July 30, 2006

PC System Upgrade Discussion

With the advent of the insanely overclockable Conroe Intel chips (4 ghz anyone?) and the massive AMD price cuts, it is definitely time to consider upgrading your PC System. It is truly a once in a decade event for PC enthusiasts to get a screaming fast machine and a cheap price. Come wrestle with other First Adopters on what is the best option on our discussion forum.

July 25, 2006

Review: Metroid Prime Pinball for Nintendo DS by PcTech


Number of Players: 1
Wireless Single-Card?: Yes, 1-8 players
Price: $34.95 retail

What happens when you take the world of Metroid and mix it with the playstyle of pinball? You get Metroid Prime Pinball (MPP). MPP casts you as the venerable vixen Samus, once again out to rid the galaxy of various Bad Guys. I've read fans of the Metroid series will notice the table designs reflecting various levels in the Metroid games of yore; since I've only played Metroid 1, however, I'm approaching this game as a pinball lover first, Metroid-aware person second.

Graphics (4 of 5)
Graphics of the game are generally high quality. One of the stages, Tallon Overworld, features lush vegetation surrounding the playfield and sometimes actually features rainfall. Another table, Pirate Frigate, could blend in with any sci-fi spaceship setting from the 80's. Nothing really particular stands out, but what's there looks appropriate enough.

There is also a multiplayer map which has a lava theme to it, along with 2 (maybe 3) other "tables" of various themes, where you actually battle bosses. Gameplay uses both screens of the DS, which at first is a little confusing when you see the ball pass through the screen bezels...after a few games, though, it becomes second nature and you really don't notice it too much. Kudos for going the dual-screen route instead of the scrolling-screen route, though an option to do that would be nice.

Sound (3.5 of 5)

Sound through the speakers is Metroid-ish sounding enough, though I can't say if it's straight from any of the games. I did not test with headphones, but speaker sounds are generally crisp. Some of the gameplay features digitized voice calling out what you've collected "Special Collected", but the voice never gets annoying and is pretty low key.

Music is enjoyable but unmemorable (at least, for me). You won't catch yourself humming along a tune like you do with Mario or Zelda games, but the music conveys the general feel of the tables or situations. I do recognize the "metroid" music, however, so it's sorta cool to enter "Metroid Mania" and have music change to that music type.

Gameplay (2.5 of 5)
The gameplay is where I have a major problem with MPP, and is where I'll spend the rest of the review. Coming into the game, I thought it was just a Metroid-themed pinball game...instead, it seems the game is a pinball-themed Metroid game. This may delight those trying to get any sort of Metroid fix they can; for me (a pinball fan), however, it is a letdown.

Certainly the old pinball game standbys are there - Multiball, hurry-up modes, ramp combos, random awards, bonus multipliers, ball savers and kickbacks. The game also features such physical pinball components such as bumpers, drop targets, ramps, flashing arrows, spinners, etc.

MPP also brings some features over from the Metroid games; for instance, you have access to bombs and a super bomb when in ball mode, and missiles when in combat mode (which is basically a mini-game where you stand in one spot and aim Samus' shots using the flippers...to hit various enemies coming toward you).

Your ball also has an energy meter, which can be depleted from certain enemy attacks, such as a Metroid suction attack or space pirate missiles. It all sounds really neat, but I think the execution leaves a little to be desired.

For instance, one existing game table mode is called "Metroid Mania". Upon entering this mode, 2 or more Metroids will slowly hover into the bottom portion of the screen, near the flippers. Your objective is to hit the Metroids at high speed. After a few hits, the Metroids will die and usually leave behind an energy capsule.

While this sounds great at first, it quickly can become frustrating. The Metroids hover dangerously close to the flippers, making hitting them a great way to have your ball instantly rebounded right through your flippers and out of play. Unfortunately, it's usually only possible to build up enough speed to damage them when coming from the flippers; most of the time, a random bounce into a Metroid from elsewhere on the table will simply not damage the enemy, but allow it to suction an energy bar from you instead.

Considering the very first level of Metroid Mania has 2 enemies on the screen (and they fill up a good portion of that lower screen), and adding in the fact sometimes a random, single Metroid will wander onto the table for seemingly no reason, one can get the feeling the "video game" portion of MPP is really getting into the way of the "pinball game" portion.

Another example of the video-game half interfering with the pinball half is when you're fighting space pirates. These guys will usually spawn 3 at a time and shoot Samus-seeking missiles with surprising agility.

Not only do these missiles take away your energy, but they also knock your ball into total chaos, and they do so very rapidly. The only fortunate thing about the pirate mode is that they appear in the top of the screen, giving you some breathing room and not instantly returning your ball between the flippers like the Metroids seem to do. Still, a few (un)lucky hits from their missiles and you're either "dead" and lose a ball, or you're zipping so quickly out of play you have little time to react.

Then, I have to mention the table design itself. Overall, I think MPP only delivers an "okay" pinball experience.

For one thing, gameplay is spread out among 2 tables (three if you count multiplayer) and a couple of "special" boss tables.

The boss tables, however, can barely be called tables themselves...they're extremely sparse, made up of only a few ramps and targets. The top portion of the screen makes room for a large boss which will have 2 or more special attacks, whereas the bottom portion is sometimes filled with random enemies or just ramps leading to the top portion. In these modes, you're judged on how fast you can kill the boss, not high score. Once you kill the boss, that's it...you're kicked back to the main menu.

The other, "real" tables, are thankfully more populated but still seem lacking. None of the tables have an upper deck, no sort of special "aim the ball and shoot it somewhere" mode, no LCD-esque mine games, and no manual ball plunger.

Ball launching is automatically done in-game (you don't even get a prompt to launch it; it simple happens). It's really a shame because with the DS touch screen, it would have been trivially easy to design an analog-type spring action plunger.

Table bumping is done by dragging your finger (probably thumb) across the scree, to bump it in the direction of the drag. The only problem is, it's usually too difficult to do so because you use the DS L and R buttons for flippers, and you have your thumb ready to use any special weapons you have with the appropriate X/Y/A/B buttons. Perhaps it's just the way I grip the DS, but this setup makes it difficult to quickly bump the table one way or another, especially considering you have to make a small drag-action to do so. As a side note, it seems impossible to actually tilt the table when bumping it.

Table complexity for the "normal" tables also seems to be sparse. I'm not sure if this is because of the limited DS resolution or not, but it seems there simply isn't much to do.
You never seem to build up any sort of kudos / progression /etc. for anything but multiball. The mini-modes range from pretty entertaining (combat mode) to outright frustrating (Metriod Mania).

It's almost like the designers made a few ramps and drop targets, threw in various Metriod monsters and called it a pinball game.

Thankfully, some of the modes are slightly refreshing. One mode, called Phazon multiball, has you playing with red and blue pinballs. Red and blue dots appear on the table, and you have to hit red dots with the red ball to collect a bonus...hitting it with a blue dot causes it to bounce off.

It was sort of a nice change of pace actually having different balls in a multiball scenario...after collecting all the various colored orbs with the appropriate ball, you're awarded with 2 color-coded special jackpots (which of course you must hit with the right colored ball). If you collect those 2, shooting the phazon multiball area will give you a super jackpot.

Also, the combat mode is quite interesting, and seems to be the game's replacement for any sort of mechanical ball-aiming convention. In this mode, Samus stands up and auto-fires her cannon upward, while enemies come rushing at you. You're able to fire missiles (they all seem to fire at once) in this mode, but you cannot physically move Samus out of the spot she stands in.

Also, there is a game mode called "Multi-mission", accessed from the main menu. In this mission, basically the tables are "linked", and you can travel from one table to the next when you meet certain conditions. this means, for instance, you can be on the space frigate, warp to a boss battle, defeat the boss, then warp to another table.

Also, defeating all the tables supposedly opens up a level where you face your "greatest threat", but I haven't managed to open this level yet.

Special feature -- MPP includes a "rumble pack" that plugs into the GBA slot of your DS. While playing the game, the pack will make small movements to simulate the feeling you get when a real pinball hits a bumper or target. How does it work? Pretty good, actually, though normally I play the game without it installed. The game is just as playable without it, and I value the battery life over the small amount of realism the pack imparts -- it is, however, a nice little addition to the game.

Ball physics -- Overall passable, but definitely not hyper-realistic. While the ball, for the most part, avoids the "uber-floaty" feel that plagues cheaper pinball games, it certainly never approaches the quality seen in the Pro Pinball PC series or real pinball.

Spinning in modeled (to a small degree) however, and so is vertical movement, so not all is lost, but I certainly didn't get the feeling I was controlling a pinball on a board, but rather Samus in ball-form in a video game with flippers. The framerate of the ballspin is also quite low, which means you'll never see anything like Samus spinning at seemingly 10,000 rpm, hit a flipper and then zip up a side alley.

Overall (3.5 of 5)

When it's all said and done, overall I think Metroid Prime Pinball is a bit of a disappointment. While I'm sure fans of the Metroid series will find a lot of familiar enemies and themes in the game, it seems the developers forgot about the pinball fans.

If you're looking for a super-realistic and detailed pinball game, you might want to look elsewhere. However, if you absolutely must have portable pinball-like action and you don't mind playing it in a Metroid setting, then MPP may sate your craving. [Discuss]

July 24, 2006

Review: Pelican Gamestop DS Lite Value Kit by PcTech

The item I'll review today is the Pelican/Gamestop DS lite Value Kit. Price: $19.99, online or in-store. The DS Lite Value Kit (DSLVK) is marketed as an all-in-one kit for your Nintendo DS Lite.

Included in the package:

* A soft, neoprene case
* A hardened game case
* 1 extra stylus
* 1 screen protector
* 1 car charging adaptor
* 1 LED keylight Confused
* 1 screen polishing cloth

The Pouch (4 of 5)
Let's get into the meat of the item, which in my opinion would be the pouch. The pouch included in this package is nylon(?) encircled with neoprene rubber. The pouch actually has two compartments. The first, larger compartment has an elastic-tensioned opening and holds the DS. The smaller, front compartment can hold the hard game case. Over the tops of both compartments folds a flap held by velcro.

The pouch itself is fairly small, but isn't really built for compactness. Because it provides cushioning and has 2 compartments, it adds significant size to the DS. I did test the pouch, though, and it fits nicely in my military side cargo pocket, as well as the front pocket of my slacks. I doubt the pouch would fit in a jeans pocket unless they were baggy. However, given the cushioning and the additional rubber protection, I wouldn't feel too scared were I to drop the DS on concrete from my pocket/hands. You cannot play the DS while it's in the pouch, nor can you charge it.

The pouch also includes a belt clip (which I promptly removed) and on the back features 2 more elastic, closed straps...presumably you could run a vertically oriented strap or something through the pouch to hold it onto a backpack or similar item. I haven't tested the beltclip or the rear straps, though by simple examination the belt clip didn't seem sturdy or tight enough for me to trust my lovely DS in it.

The hardened game case (2.5 of 5)
Along with the pouch you receive a silver, hard outer shell game case. Opening the case (which is remarkably difficult to do, since you must press down on the release latch fairly hard) reveals a soft, rubber inside...it actually feels really cool. I'm not sure what that type of rubber is called, but it's almost like felt. Anyway, inside are slots for 2 GBA carts and 3 DS cards, along with a slot for an extra stylus (included).

Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems I see for this case. For one, this thing is thick, and needlessly so. It almost seems like the case is ruggetized if you were to...I dunno, drop the thing from an airplane at 30,000 feet. It's pointless to pad these cartridges with so much rubber material; they're literaly more protected than your DS. Placing the hardened case inside the pouch while a DS is loaded nearly doubles its thickness; so much, in fact, I normally resort to either carrying the case in a seperate pocket, or simply putting the carts in the compartment itself and throwing the case in the corner somewhere.

Furthermore, the GBA slots in the case will not carry the DS Lite's asymetrical GBA cover-slot (at least neatly), so you'll have to arrange it in the case loosely. It's more hassle than it's worth.

On the DS card side of the case, the games are held in their slots by small plastic clips (as opposed to the GBA side, where they snap into place. The bad thing is, these clips aren't made of rubber, which is why on the first day of ownership I snapped one of the clips thinking I could bend it back far enough to actually remove the DS card. Instead of pulling your DS card straight out like any normal, rational human would, you're required to sort of slide the DS cart into place, like you're trying to break into someone's door with a credit card (which, by the way, never works...normally). Okay, it isn't that bad, but you get the picture.

The stylus, LED keychain light, car adaptor, screen protector, cloth (4 of 5 overall)
# Stylus -- It's a pointy stick, just like the original. Nothing more here.
# Car adaptor -- I've tested it and it seems to work fine, though I don't know whether charge times are any faster/slower with this thing. It includes a very long cord, presumably to play at the rear of your limo as your driver charges it with the forward outlet.
# Cleaning cloth -- It's small, it's blue, it's "lint free" for the most part. Yay cloth!
# Screen protector -- A small, included piece of clear plastic-type material with a protective cover (a cover for the cover?). Of course, silly me (being new to the DS world), I thought the cover that you peel away simply kept out dirt...I didn't realize the back of the screen protector was sticky! After misaligning the initial installation attempt, it took a bit to actually manage to peel the thing off; for a moment I was worried it was permanently stuck. I'm not sure how one would remove this if it was perfectly aligned...luckily for me, I screwed up the alignment, a small section was sitting atop the bezel, and I was able to slip a thin piece of cardboard under it to remove it. No residue was left on the screen, thankfully.
# LED keychain light -- Frankly I have no idea why this thing is included. It's sorta like buying a barebones computer kit and getting a free spatula. I suppose it's nice to use in those situations where you can't turn on the main light for fear of waking your kid/wife/pet shadow and you just really need to find that DS cart you accidentally ejected out of your system like the spring from a disassembled pen. If I said I haven't used it already, I'd be lying, though not for any DS-related scavenger hunts.

Conclusion (3 of 5)
Overall, it's only a "meh" package you get for $20. Having yet another stylus is nice, the pouch seems to be adequate, and the car charger works fine. However, including a game case nearly as large as the DS itself is absurd, having only 1 screen protector seems stingy, and the LED keychain light feels very out of place; I would have much preferred to simply get another screen protector attempt instead of the light.

If you're looking for a fairly high quality case and don't mind a bit of "soft bulk", this kit may be worth it for the pouch alone. Don't be surprised, though, if you end up only using the pouch and charger, because the rest seems to be a bit pointless. [Discuss]

Crysis System Specs

Yes this means you are going to have to upgrade your PC to play this game, which is currently the most anticipated shooter for PC gamers.

Minimum Requirements
CPU: Athlon 64 3000+/Intel 2.8ghz
Graphics: Nvidia 6600/X800GTO (SM 2.0)
RAM: 768Mb/1Gb on Windows Vista
Internet: 256k+
Optical Drive: DVD
Software: DX9.0c with Windows XP

Recommended Requirements
CPU: Dual-core CPU (Athlon X2/Pentium D)
Graphics: Nvidia 7800GTX/ATI X1800XT (SM 3.0) or DX10 equivalent
RAM: 1.5Gb
Internet: 512k+ (128k+ upstream)
Optical Drive: DVD
Software: DX10 with Windows Vista

Nintendo DS Reviving the Videogames Market in Japan

Read it and weep Sony. According to Famitsu magazine, 4 million out of 6.2 million hardware units sold in Japan this year are DS consoles representing 63% market share. The Sony PSP has only 16% of the market and the PS2 has 15%. In terms of software sales, 7 out of 10 were DS games. Total software sales are up over 50%, entirely driven by DS mania. Nintendo also announced that it has sold 21 million DS system since its November 21, 2004 launch. You've come a long way baby. [via]

July 23, 2006

Link Roundup

Team Fortress 2 Teaser (Valve just knows how to make games)

Castlevania Portrait of Ruin Video (DS owners rejoice)

Valve's Portal Video (neat FPS puzzle innovation)

Luxor Pyramid Lightening (nice shot in Vegas)

Top 100 Sci-Fi Books to Read (I need to do some summer-time reading)

Steve Jobs gives advice on Segway (Billionaires sure are opinionated)

July 16, 2006

Intel Mac Pro Specs - G5 PowerMac Replacements


News on the G5 PowerMac replacements are finally trickling out. This Mac Pro specs table is making the rounds on the internet. Apple sure hasn't lost its penchant for premium pricing to the least. It also looks like they are going with the Intel Woodcrest server chips vs. the desktop Conroe iteration. Don't worry, they are basically the same thing except for a more multi-processor friendly Woodcrest design. The latest rumor is Jobs will announce the new Intel PowerMacs are "Mac Pros" the first week of August. Discuss

July 15, 2006

Intel Killing PC Gaming

The internet is aflame with debate over Mark Rein of Epic Software saying Intel is killing off PC gaming. I don't think you really can blame Intel for his. Most people just need basic 2D graphics to do web surfing, watching movies, and email.

Gamers really can get decent performance with a cheap $100 add-on graphics card too. Albeit you can't play the latest greatest eye candy shooters at 60 frames per second. The main problem is I think piracy. Games simply don't sell that much on PCs as Bit Torrents and cracks are so freely available. Console piracy is much less widespread. Also there is this small thing called World of Warcraft which is sucking literally billions of dollars out of PC gamer's pockets and the time sink too. Discuss [Thanks stupot42]

Team Fortress 2 Revealed for Real this Time

Valve unveiled shocking news at a Electronic Arts function that the much delayed Team Fortress 2 will finally come out as the multiplayer feature of Half-life 2: Episode 2. The graphics have been over-hauled to be cell-shaded and Pixar Incredibles-like. Half-life 2: Episode 1 was only $19.99, so it would be one sweet value if the second iteration launches at the same price.

Valve also announced that the day it is released on PC, they will have a version of Half-life 2 with the original game, both new episodes, Portal, and Team Fortress 2 for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The target date before this was December, however with all these new additions, this could easily be delayed.

Nintendo DS VOIP Headset Announced

Nintendo announced a headset microphone which will be launched on September 14th in Japan for 1200 yen or approximately $10. It will support the VOIP features in Metroid Prime and Pokemon Diamond & Pearal game. It also doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that some day we might have regular VOIP calling as well with the DS-lite as a sweet-looking handset.

July 14, 2006

Intel Core 2 Duo and Extreme Review

The real deal launch reviews of the much vaunted Conroe chips are now out and they don't fail to impress. Intel has taken the performance lead at a lower price point away from AMD. The biggest question is now availability in the channel for the gamers who have been watering their mouths for months.

After years of wandering in the wilderness, Intel has recaptured the desktop CPU performance title in dramatic fashion. Both the Core 2 Extreme X6800 and the Core 2 Duo E6700 easily outperform the Athlon 64 FX-62 across a range of applications—and the E6600 is right in the hunt, as well. Not only that, but the Core 2 processors showed no real weaknesses in our performance tests. (I would say that Core looks like a more balanced architecture than Netburst, but at this stage of the game, Netburst just seems slow almost across the board.) No matter what you're hoping to do with your PC, a Core 2 processor should be a very solid choice.

July 12, 2006

Link Roundup

Why the Spanish will Never win a War (funny video even though they are really British troops)

Rocketboom 2.0 (not half bad. She's not as hot as Amanda, but they pull off the humor well)

McDonalds Uses Sun for Billboard (neat effect, wonder if it makes the food more healthy)

Dell's New Corporate Blog (they are trying..)

Signs you are not my new roommate (wonder if this is real)

July 11, 2006

Yahoo Trip Planner

Yahoo launched their trip planner site yesterday. I think this is a great idea. In fact it's probably the best new Yahoo service in a long time. The site lets users plan their trips, create a travel guide, and publish a travel journal. They already have 20,000 trip plans for destinations and cities around the world on it. Users also vote for their favorites. So if you ever are looking for things to do anywhere, now you know where you can look.

July 10, 2006

Fun First Adopter Audience Marketshare Facts

Everyone so often I publish the various marketshares of FirstAdopter.com visitors. It's always interesting to see what the latest trends ares.

Firefox 59.17%
Internet Explorer 27.35%
Safari 7.56%
Opera 3.13%
Mozilla 1.07%

It's safe to say our audience is cutting-edge enough to put Microsoft's spyware attracting browser out to pasture. Good for you!

Windows 81.24%
Mac 12.95%
Linux 5.31%
SunOS 0.1%
FreeBSD 0.06%

First Adopters like their Macs at more than 5Xs the general population. Linux is also up there. Impressive.

Screen Resolution
1280X1024 32.39%
1024X768 29.53%
1600x1200 6.31%
1680X1050 4.86%
1280X800 4.54%

When I originally designed this site I wanted to make it readable for 800x600 users. How far we've come.

62.16% Cable/DSL
24.44% Corporate
7.2% Unknown
6.2% Dial-up

Over 90% of our visitors have broad-band. That's bad news for AOL as we're the bleed-edge of society.

USA 73%
Canada 8%
U.K. 7.3%
Australia 2%
Germany 1%

No surprises here as these are all English reading countries ex-Germany. Until we start translating our posts this isn't likely to change. Permalink - Discuss

The Words that Sparked Zidane's Headbutt

The Daily Mail hired an expert lip reader to find out what the Italy's Matterazzi said to spark Zidane's fury. He called him the equivalent of "nig**r" and said his mother was a "terrorist whore". Zidane's mother happens to be seriously ill in the hospital these days. The story of how Zidane's parents suffered in poverty enduring racism to raise Zidane is well-known. In no way do I condone Zidane's action, but with the racism and hateful words so prevalent in today's world, I can understand his reaction. If true, Matterazzi also deserves the scorn and should be ashamed of himself.

If you look carefully at the video above, it looks like Italy's Matterazzi may have actually twisted Zidane's nipple before the headbutt when he wrapped his arm around him. Matterazzi is famous for his dirty tactics (video). Watch him kick player's calfs, groins, and heads. It's sad to see a real loser like him win the World Cup. Permalink - Discuss

July 09, 2006

Why Bose Sucks Review Resources

The following is a list of resources you should read before you let anyone you know buy a Bose system. You can get far better sound performance for a much lower price if you buy audiophile brands such as Epos, NHT, and even the more well-known B&W. For those in the market for a pair of affordable, high fidelity "audiophile" speakers, I recommend the Usher S-520. I bought a pair recently and I'm very very satisfied. Stereophile also has a good list of audio component reviews for under $1000. If you have questions for other smart early adopters, try our discussion forum.

Smart Money Review - http://www.klipsch.com/media/Newscenter/SmartMoney%20Reprint_062404.pdf
We turn up the volume on the Bose Acoustimass 5 Series IIIsystem ($500), which includes two tiny speakers—just 6.2-inches high— and a subwoofer. Bose is the No. 1–selling speaker brand in the country, likely due to the company’s hundred or so retail stores. But it’s certainly not this audiophile’s speaker of choice. “No, no!” Reed yells, not even a minute into “Rock Minuet,” furiously waving his hands back and forth for us to stop. His complaint? The speakers deliver high- and low-end sound, but no middle. Plus, they display a “harsh high end,” and although the subwoofer adds nice bass, “it makes the guitar sound thin.”

A Bose spokesperson says that the speakers are balanced and designed to reproduce low and mid-to-high frequencies “according to the artist’s original performance.” But this artist, for one, disagrees. Still, we give the Bose another shot, this time playing hip-hop artist Mos Def, to test how the speakers handle heavy bass. “Oh no, oh no,” Reed groans, sitting up to pet Lola, his Jack Russell terrier, who’s curled up on a pillow next to him. “I’d pay money not to hear that.” “Next,” Reed demands.

Why Bose Sucks - http://www.intellexual.net/bose.html
As a part of a small sect of audio enthusiasts who loathe the company Bose Corp. for its marketing deception, shortcutting in manufacturing, and shameless consumer trickery, I was recently passed on a website written by a "Bose-o-phile", who was defending the company. Upon reading his site, I vowed to represent our side: the TRUTH.. Popularity of a name brand doesn't equate to quality. Bose mystique feeds off of its well-targeted audience: the ignorant, ill-informed, mass-market consumers who search for simplified hifi audio solutions in "all-in-one" chain stores.. Audio newbies often throw out the "But I heard that Bose is good!" defense, to which I respond "From who?" Was it a sound engineer, electrical engineer, materials scientist, studio engineer, sound producer, recording professional, musician, Mark Levinson? Ray Dolby? George Lucas? Anyone credible? Or was it your neighbor with the GoldStar walkman, Teac boom box, Funai mini-system, and Sylvania receiver? Perhaps the ubiquitous Bose Ads that they find in completely irrelevant magazines such as Popular Science, Times, Playboy, GQ, People, Astronomy, etc, had some sort of subliminal effect against the better of their judgment?

Bose equipment, even the flagship LifeStyle 50, resembles the sonic performance of the 11-year-old Aiwa minisystem in my garage. For $500, the Wave Radio is an overpriced alarm clock. If you're impressed by it, have a listen to a Henry Kloss radio for a fraction of the price! For $1000, the Bose 3-2-1 can not be described as anything less than a crime against sound reproduction. The message I want everyone to take from this lengthy review is that Bose, like Bang & Olufsen and Nakamichi, sell lifestyle and designer products whose prices are very heavily saturated by image and appeal. They are by no means, no means at all performance products. They have no cost-effectiveness, no bang-for-the-buck value, and draw no respect from any true audio enthusiasts. If your goal is to appeal to and impress housewives, then this system gets the job done, but if your goal is high fidelity, high performance, high endurance, upgradeability, and fair market value pricing then I would very highly suggest you look elsewhere.

Former Speaker Salesman - http://www.hometheaterblog.com/hometheater/2006/03/what_about_bose_1.html
I’ll close in saying that Bose is very often an emotional purchase by uninformed (through no fault of their own) buyers looking to buy a ‘surround sound system’ and more often than not the size of the Satellite Cubes is what seals the deal. However if you’re after genuine sonic fidelity and aren’t limited to a speaker that’s tiny, I urge you to do your research, hear multiple systems and refrain from impulse purchases, your ears and wallet will thank you.

Leading A/V Message Board on Bose - http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=343759&highlight=bose
I currently have a Bose Lifestyle 35 System. I thought I had the best system until I heard a friends Klipsch system. It litteraly blew me away. Apparently I bought advertising.

My roommate a few years back had Bose 301's. He thought they rocked. I picked up some Wharfedale Valdus 400's for about $200 less for a pair that simply made him want to cry. He said it made him sick, that he wasted all that money on a set of speakers that he cannot even listen to anymore without getting FURIOUS. To say the difference was night and day is a GROSS understatement.

The thing I don't like about bose is that in almost all of their displays the speakers are right on top of you, and usually cranked up to a very high level. This gives the consumer the idea that speakers are full and and have a good soundstage, when it's just the opposite. Almost any speaker will sound good, in a crouded store, when the speakers are right on top of you and cranked up so loud they are distorted.

Bose Sues Consumer Reports - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_Reports
In 1984, Bose Corporation sued Consumer Reports for publishing a review in which Bose speakers did relatively poorly. The review stated that the stereo image of the Bose speakers was unstable and "tended to wander about the room", undermining the basic Direct/Reflecting concept behind Bose's products. The final verdict ruled that Consumer Reports had in fact libeled Bose by overstating its negative findings, which were, more precisely, that the stereo image merely "moved along the wall" behind the speakers. This was something of a Pyrrhic victory for Bose, as since then both Bose and Consumer Reports readership in demographic areas where Bose products are targeted have became bitter enemies, and the same may hold true today. Furthermore, the monetary award of $210,000 in libel damages was appealed to the Federal Supreme Court, who overturned it. Nevertheless, the case is believed to have had a chilling effect on publication of subjective preferences in reviews, both specifically by Consumer Reports as well as in the media as a whole.

Circuit City Employee - http://www.retailworker.com/node/10435
Friends Don't Let Friends Buy Bose.. I am really fucking sick of telling customers that the Bose speakers are really cheap cardboard and foam pieces of shit, and that Bose's high-tech "engineering" (if you can actually call it that) makes no sense at all. Also, small speakers (especially ones that are cardboard with foam surrounds) are not meant to handle any midrange or bass frequencies. My point to all this mess? Well besides hating companies like Bose (and sony too) that have no shame in ripping off people who don't know any better, I'm hoping that newer entertainment employees or CC employees in general will stop selling these pieces of shit. Permalink - Discuss

July 06, 2006

eBay Bans Sellers from Using Google Checkout

Seems like a desperate move to me. What eBay says about only allowing payment services that are safe is a laughable reason. Everyone knows it is because they are scared out of their minds that Google is going to clean their clock.

July 05, 2006

Apple Filings Reveal Potential iPhone Design

I guess an iPod Nano with a keypad works. If they can keep the iPhone as thin as the Nano, I will be amazed. Amaze me Jobs, amaze me. The following was filed with the European trademark and design office by Apple in January 2006. [Via AppleInsider]


Nintendo Gives Brain Age to President Bush as Birthday Gift

Marketing at its finest, never mind the fact it is probably an insult to our dear President.


Dear President Bush:

Happy Birthday!

Don't worry, turning 60 is an exciting milestone. As you know, you've joined millions of other baby boomers in an invigorating new decade of your life. And, like many boomers, you may be looking for ways to keep your mind sharp. That's where we come in.

Please accept our gift of a new Nintendo DS Lite system and a copy of Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day. You now join millions of people around the world who have fun challenging themselves with Brain Age. If you have never played a video game before, don't worry. Brain Age is part of our new Touch Generations brand, which includes games that are easy for people of any age - regardless of their video game experience - to pick up and start playing immediately.

It's obvious you don't have a lot of time to play games, which makes Brain Age such a great activity for you - just a few minutes a day with more than 15 daily training tests will help keep your mind sharp. Training tests include categories like math, reading and memorization. Try it for a few days and watch your score improve. Brain Age also comes with more than 100 sudoku puzzles - these could make your next long flight on Air Force One a bit more fun! (Perhaps copies of Brain Age for journalists joining you on your next flight would be a nice distraction!) Have fun exploring Brain Age with your Nintendo DS Lite and be sure to let us know your brain age!

Have a tremendous birthday!


Your Friends at Nintendo

Sony Gets Attacked for Racy..err Racial PSP Ads

Take a look at these ads for the Sony PSP in Europe. A bit edgy no? [Via Joystiq]




New Eduction iMac for $899

Apple has released a $899 iMac for education buyers only. It will have a 1.83ghz Core Duo processor, a 80GB hard drive, built-in iSight video/web cam, 512MB of memory, 17 inch LCD screen, Mighty Mouse, and Apple keyboard. This means no more CRT Macs as LCDs have fully taken over.

Rocketboom and Unboomed

It appears the the most popular video blog partnership duo is no more as Amanda Congdon has left Rocketboom. You can read about it all right here. I have the feeling Amanda is the one who is going to benefit from all this, not Andrew Baron.

Metacafe Gets $15 Million in Funding as Movie Sex Scenes Drives Traffic

For those of you that don't know, Metacafe.com is another one of those YouTube clones that has now received $15 million in venture capital funding. The site says they are different because they only let the best videos on their site thanks to a proprietary filtering system. Some filtering system!

If you peruse the videos, many of them are "soft porn"-ish clips of commercial movie sex scenes. Just like YouTube and Naptser, the company has been able to ride the wave of piracy to create millions of website visitors and then get a ton of money in VC funding. To see what I mean, so a search of "sex scene" on the Metacafe site with the family filter turned "off" (in upper right corner).

In fact new sex scenes are posted practically daily and are able to get through their proprietary video filter that only lets the "best" videos get through. I mean do these VCs even do any due diligence before they hand over the big checks?
Permalink - Discuss

Up to 50% Off Google Checkout Stores

Some Google Checkout stores are running a promotion where you can get $10 off an order of $20. Not a bad way to start the new universal wallet service. So go ahead and buy the DVD or CD you've been meaning to buy.

July 04, 2006

FirstAdopter.com Reviews and Columns

Reviews and Columns by Rendition
1/20/08 - Virgin America Airlines Review
12/23/07 - 2007 Year in Review
1/01/07 - Panasonic 42 inch Plasma TV - Model TH-42PX6U from Costco Review 9/10
4/23/06 - Favorite Gaming Moments of All-Time
2/18/06 - Nokia N90 Review 7/10
5/2/05 - God of War for PS2 Review 9/10
3/30/05 - Sony PSP and Killer Video iPod Strategy
3/6/05 - Where has all the Gaming Innovation Gone
11/20/04 - APC Back-UPS ES500 Backup Surge Protector Review
11/18/04 - Interview with Steve Shannon, Founder and EVP Sales of Akimbo
7/31/04 - Editor's Choice Tech Products and Services of 2004
5/31/04 - Guide to the Best Casino Poker Rooms in United States
2/17/04 - Google's Orkut Review
2/10/04 - Google is Out-Microsofting Microsoft
1/24/04 - Dell 2001FP 20" LCD Monitor Review 9/10
1/16/04 - Cool Things I can do with my Treo 600
1/14/04 - Call of Duty for PC Review 9/10

Arogan's World - Link
Samsung LN-R409D 40" LCD TV Review
Gel Tabz Review
Xbox 360 Review
Doom Movie Review
Logitech 676 Universal Remote Review
Far Cry Instincts Review
Logitech MX610 Wireless Laser Mouse Review
F.E.A.R. Impressions
Benq DW1640 DVD Burner Review
Best Mouse Pads
Archos Jukebox Recorder 20 Mp3 Player Review
Logitech PlayGear Pocket Review for Sony PSP
Rio Forge 512MB MP3 Player Review
Nintendo DS Review
Halo 2 Early Impressions
Datel PS2 Max Drive Review
HP iPaq 4155 PDA Review
Dell 2001FP Review

Other Writers
Saint's Row Review for Xbox 360 by Masem
Metroid Prime Pinball Review for Nintendo DS by PcTech
Pelican Gamestop DS Lite Value Kit Review by PcTech

Gaming While Drunk Series
First Edition
Tonight we drink and discuss James Bond
On being a Collector
Ports BAD! Gaiden Good!
Eggs and Scotch and High End TVs
Price Descrimination
EA goes Live