Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Halo 3 Legendary Edition (XBOX 360)

Unboxing Halo 3 Legendary Edition:

- Missed the midnight launch since I had a 101.2 fever
- Didn't go pick it up until around noon on tues.
- Didn't get to even open it until after midnight (so technically I didn't even play it on launch day) because I got my new sharp 52" LCD HDTV and spent most of the day setting that up (I'll be posting a lot more on this later).
- DVD's were still securely in the package when I opened it. Discs were scratch free.
- Finally got to finish the first level (playing on normal). Yeah the single player is a LOT prettier. Feels like good old halo. Radio chatter is too quiet in mission (I swear the Arbiter mumbles). There are only subtitles for the cut scenes. Frame rate feels 60fps even during heavy fire fights. I'm enjoying it so far. Pretty much what I expected. I'll have more impressions once I get to play it more.

UPDATE: 10/02/2007
- Finished on normal!!! Found all the the gold and silver skulls. Found all the terminals. It took around 10-12 hrs.
- Make sure you watch the real ending AFTER the credits. There is also a slightly longer ending if you finish it on legendary. Yeah I cheated and just watched it on youtube.
- Overall this was easily the best Halo single player yet. The levels overall are much better designed, great variety of environments, the pacing is a lot tighter, nice epic set piece battles, the story was much better, and the ending was pretty good too. Fantastic final level, not so good second to last level.
- Probably has the best soundtrack out of the three.
- There is still some repetition and back tracking but it isn't nearly has bad as the first two games.
- I loved some of the vehicle levels. It needed more flying levels!
- The replay thing is really cool letting you upload movies and screenshots to For the movies if you click to download one from, then the next time you fire up halo 3 it will start to download to your console. They are pretty small to since it's like the old Doom replays. It just saves the player input and everything is rendered real time in engine when played back.

here's one I uploaded from the 360 to

Now I'm ready for some co-op, multiplayer, and forge.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Philips 10.2" Portable DVD Player PET1030

- $230 from Circuit City. It's one of the cheaper name brand 10.2" portable dvd players out there.
- I have several philips home dvd players and always liked how compatible they were with different kinds of dvd+/-R media and divx/xvid videos. This portable player is no different.
- nice slim remote (but no power button on it????)
- swivel into tablet mode. Great when you have little space. This is also the mode used for the headrest mount. It comes with a bracket that bolts around the two headrest posts. Then there is a screw in bolt on the back of the dvd player. It works ok but it ends up really close to your face (depending on how far back the front seat is). In the end we didn't really use the car mount much but it's a nice accessory that is included right in the box. Also included is the car power adapter.
- I had no problems playing divx/xvid, mp3's, and jpeg. You just browse directory with long filename support!
- There is your usual set of composite in/out, svideo, and only ONE headphone jack (but you can buy a splitter).
- NO OSD to show time elapsed/remaining.
- Shows the chapter number for a few seconds on the screen when you start a new chapter. So if you are watching a movie you'll see the chapter number every few minutes. It's quite annoying and I haven't figured out a way to turn that off (though I haven't tried really hard either).
- Chapter jump and scan are the same buttons (hold vs tap). I wish they had separate buttons.
- Great looking screen for the most part. Some back light uniformity issues.
- Built in speakers are good and loud.
- Resume is either lacking or not working so well.
- Built in SD card slot which worked fine. You can even stick a divx file on there and it will play just fine.
- Now on to my favorite feature. It has a USB port. Stick in any usb key drive with compatible media files and it plays them just fine. Even better I connected a 2.5" laptop hard drive in an external enclosure and it worked just fine! This is truly one of the most unique features about this player.
- Finally, my biggest complaint: NO USER REPLACEABLE BATTERY. There are a few screws on the bottom so maybe you can crack it open but I didn't try. WHY WHY WHY do manufacturers continue to do this!!???!!! LAZY ENGINEERS!! This was nearly a deal killer, and I almost returned it for this very reason.

In the end I decided to keep it. You just have to accept that this is a disposable $230 piece of electronics. It's too bad b/c I liked almost everything else about this player especially that usb port. Sure you can always use it in the car and such with the power adapter even after the battery is dead in 5 yrs but it won't be truly portable then.

UPDATE: 2/6/08
I finally got around to flashing the latest firmware and it fixed the chapter display issue. Thanks KK for the comment!

UPDATE: 3/24/08
region hack

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Megazone 23 - Being lonesome, you cannot sleep (piano)

This is a piano version from the orginal video animation Megazone 23. It is heard near the end of the feature sung by Yuka Takeuchi. Other names: samishikute nemurenai, I can't sleep so sadly.
This is a piano arrangement an old friend of mine did a LONG time ago that I decided to re-learn. Sorry I can't release the sheet music to this since It's not really mine to release.
I make about 4-5 mistakes and I play it a bit too slow (it's really fast if you listen to the soundtrack). The left hand gets pretty crazy toward the end during the guitar solo, and my hand just gets too tired.

I hope you enjoy it especially for all you old school anime fans out there.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Xbox Live Messenger Kit - Chatpad (XBOX 360)

- $30 from Fry's
- Adds a bit more weight to the 360 controller but overall it's very well positioned and balanced. Your thumbs easily reach the keys.
- Keys are a tad smaller than the madcatz one so it takes a bit of getting use to.
- Backlit buttons are a nice touch.
- Changes the headset plug to a standard 2.5mm plug. This is why they also package in one of the new headsets with the in line volume/mute control.
- Tried it on the PC (winxp) and no go. Though the controller was confirmed working through the windows wireless receiver, I got nothing from the keyboard. Too bad since this could have made a pretty nice portable pc keyboard. Combined with: (haven't tried it yet)
It could have made a nice keyboard/mouse substitute.
- Warning: I've read that it doesn't work with Phantasy Star Universe (at least for now).

Recommended - Price is about right. It's just too bad it doesn't work with anything besides the 360.

Halo 3 Xbox 360 Wireless Headset Limited Edition

- $60 from gamestop.
- I found it quite comfortable and secure. It comes with a different size ear loop thing but the default one was fine.
- Charges from any usb port.
- Good amount of buttons to easily power on/off, mute, change volume (which it remembers between power cycle), and controller position.
- Voice quality seems good to me (tested by recording a message and playing it back).
- Battery life is suppose to be up to 8 hrs (untested).
- Works great on the pc (winxp) with the wireless receiver. I set it up with teamspeak and the voice activation worked really well with it. The headset is really good at eliminating background noise, or even your breathing, and picking up just your voice.
- I hear this rev has some slight improvements over the early white ones. So far I haven't had any issues with connecting or voice quality.

I really like it so far and will probably use it equally on the 360 and the pc (mostly for teamspeak while playing Guild Wars). Since it serves dual purposes it helps with that crazy price tag. Highly recommended if a bit over priced.