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Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 420X Headset – A Review (Xbox One)

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Turtle Beach, one of the premier video game headset manufacturers, has just released a new wireless headset for the Xbox One, the Ear Force Stealth 420X Headset (shortened to the 420X for the rest of this review).  The 420X might just be one of the best headsets I have ever owned, and most definitely the best one I’ve had for a console.  The headset fits quite nicely, never pinching nor feeling to small for my head, and is incredibly comfortable to wear for hours of gaming.

Features

The 420X is completely wireless while in use, the only cord that comes in the package is used to connect the headset to the Xbox One for charging.  Using a USB wireless connector, the 420X stays connected for up to 30ft, which is perfect for me to grab a soda from the garage and still be able to talk between online games.  All the controls for the 420X are on the headset, including game and voice volume, bass boost, mute, and a button for presets.  The power button is on the right ear cup, dead center so you can easily feel for it and turn it on or off while the headset is being worn.  The 420X also features a removable omni-directional boom mic, so you can use your headset for music or mobile gaming.

I love the fit of the 420X on my head.  Comfort for me is pretty high on my must have list for gaming headsets, if the headset hurts after a few hours of gaming, then it just isn’t a good quality headset.  The 420x has synthetic leather ear cups that fit over the ear, keeping outside noise to a minimum while keeping your ears from sweating.  I also love how the ear cups swivel to match the shape of your head.

Aesthetic

The 420X is a very clean looking headset, which is pretty typical of Turtle Beach.  Most of the headset is set in a matte black color, with some green highlights around the ear cups.  The Turtle Beach logos are also green, and glow green when the headset is on.  This is just your clean looking, basic design for a gaming headset, which I love.

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Performance

I was able to use the 420X extensively over my testing period, focusing on a few different types of games.  Games like Dark Souls 2, The Division, Black Ops 3, Far Cry Primal, and Borderlands 2 sounded fantastic through the headset.  During multiplayer, I was able to hear footstep directions to give me a better indication of where my opponents were.  With single player games like Dark Souls 2, the music and sound effects really came through nicely and added to my immersion into the game.  Voice communication was clear with no issues at all, though finding the mute button was somewhat difficult at times.  I guess my only complaint with the 420X really is that it was hard to find the controls while the headset was on.  Feeling for the mute button was difficult, and I had a hard time remembering which volume control wheel controlled which volume.

Specifications

  • Digital Signal Processor: Digital Signal Processor for independently controlled chat, game and mic signals
  • Audio mute: Audio mutes automatically when carrier signal is lost
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
  • Shut down: Automatic shut down after approx 10 minutes of carrier loss or silence to conserve battery power
  • Weight: 8.6oz
  • Speaker Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Battery life: >15 Hours
  • Speakers: 50mm with Neodymium Magnets
  • Digital Wireless RF wireless carrier reception.: 2.4GHz
  • Speaker Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Microphone Design: Removable Omni-Directional Microphone
  • Earcup Design: Around-Ear (Closed)
  • Headband/Earpad Material: Perforated Synthetic Leather (Black) with Foam Cushioning

Final Thoughts

The Ear Force Stealth 420X Headset by Turtle Beach is the best headset I have ever used for the Xbox One or Xbox 360.  The wireless connectivity is a must with my current living room set up, the voice communication was clear, and the headset was incredibly comfortable to wear over long periods of time.  I do wish the controls on the ear cups were a little easier to use or the buttons and wheels separated over both ears, but that is a fairly minor issue unless you are adjusting these items constantly during game play.  The price is set to be around $150 MSRP, which could be considered a little steep, but worth it if you are looking for a quality wireless headset.

Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 420X Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Sheltered – A Review (Xbox One)

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Ah, how it’s good to be back in the saddle again.  With my life becoming a little more stable, I get to celebrate with a game review.  So, here is my review of Sheltered for the Xbox One by Unicube and Team 17 Software.  Sheltered began life as a Kickstarter game, gathering over 3,300 backers and making just over $42,000.  Originally only slated for a PC release, Sheltered hit the stretch goals, allowing the game to be ported over to the PS4 and the Xbox One.  Let’s delve deeper into this game to see if it’s worth your time, or just another bad Kickstarter game.

Story

Your family of four has survived the nightmare of a nuclear holocaust, and now must face the future together in a underground bomb shelter.  Each day, you will have to make many decisions that could either lead your family to live another day, or perish within an instant.  As stories go, Sheltered does lean to the “bare bones” side of writing styles.  You begin the game with four individuals and a family pet, living inside the bomb shelter.  You are then told to survive as long as you can, and that’s it.  The story is made to be inherent, as the game progresses you are telling your own story by how you react to adversity or how you set up your shelter.  There will be events that occur, but nothing that truly defines a story line as such.

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Now, this way of story telling isn’t all bad, don’t get me wrong.  Some of the best games just don’t have any stories built into them and it is up to you to define what your story is.  Sheltered takes the same path as The Sims, you are in charge of the family, and what you do defines your story.  While I personally love to have a driving narrative with much more of a goal then to just survive, this method works in Sheltered.  I wouldn’t know how to incorporate a driving narrative in this style of game, so I believe this was the right choice by Unicube.

Game Play

Unicube allows you to design the four people and pet you begin the game with.  You can create any combination of four people to make up your family.  This includes sex, clothing styles, hair, facial features, and skin color.  This level of customization really allows you to invest into your starting family.

From there, you have to keep them alive.  There is a brief tutorial that shows you how things work, but other than that the game play is very much trial and error.  As your characters live their lives, they will require certain things.  Food, water, sleep, and air are just some of the things you will need to be concerned with.  Sanity and fun are also important to handle as well.  You will also have to maintain the items in your shelter, and create new ones to better help your family live better lives.  Your children are not just idle passengers in this game either, send them topside to fix the water filtration unit, get them to work making sleeping bags, or have them maintain the generator.  Child labor is alive and well in Sheltered!

As the game progresses, if you are maintaining your family’s health, they will get better at what they do.  Members can become faster, stronger, and heartier if they live a good, clean life.  This will help out as you send your members topside to explore and gather resources.  You can’t send them out without weapons, though.  Sheltered offers up a strong crafting system that allows you to create various weapons to keep your members alive, as well as create items that will make their lives nicer.  Eventually, you may be able to create a vehicle to really explore the world above.

Through game play, your family will eventually meet other survivors.  These survivors may be friendly to your family, or might just see you as easy targets.  Combat is turn based in Sheltered, which works out quite well.  You can also recruit some of the friendlier folk you meet, and have them join your bunker.  This will help maintain your bunker, but may also put some strain on your resources.  Another mouth to feed will do that.  Well, you could just wait until someone dies and cook that person.  Sure it will cost you a little sanity, but it’s better with a full belly.

I liked the game play mechanics and feel that Sheltered does a great job in handling these items all at once.  My issues with Sheltered steam from the aesthetics that affect game play (more on that later) and the utter lack of any clue as to what I am doing at first.  This style of game play does make it feel like you really are trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, but it may frustrate some gamers out there.

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Aesthetics

This is where the game takes a big hit form me, the aesthetics department.  Unicube went the route of using bit style graphics, so everything looks blocky and it is more then hard to tell certain items from each other.  I could not find my dog’s dish for the life of me during my first run through.  Sure, Sheltered was developed on a budget and, sure, graphics don’t make the game but I do wish things were much clearer then they are.  I have never been a proponent of making everything look realistic and shiny, but I do wish developers would stop going back to really blocky bit graphics just to save some money.  Other than that, the aesthetics works fine, and it really comes down to your own personal feeling about developers using retro graphics these days.

Final Thoughts

Sheltered is a solid, post-apocalyptic survival game for the Xbox One that does a great job in making you feel like you are trapped in a shelter and that your life could end at any moment.  This game will really speak to the micro manager in you, and especially if you ever enjoyed any of The Sims games.  The crafting system is solid and deep, the game is full of atmosphere and the amount of customization will allow you to create the family of your dreams.  I did have trouble with the aesthetics of the game, mainly in just telling items apart from each other.  Sheltered will also not hold your hand at all, you are expected to handle stuff on your own, right away.  If you are looking for a post-apocalyptic human management game, I really think Sheltered is the best of the bunch for the Xbox One and would recommend giving it a shot.  Sheltered is available now for the Xbox One.

Sheltered Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Better Late Than Dead Review

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I often just jump into games and start playing them without knowing all the much about them.  I feel if I get too much warning about a particular game, I might figure out the story too much, master the mechanics quicker than the average player and have general surprises spoiled for me.  If I know I am going to be reviewing a game I usually don’t even check out the trailer until afterwards to see if it adequately represented the game.

Better Late Than Dead however had been bouncing around since early alpha as a chat topic among players and reviewers and at first it was thought to be just an interesting take on a survival… maybe survival horror with the key for survival being more defensive than offensive.  Then along came the chance to play it and I went right at it, running around doing things maybe a bit faster than the average player from so many survival games on my shelf when suddenly I was literally getting bit in the rear-end by an alligator.  A few bites and I was Gator Chow and going for the last save point… which was grayed out… after hours of work.  Wait, Permadeath?  It’s got… ok that’s fine. I remember where just about everything was located so I will just head back and…  random drop rate and location?  So in a feature I don’t often use much these days here are the game’s features which will help you stay Better Late Than Dead.

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Features:

  •  Craft items using a combination of objects and methods like tying and cutting
  •  Build a shelter to protect you from rain and dangerous animals
  •  Online Multiplayer
  •  Lose blood, break bones, become poisoned and stave off hunger and thirst
  •  Varying weather conditions that affect gameplay
  •  Procedurally generated items that the player must find to leave the island
  •  Dangerous animals including wolves, spiders and bears
  •  Capture animals using traps
  •  Permadeath – Will you be able to escape the island or will you succumb to its menace?

Hands On:

Accept you will probably succumb to its menace a few times.  This is a simple act that will help you maintain your Zen while playing this survival which has it’s own set of rules that might not fit the normal world.  Things sitting around that look sharp and pointy will not be usable for it’s sharpness or pointy unless it shows up as such in the menu or after crafting.  So the first important thing to do in the game is run and find what you need for the different crafting recipes while watching for anything that moves or for the music to turn ominous.  Scary music like in a movie means even if you can’t see the danger it is nearby.

It’s really easy to start feel comfortable like you have a good idea what is around, these are really the times you need to be cautious.  Permadeath.  To be hours into the game and have permadeath hit you again… the save points are only for when you quit the game alive, they are no safety net whatsoever.  It is a great game to play when you have as few distractions as possible, no television in the background, no one else in the house telling you they just stocked something on *this* shelf of the fridge.  Think of it more as a jigsaw puzzle on a rickety TV tray that anyone else might bump over so you tuck it safely in the corner when others are around.

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Now that the whole permadeath thing has been drilled into your head this is what you imagined Robinson Crusoe was like probably as a kid.  Only with body bags.  And cryptic notes about madness.  And instead of a shipwreck you bust out of a crate that was supposed to be your watery coffin.  Otherwise you need to find items and figure out how to craft them together.  Your inventory is limited but if you concentrate on dropped items such as a key or a knife first and only work on growing stuff like shaking trees for coconuts and mangos as needed then you are less likely to have a full inventory and find yourself dropping excess coconuts in weird places all over the islands.

This is a review and I have been mostly loading it with tips because this a fun game with a lot of mystery involved and permadeath can be a very cool aspect of a title if used properly which Better Late Than Dead does.  It is still being tooled a bit, go in feeling for a beta at this point and you will be more than happy with the results.  I haven’t had a second player join me for multiplayer yet which was introduced very recently so hasn’t fully caught on as the game probably will through word of mouth.  The game has good quality, a good concept and so far pretty good devlivery, just make sure that permadeath survival is your thing and you’ll be just fine.

Last Breath:

Better Late Than Dead is a fairly rare entry into the survival series with it’s permadeath and the interesting ways it tries to cause them which I don’t want to spoil here.  It still feels like it needs a bit of tooling and I think it is still getting it at press time but even without another coat of polish it is a fun and addictive game.

Better Late Than Dead Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Samurai Warriors 4 Empires PS4 Review

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When I took the review for Samurai Warriors 4 Empires I thought, from just the initial images that I had seen, that it was an anime slasher with a few combo moves to remember – which I was more than in the mood for as my week of gaming was beginning.  What I was pleasantly surprised by was that was just the beginning of this game’s adventure and I would be spending a lot of hours finding out just how deep it went.

Hands On:

The game started pretty much like I expected it to with a notice on the screen that our clan was in trouble and we needed to fight from certain destruction.  I started swinging my sword, learning the minor power blows and being greeted by plenty of enemies flying through the air and and disappearing as they were wiped out.  After a nice solid defense that had me prepared for more slash and dash suddenly the game entered Politics Mode.  What?

Turns out is has a what at first sight is a light political section which actually winds up playing a fairly deep strategy section of the game which has as much say on what happens and the swords if not more.  Actually it is through the strategy that weapons and troops upgrade for the hack and slash.  The way I would describe it most simply is it is a strategy game that you then fight the battles through once it comes time to fight another clan/territory.  You have advisers and generals who you must consider both their advice and battle prowess because after you use one aspect you use the next.

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You also after capturing territories get new possible additions to your castle but they cost resources which then takes from battle… you quickly realize it is all a balancing act as you use a recuperating pool to bring back 200 of your men, but that leaves you with less resources in other places and then you still have to upgrade your castles as you capture them AND if you blow it in the hack and slash section which is timed it is all for nothing! Whew!

Luckily I love both strategy and hack and slash so I was adding up trophies on the PS4 like crazy and managing to mostly hold and maintain territories.  It is definitely worth checking out the manual because though there are plenty of save times they are kind of hard to find most of the time and getting back to them means exiting out.  I learned a lot of things through trial and error, the first time I lost a battle I didn’t understand how since I had dominated the map but I hadn’t defeated the last boss on the map before the countdown.

An interesting thing about the graphics are that they are a bit traditional strategy, looking like a Risk map then you go into battle and it is distinctly gaming anime with the big swords, dramatic ornate costumes and kind of hokey dialogue.  I could see someone who isn’t really into both kinds of games being a little turned off by this but I personally enjoyed it, feeling that the mix worked and was a well rounded experience that went really, really deep.

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Last Slice:

Samurai Warriors 4 Empires is an interesting game with a great mix of strategy and hack and slash gameplay – which winds up challenging your muscle memory as well as your muscle memory.  You can easily expect hours and days of play with lots of replay on the campaign section alone and you can also do custom gaming and expect downloads in the future.  So work on trying to plan strategically ahead in a game as well as being fast with your fingers, your life might thank you sometime in the future.

Samurai Warriors 4 Empires Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Accessory Power GOgroove AirBand Wireless Bluetooth Headset Review

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When I was a young man I used to wear my headphones everywhere constantly listening to my favorite tape of the time.  If you are thinking of the average headphones of today your imagination might be a bit off, these were little plastic arms with circular ear pods.  The full ear coverage of the 70s had been replaced with the little portable pods and the concern for bleed out was replaced with with a minor concert for bleed in, very minor concern taking a big back seat to portable.  It was all about that Walk Man on your hip and durability and lightweight of the headphones.  New eras which were mostly cycles of the eras before would come back with some technological edge and so has the ear pods with a terrific example to be found in the GOgroove AirBand Wireless Bluetooth Headset.

  • Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP
  • Adjustable headband design
  • Onboard playback controls
  • Integrated Microphone
  • 30ft wireless range
  • Rechargeable battery with 8 hours of audio playback
  • AC adapter included

Hands On:

There are a lot of benefits to this style of headset such as that it drowns out exterior noise. If you have are sensitive to in-ear designs, that should not a concern with these, as they tend to be able to be knocked around and still maintain playable position. The open cup design means less ear sweat and people trying to talk to you can hear bleed out so they know you can’t hear them.  These were all the reasons why this particular design was slow to drift from the marketplace back in the 80s and 90s.  The full ear cups tended to be weighty as well and so the ear pods were a nice lightweight replacement and the following design that when into the ear like an IFB were often uncomfortable in people’s ear canals.

So with all this in mind I thought of some of the few drawbacks of the old ear pods and the biggest were more designs of the Walk Man itself, all the controls were on the Walk Man and the cable to the headset was constantly getting in the way.  I made my own case for my Walk Man in Leather Working class in high school so I could try not to knock it off my waste every time I changed tracks or rewound my favorite song.  My design looked great, got an A, but still didn’t solve the problem.

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So here we are now decades later and the fashion cycle has come around again.  We are still using big old headsets like we had in the 60s and 70s but we are incorporating new technology such as wireless play and play/calls from our cellphone.  Still they are bulky.  In an attempt to bypass the bulky we are into the ear IFB style and people are still plenty uncomfortable if not moreso these days with things being jammed in their ear.  They do it for the purpose of fitness and stability which makes sense but doesn’t make it any more comfortable.

Enter The Gogroove AirBand Wireless Bluetooth Headset.  I cannot say strongly enough how much I wish this headset had been around when I was strength and cardio training in my teens.  The ear pods are actually more comfortable than they were back in day while at the same time having  better ear stability.  One of the major tests that companies like to do with ear buds is to have an athlete put them in then run in place or do high jumps.  This doesn’t really simulate running cross country or obstacle course jumping but the AirBand would hand such exertions easily.  When using wireless electronics then playback time definitely is important but whether you are working out or just at work 9 hours of playback (my test results) with a few hours of recharge should get you through it.

Trying to think of any problems or concerns the only one I really came up with is there is some minor bleed out.  This really won’t matter unless you are in a work or other sensitive environment where lyrics may want to be taken into consideration (ie. dropping f-bombs on a preschool class).

Last Play:

The GOgroove AirBand Wireless Bluetooth Headset is the headset I have been waiting to come back into style for walks and hikes, I just wish I had had them when I was most vigorously in my body training.  I will put it to good use now though with my physical therapy which when I find a product that can help I consider a blessing.

Accessory Power GG AirBand Wireless Bluetooth Headset Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Plex Media System (Tech)

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Hearing of Plex at various electronic trade shows, I was curious how it might work for me, especially as a video game reviewer and a disabled individual.  Being able to start playing personal media or sharing photos with fellow GamingShogun staff from bed when my body had finally failed out on me was something I was really hoping to find a way to simplify.  Plex seems like it just might be the answer to those problems.

Features:

  • Enjoy your videos, movies, TV shows, music and photos anytime, anywhere. – Run Plex Media Server on your Windows, Mac or Linux computer and stream to your iOS, Android, Windows Phone or Windows device. Have multiple TVs in your house? No problem, Plex also works on Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Xbox, PlayStation®, NVIDIA® SHIELD™, and many late-model smart TVs. Plex is even available on most network-attached storage devices.
  • Make your media beautiful – Plex gives you one simple interface to organize all of your media: your movie and TV collection, your music library, and all of your photos and home videos. Plex enriches your media library by adding descriptions, plot summaries, posters, and album covers. Enjoy your media on every TV in the house or on any mobile device on the go.
  • Plex keeps track of your media – Recently added content is presented front and center so you can instantly see what’s new. Plex also knows which movies and shows you’re watching, so you can easily pick up where you left off or play the next episode.
  • Manage what’s being watched on Plex – Control the media that your friends and family can access, both in and out of the home. Plex Home allows you to create customized, managed accounts, and restrict content those users can access. Restrict based on content ratings, or share specific items. Buy one Plex Pass for your home and share benefits like free apps.
  • High quality SSL certificates for all media servers – We’ve teamed up with DigiCert to provide high quality SSL certificates for your media servers, at no cost to you. Your media server will be able to securely communicate with your devices with top-grade encryption, it’s like having your own secret service escort protecting your data end-to-end, preventing hacks, attacks, and snooping.
  • Your music’s new homeMusic on Plex is accessible everywhere and beautifully presented. With support for nearly all audio formats, all of your music gets airtime. Once setup, you can hear (and even watch!) your music anywhere, on anything, and even share access to your music libraries with your friends. Recent improvements include Vevo music videos and Gracenote functionality that improves the metadata of your music library.
  • Playlists, for endless entertainment – Create customized music or video playlists to fit any occasion, based on mood, genre, collection, and more. You can even import existing iTunes playlists, ratings, track counts, and other details! Playlists are currently available on most platforms, but we’re working hard to bring them to all as quickly as possible.
  • Automatically upload your photos – Now, photos from your phone or tablet can be wirelessly synced to Plex automatically thanks to Camera Upload. It’s a new Plex Pass feature that makes sharing special snaps with family and friends easy, lets you stream photos to different screens, and allows you to free up space on your mobile device.
  • Your big screen’s best friend – Plex liberates you from single-screen viewing. With Plex Companion, you can fling great content from your phone to your TV. Keep watching that movie on your tablet when you head to bed. Pause an episode when the phone rings, skip a track you’ve heard too many times or just find out more about what you’re watching with the world’s best remote control.
  • Movie trailers, interviews, and other extras – Automatically get access to high quality online trailers and extras for the movies you have in your Plex library. Also, our new Cinema Trailers feature lets you start off your movie with a few trailers for movies from your library or from new and upcoming releases. Don’t worry, if you already have extras in your library, Plex will make those look great as well.
  • Share your media with friends and family – Effortlessly share media among friends, so you can all discover and enjoy even more content together. Exchange precious memories with distant family members by sharing your vacation photos and home videos. Now, you can also see what your friends are streaming from your collection as everyone gets their own view into your library.
  • Your media is reachable, even when you’re not – Cruising at 30,000 feet, sailing across the Atlantic, or just taking the subway to work – even when you’re offline, Mobile Sync has you covered. Simply tell Plex what you want to take with you on your phone or tablet and we’ll take care of the rest, keeping your content up to date and presenting it with the same beautiful interface. Mobile Sync is available exclusively to our Plex Pass subscribers.
  • Stream directly from the cloud – Cloud Sync automatically optimizes the media you choose and uploads it to places like Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa and Box. It’s like having a media server that’s always on. Cloud Sync is available exclusively to our Plex Pass subscribers.
  • Access your favorite online content – Plex Channels provide access to numerous sources of online content, like TED Talks, Vimeo, Revision 3, and more. No matter what your interests are, you’ll be able to find something great to watch or recommend to your friends, all presented in Plex’s gorgeous interface.
  • Save it now, watch it later – Easily save online videos from your favorite sites to watch later, even on the big screen. Or share the experience by recommending videos to a friend.
  • World class DLNA support built right in – Plex makes your media beautiful on thousands of DLNA certified devices like the PS3, Xbox 360, and WDTV Live devices without the need to install dedicated apps. Harness the power of the most sophisticated DLNA server available to effortlessly stream nearly any format to your device, right out of the box.

Hands On:
I wanted to cut down the list of features above but each thing I read seemed like something else that our readers might want to know.  The Plex service has definitely have been designed to cover many possible aspects of user needs that each one I looked at had to be mentioned.

Let’s start with professional usage.  I can have my Editor-in-Chief on my friends list and upload pictures and video from various events quickly and smoothly so that he can start choosing, editing, and watermarking them while I am still collecting them in the field.  If I stumble on some news I want to pass along to him I can just send a quick upload while in the Plex app and he can see the press release that caught my eye or video I thought would make a story.  There are other ways to do this but the real way to think of Plex is as a complex of media, pulling multiple applications and other media sources and putting them in one neat customizable interface.  Time really can be of the essence in news and the faster it can be past along the better.

This also is important when I am doing my own writing.  If I have found a bunch of media while running around with my phone and it comes time to write and all I have to do is log into Plex and all my different available galleries are right there at my fingertips and well as interviews for quotes I can cook through a story far faster than if I have to take the separate time to download or upload to the storage cloud the media I want to use.  There has been more than a few times I have done a search for just the right trailer while on a monorail or something on my way home to write, found exactly what I wanted and when I got home had to open up a program and repeat the search.  With Plex on my mobile devices I can have it all set up and ready to lay down in the article when I hit the computer.

During certain times of the year I also do quite a bit of traveling, part of it is flying, other times it is just through cell dead zones.  With the most minor bit of planning through Plex I can make sure I have access to the media I want while off the grid.  Trust me in rural parts of Nevada you really wish there was a cell tower hidden in the tumbleweeds, luckily Plex can help with music and videos so you won’t have to just listen to the sound of the engine and your own breathing.

The last part was a crossover of business and personal use that leads nicely into how I can use Plex when I am not on the road or even able to get out of bed or off the couch.  Being disabled can be disheartening to say the least, not just because of feeling unproductive but sometimes the simplest things going to the living room to watch television is too much.  On those days I often would just watch my phone because of the ease of interfacing.  At the foot of my bed though is a television with an Xbox One and a PS4 hooked up to it.  So if I wake up and can’t lift my head enough to watch television I can start by first watching a program or video on my phone then fire up one of my consoles and pick up on the same program on the TV even if the video was just on my phone such as a digital copy.  Normally I would have to track down the the DVD, put it in the console or hope that it was on one of the streaming services we subscribe to and find the location.  I can literally use the Plex app and fling video from my phone up onto the TV and go back to watching.

A much lighter use of the system is apparent in that one moment when you find a funny video on your phone and the whole family decides to circle around the device’s tiny screen and watch.  Once again, with a smart TV and the Plex app, you can fling the video right onto the TV and let everyone watch it on a nice big format.  Plex even adjusts the quality so it doesn’t look grainy.

Last Call For Now:
Plex is the perfect way to centralize all your media into one complex for business and personal use and ease.  Whether it is watching videos and listening to personal music or sharing files with friends and coworkers Plex puts in all into one place with it’s own driving system.  I have no doubt I will find new ways to put Plex to use every time I open the application.

Plex Media System Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

World of Tanks PS4 Edition Review

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I became a big fan of World of Tanks back in its original PC beta days.  Most players who play it these days wouldn’t recognize the game from back then since it has had a constant evolution rather than relying solely on player loyalty.  One of the biggest game developments was its going from PC to console platforms – a move which not everyone has wanted to make (this is okay, as the PC version of the game still gets plenty of updates and has a huge player base).  So let’s take a look at some of the most recent additions to World of Tanks gameplay on the newly-released PlayStation 4 version of the game.

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The basic game controls on the PC platform haven’t changed since they were first implemented, same for the console versions. This means that players who are used to one particular platform like the PC will always be able to jump into a PC game and play. First it was individual sections of the tanks which by the time it hit consoles had become modules so that instead of just upgrading the barrel of the tank you might upgrade the barrel and the tracks.  Crews were added along the way which initially just added to the performance of the tank, then added to specific sections of the tank such as “repairs” then specific skill sets in that section.  These latest evolutions in crew usage takes them from being a useful but mostly forgotten aspect of the game where now the crew choices can really effect your gameplay.

Tanks are added too, starting with the most common that were on the battlefields then less common tanks followed by famous tanks such as Fury.  My personal favorite might be obvious but if I could afford to own the Ripper on every account I would be one happy, happy tanker.  Each system also starts with just a couple of the country’s tank trees and adds to them little by little.  Usually the first you will see is the Americans and Germans since their tank clashes have definitely gone down in infamy.

Each tanks class (light, medium, heavy, tank destroyer and artillery) have had their gameplay tweaked slightly over the years to maintain fairness and though their are very popular premium tanks that can give you a bit of an edge, a well practiced tanker can still easily come out on top of a player trying to just buy a win.  With the exception of the Ripper most of my favorite tanks are earned anyways rather than purchased.  There are vanity additions you can make to your favorite tanks too, temporary ones cost in-game currency while permanent ones cost RL money.  I tend to spend my RL money on garage slots because I like all my tanks lined up and ready to play with their daily exp bonuses waiting to be earned.  That being said I have been known to buy the jack o’lantern emblem for my tanks, anyone who knows me will not be the least bit surprised.

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There really isn’t a whole lot of difference between gameplay on the Xbox One and PS4 versions, so if you only have one of the two consoles don’t worry about it, you are still in great shape.  The difference between the PC and the console versions is pretty massive, but both are designed to be intuitive for gameplay of their respective systems.  If you have played games such as Battlefield 4 on the consoles the controls are pretty much the same, if you have played any game with tanks or mechs on the PC then you will naturally slip into World of Tanks.  The real key is in PC play you get used to targeting a certain way especially when sniping seems far less accurate in the console version.  The key is to use features designed into the console version to try to make targeting smoother.  Get pointed toward your enemy, do a system lock-on then zoom.  You’ll lose the system lock but you will be now approximately where you want to be zoomed into on the enemy.  Now it is a matter of fine tuning your aim and firing.  I found that once you get used to using this style of play it is actually faster than the PC version.  If you are going from console to PC not having this trick work for you will throw you off at first but once you get used to the zoom and tighter targeting system you will fall in love with this system’s version too.  Targeting has been THE major complaint of PC players trying to play the console versions and since they hate to listen to someone else’s advice they have allowed me to easily pwn them in the game which I can’t complain about too much…

The second most common complaint is that there aren’t as many tanks on the console versionm which is true – but, they will be added over time just like they were with the PC, with longer tech trees and more nations added. Eventually, I will be pawing again at the screen for my Ripper tank to be in my vehicle garage.

The crux of this review is that the game has been ever evolving in a positive way on all its platforms so, while the PS4 version is latest version, all other versions are being updated at about the same time so they will all be on an even playing field.  Because of the fact that the Wargaming dev team knew exactly what the system specs will be the next-generation consoles, World of Tanks got a beautiful upgrade in graphics which is very noticeable in the sway of tall grass, butterflies fluttering between flowers, and the explosive and fiery wreckage of tanks.  As a result, the PS4/Xbox One versions of the game have slightly surpassed the other versions with me, and it only takes a couple of moments of watching your environment while sniping or in ambush to truly appreciate the details put into the game.

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Last Shot:

World of Tanks is an extremely fun and entertaining game, no matter which platform you play it on. Each system has its strength and play characteristics which makes it fun to have on all of them instead of just one.  With the arrival of World of Tanks for the PS4 came some additional play aspects that feel like a natural evolution and truly enhance the gameplay even more.  As time passes, more tanks will no doubt be added from more countries and hopefully the “Ripper” tank will make its appearance and I will have yet another system to pine over it on…

World of Tanks PS4 Edition Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Punch Club – A Review (PC)

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Unlike that other fighting club, we are not breaking any rules by reviewing and discussing Lazy Bear Games’ newest creation, Punch Club.  Punch Club is a life management role playing game, where you take control of every aspect of your fighter’s life, from what he eats to how much he trains.  The only time you don’t control your fighter’s every action is when he actually has to fight.  The fights are completely run by the game’s artificial intelligence, based on the tactics pre-selected by the player and the stats that your fighter possesses.  Is Punch Club any good?  Let’s take a closer look.

Story

Punch Club’s story line begins as many stories do, with the brutal murder of your father before your eyes.  In order to discover your father’s killer, you must rise in the ranks of fighters, choosing different paths that are open to you along the way.  Along the way, you will have to juggle all of life’s varied obstacles, including friendships, love life, training, work, and recreation.  Finding that fine balance in Punch Club is what the game is all about.

Punch Club is full of 80’s and 90’s nostalgia bits, and the story line fits that feel perfectly.  Punch Club feels like a martial arts movie from the late 80’s:  murdered father, training montages, working your way up through the ranks of generic bad guys, finding love along the way and finally ending with a boss fight to gain vengeance.  Lazy Bear Games went for a nostalgia piece, and it works just fine.  While it’s not perfect in any sense of the word, with some of the humor just feeling forced or off a bit, Punch Club’s story line is great and fits the feeling that the developers were aiming for.

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Game Play

I called Punch Club a “life management role playing game” in the intro, and that description fits the game perfectly.  In Punch Club, you have to manage your fighter’s daily life and choose what to focus on during the time you have each day.  In the beginning, that’s fairly simple.  If you hungry, eat.  If you don’t have any money, go to work.  However, just like life, the game gets more complicated when you have more obligations to manage.  Do you spend time with your friends or your love?  You need money to go out, but you haven’t eaten in a while.  To make these choices even more crucial, your states will deplete if you are not training enough, so you constantly have to maintain what you have worked on.

When you train, you will get to focus on one of three stats:  strength, stamina, or agility.  Some exercises will increase small amounts of two stats, but it isn’t very efficient when you factor in your time management.  You pretty much need to focus on one stat as a primary then one as a secondary, leaving the third stat almost untouched.  So you have to decide what type of fighter will you be?  Punches rely on strength, defense rely on agility, and stamina keeps you up and moving longer.

You have total control of your fighter, that is until it is fight time.  You get to select a few fight tactics that your fighter can use before the match begins, but once those are in place and you start the fight, then the a.i. takes over completely.  Whether you win or lose will be dependent on your tactics and your stats that you have trained in.  As you fail, and you will, then you have to decide what other stat or tactic would work better in that situation.

For the first few hours, I really enjoyed Punch Club’s game play.  I thought the life management game play was fun, and it was satisfying to see my hard work pay off.  The problem with Punch Club comes a little later, when you find yourself grinding for hours on end just to win one fight.  This makes the game absolutely no fun to play anymore and can lead to feelings of frustration and bitterness as you loose time and time again.  The shine and enjoyment that I felt in the beginning of Punch Club did not last throughout my time with the game.

Aesthetics

Because the developers were going for a retro style 80’s nostalgia piece, the game looks like it came out of that era as well, though much more defined graphically.  Punch Club has pixelated graphics that reinforce the feeling of nostalgia, without actually looking like an 80’s game.  I felt that the aesthetics of Punch Club fit the vibe of the game perfectly and did everything right, even down to the small little nods to popular culture you will find throughout the game.

Final Thoughts

Punch Club is a great game for the first few hours, then it turns into a complete grind fest that will try even the most die hard gamer.  In the beginning, your fighter’s life is easy to manage, and the fights are easy to train for.  As the game progresses, your life becomes a chaotic mess and the fights are brutal slug-fests that you are not prepared for.  My life is complicated as it is, I don’t really need to play a game that replicates that complexity.  I would still recommend the game for anyone who is looking for a game like Punch Club, because what is there is really well done.  Just be prepared to grind through the middle of the game.  Punch Club is available now through Steam for your PC.

 

Punch Club Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Ditto Wearable Tech For Smartphones Review

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There are a lot of different kinds of devices that classify as “wearable tech” these days. After all, it is one of the top growing fields in consumer electronics with just about every niche considered.  The one area that generally has a short coming though is affordability. While I would love to get a watch on which I could hit a button and have it order my favorite burrito from my favorite Mexican food place, I can’t even afford the band on that particular device.  Luckily there are a few options finally coming along that fit the price point of those who spent almost every last dime on the phone and warranty and one of those is the Ditto.

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Features:

Notifications for Incoming Calls – You’ll feel it vibrate when someone you’ve chosen as important is trying to reach you.
Notifications for Incoming Texts – You’ll feel it vibrate when someone you’ve chosen as important is trying to text you.
Notifications for Incoming Emails – You’ll feel it vibrate when someone you’ve chosen as important has sent you an email.
Notifications for When You Leave Your Phone Behind – Ditto has a built-in wireless tether. When you’re about to leave your phone behind, Ditto will vibrate to warn you!
Silent Alarm – Ditto makes a great silent wake-up alarm. – Wear it on your wrist and don’t disturb your partner. Or use it as an alarm for important events, reminders or as a timer.
Notifications for Third Party Apps – Use a third party chat service? Want to stay on top of your social media notifications? You can customize Ditto to alert you about notifications on a number of popular apps including WhatsApp, Hangouts, Facebook and Snapchat.

Hands On:

Most people can live without a favorite food ordering button but when it comes to not waking their bed companion with their alarm when they have to get up in the morning, they might wish to have a way to get around the loud noises.  It is nice to know what time it is without looking at your phone but if you are in a dark theater the people around you might prefer if you set silent vibrating alarms that don’t light up during pivotal moments in a movie.  The movie scenario also works for pretty much ever aspect of what this wearable can do, silent with no lights, just a couple quick vibrations.  If you leave the theater with that phone having fallen out of your pocket or set it down at a counter after paying for something it will let you know when you are 50 feet away so you have a chance to get it before someone else does.

Then there are the main functions you want it for, you can have your phone put away in a pocket or purse and still know when you have an incoming call, text or email and even if they are people you would put on your favorites list.  It even works with third party apps.

It doesn’t require charging, it runs for months off of one watch battery and is even waterproof so you can go swimming without worrying about missing and important call.  It is a simple clip on so it can clip onto bra straps to be kept from view or under clothing even.  Some packaging includes a little velcro band that it can clip on to look more like a standard wearable but the band isn’t necessary.  Probably one of the best features is it has a standard retail price of $40 so it comes in nicely under the $50 and might even be able to be found on sale in some locations cheaper.

My only wish would be if you could program the number of vibrations for each contact, that way you could know exactly who it was and thereby judge the importance of the call/text/email.

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Last Buzz:

The Ditto is a great piece of tech that gives you the essential features of a wearable without the price tag.  It is also very low key which is great for both leisure and professional situations enabling you to know what is going on with your communications without making it obvious.  It’s a must for those who can’t afford the higher tag priced gadgets but would probably be a good choice for anyone in a professional field.

Ditto Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Quick Review: The DJI Osmo 4K Camera

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Recently, DJI loaned us out one of their new Osmo 4K cameras for a brief evaluation period. At first, its $649 dollar price point scared us – especially considering that it depends on a smartphone app to control its recording functions. The Osmo comes with rechargeable battery, charger, a smartphone clip which attaches your iPhone or Android device to the unit, as well as a case and some charge cables.

From a user friendliness angle, the DJI Osmo has a very comfortable grip and a well-designed iOS app for controlling its functions. After using it for a while, I would not have any issue with purchasing one of these for my own usage. Everything worked as it should and I never had any issues controlling the camera.

Official Specifications

  • Fully stabilized 4K, 12MP camera optimized for ground use
  • Slow motion and audio recording
  • Tripod-free long exposures
  • Remote camera control
  • Secure grip
  • 6-hour standby time
  • 1 hour of video shooting

The Osmo is capable not only of steadying the camera to shoot while moving but, also, it allows you to manually move the camera around in a smooth manner. The thumb slider joystick control is smooth and only takes a short while to get the hang of (it is pressure sensitive). The Osmo uses the Zen Muse X3 camera, the same unit designed for use on the Inspire 1 drone aircraft. The camera features a Sony EXMOR 12-million-pixel, 1/2.3 inch sensor and the ability to shoot in up to 4K resolution. If you are still not ready for 4K video recording, and not many are at the moment, the Osmo can easily record in 1080p in up to 120 frames per second mode.

Overall, the DJI Osmo is an expensive, but incredibly useful handheld stabilized camera for your film making needs. Not only is it very light and comfortable to hold for long periods of time, but it also delivers on bring a very good 4K camera in the middle ground between cheap and expensive stabilizing camera units.