Date Joined: 08/23/04
Pros: Much faster than a standard 5400 RPM mechanical drive.
7mm high, so it fits in all modern laptops.
Quiet (you can still hear some seek noise, but the spindle is as quiet as any other laptop drive I've used).
Better value than an SSD, especially if you need a lot of storage space.
Cons: It's not as fast as an SSD. But that's to be expected, so I'm not sure it's a massive con.
Overall Review: This hybrid drive is a nice performance upgrade from a normal laptop hard drive, without going all the way to a pure SSD. It's fairly quiet and made my laptop considerably faster than the stock 5400 RPM drive. Managing the SSD cache and the spinning platters is automatic; the firmware copies commonly-used blocks of data to the SSD portion of the drive to speed up access. You only see a 500GB partition and don't have to worry about where to put certain files.
It's no SSD, but if you want a speed boost without sacrificing storage space, it's a great value.
Pros: -Nice, professional-looking frame, without any glossy 'modern' styling touches.
-Matte-finish screen doesn't show reflections.
-Excellent viewing angles (hooray IPS!)
-Decent color - despite being IPS, it's only a 6-bit panel so there's some extremely faint banding in certain color gradients; otherwise color is excellent.
-Backlight will dim to a comfortable level, unlike many CCFL-lit models, and does not suffer from the high-pitched squeal many of those exhibit at lower brightness.
-Speakers do not take up any bezel space, which is nice for those of us who won't be using them.
-Internal power supply, so there's no extra power brick.
Cons: -Rotating base is extremely unstable. If you flip the monitor over and remove the screw holding the turntable, and throw the turntable away, you'll be left with something much more stable.
-Blue power LED always blinks during standby. It can be switched on or off while the monitor is active but in either setting it blinks during standby, which is irritating.
-Colors not quite as nice as I'd hoped for in an IPS panel. Still better than most TN.
Overall Review: Dynamic backlighting does not appear to have any effect unless the screen is almost 100% black. It can be disabled completely by holding the rightmost settings button (not power button) for five seconds.
Default brightness is eye-searing. Turn it down; I found 15% very comfortable. It'll look dim when you first turn it down (since you're comparing directly to 100%) but once you walk away and come back it will be very comfortable.
The other default settings are very reasonable. I raised contrast slightly to 74, raised Gamma to 2.4, and set user color to 50 red, 50 green, and 40 blue. See http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/ for a sequence of test images to help with calibration.
My first monitor had faint bruising which distorted colors. Newegg was helpful as always, took care of shipping, and got me a different one. Not a mark against the monitor, just random chance.
Pros: They make sound.
Cons: Eye-searing blue power LED.
"Sub" unit takes up a lot of desk space, but really doesn't perform well on the floor.
"Sub" is just a single normal mid-range speaker. This system is basically mono plus stereo tweeters. And there's no bass.
Overall Review: For similar money, just get a 2.0 speaker pair larger than the satellites in this system. It'll sound at least as good and won't eat up your desk space.
Pros: Adapter installs easily and works flawlessly. I have not directly tested speeds but performance appears typical for whichever wireless standard is in use. Well-supported in Linux; works out of the box on Ubuntu 11.04.
Cons: None whatsoever.
Overall Review: After struggling to get my old Broadcom-based Dell wireless adapter to work properly on my Latitude D600 under Ubuntu 11.04, I gave up and installed this. Total install time was under three minutes, from shutdown to surfing the web. I needed no additional drivers; the device offered to connect to my network as soon as I logged in.
Pros: Been running strong since 2005. I haven't used it heavily in that time, but it's never given me any trouble for occasional use. It's been through three different hard drives (due to changing needs, not due to failures) and has worked well with all.
Overall Review: Usually doesn't need the extra power-only USB plug connected. I've run 4200 and 5400 RPM drives with a normal, straight-through A to A cable. When I ran the case with a hot, fast 7200 RPM drive, the extra power cable became necessary.
Pros: Cools well for its size, and the stock fan isn't terrible. It's very quiet by most people's standards. Fits in a case only wide enough for a 92mm exhaust fan.
Cons: Stock fan could be either quieter or more powerful; it sits somewhere in the middle.
Overall Review: If you want good cooling but don't want to spring for a huge tower cooler or don't want to risk damaging your motherboard moving a computer with such a cooler installed, this is a great choice. It's not small by any means, but it's much more manageable than the big towers.
Pros: Very easy to use, and provides a secure, worry-free mount for the SD964. Much better than Intel push-pins.
Cons: Must remove motherboard to install.
Overall Review: As cheap as this is, if you're getting an HDT-SD964 for an LGA-775 system, don't even bother with the push-pins. Just start with this.
Pros: Noise. I'm obsessed with the level of noise my computer makes, to the point where the hard drive is suspended on elastic, the CPU is passively cooled, the case is ventilated by a single 12cm fan at 700 RPM, and the power supply is a high-end, low-noise unit from Enermax. Amidst all that overkill, I found the cooler on this card to be totally inoffensive. I'm also pleased that the card does not require an extra PCI-e power connector.
Cons: If you absolutely have to whine about something, it's a bit large like any high-performance card, and the fancy cooler takes up two slots (plus you ought to leave the adjoining third free for airflow).
Overall Review: This is nothing like the fastest card out there. It's probably the sweet spot on the price-performance curve, though.
Pros: Absolutely brilliant camera. APS-sized sensor has extremely good low-light performance, autofocus is fast and accurate, included lens is a good value and has a reasonable zoom range. Even though this is the baby of the Canon range, I can't imagine needing any of the additional features included on the higher cameras. This one already allows manual control over all aspects of shooting as well as unusual features like dark-frame subtraction, automatic exposure bracketing, and image-stabilized lenses. Through-the-lens image composition totally blows away the tiny LCD on most digital cameras (although if you're a masochist, this one allows that usage as well).
Cons: Very complicated options when you get into the manual modes, and the kit lens has poor macro performance compared to many P&S cameras on the market. No video mode, if you're into that kind of thing. Removable lens introduces a dust issue not found on most consumer cameras.
Overall Review: If you just want a nice camera, get a point-and-shoot. Canon's PowerShot line is nice. For most people, the additional cost and complexity of a DSLR is totally unneccessary, and the extra drawbacks of an SLR-style camera can catch you by surprise if you're not prepared.
On the other hand, if you know you want a DSLR, get this one. I can't imagine spending more for the rest of the range, and there's nothing more compelling offered by the competition, either (especially with low-light performance, which Canon excels at).
Pros: Very comfortable over long periods, and even with the open design they don't let out enough noise to bother the people around you at any reasonable listening level.
These things sound absolutely fantastic. They have fairly flat frequency response all across the range of human hearing, although it drops a bit on low bass - a small equalizer adjustment deals with this. You won't get boom-box bass, because boom boxes (and anything else with a cheap subwoofer) play exactly one bass note but play it very loud. What you get instead is audio fidelity, with the ability to play all low frequencies.
Cons: Unusually, these have the 1/4" plug on the headphones with a fairly ungainly adapter to use the more common 1/8" plugs. I'd suggest buying an adapter which includes a flexible cable, because the included solid adapter can put a lot of strain on the device it's plugged into.
Overall Review: A few people have complained about the bass, so let me clear this up further if the 'pros' section didn't cover it for you: They won't rattle your fillings out, but if you pay attention you'll notice that they're actually playing notes instead of making thumping noises. It also helps if you run them from a headphone amplifier or a device with a proper amp circuit - sound cards and portable devices designed to drive earbuds might not be able to provide enough power for strong bass.
Pros: This cooler is so effective with low airflow that it happily cools my E6550 with no fan directly attached, just a case exhaust fan about an inch away.
Cons: This cooler is hilariously big. It will not fit in anything narrower than a standard mini tower. This isn't completely a con, since it's also the secret to its effectiveness, but could be an issue for some users.
Overall Review: I'm not sure how much I trust such a heavy cooler hanging from the plastic Intel push-pins. You might look at getting a Thermalright LGA775 bolt-through kit to attach it. That's what I used, and it provides a nice sturdy attachment.
Pros: This card is perfect. The performance is excellent; more than enough for the games I play - Guild Wars and Portal, both at 1600x1200 with all the settings on high, play smoothly. Guild wars never drops below 60 FPS and Portal rarely drops below 40, but usually runs at 50-60 (I have a 60Hz LCD, so my framerates never go above 60).
The preinstalled Arctic Cooling Accelero S2 is also fantastic - this card is running 56 degrees C under load, with only a single, low-speed case exhaust fan providing any airflow.
Cons: Card is fairly large. No more so than any other performance graphics card, but make sure you know what you're getting into.
Pros: This meter does exactly what it claims to - allows you to measure how much electricity your appliances are using. You might be surprised by some of them, and you might manage to save some money on your electric bills.
Cons: The display is only readable from below level, not above - exactly the opposite of what you'd expect, since the device will typically be mounted near the floor. Additionally, the plugs are situated such that no matter which outlet you plug it into, it will block both outlets on that plate.
Pros: Excellent colors and contrast, with even backlighting and a very good viewing angle. The screen is just the right size for its resolution, without causing eyestrain or other problems.
Cons: One stuck subpixel about 4" from the top and 2" from the right. It's a stuck-on green, which is the worst of the six types of pixel failure (red, green, and blue can each be stuck on or off) because it's the most noticeable type. However, it's only visible in dark scenes and I don't notice it very often.
Overall Review: I've used monitors of this size and resolution that cost hundreds more, and I can't see where the money goes. Aside from a USB hub and my one stuck pixel, it's completely on par with the more expensive ones.
Pros: Good value board, everything works well and the features are nice.
Cons: Loud CPU fan.
Sound cuts out occasionally and requires a restart to fix - consider a cheap PCI sound card if you're getting this.