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MARK M.

MARK M.

Joined on 09/06/01

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 28
Most Favorable Review

Great match to great headphones

Turtle Beach TBS-1121-01F USB Interface Audio Advantage Amigo
Turtle Beach TBS-1121-01F USB Interface Audio Advantage Amigo

Pros: Fine sound quality, but the effects software make it a great product. Excellent alternative to PCMCIA sound cards or for newer notebooks that lack PCMCIA slots (like the new Dell Inspiron 9400 or E1705).

Cons: Even for a small product, it's still too big and may intefere with your power connector if it's too close to your USB ports (although it comes with a USB extender cable). As noted by the other reviewer, it wants to reinstall the drivers if you switch USB ports.

Overall Review: Keep in mind you need to plug headphones or speakers into the device to use it for sound. It will not imporve the quality of your laptop's internal speakers.

Most Critical Review

Good but not great

Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply
Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply

Pros: Very good power supply with plenty of PCI-e connectors. Sturdy build. Nice speed-controlled 120mm exhaust fan. Shock-absorbant HDD trays. Sleek glossy-black paint job makes for a handsome case. Convenient and long front-panel USB, eSATA & audio cables.

Cons: Case is a fingerprint and scratch magnet. Brand-new and already I can't get all the fingerprint marks off. Cramped interior. Optical drive rails not screwless. HDD drive rails not screwless and it comes with only enough screws for one HDD (needs special long screws). 3-pin Power-LED needs to be cut in half for most mobos (not a big deal but messy). Sharp metal clips on the drive rails. Door, while more sturdy than most, will probably come off someday.

Overall Review: A good value for the money. You'll buy this case for the efficient 500W PSU, and not for ease of use. For ease of use, I suggest Gigabyte's Poseidon case.

For Windows 8.1 upgrade - Important

Gateway Desktop PC DX4885-UR21 Intel Core i5 4430 (3.00GHz) 8GB DDR3 1TB HDD Intel HD Graphics Windows 8
Gateway Desktop PC DX4885-UR21 Intel Core i5 4430 (3.00GHz) 8GB DDR3 1TB HDD Intel HD Graphics Windows 8

Pros: This review is for Windows 8.1 upgrading only. System is brand new so I haven't run any tests or have any other thoughts on it as of right now. A more detailed review may follow. I'm giving this Gateway computer only 2 eggs for now based upon my upgrading experience, which was*not* smooth. An inexperienced user would not be able to properly upgrade this system from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 at this time.

Cons: Must install a slew (more than 60) of Windows 8 patches before Windows 8.1 appeared in the Microsoft Store. The Windows 8.1 upgrade process took an extremely long time (maybe over an hour). When all was said and done, Device Manager did not have the correct driver installed for the Bluetooth chipset leaving a "Bluetooth Audio Device" problem device in Device Manager. Gateway does not have up-to-date drivers to fix this issue.

Overall Review: A workaround is available. The bluetooth chipset is covered in the bluetooth driver suite available for the Lenovo G405/G505 computers, so you can download the file directly from Lenovo support. Google: "lenovo G405 downloads" and select the Bluetooth Driver for Windows 8.1 - released October 16, 2013 (unless by the time you read this, there is a newer version)). Run the setup program, which extracts a many files and sub-directories to directory C:\Drivers. You will then want to run (I suggest run as administrator) the setup.exe file in this directory: "C:\Drivers\Bluetooth Driver (Broadcom, Atheros)\Atheros\8.0.1.306\" That will do the trick and you'll have all devices properly working in Device Manager.

10/19/2013

Nice improvement over onboard sound

Creative Sound Blaster 70SB130000000 24-bit 48KHz USB Interface Recon3D THX 3D Surround Sound Processor
Creative Sound Blaster 70SB130000000 24-bit 48KHz USB Interface Recon3D THX 3D Surround Sound Processor

Pros: Night and day difference over supposed "HD-Audio" onboard sound chips such as the Conexant 20672 SmartAudio HD found in many Thinkpads. Crystalizer enhancement effective, but I suggest lowering it from the default 65%. Creative's latest software/drivers did not break the computer. Unit's blue light effect is a nice touch, as is the fact that you can turn on/off effects by pushing buttons on the unit itself. Non-slip rubber pads on the base of the unit lends to the smart design.

Cons: Loud. Have to drop volume levels compared to onboard sound. This may not be a con to some, just be prepared when you first play a tune. It also comes with the typical CreativeLabs bloatware, but you can elect to only install what you really need.

Overall Review: After installing the basic software & driver package (downloaded the latest from website), the additional updater application still wants me to install more products it lists as "critical" - Wavestudio (nice, but not needed) and a *trial* of Creative Media Toolbox which expires unless you purchase it for $39.99. Why Creative list trial software as "critical" is beyond me.

Avoid this, especially if you have Optimus

StarTech.com USB32HDE USB 3.0 to HDMI / DVI External Video Card Multi Monitor Adapter – 1920x1080
StarTech.com USB32HDE USB 3.0 to HDMI / DVI External Video Card Multi Monitor Adapter – 1920x1080

Pros: Uh, none if you have Optimus. I would look for an alternative product even without Optimus.

Cons: Did not work with Optimus period. It also possibly corrupted the OS. Drivers on CD did not work with Windows 7 64-bit. Misleading product description on company's website says, "the adapter functions as an external graphics card" which clearly is NOT the case.

Overall Review: These cards simply do not work if you have a system with Optimus as on-the-fly switching causes the adapter to "lock up" and freeze the monitor to which it is attached. The product description from the manufacturer says it functions as an external graphics card, which is not accurate since all it does is run an external monitor from your existing card. Drivers from the CD did not work; I had to download latest drivers to work but even then, it only worked for seconds before adapter would freeze the screen. StarTech tech support couldn't fix the issue and suggested it was due to Optimus technology. Even worse than not working, once the StarTech adapter's drivers were installed, attempts to upgrade the notebook's videocards resulted in blue screens which persisted until the StarTech drivers were uninstalled. At this point, however, I can't even disable Optimus and boot with solely the NVIDIA chipset without bluescreening, indicating possible OS corruption. If you have a Thinkpad and need multimonitor support, the Lenovo docking station works brilliantly and is a far better option.

How do you spell RMA?

ROCCAT Savu Mid-Size USB Wired Gaming Mouse
ROCCAT Savu Mid-Size USB Wired Gaming Mouse

Pros: Custom lighting effect. If your PC powers the USB port while off, the mouse continues to light up even after the PC is turned off, which is cool.

Cons: You know it's going to be bad when the only "Pros" are the lighting effects. The mouse is uncomfortable, even for small hands. Awkward side button placement makes side buttons difficult to use. Feels cheap, especially due to its light weight. Tendency not track well at slow speeds (tested at 1600dpi). Price.

Overall Review: There's a reason why Newegg just received this item in stock and there's already an open box available. I don't know why there are other online reviews touting the build quality of this mouse; it feels cheap and lightweight. The grippy surface coatings, which aren't on the top of the mouse but only the sides, has the texture of sandpaper not smooth rubber. Worse, my inexpensive laser mouse has better tracking at slow speeds. Perhaps it's my mousing surfaces, but the tracking oftentimes just stops when aiming, requiring me to move it more than necessary and then backtrack, which is obviously really bad in fast-paced FPS. Completely unhappy.