Samsung PN42A450P Review

By on Jan 15, 2010 | 0 comments

I had purchased my first HDTV a little more than a year ago, and I had decided that I would actually write a review on this TV.  I had purchased the Samsung PN42A50P (42″ Plasma), and currently have my TV connection (Verizon FIOS) connected via HDMI as well as my upconverting DVD Player.  I had got a decent deal on this TV ($799.99) in July of 2008 at Best Buy in Pittsburgh.  While looking for TVs I was leaning towards and LCD, however for my budget I set aside and picture size I felt this was a good purchase. This model is only a 720p display, and I know there are debates on what size you will notice the difference between 720 and 1080, however I could not tell comparing TVs in this size range. The main difference between this TV in Plasma and that of an LCD is the number of pixels. Just taking into consideration the set’s resolution 1024×768 you would think that it has a 4:3 aspect ratio (non-widescreen), but this would only be the case if the plasma pixels were square in shape. They’re actually not – they’re rectangular as are the pixels of 95% of all the 42-inch HDTV plasma panels on the market today. 42-inch Plasma HDTV models made by Pioneer, Panasonic, Vizio, Philips, Samsung, Magnavox, etc. all feature the same 1024×768 resolution. On thie PN42A450 there are multiple color settings and modes that can be picked for this TV.  The main one is the dynamic setting. By default this is the “preferred” setting that Samsung sets when you first turn the television on.  This settings is really bright and vivid, its more for “show” or “in-store use” than everyday viewing. I have found the based on the position where my television is; and the amount of light in the room the “Standard” setting with Color Tone set to “Normal” works great after adjusting a few other settings in the menu options. Also provided with this television is 3 other modes, Sports, Cinema, and Game.  Once you have set the TV on these “entertainment modes”, you cannot modify any additional color settings, (i.e. brigthness, contracts, etc.).  I typically just leave entertainment mode set to “Off” so that my main settings I have changed are being displayed. I have used the sports mode while watching the Steeler games, and did notice the turf was just a little bit of a brighter green, however everything else appeared to be the same colors as if I had not turned the sports mode on. The next topic is the speakers.  This Samsung TV’s internal speakers really are not that bad, considereing they are built in under the TV.  I’ve tested them out in the mornings, typically I’ll have the news on in the morning for work and while it is nothing like surround sound speakers, overall they are decent for smaller rooms such as a bedroom, or small living room.  For the most part I do have disabled the speakers all together because of having a dedicated surround sound system. This unit does have the ability to work with 3D technology, something not too many televisions had when I purchased this.  I researched it a little online, and it appears you will need to connect a PC to your television with specialized software from Samsung along with their 3D glasses.  The last time I checked prices I believe it was in the $300-$400 price range, a little more than I’m willing to spend for this. I’m amazed with the amount of components that can be hooked up with this TV.  It has 3 HDMI ports, 2 Component hookups, 2 Composite, 1 PC and 1 S-Video.  Currently I have my HD-DVR and DVD player setup via HDMI and I have been very impressed that I still have another HDMI port for any future purchases. My last topic is I like having the option to update the firmware.  I have posted a recent post on the firmware upgrade for the Samsung PN42A50. I performed this upgrade, I havent noticed any improvements, however the whole process took under 2 minutes.  Simply extract the firmware to a USB Thumbdrive; plug it into the service port on the TV, and choose upgrade firmware from the menu. If anyone is looking to purchase this TV there is a newer revision PN42B450P. There are a number of newer models that have come out since I purchaed this TV, and with the introduction of LED technology, plasma televisions really dropped in price. I looked around and that model and mine got great reviews for being a tv listed at a lower price point. Samsung PN42A450P Specs. Manufacturer: Samsung Part number: PN42A450P1DXZA Product type: Plasma TV Diagonal size: 42 in Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 1000000:1 Image contrast ratio: 2000:1 Resolution: 1024 x 768 Image aspect ratio: 16:9 Full Specs: VIDEO Screen Size 42″ Resolution 1024 x 768 Contrast Ratio 1000000:1 Viewing Angle Over 175˚ (H/V) DNIe™ Yes Digital Noise Reduction Yes Brightness 1500 cd/m² FilterBright Yes Screen Aspect Ratio 16:9 Number of colors(expressed) Natural True Colour (18bit) Grey Level(Gradation) 262144 Cinema Progressive (Film mode) Yes Silhouette Editor (False Contour Reduction) Yes Digital Comb Filter Yes AUDIO Sound Output(RMS) 15W x 2 Speaker Down Firing Sound output SRS TruSurrounf XT Cabinet Swivel (left/right) Yes Feature Sleep Timer Yes (Max 180Min) Clock & On/Off timer Yes Auto Power Off...

BlackBerry Storm Review

By on Jan 15, 2010 | 3 comments

Today’s cellphones / smartphone have changed the way we communicate with the world, and  I’m constantly asked how do I like the BlackBerry Storm, would I recommend this for others to purchase.  I have had the BlackBerry Storm for several months now, so it is safe to say I’ve tested it enough give this a fair review. Hardware/Appearance At first glance, it is clear that your eyes are drawn to the front display.  This display is a 3.25 inch (480×360) touchscreen.  Below the screen are the four typical BlackBerry buttons (Phone/Send, Menu, Back/Escape, and End/Power), a micro USB port and convenience key are found on the left, while on the right a second convenience key can be found along with a volume rocker and 3.5mm headphone jack.  Along the top of this phone there is a single LED light to the right, and the lock and mute keys built into the case, almost as if it were to be a soft rocker. Side Note As of a few days ago (1/11/2010) all four buttons had fell off my phone. I pulled my phone out of my jeans and those buttons got snagged and fell off.  Verizon Wireless is sending me a replacement device, however I have yet to receive it.  This seems pretty common as seen here,  “BlackBerry Support Forums“ Edit: (1/16/2010):  Verizon Shipped me my replacement phone yesterday, I got it set back up.  I took a picture from my new storm of the old storm’s keys.  I super glued the send key in place so I could make phone calls during the week. Touchscreen The touchscreen is where most of the phone’s attention will be focused.  Unlike the iPhone, the Storm does not just have a wonderful display but it also utilizes a click technology called SurePress.  The purpose of this is to give the user a physical sensation of clicking when you type or navigate throughout the phone.  When I first began typing on the phone I hated this all together, and still today I find it annoying.   In my opinion, having to physically press down / click the touchscreen is really irritating in two ways.  The first is the fact you are physically limited to how fast you can type on this device.  The user has to click; lift finger and re click the screen. Since the touchscreen is one large button it is not possible to type as fast as a normal QWERTY keyboard.  The second reason the screen is actually floating on a button, and thus screen actually wobbles left/right and up/down, which makes the phone’s screen feel cheap for such an expensive phone.  I wish RIM chose to go  in the direction that Apple did with the iPhone for the screen. Camera The Storm’s camera is a 3.2 megapixel resolution with a flash built in. The flash is extremely bright; and  many people have commented how the light actually hurts their eyes when taking photos.  Overall the picture is great, although the response time was very slow when taking photos.  To resolve this I had to upgrade my OS to 5.0.328 as this fixed many bugs in the original OS (4.7)  The photo listed below was taken with the BlackBerry Storm (Click to view full resolution). Battery Life The storm’s battery is not the greatest; I typically make it about 24 -36 hours before needing charged.  I have my phone attached to my company’s BES so I am constantly receiving emails daily (110 per day on average), text messaging, Gmail (BIS Account) and general phone use.  I do not use the browser much just, every so often but when I do I noticed my battery takes a drain from this.  I keep a second charger with me at work, and a car charger with me in the car just because of the battery life.  In comparison, with my BlackBerry 8830 I can go almost 5 days before a recharge doing the same workload as the Storm. Phone Calls When it comes to sound quality and reception for phone calls I have had no complaints.  Being on the Verizon network I have not ran in many spots that I did not have coverage.  I’ve had some people tell me at first when I got this phone they had a difficult time hearing me talk, so I found myself speaking louder on the phone almost yelling at times.  An annoyance of the phone is if your face bumps the touchscreen while in call mode, the phone will actually mute the call. After several phone calls I had to learn how to hold the phone just right to stop this from happening.  I believe the iPhone has a proximity feature built into their device, and I would have hoped RIM would have done the same. Wrap-Up It was pretty clear when this phone launched both Verizon and RIM wanted to go after the iPhone’s dominance in the market.  The selling points of the device are great, however I think because of the click screen and other quirks the learning curve and complexity of the Storm may turn off the casual users.  Hopefully with the launch of the Storm2 RIM has fixed most if not all the little issues with this device and can give the Storm a better chance in the...

DisplayShare – First impressions

By on Jan 14, 2009 | 0 comments

When I saw this software on the Neowin CES 2009 blog, I thought it would be a useful program. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I will start off with a brief description of the software taken directly from GoldenSignals.com “Install DisplayShare software on your PC in the home network.  With the TV displaying the PS3 welcome screen, an icon identifying the PC appears on the TV screen.  You may then use the PS3 remote or game controller to select the PC icon, and whatever is on that PC display screen will appear on the TV.  A wireless link between the PC and the home entertainment system is automatically established. With DisplayShare, everything displaying on a PC screen can be streamed.  You do not have to navigate complex interfaces or overcome file format issues to wirelessly send a display to a TV.  Likewise, any PC audio, regardless of format, can be played through a home audio system.” I downloaded the 30 day trial and installed it on my laptop from work. The specs are fairly good: 3gb of ram, a Core 2 Duo processor and a gigabit network card. I loaded up the program and almost instantly it found my ps3 and added an icon, as shown in the first (very low quality iphone photo) screenshot. Basically, it makes your ps3 think of it as a file and the software “streams” whatever is on your screen through your network. Upon my initial use I noticed there was a 1 or 2 second delay between what I did and when it streamed through my ps3. I didn’t consider it a major problem so I figured I would load up Youtube and try a video through there. The first video I tried skipped. I instantly thought to myself, if this doesn’t work I highly doubt a high quality video will work either. And unfortunately, I was correct. I loaded up VLC and tried playing a 720p video. All that showed on the ps3 was a black box where the video should be playing. At this point I had enough and decided that there was no chance of me paying for this software because it just flat out doesn’t work as advertised. You can’t tell from my photo, but the video doesn’t actually fit my entire tv screen either due to the slightly different proportions of televisions and monitors. After my first impression, I wouldn’t recommend even wasting your time installing this software. Let’s hope that a new version is released soon that actually works, because in theory this could become a very useful application. View: Screenshot 1 View: Screenshot...

Midomi, an amazing iPhone app

By on Oct 28, 2008 | 1 comment

I was looking through the application store in iTunes and came across Midomi. It has been out for a while now and has gotten some great reviews, so I figured I would give it a try. Basically, this program lets you hum, sing, type, or listen to audio. Based off of that recorded sample it will tell you the song. There have been many times when I have heard a song I really liked but had absolutely no idea what it was. With this application I am now easily able to “grab” a portion of a song and get the title. I have hummed a few songs and it figured it out fairly fast. Some attempts at humming brought up multiple possible songs, but the one I hummed was definitely there. As for the grab feature, every song I have played on my computer here at work has been found and was correct. [rating:5] This app may not have many uses, but it is definitely worth the download. It’s free, so why not try it out? Click the iTunes button below to open iTunes and view the Midomi app store...

24 inch iMac 2.8ghz Review

By on May 4, 2008 | 5 comments

As many of you know the iMac line was refreshed on Monday, April 28. For about 6 months I had been wanting to purchase a new computer, but I kept holding off for some reason. When I heard the rumors about the iMac update, I made up my mind that I would finally purchase one. By the way, this is not my first Apple computer. I have had a 14” (1.33ghz) iBook for years now. I knew what to expect in terms of the initial setup of the iMac based off of my previous experience with Apple products. And I also knew my way around OSX pretty well. I ordered the iMac the day it was updated. I don’t game on my computer anymore (I have a 360, Wii, and PS3) so I figured I would go with the lower end of the 24” models. I selected the free shipping so I wasn’t expecting to receive the iMac for about a week, but to my surprise it was delivered to my house on Wednesday, April 30…not even 2 full days after I placed my order. I was pretty happy with that to say the least. My initial thought when I saw the box was, wow that’s going to be huge. And believe me, I was right with my initial assessment. I figured a 24” monitor wouldn’t seem much different from the 20” monitor I was used to using with my Dell computer. I was completely wrong. The screen on the 24” iMac is totally amazing. I have never seen a display with a brighter screen. Even my 32” Samsung LCD television looks pale in comparison to the screen of this iMac. The glossy screen has a lot to do with that though. But anyways, the hardest thing to get used to, for me at least, is the resolution of the screen. 1920×1200 is amazing to work with. So much can be done on the screen at once. It is a great upgrade over the 1680×1050 resolution I am used to working with. As for the computer itself, it came with a 2.8ghz Core 2 Duo and 2gb of 800mhz ram which I upgraded to 4gb (more on that later). This was a nice upgrade for me considering the pc I use at home is a 3.6ghz P4. My computer at work is a 1.83ghz Core 2 Duo though, so when I talk about responsiveness I will be comparing the iMac to that. For me, this computer is extremely quick. I almost forgot how much quicker OSX in general is at launching applications. In terms of overall responsiveness there is no comparison between the iMac and my computer at work. Safari opens instantly…iTunes, even with a 10,000 song library opens in a fraction of the time that it does on my other computers. It takes a little under 2 seconds to be exact. Photoshop launches quicker than I have ever seen. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the general idea. As for the ram upgrade, it really couldn’t be any easier. It took maybe 2 minutes total to replace the ram with 2 new sticks. As far as I can tell, it is definitely best to max out the ram if you have the money to do so. At one point yesterday I saw I had a little over 800mb of ram free. I would have definitely noticed a performance hit if I had only been using 2gb. This is my first time using Leopard for an extended period of time. A couple of my friends have iMacs (I talked them into buying them) so I have used it before, but not to the same extent as I have the past few days. I like the changes they have made for the most part. But just like anything else, there are a few default settings here and there that don’t make much sense to me. For example the Mighty Mouse doesn’t have right clicking enabled by default. Photo booth doesn’t have the auto flip image setting enabled. Simple things like that can be slightly annoying to have to change, but like I said, it’s impossible to please everyone completely. And the things I mentioned are very minor. I ran xbench to include some figures in the review. Please note though that I did not run the program right after a reboot, only because I haven’t restarted the computer since I initially set it up and downloaded all the updates. So here are the scores… All tests enabled: 176.11 HDD test disabled: 228.84 Overall, I am very happy with my purchase. I hope this iMac lasts me a long time. The only thing I dislike about the whole package is the Mighty Mouse. I just don’t like it at all. So here are some overall ratings. iMac screen: 9.5/10 iMac performance: 9/10 (there is always something faster) Overall look: 9/10 (people are amazed at this thing sitting on my desk) Initial Leopard Impression: 9/10 Mighty Mouse: 6/10 Apple Keyboard: 8/10 (it takes some time to get used to) Please ask any/all questions you may have about it and I will go into more...

LG Venus (vx8800) Review

By on Dec 17, 2007 | 1 comment

I have had the phone now for about 3 weeks, so I think I have tested it enough to give a decent review. So here it goes… A quick run down of the phone: Phone Type: Slider Storage: ~128mb internal, and support for up to 8gb MicroSD. Screen sizes: 240×320 and 240×176 Audio Support: AAC, MP3, WMA Video Support: 3G2, 3GP, WMV, MP4 Most notable feature(s): Touch screen, Battery Life Appearance At a quick glance the phone looks great…much better than my old phone, a V3C Razr. The front of the phone is 2 screens basically covered by what seems to be glass. But after using the phone for a while I noticed that the bottom (touch) screen seems to have some give to it, almost feeling squishy so to speak. As you look close you will see that some parts of the phone aren’t black, but a dark blue color. It’s slightly annoying to the overall appearance, but in certain light you really can’t tell. Features This phone has many of the same features as just about all of the newest phones on the market. It has a 2mp camera that takes decent photos and up to 1 hour of video. It has a MicroSD slot that can take up to an 8gb card. I am currently using a 4gb card. Right now I have about 500 mp3 files on it and there is still more space available. I have the phone set to save my photos directly to the card to make it easier to transfer photos to and from the device. The most unique feature to this phone though is the (partial) touch screen on the front. The touch screen basically controls everything. It changes in context with what you are trying to do. The battery life so far is almost unbelievable. It is rated for over 4 hours of talk time and 20 days standby. I have talked multiple times over an hour straight and the battery meter still shows as full. I’m sure after time it will become much shorter, but it is easily replaceable. I haven’t had a chance to test mp3 playback for long periods of time so I can’t comment on that right now. One other thing worth mentioning is the user interface. You actually have the ability to choose multiple interfaces including some which are much different than the usual red interface on most Verizon phones. Sound Quality The sound quality of this phone is above average. It is definately much better than my Razr. At all volume levels though there is a faint, but constant, hiss or static sound. By no means does it interfere with the conversation, but it is there. Everyone I have talked to says I sound great on their end also. The Touch Screen Since the touch screen is the main selling point of this phone I’ll talk about it in more detail. By default the phone will make a sound and vibrate when you touch the screen. It is helpful at first, but as you become used to the controls you will most likely turn it off…I know I did. Until you know exactly how hard to touch the screen things might seem a little unresponsive, but the more you mess around with it the easier things get. As I said before, the touch controls change all the time to control whatever it is you are doing. Multimedia Functions The audio and video playback actually surprised me. MP3’s sound great and can be played various ways; though the internal speaker, or via the 2.5mm jack. The amount of music you can store on the phone is only ~64mb internally, but as I said before can be up to 8gb via the MicroSD slot. One thing that bothers me though is the ability the phone has to read some of my ID3 tags. On my PC my music has all of the corresponding ID3 tags, but not all of them show up on the phone for some reason. Video playback is also very good. I used super to encode clips of various shows into 3GP format. I encoded them at 320×240 which play great because you can turn the phone sideways and watch them in their full resolution. Conclusion Overall, this phone is pretty good if you know what to expect from it. It doesn’t have any mind blowing features, but it does deviate from the standard type of phone we have all come to expect from Verizon. As I just mentioned, overall this is a decent phone. I am happy with my purchase. If I had to rate it I’d probably say it’s about an 8 out of 10. Like I said before, nothing included is mind blowing, but it does everything it is trying to do...

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