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The_Game21x Blog

Microsoft's Flash Drives Are Expensive and Why There's Nothing Wrong With That

Dollar Signs

When Microsoft revealed their officially branded, pre-configured USB flash drives that will soon be released to take advantage of the Xbox 360's soon to be unlocked ability to support additional means of storage (via an update that will be released April 6th) many gamers were in uproar due to the relatively high price of these flash drives. These people were hurling all kinds of complaints at Microsoft, calling the flash drives a rip-off, overpriced and saying that Microsoft "should be ashamed of themselves".

Seriously?

Now, to an extent, I agree with some of these complaints. Are these flash drives expensive? Yep. Are they overpriced? Most definitely when you consider that third party options are available with just as much storage for half the price or even less depending on where you look. And therein lies the problem I'm having with their arguments. Third party options exist. So, if someone were to ask me, "are they a rip-off?" I would reply, "no, not as far as I'm concerned".

I'm fine with calling them overpriced because, well, they are and I can't see why anyone would want to buy them over a third party drive. In my eyes, something can only be a rip-off if no other options are readily available. That is clearly not the case in this scenario. Microsoft's flash drives are not even on the market yet and flash drives that can be used with the Xbox 360 (it supports up to 16GB per drive) have been available in varying capacities for years now.

USB Flash Drive Configuration

I would agree with the detractors if Microsoft somehow made it difficult to properly format a third party flash drive for use on the Xbox 360 but, as has been seen on just about every gaming blog out there, the setup process is as simple as scrolling over to the system settings, clicking "Memory Options" and hitting "configure now". Three steps which will likely take no more than a few minutes to complete and should save you a great deal of money over going with Microsoft's pre-configured flash drives.

What is likely the problem here is that people are still upset with Microsoft over the unreasonably high prices they charged for their proprietary Xbox 360 hard drives and memory cards and with those upset feelings, I can sympathize. I agree wholeheartedly that the prices Microsoft was and still is charging for the Xbox 360's hard drives were obscenely high ($130 for a 120GB hard drive? What?) but fortunately, in this case, you have the option of looking to third parties for your storage needs. Because you have the freedom to choose whatever storage options you like, what problem should you have with Microsoft? If you don't like their prices then, by all means, buy from someone else.

What Microsoft is doing here is exploiting of consumer ignorance. Now that sounds horrible, sure enough, but, news flash kids, just about every company out there does this. Welcome to the wonderful world of capitalism. Neither Microsoft, nor any other company is at fault for anyone being an uninformed consumer. The reason I don't have a problem with what Microsoft is doing is because it is not their responsibility to ensure that you are informed when you enter the marketplace. It is your responsibility to do the research necessary to make informed buying decisions. If you do end up making a poor choice as to what to do with your money, then you have no one to blame for yourself for not doing the proper research.

I hope this sheds some light on the subject of Microsoft's officially branded USB flash drives. As overpriced as they may be, they're hardly a rip-off.

Re-Posted From The Mind of Game

Game the Newscaster?

On Friday, I had to give a 15 minute oral presentation on narcolepsy with a partner in my abnormal psych class. Now, if you know me, you'll also know that stage fright is a big problem for me and getting up in front of any large group of people makes me incredibly anxious. Once, I had a minor panic attack just getting up to read my answer to a couple of questions in an intro to business class. My heart began to pound in my chest, I was short of breath and I felt that I would pass out at any moment. So I had to take a moment to steady myself, standing in front of all of those people, bring myself back down to Earth and continue on.

Luckily, that level of anxiety hasn't plagued me since and, although I was anxious about being up in front of people in my presentation on Friday, I was able to deliver my short speech to the class with a certain degree of confidence which lead to compliments from both the class and my professor when it was over. By chance, my professor asked me if I had ever considered going into newscasting, stating that I had a good voice and stage presence for that line of work. Another student commented that I was nicely poised and that I transitioned between topics and the video I picked out for the presentation really well. I was surprised. I'd been asked that question before but I'd never put much thought into it.

Now, I'm actually starting to think about it.

Could a career in newscasting be in the cards? Could you honestly see me sitting behind an anchor desk on CNN or your local news station? Should this be something I pursue? I'm confused. I am still strongly considering changing my major to Education but heck, my major is already Journalism and I could segue that into newscasting rather easily. If I have a good voice for this sort of thing, maybe a career in voice acting is in the cards. Maybe? Maybe not?

Bleh. All these potential career choices and I haven't a clue which one to pursue. I need direction. Perhaps this isn't the best place to come looking for it but I trust that you guys can at least give me some good advice as far as what you think I should do.

My Muse (Short Story)

My Muse

I've written a new short story. I was inspired to write this one night in order to talk about my somewhat…strange relationship with my Muse in a creative fashion. This isn't a true story but I guess it's based on all of my past troubles finding inspiration. It's not a particularly interesting or exciting story, just something I felt like writing while my Muse is here because, she's a flighty one and takes off when I least expect it, leaving me without the urge to write for some time until she gets back.

So, if you're interested in checking it out, here's the link. If you do read it, tell me what you think!

Out With the Old...

Without getting into great detail, I've moved from Wordpress.com to a new webhost and have free reign to do practically anything I want with my site. So, I completely gutted everything, installing a brand new theme and completely reworking the site. Practically nothing aside from the posts themselves have been spared. Like I said on my old blog, it's not so much of a move. It's more like I demolished the house that used to sit there and built a bigger, better one in its place. Same address, new look.

With a new web host comes a new email address so I can now be reached at jmcbride@themindofgame.com

I'm still in the process of making sure everything runs smoothly but so far, so good. I've only had this site up and running since about 3:00 PM EST today so, with that in mind, things are going pretty well.

(Click the pictures to embiggen)

So...it's out with the old...

The Old

And in with the new...

The New

And I couldn't be happier. :D

Mass Effect 2 Review

Mass Effect 2 Logo

After finishing Mass Effect 2 a couple weeks ago, there was no doubt in my mind that I'd just finished an absolutely phenomenal experience and one I wanted to write something on. So, over the past few days, I've been writing this review and now, it is finally complete. In my typical fashion, here's the opening paragraph of the review.

"When does a game become more than just a game? When can a game invoke the same emotional response from a player that cinema can from viewers or a piece of music can from its listeners? In this humble reviewer's opinion, it takes a great deal of effort to create a truly transcendent experience in a game that plays with your emotions and keeps you hooked from the moment you power the game on until you've reached its conclusion. Mass Effect 2 is one of those games. It combines some of the best third person shooting and RPG mechanics with a fantastically dark narrative, a remarkable cast of characters, sharp writing, well-directed cutscenes and an epic soundtrack to create an experience that is more than just a game. It's an amazing cinematic event, and one that's among the best of its kind."

You can check the review out at either of these links.

GameSpot Review

The Mind of Game Review

Confused...

At the start of my college career, I was dead set on pursuing Journalism as a career upon graduation so naturally, that was what I decided to major in. I've always loved writing and playing videogames and aside from writing novels, gaming journalism seemed like the perfect job for me. Now, I'm not so sure.

Don't get me wrong, I still love writing and I still enjoy playing games but gaming journalism has lost some of its appeal. I don't know, maybe I'm growing up, growing away from videogames as a whole. Plus, a Journalism degree is a bit limiting in terms of job prospects.

Now I'm confused.

A couple of people have told me that I'd make a good English teacher. I'm not sure. I get extremely anxious when I have to speak in front of a large group of people which, of course, I'd have to do on a daily basis if I chose this as my career. Despite my anxiety, teaching is still an appealing profession to me because I'd still be free to do freelance writing and work on whatever projects I may be interested on the side while having a stable job to support myself.

That brings me to the final issue I'm having with this. I'd have to switch my major. After a few years of school with a couple of breaks here and there, I'm not looking forward to switching my major and however many remaining years of study I'd be facing to get my Bachelor's and then my Masters and then perhaps go for my Ph.D. I know that a High School - College level English Teacher/Professor doesn't necessarily need a Ph.D but nonetheless, it would certainly help in the job market of today.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I really don't know what I want to do and I thought that writing this would help me shed some light on the subject but really, I'm just as confused as I was before. I'd like to hear what you guys have to say on the subject so let me know what you think in the comments.

MEElectronics M9P Review

M9P Review 1

Introduction

The M9P IEMs hail from a small California-based company by the name of MEElectronics. They produce a wide range of IEMs that cater to different users with various sound signatures. The M9 and M9P IEMs are among the most inexpensive products available and are currently selling for $20 and $23 respectively. I decided to buy the M9P IEMs because they not only function as earphones but will also have use as a headset for my cell phone and iPod Touch. After breaking them in and listening to them with a variety of music in my collection, these are my favorite IEMs in the sub $30 price range and are fantastic earphones for the price.

Technical Specifications

Driver: 9mm dynamic driver
Frequency Response:
20Hz – 20KHz
Impedance:
16 Ohm
Sensitivity: 95dB/mW
Cable Length: 1.2m/4ft.

Packaging/Accessories: The M9Ps come packaged in an attractive transparent box and include a bevy of accessories including a hard zippered case, a cable wrapper, four sets of silicone eartips which includes a set of biflanges, a shirt clip and an airline adapter. Considering that the M9Ps only cost about $23, MEElectronics has included a highly impressive accessory package that puts many other inexpensive IEMs to shame.

M9P Review 2

Design and Build Quality: The M9Ps feature lightweight aluminum housings which feel durable and are ported at the rear to allow for more air flow. This helps with the low end response and the soundstage but cuts down the isolation.

The cable is perhaps the best I've seen on any IEM. It's lined with what appears to be delicate braided silver wiring inside and coated with a transparent plastic coating that both looks very attractive and makes it feel very durable. The cable is properly relieved at both ends which inspires confidence in terms of long term durability. Because of the great cable design, microphonics are negligible when worn straight down and practically non-existent when worn over-the-ear.

M9P Review 3

All in all, these are very attractive and durable IEMs that should be able to stand up to pretty heavy usage and last quite a long time.

Comfort and Fit: MEElectronics includes three pairs of single flange silicone eartips as well as a pair of bi-flanges for deeper insertion and better isolation. I have small ear canals so I opted for the smallest single flange tips and managed to get a good seal. The included silicone eartips are fairly soft and made the M9Ps very comfortable to use for long periods of time.

One thing that was a constant point of contention with the M9Ps is the seal itself. Now it's common knowledge that IEMs require a good seal in order to sound their best but the M9Ps take that concept to another level. Simply put, I've never come across an IEM that was as finicky about the seal as the M9. If the seal wasn't absolutely perfect, the resultant sound was imbalanced, shallow or just plain bad. That said, using the M9Ps while on the move isn't the best idea because of its need for a perfect seal.

Sound Quality

Usage/Burn-in: These IEMs have been given 50+ hours of burn-in prior to review but settled into their final sound signature after about 10 – 15 hours.

Low End: The most dominant frequency range on the M9Ps is also the best detailed. Prior to burn in, the bass was somewhat muddy but now, it has tightened up and boasts surprising refinement. Bass is still a bit boomy but not too much so. Extension is pretty good as well, reaching down into the sub bass levels before rolling off.

Midrange: Definitely recessed in comparison to the other two frequencies (especially the bass) but not so much so that it is overly detrimental to the overall sound signature. They're smooth and don't stand out too prominently, which may disappoint fans of Rock and Alternative music. The low end can creep up on bassier tracks which does make the midrange sound a bit washed out in comparison but overall, I think they are decently detailed.

Highs/Treble: Nice extension, detail and clarity. There's a bit of harshness in the upper treble region but overall, highs are pleasant sounding and have a nice sparkle.

Soundstage: Wide and airy. Imaging isn't too great but instrument separation is surprisingly good.

Sound Signature: Dark, warm, thumpy and very fun. Very bass forward and somewhat aggressive but rarely fatiguing. I love the sound signature of these when listening to Hip-Hop, Jazz and R&B. I think the low end is a bit too overpowering to be used with much Rock and Alternative music and the highs are a bit too harsh to be used with Cla-ssical but overall, these are very versatile and will work with a large number of genres that I haven't mentioned. This is definitely the best and most entertaining sound signature I've heard for the price.

Microphone Quality: Very good considering the price. Voices come through clean and clear and the microphone does a decent job of filtering out ambient noise but can get overwhelmed in noisy environments. It works well for making phone calls as well as Skype calls on the iPod Touch.

Conclusion

M9P Review 4

As a whole, I'm very impressed with the M9P IEMs. They are well designed, perform above their price range and are, above all, inexpensive. $23 is a very small price to pay for a great pair of IEMs and considering that price, I can't find much fault with them. While the bass may be a bit too deep for some listeners and there can be some harshness in the treble region, there isn't much these do wrong. If you're looking for a fun pair of IEMs that will work as a headset for your iPhone or other cell phone, sound good and won't put a strain on your wallet, look no further. These things are practically a steal.

MEElectronics M9P First Impressions

M9P on iPod

Early last week as I was browsing the forums at Head-Fi, I was alerted to a special by MEElectronics, a small California-based manufacturer of various gadgets such as DAPs and IEMs. Having read a few reviews on their more popular IEMs, the $40 M6 and the M9, which apparently uses the same dynamic driver and retails for about $20, I looked over their product lineup and settled on the slightly more expensive M9P, which comes with a built-in inline microphone which I figured I could use for making Skype calls with my iPod Touch. Yesterday (after a few shipping gaffes by USPS), I received my M9Ps and immediately gave them a listen straight out of the box.

When listening to these for the first time, you can't help but notice the bass-centric presentation of the M9P because it practically reaches out and smacks you with it. The sound signature is dark, warm and dominated by the low end. The deep, punchy and decently textured bass is easily the biggest strength and biggest weakness of the M9Ps. On one hand, the increased bass response is great for Hip-Hop and Rap as well as Techno, some Jazz and Electronica. On the other hand, the bass may be too boomy and "flabby" to some listeners. I've found that it does bleed into the midrange a bit and as a result, mids are slightly recessed. To my surprise, the treble has a decent amount of sparkle and is pretty well extended, which rounds out the sound signature nicely.

M9P 2

One thing that's missing from the experience is clarity in the sound signature. These are not the most detail-oriented IEMs out there and due to that pronounced low end, there's a lot to be desired in terms of transparency. Accuracy lovers probably aren't going to be pleased with these overall. Then again, it's highly unlikely that detail freaks would be looking at a $20 pair of IEMs to suit their needs.

What's really surprising about the M9Ps is their airiness and the depth and width of their soundstage. Instrument separation is excellent for the price and imaging is fairly decent as well. I'd even go as far as to say that the soundstage is wider than that of my RE0s which, for a $20 pair of IEMs, is pretty impressive.

As I said before, the M9P IEMs feature a built-in inline microphone which is designed to work with current generation iPhones and second and third generation iPod Touch devices as well as other media devices that accept microphone input through their 3.5mm jack. I've tested the inline mic of the M9P on my second generation iPod Touch and it works pretty well. It's very clear and picks up voices very well while doing a decent enough job of filtering out ambient noise. I would've liked to see some volume/playback controls but considering the low price, I think that's asking a tad too much.

M9P 3

You may have noticed how often I mention that these IEMs are only $20, almost to the point of total redundancy. Well, that was intentional. I really can't find fault with these for the price MEElectronics is asking for them. Try as I might to find something to criticize, that's all for naught the instant I remember that I paid $23 (including shipping) for these.

All things considered, I'm very impressed with the out-of-the-box performance of the M9P IEMs. They are well extended at both ends of the sound spectrum (particularly in the low end) and work well with a wide array of music. Overall, the sound signature is definitely on the dark end of the spectrum which will definitely appeal to fans of most modern music. Because of their lack of neutrality and transparency, these are definitely not for accuracy freaks or those interested in neutral tonal balance from their IEMs. These definitely aren't going to replace my RE0s as my primary IEMs but they make competent backups when I want to listen to something with a little more kick in the low end.

For the price, these are definitely worth checking out. They make great gifts for folks still using stock iBuds, serve as nice backup IEMs and even function as a nice headphone/microphone combo for folks with iPhones and second gen iPod Touches. All in all, I think the MEElectronics M9P IEMs are a great product and I'm very interested in seeing where MEElectronics goes from here.

Re-posted from The Mind of Game