The Gadget Nerd in Me

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3

After having served me well for 5 years (bought in Feb 2003), I have replaced my Canon Powershot SD400 with a modern digital camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3. As I’ve been spending more time with family, and enjoying nature, I figure it was high time to upgrade to a new camera.

One thing I like with the new camera is the 10x optical zoom which is better than most digital cameras in its price range and class, and the fact that it records high quality movies at 848×480 for up to 30 minutes (on a 2GB SD memory card.) Not to mention pictures are higher quality and crisper compared to older generation digital cameras.

Which leads me into a line of thought I was thinking about the other day. I tend to adopt gadgets much sooner than anyone else does. My family always remark about the gadgets I’d show them, but eventually they end up getting them someday.

For example, I bought the first generation of digital cameras when they came out, they were big, bulky, had terrible battery life, the picture quality wasn’t that great compared to analog cameras, but the LCD screen, ability to store all pictures on a small flash drive, erase them on the spot, preview them, and so on really wowed everyone I showed it to. Fast forward a few years later and now I see everyone at our family gathering using a digital camera.

The same thing can be said for LCD monitors. I bought one when they first came out, even though they were expensive as all hell. A few years down the road and now people don’t even think twice about buying one; they even come default in every computer purchase from Dell, Gateway, Compaq, etc.

My aunt scoffed at my iPhone, saying it’s a toy with a touchscreen. But you just watch, all future cell phones will follow the iPhone philosophy in the near future. They will portable computers that does more than just make phone calls.

After all, I tend to be a barometer of the future in technology. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go try out the new hovertoilet I just bought.

Dell LCD Monitor – 2005FPW vs. 2007FPW

A few weeks ago I had to return my Dell 2005FPW Ultrasharp 20.1″ Widescreen LCD Monitor due to burn-in issues (which resulted in extended use, it seems.) Dell exchanged my monitor for a new 2007FPW monitor (A02 revision without the banding problem A00 had), which is the 2005FPW updated. While having the two together before I shipped off the old one, I decided to compare them to see what differences, if any, were between the two monitors. As it turned out, there were a lot of differences. Here’s the technical differences:

Contrast Ratio:

2005FPW: 600:1
2007FPW: 800:1

As a general rule, the higher the contrast ratio, the deeper and more accurate the colors are. For example, black looks darker and more uniform on the 2007FPW due to the higher contrast ratio.

Pixel Response Time:

2005FPW: 12ms (grey to grey)
2007FPW: 16ms (Unknown)

Dell’s technical specification didn’t really outline what the 16ms pixel response time for the 2007FPW, was it for black to white or grey to grey? Either way, it really doesn’t matter. Companies can be very misleading or outright lying with the numbers due to non-standardized tests in this area. They can use particular tools that favor their equipment to get the best number possible. I rarely trust stated pixel response times when it comes to LCD monitors, the only way you can tell is by using your own eyes, watching a fast-paced movie or playing a fast-paced game to see if there are ghosting artifacts using the monitor.

Viewing Angle:

2005FPW: +/- 88 (vertical) typ, +/- 88 (horizontal)
2007FPW: +/- 89 (vertical) typ, +/- 89 (horizontal)

Not much of a difference really, but one thing I do want to point out is that I don’t get the purplish tint when I view the 2007FPW from a side angle, whereas the 2005FPW had this problem. Another thing I noticed is that the height adjustment for the 2007FPW doesn’t go as high as the 2005FPW can, which is a drawback.

A few other differences is the outside of the 2007FPW has more silver and design to it, while the 2005FPW is more unassuming and plain. The footprint is less on the 2007FPW, while the 2005FPW had a half-circle thing. The 2007FPW feels a bit lighter, and has a thinner bezel. I’ve also noticed the 2007FPW outputs less heat off the top, which is nice, especially if you live in a warmer climate. Finally 2007FPW is said to support HDCP, which isn’t a big deal, but necessary for future-proofing monitors.

With all that said, it feels like I got a nice little upgrade from my old monitor. Games and movies look better, and I don’t notice any ghosting to speak of. The backlight bleeding was bad on the 2005FPW, although I grew used to it and didn’t see it anymore after a week of using it. The 2007FPW suffers from backlight bleeding, but it is significantly reduced and not a factor at all. I also didn’t get a single dead/stuck pixel, which is nice. While it was painful going through Dell’s so-called support to honor my warranty, I’m happy with the 2007FPW.

If you’d like to see the technical specs on both monitors, here’s the one for the 2005FPW, and here’s the one for the 2007FPW.

Visiontek Radeon X1950 Pro AGP Review

Instead of spending up to or over $1,000 to upgrade my motherboard, processor, and power supply in order to buy the latest generation of PCI-e cards, I decided to stay with my current system and get the latest and fastest AGP solution available. Since ATI just released their new Radeon X1950 Pro cards which supports AGP, I decided to give one a spin.

This is where the Visiontek XGE Radeon X1950 Pro 256MB card (MSRP: $300) comes in.  It has AGP, has a bit of legroom for future gaming, and it allows me to get instant gaming satisfaction until I can come up with the funds to get a whole new system.  So is the X1950 Pro AGP the answer to gamers who want to stay with AGP for a bit longer?  Read on to find out in this review of Visiontek’s XGE X1950 Pro 256MB video card.

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Icemat Siberia Headset Review

Living with two roommates who don’t share my movie, music, and gaming enthusiasm means I have to use headphones at all times. You could say I have a mild headphone fetish, and over the years, I’ve tried a dozen of them. From the humble beginnings of generic Wal-mart Sony earphones, then the Shure E2C earphones, the venerable Grado SD60’s, and the Audio Technica ATH-A500. Audio quality, comfort, and build quality are all top criterias I look into when checking out headphones/earphones.

Now I am trying out the Icemat Siberia Headset, which retails for $80. Icemat has the luxury of creating gamer-approved mousepads in an industry where there aren’t many competitors. With headphones, however, it’s a saturated market. Aiming them at gamers means you not only have to have features that gamers crave (like being affordable, durable, and have a great soundstage — more on this later), but it must also exhibit superb sound quality.

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