Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Compaq Presario cq62-209wm

Today I'm going to review the Compaq Presario cq62-209wm. The specs for this laptop are as follows:

Screen: 15.6"
Resolution 1366x768
Ram: 3GB DDR3 (1x2gb & 1x1gb both cas 9)
Hard Drive: 250gb 7200rpm sata 3gb/s
Video: Ati Radeon 4250
Processor: AMD Athlon X2 P320 @ 2.1ghz
Chipset: AMD Vision (M880)
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium X64
DVD Burner

This is not a bad machine at all. I picked this machine up from Walmart a couple of months ago for $398. For the price the specs could not be beat. At the time all other options with the same internal hardware were at least $450 to $500. The price did come with some drawbacks though.

The low price of this machine meant a few conveniences were removed. There is no built-in webcam and no built-in card reader. I can live without these options. I've already purchased external replacements, though I do admit that I rarely use them because it's not convenient to dig out the webcam and strap it to the screen all the time.

Lacking features aside, I only have 2 real gripes with the design of this machine and the other models around it (i.e. 219wm, 220US, etc). My first and biggest problem is the track pad.

As you can see, the touchpad is flush with the rest of the bezel and has the same texture.  This means I often find my finger slips out of the touchpad area without intending to.  This causes me to drag and drop files to places I didn't intend if I'm not careful.  Another problem, though not as big of a deal, the left and right buttons are both on one bar.

My second gripe is that the keyboard, and the rest of the casing for that matter, is flimsy and cheap.  Not a big deal, but the keyboard on my previous machine, an ASUS 1000HE netbook, was 100x better feeling.  Another minor gripe:  you have to hold the fn key down to press insert.

Conclusion:  Great laptop for the price, the speed and power are certainly no problem for the price range.  If you can afford it, though, i'd suggest jumping up to the $700 range and getting something with more quality and more power.  You can get a higher quality design for $500, but I don't believe the performance is worth it at that price.

Also, you'll notice I linked the cq62-220us model above.  This is the nearest model I can find on amazon.  Even if you can't find this specific model number, this review should still be helpful for any model with the same case design.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dingoo A320

My Sony PSP died the other day. Desperately needing a new device to play my emulated games on the go (who actually plays PSP games anyway?) and not having a lot of extra cash, I found the Dingoo A320. For as low as $114 on Amazon (I've seen it for $80 from other places) you can pick up a device that will emulate the same systems that the PSP is capable of and do it better. Another bonus is that you don't need to hack the firmware to do what you want. The Dingo A320 runs a custom installation of linux and have emulators for many systems including NES, SNES, GBA, PSX, and more. It comes with 4GB of internal memory to hold your games and the screen does fairly well even outside in bright sunlight. If you're looking for a cheap PSP replacement and don't care about official PSP games, this is the device to get.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Frisby Dual-Shock PC Gamepad

Today I'm going to review the Frisby Dual-Shock PC USB Gamepad. Anyone who is into emulated games (i.e. NES, SNES, Genesis, etc) probably knows that most PC gamepads today don't have a d-pad that's worth a crap. Most d-pads today are analog instead of digital and/or have poor direction separation. The Frisby Dual-Shock PC USB Gamepad, however, is one of the few that does it right. The directional buttons on this gamepad are separate digital buttons. There's no more struggling with trying to pull off special moves in games like Mortal Kombat or Street fighter 2.

Though this pad is almost perfect, there are a few problems. First, the buttons, especially the dpad are a bit stiff. This isn't a bad thing compared to almost all other PC gamepads in existence and can easily be gotten used to. Also, the buttons in general are a bit sharp and square. As for the final problem: The driver CD (only needed for rumble effects) that came with my unit seems to be a blank rewritable DVD. I was unable to find drivers on the company's site either. I'm not sure if they are there or not since the site is in Turkish.

- d-pad with separate directional buttons
- cord isn't too long

- Doesn't feel as good as a PS2 Dual-Shock
- Driver DVD was blank?!

In summary, I would suggest this to anyone who either doesn't have a few actual PS2 dual-shock controllers lying around, or to anyone who doesn't want the 30ft of cable that comes with a PS2 dual-shock + a PS2 to USB adapter.

Anyone else have suggestions for good PC gamepads, especially ones that work well with emulated games?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

JVC Marshmallows vs JVC Flats

First off we have the JVC Marshmallows.


* In-ear
* Driver Unit: 8.5mm (Neodymium Magnet)
* Frequency Response: 8Hz - 23,000Hz
* Sensitivity: 102dB/1m
* Nominal Impedance: 16 ohm
* Cord Length: 1.2m (3.94ft)

These are the best earbuds I've ever owned and definitely the most comfortable. They come with a medium and large set of memory foam ear pieces. They sound great. I'm not an audiophile so I won't try to describe the sound, but they sound better than any other earbuds I've tried.

With the good comes the bad, though. These earbuds have two problems: the cord transmits any vibration, say from the cord rubbing against the table or your jacket, directly into your ear and it's loud. The biggest problem though, is that the memory foam ear pieces are fairly fragile and prone to drying out. If you take good care of them and make sure the ear pieces do not split at all you should be fine, but once they do they will dry out and get hard if you don't use them for a day or two. This wouldn't be as big of a problem if buying a replacement set didn't cost as much as a whole new pair.

Now onto the JVC Flats


* Ear Cup
* Driver Unit: 30mm (Neodymium Magnet)
* Frequency Response: 12 - 23000 Hz
* Sensitivity: 105dB/1m
* Nominal Impedance: 32 ohm
* Cord Length: 1.2m (3.93ft)

These sound just as good as the Marshmallows if not slightly better. The bass seems clearer and deeper. I prefer these for comfort. The marshmallows would hurt my ears after a couple hours of use. These have felt great and not caused any pain. The flat folding design is convenient as well.

In summary, I'd say both of these sets of earphones/headphones have their specific uses. I wouldn't bother mowing the lawn with Flats, but the Marshmallows block out more than enough sound to hear and enjoy your music. The Flats, however, are more durable and more comfortable for most other uses. Either way they're both great options for cheap music listening. If anyone else has thoughts or suggestions for headphones or earbuds in this price range leave them in the comments section. Thanks for reading.