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SteelSeries Rival 300 Gaming Mouse - White
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3 out of 5 eggs The Every Man's Mouse 01/25/2016

This review is from: SteelSeries Rival 300 Gaming Mouse - White

Pros: * SteelSeries’s Rival 300 Gaming Mouse is a good-looking, comfortable, functional mouse. If you are on a budget and are looking for a simple gaming mouse that’ll get the job done without much flair, the Rival 300 may be a suitable match for you. *

- Aesthetically, the Rival 300 is deceiving. At first, its appearance reminded me of an old school mouse back to the days of the 90s, due to the white, glossy plastic and beige undertones. The cord looks exactly like the thankfully obsolete PS2 mouse cables (see Cons). However, my distaste for its appearance abated the longer I used it, and after a few people remarked on it. There are two LEDs, one under the mouse scroll wheel and one at the back of it. The thumb rest and right side are made up of a fittingly comfortable soft rubber material.

- The Rival 300 is a hefty mouse. There isn’t a weight modifying feature, so it’d be agreeable to people who like heavier, bulky mice. I happen to like its solidity and weight, although it’s a little long (see Cons).

- It’s rare, but it seems like SteelSeries found a decent balance between a mouse for a claw grip and a palm grip. I personally have a palm grip, so mice designed for claw gamers just don’t feel right, but in the Rival 300’s case, it strikes a middle ground between the two grips. I still have some gripes about it, however (see Cons).

- The scroll wheel is responsive and feels just right on the finger. Sadly, it can’t switch between a leveled haptic or smooth scroll, but I like the feel of it, and its satisfying middle click. The same applies to the additional button below the scroll wheel.

- The two additional side buttons are gratifyingly clicky and mechanical. They are responsive and are honestly one of the best, if not the best, mouse buttons I’ve ever used. The side buttons are also well spaced and easily distinguishable. I just wish there were more of them.

- The bottom is designed well—offering little resistance. The mouse moves smoothly and quickly as expected.

- The software (SteelSeries Engine 3) is more than customizable. It allows you to change the LEDs on the mouse to a 256 RGB color range, also with different color effects like breathing and gradient color shift. The LEDs are striking and appealing. It will allow up to a whopping 6500 CPI/DPI mouse setting, making the cursor fly across multiple monitors. While there are essentially just three additional buttons, all of the six buttons are reprogrammable with a bunch of different categories. Every macro is programmable to the furthest extent; including Quick Record Macros, toggle/repetition, and a Macro Editor. You can also set different profiles for separate uses, which can change according to programs you launch. The software is practically everything you’d expect from a customizable peripheral program, but not too overboard and obfuscating like Corsair’s Utility Engine.

Cons: - After having used many premium gaming mice from Logitech (my personal choice) to Razer to Corsair, the plastic surface material just no longer feels comfortable on mice–like the Rival 300. It’s resistant against your skin, and after a while, the heat from your hand sticks to it. Also, if you engage in long gaming sessions or are prone to sweating, the surface just doesn’t feel comfortable; the moisture builds up and stickiness is annoying.

- Though the heft and build quality are fitting, the mouse is too long for me despite my rather long fingers. Subsequently, I imagine a good amount of people with short fingers may dislike its length. With my personal G602, I love its shorter left index finger button, which allows quick repetitive mouse clicks. The same isn’t true for the Rival 300—at least for me. There’s about an inch of wasted space, slowing click speeds with a palm grip. My other fingers also fall short in every area of the mouse. If you have a big hand, this may be a good solution. However, I like my palm grip to encompass the entire mouse, and with the Rival 300, my hand barely covers half of it.

- I already have mentioned the cable looking like it belongs to a 1990s mouse, but it also sticks to surfaces and gets tangled easily. Spending a few days with this mouse makes me yearn for my wireless G602 or the sleek, slippery braided cable of the Corsair Raptor. A braided cable isn’t much to ask for, and I think SteelSeries could have pulled it off without exceeding the bang-for-your-buck price range.

- For an entire day, out of nowhere, the left button would only work if I mashed it down forcefully. This defect happened after about three days of using it, and I thought the issue was permanent. Thankfully, after a day or so, it returned to normal. This malfunction did make me question the Rival 300’s durability and whether the problem will eventually reemerge.

- The Rival 300 only has three additional buttons to the traditional mouse. I personally prefer more than that, and at least four on the side. Although, you may prefer only the side two. To each their own, but I think in most cases the more the better, sans the Naga.

Other Thoughts: - Nothing about the Rival 300 blew me away. The mouse feels to me like a stripped down gaming mouse, with minimalistic layout and lacking a few bonus features from higher end mice—possibly even some mice in similar price ranges like the Corsair Raptor series. Overall, it will do its job, but I think there are plenty of options on the market that may be a wiser choice.

* The Rival 300 is a simple mouse for gamers. It lacks a good amount of bells and whistles compared to competing gaming mice, and I could recommend plenty of other mice if you’re a serious gamer with a healthy budget; however, the Rival 300 is well-priced and gets the job done in a barebones sort of way. *

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TP-LINK - Google OnHub Dual-Band Wireless AC1900 Gigabit Router -Blue
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3 out of 5 eggs Pretty Head, Tiny Brain 01/03/2016

This review is from: TP-LINK - Google OnHub Dual-Band Wireless AC1900 Gigabit Router -Blue

Pros: - Aesthetically, the OnHub is unique; I happen to like its transmogrification on the traditional router, but others may disagree. There’s an argument to be had that it more seamlessly fits into your family room, as it looks like a speaker… or a techy trash can. The outside shield has a magnificent matte finish that doesn’t show fingerprints. When powered on, it has a beautiful LED rim at the top which–depending on color–will act as a simplistic status indicator.

- The packaging that the OnHub comes in is phenomenal. It’s packaged like a Tiffany’s jewelry box. Included are the best Ethernet cables I’ve laid my hands on; flat, extremely flexible, long (~46”) and black. To that extent, there’s even a rubber tie-wrap on the power adapter for cable management (see Cons).

- The OnHub has no visible antennae but sport 13 of them hidden inside of it. In terms of aesthetics, this helps greatly and seems to be better than most external antennae routers. Its hardware includes support for AC enabled devices and will support 802.15.5 and ZigBee. Due to the App usage, it can be expected that future firmware updates will further improve the OnHub, but that’s just conjecture, even though Google is known to deliver in this department.

- The OnHub has probably the best reach of any router I’ve used, and trust me, that’s a lot of routers. In a known dead-zone in my house, where merely a weak Wi-Fi signal creeps in, the OnHub manages to achieve great speeds with reliable streaming integrity and signal. Its reach is far too; as I have a very long one-story ranch house, and the OnHub hits every area while centered in the middle of the home. When on the AC band, it scores exceptionally in speed tests, as well. I won’t provide benchmarks since they’re mostly relative with networking devices, but I have yet to encounter a single signal drop.

- Though I encountered one issue with setup and many with limitations (see Cons), the companion Google On App is easier to navigate than the traditional Network Browser. It also was quick to setup. It warned me that there was another router present in my network, eloquently explained every setting, and drew up a web-like diagram to illustrate the network and connected devices (which you can’t rename). There’s a built-in Network Check that will report your upload and download speeds, as well as the connection’s efficiency. It presents the number of devices connected to your network and the bandwidth usage of these devices in real-time. You can also check how much data was used over an hour, 7 days, or as much as 30 days. There is even a setting for the LED strip’s brightness level, and to switch from a NAT to a Bridge mode. The advanced tweaking includes DNS, WAN, Port Forwarding and Static IP settings, but lacks the broad scope of some browser network configurations (see Cons).

Cons: - Though I love the included cables, the power brick is huge and built into the outlet plug like an oversized wall wart. This inevitably causes outlet positioning and space issues on power strips (it’s horizontally built so on wall outlets, it shouldn’t block the adjacent outlet). I’d much rather have a laptop type power brick than one big wall wart. The OnHub also lacks an included manual for setup, just a post-it note card. It doesn’t even tell you the name of the app needed for download.

- The OnHub indeed has two simultaneous Wi-Fi bands, the 2.4GHz and 5GHz; however, you don’t have the choice of picking which band you’d like to connect to or naming separate SSIDs for them. After testing one device that only supports 2.4GHz and one that supports AC/5GHz, it appears the OnHub will automatically select the band best for you at the given time. I personally like the option of choosing which band to connect to, as it does matter. This is another example of the OnHub’s streamlined design that ends up being a detriment to users, rather than a benefit.

- Setup is interesting, and in typical Google fashion, unlike any router setup I’ve done before. At first, you try and use the companion App (Google On) by placing your phone over the OnHub. Then you’ll hear a series of audio beeps, claiming they are trying to receive a secret audio code. After multiple failed attempts, I threw in the towel and set it up manually using the password on the bottom of the device. The manual entry was an instant fix.

- The companion App is sleek; the GUI is intuitive, it’s very streamlined, and it gives you some quick, handy tweaking options. Nonetheless, the app is the OnHub’s Achilles heel. It’s constrictive, restricting advanced networking options and not even offering a way to configure a USB connected device. I assume the USB port is there simply for connecting a printer, because my external HDDs weren’t even recognized. Also, you’re forced to use the app for all administration purposes and to do so with a Google account. Using a Google account to me isn’t a cardinal sin, it’s just annoying and I would understand users taking issue; especially Apple device owners.

- I do like the OnHub’s minimalistic design and I understand to that extent why they implemented only one LAN port, but there’s only one LAN port... You’ll definitely need a bridge/switch/AP if you’d like to expand your home’s connectivity. Also, there’s only one USB 3.0, while most routers in a similar price range, offer two, but in this case makes sense due to the limited capability.

- The LED rim at the top are the sole status indicators. Since there’s only one LED, there aren’t many troubleshooting or status checking options available at a glance. For example, you can’t quickly see if the USB device connected to it is working or what exactly is wrong with your network at first glance.

Other Thoughts: - I didn’t want to force it too much and break it, so it honestly took me 30 minutes to figure out how to open the outer shield. You have to have both hands on top and bottom of the device, twist left with some force, then lift up. I don’t know if just mine was stubborn or if they all are. I know it’s silly, but I still thought it worthy of mentioning–if not just to prove I’m an idiot and that the lack of manuals can cause easy issues to be easily resolved.

- Google/TP-Link never specifies the app you need to download (again, lack of manual) but it’s called “Google On.” During setup, the router actually produces noises, as the top is, interestingly enough, a speaker.

* The OnHub will be a great router for a consumer that desires a simple home network; one who primarily uses mobile devices, who doesn’t need to toy with advanced network settings, one who doesn’t use a USB connected NAS or a quick removable storage device, and one who doesn’t have a user for more than one LAN hardwired port. Though this router doesn’t fit my networking needs, I will be using it as a simple Wi-Fi bridge in order to replace two Powerline Wi-Fi adapters, as its signal strength is much better. However, I would never be able to supplement my main router with this. It would decimate the way my network functions, handicapping me in more ways than are worth mentioning. I think this may be a good router for a user that desires simplicity; Nevertheless nowadays, there are a slew of simple, cheap devices to quickly get online. For these reasons, I believe the OnHub falls short in finding that right balance between functionality, price and simplicity. *

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Acer Laptop Aspire E5-573G-56RG Intel Core i5 5200U (2.20 GHz) 8 GB Memory 1 TB HDD NVIDIA GeForce 940M 4 GB 15.6
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  • neweggOwned For: 1 week to 1 month

Pros: * I bought the Acer E5 for a client--who had a very limited budget--to play light video games on, primarily Indie Steam games and Minecraft. To this end, the Acer E5 excels. *

- The price for this PC ($509) cannot be beaten if you're looking for a light gaming laptop. There's a lack of selection available for laptops that have a discrete GPU and are budget-friendly. For example, jumping just to a 950M is an average increase of $400; hence, why I always recommend a Desktop for gaming, as price differential is astronomical, but some people need the mobility and that's understandable (I once owned an Alienware, but that's a purchase I still regret). However, the Acer E5 strikes a great balance for light gamers with light wallets. Its 940M provides enough horsepower for indie Steam games, Minecraft and most MOBAs to run smoothly, and on a striking 1080p screen. The fact that you can now purchase a laptop featuring a 1080 screen for this price is very satisfying. Movies look great also.

- Speaking of the screen, it is pretty nice. It isn't an IPS or anything, but it's fine for straight on viewing, and its color production is more than adequate. The bezels aren't small, but overall, the E5's aesthetics are pleasing. Its top has a brushed aluminum look, while the inside panels are a smoky gray color with a beaded feel. Combined together, it doesn't clash but instead looks rather sleek.

- There are no cardinal sins when it comes to the keyboard layout, yet I've never been a fan of the combined up and down arrow. It also features a numpad and the keys react responsively.

- It has a well-rounded Intel i5 processor, which should be more than enough for the gaming you can expect at a 940M. Apps run quickly and boot is about as fast as it can be without an SSD.

- Acer (or more like to Nvidia's and Intel's credit) has incorporated a smooth transition between the Integrated Intel HD 5500 and Discrete Nvidia 940M GPU. I didn't need to tweak any settings for the GPU to kick in when running games or to back off when browsing. Speaking of which, the GPU ran nice and cool under stress, maxing out at a luke-warm 69 degrees in Unigine. I'll provide a snippet of benchmark results in Other Thoughts.

Cons: - The viewing angles aren't too impressive. When moving a few degrees, color is nearly completely washed out. However, this is to be expected when purchasing any laptop in this budget range.

- I do not like the power button being a key on the keyboard. It just feels like too much can go wrong positioned there.

- This is a personal preference (even on my own Aspire S7), I do not like the flush, flat touchpad. I prefer dedicated left and right buttons, especially for a laptop like this that can arguably be meant for light gaming. Obviously, I recommend a gaming mouse though. Still...

- There is a good amount of bloatware on here. Just take the time to uninstall the programs. Yeah, it's a pain, but nearly every manufacturer nowadays includes copious amounts of bloatware apps; it's a way for them to make more money, I suppose.

- I don't know why Acer has been doing this lately, but the space for a DVD drive is present, but non-functional. I really don't understand it. If anything, use that space to put more IO, or to make the chassis a little thinner. It's confusing.

- This may be an isolated event, but the right side USB port is extremely tight. When putting a USB connector in, you really have to wiggle it in. For some reason it's really tight and difficult, but the others are fine.

Other Thoughts: - Do not expect the E5 to run Major titles, besides maybe some less-demanding games at Very Low settings.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven: Medium Quality _ Everything else disabled. FPS: 16.9 - Score 425 - Min/Max FPS: 7.7 / 32.7
Low Quality _ Everything else disabled. FPS: 35 - Score: 580 - Min/Max FPS: 9.5 / 50.5

* Overall, this PC is a great bang for your buck. You get a dedicated GPU, a well-rounded processor, plenty of storage, right amount of RAM, and a 1080p screen for about $500. *

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Benjamin B.'s Profile

Display Name: Benjamin B.

Date Joined: 11/10/11

Achievements:

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  • Reviews: 125
  • Helpfulness: 48
  • First Review: 11/21/11
  • Last Review: 01/25/16
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