Thermaltake Meka G1 / Gaming Keyboard Review

I feel that one of the biggest detriments to my online and computer gaming has to be the keyboard tat I use. The keyboards that are made fully from plastic or can be found in a $5 bin just cannot compare to the quality that is brought by the Meka G1. This means that the keyboard is rugged as all get out, with it being able to take 50 million keystrokes. The mechanical aspect to the keyboard allows for accurate response to the force that one puts into it, while the lag factor that will lead to a massive wipe or player death is diminished seriously by the Meka G1.

The best inclusion to the Meka G1 has to be the USB hubs that are contained on the keyboard itself. No more does an individual have to bend over and plug in their peripherals. The palm rest is pretty much the only side to the keyboard that I would have changed. It is easy enough to remove and replace, but it would come over whenever I stood the keyboard vertically (to remove dirt and debris).

I believe that the Thermaltake Meka G1 should be purchased for any gamer that is looking to have a foot up on their competition. The increase in response rate, coupled with the mechanical switches that were chosen for this keyboard, make this a must-buy. The MSRP of $130 is small, considering one will be using the keyboard constantly over the course of 3-5 years (if not more; we’ll update whenever we get there). Kudos to Thermaltake for releasing such a solid and sturdy keyboard, especially considering the sheer amount of chaff that is available for buyers. Check out their website for updates to their product line.

Rating: 8.9/10

Thermaltake Meka G1 / Gaming Keyboard / http://www.thermaltakeusa.com / http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/store/Product.aspx?C=1154&SC=1165&ID=1471

TDK BA100 In Ear Balancing Headphones

There are a number of different possibilities for an individual to use the TDK BA100 headphones. I believe that they will run circles around other headphones when plugged into a laptop, and they are light enough to work well when one is working out or is on the treadmill. The balanced aspect to the headphones affords this versatility, while the headphones durability makes the list price of $199 seem downright cheap. I believe that one will be able to use these headphones for years before needing a replacement, if not only for the design allowing for rapid tugs. Rather than pulling the headphones out of one ear, the tug will just pivot the headphones. The sound quality on the BA100 headphones is absolutely superb. Voices (if one is watching movies, TV shows, or speeches) are reproduced perfectly, while there is a considerable range of bass, treble, and high / low that these headphones can put out.

We were able to test them constantly over the course of three months; taking them to and from class, the workout center, and the like. The headphones are still immaculate, while minor damage does not seem to phase them. The in-ear format of the headphones may be different for those that are familiar with over-ear designs, but the foam used on these headphones ensures the greatest possible comfort. The presence of the silicone ear bud covers provides a slightly different experience, but I contend that they shine just as brightly using them.

TDK manufactures a wide array of products for computers and audio players; make sure that you are familiar with the extent of their offerings by checking out their website.

Rating: 8.4/10

TDK BA100 In Ear Balancing Headphones / http://www.tdk.com

In-Win Mana136 Case Review

Computer cases are not seen as important as they should be. In a previous computer build, we had to spend a day’s worth of time testing out each component part, just to ultimately figure out that the case was poorly designed and was killing the signal to the motherboard.

We received the Mana136 case for review. It can currently be purchased for $70 at Newegg. This case allows for up to 3 5.25” drives as well as 6 internal (3.5”) drives. In-case space is ample, ensuring that one will not need to force or otherwise struggle when putting in components. For those that want the fastest possible response times, the Mana136 case has included two USB 3.0 ports on the front. I personally liked the placement of the power supply at the bottom; it just opened up the rest of the case for me. The only thing that could be seen as a weak point is the force that is needed to turn on the power switch – the square, flush button that is present needs more effort to turn on than I was familiar with. This is something that one will easily get used to after a few days with the case and should in no way be seen as a deal breaker. The ventilation that this case provides will keep one’s CPU, video card, and hard drives running cool, even when running games at their highest levels.

In Win is a company that is attempting to provide computer cases with the functionality that individuals need without the prices that are usually assigned to cases. The sheer amount of cases that the company produces ensures that individual will find the case that they need for the build that they want.

Rating: 9.5/10

In-Win Mana136 Case / ATX Mid Tower / http://www.in-win.us

myScratch Pack

myScratch is priced as an introductory DJ scratch controller, but the sheer amount of functionality that it provides will ensure that it remains in a studio or trucked along to gigs for years to come. The sensitivity of the platters is variable (controlled by a knob on the back of the controller), while the cuing, looping, and sampling ensures that one can make some sick mixes. Whether individuals wish to crossfade, change pitch or key, or just keep the energy at a high level, the myScratch performs admirably.

The durability of the myScratch is unparalleled. Rubber, metal, and plastic unite to ensure that no amount of dings or drops will break or otherwise harm the controller. DJ-Tech has also included VirtualDJ and an audio interface (a 4in/4out Soundbox Pro) in their myScratch Pack. The audio interface is something that you will want hooked up to your computer – it provides ample inputs and outputs, and is powered (as with the myScratch) by a USB port. A set of headphones finishes up this pack, and allows for great noise cancellation as one continues to tweak, twist, and turn their compositions into musical brilliance.
Coming in as more of an amateur than a professional, the myScratch Pack allowed me to rapidly get into mixing, cuing, and scratching. In fact, the time spent from unboxing to a pretty decent education about the myScratch’s option and abilities was only about an hour. I would highly recommend the myScratch Pack for anyone that is just getting into DJing and mixing, but that should not be seen as a limitation. The wide-open aspect of the myScratch allows for individuals of a wide variety of skill levels to sound great and let their own unique style fly.

At a price point under $200, this is a perfect gift to buy for a friend, relation, or for yourself in this near-tax season. Check out the linked DJ-Tech website for a listing of their other product offerings, and see if the myScratch product is the scratch controller for you.

Rating: 9.5/10

myScratch Pack / DJ-Tech / http://www.djtechpro.com / http://www.djtechpro.com/product_detail.asp?cate_id=63&subcate_id=105&product_id=593

PENTAX Optio RZ18 (Digital Camera) Review

There are good entry level cameras, and great cameras for those that wish to capture major life events. The Optio RZ18, PENTAX’s latest effort, is one of these latter cameras. At a list price of $299, it represents a camera that will serve dutifully over the course of five or so years. The amount of different functions that it provides is astounding, tying together the traditional skills of a camera with that of a camcorder. Each life event and scenic vista is captured with a 16 megapixel sensor, while there is a built-in shake reduction that makes sure that one’s pictures are spot-on. For those that may not be familiar with Photoshop, PENTAX has placed a number of different filters on the camera itself.

Adding to that shake stabilization is an autofocus, ensuring that one can snap off a sharp and crisp picture as quickly as possible. For those that do not want to add yet another format of memory card to their collection, the Optio RZ18 takes SD, SDHC ,and SDXC card. I personally found myself to be a fan of the (relatively speaking) huge 3 inch LCD display. This allows individuals to actually see how the shot looks before they take it, rather than just pointing and hoping for the best.

After purchasing the RZ18, make sure to pick up any PENTAX remote control to allow for yourself to actually make it into the pictures. An additional recommendation is to buy the biggest possible memory card – the different videos that are shot at the camera’s 720p resolution are fairly large. We are absolutely in love with the Optio RZ18, and strongly recommend it for anyone that is currently in the market for a new (and cheaply priced) digital camera.

Rating: 9.6/10

PENTAX Optio RZ18 (Digital Camera) / http://www.pentaximaging.com / http://www.pentaximaging.com/digital-camera/Optio_RZ18_Orange

Line 6 Mobile In (iPhone / iPad)

I wanted to be in a band when I was younger. I spent a small time in a few bands, but I always believed that a key thing holding me back was my lack of money. Specifically, I was unable to go and purchase all the different pedals that I needed to truly make my guitar work reach that next level. The Line 6 Mobile In is an add-on for the iPhone and iPad. Just insert your patch cord into the guitar in, and one will be provided with 64 different amps to choose from.

Line 6 actually has emulated a great deal of their products released over the last twenty years, and one can honestly hear the difference between them. Line 6 has also included a tuner to the Mobile In, to ensure that one is spot on. The better quality of the iPhone or iPad over a $10 tuner will make sure that one’s axe is perfectly tuned. The price of the Mobile In is sufficiently low (about $80) that anyone that is truly serious about their craft will be picking one up.

The only thing that I would suggest after picking up the Mobile In would have to be a metal case for the Apple product in question – one would not want their $500-plus toy destroyed by an errant foot, instrument, or microphone. Line 6 has ensured that one is ready to use their Mobile In immediately after receiving it – it comes with all of the cords and cables that one needs. As the hardware already exists, I would personally like to see Line 6 continue to go through their (and any other companies that they could license from) stocks for crazy and otherwise off the wall pedals. Without a weakness to be had, I believe that studio music will be given a serious shot in the arm by the Mobile In.

Rating: 8.9/10

Line 6 Mobile In (iPhone / iPad) / 2011 Line 6 / http://line6.com/mobilein

iHes212 (Blu-Ray Player)

At this point, a great many individuals have a Blu-Ray player. Whether in a gaming console or one’s rig, there is a substantial amount of the populace that already has access to the newest format. However, there are always computers being built and there are still a large mass of individuals that do not yet have access to Blu-Ray play. The iHes212, produced by Lite-On, is an inexpensive way to get on board. Rather than being a single-use tool, the iHes212 allows individuals to play and burn DVDs, along with LightScribe capability to make one’s burns that much more professional.

A buffer size of 2 MB ensures that burning and playback will not be problematic, while the design of the iHe 212 is such that some semblance of quiet is preserved. The player is small enough to fit into mini builds, and will keep things uncluttered for those that install it in builds with larger form factors. Playback of Blu-Ray videos was immaculate during our time with the iHes212, no matter whether we used discs from the earliest months of the format to new releases. At a price point of about $100 (with some online retailers creeping below that mark), there is no reason one should not switch out their current DVD burner for the iHes212.

While not about the actual hardware, the exclusive SMART Burn system present here is amazing – it automatically detects the quality of the media that one has inserted and determines the optimum burn speed. This measure decreases the possibility that a burn will fail, while keeping things as speedy as possible. Jump up to the current generation of media playback – buy the iHes212, install it, and see how happy you are with its speed, burning, and playback options.

Rating: 8.5/10

iHes212 (Blu-Ray Player) / Lite-On / http://www.liteonodd.com/

SteelSeries World of Warcraft MMO Gaming Mouse: Legendary Edition (Mouse)

World of Warcraft is a title that requires an individual to be on the game, and this is especially true when one moves towards endgame raiding. While there are different keyboard macros that can be set up, players still have to the bulk of their turning and some of their casting with their mouse. Ensuring that there is the highest possible definition and design to a mouse, SteelSeries has created a peripheral that should be a must-buy for anyone that is looking to increase their World of Warcraft skill.

The SteelSeries World of Warcraft MMO Gaming Mouse: Legendary Edition is designed size-wise for the widest possible array of players, while there is a full complement of buttons (11) that will allow players to bind a considerable amount of skills, spells, heals, and other attacks. The graphic design on the mouse will provide it with the legendary tag (looking like Thunderfury), while the software will allow players to fully customize the mouse to their specs. I believe that the macro interface is immediately learnable and will be something that can be utilized to an individual’s desires just after a few seconds of familiarization.
With the next patch coming up sooner rather than later, the SteelSeries World of Warcraft MMO Gaming Mouse: Legendary Edition is the next product that any World of Warcraft player should pick up. SteelSeries has given players the best possible tool that they could have outside of botting programs; be ready to see one’s DPS, HPS, and any other relevant stat increase after installing the mouse.
Check the SteelSeries World of Warcraft MMO Gaming Mouse: Legendary Edition and other SteelSeries products out at the site linked above.

Rating: 9.1/10

SteelSeries World of Warcraft MMO Gaming Mouse: Legendary Edition (Mouse) / SteelSeries / http://www.steelseries.com

Pentax Optio RS1500 (Camera)

I believe that the Pentax Optio RS1500 is a smart buy for anyone save for professional photographers. While there are features like the removable faceplate that will appease the fashion-conscious, I believe that the camera itself contains more than enough functionality to keep it competitive over the course of the next few years. For those that wish to use their camera for multiple functions, the style of video that is captured is nothing less than top notch (720P).

This is due to the camera’s 14 megapixel sensor, which can be dialed up or down depending on the style of pictures that an individual wants. Purchasers are given an additional route to customization through the presence of a lens that zooms considerably.

Control of the zoom is a little hit and miss the first few times that one uses the camera, but the learning curve required for the Optio RS1500 is incredibly small. The colors captured by the film are rich and realistic; no matter what amount of light or conditions an individual finds themselves, the pictures that come forth from the Optio RS1500 will be sharp and eye-popping. For those that want to ensure that the pictures that they take are correct, the large LCD screen on the back of the camera (3.0 inches) will make it easy to properly key in. For those that are easily confused by the sheer amount of options that are available to them, the presence of an Auto Picture mode works well in ensuring that the right settings are chosen to make for the best possible pictures. At a hair below $150, this just seems perfect for anyone that may have a birthday coming up or still needs a gift to top off their holiday stockings.

Rating:9.6/10

Pentax Optio RS1500 (Camera) / http://www.pentaximaging.com

ATH-WS55 (Headphones)

Having a pair of ATH-WS55 headphones is like having a receiver and a sound system all in one. This is due to the extreme care that Audio Technica has taken in creating a balanced effort in this product. While the bass comes through with an assertive thump, the sheer amount of frequencies that can be reproduced ensures that listeners get the entire picture. The slider allows a proper fit, no matter how one’s head may be shaped, while the earpads seal perfectly around a listener’s ears. What results when one listens to the ATH-WS55 headphones is something that is completely immersive while keeping the ambient noise of the rest of the room quiet.

We were able to try out a number of different musical genres during our time with the ATH-WS55 headphones, and found a faithful reproduction of the original music no matter what track we had playing. This even included bass-heavy rap tracks alongside shred-worthy metal and rock songs. The only drawback that we could even begin to make in our review of the ATH-WS55 headphones would be that the plugin could stand to be a few inches longer. However, a seat close to a receiver or computer will ensure that this does not present itself to be any sort of problem.

At a price point that is a hair under $100, there is no reason that individuals should not purchase a set of the ATH-WS55 headphones. I believe that this will be the perfect gift for any audiophile that is in the market for headphones, or for individuals that are just looking to avoid the loss of fidelity between their machine and their ears.

Rating: 9.6/10

ATH-WS55 (Headphones) / Audio Technica / http://www.audio-technica.com