Feb 22
Disappointment
posted by: Player0 in reviews on 02 22nd, 2008 | | No Comments »

I’ve been attempting to modernize my personal gaming environment with a few new add ons for the gaming rig.  Not everything can be a winner.  Those Sennheiser PC166 headphones I was so happy about?  Dead.  Developed a bad crackling noise in the right ear plus I’m not sure the microphone was ever loud enough.  The new 22″ Samsung LCD?  It’s crap.  The 204B blows it away for color rendering.  The 226BW makes everything look ‘fluorescent’ and washed out.  It’s crap.  Those extremely high NewEgg ratings?  Also crap.  Don’t trust them.  I was lead to believe that the 226BW was better than the 204B because of it.

I got the Logitech G11 keyboard in yesterday.  It’s pretty to be sure.  All the keys seem to be in their proper places.  It makes wonderful clicking noises and I can see what I’m doing in the dark.  It’s free of many of those annoying ‘media’ keyboard buttons but I do miss an extra scroll wheel.  In it’s place are 18 programmable buttons in a nice accessible configuration.

The problem with these G keys is that they suck.  They might be a bit small to use for WASD, but I’m still getting used to that.  My biggest complaint is that the damn things are simply software emulated keys as far as I can tell so far.  I have to map each one of the 18 keys to a corresponding existing key in software.  So G1 is maybe Q.  G2 is maybe W.   That’s real lame.  Maybe there’s a way around this, I just don’t know.  But I don’t have 18 new keys, I just get the same old keys moved around to a new location.

Otherwise it’s okay.  Key feel is a bit harder than the old wireless MX models I have.  Keys might be just a bit smaller too.  At least things are generally in the right places, such as the insert and delete keys, slash/pipe, etc and the backslash is the right size.  It does have some spare USB ports (woo) though I’m not sure they are USB2.0 at the moment.  Also there’s a handy switch that disables the Windows key for gaming.  Not bad.

I also got my lovely Yamaha HTR-6030 receiver in the mail yesterday.  It replaced the dying Optimus.  A lot has changed in ten years when it comes to receivers.  Even this amp, which I got for dirt cheap, sports excellent features such as DTS, coaxial and fiber digital inputs, all sorts of DSP modes, and more inputs than I could dream about using.  Gone are my beloved bass, treble, balance knobs and some front inputs take their place.  Considering I just needed something basic to power my full towers this has definitely made me a little happier.  No complaints here so far but time will tell.  It always does.

*waits for the UPS guy to bring his replacement gaming headset*

I’m really annoyed at NewEgg.  Even if they send me a shitty defective product, I have to pay a restocking fee if I’d rather have my money back.  So I had to exchange the headset.  I know Sennheiser is typically a quality brand so I’m not too worried about a one time defect.  This LCD that I’m not loving?  I can’t exchange it no matter what at the Egg.  At least if I got it from a retail store I could return it for an upgrade.  They’d probably make more money in the long run.

Feb 18
Mouseballs
posted by: Player0 in reviews on 02 18th, 2008 | | No Comments »

Playing a lot of CoD4 lately and really needed some extra buttons on my mouse.  Finding the right mouse is really a challenge with all the different gaming mice options around.  I went out to the local Circuit City and BestBuy to try some out.  Input devices aren’t actually priced much differently retail then they are online which is good.  I do hate giving BestBuy any money but thats a different story.

Both stores had a pretty decent selection.  Circuit City had the best variety and had the most mice out to actually touch and feel.  I went there first but gave Best Buy a shot after and didn’t want to bother driving back so they got my money even though they didn’t have ONE gaming mouse out for display.  I did rip a couple Razer boxes open though.

After touching and ‘trying’ dozens of gaming mice I came out with two favorites.  The Razer Lachesis and the Microsoft Sidewinder.  I bought both and completely plan to return the looser to the store.  No, I don’t feel guilty about that, see above.

The Razer weighed in with the steepest price.  The Lachesis looked wider than the other Razers I got to play with today.  I found this one more comfortable overall.  I’ve always wanted to try a Razer since they look so damn sexy.  They were the first real gaming mice available back when opticals were a new thing.  I always voted to go with an optical mouse back then.

I picked up a Razer mousepad tonight to replace the Ratpadz I’ve had forever.  I mention this because during my Razer testing I lost tracking!  I tried the smooth and rough side of the Razer mousepad as well as the ratpadz and just randomly during play I’d completely loose any mouse movement.  This was awful.  It worked pretty good otherwise.  It might just be surface picky.  The thing I disliked most was the side buttons.  This is where most all mice I tested fail.  The Razer side buttons are well placed but lack good tactile feedback when pressed.  And it takes more pressure than I would like to engage them.  I felt my thumb getting strained while using the side buttons for toggling Zoom mode on CoD4 weapons.   Weight wise this Razer is about medium and it didn’t cause me too much grief.

The Sidewinder is my new best friend.  This thing shines with it’s extra width, it’s EXTREMELY usable side buttons, and it’s adjustable weights.  I’ve been using wireless mice for a while and got used to the extra mass.  I think it helps me slow down my view scanning when I see a target without needing an overly abrasiveness mousing surface.  Personal preferences aside it also has on the fly DPI adjustments.  This can be good for immediately slowing down the mouse sensitivity for some sniper action.  This is usually better accomplished with a macro but making these is not always easy for different games.

So I’m back to using a Microsoft mouse.  I still have a few Intellimice around from the olden days and I do think they’ve made some great mice.  Logitech has always been a solid choice as well but I haven’t liked some of their recent designs.  I did not get a chance to try the Logitech G9 since not one store seems to carry it.  It certainly might have been a contender against the Sidewinder.  I did not see any Razer Boomslangs either and suspect I might have liked it better than the Lachesis though it still has crappy side buttons I’m sure.

Speaking of side button comfort, the Logitech G5 was seriously close.  It only has one side button but its well placed and I really liked it.  It’s a solid mouse but feels a bit small for my hand.  But I had to give them props for getting the side button right.

One last thing I want to mention is the wire.  I’ve been gaming with a wireless mouse for years now and I never noticed any issues.  A lot of people claim that the extra latency can throw off their precision.  With my desk always cluttered and the wire always getting in the way I usually find that to be a larger issue.  I’m going to give a serious gaming mouse a try though and find out if I can actually notice any improvement in my game with a wire.  Everyone’s mileage will vary widely!