Archive for category Hardware (O)

D-Link DUB-H7 USB 2.0 Hub Review

I don’t know about you, but for me, four inconveniently positioned USB ports on the sides of my laptop just aren’t enough. I’ve been looking for ages for a USB hub that wasn’t your average $ 59.99 HP 4-port clunk of ridiculously shiny plastic. I needed something heavy duty — and cheap, so here I am with a D-Link DUB-H7 USB 2.0 Hub.

The Good: 7 ports, low profile, externally powered, inexpensive, individual indicator lights, nice long cables.

The Bad: Not capable of powering USB devices  solely from a power socket, all 7 ports downgrade to USB 1.0 if a 1.0 device is plugged into any of the ports.

Annoyances: The individual indicators serve no purpose other than to notify you if a port shorts out.

Overview: I would say that this hub was well worth the $30.00 I paid for it. While a USB hub isn’t a very consequential purchase, I took it very seriously. I was happy that it was a serious, no-messing-around hub that did it’s job and no more. There were no bells or whistles, and that was reflected in the price. It is compact and tough. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve knocked it off my desk. I did try to use it as a converter to charge USB devices from my wall, but that didn’t work for some reason. It has with other lesser hubs. If I plug it into the wall a swell as into my computer, all the lights will light up green. The only way I can get one to change is if I manage to short it out, then that individual light will turn red. They are essentially useless. The biggest problem I encountered with this hub was that if I plug a USB 1.0 device in it, all the ports seem to be downgraded to USB 1.0 speeds. This really isn’t as big a deal as it sounds, I don’t even think anyone has any of those anymore. You wouldn’t have noticed it I hadn’t just told you. Overall, This hub is delightfully average. It does its what I need it to well and no more. I’m sure there are better hubs out there, but not for that price.

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Sony PSP 3000 Mega-Review

So, I bought a Sony PSP 3000 (and a crap-load of accessories and games) early this May and I’m now reviewing them. I didn’t get the PSP Go because I didn’t like the download-only idea, awkward controls and slide-screen. I figure, if Sony stops making UMDs, I can still download games, and if the Playstation-Store flops, it won’t affect me. So, here I go:

Sony PSP 3000:

The Good: Amazing screen (anti-glare), comfortable controls, great game selection, versatile (web browser/music player/video player/Skype/Internet radio/RSS/PS Network).

The Bad: 1-2 hour battery life, long UMD load time, limited folder structure.

Annoyances: UMD drive cover feels slightly loose, but that’s probably just me.

Overview: Words cannot describe how happy I am with this purchase. For $167.99, I got the best portable gaming system I have ever used. The screen is beautiful; with deep colours, crisp lines and an anti-glare coating. You will hear people complain about scan-lines, but they are not an issue at all. You wouldn’t have  even noticed them if no one had told you about them. The games library is great, with a good mix of hard-core and casual games. Skype works perfectly. I am not kidding. I used it to make calls from Washington D.C. to Montreal, and both ends could hear each-other perfectly. The music/video players are great. If you organize your music like me (Artist/Album/Track), you’ll have no problem, but beware, it you organize it “Genre/Artist/Album/Track,” the PSP will only read until Album. Same with movies. The web browser is pretty cool (it has a mouse!) and the Internet radio is pretty clear. THe battery life drove me crazy at first, as it only held a charge for 1-2 hours. In the end I bought an extended-life battery kit, and that solved that.What I really like though, is it focuses on games. For example, the iPhone is a crappy phone, but has lots of great apps. Overall, this is an amazing device for games, movies and music (as well as other things), and is well worth $167.99.

Sony PSP Travel Case:

The Good: Rock-solid case, holds 2 UMDs and 2 memory cards, doubles as stand for watching movies.

The Bad: It’s a bit bulky.

Annoyances: The rubber pad on the bottom right pops in if you don’t have an extended-life battery.

Overview: Overall, this is a great case. You can just throw your PSP in your bag and stop worrying. On the box, it says it’s a play-in case, but I wouldn’t play in it. It just feels too bulky and the screen-protector cancels out the anti-glare coating. As I mentioned, the rubber pad on the bottom right pops in to the case if you don’t have and extended life battery. Needless to say, I’m happier that is has space for an extended-life battery than I am sad that is pops in without one. It works well for watching movies, but, as I mentioned, you should flip the screen protector up. I got it for $5.00 because of a pricing mistake, but it runs for $20.00 in stores.

Extended-Life Battery Kit:

The Good: Improves PSP battery life drastically, bulge allows for better grip on PSP.

The Bad: Some people won’t like the bulge.

Annoyances: In solidarity of those who have red or white PSPs, I must mention that the new battery cover only comes in black and silver.

Overview: This was a great buy. It runs in stores for $40.00 but I got it for $20.00 at The Source (by Circuit City). It really improves the battery life, and provides you an extra for when that runs out. You either love or hate the bulge it makes on the right-hand side of the PSP. It provides a more comfortable grip on the PSP when you use the joystick on the left-hand side. Some people just hate the asymmetry.

Games:

Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters: If you like Ratchet and Clank games, you’ll like this one too. It’s similar to all the others. Good game-play, long, but not too long story-line, online play and intuitive controls make it a game worth buying. ($12.00)

Secret Agent Clank: Another favourite from the Ratchet and Clank series, although this one more closely resembles the Sly Cooper series. This game requires more stealth than the other Ratchet and Clank games. Fun game-play, moderately long story-line and intuitive controls. I paid $16.00 (at the grocery store) for it, but it goes for $40.00 in most stores.

LitteBigPlanet: I have to say, I had my doubts at first, but I can now say this is one of the best games I have ever played. A cute story-line coupled with challenging, but not mind-boggling levels make for a fun game, bearing a slight resemblance to Super Mario Bros. The level editor is powerful and easy-to-use. With enough effort and imagination, you can create very fun levels.I paid $16.00 (at the grocery store) for it, but it goes for $40.00 in most stores.

MISC.:

PSP Battery Charger: I bought this because I noticed the price was wrong, so I got it for $10.00 instead of $30.00. No complaints so far. Convenient if you have tho batteries.

8 GB Sony M2 Card: I got it for $50.oo. More than enough space for my music, videos and save files. Sometimes the adapter gets stuck in the PSP, but if you just wiggle it a little, it pops right out.

Overall, I’m happy with my purchases (as most of them were discounted). I plan to get the PSP-Composite adapter eventually ,as well as download Echochrome (a cute puzzle game) and Lego Harry Potter (why not?). I’ll review Echochrome ane Lego Harry Potter separately, but I’ll add the adapter to this post, as I don’t think it merits a post of its own.

I would recommend the PSP 3000 (but not the Go) to anyone who loves the gaming world and the extended-life battery to anyone who has a PSP.

Wow… That’s a long post (964 words is you’re curious).

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Sennheiser PMX60 Headphones Review

I was cleaning out my attic when I found these headphones in a box with an old FM transmitter. Out of curiosity, I tried them, and I was amazed with the sound quality. I looked them up on CNET and found they had  4 stars! Pretty impressive. These things converted me from earbuds.

The Good: Great sound quality, sleek & stylish design and thick & durable cord.

The Bad: Slightly lacking in bass.

Annoyances: The way the cord is attatched to the headphones makes me nervous.

Overview: I have to say, these are great headphones. Depending on where you go, you can get these for $19.99 – $49.99, but honestly $49.99 is more of a fair price. I’d feel guilty paying such a low price for these great headphones. They are light, portable and have a nice thick, long cord. The sound quality is superb! The bass can get a little chirpy sometimes, but you wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t just told you. If you try to lay down or rest your head while wearing them, you might find it awkward, but all you need to do is turn them to the band touches the top of your head. There’s really not much more to say here, normally I’d complain more, but these are just too perfect!

Go and buy a pair!

Now!

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Microsoft Explorer-Mini Mouse Review

I don’t know if you guys remember, but a while ago, I was complaining about my stupid Logitech v200 that broke down. Now I have a Microsoft Explorer Mini.

The Good: Precise pointing (BlueTrack), solid & ergonomic design, free scrolling wheel, decent battery life, lots of buttons.

The Bad: Scrolling is sometimes slow and only a reboot will fix (Microsoft Mouse bug, not hardware).

Annoyances: Scroll-wheel seems a little loose.

Overview: I got this mouse on sale at Staples. It’s original price was 59.95 $, but I got it for 29.99 $! When I brought it home, the first thing I noticed was the lighting effects. When I saw them on the box I thought they were simply Photoshopped in, but they actually come on every time the mouse wakes up from sleep mode. Then I noticed the free-scrolling. Although there is not alternating option between free-scroll and precise scroll, I found it a much welcomed change. I also liked the back-forward buttons on the right side. Now I can’t live without them. Overall, it has most of the features you’d expect from a mid to high-end mouse, such as horizontal scrolling and a stow-able adapter. At first I got wrist pains from the accuracy and speed of the pointer, but I quickly got used to it. One thing that I really loved was the fact that the laser on the bottom was offset, so you could actually move the pointer just by rotating the mouse slightly. I figure most people wouldn’t notice, but this actually makes the mouse easier to use (although it totally kills and hope for ambidexterity that might have existed before).

Overall, this is a great mouse for its price. It is great for the casual gamer, corporate-raider, or even the jet-setter. Although nothing can beat the Logitech Revolution series, you get much more bang for your buck.

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Does the Perfect Notebook Stand Really Exist?

Yes. But it took a hell of a long time to find.

I recently bough myself a new desk for my home-office. The old one went into the trash, along with my make-shift notebook stand (that was bolted to it). I was thinking of salvaging it, but I realized that there are probably better alternatives, so went to Staples to look for a good one for a decent price. I wanted one that would support my laptop in such a way that I could type without an external keyboard.

Here are the three I tried out:

Fellowes Designer Suites Laptop Riser:

Price: 34.99 $

Verdict: Junk. My 17″ notebook fell off as soon as I put it on. 34 $ almost cost me another 1900 $.

[link]

Hewlett Packard Universal Notebook Stand:

Price 49.99 $

Verdict: I thought this one might work, considering my laptop was an HP. Technically, the laptop fit, but it was at too high an angle for me to type without a keyboard. The USB hub was nice though.

[link]

Allsop Cool Channel Laptop Platform:

Price: 39.66 $

Verdict: My laptop just balanced on this one. I’m sure that if someone in the room sneezed my laptop would fall. Plus, 40 $ for a glorified piece of cardboard wrapped  mesh is insane.

[link]

Finally, I went to some little shop across the street from Staples (it’s a wonder Staples didn’t buy them out). I found this:

Vantec LapCool TX Ultra:

Price: 29.87 $

Verdict: A miracle! It had a fan, turntable and supported my clunker of a notebook! And All for 30 $! This one also folds up and fits in and laptop bag. The fan is very quiet and will air-condition my entire office. The best thing about it was the fact that there was no shiny crap that my OCD brain had to keep clean 24/7. A really great buy.

[Link]

So there you have it. Turns out patience and perseverance win out again. I could have settled for the HP one, but I would have had to buy a keyboard. And lots of wet-wipes.

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