Monday, February 25, 2008

Electroline FT08100 Drop Amp ($105)

note: the 8300 is out now that replaces the 8100:

I picked this up recently because my hdhomerun has been having some drop outs. I noticed signal strength was good (mid 90's) but quality was in the 80's and sometimes in the upper 70's.
I know the cable coming into the house is split 5 ways in the attic. I haven't been up there in a long time but I know a few years ago time warner added multiple splits up there so my cable modem got the first split. Anyways, I head up there and it's a MESS with 3 splitters!!!! Of course the room the HDHR is in is on the last split. So I remove all the splitters, the motorola signal booster, and put in this single drop amp. I attached 3 terminators to the ports I wasn't using. All my in house wiring is still rg-59. Back in the bedroom where the hdhr is, I've got it split 3 ways (monster splitter) without any additional amp. Signal strength and quality is now mid 90's for both hdhr tuners. The zero return is suppose to work great with bi-directional cable set top boxes and cable modems. I can't say much about the cable modem since I've gone DSL now. The STB's are still working fine. I might run two more dedicated rg-6 lines from the electroline just because I can (love having 8 coax outputs up there) and eliminate the 3 way split in front of the hdhr. I might just leave it as it is since it's working fine now. FYI, you need to supply your own coax cable to connect between the ac adapter and the drop amp.

I highly recommend this drop amp. It's a tad expensive but worth every penny!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Devil May Cry 4 (XBOX 360)

- Finished this last night. 13 hrs 17 min. I could have probably done it a lot faster but I spent some time exploring finding hidden items and secret missions. I also farmed a bunch of red orbs at the start of mission 7 to max out my blue and purple orbs.
- Having never really played a previous DMC game for more than a few hours I thought I would try Human level. It's a bit too easy if you ask me. I never died once and used health items like twice. If you can handle Ninja Gaiden then you probably should stick with Devil Hunter Mode.
- Major game padding, cheap lengthening issues. You fight all the bosses 3 times!!!! Granted they are some great boss characters but 3 times is a bit ridiculous. You backtrack the ENTIRE GAME, not a level or part of a level but the entire game. Sure you get a few new enemies and all the puzzles are already solved but it's basically the same thing all over again. Talk about major asset reuse.
- Graphics, art direction, and sound are all great. It's a really pretty game with a very fast and smooth frame rate. Voice acting isn't even that bad especially for Capcom.
- There are some really poor design decisions and almost requires you to have some previous knowledge of the earlier games. There are secret missions you can't complete your first time finding it or as a certain character. None of this is explained. That brings me to another point. There are a few poorly designed battles where it's just down right confusing on what you are suppose to do.
- Changing characters is quite jarring especially from a gameplay/control perspective.
- The story is quite confusing. I really don't understand the motivation for why some of the characters do what they do.
- Secret missions are really tough. I tried them all but only finished a few of them.
- The combat/gun play/combo/sytle system all works fine.
- Didn't really need to use Exceed all that much. Maybe it's more important on harder difficulty levels.
- No gamma slider adjuster!!!!! The game can be pretty dark at times.
- Finishing it unlocks some items like a history on DMC, art gallery, and a movie mode to watch all the cutscenes.

Overall I enjoyed it but it does have it's flaws. Recommended to 3rd person action fans. So far though I think Ninja Gaiden is better. I really looking forward to Ninja Gaiden 2 later this year.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Morrowind (piano)

This is from the sheet music made by Nightshade1. I make a few mistakes as usual. If you like the sheet music you should buy it from him here:

Portable Speakers

I picked up a few portable speakers. Both can be powered by batteries or the included AC Adapter. They are quite handy to use around the house or when you go camping.

left to right: Logitech mm28, Sansa e280, JBL On Tour

Logitech mm28 Portable Speaker

- Picked this up for a great price of $14 shipped from a while back when they were clearing them out.
- A little bit larger than the JBL but still very portable and light.
- I really like the design: the cover flips over to become the stand, the 1/8" mini audio jack stores nicely on the back. The cord is a tad short though.
- Powered by 4XAA batteries or the included AC adapter.
- Licensed flat panel speaker technology from NXT.
- Sounds great for the size. I thought mid and highs were nice and clear. There was a surprising amount of base considering the size. It does tend to distort at higher volume levels but still manages to produce a good amount of sound below that threshold.
- Just a single power switch. You control volume on the audio source device.
- Auto powers off if it doesn't detect any sound for a few minutes.

Overall it's an incredible value especially if you can find it at around this price.
Highly recommended!!!!

JBL On Tour Portable Speaker System

- Picked it up for $40 from amazon when it was on sale.
- Very stylish. I like the way it looks.
- Very small.
- It comes with a travel bag. The audio cord is separate. There's no nice place to store it. You just sort of wind it up and cram it into the bag.
- Slidding the cover up converts it into a stand. It's a bit odd how the speaker points more up than toward you. There are nice rubber grip feet on the back.
- Runs on 4XAAA batteries or the included AC adapter.
- Sound isn't too bad for the extremely small size. The highs are very clear. The mids aren't bad but there is hardly any bass. I thought the logitech sounded quite a bit better.
- Gets plenty loud before distorting for its size.
- Has power and volume buttons.
- Auto power off when you close the lid or when it doesn't sense any sound for a while.
- Resumes with your previous audio level.
- Power and audio inputs are a bit awkwardly located.

Overall it's not bad but I like the Logitech one better. If you really need ultra portable I guess this isn't bad but the Logitech is hands down the better value.