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TP-LINK TL-WPA4220KIT Advanced 300Mbps Universal Wi-Fi Range Extender, Repeater, AV500 Powerline Edition, Wi-Fi Clone Button, 2 LAN Ports
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

Pros: (NOTE: My home is about 11 years old, so the electrical wiring is by all accounts good and fresh.)

- Easy setup for most situations
- Adds two 100Mbit ethernet connections where ever you plug in the range extender
- Allows for an entirely new SSID if you are so inclined to keep your existing WiFi separate
- Noticed very little throughput degradation when using the powerline functionality.
- Decent free utilities on the included mini-CD.
- Solid ethernet connection going from 2nd floor office, into the garage, and then ending on the other end of a 100ft extension cable.

- Overall: A well priced product that offers solid performance when used within expectations / known limitations. (Keep reading...)

Cons: - Default IP may interfere with existing router
- The naming conventions and explanations of functions can get somewhat confusing since they are effectively packaging two separate products in this kit.
- I think it's a bit misleading for TP-LINK to state "500Mbps high speed data transmission over a home's existing electrical wiring". Think about that for a minute... They only put 100Mbit ethernet connections on the range extender. And your WiFi signal is 300Mbit. So all that probably does -in theory- is give you more overhead. However, -in practice-, I don't really think it offers much.

- Overall: Documentation could be better and there's a little too much in the "gotcha" department for most people that will buy this without really digging deep into these reviews, the forums, and understanding the setup of their current infrastructure.

Other Thoughts: I'm using a TP-LINK TL-WR1043ND router as the source, so that made it a bit tricky to test the wireless extender. "Why?" Because I already get superb WiFi coverage with it in and around my house. I really have no dead spots. It's in a 2nd floor office and I still get a 270Mbps connection downstairs in my finished basement. Even outside I still get good connection, so testing the range extender wasn't something I can fully critique. And generally speaking, I was really more interested in the ethernet Powerline function from the get-go.

I was tempted to list this as a "CON", but I can't really fault the technology and TP-LINK makes specific note about it... If you plug the sender or receiver into a power strip, surge protector, or battery backup, it's going to be hit or miss if it's going to carry a signal. Most likely, a miss.
This is unfortunate because most people will already be using a powerstrip or battery backup ("UPS") near their networking base. So you are almost forced into repurposing a single wall outlet just for the sending unit and the receiver. I'm not an electrical engineer, but it made sense after thinking about it: This technology really just wants straight copper connections with nothing in between to mess with the signal- much like ethernet cables! As soon as you introduce anything that does surge suppression, line conditioning, etc, you are introducing A LOT more electrical gates for the signal to pass through. That takes a toll on a very specific signal that needs to be transmitted intact.

When testing various powerstrips and UPS'...IF I could establish a connection...it was so broken up that it effectively rendered it useless.

The easiest way to know if you're going to be alright is to take a laptop, disable wifi, and use the ethernet connection to send continuous pings to your router. From a cmd prompt: ping -t your_router_ip. If you are getting solid responses <10ms, you should be OK. If you're seeing scattered replies >100ms, forget it- You've got something in between the sender & receiver. Leaving the ping running, simply walk around to different outlets and plug it the receiver. It will either re-establish a connection or it won't.

So what's the overall impression here? I'd be more impressed if the powerline adapter had 1Gbit ethernet, at least then you could potentially take advantage of that claimed 500Mbit speed. But as it stands, most WiFi is going to be faster than that, so what's really the point of the ethernet, especially two of them? Maybe just for a SmartTV or something?...But even most of those come with WiFi adapters now. I was looking forward to 500Mbit ethernet speeds between my MediaServer in the basement and my PC's around the house. As it stands now, I'm still settling(?) for 270Mbit WiFi speeds.

Verdict: A solid 4-eggs for a product that pretty much does what it's supposed to without too too much hassle.

READ FULL REVIEW
SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Model SDCZ88-128G-G46
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

4 out of 5 eggs Not bad for a 128GB in the 'stick' form factor 02/27/2014

This review is from: SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Model SDCZ88-128G-G46

Pros: - Decent USB3 speeds. Best I was able to achieve was 196MB/s Read and 189MB/s Write. This is a pinch more than 3x the max speed of USB2 (60MB/s).
- Nice aluminum shell
- Has a lanyard hoop
- Easily retractable
- Unobtrusive blue activity light
- Comes with SanDisk's "SecureAccess" software which uses 128-bit AES password encryption on the contents. (This is a "lite" version of their full software package "EncrypStick")
- You don't have to encrypt all the data. You can pick & choose what to put in the encrypted "vault" folder. So you can have both encrypted and open data on the stick at the same time.
- Lifetime warranty

Cons: - No physical dust cap. Contacts are always open to the elements.
- In testing on (4) different systems, each having a different USB3 chipset, I was never able to attain SanDisk's claimed speeds of 260MB/s (Read) and 240MB/s (Write).
- Not necessarily your best bang for the buck.

Other Thoughts: - Speeds will vary based on the USB3 chipset it's attached to, although this is relatively 'par' for most USB3 devices; They all seem to have different preferences for chipsets.
- Testing compressible data via the ATTO Benchmark utility, my best case scenario was 196/189 with the ASMedia chipset. Worst case was 142/128 with the FrescoLogic FL1000 series.
- Testing incompressible data via the AS-SSD utility resulted in a best case of 187/184. Worst case showed 133/119.
- Dimensions: 7/8" x 2_13/16"
- The SecureAccess software is usable/functional. The first time you run it, you'll be prompted to create a password as simple or complex as you like. You'll also be given the opportunity to set a hint phrase.
The software allows you to set the max number of attempts before forcing a timeout, and how long that timeout lasts. It also allows you to set the password expiration date.
One thing to note is that without the SecureAccess executable (7MB) available, the encrypted file is worthless. So you either need to leave it on the stick or plan on downloading the software on the host PC.

For me, this unit ranks a 4 out of 5 eggs because it's a tad bit pricey and didn't attain SanDisk's quoted specs, although it was still well within the USB3 territory. Looking at the list of "CONS", it's pretty short.
The included/available encryption software is a nice addition and it works, but I think that anyone concerned about data security will already have a solution they plan to implement. But if not, it's there for you and it's pretty easy to use.
Here's my biggest issue with these high capacity USB3 sticks... The only reason I see for requiring the stick format is for ultimate portability: tiny, no cables, toss it in any pocket, and go. Otherwise, could get a SanDisk SSD such as the X210 ($110), Ultra Plus ($95), X110 ($100), or the Extreme II ($110) and a nice pocketable, self-powered USB3 2.5" external case (~$25). And you'll still have some cash left over! Not to mention you'll have a better chance of hitting higher speeds across the board.

(All test systems have an SSD as the OS/Boot drive)
Test System 1:
- Intel Core i7 3930K.
- USB3 Chipset: ASMedia XHCI.
-- Driver v1.14.3.0

Test System 2:
- AMD Phenom II X4 975.
- USB3 Chipset: NEC/Renesas.
-- Driver v2.0.30.0

Test System 3:
- Intel Core2Quad Q6600.
- USB3 Chipset: FrescoLogic xHCI FL1000 Series.
-- Driver v3.5.93.0

Test System 4:
- AMD A8-4500M
- USB Chipset: AMD Reference.
-- Driver Catalyst 13.x

READ FULL REVIEW
Corsair Raptor HS30 Dual 3.5mm Connector Circumaural Gaming Headset
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

5 out of 5 eggs Fantasic sound for $50! 12/19/2013

This review is from: Corsair Raptor HS30 Dual 3.5mm Connector Circumaural Gaming Headset

Pros: + Solid bass response all the way down to 20Hz
+ The highs aren't so bright that they hurt your ears
+ Good physical adjustment range for the cans
+ Good response up to 15KHz
+ No problems with Skype, Microsoft Lync, & other similar apps
+ Simple, secondary volume dial and on/off switch for the mic
+ Makes me think my Sony MDR-7506's drivers are shot
+ Fancy packaging

(Note: "Cans" = Headphones. "Drivers" = Speakers)
I performed most of my analysis using my computer with a Pioneer BDR-206 as the disc player and an Asus Xonar Essence STX sound card (which is one of the best/cleanest prosumer audio cards you can buy.)
For testing and evaluation, I used the following CD's:
The Ultimate Test CD (The orange/green one by Woodford Music)
Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon (Gold coated disc)
The Cleveland Orchestra - Gustav Holst's "The Planets"
Techmaster P.E.B. - Bass Computer
Miles Davis - The Complete "B*tches Brew" Sessions
Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy (for non-music/spoken word testing)
Christian McBride - Live @ Tonic

As others have noted, the bass may be a wee bit overstated, but the drivers certainly get there. Testing with a sinus tone of 20Hz really made the drivers dance and it wasn't sloppy or overly mushy. Impressive!
Keep in mind, we're reviewing these as $50 headphones, not >$100 headphones.
I used the Techmaster CD to check how the drivers handled both extreme low & high frequencies at the same time. Again, I came away impressed!

Another test I use is "The Planets". This will really give a sense of the drivers sensitivity. There are areas where the music hits a crescendo and then tapers off to almost nothing. That 'almost nothing' is sometimes the subtle nuances that make a live recording what it is, especially in orchestral music.
Speaking of sensitivity, this is what sealed the deal for me... I've been using my Pink Floyd "Dark Side Of The Moon" CD for testing for a long time now. I heard something that I've never picked up before! At the absolute very end of "Eclipse", the last 3 seconds where most people only hear silence, there is what sounds like a game-show theme song playing. At first I thought I was hearing audio bleeding in from outside so I pulled the cans off and looked around for the audio source. Nothing. I played the end of the track again. WTH?!?! Then I thought it was just digital artifacts that you'll occasionally hear in music when it goes through a conversion, such as MP3 encoding. Nope! This was actually some type of music in the background! "WOW! After all these years!!!" I even played it back through my home audio system (Higher-end Sony receiver, Klipsch towers). Even with my ear up to the tweeter & midrange, it was barely audible. Color me sufficiently impressed with Corsair's driver selection!

Cons: - A little bit more adjustment on the mic placement would be nice
- Mild resonant noise transfer from the wire to the can
- Not really effective for mobile headphone-only usage
- They don't collapse for travel
- Since the microphone is integrated, Corsair could spend a couple more pennies and make these USB-based.
- Makes me think my Sony MDR-7506's drivers are shot
- Fancy packaging

Keeping in mind that these are completely passive headphones, there's not too much to complain about. Yeah, they might be a little soft in the middle of the frequency spectrum, but I don't think that's going to bother gamers too much. Vocals still come through clean and vivid enough. There's a slight dip in response around 10KHz, recovers at 11KHz, then tapers off until there's nothing left after 16KHz. Again, nothing major there.
As for the build quality, I did not get the same impression as others have noted. I didn't find the microphone to be fragile. It bends in the middle so you can bring it closer to your mouth. Nothing major there. If I was to complain, it's that it doesn't necessarily want to stay put; It kinda wants to straighten itself out again.
I do think the inner-diameter of the cushion may be a bit smaller for some people with larger ears. However, it's an oval opening and the cups do rotate a little bit for better fit. You just have to 'adjust for feel' once they're on your head.
I certainly didn't find them loose around my ears, although as others have noted, I never did get fully comfortable on the top of my head. BUT, I also don't have months of wear on them to where they would/should eventually settle to the shape of your head. My Sony's are like I'm wearing nothing at all. But they've also got hundreds of hours on my head and fit like a well-worn leather glove.
With volume at approx 75%, I couldn't hear myself snapping my fingers, but I could hear myself clapping. That's acceptable for $50.
A notable annoyance is the wire(s) leading into the can. ON more expensive units, this is typically a more pliable material or it's isolated better. With the HS30's, when any part of the cable between the can and the volume-block is touched or brushes against something, you hear that resonate into the can. Very similar to what you get on almost all inexpensive earbud headphones.
Lastly, they aren't meant for travel/mobile use because of the mic wire and the fact that they don't collapse in on themselves like higher end units (see the Sony MDR-7506 for reference), so packing them in a bag for travel is essentially out of the question. That's also another reason for making them USB and not 1/8" plugs...they aren't going anyplace, so just leave 'em plugged in with a single cord.

Other Thoughts: This is one of those times where I seem to be at odds with the other Eggxpert Reviewers here. I'm normally a tough critic, but these have wowed me enough that they are gonna get 5-stars. However, that's coming from the standpoint of a semi-audiophile and not a marathon gamer. The fact that I thought so highly of my reference Sony MDR-7506 headphones was a wake-up call. I don't believe they were always this bad...I have to believe that the drivers are shot after years of use and the HS30 headphones simply pointed that out to me, loud and clear! (Pun absolutely intended!)

It's rather cold here, and I wasn't doing anything with them in which I'd break a sweat, so I don't know how well these cans breathe. I'm guessing probably not too well, but unless you're REALLY into your game or you're in a hot room (bad for your computer!), then I don't think sweating is gonna be too much of a concern.

As other reviewers have noted... what's up with the packaging??? Yeah, it looks fancy, but geeze...unpacking 'em without worry about breaking them was not an option. It's quite the puzzle for the first timer. Unless you just tear into boxes with no care about saving it, then you're fine.

For $50 headphones that will stay on your desk, these are great, if not a tad bulky/space-consuming.
I believe that after a while, the headband will finally settle in. (Just surprising that it's not more comfortable because it seems so supple right of the bat.)
In testing with Skype and other voice-based communications, the placement of the mic did not have that great an impact, so that lack of adjustment towards the front of your mouth isn't a serious concern. Almost every soundcard, no matter how cheap, has the ability to turn up the gain on the mic.

I think these will really be liked by gamers who require attention to sound. FPShooters certainly need it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it with my driving sims. Oh, and at max volume, I didn't notice any significant distortion. Although this is probably due to my soundcard as well as the drivers. If you have some dumpy onboard audio, your distortion measurements will likely vary.

"So what do we have?" $50 for comfy headphones that help keep out the noise AND sound as incredibly good as they do in this price range??? Yeah, I'm in for pair! 5 Eggs!!!

READ FULL REVIEW

Andre J.'s Profile

Display Name: Andre J.

Date Joined: 08/10/04

  • Reviews: 49
  • Helpfulness: 29
  • First Review: 07/13/07
  • Last Review: 04/18/14
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