reviews

Review: Tron: Legacy - Firing on all ... circuits?

Tron Legacy and Original Logos - Blended

Avid fans of the original Tron (like myself) have likely anticipated the release of Tron: Legacy since the day the first hints of a remake appeared in 2008. A lot of pressure was on the Legacy filmmakers to not only keep the original sense of wonderment and otherworldliness of the first movie, but also bring the technology and ideas from the first movie into the twenty-first century.

The short version of this review is: you should see this movie. It is a great homage to the original, and it has enough digital effects, and just enough plot (just like the first one—the plot was never a strong point!) to keep your eyes on the screen.

Review: St. Louis area Internet providers (Charter Cable, AT&T DSL, Clear Wireless)

Charter, AT&T and Clear - Logos

For the past eight years, I've been bouncing back and forth from one ISP to another, trying to find one that actually feels worth the load of money I pay for it.

I've used a variety of services from both of the main St. Louis area providers (AT&T and Charter Communications), and am testing Clear wireless (a new game in town, but one that's been around in Chicago and other larger cities for a year or more). I've paid anywhere from $15/month to $90/month (for Internet service alone—I've never participated in the 'Charter Bundle,' 'Uverse' or any voice/data/video bundles).

I'm going to go through the reasons why I've tried all the different services, and what I've liked—and hated—about each. As a prelude, I am still not pleased with the performance I've received from any of the providers (at least, not for what I'm paying/have paid!).

AT&T 'High Speed' DSL

I've tried AT&T's DSL service in three different parts of St. Louis: North county, the Central West End, and Shrewsbury. In all three areas, I've encountered the same problem—an unreliable connection.

I've been through many support calls, and in all cases, when a technician is sent out, he says the line signal is perfect. Go figure. I've used a few different modems, some rather expensive, and they've all exhibited these problems.

Review: Canon PowerShot S95 Review

Jeff's Rating: 4/5

tl;dr: A great pocketable camera that shoots RAW, gets pretty good low-light results, and has a sharp new HD video recording mode.

Canon PowerShot S95 on Table

After having used an excellent RAW-capable point and shoot, the Canon PowerShot G11, for about 6 months, I sold it on eBay and bought the new Canon PowerShot S95, the G11's smaller sibling. I had originally been looking into buying the S90 (another excellent camera), but thought the G11's flip-screen and handling would be worthwhile assets.

Unfortunately, I had bought the G11 to be my pocketable 'vacation-cam,' and though it worked pretty well, it wasn't quite pocketable. I had to keep it in its case, and it was another item of luggage to carry around wherever I took it.

The S95's form factor allows me to truly pocket this camera, and not sacrifice the quality of image I can get with it too much. It's a heck of a lot better than my iPhone 4's camera, but still nowhere near as amazing as my D90 SLR paired with a good lens. To better convey a sense of how the S95 works in my life, I'll break down this review into a few relevant categories.

Review: iPhone 4

Jeff's Rating: 5/5

tl;dr: The iPhone 4 is another great step forward from Apple. From the dazzling quality of the built-in camera and respective app, to the brilliance of the Retina display, this iPhone is an all-around winner.

After having tried an iPhone 4 display model at my local Apple Store, and tasting the Retina display kool-aid, I couldn't wait until my pre-ordered unit finally came in. Well, it did, and I have to say that one day's use has already impressed me enough to look on older iPhones with some amount of disgust. How could I have possibly coped with the low-resolution display, grainy camera, and rather sluggish upload speeds on the 3G and 3Gs?

My iPhone 4 on a Table

Review: Sony MDR-XB40EX Extra Bass Earbuds

Jeff's Rating: 3/5

tl;dr: Solid performers for those wanting a bass-heavy aural experience and good isolation. The headphones can bring new life to some songs, but are often overbearing for those with sensitive ears.

Sony MDR-XB40EX Earbuds

Finding a good pair of headphones can be an lifelong vocation. In my short lifespan, I've probably given a good chance to about twelve different pairs, from earbuds to large cans used in professional/studio environments.

Reviews by Jeff Geerling

Introducing... reviews by me!

For the longest time, I have wanted to share some of the research that I do to pick the best product for my needs, and some of the thoughts I have on a product days, weeks, and months into using it.

I am somewhat of a fanatic about purchasing once, and using an item to its fullest extent—never overbuying, but also never settling for something that works half of the time (I guess that's a big reason I'm always a Mac... though I do see utility in a Windows PC or Linux workstation for some people).

Review: Phottix MB-D80 (D80/D90 Battery Grip)

Jeff's Rating: 4/5

tl;dr: You can (and should) pick up one of these things if you have a D90 or D80, and shoot vertically or need extra juice for the camera. The Nikon MB-D80/OEM model is a bit more solid, but you can't beat the Phottix's price!

Phottix MB-D80 Vertical Battery Grip

Take a look at what's hanging on the neck of almost any professional photojournalist, wedding photographer, or camera guy—you'll almost always see the tank-like and bulky body of a Nikon D1/2/3/X-series or Canon 1D-series SLR. The Phottix MB-D80 takes your D90 (in my case—it also works on the D80, though) and gives it three of the tank-like bodies' functions:

  1. A vertical shutter release/controls: When shooting portraits, this is immensely helpful.
  2. Double the battery life: You can stick an extra Nikon EN-EL3e battery in the grip (bringing your total to 2 batt's!).
  3. Look like a serious photographer: 'Nuff said.

The battery grip performs great, it can take a beating, and the shutter release and controls feel almost as good as using the controls on the camera body itself!

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