enfrdeitptrues

Hardware

  • boxart
    Hardware Info:

    Stargate 3DS
    Supports 3DS and DS games
    Supports ntrboothax/magnethax
    Supports some emulators
    Fully updatable
    Price: $80

    Thank you StarGate for sending us this flashcart (available from nx-card.com) to review!

    Let's get the obvious elephant in the room out of the way: Why is Christ Centered Gamer reviewing a flashcart? *glares at person who requested it* Honestly, that's a really good question, and there is no easy answer, but let's give it a shot.

    At our house, we love Nintendo systems, and the games available on them. As a result, we often collect quite the library; we have over 40 games on both DS and 3DS, and easily over 30 on GBA as well. This is a common pattern for us; over a system's lifetime, we tend to collect most of the best games for any Nintendo system, and the 3DS has an excellent library.

    This is relevant both because we don't have pockets of unlimited depth, and because we have children; we cannot practically carry that many games with us in cartridge form at one time wherever we go. This is especially important since we don't want to lose said cartridges when a child (or big kid) misplaces those tiny little wedges. So, for many years now, we have dumped our own cartridges (we are very strict about this; we do not download ROMs off of the internet) and put our library of games on our DS flashcarts. This protects us from losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars of games over time, while allowing us to still enjoy them (and even back up saves, which can be very convenient). We understand why some may feel differently, but by dumping our own games, it feels like a win-win – we are still giving Nintendo our money (we purchase each and every game) while still benefiting from the convenience that these devices offer.

    Stargate 3DS
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Supports most retail 3DS games in your region and all DS games and homebrew
    Weak Points: Some 3DS games do not work; DS mode does not currently work with a CFW 3DS; homebrew 3DS games nor eShop titles work; no simple way to dump your own games using just this that I am aware of; battery life is fine during gameplay, but sleep mode time is much shorter; if you accidentally press the buttons on the back, you can lose some game progress
    Moral Warnings: It's easy to steal games, and acquiring them may require downloading them from the internet unless you have a means to rip your own ROMs (in which case you probably have CFW installed and may not need this cart)

    That is why I've always loved the ingenuity in the console hacking space. While these devices (or hacked consoles) can be used for nefarious means, or to avoid buying games, what really happens for us is that we end up buying more games because of the ease of carrying them around and not having to worry about losing saved games that these devices (or hacked consoles) can do.

    What the StarGate team has done is create a flashcart that is dual mode: it has a 3DS mode, and a DS mode. In 3DS mode, it shows you a game icon, just like any other cart. To switch games, you cycle through them via a set of two buttons, which can be thought of as next and previous buttons. These are installed by placing clean dump 3DS ROMs on the root of the filesystem of a microSD card that you put inside of the Stargate 3DS itself. There is also a microUSB port for flashing firmware in case Nintendo blocks the cart somehow, which is fairly forward thinking in that way. All of that functionality is a tight fit, but it works very well.

    DS mode is not unlike other popular flashcarts like an R4 or Supercard. When in this mode, you see an icon for 'Alex Rider Stormbreaker THQ' like many other flashcarts show. I have never seen anyone actually play Alex Rider, but there are a lot of people with that game in their play history. When launching it in this mode, it starts an easy to use menu where you can browse the integrated microSD card's filesystem and choose a .nds file (Nintendo DS ROM) to launch. You can also chose a .3ds file (3DS ROM), and it will exit out to the main menu, after which you will find that 3DS game selected on the 3DS home screen.

    I did not have any large microSD cards that have a lot of space free on them available, so I setup a 1GB card with five 3DS games, as well as five DS games. I tried a recent title by itself (Metroid: Samus Returns) and the other smaller titles (Cubic Ninja, Jewel Master, Angry Birds, Adventure Time, and Freakyforms) together and they all worked flawlessly. The StarGate team has made it clear that a few games do not work yet (Pokemon Sun and Moon, and others) and they are working on fixing these compatibility issues soon.

    The emulator features promise to offer NES, SNES, and GBA compatibility. These features are not released yet, so they could not be tested as of the writing of this review. Any DS compatible homebrew will work as is, so emulators for older systems like the Game Boy and such should easily be covered by the DS homebrew community.

    Stargate 3DS

    This is the only card in existence that I know of that has all of these features. It does a lot, though the MSRP of $80 is only for the most committed. The real challenge for them is that hacking the 3DS to install CFW (custom firmware) has never been easier. If you have a supported DS flashcart (which typically cost around $20), you can install a special installer onto it, and then install a CFW onto your 3DS in about 5 minutes.

    Installing CFW is more complex than using this cart, but it's also much more powerful. You can run 3DS homebrew, dump your 3DS cartridges yourself, use the same SD card that your 3DS uses, and more. In the absence of CFW, this card would be fantastic. But as is, it's really only meant for those not able or willing to install a CFW on their 3DS out of fear or a lack of technical skill. And while you can use this cart to install CFW via ntrboothax, once that process is completed, you can't use this cart (at least in stock form) in DS mode on that 3DS anymore. I didn't prove that this was the case, as I don't want to hack our last non-CFW 3DS, which would make continued testing of this cart a little difficult.

    I did find a couple of downsides to using the Stargate. For one, sleep time battery life, where you close the 3DS, seems to be quite significantly impacted. On the 3DS we used to test, while in a game or in the main 3DS home screen, in neither case did the battery last the night while closed with this cartridge inserted. Another issue (which is more user error than technical) is that whenever the cartridge buttons are pressed, it will switch games - which is by design, but you can be in for a real shock if you bump it in the middle of a game, or while putting it in your pocket. As long as the 3DS is not powered off, the cart will change games, as well as draw some power.

    The Stargate 3DS card strives to be the easiest solution for someone who wishes to carry their library around with them in the simplest way possible. It's also practically risk free, since there are no console modifications that can get in the way of future system updates, or cause problems for users (or even be a bricking risk, despite how small that risk is). If you are risk averse, or want to stick with the strict non-modification guidelines that Nintendo requires for your 3DS to still be covered under warranty, then the Stargate 3DS is an excellent choice. It's just a shame that there currently is no way to avoid either having a CFW'd 3DS around to dump your games, or otherwise requiring a visit to the darker parts of the internet (and the moral and legal hazards that requires) to get them.

  •  

    boxart
    Hardware Info:

    Team Xecuter SX Pro
    Compatible with any Nintendo Switch firmware version
    Compatible with all Switches that have the first hardware revision
    Includes USB-C dongle and boot up tool
    Includes SX OS Pro license
    Promises continual updates for the life of the Nintendo Switch
    $46.99

    Thank you Team Xecuter for sending us this device to review!  It's $46.99 at Worldwide official reseller Anxchip.com.

    I have always loved hacking my consoles - as long as I have been a techie, and that’s been about as long as I have been on this giant green marble (sorry flat earth folks). I also enjoy the convenience of portable gaming, and feel that carrying dozens of cartridges around kind of defeats the purpose of that. So any time that we can avoid having to do so, I am going to look into it, and Team Xecuter delivered.

    The SX Pro consists of three parts: a USB-C dongle, a boot-up tool, and the SX OS (which you must download from their website. They also offer the SX OS for sale independently to folks who choose to use their own solution for hacking their Switch.

    You see, earlier this year (2018), it was discovered that there was a massive NVIDIA Tegra CPU flaw, that Nintendo can’t patch. It’s in the Tegra boot ROM (Read-Only Memory), and as such, it cannot be patched or changed. The fix requires a hardware revision, and since the Switch is such a hot selling item, that means that there are approximately 15 million vulnerable units out in the wild, and no doubt a sizable portion of Nintendo’s most hardcore fans also desire to use their hardware in ways that Nintendo did not originally intend. By trying to meet that desire, products like the SX Pro are born.

    It has to be said up front that Nintendo very much dislikes the existence of devices like the SX Pro, and has and will block consoles from their online services whenever they can detect it. Using devices like this to modify your console is against the EULA (End User License Agreement) that most people blindly agree to when they choose to start using their new gaming consoles. While some aspects of EULAs like that are for all practical purposes unenforceable in court or otherwise, the fact is that Nintendo can and will block unauthorized users from their network at their own leisure. Some of the capabilities of this device almost guarantee a ban, and it has already happened to several users. Be warned that caution is strongly encouraged.

    So, if these devices are so dangerous, and Nintendo hates them so much, then why are they so popular? Well, it comes down to two things: homebrew and piracy. Homebrew are applications like emulators, utilities, and more that are created by hobbyists, often for their own entertainment. Homebrew can be really great sometimes, as aspiring programmers desire to be well known in a tight-knit group, or simply want their cool device to do something the manufacturer never intended. Perhaps the most popular homebrews are game save manipulators, and emulators. These allow people to play games not originally designed for the system, or play their games the way they want to.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Simplest tool for Switch hacking currently in existence
    Weak Points: If used improperly, you may find your console (or account!) to be banned by Nintendo
    Moral Warnings: Enables piracy (but also works for backups and homebrew)

    Often homebrew meets a need not met by the original developers. For example, a glaring hole in the Switch’s software stack is a proper way to copy and back up saves. Homebrew developers have taken care of this, in the form of the Checkpoint homebrew application. Now, gamers can backup, or even copy saves in between Switches, or simply back them up to their PCs. Another need is to copy files back and forth between their Switch and PC wirelessly. Rather than needing to pop out that microSD card, they can now FTP onto their Switch and copy files. Another is simply a local file manager; being able to move, copy, and rename files can be very useful indeed; homebrew takes care of all this, and much more. You can even run Linux on the Switch, though I don’t think that is compatible with the SX Pro just yet.

    Piracy is another, and perhaps the most common, use case for the SX Pro. You see, some more unscrupulous types will often download games off of the internet and play them on their Switch without paying for them first. The SX Pro enables that, too. Currently, eShop-only titles are safe from the grubby paws of software pirates, as only physical cartridges can be easily dumped. The day may come when that will change, but for now, that’s where things are at.

    For the Switch, Nintendo did a really great job in locking not only the operating system down (not that there aren’t flaws, as is true in almost all software), but in the new online activation system. You see, each cartridge comes from the factory with a security certificate built in, that is unique to each cartridge. This means that Nintendo knows exactly which cartridge is being played on which system. If a cartridge is used on too many consoles simultaneously, or if someone is playing a game online with a zero’d out security certificate, then they know for a fact that the player is pirating – and down comes the ban hammer.

    Interestingly, the primary use case for me – being able to play games that you legally own, but not having to carry the cartridges around with you – is another feature that the SX Pro supports. This is also the safest way to use it (other than homebrew, which is not known to be detectable at this time). The reason is because you can dump your own cartridges using homebrew software that preserves the cartridge’s certificate; then, when playing the game, it is virtually indistinguishable from having the actual cartridge inserted. Or at least that’s the running theory; time will tell if bans will come for those who use it that way.

    In order to get to all of this functionality, you have to put the SX OS file on the root of your Switch’s microSD card, insert the included USB-C dongle into the charging port, and boot the Switch up into USB Recovery mode. Hackers discovered this is done by shorting two pins on the right Joy-Con slot, and then holding volume up and pressing the power button. This must be done while the power is off; sleep mode is not enough. The boot up tool supplied in the SX Pro kit shorts the pins exactly as needed; just take the right Joy-Con out, slide this thing in all the way, and you’re good to go. If it works as expected, your Switch should boot into a new menu that shows SX OS, stock firmware, or an options menu.

    The meat and potatoes is of course the SX OS, which allows you to do much of what was described above. The OS looks the same, until you try to use the Album. If you press ‘L’ while opening the Album, it works like it used to, and you get to see your game photos. If you just open the Album, it goes to a new screen where you get to choose which game ROM to load, and view (or register) the SX OS. It’s kind of crazy that software which allows users to violate license agreements has license key security (and you can buy more keys for more money) but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The online activation for SX Pro users is quick and painless. To be clear, it’s one included license per SX Pro – if you want to share the dongle and use SX OS on more than one Switch, you need to buy the second license key.

    Team Xecuter SX Pro

    The options menu has a few interesting things, including the option to boot alternate payloads, which may come in handy as the homebrew and custom firmware (CFW) community keeps working on the Switch. Another interesting feature is the ability to force the Switch to bootup into USB Recovery mode every time, so you no longer need the boot up tool. It’s kind of dangerous though, because if you misplace the SX Pro dongle, you won’t be able to use that Switch again – unless you use another homebrew payload boot method, of which there are several, but none are nearly as convenient as the SX Pro. Some require a Windows or Linux machine, while others require an Android device with an OTG cable; either way, as cool as it is, I’m hesitant to make that change, myself.

    It is known that not all homebrew works, but most that is designed to work in the current Switch firmware version does. Quite a bit of homebrew was written back in the 3.0 firmware days, and most of that no longer works, but if it’s being kept up to date, it should work fine.

    Installing homebrew is done by putting the hbmenu.nro file in the root of the microSD card, and then creating a ‘switch’ directory to place homebrew into. The SX OS instruction manual does a decent job explaining how to do this, or at least point you in the right direction. If you plan on dumping your own games, or getting the most from this device, really, then I highly recommend you explore what homebrew is available.

    Once it was up and running, I tested dumping all eleven of my game cartridges using homebrew software. It took quite a while, but once it was completed, I then put all of the generated .xci files in the root of my microSD card. (I would personally prefer subdirectories, but it’s not the end of the world.) I then booted it back up, clicked Album, and voila – I had games to choose from. When choosing a game, the cartridge slot may no longer function properly, so it’s best to dump what you need and switch using the software as needed. When you combine the dumper and the homebrew file manager, you can actually dump games and play them without needing anything else, which is really nice. Moving files was a bit slow using the file manager though, so I preferred taking out the microSD on occasion, even if it meant I got to feel like a hacker and rerun the unique SX Pro boot process several times.

    I have to say, I am impressed with the SX Pro kit. Yes, there are moral and legal implications to consider, and as always, please do not steal game software. But the potential for homebrew is always exciting, and if you play only your legally owned personal game backups, it is quite nice and very convenient. As always, any time you go outside of the curated walled garden that the manufacturer wants you to live in, there may be weeds there, and you can incur the wrath of the gardener (in this case Nintendo). Please consider both the upsides and possibly severe downsides (like being banned from online play) that may come from climbing that fence. There may be vipers on the other side!

  •  

    boxart
    Hardware Info:

    Toast Xbox One X Wood Cover
    Developed by: Toast
    Price: $49.00-$79.00 (customized)

    Thank you Toast for sending us a customized bamboo Xbox One X cover to review!

    Toast began in 2012 after a successful Kickstarter campaign that enabled them to buy their first laser. They’re a small company that’s dedicated to quality products and the quality of life. Toast cares about our planet and only uses responsibly grown, rainforest friendly wood and bamboo. Their leather products come from American cattle, and everything is manufactured in Portland, Oregon. The company runs 100% on renewable energy and donates 1% of their net sales to environmental non-profits like: Native Fish Society • 350.org • Trees, Water, and People • Heifer International • Trees for the Future • charity:water.

    There’s a wide variety of items that they customize ranging from phones, tablets, consoles, laptops, and pint glasses. Even styluses can be customized by them! Not every item offered has reviews on it, but those that do have five-star ratings. After seeing the quality and simplicity of installing the Xbox One X cover, I can see why!

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Easy to install; looks great
    Weak Points: None!
    Moral Warnings: The word d*mn is on the packaging

    There are four wood types to choose from. If you want to maintain the dark appearance, you’ll want the ebony. Ash is the lightest option, with bamboo not being too much darker. If you want a classic brown wood, walnut is your best bet. The picture gallery shows off all of the color options and you can’t go wrong with any of them. In my opinion, the ebony is the hardest one to see any etchings on though.

    Applying the cover is simple and the whole process took me less than 10 minutes. An alcohol cleaning wipe is supplied so you can remove any dust and debris on your console beforehand. The trickiest part is a tossup between removing the tape backing and aligning the edges. I like how the corners have serrated edges that wrap around a little bit.

    All of the vents are open so you won’t have to worry about any air flow issues. Everything is aligned perfectly and easy to figure out for the most part. It was a little tricky determining which vented side went where, but the instructions clarified it.

    The pricing is very reasonable and for less than $50 you can get a console that stands out from the rest. Custom text can be added for $10 extra and if you want a bottom cover, that will set you back another $30. If you want a graphic or logo etches onto your console, it can be done for $79. During the checkout process you can upload your image and they will get back to you with a render to approve before they fire up the lasers. If all goes well, you’ll have your cover in a couple of days and installed a few minutes later. Prepare to be amazed and receive many compliments on your nicer looking console!

  •  

    boxart
    Hardware Info:

    TrueBlue Mini Crackhead Pack 64GB 
    Simplest way to add games to your PlayStation Classic - by far!
    Includes 64GB USB drive with 101 games preinstalled
    Includes USB 2.0 Hub, so 2-player games continue to work
    MSRP: $19.95 for 64GB versions, $17.45 for 32GB versions

    Thank you TrueBlue for sending us this TrueBlue Mini pack (available from flashcarda.com) to review!

    After the smashing successes of the NES Classic and SNES Classic from Nintendo, Sony decided to try their hand at reviving their original console for modern audiences also. So the PlayStation Classic arrived: 20 games, tiny box, two high-quality controllers, all for $99. Except that the game selection had people scratching their heads.

    Sony, in many ways, threw the collection together, seemingly without considering everything. For example, several of the games use the PAL 50Hz version, rather than the NTSC 60Hz version. This matters, because in the 50Hz versions, the game itself runs at 5/6 speed - and you can totally tell. One of the worst offenders is Tekken 3, which runs noticeably slow out of the box on PlayStation Classic (which I will sometimes call the PS Classic). Other issues include the strange selection of games, which excludes what are seemingly critical games in the PlayStation's (also called PS1) vast collection, while including others that were critically panned, or simply did not age well. (Not that the PS1's game catalogue isn't vast and fantastic, and narrowing down a list to 20 is a tall order, for sure.)

    Also like the NES and SNES Classic consoles, the PlayStation Classic has also attracted the attention of enterprising hackers. Like the aforementioned Nintendo systems, this Classic console was very quickly hacked wide open, and there are several excellent hacking tools to add your own games, or even emulators for other systems if you so desire.

    TrueBlue Mini Crackhead Pack 64GB
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Extremely simple, plug-and-play way to add more games
    Weak Points: Original 20 games shipped with the PS Classic are not available during use
    Moral Warnings: This device uses unlicensed games, so it's basically piracy

    As great as these things are, it is time to point out the obvious: most of these tools can easily be used to steal copyrighted software, otherwise known as piracy. I personally only put games on any hacked device that I own - if I have a digital or physical license in another format, I will sometimes 'format shift' that game to another device, often through hacking or emulation. I enjoy hacking just for the sake of seeing what I can do with something, often via the hard work of others. However, that is not quite what TrueBlue is offering here.

    What this USB stick is about, is most certainly the easiest way to add games to the PlayStation Classic. I can't imagine a way to make it any easier. You make sure the PS Classic is powered off, then you plug in the included USB hub and USB drive into the hub, and plug in controller two there as well if you wish (that's why the hub is included). I instinctively plugged them into the second controller USB port, though it turns out that may have been necessary for it to work.

    Once you turn on the PS Classic, it may take a bit longer than it would without the USB drive attached, and I found that sometimes it may even automatically launch a game you didn't tell it to. Once you exit out of the surprise game, you have in front of you a horizontal list of over one hundred games (101, to be exact). The interface looks exactly like the stock twenty game list, just with lots more. It works pretty much just like you would expect it to - all of the games support saves, save states, and so on, just like on the stock PS Classic games list. Speaking of which, the default list of games are not accessible while running with the TrueBlue Mini attached. Fortunately, it's a quick reboot and plug/unplug to switch between the games on the TrueBlue Mini, and the stock list.

    The list of games is quite extensive, so rather than listing them all out here, it might be easier to just link to TrueBlue's homepage. You can see their game list here.

    TrueBlue Mini Crackhead Pack 64GB

    Speaking of the stock games, a few of them on the Crackhead Pack are duplicates of variants of the versions included out of the box. For example, the stock version of Resident Evil is the director's cut; this device includes the original version. Tekken 3, which runs so poorly out of the box, is included in its NTSC 60Hz glory in this collection. Strangely, Syphon Filter is also included here, which appears to be exactly the same as the game included in the stock firmware.

    As an aside, I noticed that the stick is formatted ext4, which should be familiar to any Linux lovers out there. So, if you have a Linux computer available, it should be fairly easy to figure out how the stick works, and perhaps even try to add a few more games. I did not want to experiment with what we were asked to review, but there is a small amount of unformatted space left on the USB drive, so it may be possible to expand the storage to the full amount and add a small number of additional games.

    The selection already included on the Crackhead Pack is truly excellent. They also offer other packs, including the Meth Pack and Fight Pack, with is a smaller (32GB) collection of wonderful fighting games. The PS1 had a truly staggering selection of fighting games on it, so it's nice to see one of the official collections including them. This one, the Crackhead Pack, has everything from racing to platformers (more 3D than 2D), lots of fighting, and a great selection of RPGs. While there is always room for more, I am quite pleased with the games offered here. Twenty games taken from this list would likely offer a more well-rounded selection than what Sony provided out of the box on the PS Classic.

    Unfortunately, it has to be said again, that it is extremely unlikely that you will own all one-hundred and one games in this collection in some other format. I have more games than most, and I own a good 20% of what is listed. But it's still unlikely for anyone to have them all. So, what does this mean? You can't get around it - this device enables piracy, there are no two ways about it. Maybe pirating 20+ year old games doesn't matter to you, but that's the moral and legal risks you take when purchasing a device like this.

    If adding new games to your PlayStation Classic is of utmost priority to you, and sailing the high seas isn't a big problem, then it's easy to recommend this piracy stick. On top of the Crackhead Pack reviewed here, there is also a 64GB Meth Pack with another list of 101 games, and a 32GB Fight Pack that has an excellent selection of fighting games on it. The prices are also excellent, with the two 64GB collections at $19.95 each, and the 32GB pack is $17.45. The TrueBlue Mini Crackhead Pack 64GB (and, presumably, the other packs as well) is a high-quality, incredibly easy to use product for adding more games to the PS Classic with possibly the easiest installation method possible - just plug it in.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Vufine
    Developed by: Vufine
    Release date: July 2015
    Price: $149
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Vufine for sending us a review sample!

    Google Glass is no more, but the concept was great.  The two things that killed Google Glass were its price and privacy concerns with the built-in camera functionality.  Vufine solves both of those problems but has some flaws of its own.  Unlike the Google Glass, the Vufine is not wireless and unless you want a cord in front of your face, you have to use it on your right eye.  The biggest advantage of the Vufine is its reasonable price of $149 which was 10% of the cost of Google Glass.  While the Google Glass looked better, it certainly wasn’t worth $1,500.

    Vufine can be worn with glasses or with a headband if you want a techy Rambo look.  If you don’t wear prescription glasses, there’s a non-prescription pair included.  Sadly, the plastic frames aren’t of the highest quality and came with one temple/arm much looser than the other.  If you have wire-frame glasses, there’s a stabilizer to help secure the magnetic Vufine dock onto the thinner temple.

    Vufine
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Cheaper and more welcome alternative to Google Glass
    Weak Points: Wired; Not compatible with Samsung S6/S7 or any phone lacking MHL support; blurry text; looks tacky

    The Vufine is rather light, but it will weigh down your glasses a bit.  The docking station is seven grams and the Vufine is twenty-six grams.  Some of that weight is from the built-in battery that lasts about ninety minutes and takes the same amount of time to fully charge the unit.  You can use the device while it’s charging.  What’s one more wire, right?

    Since the Vufine does not have an operating system of its own, it’s setup through the device it’s plugged into as a secondary display.  It worked flawlessly with my laptop and I was able to set it as a secondary monitor and set the resolution to 1280 X 720 (default), 1176 X 664, or 800 X 600.  The Vufine's screen appears to be 4:3, but because of the 720 resolution it cuts off a little bit.  

    The roughly 1-inch screen worked well with large fonts, but smaller fonts were blurry and illegible.  I’m sure it would be fine for watching funny cat videos at work with headphones and nobody would be the wiser!  

    Other fitting uses could be a viewfinder for a Go Pro or any type of camera.  If you have a smartphone that supports HDMI it can be great for GPS navigation or for playing Pokemon Go.  Android users should take note that the Samsung S6 and S7 phones no longer support MHL so the Vufine or upcoming Vufine+ devices WILL NOT work.  As an S7 owner I was not able to use my GPS or Pokemon Go on my bicycle or walking.  Driving with the device operational is considered illegal.

    In the end, the Vufine is a neat concept, but since the mobile functionality is not there for me and the millions of other Samsung 6/7 owners I have a difficult time recommend this device or it successor the Vufine+.  IPhone owners should be fine as long as they have a lightning adapter.  Since the text is blurry and hard to read I don’t plan on using this with my laptop unless I have something to hide (which I don’t).

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Wyze Cam
    Specifications:
    2.8mm focal length
    110º wide angle lens
    8X digital zoom
    1080p Full HD
    Motion Tagging
    Night Vision
    $19.99

    Thank you Wyze Labs for sending us a review sample!

    The Wyze Cam is an affordable home security camera that lets you monitor your house and inhabitants via a phone app. Through the app you can snap pictures, record video, listen, and speak through the camera. My kids got a kick out of hearing me describing their actions and talking to them from another part of the house.

    Inside of the box is a quick setup guide, the camera, a magnetic wall mount with paint-friendly adhesive, a USB cable, and a charging base. Setting up the camera took a little more effort than I anticipated. Before you begin, you should set up a free Wyze account and download the mobile app to your Android or iOS tablet/phone. An e-mail activation code will have to be typed into the app to complete the account setup process.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Affordable; easy to use; free rolling cloud storage
    Weak Points: Wireless setup isn’t clear

    The next step is binding the camera to your Wyze account. To link the camera you’ll have to press the setup button for a couple of seconds until it says that it’s ready to connect. In the app you’ll need to set up the Wi-Fi access. Our Wi-Fi network name was filled in yet grayed out and I was adding the password and having difficulty connecting. Once I manually typed in both the network name and password it connected quickly. I like how a QR code is generated from the information and shown to the camera to configure it. If the device loses power for a short period of time, it will still remember the connection information.

    During the daytime the video feed is in color and supports 1080p HD resolution. SD viewing is possible as well. The 8X zoom is pretty nice and lets you focus in on background movement. The motion tagging works really well for humans, but it didn’t pick up my senior dog’s subtle movement while laying in the nearby chair. If you have an SD card in the camera it can record video and allow you to watch playback footage. Time lapse recording also requires an SD card.

    Manually recording and saving photos and videos is possible thanks to the 14-day free cloud storage. You can view your recorded videos and view your photos in the album section of the app. From the album you can also share the recorded media to e-mail or social media accounts.
    The app also allows you to send phone alerts for motion, sound, smoke, and CO alarm sound detection. The notifications can be sent all day or on a specific schedule.

    For the reasonable price of $20, this little camera can do a lot. If you have a spare SD card laying around it can do even more. If you’re looking for an inexpensive home security solution or the ability to yell at your spouse or kids remotely, the Wyze Cam is worth looking into.

  •  

    boxart
    Hardware Info:

    Zeskit USB-C to HDMI Cable
    USB Type-C to HDMI Cable, connecting iPad Pro, MacBook, MacBook Pro (w/ USB-C port) and more to monitor, TV or projector which has HDMI port. Both video and audio are delivered.
    Up to 4K 60Hz backed by latest powerful Parade chip, utilizing DP Alternate Mode. Meets HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2, DP 1.4 standards.
    6.5 feet long (2 meters)
    Gold-plated connectors
    2 Year Warranty
    MSRP: $18.95
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Zeskit for sending us this cable to review!

    I have way too many devices and gadgets, and I have virtually every combination of source to destination port imaginable in my house. I have monitors with DisplayPort, miniDP, HDMI, DVI, VGA, and probably some older formats if I look hard enough. I also have lots of different devices with all kinds of form factors, like desktops, laptops, microPCs, game consoles, and even a Mac work laptop. As such, when I was offered an opportunity to check out a USB-C to HDMI cable, I jumped at the chance.

    It turns out that I have two devices that support display output over USB-C. The first is my gaming desktop, with a NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti. The other is my GPD Win 2. (My MSI laptop has a USB-C port sitting there right next to my HDMI port, but it doesn't actually do any video out there. It's just a USB port sitting in a conspicuous place.) After doing much testing (and talking to other GPD Win 2 owners), it appears that the Win 2 only supports [email protected] with a USB-C to HDMI adapter or cable; if you want more than that, you need a USB-C to DisplayPort adapter or cable. What a shame. However, it does support [email protected], [email protected], and the aforementioned 30Hz modes. Thankfully, my RTX card does support 4K video modes over USB-C, so the testing can continue!

    zeskit

    The HDMI port from this cable comes from an embedded DisplayPort uplink in the USB-C connector in the GPU, rather than a direct HDMI port. So, from my RTX card it does work, but there appears to be a small mismatch in how video modes are negotiated between the two technologies. (I tested another USB-C to HDMI adapter box and it has the same issue, so I don't think it's the fault of the cable.) In the NVIDIA control panel, connected to my 4K monitor, I do see a full 4K (3840x2160) signal, at 60Hz. The only 'gotcha' is that the color spaces available are RGB and YCbCr422, rather than the full YCbCr444. What this means in practice is that the display must support HDR over RGB if you want to use HDR; my Acer 4K monitor supports this but many 4K televisions do not. So, full pixel color info + HDR support is technically present, but is dependent on what the display can support. (For those not aware, anything less than RGB or YCbCr444 will result in color distortions for some image types, especially on things like text over a PC input.)

    It is entirely possible that devices other than what I have available to test can support the optimal YCbCr444 + HDR mode for some televisions. I just don't have anything available right now that does.

    zeskit

    The quality of the cable is top notch, and it feels like it will last many bends and uses. As mentioned, it has gold-plated connectors, so it looks as good as it feels in use.

    I am very pleased with the Zeskit USB-C to HDMI Cable. It looks good, feels good, and works well where I tested it. What more can you ask for?

  •  

    boxart
    Hardware Info:

    ZMI PowerPack 20000 Portable Power Bank
    Specifications:
    AC Adapter (model AD03Z)
    Single USB Type-C connector
    PD 2.0 compliant
    Qualcomm QC 3.0 compliant
    Supports 5V/9V/12V/15V/20V output
    45W max output
    $19.95
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Power Bank (model QB820)
    20,000 mAh capacity
    1x USB Type-C I/O port
    2x USB 2.0 Type-A ports
    USB Hub mode
    4 LED charge status lights
    USB-C PD 2.0 compliant
    Qualcomm QC 3.0 compliant
    Supports 5V/9V/12V/15V/20V output
    45W max output
    $69.95
    (Amazon Affilaite Link)

    Thank you ZMI for sending us the PowerPack and PowerPlug to review!

    Like most modern techies, I have lots and lots of battery powered devices. These include my phone, various game consoles like the 3DS, Vita, and Switch, as well as portable PCs like the GPD Win. Juggling them all as battery continuously drops with use can be tricky if you don’t top them up all the time (which is bad for their batteries anyway). So, when we were offered the opportunity to review a power bank, I jumped at the chance.

    The primary devices I used to test this with were my Samsung S7 Edge, my GPD Win, and I also tested with my Nintendo Switch. On Monday, I decided I would not charge any of my devices on anything else until the power bank was low. So, rather than plugging my phone into my car charger, I decided to just bring the power bank with me to work. That day I used it as I normally do and I found that my phone was at around 30% as I was leaving work. I plugged my phone into the charger, and I was pleased the fast charging notification displayed on my phone. As such, it charged very quickly and was fully charged when I got home. That night, without thinking, I put my phone in my wireless charger to keep it topped up overnight, thereby violating my intentions, but I wasn’t done with the thing just yet.

    On Tuesday, I decided I would not make that mistake again; I continued to use only the power bank. I used it quite a bit that morning, and that day at work when my phone was 25% full, I charged it with the PowerPack once again and it worked great and then left it unplugged the rest of the day. I made sure it was full before bed, and left both the phone and the bank unplugged all night.

    On the third day, I decided I would give this power bank a little bit more to do. So, while using my phone as normal, I decided to start using my GPD Win that day. It actually has quite a bit of battery life, and takes quite a few hours to drain. But I knew from experience that draining it to zero is not good for any device, so once it was down to 25% I powered it off.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Lots of battery capacity; Sleek design; Great connectivity; USB Hub mode is a nice touch; Nice, short cables with a built-in adapter
    Weak Points: Quick charge doesn’t work with multiple devices connected; USB Hub mode is only 2.0

    When it was time for bed, I gave the power bank the ultimate challenge: multiple devices while trickle charging all night. I plugged my phone in, as well as my GPD Win, which uses a USB-C connection; it was then that I noticed that the power bank cannot do fast charging with more than one device connected. Despite this, it was able to charge both my phone and my GPD Win at the same time. GPD Wins are notoriously difficult to charge, as only the highest quality chargers will work with them. I was very pleased to find that everything was charging.

    I knew that having it run all night is difficult on any power source, because it not only has to charge the battery, but it also has to keep the device(s) running all night. I was more than pleased when I woke up the next morning and found not only two fully charged devices, but that the power bank wasn’t completely dead either. Being one to baby my batteries, I just decided at that point, after checking the status lights and seeing only one of four left, that this device passed my testing with flying colors.

    The power bank also charged fairly quickly with ZMI’s PowerPlug Turbo A/C adapter that they supplied. According to the specifications, the PowerPack charges in 3.8 hours with a 5-20V USB PD 45W adapter, in 5.5 hours with a 9V/2A or 12V/1.5A adapter, and in 8.7 hours with a 5V/2A power adapter. These charge times are actually quite excellent, and the ~4 hours to charge the power bank mirrors my experience, though I did not time it. The power bank does not come with an A/C adapter, but it does include both a USB-A to C cable, as well as a USB-A to Micro-B cable, which includes a C adapter, so it can be used with either. The Type-C port on the power bank is an input and output port, so you use that to charge the bank itself, or it can also be used to charge other devices. The Type-A ports can only be used for charging, unless you’re talking about the USB Hub mode.

    Since you’re carrying this svelte brick-like device with USB ports in it, it was really a great idea for the designers to decide to add this Hub mode as well. I decided to test out the Hub mode with two different devices: my GPD Win and my MSI gaming laptop. The GPD Win didn’t seem to work correctly when connected through the USB-C port, because it would keep charging the device, instead of working as a hub. It did work as a hub when connected to my GPD’s USB-A port with the included cable, though. However, with my MSI laptop, which is not powered through the type C port, it worked perfectly as a USB hub. I was able to connect drives and even my phone and the system was able to see it. My phone was also charging when connected to the power bank. I am unsure if the power bank was being charged at this time or not. Even so, having a USB hub available in a pinch is quite handy.

    The ZMI PowerPlug Turbo power supply they included (which is sold separately) also included a Type-C to Type-C cable. It charged the power bank perfectly and fairly quickly, and supports the USB PD 2.0 power delivery specification. That means it can supply several different voltages as high as 20V based on whatever the device requires. 45 watts is a fair amount of power, and some small and thin laptops will work just fine off of it. It’s a no-frills power block that does what you need it to; what more could you ask for?

    I recently received the GPD Win 2, and both the PowerPlug and the PowerPack work perfectly.  These products are highly recommended for GPD Win 2 owners.

    The ZMI PowerPack 20,000 USB power bank met and exceeded my expectations. It looks nice, feels nice, does not get hot during use or charging, and powered my devices perfectly. I was impressed with how long it lasted, even during my stress testing. Last year, I went to a tech conference for work in another state, and I had a hard time keeping my phone charged. I sure wish I had this power bank with me then, and next time I will. If you have plans on being away from the grid for a while, this power bank is a perfect companion. Highly recommended!

Latest Comments

Latest Downloads

About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

S5 Box

JFusion Login Module

Register