Adblock from an Advertiser, and Adblock from Me

So it's not surprising that after this weeks episode of Scoops and The Wolf (great video series, keep it up) that both Alex and Patrick's opinions would set the internet world on fire about the discussion on Adblock.

What's bothersome is that writers and journalists are ultimately going to be baised on this topic for the sole reason that most if not all writers and journalist all over the internet rely on advertising to keep the lights on and feed their families.

So ultimately opinions like

this guy

don't see the light of day in charge of having a fair conversation over the topic.

I'm not going to repost the whole thing here, but you should definitely check it out as it's adblock from the perspective of someone who actually works in advertising. Needless to say he represents a strong view from the other side of the debate on this topic.

A quote that sums up the point nicely is this one.

Here’s the problem with all the attempts to shame someone for using Adblock - you as an owner of a computer have an innate right to protect your shit by any means necessary. You have zero obligation to risk viruses and other malicious content on computer, regardless of some pretentious “content creator’s” “revenue stream,” and fuck them if they try to make you feel guilty for it. A large part of web ads are malicious, misogynist, full of malware/ransomware, and are a risk to your computer - the sooner the people behind websites stop playing the victim, clutching pearls and calling everyone on the Internet thieves, and abandon this revenue model, the better off we’ll all be.

Now I come from someone of a different perspective who is interested in computer security systems and the like. Ultimately going to any website in the world all you see coming back are packets of data. You own your computer, you own the hardware, and you have the right to do whatever you want to decide what data you want to filter to your computer. You are the receiver of the packets and it doesn't make any sense how you have some obligation to receive all the packets, instead of choosing to see the packets you want on a computer YOU OWN.

It's just like you have no obligation to open junk snail mail, pick up telemarketer calls, look, see, or hear anyone's advertising.

Alex makes the point that you can justify it 1000 ways but at the end of the day you are just stealing peoples money from their pockets. Guess what though? It's not your problem. It's not your responsibility to get someone else's salery paid, and it's not your problem if the business model they choose is not working. Someone out there relies on telemarketing calls, high pressure used car sales, and even junk mail to feed their families. Does that mean you should pick up every phone call and actually talk to them? Are you a human piece of shit for switching the channel on your TV when ads come on so their ratings clearly go down whenever ads come on? It's not your problem.

If you are relying on a system that requires 1's and 0's to be sent and and actively viewed by another persons computer that they own, and probably don't want to see those 1's and 0's, to pay rent and feed yourself, maybe you should think about a different more reliable system of revenue that isn't so easily circumvented.

After Patrick calmed down it seemed that he realized this.

The other tweet was that people who use adblock should die in a fire before he deleted it.

What's bothersome but predictable is that this conversation shows the double standard when it comes to consumer rights and content providers and that this really isn't about some big moral stance about advertising, it's just that people are looking after themselves.

Even during Scoops and the Wolf I just got the vibe that "Adblock is fine, so long as you don't do it to us."

Which then who cares about the guy down the next IP address right? That's whatever though, looking out for yourself is the normal thing to do, just don't be surprised when your audience does it as well.

And for all of those predicting the doom of the internet if adblock was to be used everywhere, grow up and realize the business doesn't run on sensationalist bullshit that the whole internet shuts down and every website is paid content.

What's more likely to happen is something akin to Free-to-Play games where some free content is placed on a website which subscribers will have to pay more to see more content on the website. Huh, sounds like a business model that is already in place today.

Two: realize that advertisers and websites are not really trying that hard to prevent adblock systems. I mean the way websites run ads are empty spaces that run advertisers URL's on another persons website thus being able to be black listed so easily. Twitch TV video players and how their advertising works on videos have two video players running at once and the other video player is controlled by the advertisers thus making blacklisting so easy. Just making the websites put up the advertisements on the native website would totally wreck havoc on the adblock system because it would be hard to detect if the image is from an advertiser or if it is actually a genuine piece of content on the website. Just that one simple thing alone would cause adblock problems. If Twich instead of running two players, just ran one player that ran ads and the content producer, it would also break the adblock system.

It's the classic armor vs firepower fight, someone's going to make a bullet penetrate your bullet proof vest, and someone is going to make a bullet proof vest to stop your armor piercing bullets. It's just that right now one side is barely trying. I can't really see screaming about the end of the internet when the other side isn't really trying hard to prevent this from happening.

88 Comments

Mo Greenlight mo problems: Mutant Mudds rejected by Greenlight

So Jools Watsham who is developer of a game called Mutant Mudds just released his thoughts on Greenlight trying to get his game Mutant Mudds on Steam.

And then, it quickly seemed as though the games that were being received well on Greenlight were either first-person games, contained zombies, and/or were supported by a built-in PC community or a unique publicity angle...

...Mutant Mudds sits at #82 on the Greenlight list right now. It has hovered around there for some time now. It was at around #40 or so at one point. About 30,000 folks have voted either yes or no for Mutant Mudds to be included on Steam, with a 54% / 46% split in favor of yes. Yep, those numbers pretty much sum up what the Greenlight community thinks of Mutant Mudds: polarized. At this rate I can’t see how Mudds will ever be deemed suitable for a Steam release.

-Jools

Pretty much the takeaway I can come from this is that my initial suspicions were true when Steam Greenlight first came out. What I didn't expect but should have is that mass gamers generally don't have a very good taste in games, and as people yell out of how predictable our tastes can be like a restaurant chef owner complaining about his customers tastes; the standard stuff like guns, red dots, iron sights and zombies is what sells and what gets on market.

It's important to note that Mutant Mudds isn't just some dumb indie game written on the free version of Unity using the stock textures, although that would honestly be the original Slender game and would probably be on the market. Mutant Mudds was already on the 3DS, IOS, and other PC platforms and has an 80 rating on Metacritic from 25 accredited reviewers including good reviews from IGN, 1UP and our very own Gamespot. There really shouldn't be any reason why a good quality game that is on top functional and already proven to not be on the store. But I guess that's life with Steam.

25 Comments

The best mods you don't know about.

I'd just like to take some time to post about some mods to PC games that you might not be familiar with but are totally worth experiencing.

All out War 2: The Second Coming (Doom: Zandronum/Skulltag)

Remember Command and Conquer Renegade? All out War 2 takes the C&C concepts and marries it with Doom to create All out War 2.

All out War 2 is a red versus blue game mode but has resources, geometry construction, class based combat, and vehicular combat. Each team starts with structures like a Barracks, War Factory, Research Center, and is guarded by an Obelisk of Light from C&C. There are dozens of classes within the game and all come with different uses which leaves a role for any skill level. You can play as super shotgunner and go at it Doom style in close quarters or play as stealth trooper attempting to C4 bases and destroy their infrastructure, or play as the engineer responsible for giving the stealth trooper a hard time by building sandbags, razor wire, turrets, and mines. Hell you could play as a Tiberum harvester gathering resources, which may sound boring but your bonus cash can land you in a full sized mech faster than anyone else.

Yes there are mechs. C&C Wolverines, Titains, and Battletech Timber Wolf/Mad Cats, and Ravens are in the game.

If it seems like a stalemate the game will go into "sudden death" which will make it a Battlefield ticket system which means every death counts.

Keep in mind that this is still Doom. This isn't battlefield or some modern shooter. if you decide to go at it with a shotgun, the speed, the pace, and the skill required is all the high paced frantic action you expect out of Doom.

How to play this?

  • Download Doom 2
  • Install Zandronum
  • Launch Doomseeker (usually installed with Zandronum)
  • Join an All out War 2 server. (There is only one, sometimes there are only a few people, a lot of the times on weekends as many as 32 people)
  • The wad should start downloading automatically.
  • Start having fun.

As you can see this is way beyond what Doom ever thought it could be.

Advance Combat Environment: ACE (ARMA 2: Operation Arrowhead)

I think you guys know Arma series by now. Some of you only know of it as the thing that plays Day: Z and that's fine; or you guys know of it in hush whispers as the ultra-realistic military shooter which is insanely hard to understand.

Well the honest truth as a long time Arma 2 player is that Arma isn't actually all that realistic. Concepts are still simplified and shooting isn't really all that realistic.

So that's why some guys decided to make ACE mod. To make Arma 2 more realistic.

This mod is horribly complicated. it's complicated to install, it's complicated to play, and it's really complicated to understand and there is no tutorial.

You know this comparison?

Yeah, the Mac is Modern Warfare, ARMA 2 is the PC, and ACE mod is Linux.

Well how complicated could it be?

Well... This is sniping...

Make your head hurt? Yup, and that's not even going into the larger more proficient methods of shooting.

Got hit by a bullet? Good luck.

And flying? It's not as bad as something like A-10 Warthog simulations or those dedicated Sims, but it's pretty close.

How to play ACE mod:

  • Good luck, go to Armaholics and find out.

1 Comments

The biggest problem with the Wii U (Short)

$150 Gets you this...

+ Not multi-touch

+ 480p Display

+ Not a self contained unit (No processing hardware of its own)

+ Can't take it outside (not portable)

$200 Gets you this..

(Nexus 7)

+ Multi-touch display

+ 800p IPS display

+ Self Contained unit

+ Wireless internet access

+ Portable

+ Much more flexible OS utility function

Problem Nintendo?

27 Comments

Why Steam Greenlight is objectively a bad deal for $100

Now before you go onto "Defend Valve, everything they do turns into gold and can't be wrong!" mode. Let's do an objective compare and contrast between Steam Greenlight and other avenues of selling your game on competing stores.

IOS

Fee: $100 a Year for a license fee

Conditions for sale: Have an app in fully functioning order that passes Apple certification.

+ So long as your game functions technically, does not crash, and does not contain objectionable content such as porn, fart apps ect. You are allowed on the store regardless of subjective quality and usefulness of application. (The vast majority of applications get certified)

+ Allowed to launch free apps on the store for promotion and demo.

Apple Mac Store:

Fee: $100 a Year for a license fee

Conditions for sale: Have an app in fully functioning order that passes Apple certification.

+ So long as your game functions technically, does not crash, and does not contain objectionable content such as porn, fart apps ect. You are allowed on the store regardless of subjective quality and usefulness of application. (The vast majority of applications get certified)

+ Allowed to launch free apps on the store for promotion and demo.

Google Play Store:

Fee: One Time $25

Conditions for sale: Have an app in fully functioning order that passes Google certification.

+ So long as your game functions technically, does not crash, and does not contain objectionable content such as porn. You are allowed on the store regardless of subjective quality and usefulness of application. (The vast majority of applications get certified)

+ Allowed to launch free apps on the store for promotion and demo.

Xbox Indie Game Store (Yes Really)

Fee: $100 a Year

Conditions of Sale: Game must be peer reviewed by other indie developers, only tested for instability and objectionable content. Game is not evaluated on subjective enjoyment and quality of product.

+So long as your game functions technically, does not crash, and does not contain objectionable content such as porn. You are allowed on the store regardless of subjective quality and usefulness of application. (The vast majority of applications get certified).

+Developers must have an 8 minute demo

+Developers games must cost something at least $1

Steam Greenlight

Fee: $100 one time

Conditions of Sale: Game must have a seemingly unknown number of votes that they would purchase this game from other players. Games are not allowed to have demos launched on steam and must present themselves using text and video only.

+ No official number has been released but browsing around and supporting a personal friend's game on Greenlight. We have more than a 100 comments almost all positive, and assuming that everyone and more has voted to buy this game, we have yet to reach a single percent of the 100 to get on the store. So assuming that, we must have more than 10 000 people to approve of this game using only text and video presentation to sell this game. Seeing other games with comments of more than 5000 of mostly overwhelmingly positive and only getting 31% of required this seems consistent that the number is very high.

+ It maybe that a "no thanks not interested" will cancel out a "I would purchase this game" Not entirely sure, and Valve has not publicly set out what this button actually does. If it doesn't, why does it exist? And if it does, why should someone say "I wouldn't buy this" matter? enough to cancel out a "would buy the game?"

+ Not allowed a playable demo on steam until release

+ Did I mention you have to get an estimate of more than 15 000 people to vote on your game before you are even considered on the store?

So yeah, $100 isn't a lot, but Steam Greenlight is simply not competitive in the store market. It simply doesn't make any sense to spend $100 for the CHANCE to get on a store, and the requirement that you must convince more than 15 000 people to buy your game. Game's that would actually pass that metric are games that would be allowed on Steam through the regular channels like Braid, Minecraft, and Bastion. A game with already enough user interest that it wouldn't need something like this.

P.S: If any of you are arguing that this $100 would prevent hoodlums from turning it into the Xbox Indie Game store with full of garbage. The Xbox Indie Game Store has a higher cost of entry into the market and stuff like "Don't be nervous talking to Girls" Still gets on the store. So what makes you think a 1 time $100 fee is going to have less hoodlums than the Xbox Indie Game Store that has $100 a year, and requires that your game be actually functioning and compile to be on the store.

61 Comments

The future of portable gaming... There's light at the end..

A few years ago, a lof of us who are heavily invested into the game industry thought that there is no way that mobile cellphone games could ever replace something like the Nintendo DS or the PSP. Unfortunately whether that's true or not, it's increasingly becoming evident that people like us who care about tactile responsive controls more than convenience of a single device are falling by the way side.

Now don't get me wrong, there are some awesome Android/IOS games that are definitely worth playing like World of Goo, Myst, and Puzzle Quest 2 have all the depth that a lot of us are looking for in games, yet feature controls that make sense and are not dependent on exact responsive movements. Although the reason why many of these games work is because they were primarily designed as games you can play with a mouse with one button; take Myst for Example.

Click click click

With the falling out of the PSV and the 3DS, it might seem like a very dark road for anyone who would enjoy a great platformer like Braid, VVVVVV, or Mario and have to face it on a completely unresponsive and unrealiable for gaming touch screen. Some people have had a go and fixing this by launching stuff like the Playstation Phone, or an Ipad with physical buttons that attach to the device, but all these solutions have a single fatal flaw which is software support for these devices. The Playstation Phone only supports a couple of games, and I have yet to see anyone support these dumb IOS physical control peripherals. That and the third party devices are usually too bulky and impractical to use.

But there is a solution, and it may lie in Windows 8...

Now before you hit the back button to look at some kittens on the forums or hit reply and say "OH MY GOD WINDOWS 8 IS GARBAGE!" take a look at the picture and video below.

That is the Razer switchblade, it's a concept device much like a concept car that never really came to full production, but they have full working prototypes that play games like WoW or Dota 2 with these fancy display keys that change depending on what kind of gaming your playing. It features a 7 inch screen with full multi-touch screen support. This is all great in concept, but much like those peripherals and the Playstation Phone above, the key problem is who is going to support this stuff for a small hardware company like Razor? Not only that but the Windows 7 OS wasn't designed with touch. Now look at the picture below.

Now imagine if those display keys on the bottom are replaced with an Xbox 360 Controller like below. I think you know where this is going...

If you caught on now, you would realize that there are many many PC games that support the 360 Controller, Bastion, Skyrim, Braid, Dirt 3, Crysis, Saints Row, GTA 4, and on and on and on. Now Windows 8 on X86 makes it easier to navigate with a touch screen, but most importantly it is able to play all these games. The best part is that all of these games needs little to no patching because they already have support for 360 game pad controls! So if you released a concept like the Razor Switchblade on Windows 8, it would not only have hundreds of games supported on day one, but It's also a full OS tablet! That you can use for all sorts of things like word processing, web browsing, watching movies, or sending emails.

I realize there are several factors to look at such as battery life, where you get CPU's and GPU's that do the power without having too much heat or killing the battery, and how small the device can be. But At least Razer has proved that it can work with the Razer Switchblade and that was launched in 2011. Chips have advanced during that time and this concept becomes more and more possible. So if you are like me and find most of the mobile games wanting, there is very much light at the end of the tunnel. It will just take some company to figure out the internals like Razor, Alienware, MSI, or Asus to have the portable gaming machine to end all gaming machines, because at the end of the day it would have all the functionalists of a regular PC.

Mobile gaming is dead. Long live the Mobile PC.

(huge pictures because the blog formatting was being stupid)

8 Comments

So the Wii... Looking back on it. Was it a fad?

Back in the day, I used to be a prominent contributor of the System Wars forums of Gamespot. Yeah.... that was a long time ago. Anyways I distinctly remember wii fanboys getting all excited about games like Tenchu: Shadow Assasins, The Conduit, and Excitebots.

So what we got was this...

Now I know there were good wii games (generally exclusively Nintendo) but this was the stuff that people actually got excited over that was in between the long lulls of Nintendo first party content. The Conduit was hyped up as "The Serious Shooter" on the wii. So... what? We got a hacked together shooter that looks like it came from the default art assets that came with the engine and thrown in some bloom shaders in a half-assed attempt to make the game look any good? Do people even remember that these games exist anymore?

Most importantly I remember people saying back in 07-08 that "the wii is not a fad." Well it's 2012, and the new WiiU is going to replace this one, what console is everyone developing for and spending their money on these days? At some point during 09-10 it seemed like third parties just threw their hands up and gave up giving us half-port jobs that only appeal to people who own a Wii and only have access to a computer with specs that cant even play this video properly.

So the Wii.. Still the best selling system this generation with 94 million sold, was it a fad?

28 Comments

So dell customer service is.... actually pretty awesome.

Dell was usually on the butt end of customer service jokes for a long time, but I got one tech support heaven story to share.

A shift key on my M11x R3 that I posted a review on several months ago broke. The fittings that held it in place completely gave way and I was left with one of the most used key on a keyboard half-functioning. I called up dell to see if they could just ship me a new key, and they couldn't; So they just decided to send me a whole new keyboard for the m11x for free. After a 30 minute tech support conversation which is actually typical (actually I had to hang up and they contacted me again to continue the conversation) they said they would send a technician + Keyboard within 3 days. I said to myself "okay, it makes sense, a day to get the part and 2 days to send someone over. that's actually pretty fast."

One hour later

I get a call from Dell asking if I would be available tomorrow. YES. In the same day just one hour later and the they promised to have someone over to fix my laptop with the desired part tomorrow morning. That is insanely fast.

The next day they called me up at 9:00 AM and said that he would be there in one hour. Came by my door, was very nice, replaced the keyboard and hinge in less than half an hour. I found out the panel gap between my hinge and the laptop. Before he left, he was able to fix it for me right outside my house.

I didn't even have the extra warranty care plan or anything, all I had was just the basic 1 year warranty and they treated me better than almost any product service I know of even outside laptops.

What company can send you same day support and drive a person all the way to your house to fix a single key on a god damn keyboard and do all the fitting for you for free? Even Apple loses because you have to go to an Apple store your self, they don't send a guy to your house.

So Dell I salute you for excellent (even best-ever) customer support and hope that the new direction of customer care nets you many profits in the future.

16 Comments

M11X R3 Personal Review

When my desktop died for about a whole month in November, I was stuck with the M11x R3 Laptop that I got for myself during the summer. While it served in the role of portable laptop quite well for me in the past 6 months carrying it from and to University every single day, its capabilities would be stretched to the limits as the MIA desktop prevented me from playing Skyrim and a 1500 word essay worth 25% of my grade would be due that month; a heavy task that would be a top challenge for laptops that were 15 inches big and almost 50% heavier. I'm happy to say that the little 11.5 inch notebook rose to the challenge and its capabilities surprised the whole hell out of me and even made me question the value of my desktop computer. This is more of a personal review and long term experience with this laptop, if you want all the gory details and stats I recommend you go to a website like Notebookcheck and notebookreivew for more technical information on the m11x R3.

Before this academic and gaming crisis moment in November, I initially got the m11x as the perfect supplement to my desktop computer; a laptop computer with great portability and gaming performance on the go. While it's not the lightest laptop these days at 4.5 pounds, it's certainly not what you would call hefty; compared to the most common notebook on campus the Macbook pro 13 inch, the m11x weighs exactly the same, and the 11 inch form factor made it short and narrow making it a breeze to take in and out of my backpack. With a possible 7 hours of life and even if you abuse the brightness settings to needlessly maximum levels, you should still get 5 hours out of it with wi-fi on and constant browsing. This extreme battery life made it unnecessary to bring the power brick along (which is also very small) in most cases making it even more portable. As a laptop you would bring to lecture halls browsing on Giantbomb instead of listening to the incoherent professor, it ranks up high. Would an ultrabook or Macbook Air do that role better? Arguably so, but those slender machines tend to have difficulty doing what happens next.

So it's a week after Skyrim, I haven’t finished it, and disaster strikes as my motherboard is going on the fritz. I couldn't simply sit by and let my friends go past me in Skyrim and talk all about particular spoilers about the game that I haven't reached yet. So as a level of curiosity, I installed Skyrim on the m11x and thought “Oh well, Medium settings shouldn't all be that bad, at least I get to play Skyrim.” And then Skyrim's autodetect decided that the laptop's recommended setting would be on “high.” Completely surprised I launched the game to discover it played perfectly at a good frame-rate throughout my play-through. The differences between the “high” setting on my laptop, and “Ultra” on my desktop are so minute, that if you asked me what the distinct differences are, it would be hard for me to exactly tell you what they were. I guess the textures look slightly better on my desktop, and the aliasing and filtering is better, but the key thing was it didn't feel like my graphical experience with Skyrim was compromised. In the end, the little laptop that if you didn't know better you would think was a netbook had the gaming chops to allow me to fulfill my destiny as Dovahkiin and have a great time.

This is an actual screenshot from my M11x R3 with the i5 Processor, with totally smooth frame rates.

It's early December, Asus hasn't sent back my motherboard, and several English assignments and a final essay totaling up to more than 2000 words of typing are in my future. With netbooks of the size of the m11x having notorious reputations for cramped, uncomfortable keyboards, it would seem like the flaws of the 11.5 inch size and the traditional keyboard layout would rear its ugly head. In truth the m11x was one of the most comfortable keyboards in general I have ever used. The keys were all in correct proportions to each other, and the traditional close-keyed layout made the transition from a desktop keyboard and into the m11x a lot easier. The best thing I could say about the keyboard is that I never think about how much better a full-sized desktop keyboard would be, and just typed away at my final essay that allowed me to pass with a 71% and never do English again; that alone is worth the price I paid for the m11x.

Finally I'm also typing from about several thousand feet in the air in a small commercial jet. This is where the 11 inch form factor really shines as most 15, 14 and even 13 inch laptops have a hard time opening to a comfortable angle with enough space between you and the seat in front. The narrow 16:9 inch screen makes the m11x short so that you don't need a lot of space in front of you to achieve a good angle. The 1366*768 display I feel is inadequate for 15, 14, and even 13 inch laptops, but it's absolutely is perfect for the m11x as it makes for a very high pixel density making the icons, pictures, and text very sharp and gives a lot of realistate in the small 11 inch form factor.

There is also plenty of other extra happy surprises with the m11x. The back-lit keyboard gives you an experience that's like changing the color of your car everyday, the sound is much better than you would expect laptop speakers to be, the touchpad allowed me to keep up in my Microsoft Excel and Access classes even though everyone was using mouses, and the internal microphone and webcam are some of the best in the laptop world.

It's not all honey and roses though, as even the best relationships have their little problems throughout. The m11x lacks a DVD-drive which made some instances a pain since you needed to buy an external drive to install all your old games that still came in a disk. I have gotten used to the lack of the DVD drive as most modern games these days have a diskless option and even for old games like Starcraft and Diablo have this option. The lack of a DVI or VGA port is annoying as well, though the use of a display port or HDMI fixes that, but a Displayport to VGA can run you into the $40, which is overpriced for the capability to hook it into a projector. Finally Nividia's “Automatic” graphics switching called Optimus simply doesn't work. This isn't just a problem with the m11x, but it seems like all laptops that use Optimus. Anytime the laptop is unplugged and running off battery, it refuses to use the full power of the GPU unless you manually tell the power plan to go into “high performance” mode. The MSI 460 and the Macbook Pro also seem to have the same problems with the graphics card. Worse is that in standard mode, the GPU technology will tell it to use the GPU for stuff like Firefox, even though the internal Intel HD graphics would do the job just as well and save battery life. You'll have to do some manual tweaking with the Nividia graphics to tell it to not use the GPU for mundane things like IE or Firefox to get the most out of your battery without wasting it away.

In the end though, I feel like the M11x is the closest thing to absolute laptop perfection. It's a portable, long lasting, powerful, and comfortable laptop that could serve almost any role adequately. It's not the best in each area, but you'd be hard press to find a laptop that does all these things and for the price I paid which was $1000. The only other laptop competitor would be the Sony VAIO Z series, but those laptops start at about $2000 and walk up to $3000 for an optimally equipped model. So the M11x lives in a class of it's own, doing almost everything well, and enough to consider that any computer device dedicated in one of these aspects like an ultrabook, gaming laptop, buisness laptop, to question the value in them as this little thing does their job almost as well and does everything else better.

Bottom line: If you are looking for a fast, ergonomic, relatively easy to carry, light weight, compact, and well designed machine for around $1000, then there really isn't an alternative to the M11x.

Update: The Fall (well it had to happen eventually)

This is all that resulted from the 4 foot drop

While at the university I stored my laptop in my backpack and picked it up without zipping it up fully. The result was that the laptop suffered a 4 foot drop and landed straight onto a tile floor. Disaster... When I picked it up to assess the damage, it was fine. All it suffered is one of the LED ports cracked or may have shifted, and the front panel holding in the light popped off. I popped it back in and went on my way. When I bought this laptop, I was fairly confident it was a very well designed machine and predicted it would be thinkpad tough. So far it seems to be holding up true when it survived that fall. Most importantly all the internal components including the hard drive have survived and suffered no damage. I believe this to be most in part because of the magnesium chassis that this laptop sits on. Rather than sitting on an all metal body that seems to be in vogue these days, components sit on a chassis which is encompassed by the polymer body. Much like a car, in theory the body transmits the energy into the chassis which disperses it into the components evenly. If it was an all metal body, the components inside would have suffered maximum shock at the point of impact. Would I want to have it happen again? No. Clearly the body has suffered some minor damages, and increased the gaps slightly, but I'm fairly confident that it ever did happen, chances are the laptop would still be ok.

Rubber feet always seem to go missing, but it's easily fix by a trip to the hardware store

In my long term testing, this still isn't a perfect system, but clocking close to a year now, and the rubberized coating has held up very well but still subject to some scratching. All the tight tolerances have survived the 8 or so months of heavy used this has gone through (barring the drop I just had), and I have no doubt that in it's older years it will be a very nice server or a donated laptop to anyone who can't afford a modern day one. I predict it will still be a very serviceable system, even up to 2014. Some complaints is that the rubber feet and stops making up the laptop disintegrated after about 4 months. They should have been super glued or something, but it's a problem easily fixed by visiting the hardware store for something similar.

4 Comments

Gaming Laptops buying guide for 2011.

The market for gaming laptops can be pretty hard to get into since there's so many models, prices, and form factors. And you get bewildering looks if you want a gaming laptop that isn't a gigantic behemoth sometimes. So I've put together a guide of appropriate gaming laptops of 2011 by their design and intended use.

Portable Gaming Laptop

Alienware M11x R3

Now lets get this out of the way first. Full disclamer, I actually own this laptop and I believe it's the perfect accompaniment to a desktop PC gamer as it has the power to play most modern games on medium to high, and even max out some other games like ones powered by Unreal Engine 3. The 11.5 inch screen might seem to small for some, but I found it to be no issue at all and you quickly get used to it. For me screen resolution is everything and it sits at a very dense for its size 1366x768 display. This laptop also runs very cool even during gaming from my experience. Speakers are really good too, while they lack some volume power that it can't output to the point where you think a song is too loud, it will be more than enough to fill a room and with good quality. This thing is also as solid as a brick, no flex whatsoever wherever you handle it like an IBM Thinkpad, coupled with it's long battery life of maxing out to somewhere around 9-10 hours (On my end if you abuse it and set it to full brightness while browsing you'll still get 5 hours on a charge) it also makes a decent business and work laptop. Downsides are that it's kinda heavy for a 11 inch, but it's packed at a very portable 4.5 pounds which is the same as a 13 inch Macbook Pro, It's also pretty loud during load, but I doubt after the initial "whats that sound" people have around you once it kicks in that it will bother them that much after that. There's also no DVD drive so you're generally going to have to spend an extra 50 bucks for it, and I highly recommend getting the $20 anti-gloss screen protector, this leads to a price of around $1100-1200 for everything, but Dell has coupon codes running most of the time and it's best to keep your eyes peeled for them. If not, order over the phone from dell and haggle the sales person because they're paid on commission and you can probably slash $100 or more off the price, especially if you tell them something like "Well I'd get it if this other laptop wasn't less expensive and did just as much" and what other laptop does almost as much? That's the next one after this.

PCMarkVantage (Benchmark of Computers CPU) = 6272 (Notebookreview.com with I5 processor)

3DMark06 (GPU Graphics preformance) = 8136 (Notebookreview.com)

Weight: 4.5 Pounds

Screen: 1366x768 11.5 inch display

Cost: Around $1100- 1200 without discounts, with discounts potentially under 1000.

Pros:

+ Long Battery Life

+ Solid Design

+ Runs Cool

+ Leading Class Preformance

+ Great Fidelity Speakers for class

+ Fantastic preforming extras like the multi-color backlit keyboard, good internal microphone, and HD webcam

+ Alienware's Customer Support (Believe it or not you wont be talking to someone in India, you'll actually be speaking to an American for Alienware)

Cons:

- Heavy for an 11 inch

- Slightly expensive (Can be fixed with haggling or discount coupons)

- Fans do run loud

- Screen is glossy and reflective (Can be fixed with the anti-glare screen protector)

Polarizing:

+/- Design is hit and miss for some people (I personally think this thing looks really cool)

+/- 11 Inch design allows it to be fully open in constraining areas like Airline Coach

+/- No disc drive

PS: They also offer a $700 entry level M11X with an I3 330UM and a 1GB GT335M which preforms like the older M11X R1 or R2, Expect to see a PCMark of 3,700 and 3Dmark of around 6,400 which is a noticeable drop, but the old R1's could run Stacraft 2 on High without a hitch so this should too.

Cheaper Portable Gaming Laptop

Acer Aspire TimelineX 3830TG-6431

I don't know why Acer and Asus put the worst names ever on their laptops, they're extremely hard to remember. Regardless, I was pretty ticked when I saw this come out because I just purchased my M11x. This thing packs the same GPU and a potentially faster CPU since it's not a low voltage CPU, for $750 on Amazon. Configure an M11x the same way and it would cost 1000-1100. This doesn't come without a cost of the system though, and that's mostly it's durability for the long term. There's only one review of it currently, and thats on Laptop Mag, and Cnet did a first look at it, but no real long term professional testing has been done on it, but what has been there all points to it being good.

PCMarkVantage (Benchmark of Computers CPU) = 6228 (Laptopmag.com)

3DMark06 (GPU Graphics preformance) = 8084 (Laptopmag.com)

Weight: 4.2 Pounds

Screen: 1366x768 13.3 inch display

Cost: $750

Pros:

+ Same preformance for an M11X for less

+ Slightly lighter than an M11X (4.2 pounds vs 4.5)

+ Reported Good audio

+ Long battery life

+ Great Value for money

Cons:

- Unproven Track Record

- Runs Warm under video, probably would get hot under gaming

- No backlit keyboard of any sort

- Customer support sucks

- An hour shorter of battery life vs m11x

- Small touchpad

- Uncofigurable to any higher specification, and slower hardrive because of it (5000 RPM vs 7200 RPM of M11X)

Polarizing

+/- Unagressive design

+/- No disc drive

Desktop Replacement

M17X R3

I'm not a fan desktop replacements generally, because they seem to match the worst of both worlds of the laptop and the desktop, being big and bulky so it's not portable, but not powerful enough either. This desktop replacement though, I would not mind ever owning because of just how damn good it is. This thing is fast... record breaking fast... and it does so too while having a battery life of 5 hours on web browsing which is the amazing thing. Yes it's pricy, but the amount of configurations can streach out from a modest $1500 to a mind boggling somewhere around $5000, but whatever configuration you buy, it's going to still be pretty nippy as all 3 processors are quad cores, and the base model graphics card of a GTX 460m has more than double the processing power of the m11x GT540. The hard drive goes from a 320 GB to a 1.5 TB dual drive or 256 GB or 512 GB SSD. You name it, it has it, including a 3D Screen at your discretion and even an HDMI in, which allows you to plug in your Xbox 360 or PS3 and use the screen to play your console games. All this weighing a somewhat resonable for the world 9.6 pound setup.

PCMarkVantage (Benchmark of Computers CPU) = 17486! (Laptopmag.com with 1st rate CPU and SSD) 9971 (Notebook review with 1.5 TB HD and 2nd level CPU)

3DMark06 (GPU Graphics preformance) = 20048! (Laptopmag with mid level GPU)

Weight: 9.6 Pounds

Screen: 1600x900 or 1920x1080 17 inch display with optional 3D

Cost: $1500-$5000

Pros:

+ Breaknecking preformance

+ Decent Battery life under web browsing (3 Hours without SSD and 4-5 with SSD)

+ Amazing custimization to fit your needs

+ Features and options not seen on most laptops like 3D and Wireless HD, capable of streaming whatever your laptop has onto your TV

+ HDMI in allowing you to plug your consoles and use the m17x screen

+ Excellent speakers

+ Desktop keyboard quality keyboard

+ Large viewing angles

+ Components run cool even under load for the most part

+ Very high resolution Screen

+ Alienware support

+ Multi-zoned back lit keyboard

Cons:

- Competitors still about a pound lighter

- Options can still get expensive and intimidating

- Replacements of the metal design of the last generation to plastics may lead to a perceived downgrade in build quality.

Polarizing :

+/- conflciting reports of noise under load (quiet and loud)

+/- conflicting reports of heat level on the lap

+/- Design is too aggressive and vulgar to some

Budget Desktop Replacement

ASUS G73SW-A1

Not so much budget as it's just cheaper than the M17X. The ASUS G73SW-A1 runs for $1550 on Amazon but configure the M17X in the same way and the M17X runs for about 300-400 more, so you are getting more for your money. But what your sacrificing is the utter lack of customization since ASUS doesn't do build to order, and the keyboard isn't as nice as the m17x lacking good feedback for typing, and too much stiffness, it's also very cramped compared to the m17x spacious desktop like keys. The battery life is also shorter, getting around 2 hours off of light web browsing. But if your just looking for a laptop with just power and mostly going to be up to a wall socket and only going to use the keyboard for light typing and WASD setups, then the G73SW-A1 is probebly more than enough laptop for any gamer.

PCMarkVantage (Benchmark of Computers CPU) = 8272 (Laptopmag)

3DMark06 (GPU Graphics preformance) = 14058 (Laptopmag)

Weight: 8.8 pounds

Screen: 1920x1080 17 inch screen

Cost: $1550

Pros:

+ Better Performance Value

+ Bluray Drive standard

+ Good screen resolution and viewing angles

+ Decent speakers

+ Runs cool

+ Standard accidental warranty for 1 year and 2 year regular

+ Generally good customer support

+ A whole pound lighter than the m17x

Cons:

- Speakers aren't as high of a fidelity as the m17x

- Keyboard sucks

- Not configurable

- Classic gaming laptop battery life

Polarizing

+/- Arguable a more professional look than the m17x

An All Purpose 15 inch notebook

Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch

Yup, that's right. I don't like macs, in fact you could say that I hate them with a passion as I think their overpriced designer fashion statements for the rich and dull that never actually use any of the power that it potentially has in it in the first place. But, it does have a very powerful graphics card and it's the only notebook that has that much power yet maintaining an amazing 8 hour battery life while weighing around 5.6 pounds, under load how long it will last? I can only guess. Though admittedly well designed, this notebook is still priced at an "Oh my god, what the hell were you thinking spending that much money!" sort of level. Also expect your wrists, legs, or wooden desk to leave a nasty burn mark as the stylish all aluminum body likes to conduct heat and A LOT OF IT. Not literally of course but speaking from experience of the last 13 inch Macbook with the 320m graphics card, playing TF2 with shorts on was a very uncomfortable experience from the lap. All this? An amazing 2600 to 2800 dollars for a system with the 2.3 quad core processor. You could downgrade the processor down to the 2.2 and have it for $2400 but that's not exactly cheap either.

PCMarkVantage (Benchmark of Computers CPU) = 7648 (Laptopmag with 2.2 ghz processor)

3DMark06 (GPU Graphics preformance) = 10359 (Laptopmag)

Weight: 5.6 pounds

Screen: 1440x900 or 1680x1050 15 inch screen

Cost: $2200 at base! 2400-2800 optimally!

Pros:

+ Leading preformance to weight ratio

+ Leading preformance to battery ratio

+ Anti-glare screen option

+ Best touchpad anywhere

+ Solid feeling design

+ Back-lit keyboard

+ 16:10 hi-res screen

+ Industry leading customer service

Cons:

- Price

- Will get very hot

- Price

- Component upgrades like ram or CPU speed are for some reason more expensive than competetor upgrades (For example 2.2 ghz CPU to 2.3 is $250 where Alienware is $200)

- Only 500 GB hard drive, and 750 GB hard drive option is a slower 5000 rpm rather than a 7200 rpm

- No Bluray Drive option

- Customer support (specifically phone) is limited to 90 days unless you pay for Applecare which is another $350

- Did I mention price?

Polarizing:

+/- Social statement implications if you purchase one (in my view anyways)

Less expensive all purpose notebook

Alienware M14X

I know I know, I just shown all 3 of Alienwares offerings as the best laptops you can buy for the money and it makes me look like I'm being paid off by Dell to say this, but god damn it if Alienware is making some damn fine laptops and against the Macbook Pro 15 inch, there really isn't another laptop with the same or more power without having the battery life of the first electric car and weighing as much as a Cadillac Escalade. Make no mistake there's some sacrifices to be made, but if your willing to deal with a slightly heavier laptop with a middle to road battery life than the m14x could be a decent all purpose. The downside is it weighs a pound more than the 15 inch macbook and struggle to get half as much battery life. That being said it does get a higher performance than the Macbook pro and at half the cost. Configure the M14X similarly to the Macbook Pro 15 inch and you'll find that spec for spec the m14x costs around 40% less than the Macbook, and has a better graphics card. Half as much battery life might seem like a big deal, but remember it's more than 4 hours we're talking about, and that's more than enough to get whatever writing or web browsing to be done in. If graphical preformance isn't that much of a deal than I recommend the Dell XPS 15 which has the same GT540 found in the M11X, or the XPS 15Z, which has a 525M which doesn't do that bad either.

PCMarkVantage (Benchmark of Computers CPU) = 9293 (laptop mag with best CPU)

3DMark06 (GPU Graphics preformance) = 12553 (Laptop mag)

Weight: 6.4

Screen: 1366x768 or 1600x900 14 inch screen

Cost: $1100 base, optimal configurations go for around 1600-1800

Pros:

+ Better money to performance ratio

+ Still reasonable battery life

+ Better all around preformance than the 15 inch macbook

+ Won't burn your legs

+ Multi coloured backlit keyboard

+ Same desktop style keyboard as the m17x

+ Faster Ram (1600 Mhz vs Apple 1333 Mhz)

+ More options like wireless HD

Cons:

- A pound heavier

- Half the battery life

- Still no Bluray

- Loud fans

The I Want my Laptop to do Everything

Sony Vaio Z

Well it's basically everything and anything with no compromises. This little giant can stock a 2620m 2.7-3.4ghz processor, 2 SSD's up to 512 gb of space, 8 GB ram, and that dock on the side can be the bluray drive and the graphics card, a 6650m. All wrapped up in Sci-fi carbon fiber making it the most lightest and durable laptop probably ever. All weighing a impossible 2.5 pounds for just the laptop. To put in perspective the svelte and light macbook air, is heavier at 3 pounds. The cost? From a shivering $2000 to a bone chilling $3680. But this laptop comprimises on nothing, even the battery life is amazing at a 5 and a half hours, and an astonishing 11 hours with the extended battery which only makes it weigh 3.5 pounds. It's quiet annoying that they decided to take out the external graphics card and put it on this dock, but at the weight savings It's probably not that big of an issue to bring it along if you want to game around. The graphics is no desktop replacement but it's about on par with the Alienware m11x, which for a 2.5 pound laptop into perhaps a 3.5 laptop all together is pretty damn good. You might be wondering why I'm not screaming my head off about the price, and that's because it comes with SSD as standard so that explains the majority of why it's so damn expensive.

PCMarkVantage (Benchmark of Computers CPU) = 10763! (laptop mag, best CPU)

3DMark06 (GPU Graphics preformance) = 4068 without dock, with dock 7943 (laptop mag)

Weight: 2.5!

Screen: 1600x900 13.1 inch or 1920x1080 13.1 screen

Cost: $1970 base, 2800 optimum setup

Pros:

+ Lightest laptop you can buy

+ Blistering CPU performance

+ Unrivaled graphics preformance in class with dock

+ SSD standard

+ Amazing battery life for performance

+ Matte anti-glare hi res screen

+ Durable and futuristic carbon fiber body

+ Runs cool under load

+ Backlit keyboard

Cons:

- Still pricy (though there is a tangible reason why it's so expensive)

- Fans are loud under load

- Trackpad is hit or miss

- Speakers could be better

Polarizing:

+/- Some might wish the graphics card was built into the laptop

I want my laptop to do everything but not cost me a kidney

Sony Vaio S

This is it, It's a laptop with the same processor as the Vaio Z, similar graphical capability, but has a normal hard drive and disc drive. As a result it weighs a little bit more but at a very light 3.8 pounds. It has a 6630m AMD graphics card and will last about 5 hours on a charge and 10 on the extended battery. Downsides might be that the screen isn't as good as color fidelity as the big brother Vaio Z or the other gaming notebooks, but it's matte so it wont reflect off light, and the speakers frankly suck. So best to get some new headphones while your at it. The other thing is that the graphics are manually switchable, requiring you to close off all video related programs before switching to the faster internal graphics card. The design might feel a bit flimsy as myself experiencing this laptop at a Sony store, I experienced a lot of flexing around the laptop but nothing too serious and probably an outgrowth of the light weight. I'd still call it a worthy laptop for all purposes as the specs are right and the design is good. Graphical performance should be less than the Vaio Z or the m11x, but it's probably not going to be a big enough of a drop to tell the difference.

PCMarkVantage (Benchmark of Computers CPU) = 6106 (with entry level CPU laptop mag)

3DMark06 (GPU Graphics preformance) = 7353 (laptop mag)

Weight: 3.8

Screen: 1600x900 13.1 inch

Cost: $1249 base $1700 optimum

Pros:

+ very light, almost a pound lighter than the 13 inch macbook

+ Great preformance to weight ratio

+ Doesn't cost as much as the Vaio Z

+ Slice battery offers amazing battery life

+ Blu-ray standard

+ Anti reflective screen

+ Backlit keyboard

Cons:

- Speakers are mediocre

- Picture quality of screen could be better

- Maybe flimsy feeling

Well there you go, here's my list of gaming laptops you should buy. There's more to buying a gaming laptop than just specs, but even the weakest of these, the Vaio S still has the graphical punch to run most games today and powerhouses in the past like Crysis on medium and be fine. Big behemoths like the m17x I would not be surprised if it was able to run Battlefield 3 on the highest settings without a hitch. Good luck with your PC gaming adventures.

13 Comments
  • 34 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4