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Cooler Master HAF XB - High Air Flow Test Bench and LAN Box Mid Tower Computer Case with ATX Motherboard Support
Cooler Master HAF XB - High Air Flow Test Bench and LAN Box Mid Tower Computer Case with ATX Motherboard Support

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great all-around case, with a few exceptions, August 3, 2013
INTRO: Alright, I did not actually buy this case from Amazon, but instead from The Egg. As a normally very loyal Amazon customer, I felt kinda dirty doing that, so sorry guys :(! I've had the case for a little over a week now, but have already tinkered around with it a few times since buying it (you'll see why shortly).

PURPOSE: So, I think it might be useful to explain what my purpose/intended application for this case was. This WAS NOT a new build, but rather a "re-casing." I had an NZXT Phantom (White with Red Trim) Full-Size Tower, and I absolutely loved it - the style, everything. However, I had recently re-purposed the PC inside that case as more of an HTPC for my living room, rather than a full-fledged Gaming Rig for a bedroom/den. And the NZXT was frankly an eyesore next to all my AV equipment. I've always been VERY wary of HTPC/micro-ATX/ITX cases, and wanted to shy away from those. At the same time, I wanted a case that could just fit in my entertainment center, underneath my TV. I checked out the dimensions online and - BINGO - the HAF XB fit the bill perfectly.

Okay, now since you know what I wanted out of the case, I'll list my pro's and con's. Please remember that these are specific to my own experience and my own application for the case. You may feel differently, and you are totally entitled to that right, obviously.

PROS:

(1) Small-ish footprint, BUT makes very few compromises: Okay, so coming from an NZXT Phantom, which was obviously a VERY roomy case, I was a bit afraid that the XB would not have sufficient room to plug in all my stuff without using like little tweezers to plug in cords and whatnot. If this is what you fear, don't be afraid. For starters, you get two 5.25" external drive slots. Which doesn't sound like that many. Until you realize that you also have access to two 3.5" X-Dock Hard Drive Hotswap bays (these can also be used with 2.5" drives with an adapter, which is not included). In my old Phantom, I only used two of the five 5.25" bays BUT one of those bays was used for an add-on hot-swap rail. Which, of course, I could get rid of now that I have the MUCH more polished X-dock instead (the X-dock also has 2.5" drive compatibility, which my previous hot swap bay didn't). So, for my purposes, I functionally have three-four 5.25" slots instead of two, which is plenty. The whole top-half of the exterior front face is taken up by a large mesh grille, which hides two 120 mm intake fans. Since only the front face of my case is fully exposed (it is in an entertainment center), this is ideal for my purposes. Inside, you have plenty of room for most goodies - with one notable exception.

The bottom section of the case houses the Power Supply, the Hard Drives, the X-Dock, and the 5.25" drives. The interior has no room for 3.5" Hard Drives - only 2.5" Hard Drives. Not sure why this is exactly, as it seems there WOULD be room for it, even though Cooler Master didn't include the appropriate size drive bay. At any rate, you can use either or both X-Dock slots for 3.5" drives. In my case, I only use 3.5" internal drives for storage or temporarily, so the X-Dock is a perfect solution. My boot/application drives are all 2.5" SSDs, which easily fit in the XB. And my primary data storage drives are external USB 3.0 multi-terabyte behemoths. So, I don't have any problems. But if you're planning to use this for a server with 4 4 TB internal hard drives, yeah, you're probably going to have to do some serious mods. Using the included bracket, the power supply WILL extend a few inches outside the case (not really exposed in any way and safely protected by the bracket of course). Some people think this makes the case look a little fugly, but, really, when are you looking at the back of your case anyway. Since you have to plug a rather stiff cord into the power supply, I had already cut a hole in my entertainment center for the PSU to stick out anyway, and I just have that section stick out the back of the entertainment center a couple of inches. In return, I get a lot more room to work with the PSU wires during a build. So, all in all, I like the extended PSU bracket, though it would have been nice for CM to also offer a flush mounting bracket. The X-Dock connection bracket is on the bottom as well. It has one port for SATA power and two ports for SATA data. The SATA power cord is a dongle that looks to be a soldered-on Molex-to-SATA converter. Reviewers on other sites complained that the Molex plug was frying their hard drives as people were accidentally plugging in the Molex connector upside-down. The new SATA-only power connector fixes that problem, as the SATA power connector is keyed, and therefore physically CAN'T be plugged in upside-down. As a short dongle, the SATA power can be plugged into ANY SATA Power plug, not just a terminal one (the one on the end of the "string" of SATA connectors). The SATA DATA plugs on the other hand, are a different story. Because of the way the SATA data connectors are oriented, one CANNOT use 90-degree SATA data cables. Wish someone would have mentioned this in the documentation or a review, as I had to wait 3 days to order new "straight" cables to hook up the X-Dock properly. Not much to say about the 5.25" bays, other than that the now-standard screwless-locking mechanism is pretty nifty and nice. The Phantom had a similar system. Some people don't like the fact that you CANNOT use your own screws on both sides. These people tend to have fan controllers that they like to connect to both sides. I've never used a 5.25" fan controller myself, so I'm not really sure what they're griping about. I do have a 5.25" NZXT HUE light controller that fits just fine in the second drive bay, so whatever.

The top part of the case is occupied, as earlier stated, by the fans, but also by the motherboard tray and any components you wish to install on top of the motherboard. There is an option for a 120mm exhaust fan towards the back of the top of the case. There is also an option for a 200mm fan on top, however I've read that that fan has a negligible effect on airflow when installed. Right now, I'm just going with the two front fans and hoping that my CPU cooler fan is doing a good enough job of exhausting hot air from the case on its own. Haven't had a crash or critical overheat yet, even during 1080p max settings gameplay, so I think I'm safe. You have room for something like a 13.5" graphics card and a 165mm tall CPU fan (without a 200mm fan on top). Needless to say, my GTX 560 Ti and CM 212 EVO fit just fine, with plenty of room to spare. The motherboard tray is itself removable, and I'll talk more about this feature a little bit later.

(2) Easy to Work With Because of Form Factor: The external dimensions of this case are really nice - I think it's something like 17.6" (W) x 16.7" (D) x 13" (H), which fits well in my entertainment center. Height-wise, obviously, it is MUCH shorter than most Mid-size towers. Depth wise, its not too big either. The Width makes up for that though. I think this thing is twice as wide as my full-size NZXT Phantom tower! As any mathematician will tell you, the best way to maximize area (or volume), given perimeter (or surface area), is to get the dimensions as close to a square (or cube) as possible. CM uses this optical illusion of limited surface area, while offering a surprising amount of volume inside! This thing probably has the volume of a mid-size case, despite its deceptive outward size.

Anyway, the cube format is VERY easy to work with. There are plastic handles on BOTH sides that are reinforced by metal bars inside the case. It can be easily picked up and propped on a small end table. Then, you can use an office chair to move around the computer, connecting things here, routing things there, and so on. Much easier build than my Phantom for this very simple reason. Everything is easily within reach, no matter what side of the case you are situated next to.

(3) Mesh vs. Windows: I had a case for a cheap build a while ago. The case itself was a behemoth and only cost maybe $60, but I was a naïve 15-year old doing one of my first builds while on a budget, and I thought it looked cool, like a Transformer, and the first Michael Bay Transformers film was coming out around that time. That case had windows, which I thought would be cool. Yeahhhhh.... NO. Windows get all smudgey and scratchy, and half the time you end up hiding them in a desk cabinet or whatever, and then your whole airflow is just even more terrible. So, I'm not a big fan of windows. Enter mesh. Mesh gives you the ability to basically see the innards of your build WITHOUT the scratches and the smudges and the impaired airflow. The top mesh is very see-through, and the top is largely covered in mesh (remember, you're supposed to be able to fit a 200mm fan there). The front is somewhat visible, but kinda obstructed, since you have fans there too. You can also see quite a bit through the non-mesh covered mini-holes in the sides. If you want your build to be fully visible through the mesh though, you're either going to have it in a VERY bright room, or install lighting inside (which is what I opted to do).

(4) Horizontal Motherboard Orientation: Some people might find this quirky, but I think it is a HUGE plus. The horizontal orientation puts less stress on the motherboard, allowing it to sit flat, just like it does in the box it comes in. It is not being held up solely by the screws, but rather, it is being held down, mostly by gravity, with the screws offering a little protection against lateral movement. This orientation also allows your large graphics card(s) (and other PCI-E peripherals) to lie pointing up towards you, so that they don't stress and/or break the PCI-E slots on your motherboard. Ditto on the giant hunks of metal known as CPU coolers. You don't have to worry about the giant hunk of metal falling off and killing your GPU and drives like I always (irrationally, I know) did. I'm not an engineer, but I feel that this orientation, in combination with the fan placement also allows for better intake airflow ACROSS the motherboard. On a typical vertical orientation, the motherboard is recessed behind some 5.25" bays. How the heck is air going to come ACROSS the motherboard when the intake fans are either too low on the front side, or on the sides of the case near the HD bays? With the XB, you have your air sweeping right across the motherboard, into the pull CPU fan, out through the push CPU fan, and right out of the case through the exhaust fan (if you even have to install one). The Horizontal Orientation case is an elegant solution to many of the simple physics quandaries that have eluded system builders for quite a long time. I'm a believer!

(5) Materials/Build Quality: This whole thing has a matte black finish, which I absolutely love. Also, it is mostly metal, though the front façade is this really heavy, very durable-looking plastic-type material. The resulting two-tone black finish looks and feels very industrial and, honestly, reminds me of the aesthetics of Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. Not gaudy, overly-ambitious, or overstated, like my Phantom. Just kind of, I dunno, STEALTH, y'know? It also blends in very well with my black-wood entertainment center and contrasts just the perfect amount with my glossy black bezel Vizio 3D TV. When you open this thing up, the chassis, although smaller than most, feels super durable. The removable motherboard tray feels fairly solid, although it does have the least bit of give/"floppiness" to it. The thumbscrews all feel like they are of fairly solid quality. The included motherboard mounting screws and PSU mounting screws are all a really nice black color, not silver like many Mobo and Case manufacturers include, which I think was a nice touch, as they match the case color scheme very nicely. NOTE: There is a very small area in which I'd recommend installing a light strip, if you want one. It is along the top of the case, right ABOVE where the side panel notches are but BELOW where the top panel notches are. If you're careful and use your head, you'll find there's just about 1 CM of room there to install your LED light strip AROUND the whole perimeter of the case. That's what I did with my NZXT Hue, and the result is AWESOME.

(6) Removable Motherboard Tray: Okay, one of this case's coolest features is the fully removable motherboard tray. I recommend removing the tray, and installing the power supply, routing the cables, and installing the 5.25" drives and the hard drives FIRST. It'll make this case VERY easy to work with and save you a lot of headaches. Ideally, you should have all power and data cords routed up along the sides, or in the various little holes of the case BEFORE you slap the motherboard tray down. You can drop the motherboard on the tray and install the CPU cooler while the tray is still outside the case. This is made tremendously easier by the presence of a VERY LARGE CPU backplate cutout on the back of the motherboard plate. My old Phantom case had a cutout, but it wasn't large, and I wasn't able to fully access the backplate from it, rendering it pretty much useless to me. With the XB, I can access the ENTIRE backplate area on my motherboard, and can install a large cooler like a CM 212 EVO on it without removing the motherboard from the tray. Not that that'd be particularly hard, thanks to the existence of the removable tray. But its a nice touch nonetheless.

Okay, if you stuck it out this long, congratulations, you have as little of a life as I do :). Now for my cons.

Cons:

(1) This Case Can Perform LASIK Eye Surgery: Okay, not really. But the little red laser that is built into the Power Button could, I bet, do some damage to your eye if you looked into it long enough. That thing is BRIGHT. The nice thing is, if you don't like it, there's a very simple solution, which I employed after about a day. Disconnect the P LED + and P LED - cables that came with the case from your motherboard. There. Boom. Done. No more unwanted laser eye surgery. I have an NZXT HUE (as I've mentioned about a million times), so when I turn on my case, that lights up really nice and bright. I consider that as the functional equivalent of a Power LED, so I'm not really missing the function. Honestly, if your system is stable, you don't really need a Power LED anyway.

(2) Fans: I was kinda spoiled by my old NZXT Phantom, which had a built-in hardware fan controller. I just kept the manual switches all the way down until I started gaming, when I ramped them up about half way. Yeah, this case has no hardware fan controllers. To be fair to CM, there really isn't enough room in the case to jam one in there. But still, it would have been nice for CM to bend over backwards to defy the laws of Physics and include a hardware fan controller in this <$100 case. Yeah, that was sarcasm. The included fans are kind of loud if you let them go at full speed. So I just plugged them into the two Case Fan headers on my ASUS motherboard and - YIPEE KAI YAY -- my system was off and running - silently, or, as I prefer to say, STEALTHILY - after adjusting some dynamic fan control settings in the UEFI BIOS and the AI Suite II program. Newer and higher-end motherboards include 3 or 4 case fan headers and really good software, so I guess hardware fan controllers are only really necessary for the truly hardcore now. But still, I liked 'em. Again though, for my purposes, fan noise isn't a problem, though if you stick these suckers straight into the MOLEX outlets on your power supply, I really hope you wear headphones all the time when you use your PC. Alternatively, you can plug them into your Mobo (free, if you have the headers), regulate them with an external hardware fan controller, or just replace them with Gentle Typhoons. Also, I'm just the slightest bit miffed that CM didn't include an exhaust fan as well. Come on guys. Your company's name is "COOLER Master" for God's sake. And you couldn't include a fan that comes standard on every computer ever? Lame.... Unless they were just showing off that the fact that the XB can run stable without an exhaust fan thanks to superior design and aerodynamics. Yep, that's probably it. Maybe I should knock a star off for the pure hubris. JK CM, keep doing your thing guys ;)

(3) Lack of 2.5"-3.5" adaptor: The X-Dock has a spot to screw in 2.5" drives, but, c'mon, doesn't that defeat half the purpose of an X-Dock? The 3.5" drives can just snap in - screwless - so why can't the 2.5" drives? Couldn't CM have included an adaptor that would allow you to easily snap in 2.5" SATA drives to the X-Dock rails? Or just included one special X-Dock rail that is specifically designed for 2.5" drives? That would have been nice guys. To be fair, you probably aren't going to be putting SSDs in your X-Dock, but, if you troubleshoot, either for business or pleasure, you might want to shove some laptop hard drives in there from time to time for data-recovery or troubleshooting purposes. And it kinda irks me that I'll have to go track down the screw driver every time I want to do that. At least offer a 2.5" size snap-in X-Dock rail as an add-on on your site for like $10. That way, the few of us that are so insanely lazy that we don't want to deal with microscopic screws and screwdrivers every once in awhile can exercise our right to be PRECISELY that lazy. I mean, this is America after all guys. 'MURICA.

(4) It doesn't make me sandwiches, and it refuses to act as my wingman when I go out: Pretty self-explanatory. That said, with the money I saved buying this VERY reasonably priced case (I paid $89, no shipping cost, no sales tax, and got a $10 MiR :) that should really cost DOUBLE if you're going by it's feature set and build quality, I could buy quite a few sandwiches and movie tickets. So I guess, if you think about it, the HAF XB kinda is like my wingman. Or my financial advisor. Nah let's go with wingman. It sounds cooler. And, after all, this thing is the cooler MASTER.


Apple iPod touch 32GB Pink (5th Generation)
Apple iPod touch 32GB Pink (5th Generation)
43 used & new from $139.95

367 of 418 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Already Got It - And It's AMAZING, October 13, 2012
I pre-ordered the 5th generation 32GB PRODUCT RED iPod Touch directly from Apple and got it from the FedEx man just yesterday (Friday October 12th 2012). For the past 2 years I have been the proud owner of a 4th generation iPod Touch, which, until now, I thought was a near-perfect product; I thus had the luxury of doing a head-to-head comparison. Here is what I discovered.

SIZE/WEIGHT/DESIGN: The first thing I noticed is that the new iPod Touch is significantly thinner and lighter. It weighs only 88 grams according to Apple, and it is only 6 mm thick. Its edges are not curved/tapered like the 4th Gen Touch. At first this felt strange, but now I prefer the feel of the new Touch. The Touch also, obviously, comes in colors. With the disclaimer that I've only been using it for a day, it seems like the new anodized back is much more durable and scratches much less easily than the chrome on the back of the 4th generation.

CAMERAS: The one place that I thought Apple really messed up with the 4th generation was the cameras. They were added to the 4th generation as an afterthought. The new iPod Touch, however, has a 5 MP iSight camera with a sapphire crystal outer cover (prevents scratches). The image quality is exponentially better than the camera on the old touch. The front camera is also much better than the front camera on the old Touch and is now 720p compatible.

SCREEN: As you all probably know, the screen is about a half an inch taller. Apple has been heavily marketing this, as it included the same bigger screen on both the iPhone 5 and the 5th generation iPod Touch. The extra .5 inches allows one to watch widescreen content that encompasses the full screen area. It also allows one to see more emails and whatnot. However, the really cool thing about the screen is that it is far more vibrant than the screen of the old Touch. According to Apple, it is 44% more vibrant, and it covers the whole sRGB spectrum. In layman's terms, that means the iPod Touch can accurately reproduce EVERY color that Hollywood movie cameras can capture. The old iPod's screen couldn't. In real-world usage, I've found that the new Touch's screen is far more vivid than my old Touch's screen, which appears to have a blueish hue and doesn't accurately reproduce some colors. The new screen also seems to perform better when looked at from extreme angles.

A5 PROCESSOR / FASTER WI-FI: In the 5G iPod Touch, Apple upgraded the processor chip from the A4 to the A5 and the Wi-fi chip from single-band N to dual-band N. Theoretically, Apple claims that the processor will be two times faster, graphics up to 7x faster and that the wi-fi will be twice as fast. In my real-world test of the wi-fi speed, I found that the old Touch had a download speed of about 12 Mbps with a 15 ms ping on my school's wifi, whereas the new Touch reached speeds of 36 Mbps with a 10 ms ping. I tested this using the SpeedTest App for iOS. Web pages definitely load faster, IMO. The faster processor means that apps load faster too. Naturally, that means that the largest speed increase will be found in processor and graphics-intensive apps that also use Wi-Fi. In other words, Facebook, Twitter, News Apps, etc. I tested how fast it took the Facebook App to load and update on both devices. The 4G Touch took 10.4 seconds. The 5G Touch took 2.4 seconds. If I did the math right, that means that the 5G touch opens the Facebook App 77% faster than the 4G Touch. The CNN App loaded and updated in 2.7 seconds on the new Touch, as opposed to 5.4 seconds on the old one, a 50% difference. The faster wi-fi chip and processor should also allow streaming of 720p HD content onto the new Touch, a feature that really wasn't available on the old Touch.

ODDS AND ENDS: The new Touch includes a new power-cable connection, called Lightning. The Lightning Port is considerably (>60%, I'd wager) smaller than the old Dock Connector Port. This is a welcome change, as I found that the old dock connector port would get all crusty and dirty on the inside - it just seemed to attract the dirt from the inside of my pocket. The new Lightning Connector is also reversible, which means you will never have to worry about plugging it in right side up. The faster processor and wi-fi of the new Touch allowed Apple to enable Siri on the iPod Touch. This feature is NOT available via upgrade on older iPod Touches. I really like Siri and find her useful, so this was a welcome addition though please note that Siri ONLY works when you have an active wi-fi connection. Apple added a small LED flash for the camera - this was a nice touch and seems to work well as long as the object you are trying to photograph is fairly close to you. They also added a little "hidden button" that you can press to attach an included wriststrap to the Touch. This is really quite useful, as anyone with a propensity for dropping their iPod Touches (like my younger sister :) can tell you. Finally, Apple included a new type of earbuds - called EarPods - with the new iPod Touch. These both sound and fit my ear MUCH BETTER than the old Apple Earbuds. Honestly, they sound well enough that I've been alright with wearing them for light usage (i.e. - walking to the mailbox) when before I would have worn my Beats by Dre Studio headphones. The Beats are much better, don't get me wrong, but sticking in the EarPods is quicker and easier if I just want to take a quick stroll around the neighborhood.

CONCLUSION: The new iPod Touch is not an incremental upgrade. It is a giant leap for iPod-kind. The iPod has long had a lock on the MP3 Player market. Even though it is now two years old, the iPod Touch 4th Generation still is a great product and arguably the second-best MP3 Player on the market. However, the iPod Touch 5th Generation has dethroned its predecessor as the BEST MP3 Player on the market with gusto. It is a far and away better product. Apps load twice as fast. Internet content loads twice as fast. The interface is far more fluid and responsive. The screen is far more vibrant; According to Chris Heinonen, AnandTech's resident screen geek, the screen on the iPhone 5 and the 5th generation iPod Touch has better color accuracy and grayscale-reproduction than ANY monitor or TV of ANY SIZE that he has EVER tested, save for one $20,000 projector. Before I got the 5th generation iPod Touch, I was perfectly content with the screen on my 4th generation iPod Touch. Now, as I look at them both side-by-side, the screen on the old Touch looks like a piece of garbage (keeping it PG-13 here :). The cameras on the new Touch blow the old Touch's cameras OUT OF THE WATER. In addition to being thinner, lighter, and available in six different color options (Pink, Yellow, Blue, Silver, Black, Product RED), the new iPod Touch is made out of more durable and scratchproof anodized aluminum and just looks and feels like a higher-quality more professional product. The degree of refinement in this product makes me feel like my old 4G iPod Touch is a cheap kid's toy inferior in every way - speed, build quality, and feature-set. I am really impressed that Apple, a company that has had a virtually uncontested corner on the MP3 Player market for almost a decade, continues to innovate at such a high level. I'd give this product 6 out of 5 stars if I could!
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 19, 2012 5:28 PM PST


Logitech Wireless Illuminated Keyboard K800
Logitech Wireless Illuminated Keyboard K800
Price: $63.99
81 used & new from $50.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few flaws, but some truly nice touches as well; all-in-all, a great product., May 28, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Although this is an extremely nice keyboard, I just can't bring myself to give it a five star rating. There are too many subtle flaws. Nothing major mind you, but there ARE flaws. Consider this a 4.5 out of 5 star rating (Amazon doesn't allow half-star ratings). Below you can find my detailed breakdown/ review.

(1) TYPING "FEEL" [9/10] - The first thing that stuck out to me even before I bought this keyboard is that it is not a "natural"/"ergonomic" keyboard. I had used several such "wave-shaped" keyboards in the past and had taken a liking to them. But I decided that I would give this keyboard a try in spite of the fact that it isn't ergonomic. It has been a bit of an adjustment, but now that I've slightly altered my finger placement while typing, its not all that big of a deal. The keys themselves are "chiclet" shaped (like the candies)and the plastic plungers underneath are extremely high quality and provide JUST the right amount of feedback. I DON'T like how laptop keyboards and Apple desktop keyboards make you feel like there is a hard surface immediately under the key you are typing on. These plungers are just springy enough to make you feel like there is a firm mini-pillow under each key. Its a wonderful typing experience, really. The key spacing is pretty good, but kinda leaves me wishing the keys were spaced just *a little bit* further from each other. The keys are laid out in the typical QWERTY configuration, though the backspace and caps lock buttons seem smaller than on other keyboards (not necessarily a bad thing) and the F1-F12 row of keys seems closer to the number row of keys than on other keyboards (also not a bad thing IMHO). The keyboard, when laying flat, is tilted very slightly (5 degrees or so) towards the user. There are also little rubber feet on the bottom which, when extended, tilts the keyboard even more (~15 degrees) towards the user. All in all, a great typing experience, but I wish it would be ergonomic and that the keys would be slightly further apart from each other. 9/10.

(2) BACKLIGHT [10/10] - The illumination feature is arguably one of the foremost selling points of this particular keyboard at this particular price point. And Logitech really delivers the goods in this regard. The armrest of the keyboard is sensitive to your body heat. As soon as you lay your arms on the armrest or the keyboard registers a keystroke, the backlight is activated. This is a REALLY nice touch, since you really don't need the backlight on when the keyboard is not in use. The LED lights sit under the keys themselves. Unlike a lot of keys that are solid opaque plastic with the letter printed on top, the letters on the K800 keys are actually "frosted" or translucent, allowing the individual LED backlights to shine through the letter or number on the key (the rest of the key is jet black). The backlight comes with 4 brightness settings, in addition to an OFF setting (meaning you can use the keyboard as a non-illuminated keyboard). The fourth (highest) setting is extremely bright; I personally find the second setting sufficient most of the time. The backlighting appears to be of uniform level throughout the keyboard as a whole. Logitech does a really nice job with the well thought-out brightness setting in addition to the novel heat-activated armrest feature. 10/10.

(3) MATERIALS [8/10] - As stated before, the keys are mostly an opaque black color with the letters appearing a "frosted" color. This is truly a novel way of manufacturing keys. Every other keyboard I have owned has had letters fade off the keys as I used the board more and more. This hasn't happened to this keyboard, probably because of this novel new manufacturing process. The body of the keyboard is made out of hard matte high-quality plastic. Although it is also plastic, the armrest has a nice padded feel to it. The keyboard has five rubber feet on the bottom that prevent it from moving around while you are typing. The keyboard body is surrounded by a thin clear plastic border which complements the frosted plastic look of the letters on the keys and makes the keyboard look understated yet sophisticated. The one beef I have is a fairly major one though. After taking the keyboard along with me on a trip (I packed it securely in my luggage), I was shocked to find that the clips (the things that attach the individual keys to the keyboard) on my "l" and "k" keys had broken! The clips apparently, can be very fragile and Logitech refuses to replace just the clips (you can find them for sale on a certain online auction site for a couple bucks apiece though). If you have cats with claws or something, I would hesitate to buy this keyboard. Also, you might want to avoid travelling with it. Other than that, I don't think the fragility of the keyboard clips would really be a factor for everyday use. The keys themselves, and the keyboard body appear SUPER durable. Its just the clips which are a little bit iffy and only under certain circumstances. 8/10.

(4) BATTERY LIFE [9/10] - The keyboard (mine at least) comes with TWO included AA Sanyo Eneloop batteries (2000 mAh). I swear by these batteries in ALL of my electronic devices. You can access the battery compartment by unscrewing a single Phillips head screw on the back of the keyboard if you wanna put your own batteries in or just check to see if you got Eneloops included with your keyboard. At any rate, the Eneloops are the best rechargeable batteries on the consumer market IMHO, so kudos to Logitech for putting them in this, a premium product. The auto-turn off feature on the backlight (it turns off after 3 seconds of non-usage) really helps to preserve battery life. There's also a physical ON/OFF switch that you can utilize when you are going to be away from the computer for more than a couple of hours. Battery life depends largely on what brightness setting you have the backlight set to. If you have it on the highest setting, the battery's charge might only last for 4-6 hours of USAGE. If you keep it on the second or third setting, you probably will get 8-12 hours of USAGE out of the battery on a single charge. You can plug the keyboard itself into a USB port and use it WHILE its charging (a nice touch by Logitech). Logitech manufactured the keyboard so that the backlight shuts off entirely when you hit a critical battery level (10% or something). However, you can still use the keyboard as a regular non-illuminated keyboard for HOURS and HOURS after you reach this critical level (apparently, the keyboard function itself requires very little power). I really like this feature in particular. The keyboard has a built-in three bar battery life indicator. By pressing FN+F7, you can check this at any given time. I do have one beef with this feature though. My K800 when fully charged, shows a solid three bar indicator. When I unplug it, it'll show three green bars for maybe an hour or two before going down to one green bar. But then I'll stay at one green bar for the following 7 or 8 hours before the backlight turns off and I get one blinking red bar (indicates critical battery level). Really, Logitech? This basically means that the 3-bar battery indicator tells me virtually NOTHING about how full or empty my battery ACTUALLY is. It does let me know when I hit critical, or when a charge cycle is complete, so I guess it has SOME usage, but it could have been made to work a lot better. A little disappointed with that feature. 9/10.

(5) SOFTWARE/WIRELESS [9.5/10] - There are a few other odds and ends to talk about. First, the K800 communicates with your computer via the included USB 2.0 "Logitech Unifying Receiver." It is extremely tiny, protruding perhaps half a fingernail-width from one's laptop or computer tower. Yet, at the same time, it picks up a GREAT signal from the keyboard. The Unifying Receiver also, as its name suggests, allows one to 'unify' several different peripherals (keyboards, mice, etc.) on one receiver. Meaning I can run both my K800 keyboard and my Performance Mouse MX off of one receiver. This will be especially handy for people with a limited number of USB ports. I can use both my mouse and keyboard AT THE SAME TIME with zero problems BTW. I've personally tested the range and had this keyboard working 50+ feet away from the receiver. Logitech also includes some really great software with the K800. When installed, it allows you to disable infrequently used keys like the Windows Key, Insert Key, or the Caps Lock key. It also lets you customize the F-keys' functions. Finally, you can disable the heat-activated armrest backlight feature from inside the software or just choose to keep the keyboard illuminated (or unilluminated) at all times if that's what makes you happy. Finally, the software will cause a small translucent screen to appear on your screen for a few seconds whenever you turn caps lock, num lock, or scroll lock ON or OFF, whenever your battery becomes critical, and whenever you use the keyboard to change the volume of your computer (I like this feature a LOT, but it can be disabled from the software). 9.5/10.

TOTAL SCORE = 45.5/50 = 4.55/5.00 STARS


A Time to Kill (1996)
A Time to Kill (1996)
DVD
Price: $3.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's "A Time [for you] to Watch This Movie," RIGHT NOW!, May 23, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I originally watched this movie for a Law in Film course I was taking at university. I was writing on how the concept of jury nullification (or jurors coming to a verdict contrary to the rule of law in a given case, as opposed to just resolving issues of fact as they are "supposed to") manifested in this film. That's an interesting concept in and of itself, and the issue's portrayal in this film is nothing short of fascinating (if implicit at times), but I absolutely love love loved the movie even outside of that.

OK, I absolutely refuse to be a spoiler when it comes to telling people about movies, but be forewarned that I will discuss some events that happen at the beginning of the movie and talk about perhaps a couple of things that happen near the end (without ever giving up "the ending") SOLELY to give context to my review. Don't read any further if you are uncomfortable with knowing what happens in the first 15 or so minutes of this film.

The premise for the movie is set up fully within the first 15 minutes of the film. Tonya Hailey, the 10-year old daughter of a working-class black man named Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) is brutally raped by two young white supremacists. The two men are quickly apprehended by the local sheriff (who himself, in an interesting twist, is black) and thrown in jail. However, Carl Lee, after consulting with his white attorney Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey), realizes that an all-white jury is likely to acquit his daughter's rapists. Carl Lee decides to take things into his own hands and guns down the two men in court. Carl Lee is then put on trial before an all-white jury, which must decide whether to find him guilty or not guilty of first-degree murder.

I really liked this movie for a number of reasons.

First, I found its portrayals of the Klan and white supremacists to be historically accurate. The film makes a shocking and graphic statement about the nature of hatred that once was allowed to be the norm in parts of the South, thanks to the evil hearts of some men and the unwillingness of others to stand up to this bigotry. "A Time To Kill" doesn't attempt to sugar-coat the racial history of the South AT ALL, unlike other elements that glorify Southern history while white-washing over the inconvenient racial truths of days gone by. It takes guts to make a movie like this and it certainly took guts for John Grisham to write the novel that this movie was based on in the early '90s.

Second, I was truly touched by how it handled the rape of Tonya and the impact that had on her and her family. When you see little Tonya getting raped you can't help but to be utterly appalled. It all seems so real thanks to the fact that the ways in which you see her being brutally assaulted are unimaginable to any person with an ounce of moral fiber. When you see her parents and how they react to the rape you can't help but to feel for them. ***MINOR SPOILER ALERT*** When Samuel L. Jackson, in response to a prosecutor's question, screams "Yes they deserved to die, and I hope they burn in hell," he exudes in every facet of his acting the kind of pain that you'd imagine the real parent of a 10-year old rape victim would feel.

Thirdly and lastly, I thought that the acting of Matthew McConaughey was simply superb. He plays a character very similar to the character of Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird." This is obviously a very high bar to aspire to for any actor playing a lawyer, as Atticus Finch holds a very special place in the canons of law, literature, and racial relations in the United States. Yet, even having to come from under Finch's long shadow, McConaughey shines. Through his zealous acting, McConaughey perfectly depicts the sort of zealous defense that great lawyers provide their clients. Yet at the same time, McConaughey acts the part of a man - and a flawed man at that. He excels in this capacity - the audience gets to vividly watch the internal dilemmas he faces in deciding what responsibility he holds in the murder, in how to do right by both his family and his client, and in where he stands relative to the racial dynamic of the South. In a day and age when wealthy Hollywood actors take movie roles to play superheroes, monarchs, and legends, it is the greatest compliment to McConaughey that he so excels in depicting a, more or less, regular small-town lawyer, who has his flaws and yet never stops trying to do the right thing - a character with which the audience can identify and sympathize. McConaughey, who simply asks us to take a Golden Rule type approach to race relations, is the voice of reason in a town that erupts in racial chaos. His closing argument is brilliant and brings the courtroom to a powerful contemplative silence as he finishes. The way that McConaughey plays the character of Jake Brigance is truly deserving of praise!


Logitech Wireless Performance Mouse MX for PC and Mac
Logitech Wireless Performance Mouse MX for PC and Mac
Price: $62.97
104 used & new from $18.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of a Mouse!!!, April 11, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is most definitely the best mouse I have used in my entire life. Granted, it is by far the most expensive as well (in the past I have used mice that cost between $20-$50 USD, so nothing quite this high end). The ergonomics are a thing of beauty and make this mouse an absolute pleasure to use. The DarkField Laser technology makes for a consistently great tracking experience over the gamut of surfaces, from glass to fabric to wood to plastic. Below you will find an intensive breakdown of the mice's features and what I think of them.

(1) ERGONOMICS - This is an ergonomic mouse intended for right handed users only. I once read that the proper way to type on a keyboard is to position your hands as if there are bubbles underneath them. I'd imagine the same principal holds for mice. This mouse completely promotes proper holding posture through a combination of high-quality materials and novel design features. The way in which my thumb fits into the depressed left side of the mouse is great. However the right hand side of the mouse has an interesting surprise - it has these novel (though extremely subtle) depressions for my ring and pinkie fingers that are JUST in the right places. The curve of the mouse fits perfectly in the palm of my hand. Furthermore, both the left and right sides of the mouse are slightly rubberized, preventing slips in one's grip on the mouse. The result of all of these subtle features is that I can hold the mouse with perfect form/posture without it feeling forced or unnatural. The rubberized left and right sides allow you to hold the mouse without squeezing it, and the grooves allow your fingers to rest in comfortable and natural positions. One can hold on to this mouse whilst moving ones forearm up and down, forward and backwards, and side to side, all while exercising virtually zero squeezing.

(2) MATERIALS - As mentioned before, the sides of the mouse are coated in high-quality black rubber material to promote proper mouse-holding form/posture. Unlike some rubber-like materials, this feel like an extremely high quality material and looks good. It doesn't show fingerprints either. The body of the mouse is made out of what appears to be a high-quality hard plastic. It is matte finish and also does a good job of masking fingerprints/hand oils. There are also chrome accents a couple of places on the mouse (around the left/thumb side of the mouse, and on the sides of the click wheel. Unlike the shiny chrome that we often see on mice, this is more of an understated gunmetal chrome which looks less gaudy and is much less of a fingerprint magnet to boot. The mouse has a comforting heft/density to it - it feels substantial and not at all flimsy in one's hand, but at the same time it is not obnoxiously heavy either.

(3) TRACKING - Tracking, in my opinion, is the most important quality in a mouse. After all, that's what the whole pointer-based system of input is based on. As I see it, two things have the potential to affect tracking when one is dealing with a wireless optical/laser mouse. These are (A) the wireless signal and (B) the laser/optical mechanism used in the mouse sensor itself. In both of these areas, the Performance MX absolutely excels. The Unifying receiver is extremely tiny - so much so that one can "set and forget" it on a laptop or desktop computer. I am running both my Logitech K800 Wireless Illuminating Keyboard and the Performance MX off of one Unifying receiver. There is absolutely ZERO input lag time as far as I can tell (with either device). I can use both devices simultaneously and the Unifying Receiver doesn't miss a beat. Reception is great from my armchair, which is about 5 feet away from my computer tower (and thus the receiver). I have a 802.11N dual-band Wi-fi sensor in the same computer, in addition to an IR blaster and a Bluetooth 2.1 radio, yet there is no interference between the different wireless devices. I have my computer hooked up to my Vizio 42" 3D HDTV, and use my computer primarily while sitting in an armchair nowhere near a desk. I need a mouse that can track on the fabric of the armchair or my pants leg. The Performance MX does a great job of this. The tracking is amazingly smooth and precise on fabric, rug, even bare skin. My old Microsoft Laser Mouse wasn't able to track well on the arm of my armchair (where I primarily use my mouse). This mouse puts it to shame and then some. I swear by Darkfield technology - I have not found a single surface yet that it cannot track on excellently. Its kinda become a game for me to find SOME surface that it doesn't work on LOL. And BTW, the bottom of the mouse provides just a little friction allowing one to physically move the mouse itself easily and smoothly. You can customize Pointer Speed and Acceleration from within the Logitech SetPoint software and enable/disable Pointer Trails.

(4) BUTTONS - What can I say here. Left/Right clicks are very responsive, and the left/right mouse buttons are easy to click and make a very satisfying subtle clicking noise when you press on them. The scroll wheel also serves as a middle button if you depress it (I've never been very fond of this function, on any mouse). There are back and forward buttons right above the thumbrest, which is pretty much boilerplate on $30+ mice these days. There is also a zoom button right below the back/forward buttons. You use this button by clicking on it and then moving the scroll wheel either up/forward (to zoom in) or down/backward (to zoom out). I honestly don't use the function that much, but I can see how some people would. There is also a very neat application switcher button at the very bottom of the thumbrest that you can click with the side of your thumb simply by pushing your thumb downwards a little. Its useful and well-thought-out IMO. Going back to the click-wheel.... It has two modes - notch/line-by-line scrolling and free-scrolling/hyper-scrolling. You can switch between the two modes by clicking a toggle button located immediately below the wheel. You can also use the wheel to scroll horizontally. The wheel feels solid/well-made and is accurate in both modes. The toggle switch feels just a tad chintzy and makes a noise that is just a little to loud for my tastes when it is clicked. Most of the buttons can be re-mapped for different functions using the Logitech SetPoint software. Also, you can customize some of the behavior of the scroll-wheel using this software; you can even map buttons to behave differently in specific applications or when gaming.

(5) BATTERY/BATTERY-LIFE - I have heard that some Performance MX's come with crappy rechargeable batteries. Mine didn't - it came with one of the second-generation AA Sanyo Eneloop batteries. The mouse included a USB charging cord and a wall outlet-USB converter. This allows you to continue to use the mouse (albeit with a wire) while charging it [which is its major advantage over a charging base]. Also, the battery is user replaceable if the one they included proves to be crappy or dies. You technically have the option of swapping out the included NiMH battery for an alkaline if you want too(just don't try to charge the mouse if you are using alkaline batteries lol). I have been using the included Eneloop since I got the mouse a few weeks ago and I haven't even come close to completely draining the battery yet. Mind you, I plug it into the charger at nighttime - I am not saying that you will get a 3-week battery life from this mouse! What I am saying is that you will easily be able to make it through 4-8 hours of daily computer usage in one day and then can just plug the mouse in until you return to your computer. There is an On/Off switch on the bottom, but I have never used it, save to turn the Mouse on when I originally got it. I just leave it on all the time. Sometimes I even forget to plug it in at night. Yet I haven't run into a problem with the battery dying on me yet. And the battery is fully rechargeable OUT OF THE BOX so you will never have to worry about buying batteries or anything. Unlike most NiMH batteries, Eneloops are low-discharge and have been shown to retain up to 75% of a full charge after 3 years in storage, so you really shouldn't have to worry about going on vacation and returning to find a dead mouse. Battery life can be checked from within the SetPoint software and the software will pop up with a low battery alert when your battery is close to dying.

If you've read this far, congrats, you know everything about this mouse that I, as an owner of it, do. And you officially have no life. But then again, I wrote this so 'glass houses' right? Just know that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this product. Logitech has made one high-quality rodent right here!!


VIZIO XVT3D424SV 42-Inch Full HD 3D Edge Lit Razor LED with Smart Dimming LCD HDTV 480 Hz SPS with VIZIO Internet Apps (2011 Model)
VIZIO XVT3D424SV 42-Inch Full HD 3D Edge Lit Razor LED with Smart Dimming LCD HDTV 480 Hz SPS with VIZIO Internet Apps (2011 Model)

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vizio - I'm a believer!, September 8, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
OK, well here goes. I've had this TV now for about 5 full days (got it right before Labor Day Weekend). Ordered it off Amazon and paid $3.99 for PRIME One-Day Shipping (This is NOT one of those TVs that Amazon has special delivered through a TV delivery service as it is super-thin and light [<50 lbs]).

EASE OF SETUP [9 out of 10]

Pretty easy TV to setup. I am using it primarily as a computer monitor, however the PC I have plugged into it has Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray 3D, and TV Tuner functionality, plus I'm playing a few PC Games on it, so I consume a pretty wide variety of content on this TV. The boxing was very well thought out. The boxing? What? Yeah I know its a weird thing to mention, but Vizio has a really neat box for all of their TV's (my Uncle bought a 55" Vizio last year with a similar box). Basically, you stand the box upright, remove four black tabs from the box, and then the entire box, with the exception of the base, just pulls right off. Then you can remove the styrofoam from the TV and you're good to go. No having to make it a 2-man job and having someone hold the cardboard box exterior while you tug a snug-fitting styrofoam shell out of the box. None of that crap.

Got the TV out of the box. I didn't wall mount so I can't speak to that. Installing the base was a sinch. Just slapped it on (it did take a wee bit more pressure than what I would have imagined) and used the provided thumbscrew to secure the base to the bottom of the TV. Then, I just propped it up on a table (I live in a college dorm, so no room for an entertainment center), plugged in the standard power cable, and was just about good to go. That's where I hit a little snag.

For some reason, I wanted to try it out by DIRECTLY plugging it into the cable first (my university uses a direct ClearQAM via Coax distribution system. No set-top boxes) instead of just plugging in my computer via HDMI and using my computer's TV Tuner. Vizio clearly intended to make the wall-mounted experience as seamless as possible and, as such, the ports (both HDMI and Coax) on the TV face DOWNWARDS (so that the cables can run PARALLEL to the TV, not stick out a few inches perpendicularly (which would be problematic for some wall mounters)). The only problem with that design is that the little indented area where you plug in the cable isn't very large and, as such, you have to use pretty flexible cables otherwise it'll be a PITA to plug them in. Well, the only coax cable I had sitting around was an old stiff one. Add to that that it was the style that you have to screw in, as opposed to just pushing in. I literally spent 15 minutes trying to screw in the coax cable but was unable to, as coax cables need to go on straight - an impossibility with a stiff cable and the small caveat where the cables are plugged in. So I decided to forgo the direct coax hookup and just use my computer's tv tuner via HDMI. I had a few non-rigid HDMI cables, and was able to get those setup without issue. I just want to warn that if you have very STIFF cables, you might run into some issues plugging them in the COAX and HDMI 1-4 ports.

Once I got the computer plugged in, I turned on the TV and was able to whiz through the basic setup. Most of the setup steps didn't apply, as they were meant for setting up cable boxes or direct COAX connections or the like. For me, it was pretty much just (1) turn the TV on, (2) switch to HDMI 1, (3) boot up the PC. Once I got the PC booted up, I noticed that there were ~1.5" borders around the visable computer screen area. I was able to remove these and blow up my desktop to the entire area of the visible TV by adjusting the Size and Position settings (Hit MENU, then TV SETTINGS, then PICTURE, then MORE, then SIZE AND POSITION). That was when I was running my ATI RADEON 5770 Graphics Card. Strangely enough, I upgraded my graphics card to an EVGA NVIDIA GTX 560TI later that day, and then I only saw a portion of my desktop on the screen. At first I thought that something was wrong with the graphics card. But then I remembered that the image on the ATI was underscanned and I had had to compensate in the TV Settings. Sure enough, I reset the Vertical and Horizontal Size and - voila! - the desktop was the perfect size again. I also tested my Apple TV and Xbox 360 on this TV and their pictures are perfectly fit to the TV on default settings. So, basically, only SOME older graphics cards will have the issue I explained, and it can be easily remedied.

Finally, I noticed the image seemed somewhat dark. Not unwatchable (at least by my standards), but bothersome. I remembered something I'd read about Vizio's Ambient Light Sensor, and went about finding where I could customize that particular setting. After I turned it off, the picture was damn-near perfect (To turn Ambient Light Sensor OFF, Hit MENU, then TV SETTINGS, then PICTURE, then MORE, then ADVANCED PICTURE, and finally hit ENTER once you get to AMBIENT LIGHT SENSOR and choose the OFF option). The brightness level seemed good (some may want to increase the Backlight and/or Brightness options just a smidge still; these can be found in the basic PICTURE settings; I ended up doing this myself). The image really needs no calibration after you turn off the AMBIENT LIGHT SENSOR IMHO.

PICTURE QUALITY (2-DIMENSIONAL) [10 out of 10]

The nice thing about this TV's brightness/color settings is their FLEXIBILITY. I was sitting on the couch with a couple of my roommates, and we each found a mix of color and brightness settings that we liked. My one roommate prefered it with more color, the other with less color, and I prefered it with a smidge more color and a bit more brightness. If you're super-picky or whatever, you will probably be able to find a mix of settings that you love - it might just take a while. But, this TV looks GREAT almost right out of the box. The LED backlighting really does make all the difference. I have an LCD TV/monitor (about 1.5 years old, 24", Samsung, pretty nice monitor when I got it) in the other room, and going back and forth between the two was like night and day. The LCD appeared overly dimmed, and its colors didn't POP. The LED backlighting, far from washing out the colors as one might expect (since LEDs lead to higher brightness levels), actually enhance colors, making them seem naturally vibrant. That's what I mean when I say that the colors POP. OK, enough about color and brightness --- let's talk about the elephant in the room - the 480 Hz Refresh Rate. Some insist that it's only "really" 240 Hz, but does it really matter? I mean, the difference between 240 Hz and 480 Hz is invisible to the human eye. Are you telling me that your eyes can tell the difference between frames flashed at it in 1/480th of a second (approximately 0.002 sec)??? Don't flatter yourself. However, the difference between the Vizio's advertised 480 Hz and the 60 Hz of a regular TV, and the 24 or 30 Hz of a standard film and TV broadcast respectively, is quite visible. Obviously, Vizio can't magically turn 24 Hz content into 480 Hz content. But it can attempt to smooth the motion by "guessing" at the frames in between. Noone can expect this to be perfect. Typical movies are filmed at 23.976/24 Hz. This TV has the ability to show content at 480 Hz. That means that between every two frames of Hollywood film, the Vizio has to "guess" at what NINETEEN other frames would come in between. And it has to do all this on the fly in a fraction of a second. But I must say, the Vizio handles the job very well. The question is not so much whether this "Smooth Motion Effect" WORKS, but moreso whether or not you like it. Me, I'm on the fence about it. For watching live action sports, or even playing games, I love it. For TV primetime dramas, it makes the picture look a little too real, I think. But I kinda like it in that application, depending on the TV show. For movies, I generally don't like it. There's something about the juddery-ness of film that adds to its genuinity, in my mind. Others may disagree. But the great thing is that, not only can you turn the "Smooth Motion Effect" on and off easily depending on your tastes, Vizio actually gives you a few options ("off", "low", "medium", and "high"). Last but not least, the picture has great color uniformity. Some may complain it isn't a FULL ARRAY LED screen, but I actually like the EDGE LIT LED screen, because EDGE LIT LEDs don't suffer from any image "blooming."

PICTURE QUALITY (3-DIMENSIONAL) [9.5 out of 10]

First thing you gotta know about 3-D is this: if the 3-D image comes out looking bad on this TV, its more than likely a problem with the CONTENT that you are using, not the TV. Certain 3-D video games, and even highly compressed or bad;y converted 3D movies WILL have ghosting. What's ghosting, you ask? Ghosting is basically when you see a faint extra copy of an image, kind of like a full-color shadow, while watching 3D. For certain applications, ghosting can be quite annoying if it occurs. For example, playing video games, especially shooters, where there is severe ghosting is tough - because it makes it hard to know if you are shooting the opponent or his "ghost" image. Watching movies with high level of detail can be tough too, as ghosting can have the effect of making the image appear blurry. The other thing about 3D --- a lot of 3D content cannot be shown at full HD resolutions or at full frame rates. For example, 3D video games have a max framerate of 24 fps because of limitations in the HDMI 1.4a standard (this might get fixed via firmware update later on). 24fps PER EYE is good for watching film and for most gamers, but a lot of hardcore gamers feel uncomfortable playing a video game below 35-40 fps. And regarding resolution. Certain film/TV content (known as half-SBS content) that you can download from the Internet or watch on Youtube, is naturally going to be lower-res than its 2D bretheren. That's because, when you have a 1080p half-SBS image, each eye is only receiving a 1920x540 image, instead of a 1920x1080 image. Blu Ray 3D uses a proprietary technology called frame-packing to provide each eye with a 1080p FULL-SBS image, meaning both eyes each get a full 1920x1080 image. This is one of the reasons why, if you compare Blu Ray 3D content to other 3D content (shown on the same screen), the Blu Ray 3D will be noticeably superior. 3D Blu Rays also tend to have less ghosting. For the purposes of grading this TV's 3-D image quality, I used the highest quality 3D content only (in my case, a 3D Blu Ray for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition). I could have referenced how half-SBS or gaming looks in 3D, but that wouldn't have been an analysis of the TV's performance, but rather an analysis of the current mediocrity of these standards. The 3D Blu Ray looked superb. Please note that the Vizio's 3D is not so much pop-out-of-the-TV-in-your-face 3D, but more of looking-through-a-window 3D. There's a little POP, but not much (I tested using the NVIDIA 3dTV Play driver test image with 3d effect set to 100% and the image seemed to come out of the TV only marginally). But I actually prefer this 3D effect to the pop-out 3-D effect. This effect makes it look like there is a whole world inside your TV that you are looking into. There is great depth INSIDE the image. It reminds me of the closet that the Pensieve kids go into, only to find there's a whole freaking world in the back of the closet (Narnia). Kind of like the whole freaking world inside my TV LOL. The image clarity and 3D effect when watching a 3D Blu Ray is superb, and I didn't notice any ghosting AT ALL (though I did notice some while using lesser non-Blu-Ray-3D content). The Vizio obviously can't make ghosting disappear from content where its inherent, but it doesn't create any unnecessary ghosting or artifacts in high-quality 3D content that doesn't have any inherently.

AUDIO [9 out of 10]

Well, its a TV, what can you expect? Someone somewhere along the line got the idea that TV's should sound like they have a $300 surround sound system built in. That's ridiculous. If you want a 1200W speaker system, BUY a 1200W Home Theater Package, don't expect it to come out of your 2" thick flat panel TV that cost $750!! The Vizio's built in speakers are surprisingly good, though IMHO. They are LOUD. The highest level I've played them at is a 28 (out of 100). When you turn the volume up, speech is crisp, and there is no crackling. Does the Vizio make your house shake with bass? No, obviously not. However it reproduces sounds, minus the big-time bass, just fine for an immersive movie experience.

VIZIO INTERNET APPS/INTERNET CONNECTIVITY/BLUETOOTH REMOTE [9.5 out of 10]

Again, this is a TV. The Internet Apps are a nice touch, but if you really want a hard-core flawless internet experience on your TV, hook up your computer or dedicated box (Roku, Apple TV, etc.). Internet setup was a breeze --- pick your wifi network out of the list, type in the password, and you're good to go. The TV will even automatically update the apps bar when you connect to the Internet for the first time. The basic apps are pretty much Weather, Netflix, Twitter, Amazon VOD, Finance, Web Videos, and VUDU. IMO, the vast majority of people will just use the Netflix/Amazon VOD features. The Facebook App is well implemented - and I can see people occasionally wanting to update their status from the couch - but reading the news feed is a bit too cumbersome. The Netflix and Amazon VOD apps are well-done, and WORK. There are a few other apps you can download (like CNBC, which I like, and Soduko, which is also pretty good), but the Vizio App Library is overall pretty unimpressive. The Bluetooth Remote however, is quite the opposite. Reminiscant of a feature phone made for texting, the vizio remote control has a flip out keyboard. It also has a nice form factor, not to long like some remotes, but not too wide nor thick either. Its the perfect size remote IMO. The one thing they could have done to make it better was to add a backlight but hey, you can't have it all. Speaking more about bluetooth support generally, I think its a great idea. I live in a dorm room with two roommates, and I think it'd be great to obtain a 3.5mm-bluetooth adapter and listen to my TV on my Beats by Dre when my roommates are sleeping or studying. Haven't tried it yet, but intend to.

STYLE [10 out of 10]

Again, I have no idea what people expect a TV to look like. LIke something made by Da Vinci? You want Art, go to the Louve. You wanna watch the game, go to your TV. The Vizio looks plain, but classy, with an unobtrusive logo. Not to mention, I'm proud to have the VIZIO logo out there for everyone to see. If someone has a problem with me having a high-quality TV from an underrated manufacturer that actually keeps SOME of its jobs in the good ole U.S. of A. then they can just STICK IT!

VALUE [11 out of 10]

I picked up this TV for $750 on Amazon, plus $4 for ONE DAY SHIPPING. No Tax. Wouldn't have paid anything for shipping if I'd gone with 2-day, but, what can I say, I'm an impatient dude :). Plus, I got TWO PAIR of 3-D glasses for $25 (normally $85-$125 on Amazon) as part of a promo for this TV (Amazon's been running the promo off and on the past few months). So like $780 for the TV and 2-pair of glasses that got to me in one-day. That's a superb deal. If you want to get a good (120 Hz) non-3D 42" Class LED TV, you're going to be shelling out around $700 already. And, if you buy from a big box store in the good ole State of California (LA Area), you'll pay 9.75% sales tax on that AND a $10 monitor recycling fee. So basically, if I would have bought an INFERIOR TV (2D vs. the Vizio's 3D, 120Hz vs. the Vizio's 480Hz, potentially no Internet Apps vs. the Vizio's Internet Apps, etc.) at a brick and mortar store here in LA, I would have ended up paying around $779 [($700 * 1.0975) + 10] anyway. And, since I don't own a car, I would have had to inconvenience a friend to drive me to and back from said brick and mortar store (as I'm not too hot on the idea of lugging a brand new, boxed 42" HDTV through the streets of South Central Los Angeles). And when you compare the Vizio against TVs that are ACTUALLY IN ITS CLASS, that's when I really feel like I almost stole this TV. You want something like this, with a close-to-equivalent feature-set from Sony, Samsung, or Panasonic, you'lll end up dropping more than $1K, that's for sure. I'd estimate that the Vizio sells for $300-$400 less than what an equivalent set from the Big-3 costs. And the Vizio has exceptional picture quality. I don't see how you can top it, and I definitely can't see how, even if you could top it, you could top it by enough to qualify a $400 price premium. Unless the Sony, Samsung, and Panny wake me up in the morning and serve me breakfast in bed, there is no way in hell that their price premium is justifiable. No way.

TOTAL SCORE: [68 out of 70] = 4.86/5 STARS

VIZIO = EPIC WIN!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 26, 2011 6:46 PM PDT


Corsair Force Series GT 120 GB SATA 2.5-Inch SATA III Solid State Drive (CSSD-F120GBGT-BK)
Corsair Force Series GT 120 GB SATA 2.5-Inch SATA III Solid State Drive (CSSD-F120GBGT-BK)
Offered by JP PLATINUM
Price: $143.04
61 used & new from $64.98

83 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corsair Force GT lives up to its name and the hype!!, August 27, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
So, let me first say that I bought this as an upgrade from an OCZ Vertex II 60 GB. I did so for two reasons. First, after having owned the Vertex for about a year, I had found 60GB to be grossly inadequate. 55GB formated, and about 10 of that gets sucked up by the OS. Add in Office, CS4, and some other essential apps, and you're staring right at that 55 GB cap. I'm not an idiot - I know not to store music, photos, videos etc. on an SSD and I have a 1 TB portable external for all that. But add a game or two on top of the OS and the essential apps, and you've more than filled up 55 gigs. The second reason I bought the GT was the SATA III speeds --- a very impressive 555 MB/s Read and 515 MB/s Write (those are advertised speeds). Once I got the SSD (about two days ago), I installed it into one of my mobo's (I have a P8P67 Pro) INTEL Sata III ports. Please note the "INTEL" -- the INTEL Sata III's are always the best to use as they can harness full SATA III 6 Gbps speeds, whereas the MARVELL controller works via PCI-E x1, which only operates at 5 Gbps. Also, I have read online that this drive *MAY* give you problems if you have a MARVELL controller. Corsair, in my experience, is a great company, and they and Marvell should figure this issue out soon and fix it via driver update, I'd think.

---IMPORTANT--- (added 1-21-2012): Before going any further, I just want to quickly share with you all a little bit of information. As you may or may not know, Corsair makes a sister-product line, the "Force 3" series. The Force 3 series uses asynchronous flash and the Force GT series uses synchronous flash. The Force GT (120GB version) also costs about $10 more than the Force 3 (120 GB version). This is me telling you to pay the extra and buy this product (the Force GT) and NOT the Force 3. HardOCP has run tests of synchronous vs. asynchronous drives (including the Force 3 and GT), and has come to the conclusion that, although ATTO scores are similar on both drives, the synchronous flash products (i.e. - the Force GT) perform 50-100% better in real-world tests, including tests where the drives are filled to 50 and 75% capacity before testing, and tests that use uncompressed as well as compressed data. Applications load faster, and BOTH power users and regular users see significant REAL WORLD gains from using the products with SYNCHRONOUS flash (i.e. - the Force GT series). If you're already dropping $170 for a premium product, why wouldn't you spend another $10 on a product that will probably be 50% faster for you overall in your real-world usage? Buy the Force GT, not the Force III. IMO, based solely on how both drives perform, Corsair could get away with charging $80-$100 extra for the GT series and would be totally justified in doing so...

But, I can say, without a doubt, that this drive worked, plug-and-play out-of-the-box on my P8P67's INTEL CHIPSET SATA III ports. I did tweak one setting, on the advice of a reviewer at another retailer - and that was, I ENABLED Hotplug setting in BIOS for the port I was plugging it into. I guess this prevents bluescreens if your SSD turns off during inactive use --- in fact, getting bluescreens when waking from sleep mode is a common problem with SSDs, not just this Corsair.

OK, enough talk about setup. Like I said, I had to tweak virtually nothing. Once I had installed a clean copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, I proceeded to install the Intel Rapid Storage Technology drivers (you can find these with a quick google query). Windows 7 install took about 10-12 minutes. I ran a standard ATTO benchmark upon getting to my desktop, and my speeds in the 256 KB - 8192 KB file size were as advertised, all in the ballpark of 555 MB/s Read and 515 MB/s Write. In fact, my maximum scores were 559 MB/s Read and 516 MB/s Write. Very impressive. Outperformed my Vertex II by double (I had tested that drive when it was new and maxed out at 280 MB/s Read and 258 MB/s Write. I read on a tech site that the maximum one-way speed for the SATA III bus, after overhead is about 580 MB/s. I have no idea if this is actually true. 6 Gbps / 8 = 750 MB/sec, so that is DEFINITELY the limit of SATA III EXCLUDING overhead. If the writer was correct, then the Force III GT is just about the best drive you will be able to buy on the SATA bus for the next few years til SATA IV comes out (haven't even heard this MENTIONED yet, so release date must be >1 year and probably closer to 2 IMHO). I mean, you're almost totally (559 MB/580 MB = 96.4%) saturating the SATA III bandwidth ALREADY, only a year after that standard came out. Of course, if you buy a PCI-E based drive, you can get faster, but those are prohibitively expensive for anything this fast.

Which brings me to my last point - price. I remember paying about $125 for my Vertex II (60 GB) last year when I bought it. By then, it wasn't quite old technology, but it wasn't new tech either. When I bought the Force GT from Amazon last week, it was going for $225 (no tax, free shipping) AND it had a $30 mail-in-rebate offer (which I have yet to send in for, but intend to). Now it is going for $215 through Amazon AND still has the $30 mail-in-rebate offer. This is EXTREMELY competitive pricing, considering its only maybe $20 more than the regular FORCE III drives, and uses synchronous flash, which will stand the test of time better than the asynchronous flash used in the FORCE III. This drive's MSRP is $299. Now, mind you, noone's selling it for that much - seeing prices in the neighborhood of $250 is more common. But Amazon's price - $225 when I got it, $215 now, with no sales tax and no shipping fee, is UNBEATABLE. Add in the $30 mail-in-rebate, and you're paying $185 in the end for a drive that is objectively worth FOUR times as much as my old Vertex II 60 GB (2x faster, 2x the storage), which I paid $125 for LESS THAN A YEAR AGO!! I guess I could have gone with OCZ again - their Vertex III 120 GB MAX IOPS was only a tad ($15-$25) more expensive. But I decided on the Force GT because I know from experience buying Corsair RAM, PSUs, etc. that Corsair = Quality, and that if they are giving this the GT branding (reserved for their flagship/marquee products), then it was a MUST HAVE. Two days in, looks like I was right.

Of course, it IS only two days, so I have no idea yet how well this drive will stand the test of the time. I will update if anything changes. But what I can say thus far is that this is a COMPETITIVE PRODUCT that, at least out of the box, lives up to the hype and stats advertised by Corsair. My computer hasn't frozen or BSOD'd ONCE in two days and multiple power cycles (Total of maybe 24 hours of uptime, SSDs are so fast I just shut my computer down whenever I need to take a break for a coupla hours! :p ). Corsair comes through AGAIN!!

_______________________________
UPDATE (1/8/2012)

This drive has now been running ROCK SOLID for four months. I have kept my computer on for days at a time and this drive hasn't missed a beat. I'm impressed. For a while, it seemed like perhaps the drive was disappearing in BIOS at startup and BSODing. However, I realized that this problem didn't occur if I unplugged a different 3.5" SATA drive from the external SATA hot-swap bay that I keep it in. I just have to unplug that drive before I reboot, and keep it unplugged until I hit Windows. Go figure. A minor problem, but one that stumped me throughout a few weeks of frustrating BSODs. I doubt that this was really the Force GT's fault in the first place and even if it was, its not worth subtracting a star from my review. Boot up and response times have slowed just a touch since buying the drive, but its hardly even recognizable unless you're looking for it. I stand by my review from before - this is a great drive. In the four months I've had the drive, the price has dropped substantially and Amazon is currently selling the drive for #179.99 (I bought it for $214.99). At this price it is a flat out bargain and there is no reason not to buy. The Force GT (120 GB version) stacks up extremely well price-wise against other SSDs, but don't let the price fool you --- THIS IS A TOP-NOTCH SSD. Not to mention, SSDs are looking more and more attractive price-wise when stacked up against traditional mechanical hard drives during the post-tsunami mechanical hard drive shortage months. Mechanical hard drives have increased in price by 33-67%, and while they are still cheaper per GB than SSDs, the gap is narrowing as the price of quality SSDs fall and the price of mechanical hard drives [most of which are made in coastal areas of Japan] balloon. Right now, any smart consumer trying to invest $1000+ in a new quality mid to high end build would be best served by investing $180 of that money in a Force GT 120 GB. The gains in performance from an SSD boot/apps drive far outweigh the price differential between SSDs (per GB) and Mechanical HDs (per GB).

_______________________________
UPDATE (1/13/2012)

Forgot to mention one thing. I bought this harddrive on the 27th of August or something like that - only a few weeks tops after its release. I've been running the firmware that came with the drive (I have NOT update firmware) since then, with NO PROBLEMS, and the above stated speeds (559 MB/s and 516 MB/s). I know some people had trouble with the first few iterations of the firmware, but I can gladly say I was not one of them. I have the drive installed on one of the INTEL SATA III ports on my P8P67 Mobo (Sandy Bridge/Socket 1155 Motherboard)... The current price of $190 is pretty good IMO, however just a couple of weeks ago, it was $180 AND it had a $30 mail-in-rebate offer going (which, sadly, is no longer available). Amazon's prices regularly fluctuate, and its possible that Corsair will offer another mail-in rebate in the near future. I'm gonna give it a couple of weeks, and if the price drops again I'm gonna snap up another 120GB Force GT III so I can RAID these puppies!!! Can you say 1 GB/s in RAID 0???
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 3, 2012 6:20 PM PDT


NZXT 200MM Silent 700 rpm LED Fan - FS-200RB-RLED (Red)
NZXT 200MM Silent 700 rpm LED Fan - FS-200RB-RLED (Red)
Offered by OutletPC

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Fan, Fan LED Splitter does NOT WORK with Phantom switch, June 15, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Pros: Large Fan, runs quiet at decent RPMs(for a 200mm fan). 20 dBA is well under what my loudest fans are (the 120mm are closer to 30 dBA), so I know its not the bottleneck of my case fans when it comes to sound, at least. LED lights are in what appears to be fully working order.

Cons: The LED light splitter (the little splitter that comes with the fan, and allows you to hook up two LED ropes/devices to ONE external LED light switch, such as the one on the back of the NZXT Phantom) does NOT work. I plugged the splitter into the port where the 200mm fan that came with my Phantom (also Red LED) was plugged, then plugged that fan and this one into the splitter, sealed the computer up, and booted on. Tried to toggle the lights on and off with the Phantom case switch but they just remained on all the time! Unplugged one of the fans from the splitter (but kept the splitter connected), and, voila, the remaining fan's LED light worked with the switch.

Ultimately, I just plugged in the small switch adapter included with the fan (presumably, for the owners of cases without built-in light controllers...) and let that sit inside my case. It turns the new fan's LED light on and off. I still use the Phantom's switch with the old fan's LED light though... It's just kind of annoying that I'm going to have to open up my case to turn the new fan's LED light on and off though. Maybe I'll just try attaching the splitter to my LED rope controller card (it's controlled via a PCI Card w/ external switch and intensity meter). Or maybe I'll just attach the splitter to the included switch and try to gerry-rig it to work with the Phantom's LED switch. Hell, for all I know, this might be what NZXT intended me to do in the first place. I do find it strange though that my Red/White Phantom Case (which is a newer model, as the original models were, to the best of my knowledge, only solid colors) doesn't have an LED switch that could automatically work with a splitter and two fans... If any of y'all know a fix to this issue, I'm all ears.

Fan Config:

1 NZXT 120 mm fan (performance), exhaust, back fan
2 NZXT 120 mm fan (performance), HDD/side, intake fans
1 NZXT 140 mm fan (performance), front, intake fan
1 NZXT 200 mm Red LED fan (performance), top/back, exhaust fan
1 NZXT 200 mm Red LED fan (quiet), top/front, exhaust fan
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 21, 2011 8:16 PM PDT


NZXT CB-LED20-RD 2-Metres Light Sensitivity Sleeved LED Kit (Red)
NZXT CB-LED20-RD 2-Metres Light Sensitivity Sleeved LED Kit (Red)
Price: $14.49
19 used & new from $11.99

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRIGHT!! Good Product!, June 13, 2011
Got this for my NZXT Phantom case (white with red trim). Figured it would fit in well with the color scheme (and was 100% right, btw). These LED lights are BRIGHT! Even at their lowest setting, they still are plenty bright. The length of the LED cord is PERFECT! I wrapped mine from my PCI card slot around my exhaust fan, down to the bottom of the case, over to the front of the case, into the front grille area, and around my front 140 mm fan. The result? Now the front grille, side grilles, and top of the case all radiate a really cool RED LED light - all while only having to use ONE LED cord. I was almost going to go with the 1 M, and boy am I glad I didn't. Now I have ONE switch that controls light THROUGHOUT the case. The little stick on things were pretty sticky, however I think the fact that I tried to wrap around fans and stay away from sticking LEDs to the TOP of the case really helped keep the LEDs in place despite my frequent tendency to open my system to mod, check stuff, or just say hello to "myyyy preeccciiooouuss."

If I had one complaint, it would be that the lights are a little too LED-lightish. Obviously, of course, they are LED lights. But the fact that they are these little, kinda-tacky looking, Christmas-light-esque things is just a bit too apparant to visitors and friends and such. I wish there was a way to make is seem moreso like a uniform, evenly distributed, sourceless light was emerging from my computer. Then again, this is an LED rope, not a Cold Cathode stick, so that was kinda to be expected :)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 24, 2011 11:03 AM PST


No Title Available

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Proc - But the HSF is HORRIBLE, June 13, 2011
Pros:
- Great Proc. Handles everything I throw at it like a champ. Benchmarks incredibly well at stock, don't see why you'd even need to OC much at all.
- Supposedly OCs like a champ too.
- Cheap. Third the price of the 990x and very comparable to that processor. Blows anything AMD out of the water.

Cons:
- New Socket 1155. Didn't affect me as I wasn't upgrading from first-gen i-series, but could see why this would irk some people who were.
- The stock HSF is TRASH. Almost impossible to seat right with dumb tab system as opposed to screws and coldplate used on aftermarket HSF. Then, when you get it up and running, temps SHOOT UP whenever you tax the proc a bit. I prime95-ed mine at stock (Turbo Boost was on, but set down to only 3.6 GhZ instead of the default 3.8 GhZ) and, literally within 15 seconds, I hit 87 Celsius. Insanity. I saw no temp stabilization in sight so I quickly aborted the burn test. I understand that if you're OCing, you should really do so with an aftermarket HSF, but to run a processor at stock or below-stock speeds and hit 87 after 15 SECONDS?!?! That's ridiculous. The chip would almost be better off if I opened the case and literally blew air out of my mouth onto the processor (exxagerations, of course).

Other Thoughts:
- Intel is basically banking on the idea that non-overclockers will never tax this proc to anywhere near full load @ stock. I basically have to agree with that tenet, as right now, the highest proc % usage I've seen in non-benchmarking regular use is probably 25 if that. But still, I find it a bit dishonest to make a HSF that allows your own proc to hit dangerous speeds at STOCK within SECONDS. I even tried replacing the stock thermal paste with AS5, still no luck. I'll probably deal with it for now, and only hardcore game after obtaining an H70, H80, H100, or other such aftermarket cooler. All in all though, amazing proc, laughably horrible HSF.


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