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Karl U.

Karl U.

Joined on 12/13/07

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 7
Most Favorable Review

Great Value

ASUS Xonar DG 5.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz PCI Interface Sound Card
ASUS Xonar DG 5.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz PCI Interface Sound Card

Pros: If you care at all about audio, but you're on a budget, this card is a no-brainer. For an entry level price, it will be a major upgrade to integrated MOBO sound. If you look at the real-estate on this board, and then imagine any MOBO manufacturer devoting that much space to audio support, you can see the problem. This card solves that problem. The headphone amplifier provides the drive necessary to power less sensitive audiophile headphones, such as my AKG K-501s.

Cons: None, really. You do need to install the drivers that come on the CD (or download the latest ones from Asus), because Windows isn't aware of this card. (At least not Windows XP. Newer Windows versions might have built-in support, but I haven't tried it).

Overall Review: I am an audiophile (not an audiophool). I prefer verifiable, reproducible, science-based results. Sound quality matters to me, and I am a veteran audio engineer, experienced listener and music lover. I haven't used every feature on this card. I use two channel stereo headphones, or feed two channel audio to my Hi-Fi. The stereo sound is superb, but I haven't tried the surround modes, so I can't vouch for that. I am not too enamored of the Dolby headphone ambience effects. It isn't really hi-fi; it's gimmicky. I was hoping for an "out of head" headphone experience, but it doesn't provide that illusion. 3D headphone simulation should be very subtle, but this Dolby Headphone effect is like a ton of bricks. I also do not use the spatial "effects", or even the equalizer. I leave it in HF (Hi-Fi) mode the vast majority of the time. I use the card to transcribe my huge vinyl collection to digital using the Audacity audio editing tool. Editing with 24-bit audio is really handy, because I don't have to be really fussy about headroom. It's just set and forget. I use Audacity's normalization tool to fix up the levels after the fact. The card's measured noise levels on the line input are pretty good, weighing in at just under 96dB unweighted (which is typical for sixteen bit), measured with Audacity's level meters. The spec claims 103dB, A-weighted, so my measurements are consistent. A-weighting yields better specs. The noise floor is pure analog white noise. There's no whistles, hum or digital whine or buzzing. The quality of your MOBO ground and power layout can affect this too. This is great performance for an entry level price tag.

12/23/2012

Cheap, Cheap, Cheap

LG WiFi Built-in Blu-ray Player BP300
LG WiFi Built-in Blu-ray Player BP300

Pros: Inexpensive, compact BD player. We stream Netflix and play DVD and BD. It all works fine. It isn't a high-end box, but the image quality is great. Black levels are very good. Sound quality is great. There are two connectors on the back: Power and HDMI. The only way to connect a network is wirelessly. Fortunately, wireless reception is good where we have this thing set up, so no problems there. Have not tried all the features (USB, other online services). The setup menu is fairly limited, but adequate to get picture and sound to HDMI TV.

Cons: None

Overall Review: This replaced a Panasonic BD player that kept blanking out. HDMI seemed to be intermittent. So far, this device from the Korean Consumer electronics giant, LG (Lucky-Goldstar) just works.

Reliable, Cool-running

Seagate Desktop HDD ST1000DM003 1TB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive
Seagate Desktop HDD ST1000DM003 1TB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive

Pros: I purchased three of these, and they're all going strong. One of them runs in a server, 24x7. They're backed up regularly, but they've been reliable. None DOA, no clicks of death, errors or other annoyances.

Cons: Has moving parts. This may be my last rotating drive, if SSD prices keep coming down.

Overall Review: The vertical recording technology provides a means to cram one terabyte per platter. Very nice.

Great Design

Kingston 8GB DataTraveler SE9 USB 2.0 Flash Drive (DTSE9H/8GBZ)
Kingston 8GB DataTraveler SE9 USB 2.0 Flash Drive (DTSE9H/8GBZ)

Pros: Small size. Clean, elegant design. It works as expected, and as well as any USB thumb drive I've used.

Cons: None so far. Since I'm required to type something here, I'll say that the device is so small, it might be easy to lose, but I bought it because it was small, so...

Overall Review: Some reviewers have complained about poor performance. I have not experienced that. Some reviewers have complained about the innards falling out. That hasn't happened to me yet. I'm hoping if that was a common problem that Kingston would have addressed it with an internal engineering change order, so later production builds don't have the problem. Some reviewers have complained about early or sudden failures. Do you build your own computers? Do you have your front panel USB headers plugged in backwards, or plugged into fire wire headers? That can smoke a USB device (and possibly mobo ports) instantly when you plug it in. Do you have a USB killer sitting there?

Economical and it Just Works

TP-LINK TD-8616 ADSL2+ Modem Up to 24Mbps downstream  ADSL/ADSL2/ADSL2+ Standards 1 x RJ11 Port, 1 x RJ45
TP-LINK TD-8616 ADSL2+ Modem Up to 24Mbps downstream ADSL/ADSL2/ADSL2+ Standards 1 x RJ11 Port, 1 x RJ45

Pros: I just plugged it in. Didn't bother to configure it. DSL cable, click! Ethernet cable, click! Power cable, click! It synced right up, and started working on my Frontier DSL line, running at the full provisioned rate.

Cons: None.

Overall Review: This unit has been in operation 24x7 since I first plugged it in, and has not dropped the connection, or faltered once that I'm aware of. We have 11 devices sharing this connection. It's a very busy bee, and my clients (three teen-age sons, and my wife) would let me know if there were connectivity issues.

Energy Efficient, Cool, Inexpensive

SeaSonic SS-300ET Bronze 300 W ATX12V V2.3 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
SeaSonic SS-300ET Bronze 300 W ATX12V V2.3 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply

Pros: Live on arrival, and works great. Perfect choice for general computing desktops. The 80+ power efficiency and power factor correction. Runs much cooler than the supply it replaced. Large, quiet fan moves plenty of air. Great power supply at a great price.

Cons: None.

Overall Review: I installed this unit in a server that runs 24x7. This newer design 80+ efficiency and power factor correction generates noticeably less heat and fan noise than the unit it replaced. I might standardize on this supply for all future builds.