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.

My transition from the dark side (iPhone) to the light (Android)

say no to iphone
say no to iphone

Before I get into this whole mix, I want to point something out, something all of you know but somehow like to ignore or not admit. The iPhone as a cell phone is mediocre at best, the iPhone as a music player is great (I give it this, the iPod is great), the iPhone as a device to use and live with as a serious techie, nothing short of pathetic.

Any system that has 16gb+ of storage that does not allow you to save files onto it, is a piece of garbage. We are talking 1981 technology here, copy to the hard drive style, “copy a:\*.* c:\files\*.*” style here. I found myself in a hotel room armed with only an iPhone wanting to watch a video, I could not. I couldn’t stream it, I couldn’t download it, nothing. Next, I needed to get a zip off of one of my work websites, rarely do I travel without my laptop but this was an exception, I took a quick flight out for a funeral but no problem, I had my iPhone… wrong. I guess I knew all along it couldn’t do these things, but it didn’t become important to me until I actually had to, and could not. Then, in that brief moment of sorrow after researching and realizing I had to download a bunch of jailbreak apps, jump through hoops, section off some of the file system, and hope my phone didn’t crash through all of this that, maybe, I should just get an Android phone.

The next day I met up with a long time friend I had not seen in years, my family and his all went to dinner together. During dinner I noticed his phone, a Galaxy S. I said, “hey let me see that.” He did and I proceeded to play with it. It responded nice, not as smooth as the iPhone I will admit, but I wasn’t after a ball cupping, I was after the long stroke. I wanted to download files, copy them to the hard drive, access them via usb or wifi, play, edit, extract, run, upload, download… I wanted functionality. I got exactly what I wanted, after ignoring everyone at the dinner table for thirty minutes, I had decided, when I get home, my iPhone was going to ebay, and I am switching to Android.

On my island (I serously live on an island, go figure) we don’t have much choice other than AT&T, so we called them on the phone, got a Samsung Captivate (Galaxy S) for $200, and my journey into happiness began. The first thing I did was arm my Google muscle and look up switching from iPhone to Android tips. The most important thing on my mind was to save the contacts… this proved to be very easy. I synced my contacts to Windows Contacts, and proceeded to export the file. I uploaded the exported file into Google and bam, Google had all my contacts. This is important since the phone would log into Google and download all of my contacts, you can pick to save them on the sim, the phone, or Google. I’m happy living in the clouds so this worked out well for me. My work email has always been setup as IMAP so I had nothing to do with that. I use GMAIL as my primary personal email so there was no problem with that either, I quickly realized that aside from my contacts, I had nothing to change.

I figured the time had come so I called AT&T and had the new phone activated. I connected to my WiFi, got synced up with Google, and was quickly raping the android app store. I will admit openly, the app store was a bit of a let down. I also want to point out, it is not a reason to not get an Android phone. If you feel you can’t live without your apps please move to France because you aren’t tough enough to be American. The main app store is full of crap, 1 in 20 apps is worth downloading, some crash, some just don’t work at all. There is an app called “AppBrain” that sorts out the better apps and gives you access to them, so I got myself WinAMP, VLC, K9 Mail, YELP, AIM, Photoshop (you heard me correctly), Astro, Dropbox, Pandora, Websharing (wifi browser based file access upload/download from any pc on the network), MP3 Ringtone Creator, Facebook, and the all mighty One Click Lag Fix (OCLF).

Most of these apps are commonplace so I’m not really going to get into all of them. I will however give an explination of two that you may not know about being a poor lost iPhone user. Astro is a file explorer, it just gives you access to the basic file system on the phone so you can punch through the directories and see what you have, make new folders, delete junk files, you know, extremely basic functionality that you can’t have without jailbreaking your iphone. The second app that I will explain about is the One Click Lag Fix (OCLF). This created, from what I can tell (and I’m sure I will be corrected) a swap file of sorts on my phone, which made my already fast phone much faster. The app also rooted the phone and gave me superuser ability so that I can remove the stock AT&T bloatware, another great feature. This is the single most important app to get for your new Android phone, but not the first one you should get. Get used to the phone, how it functions, and how to get your things done, and then start hacking the crap out of it.

Now onto some of the bad I have discovered. The Android OS is not as user friendly as the iPhone, it is however fully functional. I would not give my mother an Android phone, she needs the training wheels, that is why the iPhone is good for her. This is phone specific and not Android specific, TBH when people have anything bad to say about Android, it’s normally in regards to the phone and not the platform. The Samsung Captivate has pretty shotty GPS. In urban city centers with clear view of the sky, I have no problem with it. On my island is a different story. It cannot find my location, and that would stink if I was just visiting and wanted to use Yelp. In addition to the GPS problems, and to my surprise, the navigation app isn’t very good as well. I’m sure this will change, and I rarely use it anyway since my car has amazing GPS built in, but I’m sure someone will use it, and I’m sure someone else will say that it sucks.

So in the end, I am a happier person, I have broke free of Apple’s death grip, and I have started down the path of my own choosing. I have had the phone for three weeks now, traveled to Vegas with it, taken pictures, video, loaded movies on it (native XVID support), purchased mp3’s from Amazon (did I mention no iTunes, seriously, this may be the best part), and added a 2nd 16gb MicroSD card for a total of 32GB storage. I can now carry around more than one battery so if I run out, I can actually swap another in and keep using my phone (interchangeable batteries, who would have thunk it, oh wait, everyone did, 30 years ago), and the best part, I don’t have to give Steve Jobs any more of my money. I suspect he doesn’t need it anyway.

Zone 40 Wireless Gaming

Zone 40 Wireless Gaming console
Zone 40 Wireless Gaming console

Why oh why would you want to knock off the Wii? I mean you could just load up Yahoo games or an emulator. Fine, I will stop hating, but this console struck me when I was in Denver attending the beer fest. This was behind the counter at a CVS drugstore and I kind of brushed it off at first and then once I got home looked more into it.

What we know


Well the system looks a lot like a Wii console and it offers wireless gaming. However it is called the Zone 40 because 40 games are built into the console and that is the limit (so far) as far as software titles. There is an expansion slot, but it is not clear what it is used for. So you get two controls the console, rca cables, 40 built in games (11 of which are sports interactive), a stand and instruction manual for $39.99.

The word on the net

For those who don’t just scream “It’s a fake!” the reviews still aren’t good for the Zone 40. Pretty much it is said to be a system for a six year old and looks horrible on a HD TV. The sweet spot for this game is a 27 to 32 inch tv, normal definition.

It’s the games stupid


Depending on who you ask the games on the Zone 40 are either really horrible or terribly crappy. Some even say the graphics on the original 2600 look better. The 11 sport interactive games play sloppy and don’t have the look or reaction time of the Wii and the arcade games are not even as good as flash games you can find on an ad on a porn website.

Here is the title list:

100 METER  110 HURDLES ARCHERY BASEBALL BASKETBALL BEE FIGHTING BOMBER-MAN BOWLING BOX WORLD CHESS MASTER COMPETIVE FENCING DANCING GIRLS DARTS DISCUS FIRE MAN FISH WAR FISHING GOLF HIGH JUMP HIGHWAY RACING HITTING MICE JAVELIN LONG JUMP MOTOR STORM PING PONG SHOOTING BALLONS SNAKES SOCCER SPEED RACING SQUARES SUDOKU SWIMMING SWORD OF WARRIORS TANKSTENNIS THE MOUSE AND THE CAT TRIPLE JUMP UNDERSEA ADVENTURE WALKING-RACE ZUMA

The verdict

I haven’t played this, but it doesn’t look worth the cash, but if you want me to test it send my PayPal account $50 bucks and I will do a full review. Why $50? $40 for the game and $10 for the beer I need to make it through the review.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Episode 8

Build vs Buy PCs
Build vs Buy PCs

The topic of building a pc or having it built for you is not new, in fact I wrote about that very subject earlier this year. However we wanted to ask some of the people who make a living offering custom built systems what they thought of the building versus buying debate and so we reached out and ended up having three great conversations on the subject.

We began the show with my recounting my first showing up at the Red-Eye Lan party with my Compaq PC and being almost laughed out of the building and from there learned that being a real gamer meant building your own PC. Then I began working at Alienware and from that side I saw how having a great team put together and support your own rig is pretty awesome in itself. Both Ignacio and I agreed that while it is true that almost anyone can put together a system it takes a little bit more to build a great gaming or high end PC and if you can find a good company who will offer you support and a reasonable price then why not go for it.

We wanted to get our guests take on it and were happy to be joined by Chris Morley, chief technical officer for Maingear PC, Justin Melendez, co-founder of LanSlide PC and John Blain, consumer public relations for Dell/Alienware.

Each company has a different way of doing things, but the overall goal is the same and that is to give the customer the best computer they can at a price they can afford with a support staff they can depend on. In fact they will tell you that if you have a love of building a PC then go for it. However, it is not for everyone and if you decide you want a well-built system then do you research and be informed before you make your final choice.

Obsolete Gamer would like to thank our guests for coming on the show and we covered much more than just PC building and buying. So have a listen and tell us what you think.

Click here to listen to the podcast on the OGS page

Or download our podcast from Itunes

Arthur Lewis: Alienware

Alienware Performance Systems logo

Arthur_Lewis

Arthur Lewis – Alienware

Name: Arthur Lewis

Title: President, Alienware Corporation & GM Dell Gaming at Alienware

Company: Alienware

Favorite Classic Game: A ton of them

Quote: So this gamer profile is a bit different, Arthur Lewis was kind enough to talk with J.A. Laraque at E3 about his love of classic video games.

Arthur Lewis Gamer Profile Interview


Kevin Wasielewski: Origin PC

 

Kevin Wasielewski

Name: Kevin Wasielewski

Title: CEO

Company: Origin PC

Favorite Classic Game: Half-Life, Doom and Many more

Quote: We caught up with Kevin at E3 to talk to him about his love of Classic gaming. Check out the interview link below.

SteelSeries – Pro Gaming Laser Mouse & Pad

SteelSeries logo
SteelSeries logo

I’m going to change things up a bit. Everyone has a way of doing a review or talking about something they used or liked and though there is a formula for doing so I say the heck with that. I will just tell you what I got, how I used it and what I think, simple enough?

I got my hand on the Steelseries XAI laser mouse and the 9HD mouse pad or gaming surface. Now right off the bat I realized I liked the thin flat mouse pads better because I don’t feel as if my hand and wrist are any higher off the desk than it should be. Also for curved desks it can prevent you from being pinched by the mouse pad which for some reason has happened to me a bunch of times.

SteelSeries 9HD mousepad
SteelSeries 9HD mousepad

Even though the pad is very thin it is well constructed the hard plastic is smooth on the top and has great grip on the bottom. Now the 9HD has thousands of light reflecting points and what this does is insure that if you flail your mouse around like a child thrown into the pool for the first time you don’t lose your tracking on screen. Ever see some World of Warcraft plays spaz out while PVP’ing, this is why having that and a wide surface is important.

Now let’s talk about the mouse. First off like the mouse pad the XAI is constructed very well. The mouse has a good size and weight and feels like it can take a pounding. It has seven programmable buttons for you MMO and RTS gamers and you can even download profiles used by pro gamers so you can use their setup. The size is just about perfect so if you have large hands or small ones you can still use this mouse without issue and with its slip resistant covering you won’t have your mouse flying out of your hand in the middle of a battle.

Left or right handed it doesn’t matter thanks to the ambidextrous shape. It feels comfortable on the hand which is important for long gaming sessions. One of the really cool things is the LCD menu system on the bottom of the mouse. You can configure your XAI for aim, report rate, speed and even hardware acceleration. Right above the scroll wheel you can toggle between two customizable CPI settings for adjustments on the fly. Even the mouse cord is braded so it does not tangle and it’s long enough for those keeping their desktop under their desk.

Steelseries XAI laser mouse
Steelseries XAI laser mouse

In the real world, or at least in mine I found the XAI to work well be it surfing, FPS, RTS or MMO’s. I think the key is it functions well out of the box even if you don’t do any custom setting, but if you want to get specific it has the means to do so that makes it good for gamers of all sorts. I personally needed a mouse that moved fast and glided well across the pad and the XAI combined with the 9HD does just that. From twitch moves in first person shooters to click fests in W.O.W the combo worked well for me.

You can check out more on the XAI gaming mouse and 9HD mouse pad on the Steelseries website.

Here are the specs:

Specifications for SteelSeries Xai Laser:

– Frames per second: 12.000

– Inches per second: 150+

– Megapixels per second: 10.8

– Counts per inch: 100 – 5.001 (one CPI Steps)

– Max. Acceleration: 30 G

– Sensor data path: True 16 bit

– Lift distance: ~1mm (auto-adjusting)

– Buttons: 8

Steelseries XAI laser mouse
Steelseries XAI laser mouse

– Cord: 2 m / 6,5 ft (braided to improve durability)

– Polling: 125 – 1000 Hz (1Hz increments)

– Gold-plated USB connector

– Measurements: 125,5 x 68,3 x 38,7 mm / 4,94 x 2,69 x 1,52 in

– CPI high/low indicator

– SteelSeries FreeMove Technology

– SteelSeries ExactSens Technology

– SteelSeries ExactRate Technology

– SteelSeries ExactAim Technology

– On mouse acceleration Technology

– On mouse LCD display for tweaking above technologies thru menu system

– Large pressure points that reduce friction for optimized glide

– Driverless, plug-and-play feature for LAN gamers

– Built-in memory for 5 profiles

– Operating systems: Win 2000/XP/Vista/7 / Mac OSX

*Configuration software only available for Windows operating systems

Steelseries XAI laser mouse
Steelseries XAI laser mouse

– Material: Hard plastic

– Surface treatment: Heat

– Dimensions: 270 x 320 x 2 mm / 10,7 x 12,7 x 0,08 in

– Size: Medium

– Glide: Rough

– Compatibility: Optical, laser, ball

Justin Melendez: Lanslide PCs

LanSlide Gaming PCs logo

Name: Justin Melendez

Profession: I am one of the co-founders of LanSlide Gaming PCs. I wear a lot of different hats around the company. Primarily, I am responsible for business development, product management and setting our overall direction.

Company: LanSlide Gaming PCs

Favorite Classic Game: Starcraft, without a doubt.

Quote: It’s timeless and perfectly balanced. I still get together every Wednesday night and play with a group of friends. You have to hand it to a game that is still going strong 11 years after its release date.


The Software Hunter

Sniper sights FPS game
Sniper sights FPS game

You ever notice people don’t spend a lot of time in a software store pining over a game they wish to buy or in deep thought over if a game they are about to purchase is going to be worth it or not? While it is true that with the internet, video trailers and tons of promotion that many gamers know exactly what they are going to get out of a game I have also found people are just more willing to go with what everyone else is getting and not as willing to search out that unique game that might not be a major franchise.

I remember heading down to the only store within fifty miles that sold Amiga and Atari ST games. I would spend hours reading the back of software boxes and staring at the one or two screen shots to decide if I would pick the game up or not.

I miss talking about hardware and software with the store owner who actually knew what he or she was talking about. Today, many store personnel only know the basics and if they know a drop more it is confined to the system or game that they play. Back in the day the store owner not only knew about every system and software sold they were also involved in the community and could connect you with other people.

Sure, sometimes when picking a title it was hit or miss. A well written description and a nice screenshot could be misleading, but for the most part after spending so much time making your decision you more often than not ended up with a game that you enjoyed. Today they want you to play a game and sell it back to the store (at a loss) within a week. Many do not want a wall of software boxes standing like trophies as a testament to their gaming superiority. People want an orange envelope and the next flavor of the month.

In the software stores of old you could actually make friends. People talked to one another about which system they owned and what software titles they were playing. You would debate which game was worth the purchase because you would not be back for a month or maybe more. Now you walk quietly into the store, pick up your preorder and quietly walk back out.

Don’t get me wrong, modern day technology and accessibility has done wonders for gaming and the ability to download demos and read real user reviews is a wonderful thing, but I miss the days when we were true software hunters. It is like searching for that perfect spot for a picnic and knowing you found a gem. It is about telling your friends about the awesome game you found and getting them into it. It is about seeing your friend load up a game and wondering what it is and where did he or she get it.

Perhaps I’m getting a little too nostalgic in my old age. I guess when you used to travel over fifty miles for a TI-500 cartridge you realize it was more than just a system and a game it was a true hobby that you cared about. Now you just log in and download or click and have it mailed to you, simple, easy, but is it better?

There are still titles out there today that don’t get a lot of press. They are not sequel number 238 in a series of remakes based on a remake. These games are made by programmers who don’t have dual 32 inch screens and a coffee bar in the office. (Not that there’s anything wrong with a coffee bar) You can still be a software hunter searching out those rare titles that give you a great experience and a box you are proud to display in your office, room or basement. The question is, are you up for the hunt?

Power Pyramid Supreme

Power Pyramid Supreme
Power Pyramid Supreme

Originally written J.A. Laraque for Evergeek

While controller recharging solutions abound, Konnet is one of the few vendors to cater to tech heads and core gamers that happen to own two new-generation consoles, namely a PlayStation3 (PS3) and an Xbox 360 both, each with a couple of controllers.

The Power Pyramid, as the name suggests, is a charging station shaped like a miniature Egyptian tourist attraction… well, a post-modern, nouveau-technologieartistic interpretation of a step-pyramid with a pair of prongs sticking out of two opposing sides, anyway.

It’s available as either a four controller cradle for PS3 or Xbox 360, or as a two-each cradle for both controller types in one unit, dubbed the Power Pyramid Supreme (reviewed here).

Powered through an AC adapter that snakes discreetly out of the base of the unit, the Power Pyramid will charge each controller from empty to full in a couple of hours, all at the same time, if need be. With Konnet’s “Intelligent Protection System,” moreover, it will stop trying to charge fully charged devices, so no worries of “Vampire” power drains or overloads, with the Pyramid simply storing the controllers openly like so much tech-deco art.

An array of LED lights, meanwhile, glow red when charging, blue when done, completing the Egyptian sci-fi motif.

In an odd take on “console wars,” but really for symmetry’s sake, presumably, the docking cradles hold a PS3 controller on top of the Xbox 360 slot on both sides. Seeing as the Xbox 360’s controllers are bigger than the PS3’s, the thing would look lopsided if four controller were mounted head to head.

Being a pyramid-shaped Pyramid, the device’s natural sturdiness is augmented by four slim rubber feet so it doesn’t slide around if shoved or knocked accidently. The out-jetting prongs that hold the controllers are similarly reliable, holding them firmly if jostled but not ferociously, if you just want to yank one out to play with.

Konnet sells the Power Pyramid Supreme for $50 online, but some dealers are selling it for less – about $40 if you shop around. Either way, it’s a pretty good deal considering you get a double duty charger taking up the space and power consumption needs of one.

There have been reports on some units where the PS3 docking ports stopped working, though Konnet’s customer service asserts that the fault was with a specific batch of units and will replace any defective Pyramids as needed.

Otherwise, the Power Pyramid Supreme is a solid, stable and efficient charging solution that will also cradle and display your double whammy gamer gear with a little bit of style.

The Commodore 64

Commodore 64 box
Commodore 64 box

The Commodore 64

Who can forget the awesome and sometimes just plain strange commercials of the 80’s and 90’s for computer and console products? Obsolete Gamer is searching the globe to find some of the classics from the Sears version of the Atari 2600 to the Commodore 64.

Commodore 64 Fact #16About 10,000 software titles were made for the C64.

Don’t forget to visit the Obsolete Gamer YouTube page for more videos.

PS3 HDMI Cable Review

HDMI cable
HDMI cable

Have you ever heard the saying “there is no such thing as a better cable”? Well here is the skinny, HDMI cables are rated by their bitrate per second or bandwidth capacity so the higher the Gbps or Gigabits per second the more data can pass through at a faster rate.

HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface and your HDMI cable transfers high-quality audio and video signals from your media device (in this case a Playstation 3 game console) to your HD television set.

With a HDMI cable offering 340 Mhz (megahertz) at 10.2 Gbps such as the 6 FT. PS3 HDMI Cable we tested you will notice increased visual and audio clarity from your PS3 to you HDTV. The PS3 HDMI cable Supports 480p, 720p 1080i, 1080p, 1440p including 1080p Blu-Ray which will bring you the best movie watching experience on your console.

The Triple Shielded cable also supports Lossless DTS 8 Channel Audio. DTS stands for Digital Theater Systems and like Dolby Digital gives you 5.1 channels of digital audio. DTS uses less compression and as a result some feel it provides a more accurate sound.

Lossless surround soundtracks can be found on many Blu-ray Discs. What makes Lossless better is it provides an audio experience that is identical to the original studio recording. Other surround formats have to be compressed so it can be stored on smaller media such as a DVD Disc, but lossless surround are not compressed in that manner and therefore offer a more detailed audio experience.

The 28 Gauge cable itself is very sturdy and features gold plated connectors. The strength of the cable really comes into play when bending and flexing the cable during installation and moving your unit from one place to another. When I connected it to my PS3, I played a few different games and Blu-ray movies and the difference in clarity is noticeable especially on 1080p HD television sets.

Now let’s talk warranty and price. Many outlets offers an unconditional lifetime warranty on every cable they sell which means if the cable ever fails you can return it for a replacement cable of equal specification. However, the warranty does not cover cable damage due to accident, misuse, abuse or negligence and you will need to contact them to try and troubleshoot the issue before sending back the cable.

The 6 Foot cable we tested MSRP’s for $34.99, but here is the thing, you should never pay over $20 for a cable 3 to 6 feet. A number of sites must know this rule as well because their 6 Ft. cable is currently only $10.99 with free shipping in the continental United States and if you order before 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time your item will ship the same day. Not bad, not bad at all.

Bottom line is at the price and with the specification and durability of these cables it is definitely worth checking these out. Several sites offer PS3 HDMI cables in 1,3,5,10,25,33 and 50 feet. Don’t believe that there is no such thing as a better cable, quality matters and the right cable can give you a better gaming and movie-watching experience.

Sony Webbie MHS-CM1 HD Camcorder

Sony Webbie MHS-CM1 HD Camcorder
Sony Webbie MHS-CM1 HD Camcorder

Now don’t shoot, I know this isn’t a game or a controller or anything, but this little device is pretty cool for taking Youtube videos of your LAN party or taking it to a convention. It’s cheap, small and pretty darn good for the price. Check out this review and maybe you will want to add one to your media kit.

A camera for the Youtube generation, the Sony Webbie HD camera provides a low cost option for recording hi-definition videos, but as the old saying goes; you get what you pay for.

The pocket sized camcorder fits easily in the palm of your hand, at 1.7 inches wide and 2.4 inches tall, travability is one of the Webbie’s strong points. You can shoot footage in high-def (1440×1080/30p, 1280×720/30p) or standard definition (640×480/30p). The video is saved to a MP4 format which allows you to record up to 8 hours of HD video on a 16GB Memory Stick PRO Duo media card (sold separately).

The webbie lacks the sturdy construction found it higher end cameras, but is good enough for even daily use. Its 2.5-inch LCD screen swivels 270 degrees allowing self-shooting footage and has a clear and bright picture when playing back video.

As for shooting video itself this camera offers five scene selection modes Sports, Landscape, Low Light, Backlight and Auto, but it is definitely made for either the outdoors or brightly lit rooms indoor no matter the mode you select.

When shooting in normal light the video comes out dark even when using the built in video light and in low light and pixelation is visible during playback. However, when filming outside in sunlight or in a well lit room the video looks much better on digital and even large screen hi-def televisions. Another downside is the Webbie does not offer image stabilization so a tripod or a very steady hand is a must.

The Webbie camcorder has a 5x optical and a 20x digital zoom which is very fast and regains focus quickly, a surprise for a camera in this price range. While the Webbie does record audio in full stereo it also picks up the focusing and zoom mechanisms as well as ambient noises.

Setup is fairly easy, once charged just by opening the LCD screen will turn the unit on. From there you can set the data and time and you are set. The button layout could have been better designed, on the back of the camera it is easy enough to hit the record and zoom buttons, but the side buttons, such as the menu and trash buttons, are harder to push meaning you will need two hands to use them.

The base memory for the Webbie is only 12mb which will only net you 10 minutes of video on its lowest quality setting. When you add a PRO Duo memory stick in its expansion slot you can increase your storage to about 50 pictures per 128MB of memory and 15 minutes of 720P video per 512MB of memory.

The unit comes with an AC adapter to charge it so no batteries are needed. At full charge you will be able to record video for about 80 minutes with a playback time of just under two hours. Also included are video component and composite cables that allow you to connect your camera to your television or monitor for playback.

With the included USB cable you can connect the Webbie to your PC to transfer movies or pictures; it can even be used as a webcam. An added bonus for Playstation 3 users it is recognized by the PS3 internal software so you can view and transfers your videos and pictures to your console for viewing.

The Picture Motion Browser software allows you to transfer videos and images not only to your PC, but internet sharing sites as well such as Facebook and Youtube. Though the camera itself is compatible with PC and MAC the included software is PC only, however, you can download a MAC O/S version on Sony’s support website.

The bottom line is if you are looking for a HD camera for special moments or advance filming this is not it. The Webbie is meant for smaller shorter videos you would upload to social media sites or share with friends and family.  Its price range can vary depending where you shop from $299 USD at the high end to as low as $149 USD.

***Update*** This camcorder is being phased out for a new one so you can find it pretty cheap at any Sony store!

Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows

Xbox 360 waw
Xbox 360 waw

This product is certainly not new,but with newly added Win 7 drivers it may be useful again.

One of the main reasons arcade style games never fully took off on the PC was due to the controller options. Over the years many companies developed game pad that could be used on the PC, however, console game pad were almost always preferred. With the Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows those who enjoy the style and feel of the Xbox 360 controller can now experience it on their PC.

With this device, only slightly bigger than a USB thumb drive, you can connect to up to four Xbox wireless peripherals. Connect four game pads or two pads and two headsets with a range up to thirty feet.

The six foot cable connects to any PC USB port. The green LED on the base of the device alerts you that it is active and by pressing the small white button on the center of the device you are able to sync your Xbox peripherals to your PC automatically.

One thing to be aware of is when turning on your Xbox controller it will turn on your Xbox if it is within range. This can be annoying as you will need to unplug your Xbox in order to sync your controller with the wireless receiver.

The provided software, available for XP, Vista and Win 7, integrates well with games that have controller options, but for strictly keyboard and mouse controlled games you will have a harder time programming the buttons to match with your Xbox controller. As for the headset control it is far more compatible working with games using voice control and even programs such as Skype and Ventrilo.

The $20 price tag for the device may be worth it if you already have Xbox peripherals you wish to connect to your PC especially if you purchased a wireless headset or force feedback wheel. Beyond that there are better controllers currently available that will have less hassles with compatibility and configuration.

Building versus Buying PCs – The great debate

custom computer vs bought computer
custom vs bought PC

Building versus Buying PCs – The great debate by J.A. Laraque

When you get right down to it, the two main factors that come into play when deciding to build or buy a gaming PC is, costs versus time and service versus support. Normally when a gamer reaches the level where he or she has the skill and knowhow to build a PC it becomes a no-brainer in their eyes what to do. If one can search the internet for the best deals and build their own system, then it is all in their hands.

The question is asked; why pay for something I can do myself? It is a valid question and when you read more and more about how many computer companies are outsourcing their support and their service quality level continues to nose dive. Anyone is completely justified to ask themselves, what am I paying for?

Would there be resistance to buying versus building be lessened if top level service is provided from day one? Many who care a great deal about their car may spend hours maintaining it themselves. However, if they can take their car to a place where it will receive the same care as they provide then not only is it worth the cost, but the time you save is also of great value.

Too many computer companies have lost their perspective. They forget that PC stands for personal computer. A computer, for many, is much more than a tool; it is part of their daily life. To return to the car analogy, it is not just to get from point A to point B, it is the journey. When you call yourself a custom computer gaming company it should mean that you understand gamers who want a custom PC and who want to feel they have gotten what they paid for.

If you provide the best support from a support staff that understands their customer’s needs then people, even in tough economic times, will spend the money on a product they know the company they bought it from will stand by.

In the end a person’s budget will make the final decision, but knowing that the company they choose to go with will not only provide them with the system they want, but the service they demand then going the extra step in not a leap of faith, but a wise investment.

You cannot expect someone to pay for an elite system and not receive elite support. It is not just about lights and a paint job. It is more than processing and video power. Elite goes beyond the hardware and software and a company that truly understands that will earn the respect and hard earned money of the price savvy gamer.