December 29, 2007

Costco TV Price Check and Nintendo Wii Story

Just came back from Costco. Here are the latest prices I jotted down.

Panasonic Th42pc77u 42 inch Plasma $999.99
Th50pe700u 50 inch 1080p Plasma $2499.99
Th50pc77u 50 inch 720p Plasma $1649.99
Th58pe75u 58 inch 720p Plasma $2299.99
Sharp Lcc5262u 52 inch 1080p LCD $2499.99
Sony Kdl46vl130 46 inchb 1080p $1999.99
Sony Kdl40vl130 40 inch 1080p $1649.99

The trend toward 1080p is becoming mainstream for flat-panel TVs, although it doesn't seem the 120hz LCD technology has caught on as much. They also had about 10 Nintendo Wii bundles for $344.99, which disappeared within 30 minutes. It comes with the core system with Wii Sports, an extra controller, and Brain Age Academy. I picked one up and while we were shopping at least 7 people asked me about it. One female teenager said, "you are soooo lucky!" Suffice it to say it's still a white-hot product even after 2 Christmas seasons. Discuss

December 27, 2007

Internet Sports Writers Make Millions

According to this New York Times article, ESPN and Yahoo Sports are paying several writers $150 to $350K a year and some get paid as much as $3 million. ESPN reportedly makes over $3 billion a year of profit for its owner Disney forcing cable companies to pay more than $3 a month per subscriber to get the channel. got 20 million visitors in November and ESPN the magazine has 2 million subscribers. Who knew that sports writers are the new millionaires.

Can you imagine getting paid to stay at home and watch sports all day. I bet Bill Simmons gets paid over a $1 million to watch sports and write his columns, probably expensing his DirectTV NFL Sunday Ticket bill to ESPN to boot. What a life.

December 23, 2007

2007 Year in Review

This was a banner year for technology and purchases for my household. I don't think I ever spent this much on personal technology in my whole life. I will quickly run-down my major purchases this year both hardware and software with the one exception of gaming software. I don't expect to buy this much again in 2008 and will focus spending on software for all the hardware bought this year.

Canon SD700IS - $320 from Newegg - It's a functional small sized camera that takes decent, though not stellar, pictures. The most used feature by my wife is the movie recording function, which works well. We used this even more than the Canon Z500 camcorder which I put up on eBay this year because it had sound problems picking up the MiniDV driving motor. I wished it took better pictures especially in low-light. 6/10

Keurig B40 - $99 from - Instant good consistent coffee to go. It's good for those that just want 1 or 2 cups a day and don't want to deal with the mess of brewing a whole pot. It's for the lazy among us that don't mind paying a little extra for the convenience. For you moderate coffee drinkers this is a good buy. 8/10

Playstation 3 60GB - $599 from Best Buy - It's a solid fully featured piece of hardware. The problem is there aren't many killer app games for it and most of the multi-platform titles are better on the Xbox 360. I've mainly used it as a Blu-ray player. The one thing it does better than the 360 is the quieter noise leve. 6/10

PS3 Bluetooth remote - $25 from Best Buy - It works well as a good remote control for the PS3 during DVD and Blu-ray playback. Worth buying if you watch a lot of movies. 8/10

Vizio VX32L 32" LCD TV - $599 from Costco - Initially I liked the TV because it seemed to work with games well. However over time I got sick of it due to the headaches it gave me from the blurry motion and standard definition television looks awful. I eventually wound up returning it and got a 120hz capable Panasonic later in the year instead. 3/10

Blackberry 8800 - $350 from T-Mobile - I got this to replace my old Palm Treo 600 which kept crashing due to the many contact records I had. It works and is stable. The downside is the keyboard isn't the most comfortable, it could use a better browser as it doesn't render pages correctly, lacks 3G speed support, and the trackball doesn't work as well as the old thumbwheel on the previous model. However the battery life is good and the screen is bright. 7/10

Planet Earth Blu-Ray - $67 from Amazon - Stunning nature documentary. Worth buying for the amazing never before seen landscapes, images, and animal action. 8/10

IM+ for Skype by Shape Services - $25 from Handango - It was a lot of pain to get working with the right settings, but after you are done you can text message your Skype contacts. Not the slickest interface and also performance in logging on is sub-par. 4/10

Macbook 13" Laptop - $1099 from Apple - Fast for the price. Not a fan of the chiclet keyboard. 7/10

iPod 5.5G 30GB - $249 from Apple - Not much to say. It worked fine, but I put it up on eBay as I knew the new iPod were coming out. 7/10

Apple iPhone 8GB - $599 from Apple - Stunning user interface and great design. The browser is the best ever on a mobile device. It could use 3G speed, although Wi-Fi helps. Looking forward to more 3rd party applications in 2008. 8/10

MacBook Pro 15" Santa Rosa Laptop - $2121 from Apple - I returned the first one I got due to dead pixels and weird vibrations on the keyboard. The second one was much better. The design once again is fantastic, the LED display is the best, and the keyboard feel is solid. The best laptop out there today. 9/10

Rain iLap - $61.60 from NewEgg - Nice design. It is needed as the MacBook Pro tends to get very warm underneath. It also serves as a good stand to help cool the computer. Not cheap however. 7/10

Nikon D40 - $533 from NewEgg - I decided I needed a DSLR. I chose the Nikon over the Canon as I didn't mind the lower megapixel count and it just felt better in my hand. The Canon's didn't grip right for me. I'm very happy with the picture quality. 8/10

Dell 3007WFP-HC - $1298 from Dell - Gaming at 2560x1600 takes my breath away. I wanted to stick to a IPS panel as I was used to the color renditions on my 2001FP. The 3007 fit the bill and it has no dead pixels which is amazing with its pixel count. Productivity goes way up due to the screen real estate. I would wait for the next iteration however as this monitor only has one dual-link DVI input. 9/10

VMWare Fusion for Mac OS X - $40.39 from VMWare - It works like magic. I haven't had any sigmificant problems or issues running windows and it's pretty snappy to boot. 8/10

Missing Sync v1.0.1 for Blackberry - $39.95 from Mark Space - It works without any major issues. Syncs my 8800 to my Mac. It doesn't seem to be as fast as the Blackberry Windows software. 7/10

Kensington Slimtype USB Mac Keyboard - $34.99 from Amazon - The design is mac-like. The key travel isn't very deep. Good for light productivity tasks. 6/10

iPod Touch 16GB - $399 from Apple - As discussed in a previous post, my iPod Touch was an utter disaster as the screen quality was horrendous. Green shadows and bad blacks that were more like green/greys. I read that the current ones are better, but still not up to the original iPhone screen in quality. Unfortunately there are no do-overs here. 2/10

Vista Home Premium - $112 from NewEgg - Annoying security pop-ups. The Aero eye-candy requires major GPU horsepower. You really need 2GB of RAM to make it usable. A lot of old peripherals simply don't work due to drivers not being updated. Bottomline, it's not worth upgrading unless you are only using it as a media center as that piece is very good. Otherwise stick with Windows XP due to stability, speed, and compatibility. 4/10

BenQ FP222WH 22" LCD Monitor - $293 from NewEgg - The first monitor I got started developing 2-3 blue vertical lines after 10-15 minutes of use. No joke. NewEgg sent me a new monitor. I didn't even open the new monitor and sold it on eBay and took like a $100 loss on it. Good riddance. Even if it didn't have the blue line problem, it was a bad purchase as it had motion blur, backlight bleeding, and weak blacks. 2/10

Panasonic TC-32LX700 32" LCD TV - $939 from B&H - The ultimate gaming TV. After the problems I had with the Vizio VX32L and the BenQ, I can say I'm am 100% satisfied with this LCD TV, especially for games. It has great blacks, much better than the Vizio. Better colors and much less motion blur due to its 120hz technology. Although it's not the cheapest 720p LCD TV out there, I have no problems saying it's the best and perfect for gaming with the Xbox 360. 9/10

Xbox 360 Premium Edition - $350 from Gamestop - I got the Falcon CPU, which hopefully means I won't get the red rings of death. It comes with Forza 2 and Ultimate Alliance. Xbox Live gaming simply is great fun. I'm still having a ball playing Street Fighter 2 online even though my win % is less 20%. On the downsides, it is still loud like a lawn mower and you have to buy a special HDMI cable if you want to split out your audio from the HDMI. 8/10

Rome DVD Set - $72 for both Season 1 and 2 from Best Buy - A great historical drama TV series. One of the best TV shows I have ever seen. HBO does an amazing job like Band of Brothers before it. The second season isn't as good as the first however. 10/10

iPod Classic 80GB - $249 from Apple - I used my $100 iPhone credit to replace the iPod Touch I returned. It's basically the same thing as the 5.5G version with more storage capacity and a funkier user interface. 7/10

MarsEdit - $29.95 from Red Sweater - Great blogging software for Mac OS X. It works better than Ecto which I bought the previous year. Fast and just works like the way you expect it should. 8/10

eVGA GeForce 8800GT - $260 from NewEgg - This is the best hardware purchase of the year for me. It makes 2560x1600 gaming actually work without stuttering and with the latest games like Team Fortress 2 and Call of Duty 4, it's pure gaming bliss. Rock solid frame-rates, single slot and actually low noise levels. Nvidia really has it a home-run with this one and it's the best card since the famous Ti4200. 10/10

What an amazing year for gaming, computer, and tech gagdet lovers among us. Here's to another great year in 2008. Permalink - Discuss