Best Gaming Monitor: Asus VG248QE 24-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor

For the past few weeks, we have been assessing a wide array of computer monitors in pursuit of finding the best gaming monitor. This was no easy task. With the hundreds of choices currently available and fierce competition in the marketplace, deciding which monitor to give the title “best gaming monitor” was quite a challenge. After all, there are plenty of amazing choices from brands like LG, BenQ, Dell, and Samsung, all of which offer outstanding performance.

We decided to narrow our search for the best gaming monitor to the scope of 24 inch monitors, as we feel that this size is adequate for most PC gamers. 24 inches is big enough to provide stunning detail and great clarity, all while remaining affordable and in budget. We also took into consideration the price of each monitor when assessing them. After all, most people I’m looking at spending over a grand on the best available monitor. Because of that we wanted to stay within an affordable price range.

So, we set out to work. We gathered a list of candidates online, analyzed the reviews of each, and even went as far as to test them out ourselves so that we could get a good feel of each monitors performance. We narrowed down the list, and the narrative down again. Finally, after hours of painstaking research and analysis, we finally concluded on what we believe to be the best gaming monitor available today.

BEST GAMING MONITOR

The winner for our “Best Gaming Monitor” award goes to the ASUS VG 248 QE 24-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor. This flat screen monitor displays in up to 1080p at 144Hz, meaning the refresh rate is extremely fast so as to not miss a single frame. Granted, most games will require hefty PC in order to display at 144Hz, but older games should have no problem adapting to the newly available refresh rate.

The ASUS VG248QE 144Hz flat screen monitor is without a doubt the best 24 inch monitor for gaming. We’ve already mentioned it’s extremely fast refresh rate, but our word simply doesn’t put it to justice. Games play in buttery smooth 144 frames per second, basically solving the problem of screen tearing. Actions feel responsive and fluid, and gamers will be able to see each pixel of action faster than their opponents, leading to more victories and aiding in player skill.

So what makes this monitor the best gaming monitor on the market? To answer that, we’ll need to delve into the product specifications and analyze each component, much like we did for each candidate. Simply put, you cannot judge a monitor or any other piece of hardware without first taking into account the features that the product offers. Let’s take a look.

  • 24-inch Full HD LED-backlit 144Hz display (1920×1080)

Standing at an impressive 24 inches in broadcasting images at 144Hz, the ASUS VG248QE 144Hz monitor displays brilliant HD-quality visuals in stunning clarity and color response. Colors seemingly pop out of the screen and vibrant textures stand out more than you’d expect them to. This ASYS gaming monitor does a great job of displaying lifelike visuals that really do the modern generation of games justice. While many monitors failed to produce a quality of today’s gaming standard, the ASUS VG248QE 144Hz gaming monitor displays visuals the way that developers intended for you to see them.

  • GamePlus Functionality

A really cool feature of the ASUS VG248QE 144Hz gaming monitor is its ASUS GamePlus
functionality. GamePlus allows gamers to display a crosshair overlay or in-game timer to give players an edge over the competition. With four unique crosshairs, players can have precise aiming, even during hard-core death matches where the on-screen heads-up display is limited. Also, players can enable an on-screen timer to keep track of spawn and build times in real-time strategy games.

  • 1ms Trace Free II Technology

    This is what ghosting looks like.
A common problem with most gaming monitors is ghosting. Ghosting is when an image that was previously displayed on the monitor is still partially visible. This is not burn-in. Rather, this is due to the fact that some monitors fail to completely erase the previous frame before displaying the next one, resulting in an outline of the previous frame being slightly visible. The ASUS VG248QE 144Hz gaming monitor comes with a lightning fast 1 ms response time and ASUS’s very own Trace Free Technology. This ensures that there is no ghosting going on at any point, enhancing movies and gaming like never before.

  • 80,000,000:1 ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio

Image quality is highly dependent on a monitors contrast ratio. Gamers should expect to have a contrast ratio that is able to deliver the darkest blacks, the brightest whites, and All the shades of gray in between. Monitors that have a low contrast ratio often looked washed out and unappealing. The ASUS VG248QE 144Hz gaming monitor has a contrast ratio of 80,000,000:1 (80 million to 1), meaning that the monitor is capable of displaying all 80 million colors that reside between black and white, making colors appear incredibly rich and vivid.

  • Fully adjustable Height, Tilt, and Swivel

Most monitors have a functionally limited stand, meaning that it is often hard, if not impossible, to stand the monitor in accordance with your viewing angle. This can cause many problems, most notably washed out colors from extreme viewing angles. Luckily, the ASUS VG248QE 144Hz gaming monitor ships with a fully adjustable monitor stand, allowing gamers to adjust the tilt, height, and swivel of the monitor to provide the perfect viewing angle for any occasion.

  • DisplayPort, DVI-D, and HDMI ports

while certainly not exclusive to the ASUS VG248QE 144Hz gaming monitor itself, DisplayPort, DVI-D, and HDMI ports are readily available on the back of the monitor, allowing users to connect anything from computers to gaming consoles to Blu-ray players. The monitor can also switch between inputs, allowing for multiple devices to be attached at the same time. This allows the monitor to be used for just about any scenario imaginable.

  • Support for NVIDIA 3D Technology

A big reason for why we chose this monitor over the others is the out-of-the-box support for NVIDIA 3-D technology. The ASUS VG248QE 144zhz gaming monitor is NVIDIA 3D Vision ready as soon as it is turned on, enabling 3D modes for over 700 games, 3D Blu-ray movies, and 3D YouTube videos. Integrated NVIDIA 3D LightBoost Technology allows for a brighter LED backlight, resulting in better performance during 3D playback, all without increasing the total energy consumption of the monitor.

  • Unrivaled Warranty Program

Each ASUS VG248QE 144Hz gaming monitor comes with a three-year system and panel warranty in case anything happens to your monitor. If your screen begins to flake out within this period, ASUS will prepare it at no extra cost. ASUS also understands that being without a monitor is unacceptable, and thanks to their new rapid replacement service, ASUS will send you a replacement unit as soon as the defective unit is in the mail, reducing the amount of time that you will have to wait to obtain a working monitor.

What Comes In The Box?

In the boxes everything that gamers will need to get there monitor up and running perfectly. Materials include:

  • ASUS VG248QE 144Hz Gaming Monitor
  • DVI-D Cable
  • Power Cord
  • 3.5mm Audio Cord
  • Quick Starter Guide
  • Warranty Information Card

Western Digital My Cloud EX2 – Your Own Personal Data Center

For those of you been following the Western Digital 2015 product line, you probably notice that the company has been releasing higher-end storage solutions aimed at lowing businesses and high-end consumers. With the addition of the Western Digital My Cloud EX2, Western Digital has released a solution for people who seemingly always run out of disk space. The EX2 houses a whopping 4-12 TBs of personal cloud storage, pretty much erasing any possibility of ever running out of disk space.

The Western Digital My Cloud EX2 is essentially a giant enclosure for two massive hard drives running in RAID configuration. And the disk space doesn’t stop there. Western Digital actually offers a 12 TB version of the EX2 for costly $625, with iterations dropping disk space by 2 TB all the way down to a 4 TB model priced at $323.99. Regardless of what option you choose, the My Cloud EX2 will store more files and data then you’ll know what to do with.

Use two hard drives to extend storage space or speed up performance

  • Two-bay storage solution for your home or small office with advanced features and a full suite of apps for a truly customized experience

The Western Digital My Cloud EX2 contains two bays for Western Digital RED drives to amount to massive storage options configured to store massive quantities of data. While something as large as 12 TB isn’t needed for home use, a 4 TB drive is great for backing up photos, documents, videos, and other data. Each EX2 ships as the host of various software suites that allow cloud accessing data, making this the ultimate drive for backing up files and large-scale file storage.

  • High-performance NAS

NAS is short for network-attached storage. In essence, this means that the EX2 operates as a file server that is meant to be connected to a network, hence the use of the buzzword “cloud”. Sporting a hefty 512 MB of memory in 1.2 GHz processor, the EX2 delivers files through network interfaces in blazing fast speeds. In fact, multiple computers to access the files at the same time, making this a great fileserver for low to medium, end businesses.

This thing flies with a RAID 0 configuration

  • Flexible drive management options

The Western Digital My Cloud EX2 offers a wide variety of modes for the hard drives to operate. Supports RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD modes, which all act in a different way to fully customize the fileserver to your preferences.

RAID 0 is where pieces of data are stored in parts spanning across both drives. Because there are multiple parts of each file on each of the drives, accessing files will be much faster. However, if one of the two hard drives, fails, then certain pieces of data will be on the failing hard drive, resulting in corrupted files and loss of data. The performance benefit is massive, but the lack of redundancy makes this a risky option.

RAID 1, on the other hand, is the exact opposite.. While not giving as much of a performance boost as a RAID 0 configuration, RAID 1 stores copies of the files on each drive, in essence creating excellent redundancy as the two discs mirror each other.

JBOD is a technical term for “just a bunch of discs”. This option provides neither redundancy nor performance enhancement, but rather has both drives acting as one, increasing the storage space available. This is perfect for the storage of files that users do not mind losing in case of an accident.

  • Works as a backup right out of the box

A great thing about the EX2 is that it was built as a backup drive. Right out of the box, it works with either the WD Smart Ware Pro software for PC users or Apple Time Machine software for Mac users. Due to the sheer amount of storage that the My Cloud EX2 offers, it is ideal for data backup, and because it works right out of the box at doing so, users will find it easy and simple to use.

  • Works as a Web server

You read that right. When connected to the Internet, the Western Digital My Cloud EX2 can be configured to act as its own Web server. This means that you can run your own FTP server, P2P torrent server, WordPress, Transmission, and other CMS Web server. This means that the My Cloud EX2 can be used to run your website from your own home. All it takes is a bit of port mapping and configuration, and in no time you’ll be using the EX2 in any way you see fit.

We think the My Cloud software is pretty sleek

  • Anywhere access from computers, tablets and smart phones with My Cloud desktop and mobile apps

As long as your EX2 is connected to the Internet (it being a cloud drive, why wouldn’t it be?), you will be able to access your files from anywhere in the world. Western Digital offers a My Cloud software suite that allows you connect to your drive while on the go. Stream movies, view pictures, and access data with the click of a button, all while on the go.

  • Support for external hard drives

Western Digital is always bringing innovative ideas to the table. However, never before have we seen innovation such as this. The My Cloud EX2 allows users to attach another external hard drive to further increase storage space. This is extremely useful if you’re running your own P2P torrent download server or are just looking to back up your external hard drives to the cloud. With all of this room for expansion, you are guaranteed to never run out of space.

  • No monthly fees and no limits

Being a cloud drive, you would expect that Western Digital would charge monthly for access to your files while on the go. This is simply not the case. Once you have purchased the EX2 and configured it, you will not have to pay another dime. You’ll be able to access all of your movies, pictures, music, and documents all at the expense of Western Digital themselves. While it is a hefty initial investment, you will find that there are no hidden fees.

  • Why should I get a Western Digital My Cloud EX2?

There are plenty of reasons to get an EX2. The My Cloud EX2 is ideal for centralizing and organizing your important documents, photos, videos and music in one secure location. Having access to all of your files no matter where you are is invaluable, as will never quite know when you’ll need your documents the most. The EX2 is also great for streaming media to connected TVs, media players, and gaming consoles. With its massive storage space and flexible options, you will be able to stream your media to any device you wish, whether be local or through a network. Lastly, the EX2 is great for backing up all of your data in the case of a hard drive malfunction. When hard drives fail, it is often very hard and costly, if not impossible to recover your data. That is why making backups of your data is always a good idea.

With its wide array of options, integrated serving capabilities, cloud functionality, and excellent backup options, you simply cannot go wrong with the My Cloud EX2. Simply spending a few minutes with the device will give you a good indication of its blazing fast speed and excellent reliability. For those of you who are looking for a backup solution for cloud solution, look no further. Western Digital has you covered.

WHERE TO BUY THE WD MY CLOUD EX2

SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive for Smartphones and Tablets – Review

Flash drives and wireless media hubs have long served as mediums for storing and accessing entertainment on the go. However, never before has a flash drive acted as a wireless media hub itself. SanDisk has recently begun selling their new Connect 32 GB wireless flash drive for smart phones and tablets, and the addition of the device on the market is a game changer. And were not kidding, the SanDisk Connect 32 GB Wireless Flash Drive is unlike any other storage medium we’ve seen before. It functions as a typical flash drive, but accepts micro SD cards to store all the data that you put on as well as offers a wireless functionality to allow for wireless accessing of files while on the go, making it great for storing music, movies, TV shows, and other important files without cluttering up your mobile device.

  • Wirelessly store, share, stream movies, photos, music, and documents across your smart phones, tablets, and computers.

The metallic wireless button located in the middle of the device serves as a connection mechanism for Wi-Fi functionality. Clicking this button will make the flash drive visible to any mobile device, allowing the devices to stream files such as music and movies without the flash drive ever needing to be plugged in. This makes the SanDisk Connect 32 GB wireless flash drive ideal for long road trips and frequent bus rides. Best of all, you can bring all of your work with you on the go, boosting productivity during periods of downtime.

  • Simultaneously connect and access data stored on up to eight devices via Wi-Fi

Whether it’s purpose is a family network or group project, the SanDisk connect 32 GB wireless flash drive has the ability to connect up to eight smart phones and tablets at the same time. While many flash drives struggle to transmit data to just one computer, the Connect Wireless Flash Drive has the power to stream to each device without loss of quality. Because of this it is ideal for team projects where everyone will be working at the same time, as well as family members who have different tastes in movies and music.

  • No Internet connection, cables or router required, works on all Wi-Fi enabled devices

Never struggle to find a Wi-Fi hotspot again! The Connect Wireless Flash Drive has its own built-in Wi-Fi technology, allowing you to transmit data regardless of Wi-Fi being present or not. Unlike Bluetooth, the built-in wireless mechanism can transmit data at blazing fast speeds while sustaining several connections to separate devices. All this is being done with very little energy use, resulting in a long battery life so that you can access your files when you need them the most.

  • Up to four hours of video streaming on a single charge

The SanDisk Connect 32 GB Wireless Flash Drive can transmit wireless signals simultaneously to devices for up to four hours continuously. When the battery gets low, simply plug it into a computer or other charging station and the Wireless Flash Drive will charge will continuing to transmit data to devices. You can even use the SanDisk Flash Drive on a computer while it’s charging and transmitting data to other devices, allowing everyone to access files when they need to.

  • Access with free app, compatible with iOS 5.0 or later, android 2.3 or later and Kindle devices

The SanDisk Connect 32 GB Wireless Flash Drive for Smart Phones and Tablets comes with its own iPhone and Android app, allowing easy access to files stored on the drive itself while connecting via Wi-Fi. The app can open files stored on the flash drive, as well as allow users to listen to music and watch movies in the app itself. The app is extremely easy to use and streams data from the flash drive at blazing fast speeds.

  • Access with Internet browser, compatible with all Wi-Fi enabled devices

If using the included app isn’t your thing, you can also access all of your files, movies, and music through an Internet browser. Much like how the device itself functions, accessing your files through a web browser also does not require Wi-Fi access point to be located nearby. Simply connect your computer or other device to the wireless signal emitting from the Connect Flash Drive and you will be able to access your files in seconds.

  • Optional Wi-Fi password protection and 128-bit AES encryption

Of course, sometimes you don’t want to share your files with everyone. After all, the function of the flash drive is to contain sensitive data that is meant for your eyes only. Luckily, The SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive supports password protection when being connected to wirelessly. Featuring 128-bit AES encryption, the likelihood of attackers breaking in to your personal files is almost zero.. This protects your flash drive and the sensitive file stored on it.

  • Charging and accessing with USB 2.0 connection interface or higher

The SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive charges when it is plugged into a USB slot. While charging, you can still continue to use its file storage features, making it useful to use on the computer while others are accessing files at the same time. This way the device gets charged, the person using the computer gets to access his or her files, and any other devices that are connecting the flash drive may continue their operation.

  • Available in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB sizes

The Connect Wireless Flash Drive is sold in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB models. All the device does not store the data itself, the model you purchase will determine the size of the microSD card that comes with the flash drive itself. At any time, users can switch out the microSD card to upgrade storage or create backups of their files. Best of all, you can use any brand of microSD card with the device; the microSD cards do not have to be SanDisk brand.

  • Stream up to five different HD movie simultaneously

The SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive can stream up to five movies on eight devices, making it the ultimate portable file system for the road. With its four hour battery life, amazing implementation of Wi-Fi functionality, and great deal of customizability, this flash drive is perfect for anyone looking to store and share files will only go.

Ditch your old flash drive! Wireless and cloud-based file storage are the future, and the standard is quickly moving in that direction. The SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive is unparalleled innovation, and as technology advances in this field, will begin to see wireless capabilities on accessories and compliances that we never would have imagined to be wireless. Do yourself a favor and get a head start on the future by getting yourself one of these flash drives. You won’t regret it.

WHERE TO GET THE SANDISK CONNECT WIRELESS FLASH DRIVE

Classic Game Spotlight #1 – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Here at TechReviewFeed, we like to mix our favorite games from past generations into our backlists so that we can re-live the good old days. So when intern Greg pitched the idea of doing a series of articles about our favorites, we jumped at the bit. We all have our own tastes when it comes to video games, but its hard not to appreciate what these games have done to usher in the more refined experiences of the current generation.

To kick off our Classic Game Spotlight series, we couldn’t think of a game more innovative than The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Oblivion has brought many technological advancements to the RPG genre of games, paving the way for critically acclaimed titles such as Fallout 3 and Skyrim. By making use of the dated but certainly still relevant Gamebryo engine, Oblivion kickstarted the hype behind current-generation role-playing games.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was released back in 2006 for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Windows operating system. The game was originally released under a Teen ESRB rating, but due to a mod that allowed players to access nude game models on the PC version, the ESRB re-assessed the game, giving it a Mature rating. While Oblivion should have probably been rated Mature in the first place due to scenes of extreme gore and implied sexual themes, the ESRB concluded that Bethesda Softworks failed to report the inappropriate content included in the game.

Much like its predecessor, Morrowind, Oblivion thrusts players into a densely populated fantasy world chock full of quests, explorable locations, seemingly endless variations of weaponry, a revamped dialogue system, and loads of random events that convey Tamriel as a living, breathing world. Never before has a video game offered so many features that allow a player to tackle the world’s endeavours in any way they see fit. Any visible landmark is accessible to the player, and there is no set order in which objectives must be completed. This means that players can pause what they are doing at any time and begin doing something else, returning to their primary objective at their leisure.

Questlines
Oblivion is the host of multiple questlines that task players with themed quests that all come together to tell a story. While some are better than others, each questline is unique, and their twists and turns keep players interested and engaged in what is going on. Without giving away too much, one questline has you managing a society of assassins while searching for a traitor within the organization. The tasks given to the player range from murdering a house full of people to assassinating targets in clever ways. Each quest leaves players wanting more, making Oblivion a game that players can truly lose themselves in.

Keeping track of quests is easy with the new journal layout

Hundreds of Locations
Oblivion also features hundreds of locations that players can explore. From ancient ruins to large cathedrals to hidden caves, each location offers something unique, be it a fight against monsters, a new quest, or hidden treasure protected by a puzzle. You never quite know what you are getting into by entering an undiscovered location, making the surprise of exploring all the more worthwhile. Not only does the exploration reward players with valuable experience and items, but it also keeps the gameplay fresh. The quests are fun, but nothing beats diving head first into an underwater cave to steal loot from a group of raiders.

Good luck trying to achieve 100%

Huge Arsenal of Weapons
The world of Tamriel is full of enemies, meaning you’ll be doing a lot of fighting. Luckily, the game contains thousands of weapons and pieces of armor that upgrade as you do, keeping combat fun and fresh. There are hundreds of unique items that have special enchantments. Attacks feel powerful, and enemies react to attacks thanks to implementation of the Havok physics engine. This makes it feel like you are doing serious damage to enemies.

Each rank of weapons has a unique look and set of attributes

Large List of Magic Spells
Sure, there are a lot of melee and ranged weapons, but Oblivion also has an extensive magic system. Spells unlock at vendors as you level up in the schools of magic, and magic altars can be used to combine spells and make your own. This makes magic an extremely powerful asset to use against enemies you face.

Having fire at your fingertips is pretty useful

Terrifying Oblivion Gates
While a majority of Tamriel’s population will try to kill you, you will still be relatively safe. The Oblivion Gates spread across the land are the real danger. Enemies pour out of mysterious gigantic dimensional rifts, and a main objective of Oblivion is to go inside and close them. It isn’t easy though. Demonic enemies guard the Sigil Stone, which is needed to close the gate. You will need to be well armed and leveled up before braving the otherworld.

Oblivion Gates used to scare the crap out of me

10 Returning Races
Similar to Morrowind, Oblivion has ten races to choose from. Options include Altmer (High Elf), Argonian, Bosmer (Wood Elf), Breton, Dunmer (Dark Elf), Imperial, Khajiit, Nord, Orc, and Redguard. Each race has a unique set of attribute modifiers depending on what that race specializes in. For example, Orcs start with low Intelligence but have extra Strength stats, making them dumber but more adept at fighting.

All of the races from Morrowind in glorious high-definition.

Ownable Homes
For the first time in an Elder Scrolls game can the player own their own house. This option is given after you have completed certain quests and are often sold by a city official. It allows you to store unneeded items and gives you a bed to call your own. There are eight houses that can be bought in the base game, and downloadable content offers another five. Each is fitted with at the very least a bed and a non-respawning chest.

This is one of thirteen ownable houses in Oblivion

Skill-Based Guilds
Much like its predecessor, Oblivion has guilds that pertain to specific skills, each with their own (usually long) questlines. The Fighters Guild is focused on melee combat and acts as a legal muscle-for-hire group. The Thieves Guild focuses on becoming a master thief in pursuit of the elusive Gray Fox. Lastly, the Mages Guild focuses on the various schools of magic and features a lengthy questline.

Not only do you become a part of a super cool club, but you also get a super cool clubhouse.

Knights of the Nine
Knights of the Nine is one of several official DLC add-ons released by Bethesda. The DLC contains a brand new questline revolving around the titular order as they attempt to recover lost relics. Spanning across eleven quests, players must progress through the ranks of the Knights of the Nine, starting at the title Knight Errant and progressing to Divine Crusader. To fully complete Knights of the Nine, you can expect to spend around twelve or so hours, as a lot of content is jam packed into the small 155MB file size.

It’s a fun DLC! Plus, you get some pretty awesome armor for your troubles.

Shivering Isles
Shivering Isles is another DLC pack for Oblivion. However, it is completely different from all other questlines. To put it bluntly, it’s wacky. Shivering Isles has players roaming an entirely new map: Sheogorath. Spanning fourteen quests and thirty hours of content, Shivering Isles is probably the best DLC to date. Like Morrowind’s DLC add-ons, Shivering Isles is practically a brand new game.

The sheer size of Shivering Isles is astonishing

Community Mods and the Construction Set
What would The Elder Scrolls be without modding? With the recent surge in community mods being produced for Skyrim, the modding scene is bigger than ever. However, it all started with Morrowind and faced a huge boom with Oblivion. Bethesda released a complete toolkit to allow the community to add locations, create quests, and add new items.

Bethesda practically released the tools they used to make Oblivion

Glitches
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is notorious for its glitches. While most of the known glitches are problems with the Gamebryo Engine itself, there are still lots of random bugs that can be experienced at any time. While many gamers will whine and moan about the number of glitches present, true fans of the series find them laughable and contribute to the overall silliness of the game. Many glitches are harmless, and only a select few are game-breaking. For these reasons, I tend to play the unpatched version of the game, leaving all of the patched bugs in-tact.

Umm…

Conclusion
Oblivion is a great game. It really is. It is a huge technological leap from its predecessor, Morrowind. The best part? It offers endless gameplay value. I have saves with an upwards of 300 hours recorded, and there is still more to do. It was a great value at the time of release, and it is even moreso now. For fans of role-playing games: don’t pass up an opportunity to play Oblivion. It is currently less than $20 on many major online retailers. If you have an opening in your gaming backlog, consider picking it up. I can guarantee that you will not regret it!

Best Laptop Coolers – HAVIT HV-F2056 15.6″-17″ Laptop Cooler Review

It is common knowledge that heat is a computer’s worst enemy. It Causes the Hardware to function improperly, leading to malfunction, and ultimately failure. that is why it’s important to keep your computer running cool at all times. However, some computers have poor airflow and there’s not a whole lot you can do to remedy the situation. Luckily, some third-party brands have created cooling pads that keep your computer running cool throughout long, intense sessions. The problem is, there a ton of options and some of them aren’t worth the money. So how do you decide which one to purchase? After all, computers are a large investment. You will want to make sure that you protect your investment and maximize the lifespan and value of your computer.

HAVIT is a United States-based brand that sells computer peripherals and personal digital products. After much research and testing, we conclude that their cooling pad is the best option to keep your computer running cool and performing well. And the user reviews don’t lie. Out of nearly 500 customers, the HAVIT HV-F2056 laptop cooler has scored 4 1/2 stars out of five. Each review goes on to praise the cooling capacity and superior build quality of the product. In fact, some customers have reported that the cooling pad cools their computer by an additional 17°C!

When performing computer intensive tasks, laptops can reach upwards of 100°C. This temperature is dangerous for the computer’s hardware and can cause various issues to arise, such as system instability. Repeated exposure to temperatures such as this can ultimately cause hardware failure, potentially costing thousands of dollars to fix. With most computers containing sensitive information, system failure is often not an option. So why put your computer at risk? Why not keep it cool and preserve its computing capacity for years to come?

 

The HAVIT HV-F2056 Laptop Cooler is designed to be ultraportable. It’s slim design and lightweight allows users to take it on the go with them, and it rarely gets in the way. This means that you can keep your laptop cool while on the road, something that is ideal for traveling businessman and university students alike. Weighing only 1 1/2 pounds, the HAVIT laptop cooler can be taken virtually anywhere, and since it runs off of your computer’s own power source, you won’t have to worry about plugging it into a wall, or dealing with any monotonous wires.

The HV-F2056 laptop cooler is also designed to be ergonomically comfortable. It has two adjustable height settings, providing users with a comfortable incline and the viewing angle that protects from eyestrain. The incline also makes typing easier and feel more natural. In fact, after some users have switched to the incline, they often note that they find it more comfortable and easy to type, and rarely desire to switch back. With more comfort and superior airflow, you will find production levels increasing and performance at a maximum.

The HV-F2056 supports any size of laptop up to 17 inches. It is designed using a high-quality multidirectional metal mesh that is gentle against the material of your laptop and provides a stable surface. Small holes allow air to travel through the three fans placed on the underside of the product, which proceed to pump air through your system and out the exhaust. Each fan is 110mm, all of which spin at 1,000 RPM, providing a strong 65 CFM of airflow as you work or game. Best of all, the cooling pad is extremely quiet. In fact, it is so quiet that many users report not even being able to hear it. This is arguably the best feature, as it renders the cooling pad non-intrusive; something that many cooling pad struggle with.

As we mentioned previously, the HAVIT HV-F2056 laptop cooler uses a USB port from your laptop to power the fans. While this feature isn’t unique to this product itself, HAVIT has included a dual side USB to allow other peripherals to connect wall the cooling pad is in use, freeing up an extra two USB slots. This option is fantastic for users who commonly use the USB ports for other peripherals, such as wireless mice, keyboards, and external drives.

We think the blue LEDs add a cool touch, but it isn’t for everyone.

The three ultra quiet fans give off a unique blue light that is sure to catch some eyes. They look fairly flashy, but the appeal potentially lost due to this feature is made up for 10 times over by the sheer performance of these fans. Each fan provides cool air and superior airflow to critical components of your laptop, such as the CPU, GPU, and hard drive bays. This keeps every component of your laptop cool and performing at its peak.

Due to the fact that many laptop users use their personal computers on their laps, the systems tend to heat up quickly, resulting in an uncomfortable experience. The HAVIT HV-F2056 provides a well needed buffer between the laptop and the users lap, making it easy and comfortable to use your computer while reclining on the couch or bed, with the added benefit of a downdraft of cool air flowing across your lap.

The build quality of the HV-F2056 is made of heavy-duty plastic and high-quality metals, ensuring that the cooling pad will last for years to come. When compared to the relatively low price tag, the sturdiness and effectiveness of this cooling pad make it a great deal.

So what are you waiting for? Start cooling your laptop to the temperature that it was intended to run at. High temperatures are doing nothing but causing trouble for your computer, and the problem won’t solve itself until you take action. While you might not be interested in the HV-F2056, we highly recommend that you invest in a quality laptop cooling pad that will increase the lifespan of your  investment. These coolers are proven to work and help your system perform at optimal efficiency.

How to Stay Anonymous Online

Online privacy is slowly becoming obsolete. With recent revelations of the NSA spying on citizens and the common occurrence of cookie tracking, more personal information is being gathered than most of us would like. Simply put, web browsing has become an activity that is incredibly intrusive in regards to privacy.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of ways to protect your online identity and prevent your browsing habits from being tracked and sold to the highest bidder. While some methods are better than others, any step that you take towards keeping yourself anonymous on the web can have a huge impact on what corporations and government agencies can learn about you and your interests.

HOW AM I BEING TRACKED?

There are a ton of methods of tracking that are practiced today. The fact of the matter is, corporations want to know everything about you: your opinions, your recently visited places, your favorite products, your interests… In fact, all of these personal details are tracked by default. 

Have you ever questioned how Amazon knows exactly what you are looking for when you visit their home page, or how advertisements on websites relate to recent interests? These occurrences aren’t coincidences. This is the result of companies tracking people who surf the web in order to increase sales. Here’s a few ways they pull it off:

Cookies

Cookies are great. They store passwords so that you don’t have to keep typing them in, they save unfilled web forms so that you can come back to them later, and they can even save options that you specify on a website. They make surfing the web a faster, more streamlined experience. However, companies take advantage of these neat little bits of data in order to track what websites you visit. 

Here’s how it works: when an advertisement is displayed on a web page, a cookie with a unique number is saved to your computer. Then, when an advertisement is displayed on another website, it reads the cookie that was saved and reports data back to the ad network. Over time, they accumulate data and begin to identify who you are based on what websites you visit. This in turn allows the ad network to display advertisements that are tailored to people with specific interests.

This process is the same way Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other Information Technology companies track internet users. While there tends to be a lot of disapproval in regards to this process, it is completely anonymous and cannot spy on any personal information that may be present on a website. The only data being sent back to the ad networks are the unique number of the cookie and the website that you are visiting.

How to get rid of cookies: There are a number of ways to remove cookies or block them completely. The steps required to do so depend on the web browser that you are using.

  • Internet Explorer
  • Google Chrome
  • Opera
  • Safari
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • iPhone/iPad (Safari)

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a program that tracks visitor data. It is extremely beneficial for owners of websites to be able to see where visitors are coming from and what they are doing on the site. This helps the owner to improve content and create things that cater to the major demographic of visitors the site receives.

Here’s the rundown: The owner of a webpage wants to see how many people are visiting his site. He takes a special code that Google Analytics generates and places it on his website. When visitors come to his site, the code sends messages back to Google, and tracking begins. Data recorded include where the person came from, what they do on the site, and how they leave. It also can pinpoint the person to a specific demographic: their age, gender, and location.

How to Opt Out of Google Analytics: Google recognizes that not all users want to be tracked. To respect the privacy of users who request it, they have released a browser addon that disables Google Analytics functionality. You can download the addon here.

HOW TO STAY ANONYMOUS ONLINE

While blocking cookies and opting out of Google Analytics already removes a huge footprint that normal browsing would leave, there are still a handful of ways that you are being tracked and identified. Everyone deserves privacy, so we’ve researched the best ways to avoid being tracked and compiled a list of the best solutions.

VPN Network

A VPN is a service which anonymizes you from any and all tracking. It works by encrypting your internet traffic and running it through a relay server located somewhere in the world. These servers can be as close as a few cities away, or they can be located on the other side of the planet. Either way, your traffic is encrypted and any attempts of tracking result in the details of the server’s location being sent instead of yours.

There are a plethora of companies that provide VPN Networks, and hey are located around the globe. While choosing a close-by provider, you will experience a faster connection, but by choosing a server located in another country, you will be guaranteed full anonymity. Additionally, some companies keep logs of VPN usage. When selecting a VPN for yourself, be sure to check that the service does not keep any logs.

Here are a few reputable VPN Networks:

  • Hidepad VPN for iPod, iPhone, and iPad – Hidepad is a foolproof VPN service for Apple mobile devices. It is easy to set up and incredibly fast.
  • VPNAce – VPNAce sells VPN Networks located outside the United States. It offers blazing fast speeds and top-notch anonymity. They offer a free trial to test the waters and see if a VPN is for you.
  • HideMyAss – HideMyAss has been around for a few years, and it’s millions of users don’t lie. Their service is great. The only caveat is that the servers are shared with other users, causing the VPN to sometimes go down or block you from specific sites.

Tor

Tor, also known as The Onion Router, is a VPN project that completely anonymizes your web surfing. It works by scrambling data through multiple servers before it makes its way to your computer, making it very hard if not impossible to track. For various technical and legal reasons (do a Google search for “Dark Web”), we don’t recommend it as your choice for staying anonymous online. However, if you have technical prowess and are in search of a free solution, you can get Tor Browser here.

Top Video Game Design Schools

Many students pursue careers in video game design and development every year. With a booming multi-billion dollar industry, game design is quickly becoming a high-demand field that promises high salaries and great benefits. However, in order to become a fully-fledged video game developer, students need to have the proper education and experience. Luckily, there are schools that specialize specifically in video game programming and design, and having a degree from one of these schools can give students the boost they need in order to get a job at a reputable game studio.

NOTABLE VIDEO GAME DESIGN SCHOOLS

#5: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, New York)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute offers over twenty five game design courses that span across five departments. These departments include: Games and Simulation Arts, Electronic Arts, and Electronic Media and Communication. In-depth studies explore the various avenues of game design and strive to give students the experience they need to complete projects as a team.

#4: Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, New York)

Princeton Review has noted that the Rochester Institute of Technology is one of the top schools for game design. Having ranked in the top ten game design programs for the past three years, RIT offers plenty of courses aimed at game design techniques, game design theory, and their MAGIC program that targets skills in the fields of Media, Arts, Games, Interaction, and Creativity.

#3: Savannah College of Art and Game Design (Savannah, Georgia)

While one of the new kids on the block, the Savannah College of Art and Game Design is one of the leading schools for game design and development. SCAD offers over 40 majors and 60 minors, including Interactive Design and Game Development, Animation, Game Programming, and more.

#2: Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Carnegie Mellon is one of the leading schools in computer sciences, a field widely studied in the world of game programming. Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon offers programs titled “Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts” and “Masters of Entertainment Technology.” These courses provide students with game development skills that lead to high-level job offers straight out of graduation.

#1: University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California)

Princeton Review has noted that the University of Southern California is the number one game design school in the United States. Offering competitive courses in game design, game theory, game programming, and interactive media, students looking for a top-notch education in video game development should look no further. Students have gone on to work for companies such as Microsoft, Valve, Electronic Arts, and plenty of other triple-A game studios that release high profile games.

Top Fields of Study for Video Game Design

It is no secret that in order to become a video game designer, students must have a variety of skills at their disposal. Here is a list of some majors that game studios look for when hiring staff members.
  • Computer Science – Video games are made from hundreds of thousands of lines of code. Because of this, skills in programming with various languages are high in demand. If programming is your thing, a degree in Computer Sciences  is something you should definitely consider.
  • 3D Modeling and Animation – Visuals are a large component of video game design. If you prefer to turn ideas into reality and love art, this is a field you should consider when looking for a job in game design.
  • Sound Engineering – Sound is another large component of game design. Sound engineering is very important for creating immersive games, and it is high in demand.
  • Network Engineering – With online gaming becoming more and more common, it is imperative that a game’s netcode be stable and efficient. Network engineering is a lucrative field that is high in demand when regarding game design.

MORE INFORMATION ON TOP VIDEO GAME DESIGN SCHOOLS

  • Princeton Review – http://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/game-design
  • Top 50 Schools in the US for Game Design – http://www.animationcareerreview.com/articles/2013-top-50-schools-us-game-design-and-development

DX Racer Formula Series Gaming Chair Review

The absolute worst thing about using the computer for long periods of time is the fact that you are often sitting in an uncomfortable, cheaply made computer chair. And the numbers don’t lie. Over 75% of computer users admit that they overlook buying a proper chair when budgeting their office or computer room. But think about it, doesn’t it make sense that, if you are planning on spending long periods of time working or gaming on the computer, you should at least invest in a comfortable chair that won’t lead to back problems down the road?

Finding a computer chair that is both a good value and provides superior comfort is sadly not an easy task. There are a ton of options out there, and let’s face it, picking out a computer chair isn’t the most exciting thing to do. Most of the time, people want to make a decision without spending a long time trying out chairs. If you are looking for a new computer chair, then why not try out the DX Racer computer chair?

The DX Racer is an ergonomic gaming chair that is super comfortable to sit in for extended periods of time. Commonly used in eSports tournaments and popular among online videogame streamers, the DX Racer is designed for extreme comfort during prolonged gaming sessions. But that doesn’t mean that it’s exclusive to gamers. Anyone who spends a long time on the PC every day is a part of DX Racer’s demographic. While it might be quirky to bring one into the office, many serious business people who work from home have furnished their offices with this chair, noting its ergonomic design and affordable luxury.

The DX Racer is made from high-density cold cure foam that molds to your body shape, making it comfortable for sessions of eight hours or longer. With its durable build and super comfortable eight-position armrests, the Formula Series of DX Racer computer chairs remain incredibly stable. And with the ability to recline the back of the chair all the way back to 180°, this chair fits just about any occasion.

These puppies can recline up to 180°

The DX Racer Formula Series chairs all go through strict quality assurance testing. Requiring a passing grade on over 72 quality tests, you can rest assured that your chair meets the highest standard of comfort and luxury. And the reviews don’t lie. On Amazon, 485 user reviews have averaged about 4.4 out of five stars, with reviews specifically stating the high level of comfort that these chairs provide. Each goes on to praise a superior build quality and amazing ergonomic design.

The DX Racer Formula Series Computer Chairs are designed to resemble bucket style racing seats. They are sure to catch an eye, as well as receive multiple oohs and aahs for many patrons willing to try out its reclining functionality. While the chair itself weighs about 57 pounds, it supports up to 265 pounds, and it remains stable the entire time. Best of all, the chairs come with sets of cushions near the neck area and back arch area to meet maximum comfort requirements.

If this doesn’t look comfortable to you, we don’t know what will.

There is one problem though. These chairs are so comfortable that you will not want to get out of them. We aren’t joking. These chairs were built for at least eight hours of sitting per session, and they’re so comfortable that you will likely want to fall asleep in them. And you can. Since they recline 180°, many users report taking naps in them against their will. In fact, we have a few in our office, and since they’ve arrived, our staff of been working longer hours due to the fact that they don’t want to get up.

Will they certainly aren’t ideal for every situation, DX Racer Formula Series gaming computer chairs are great value for the amount of comfort and luxury you will receive. If you spend long hours on the computer, working or gaming, then this chair is a fantastic option for you.

WHERE TO BUY THE DX RACER GAMING/COMPUTER CHAIR

5 Disadvantages of Cloud Computing – Common Problems with the Cloud

Cloud computing has been around since the early 2000s, and it is here to stay. With the ability to outsource processing power to cloud computing providers, it is now easier than ever for businesses to automate tasks and crunch numbers through the internet. Like it or not, cloud computing is here to stay, and the industry is projected to continuously grow as more technological advancements are made.

The benefits of Cloud Computing are a plenty, but despite all of the amazing feats that modern cloud-based services tend to achieve, there are still many drawbacks that prevent businesses from looking to fully transition to a cloud-based workflow. In this article, we will break down the disadvantages of cloud computing and discuss the caveats that come with outsourced processing power.

Don’t get us wrong: we love cloud computing! It has paved the way for great services such as Netflix, Spotify, and even Healthcare.gov. In fact, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been regarded as the “most important piece of technology of this generation” by various news sources. Keep in mind when reading this article that we fully support cloud computing. We just want to make known the various problems that can stem from lack of proper execution.

THE DISADVANTAGES OF CLOUD COMPUTING

#1: The Cost

While cloud services are becoming more and more affordable by the day, the cost of a server that is able to meet the demands of the average business adds up fast. Many cloud service providers only charge a few cents per hour of uptime, but the fees don’t stop there. Most companies will charge for bandwidth usage, instance fees (based on how many programs are running on the server), storage space, and processing utilization. This means that more intensive tasks that are performed on the server will drive up the hourly cost, resulting in hefty bills to pay off each month
Additionally, provided servers often come with multiple hardware options that determine the processing power of the server. These upgrades add an additional monthly flat-rate rental fee to the final cost, further driving up the bill. While these high-spec upgrades are completely optional, the cheapest servers usually don’t perform at a fraction of what some of the pricier options perform at.
Bottom Line: Cloud computing isn’t always cost effective. Hidden costs can drive up the hourly price of the rented server. Servers that perform well are expensive.

#2: Technical Issues

On the internet, anything can go wrong. This is also true for cloud computing. Since rented servers are in a remote location and are often locked down to the point where troubleshooting becomes a real chore, dealing with technical issues in the cloud is extremely tough; especially for lower-cost servers.

Let’s say, for instance, that external computers are having a hard time connecting to a cloud-based server because of improper configuration. Sometimes, a problem like this will require support from the service provider themselves, resulting in lost revenue and time wasted in a tech support queue.

Local computing, even if server based, results in much less of a hassle when regarding technical issues. Hardware malfunctions can be fixed on the spot, technicians have full access to every tweak-able parameter in the system, and businesses can choose any route they like to resolve any issues that may arise.

#3: Security Issues

When dealing with sensitive data, it is imperative that encryption and security protocols be closely observed. However, when dealing with the cloud, which is accessible by any computer at any time, security can become an issue.

Suppose a health clinic is using cloud computing to store and access medical records on a remote server. If a hacker were to find a loophole in the system and gain access to these sensitive medical documents, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) would be deployed in a series of severe lawsuits which could single-handedly shut down an entire company.

Using high-level encryption can certainly thwart most hacking attempts, but as hackers begin to discover and deploy more and more complex methods of data interception, a single mishap can cost a company everything.

#4: Prone to downtime

As is the problem with any internet service, one of the biggest disadvantages of cloud computingis downtime. When running a business that requires crunching large numbers in a timely manner, downtime is unacceptable. For each second a server is down, a business could potentially lose thousands of dollars in potential revenue.

Cloud computing has improved over the years, and many services offer a 99.9% server uptime guarantee. However, in the rare instance of server downtime, productivity can come to a screeching halt, and potential revenue starts to disappear.

#5: Prone to Attack

Out of all of the disadvantages of cloud computing, cyber attacks are the highest threat. If a competitor or hacker decides to attack the data center hosting a company’s cloud server, every server in that data center has a possibility of going offline.
DDoS (Direct Denial of Service) attacks are very easy to launch. Just take a look at the attack that was launched over Christmas against Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Sony’s Playstation Network. For nearly a week straight, hackers were able to keep these two high-profile cloud services offline, resulting in millions of dollars of revenue lost and a public relations nightmare.
If hackers can press a button and minutes later boot prolific cloud computation services offline, what is preventing them from attacking any other service on the web?

DO THE DISADVANTAGES OF CLOUD COMPUTING OUTWEIGH THE BENEFITS?

Absolutely not. No matter what method of service a company wishes to use, there will always be technical problems to worry about; it’s the nature of computing. Cloud computing is becoming safer each day, and this method of service will undoubtedly be used by a majority of companies in the future. What is important is that companies stay safe and follow strict security guidelines when dealing with cloud computing. The world wide web is filled with threats, but as long as security and technological support is in place, cloud computing will serve an imperative role in data processing in the years to come.

Where is Battlefield Bad Company 3?

The Bad Company series of the Battlefield franchise hit the ground running with its debut on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles back in 2008. With its groundbreaking destructible environments, lovable characters, and impressive arsenal of weapons, Battlefield Bad Companyhad a very positive reception from critics and gamers alike.

In 2010, DICE (Digital Illusions CE)  released Battlefield Bad Company 2, and once again, it was a force to be reckoned with. Whether it was the over-the-top sound effects, impressive Vietnam DLC, or grand selection of maps, Bad Company 2 had something that everyone loved.

And then, just as the fan base was reaching numbers that closely rivaled those of Call of Duty, the series vanished. In its place came Battlefield 3, and then Battlefield 4. While these games were good in their own respective right, they failed to provide the same fun-filled vibe that the Bad Company series managed to attain.

So where is Battlefield Bad Company 3? Well, DICE hasn’t really said much about the series, but they haven’t left gamers completely in the dark.

“We take all this into account when we think about the future, and do franchise strategy, But there’s one thing that lingers with Bad Company that we’ve been asking ourselves: ‘What is it that the people really liked about Bad Company?'” -DICE board member Karl Troedsson 

Troedsson poses a complicated question; one that has been met with so many responses that it has become hard to pinpoint exactly what gave Bad Company the fun factor it had. Some have stated that their loyalty was due to the simplicity of online play. Others have noted the responsive controls and entertaining driving physics. With all of these user-submitted criteria to consider, it becomes hard to build a game that stays true to the series while catering to its fans.

It’s scary to go back and try to remake an old fan favorite when actually no one can really put their finger on what it is people love… It’s starting to almost get to that place where, if we were to make a sequel to Bad Company, what would than even imply?

Despite the complexity of the project, DICE has stated that they haven’t ruled out future Battlefield Bad Company titles. As IGN.com reports:

“The Bad Company IP is still something we love,” DICE’s Patrick Bach told IGN. “It’s very dear to me because I worked on both titles… [We would] never kill something that’s great.”

While there is still no word of the series’s return, fans wait patiently for news of the third installment of the Bad Company franchise. Will it see the light of day? Nobody can say for sure, but DICE has been known to stay true to their word, and if they truly mean what they have said, Battlefield Bad Company 3 is on the horizon.

A Question to Readers: What is it that you liked about the Battlefield Bad Company series?