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Craig B.

Craig B.

Joined on 09/12/05

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 5
Most Favorable Review

Great sound and features

ONKYO TX-NR414 5.1-Channel 3-D Ready Network A/V Receiver
ONKYO TX-NR414 5.1-Channel 3-D Ready Network A/V Receiver

Pros: A lot of inputs, USB port, great sound with discrete component final amp stage, networking, smart phone remote control app. Pandora, Vtuner and a ton of other streaming audio services built right in. Nice big binding-post style speaker connections. 2x optical inputs. Fast switching between HDMI input sources, and good picture quality. When you use the smartphone remote app, it displays album info on your phone when streaming. (I've only tried Android, though iPhone is likely the same) Nice big volume control on the front, and source select buttons, though the text on them is a little hard to read. A good-looking design IMHO. It also feels pretty solidly built.

Cons: To use wireless, you must use Onkyo's USB adapter, which takes up the USB port, and frankly, is JUNK. My wireless connection kept dropping and would not resume without power-cycling the receiver. Finally chucked it and am using a Netgear Wi-fi>Ethernet adapter, which works great and was actually cheaper. The onscreen display when using Pandora or similar is flat character-generated text in white on black with no animations, screensaver, or anything even remotely interesting to look at. At least it doesn't have ads. Would be handy to have at least one switched or unswitched AC outlet on the back like my old receiver had. No automatic calibration for your room's dynamics, though there are manual adjustments. Not a big deal. The remote is a little confusing and is not backlit. It fits in your hand good and has good range though.

Overall Review: I paid a lot more for this when I bought it. I wish there had been a "Black November" or whatever deal at the time. Some people say this receiver runs hot--it seems to barely get lukewarm at decent volume levels. You should have some ventilation or air space with any power amp or electronics in general. Some people say this is a good "entry level" receiver. I agree, but I'm a techie and I can't imagine needing more features than this receiver has. Maybe a little better on-screen display and a little better remote.

11/18/2012
Most Critical Review

Unreliable drives

Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD3200BPVT 320GB 5400 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 2.5" Internal Notebook Hard Drive Bare Drive
Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD3200BPVT 320GB 5400 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 2.5" Internal Notebook Hard Drive Bare Drive

Pros: Cheap.

Cons: We have had more drive failures of WD 'blue label' drives than any other model or brand at my work, typically within 1 year. I work in a large IT department, and most of our new Dell laptops came with this model. The worst manufacturing period seems to have been 5/2011 through 7/2011. It got so bad for a while that I could guess what drive and manufacturing period I would find when a drive began to exhibit certain symptoms. Dell apparently realized they were losing money, as they stopped shipping these as warranty replacements. (none of these drives were purchased through Newegg, they were all OEM) Newer blue label drives seem much better, but they still have a higher failure rate than other models I see. I can't speak for the desktop drives, my experiences are with 2.5" WD drives.

Overall Review: It will take a long time before I trust a WD product again, based on my experiences with them. At least the data is usually recoverable when they start acting up.

Once you go SSD, you'll never go back...

SAMSUNG 840 Series 2.5" 120GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-7TD120BW
SAMSUNG 840 Series 2.5" 120GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-7TD120BW

Pros: Bought this to play around with and test. I have an old Dell D630 "beater" laptop that I use for surfing and various testing. I cloned the drive to the SSD and was amazed at the <10 second boot time for Windows XP! Apps also launch much faster, and battery life is much better. The same performance would be realized with any SSD I suppose. The Samsung drive came with some decent software to clone the drive, though I didn't use it. I probably would have had less of a struggle if I had--I ended up replacing the MBR code on the drive after cloning with Acronis. The case feels a little flimsy, but probably just because it's light. It's not like mechanical HDDs are known for being sturdy. Overall it seems solid enough. I was pleased to find the mounting options were the same as a standard 2.5" HD. It does what it claims and the price couldn't be beat.

Cons: Haven't found any yet

Overall Review: The drive arrived fast and was packed well by Newegg. Samsung's packaging includes all that you need except a SATA cable or mounting hardware for using in a desktop. But I have yet to see a hard drive that comes with one, and I wouldn't expect anything extra with a laptop drive. When sliding into my old Dell, I had to let gravity assist me to line up the connector, as the form factor is a bit different than the original drive.

Great with minor caveats

Thermaltake BlacX Duet (ST0014U) ABS Plastic 2.5" & 3.5" Black SATA I/II/III USB 2.0 & eSATA Dual Hard Drives Docking Station
Thermaltake BlacX Duet (ST0014U) ABS Plastic 2.5" & 3.5" Black SATA I/II/III USB 2.0 & eSATA Dual Hard Drives Docking Station

Pros: Works great with any SATA drive I've put in it. Power switch on top is a plus. Desktop or laptop drives will fit in either of the two slots.

Cons: If you use a drive that has any screws installed on the sides, like many computer manufacturers use as 'studs' to hold the drives in place in the computer case, you will have to remove them, as the drive will not fit in the slots. When you insert a second drive while a first drive is already installed, it will interrupt your data transfer or fail whatever operation you have going on, as the second drive is detected.

Overall Review: I have been using this product for over a year in our IT department at work, usually on a daily basis, and it has been solid and reliable.

11/24/2011

Good budget monitor

Hanns·G HZ201DPB Black 20" 5ms WideScreen LCD Monitor w/Speakers 250 cd/m2 X-Contrast 15,000:1 (1,000:1)
Hanns·G HZ201DPB Black 20" 5ms WideScreen LCD Monitor w/Speakers 250 cd/m2 X-Contrast 15,000:1 (1,000:1)

Pros: Sleek appearance, good picture and vibrant colors. Very bright and clear. Has both VGA and DVI connectors.

Cons: Built-in speakers and amp are pretty tinny, but I don't use them. Would be fine for a business application. Contrast ratio could be a little better. I can see the backlight shining through on pure black screens unless I turn the brightness way down. Could use a HDMI connector, but what do you want for under $100?

Overall Review: Not bad at all for under $100. Shipped with no dead pixels and no problems so far after about a month.