Joined on 12/23/04
Windows Done Right
Pros: The 64 bit application layer runs flawlessly alongside the 32 bit legacy interface. The UAC is not intrusive and its settings are easily changed. Windows 7 recovers from application, driver, and even hardware failures with more dexterity than any version of Windows since 95. I even enjoy the Aero glass interface, included themes, and a few of the gadgets. With an extremely long list of support for current hardware and an ease to installing new hardware (USB 3.0 controllers and SSD installed flawlessly), Windows 7 is more flexible than even the much-fabled Windows 2000 that I loved from so long ago. As a replacement for XP, Windows 7 does its job admirably, performing well in a variety of applications from gaming to operation-intensive media rendering. Whatever problems I ever have to fix are minimal and easily addressed.
Cons: I have still gotten the occasional BSOD, mostly from a combination of PSU/motherboard/ram/videocard problems. Error handling is still not to the point where the problem was easy to diagnose, much less prevent a system crash and address the error in the future. Windows 7 tried and sometimes the driver would recover, but it got less and less likely as the weeks went on.
Overall Review: I've never had a more pleasant Windows experience. Beats the great feelings I had about Mac OS X Leopard or Windows XP by a long shot.
One Step Forward, One Step Back
Pros: The heatsink still works as well as the Hyper 212+, keeping multiple processor types very cool. The bottom has been flattened making it easier to apply thermal compound.
Cons: The fan on the Hyper 212+ is an excellent product. The fan that comes with the EVO leaves a lot to be desired. It is flimsy, louder, and made of a much cheaper plastic.
Overall Review: The Hyper 212+ and the EVO are by themselves incomplete. The 212+ has large spaces between the copper pipes and the aluminum block that makes contact with the processor, and the EVO has a terrible fan. Also, I notice absolutely no difference in the way that each product's fan attaches to the radiator. Both are able to be attached higher up on the radiator to avoid conflicts with RAM heatsinks. I am not sure why people claim that this one is different.
Sound great, extremely affordable!
Pros: These speakers sound GREAT for the price! I'm not certified audiophile, but I am notoriously picky and critical, and these very cheap speakers deliver full, rich sound in music, movies, and video games. If you adjust the equalizer from within software (your sound card drivers or even Windows 7's sound control panel!), the sound can be absolutely clean with all the individual channels discernible and no distortion and low to medium volume. For such a low wattage, these things certainly pack a punch as well. I'm not sure if there's something special about my setup (no external preamp), but I've not had the volume knob turned up more than 25% yet in any one of the three environments mentioned above.
Cons: They're just upgraded analog, powered 2.1 speakers from the 1990's. They're higher quality than anything I've ever had before which impresses me quite a bit, but they do not have surround sound or digital connections or a remote control or separate tweeters, mid-range, and subwoofers inside. They are not wireless. In short, these speakers offer none of the new features that may or may not be important to you. For me, all I needed was a nice pair of stereo speakers with some decent bass so I could play video games, watch tv/movies, and listen to music, all on my computer. They were perfect for my purpose and extremely affordable, which was key.
Overall Review: Sometimes you spend a lot on a product that only marginally does its job well, or marginally increases performance, or just isn't very noticeable. Sometimes you think you find a deal only to realize the large drawbacks that cause an item to be priced so low. In this case, I spent way less than I was expecting to have to and got a product that was of much higher quality than I had hoped. I really couldn't be happier with these speakers.
Meets needs and exceeds expectations!
Pros: This product is fully compatible with a Windows computer, and the Mac version is pretty much the same in that respect. It is quite complicated and thus wonderful when working in a large business environment. You can control anything you want to, set any setting you desire, and the way Outlook presents information is very accessible and easy to manage. I've never had a complaint about the ribbon in Outlook because it is the one Office program I feel is conducive to being intelligently loaded with function presets across the ribbon tabs that are relevant to whatever the user is trying to accomplish. This version at half price with a .edu e-mail address is perfect for my home computer, as I work at a local college.
Cons: Setup is extremely unintuitive for its ostensible main purpose: connecting to an Exchange server. My iPhone and iPad did it seamlessly and quickly popped up with the fields it didn't know, which I could provide. Outlook refused to accept what I was giving it and then closed down completely after a few erroneous entries on my part, leaving me to figure out that mail settings (including accounts) are set from within the Mail applet of the control panel. It took me a day and a half to figure out how to correctly specify to what domain my user account should be attempting to connect. Of course I don't have a degree in networking or a basic MCSE, but shouldn't it be sufficient that I know the name of my domain? There is no field in which to enter it; it must be specified before the username with a backslash. This may seem obvious if you have been working with Exchange for years, but there are always new users, and Windows 7 made this especially difficult for me to understand.
Overall Review: Outlook is the de facto industrywide (as in all industries that use computers) e-mail program for a reason. Yes, there are exceptions to it being the perfect solution for everyone, but it certainly is a good product with which to begin your search. Outlook 2010 is more user-friendly and accessible than ever with all the same power features that Office users have come to expect from it. New features that I cannot begin to understand or integrate into my limited workflow seam intuitive and helpful, but that's hard to gauge without a personal need for them or the support of my Exchange server.
Pros: The stand allows every type of movement: tilt, height, orientation and rotation.
Cons: This stand is incredibly flimsy. I bought it to replace the stand on an ASUS monitor as they are well known to be flimsy, and I have to say that this one is a lot worse.
Overall Review: I'm not sure why this product exists. It's pretty clear that if you don't spend over a hundred dollars on a monitor stand, you're going to get something that is of low quality like the Neo Flex. I am extremely disappointed with this product. My old Dell monitor stands from the 2005 series hold their respective monitors incredibly well but lack VESA compatibility. It seems that since then, monitor stands have become flimsier and flimsier. I don't know why I can't have a sturdy monitor stand unless I pay six hundred dollars for a monitor.
Cheap and Powerful
Pros: This replaced a dual SLI configuration of two Geforce 260 GTS, and thoroughly trounced them in all areas. It is quieter, cooler, and more powerful. I operate in HD with full antialiasing, texture quality, texture filtering, shader, and sound options in Team Fortress 2 and notice no slowness with the amount of RAM on this card. The supersampling (transparency antialiasing) quality seems to have gone way up. The card is more stable in all situations. I haven't tested the HD audio on any real speakers, but it's a nice touch to have on the card.
Cons: Too low-end to SLI. Even though it's almost $100 more, putting two GTX 560 Ti cards together would be incredibly more powerful. Mini-HDMI port was a weird choice. I had to special order a mini HDMI cable, but it worked just like an HDMI once I got it. No SPDIF-in to hook up your onboard sound or add-in sound card to the video card for audio pass-through to the HDMI port.
Overall Review: This is a great video card for under two hundred dollars. It plays most modern games with aplomb, and runs many things not brand new yet still contemporary with incredibly alacrity.