there to keep an eye on CPU and Memory allocation. The onboard sound card is a nice feature if you forget your G35 at home and you have your cell phones 3.5mm headset with you with microphone and audio mute right above the USB audio controller.

In conclusion, the overall build is excellent and you’ll feel like you’ve purchased a high grade quality product. They keyboard’s key layout will take time to get used to from your left hand perspective. You’ll see yourself hitting the right G-keys even while you’re focused on a game but you’ll find yourself stretching your pinky as you try to hit that first macro row on the far left. It’s a great purchase when you analyze the grand design, performance and build quality it’s certainly worth its value.

Origin PC goes Pro

We all know that having the right PC for gaming is a must be it for MMO’s or RTS and FPS games, but the same can be said for professional systems. Consider that all those games and movies we like were made using computers and if they look great on a powerful gaming PC then they must have been made on a powerful PC, right?

So today Origin PC announced their line of Professional grade systems featuring overclocked processors and Quadro workstation graphics cards along with their 24/7 support. Check out their official press release:

Origin PC professional systems

Award Winning Performance and Support Now Available in Laptops and Desktops Designed for Professionals

Miami, FL – For Immediate Release — ORIGIN PC announced today the launch of their new line of desktops and laptops for professionals. Featuring options like the latest Intel Xeon E5 processors, ORIGIN PC professional overclocking, and NVIDIA Quadro workstation graphics cards. The new PRO line of systems from ORIGIN PC is designed specifically for artists, engineers, and professionals. ORIGIN PC now offers its award-winning performance, endless customization options, and industry leading U.S. based lifetime 24/7 support to professionals worldwide.

Download high res images of the new PRO line of ORIGIN PCs here:

GENESIS PRO

GENESIS PRO-X2

EON17-X PRO

ORIGIN PC’s custom workstations offer a wide range of solutions to fit mostly any workspace or budget:

The small form factor CHRONOS PRO starts at $1299
The mid-tower MILLENNIUM PRO starts at $1396
The full-tower GENESIS PRO starts at $2131
The EON15-PRO mobile workstation starts at $1581

Some of the most powerful professional workstations from ORIGIN PC are outlined below:

The GENESIS PRO-X2 desktop features:

  • Dual Next Generation Intel Xeon E5 Processors with 16 Physical Cores and 32 Threads
  • ORIGIN PC Professional CPU Overclocking
  • ORIGIN FROSTBYTE Maintenance Free Liquid Cooling Systems
  • Up to 96GB 1333MHz Quad Channel ECC Memory
  • Up to 4 NVIDIA 6GB GDDR5 Quadro 6000 Workstation Graphics Cards
  • Support for NVIDIA 6GB GDDR5 448 CUDA Core Tesla Companion Processors
  • Industry Leading Free 24/7 Lifetime Support Based in the United States
  • Fully Customizable starting at $3,999

The EON17S-PRO laptop features:

  • Overclocked 2nd Generation Intel Core i7 Processors up to 4.8GHz
  • Up to 32GB 1333MHz Dual Channel Memory
  • Up to 16GB 1866MHz Dual Channel Memory
  • NVIDIA 4GB GDDR5 Quadro 5010M Workstation Graphics Card
  • Up to Three Hard Drives with up to 3TB’s of Hard Drive Space
  • Industry Leading Free 24/7 Lifetime Support Based in the United States
  • Fully Customizable starting at $1,632
  • Fully Customizable starting at $3,999

The EON17X-PRO laptop features:

  • Intel X79 Chipset with 2nd Generation Intel Hexcore Processors
  • Up to 32GB 1333MHz Quad Channel Memory
  • Up to 16GB 1866MHz Vengeance Quad Channel Memory
  • NVIDIA 4GB GDDR5 Quadro 5010M Workstation Graphics Card
  • Up to Four Hard Drives with up to 4TB’s of Hard Drive Space
  • Customizable Backlit Keyboard with Three Lighting Zones and Seven Colors
  • Industry Leading Free 24/7 Lifetime Support Based in the United States
  • Fully Customizable starting at $2,860

“Government agencies, universities, and businesses have been purchasing custom desktops and laptops from ORIGIN for years.” said Kevin Wasielewski ORIGIN PC CEO and co-founder. “With the official launch of our new line of professional systems, ORIGIN PC has invested in an infrastructure that offers specialized validation, sales assistance, and 24/7 lifetime support for professionals.”

Customers that have purchased ORIGIN PC’s for professional purposes have posted positive feedback about their experiences:

“We selected ORIGIN PC over a traditional OEM for our specialized game development labs because of their hardware customization and flexibility, with an ORIGIN PC backed three year hardware warranty and lifetime support to boot!” said Matthew Surprenant, Champlain College Sr Analyst, Software Imaging & Media Applications.

“We chose Origin to power our Game Capture Labs because we need PC’s that can keep up with production demands 24 hours a day. From capturing games at the highest resolution, to copying terabytes of data, to encoding music and video, we need machines that can do all these tasks simultaneously, and fast. We also know that Origin is ready to help at any time of the day, so we never have to worry about technology getting in the way of our daily shows.” – G4TV

All ORIGIN systems come with free life-time 24/7 phone and online support based in the United States. Each customer has a dedicated support team and free life-time labor for upgrade needs. ORIGIN PC features a 1 to 3 year free part replacement warranty combined with the best in class integration, quality testing and support.

About ORIGIN:

ORIGIN builds custom, high-performance desktops, workstations, and laptops for hardware enthusiasts, digital/graphics artists, professionals, government agencies and gamers. ORIGIN PCs are hand built, tested, and serviced by knowledgeable gaming enthusiasts, industry veterans, and award winning system integrators. Every ORIGIN PC comes with free lifetime 24/7 support based in the United States. The ORIGIN PC staff is comprised of award-winning, experienced experts in the gaming and PC markets who want to share their passion with other enthusiasts. ORIGIN PC is located in Miami, FL and ships worldwide. For more information, please visit www.ORIGINPC.com or call 1-877-ORIGIN-Ø. (674-4460)

Follow ORIGIN:

www.twitter.com/originpc
www.facebook.com/originpc
www.youtube.com/originpc www.raptr.com/topic/originpc/wall
https://plus.google.com/112051064460619865632/posts

Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional Review

Sound_Blaster_Recon3D_Fatal1ty_card

For many, building a gaming system is all about the processor and video card. People will take the time to research everything about the processor speed or video ram, but when it comes to the sound card that duty is given to the motherboard. In the 90’s almost every gaming rig had a sound blaster inside, but today, far too many leave it up to the mainboard and far too many are missing out.

Now, let us be fair, onboard sound can be pretty good. I personally have used on-board sound and I thought it was just fine. The trick is you do not know what you are missing until you try it out and see the difference. It is like going from 720p to 1080p you will notice the difference especially in games with 3D sound effects or where having true surround sound is important.

First, we start with the Sound Core3D. This is a quad-core audio processor that allows all the technologies running within the card to function at peak performance. Sometimes you might see within games that you can crank up the sound quality, but it might lower performance, not with this card.

Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional - Box

Next, we have the THX TruStudio Pro, which is all about realism. When you are playing a game like Battlefield 3 or World of Tanks, you want the sound of the bullets and explosions to sound real. It is all about immersion and that is what 3D surround sound does, it makes you feel as if you are right there just as much as high resolution graphics does.

Crystal voice is all about audio communications, which is so important in today’s games. Ever listen to horrible sounds via Ventrilo, Team Speak or Mumble? It is not always a bad microphone or that the person never uses push to talk. Many of the times, it is just a bad audio card or setup and crystal voice fixes that allowing you to adjust your settings within the control panel so you come through clear without the need to yell.

Staying in the world of voice the beam-forming microphone I found is great for voice communications. We talked about push to talk, but sometimes in some versus games you might need to be able to constantly talk and what is great about this microphone is it creates an acoustic zone suppressing noise outside that zone. What does this mean? It means when talking your speaker noise is less likely to be heard allowing you to speak freely without others hearing your background noise. I tested this in games like BF3, Star Wars the Old Republic and League of Legends and it works like a charm.

Connections

If you have been reading our previous hardware reviews you know I am rocking the Diablo III headset and it works perfectly with the Recon 3D. This card has a dedicated headphone amp that provides the power needed for high quality headphones, which is important since many gamers are spending the big bucks and high-end headsets and the last thing you want is an underpowered device running them.

Finally, we have the Dolby Digital Live encoding which allows you to connect your system to a home theater system using a single cable. I personally have not tried this function yet, but for those of you with a home system this could be the perfect piece to finish your setup particularly if you watch television and movies or listen to music within your office.

Setting it up was a snap. The back of the card has color-coded connections with clear markings of what goes where. I have a 5.1 speaker system with a center speaker and sub and was able to connect my speakers within moments. Just remember that if you have existing onboard audio you will want to disable it because Windows will use it by default and you might end up wondering why you do not hear anything.

Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional - Control Panel

The microphone while small has a very long cable which is good for people like myself with a large desk and I noticed while configuring the mic that I do not have to speak loudly or lean into the mic which is great.

Once the software was installed, I opened up the control panel and viewed the various options for configuration. For the novice, don’t sweat it. There are a lot of settings you can change, but right out the box you will notice the difference in quality without changing anything.

Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional - Control Panel

For the most part I only played around with the equalizer because I wanted to create different profiles for games, movies and music and anyone who has ever used Winamp EQ or another audio program will see how to adjust the highs, mids and lows.

The speaker/headphones setup is also nice because it allows you to adjust for the difference between the two devices. A lot of times you will want to boost the forward speakers or lower the bass with headphones and all this can be done on the fly.

Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional - Control Panel

Under the Crystal Voice, settings you can boost your mic output or adjust the noise reduction making sure you sound perfect within games or just normal voice chat.

Overall, the Recon 3D Fatal1ty changed my view on sound. I can hear people sneaking up on me in first person shooters and immerse myself in the battle music of SWTOR. For those of you who take your gaming seriously a top-notch sound card is a must because it does give an advantage just as much as a better monitor or video card does.

Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional - Control Panel

Besides that, being able to enjoy movies and music with high-definition sound truly makes your computer the main entertainment center, so if you spend a lot time with your PC then you want a great audio experience and the Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional sound card delivers just that.