TR’s 2012 Christmas gift guide

Winter is coming, and you know what that means. White Walkers! Also, Christmas—or the non-denominational holiday season, depending on your affinity for political correctness. Whatever. It’s gift-giving time for most of us, and you may be wondering what to buy for the techie in your life or, if you’re like us, what to put on your own Christmas list.

Fortunately, certain kinds of presents are right up our alley. We spend our days immersed in the latest PC hardware and the coolest consumer technology, so we have an acute sense of what makes a good gift for tech-savvy folks this season. Our staffers have made their lists and checked them twice, providing us with plenty of fodder for a Christmas gift guide.

Scott Wasson

Corsair’s Vengeance M60 gaming mouse

My immune system must be pretty robust by now, because I’ve probably been exposed to twice the number of viruses and bugs as the average guy. You see, I’m always searching for a better computer mouse, and to me, mice are all about their feel in the hand. I have to grip one in my palm in order to know its worth. So, every time I step into a busy trade show booth or a retail store with mice on display, I’ve gotta grab each one and size it up.

During my long and microbiologically diverse career, I’ve handled a lot of gaming mice. I’ve felt up everything from Razer’s original Boomslang to Thermaltake’s new BMW-inspired contraption with tilt and height adjustments.

And, I have to admit, I’ve rarely liked any of ’em.

Most gaming mice seem “extreme” in ways that don’t make sense, and a lot of them have awkward shapes, as if they were made for people with rare and bizarre hand deformations. Razer’s mice, I think, are made for the little gray dudes from The X-Files; their long, slender digits should reach the scroll wheel and two main buttons. Mine will not, not without straining.

I really don’t get that. Many of the cheap, high-volume mice from Microsoft and Logitech seem superior, even if they don’t have 200,000 DPI sensors and programmable buttons. That’s why, although I’ve tried nearly every gaming-oriented rodent you could name, my daily driver has almost always been a middle-of-the-road Logitech.

You can imagine my shock when I first gripped Corsair’s Vengeance M60, then, and found its shape to be… pleasing? Impossible! The contours, the way it meets the palm, the button placement, even the beefy scroll wheel—they’re all nearly ideal. Better than anything from Redmond or wherever the heck Logitech is. The materials are first-rate, too. Your hand meets nicely textured, high-grade plastics with not even a hint of gloss. The base looks to be aluminum, and it accents a design that looks racy but maintains traditional contours—you know, the ones that fit your hand.

I suppose the M60 has gee-whiz DPI sensors and everything else in it. You can read the specs for that. There are lights and weights and such, but none of it gets in the way while I’m popping bandit noggins like pumpkins in Borderlands 2. I’m just happy to have found the right feel. Everything else is gravy.

Sherlock season one DVDs

As a fan of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, I was cautiously optimistic about the BBC’s attempt to bring Holmes into present day London and update him to contemporary sensibilities. Although the original character is over a century old, Arthur Conan Doyle’s protagonist sleuth is a thoroughly modern man, so the potential is there.

Fortunately, in this case, the update works exceptionally well. The casting, tone, and substance of Sherlock are all rock solid, and the result is bliss for anyone who enjoys a good mystery—or, heck, just a good drama. I’m very happy to see the show delving into the darker Holmes meta-lore, too, not just doing a mystery of the week.

Yes, CBS has also brought Holmes to modern-day New York with Elementary, and that’s not a bad show, but it pales in comparison to the BBC’s Sherlock.

Bradley BTIS1 original fully automatic four-rack smoker

For years, my long-held ambition to produce my own delicious Kansas City-style barbecue in the backyard was kept on hold by the realities of my schedule. Like many folks, I simply can’t dedicate countless hours to tending a wood or charcoal-based fire and keeping the heat steady. Those GPU reviews aren’t gonna write themselves.

I was aware of electric smokers, with their convenient automatic functions, the same way display purists are aware of TN panels. Then a buddy of mine brought over some ribs he’d smoked in his electric smoker—some of the finest pork ribs I’d ever had—and I realized I was a snob for no reason.

This Bradley smoker was my Christmas gift last year, and I’ve successfully used it to produce ribs and chicken that would start a fistfight in the line at Oklahoma Joe’s. The Bradley keeps the temperature and smoke constant with very little fuss, so I can concentrate on devising evil new ways of torturing graphics cards and still have a tasty meal at the end of the day. Highly recommended.

Cyril Kowaliski

Kindle Paperwhite

I don’t actually own a Kindle Paperwhite. I don’t own a Kindle Paperwhite because Amazon inexplicably and systematically takes months to start offering new Kindle devices north of the border. That said, if it were available right now—or if Amazon let me import the thing from its U.S. website—I would buy the Paperwhite in a heartbeat.

I played with a friend’s Paperwhite the other day, and I was immediately seduced. The device shares all the positive traits of my current Kindle Touch: it’s light enough to hold comfortably with two fingers without getting tired, it’s readable in broad daylight, and it uses convenient touch input. However, Amazon has improved the formula by adding adjustable display illumination, increasing the pixel density, offering fonts other than the default Caecilia and Helvetica, and implementing capacitive touch input. The previous model uses infrared sensors to detect touch, which forces the display to be recessed more deeply and leads to annoyances, like the corner of your sleeve triggering input.

Sure, you could just as well do your reading on a tablet. The problem is that tablets are heavier, offer substantially shorter battery life than any Kindle, and have conventional LCD screens with harsher backlighting. Those screens don’t fare well in direct sunlight, either. The Paperwhite’s display is incredibly easy on the eyes even with the backlight enabled—and thanks to the higher-density e-ink panel, text looks beautifully sharp.

My only gripe with the Paperwhite is that the picture above isn’t totally accurate. In reality, the backlight looks a little blotchy and uneven in places. Still, the device is more comfortable to read on than any tablet I’ve used to date, and it’s worlds better than a cheap paperback. Considering the $119 price tag, this is a no-brainer.

Dishonored

This fall, like every fall, we seem to be buried under an avalanche of sequels—Assassin’s Creed III, Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and so on. Warfighter is apparently terrible, while the others seem to range from good to great. That’s all fine, but even the best sequel is still just that—a sequel. It’s old gameplay mechanics and a familiar visual style transplanted into new levels and bad guys with, hopefully, a little extra eye candy.

Dishonored is like a bubble of fresh air amid this torrent of encores. Bethesda, unlike other publishers, thought it might actually be a good idea to give some new intellectual property a chance. And unlike other publishers, Bethesda didn’t insist on shoehorning in a multiplayer component. The firm allowed developer Arkane Studios to focus on the single-player campaign and polish it to a mirror shine.

The result is a game that looks and feels like a total departure from the parade of old-hat shooters on the market today. The story is engrossing, the art style is unique and memorable, and the gameplay is both captivating and fun. I wrote at length about why Dishonored is such a good game on my blog back in October, so I won’t regurgitate more of my praise here. Suffice it to say Dishonored is easily worth the $59.99 asking price.

Adobe Photoshop CS6

Okay, so this is a little out there. Everybody knows Photoshop, but outside the professional world, few bother to purchase it. Sometimes, that’s because cheaper tools do a good enough job. Other times, it’s because… you know. Yarr.

I bought an upgrade to Photoshop CS6 on a whim last week, and I couldn’t be happier. Adobe has made a few tweaks to the interface and polished up many staple features. I love the new crop tool, which moves and rotates the source image instead of the cropping frame and allows non-destructive cropping. Adobe has also fixed up the healing brush to work better around picture edges, and it’s implemented some very powerful blur and angle correction tools. There’s even an improved version of the animation tool, which now basically allows for video editing.

For me, though, the biggest selling point is the new Camera Raw 7 plug-in. I’ve been shooting in RAW format for years, and Camera Raw has become integral to my workflow. The new version feels like it totally leapfrogs past releases. There are separate sliders to control the image’s shadows and highlights, and because Camera Raw operates on 12-bit lossless source files, these are much more powerful than simple gamma and levels controls. With a little tinkering, I can approximate a multi-exposure high-dynamic range shot from a single photograph. Add some lens correction, and the result looks like this:


The pseudo-HDR version looks much, much closer to the actual scene as I perceived it before taking the photo. The regular, non-HDR version blows out the sky and makes the areas around the trees a lot darker. It looks okay, but it’s not what I actually saw.

If you have a camera capable of shooting in RAW format—or if you just need good software for image editing—then it doesn’t get much better than Photoshop CS6. By the way, Adobe says folks who own Photoshop CS3 or CS4 are eligible for the $199 upgrade price until December 31. Alternatively, you can sign up for a $19.99-a-month subscription to Creative Cloud. Even at full price ($530 on Amazon right now), Photoshop CS6 is well worth it.

Geoff Gasior

Google’s Nexus 7 tablet

Tablets are sure to be a hot commodity this holiday season. Most of my favorites ring in at $400 or more, which is a little on the pricey side for a single gift. Fortunately, Google’s Nexus 7 provides a budget alternative that’s truly compelling. This seven-incher combines a decent-looking IPS panel with Nvidia’s Tegra 3 processor and the very latest version of Google’s Android OS. Asking price: $200 for the 16GB version and 50 bucks more for the 32GB.

Budget tablets are usually fraught with compromises, but the Nexus 7 gets the important things right. The quad-core Tegra SoC combines with the “Project Butter” responsiveness enhancements built into Android 4.1 to provide a silky smooth user experience. It probably helps that the Tegra processor is clocked only a little bit slower than versions the chip that power much more expensive tablets, but most of the credit goes to the Jelly Bean OS. And, because this is a Nexus device, users should benefit from a steady stream of OS updates. Our own Nexus 7 has already been bumped up to Android 4.2.1, which adds multi-user support and lock-screen widgets, among other perks.

Retina display snobs may scoff at the Nexus 7’s relatively low resolution, but 1280×800 is a good fit for the 7″ panel. The smaller screen also makes the tablet easier to hold with one hand, at least when compared with larger alternatives. Throw in excellent battery life and a body that doesn’t feel cheap, and you’ve got the best budget tablet around. If anyone you know has the 7″ Kindle Fire HD on their list, you’re better off getting them the Nexus 7 instead. I also prefer the Nexus 7 to the iPad Mini, which has a lower pixel density and a much higher price. Be careful when making that kind of substitution, though; you just might ignite a religious debate.

Cyborg Gaming’s Rat 7 mouse

Cyborg Gaming’s Rat 7 gaming mouse might be my favorite PC peripheral of all time. I’ve had one connected to my primary desktop for over two years, and it’s definitely the finest mouse I’ve ever used. The first thing you’ll notice is the radical body, which looks like what might happen if the Dark Knight’s Tumbler mated with one of the Insecticons. This is form following function rather than the other way around. The funky design is simply an artifact of the Rat’s adjustable nature.

While most high-end mice offer tweakable sensitivity and removable weights, the Rat 7 goes much further. The shape of the mouse can be adjusted in three dimensions to perfectly suit your hand. Individual panels can also be swapped depending on whether you prefer a smooth or textured surface. There’s no provision for lefties, but that’s the only real catch.

As is fashionable these days, the Rat 7 is loaded with buttons and backed by powerful macro software. I’m particularly fond of the thumb wheel, which can be configured for horizontal scrolling in Windows or programmed to perform all sorts of other tasks in games. Thanks largely to the horizontal scrolling capability, the Rat 7 transitions between work and play more smoothly than any other mouse I’ve used. The ability to switch profiles on the fly certainly helps, too.

The Rat 7 is selling for as little as $86, and it’s worth every penny in my book. Wireless types will want to consider the Rat 9, which cuts the cord but is quite a bit pricier, at $127 online. Just make sure to avoid the cheaper Rat 5 and Rat 3, which look similar but don’t boast the full range of adjustment options.

SolarFocus’ SolarMio Pro charger

While some think it sacrilegious to take technology products into the wild, I have a habit of doing just that. Tablets, smartphones, and digital cameras have accompanied me on numerous backpacking, snowshoeing, and kayaking trips into the wilderness. They’ve become indispensable companions for my outdoor excursions, not just to snap photos and provide evening reading material, but also to direct my journeys via GPS. Thing is, battery life can be a bit of a problem on longer trips.

I’ve been looking at solar-charging solutions for a while now, and I’ve settled on the one I want: the SolarFocus SolarMio Pro. This puppy combines solar panels with a separate battery pack, allowing devices to be charged even after the sun has retreated from the sky. There are some limitations, of course. All charging is done through the battery, so you can’t juice devices directly from the solar cells. Additionally, the battery’s output is limited to a USB jack that pumps 5V at a maximum of 2A. That should suffice for most mobile devices, and the SolarFocus rep I spoke to at Computex assured me there’s enough power to charge an iPad. The SolarMio Pro also comes with multiple adapters, including one that can charge the removable batteries for my DSLR and waterproof cameras.

For me, the most attractive thing about the SolarMio Pro is the fact that it’s relatively compact and weighs less than a pound. Those are important considerations for something I’ll be hauling up mountains and stuffing into kayak hatches. Even if Santa doesn’t come through, I’ll be picking up this solar charger for the epic kayaking trip my girlfriend and I have planned for the summer. It costs only $135, which seems like a bargain given the potential convenience. I’ll be sure to let you know how it works out.

Bruno Ferreira

My selection is unfortunately limited in scope to tech-related stuff, because I was told that guitars, amplifiers, and effect units do not fall within the purview of The Tech Report. Weaklings, I say. Onward we go, into the realm of how to make my gaming rig workstation a bit more badass.

Auria’s EQ276W 27″ IPS monitor

Let’s start with the obvious: the monitor. Due to other financial priorities (those things with four wheels and an engine), my main monitor is a 22″ TN variant, an aging Samsung Syncmaster 226BW. It’s actually a pretty good one as these things go, but I could really use both bigger and better. I feel quite limited and even somewhat depressed. I stab people in Borderlands and the blood isn’t… red. Not nearly red enough. I nuke cities in Civilization V and the oranges and grays aren’t quite… nuclear. This is unacceptable and must be corrected. So, what’s the obvious choice? A cheap Korean 27-incher:

Scott reviewed a close cousin to the Auria EQ276W pictured above, and he had the Auria in his lab for a spell. The Auria is every bit as good as the model Scott reviewed, with vivid colors, wide viewing angles, and a high 2560×1440 resolution—for about half the price of typical 27″ IPS displays. The Auria is sold through Microcenter, so you won’t have to import it from across the ocean. You can pick it up from a brick-and-mortar store staffed with people you can turn to if there’s a problem. As a bonus, the EQ276W has a full array of inputs, including VGA, DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI.

OCZ’s Vector 256GB SSD

Yes, I know all the horror stories about OCZ’s reliability history—but you see, the good thing about Christmas is that you can ask for gifts and other people will spend money on them. That’s a perfectly valid excuse for me to gamble on OCZ’s latest shiny goodness: the Vector 256GB. As we discovered in our review of the drive, it happens to be the fastest consumer-grade SSD around right now.

For the vast majority of users, buying an SSD is the single best way to improve their computer. In fact, I’m a firm believer that we’re about to enter a new era of expectations about PC responsiveness due to SSDs. Given that my computer unfortunately still has those annoying silver platters with needles floating above them, I am also in need of something that doesn’t jam up the works every time I fire up a virtual machine, work with a large dataset, or go for some digital killing. 256GB is enough for my needs; some games will have to be reside on the spinning platters of my mechanical drive, but that’s it.

Mionix’s Sargas 320 mouse pad

My other recommendations were expensive, but here’s something a little more wallet-friendly. It’s a microfiber cloth mousepad. The Mionix Sargas 320 is pretty thin, so it doesn’t bulge out against your wrist. But that’s not the main selling point. It’s smooth as silk. It’s a baby’s bottom. It’s velvety pleasure. It’s a lot of other stupid analogies, most of which aren’t PG-13 anyway.

What matters is that once you start mousing around on this thing, you’ll immediately feel the difference in both movement and tracking precision. I’m pretty sure your opponents in online shooters will notice, too. At just 18 bucks, the Sargas is also cheap. Who doesn’t like cheap and sexy?

Adam Eiberger

Ahhhh, Christmas: that odd time of year when we commemorate the sacred in the most secular of ways. I guess the same can be said of many holidays, so let’s get to the shopping, shall we?

Star Wars: The Complete Saga

At the top of my list would be “peace on earth,” but Amazon’s results for that search don’t carry the kind of warranty that convinces me it’ll stick. If I can’t have peace, how about a fantasy tale of good triumphing over evil in a nine-disc Blu-ray boxed set with new commentary and 91 minutes of goofs and outtakes? Yes, the originals were great, but my kids won’t care if the Ewoks blink or the ice on Hoth is white or blue. Star Wars: The Complete Saga is perfect for late nights during the Christmas break.

F1 2012

Watching movies is entertaining, but it’s not interactive. I’m hoping to find F1 2012 in my stocking and am dying to play it on one of those 27″ IPS panels we’ve been raving about.

My final pick was going to be the Nexus 7, but Geoff told me that’s on his short list, so go read his justification for wanting it. He’s owned many a tablet and should have far more to say about it than I would.

Comments closed
    • stacey1x0pp
    • 7 years ago
    • sammied54413
    • 7 years ago
    • mutarasector
    • 7 years ago

    “I really don’t get that. Many of the cheap, high-volume mice from Microsoft and Logitech seem superior, even if they don’t have 200,000 DPI sensors and programmable buttons.”

    Agreed, 100%. I just bought 10 Logitech M305 mice since they’re almost always on sale for around $9.99 at one of the CE retailers.

    BTW, Geoff can write about the Bradly automatic smoker (I WANT one!), but Bruno can’t cover guitars, amps, and effects units? Seems odd…

    (Bruno – yer right, *WIMPS* ;-))

    • tootercomputer
    • 7 years ago

    We need a techgift guide created by tech-savvy hot women for guys to buy cool tech gifts for the lady in their lives.

      • BIF
      • 7 years ago

      I wholeheartedly agree!

      This could bring us a lot closer to World Peace.

    • BIF
    • 7 years ago

    Note to the editors: I’ve checked twice in the last week, and it appears that the Auria 27″ IPS monitors are no longer on their website.

    [url=http://microcenter.com/search/search_results.aspx?N=4294966896+4294963585&cat=AURIA-%3a-LCD-Monitors-%3a-Monitors%2c-TVs-%3a-Electronics-%3a-Micro-Center<]Link[/url<]

    • BIF
    • 7 years ago

    Any right handed gaming mouse suggestion or gift is useless to those who might be left handed. Just sayin’…

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 7 years ago

      Don’t buy the deathadder leftie version. Blows, hard. I’m currently using a NZXT Avatar S (cheap + good), previously used an MX-1000 and a MX-518.

        • BIF
        • 7 years ago

        I’ve been using Logitech trackballs for years now. Works for either hand. I never needed to change the button definitions, however and it’s just as well.

        If I did, it might seriously discourage anybody from trying to use my trackball by moving it to the right side of the keyboard. Hmmmm, an idea!

    • Thrashdog
    • 7 years ago

    Whoah, there, Damage — are you comparing the output of an electric smoker to [i<]Okie Joe's!?[/i<] You're cruisin' for a bruisin'. Now Gates, sure, I can see that...

    • tbone8ty
    • 7 years ago

    has yur bradley smoker caught on fire yet?

    • ALiLPinkMonster
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]I was told that guitars, amplifiers, and effect units do not fall within the purview of The Tech Report.[/quote<] Not even an Axe FX (2)? I know it's not PC related, but that thing is a technological gem. $2000 for just about any amp, cabinet and effects combination you could ever want, and it sounds absolutely incredible.

    • End User
    • 7 years ago

    Nexus 7 owner here. I cannot recommend the Nexus 7 at this time:

    [url<]http://goo.gl/0eb0J[/url<] My Nexus 7 is in a perpetual state of rebooting. Oh, and the battery won't charge.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      Wow, haven’t seen any of that myself.

      • DancinJack
      • 7 years ago

      You have a Nexus device. Root+unlock+flash.

      I’m NOT saying you should have to do this to get things to work. I’m saying it’s a perfectly viable option, especially for someone with a Nexus device.

        • indeego
        • 7 years ago

        Did you read TR’s root/flashing blog article? That seems a worse outcome.

      • dmjifn
      • 7 years ago

      I bought a 32GB wifi version on 12/1. I only notice about half those issues. And one, the auto brightness issue, was solved for me by turning the feature off (I know that doesn’t work for everyone).

      Charging is still crazy slow, though. Performance in launching & switching apps is lackluster. And it loves the wifi, even when it’s locked. I actually turn off the wifi when watching netflix on my laptop.
      Speaking of which, while the laptop plays netflix fine, the nexus cuts it off after a minute saying there’s connection problems.

      That said, for only $250, I’d still recommend it.

    • MarkD
    • 7 years ago

    A cable modem now that Time Warner is charging an additional $4 a month for theirs.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    I humbly suggest the AMD FX-8350 processor, as it isn’t just a capable 8-core processor but is also well priced. Plus.. It works well as a space heater for cold winter nights while transcoding videos or compressing files with 7-zip.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 7 years ago

      Plus, it converts any small room into a spa or sauna during those warm summer nights while transcoding videos or compressing files with 7-zip. As a bonus, you get to know in your heart you donated to a charity worth donating to: The “We Believe in AMD” Charity fund benefiting a CPU underdog near you.

      For just $200 per year, you can give a new underdog CPU a home this winter. For just over $16 per month, you can warehouse an AMD CPU for the year in your computer. Think of the underdog CPU manufacturer. Donate today.

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        Good pitch. 🙂 If I ever have my own charity movement, can I get you as the guy who writes my ‘sales pitch’ to potential donors?

      • flip-mode
      • 7 years ago

      Gas and oil heat are much more efficient than electric. Electric provides 3413 btu/kW (3600 kJ/kW). Gas provides 1050 btu/ft[super<]3[/super<] (39,100 kJ/m[super<]3[/super<]).

        • UberGerbil
        • 7 years ago

        But what SPECint_rate does gas provide?

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 7 years ago

        Gas heat is more cost-efficient.

        Your friendly neighborhood power company makes electricity by burning natural gas and turning the heat energy into electrical energy at better than 70% efficiency. However, a lot of expensive equipment and employees are needed to make that electricity and deliver it to your house. That’s why electricity costs more per BTU than natural gas does.

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        Yes, but the FX does that [u<]while[/u<] you're playing Minecraft! 😀

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    If anyone has any decent gift ideas for geeks I’m all ears. The gift guide was pretty much the defacto gift guide. Peripherals, expensive monitor that’s awesome, ssd, tablet, some niche things that are more of a personal taste thing. Peripherals are really like shoe shopping. It’s hard to like a mouse or keyboard that doesn’t fit your style.

    rPI is a neat gift idea for any geek that likes to tinker.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Stuff from thinkgeek or the like is always fun for geeky presents.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, I looked through Thinkgeek… It’s really a bunch of nick-knacks that just get broken or you only use once. About the best thing I bought there was a lavalamp nightlight.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 7 years ago

      Booze. Gift packages that includes their appropriate glasses are usually only a few dollars more than just the individual bottle and very fancy looking (and usually square, which makes wrapping easier).

      LED mini-flashlights. They are cheap, super bright. Awesome stocking stuffers. Regardless if the person actually “needs” it, they WILL like it.

      Depending on their “Yarrr”…I mean geekiness, a 6mo/12mo subscription to one of the various online services. Netflix, Amazon Prime , perhaps some music streaming service, pick one.

      Food. Specifically Hickory Farms. (obligatory link of this comic: [url<]http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2005/12/09[/url<] )

    • I.S.T.
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t understand how people can use those mice and not have hand pain.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      I use Razer ambidextrous mice and they’re fine as long as your arm isn’t at like a 90 degree to them.

    • moog
    • 7 years ago

    I take this time to reflect …
    [url<]http://www.unitedway.org/[/url<]

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      But why does a CEO of a charity organization get paid $559,000? ([url=http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4629<]United Way Worldwide[/url<], 2010 - may need to log in to see this stat) OK, I'm not that naive. Large charity organizations feel that they need to invest in competent leadership, which I suppose they justify might save them more money in the long run due to better management. And the United Way WW does spend about 90% of their income on programs... But I don't know. There's just something that rubs me the wrong way about contributing the measly sums I can afford to a charity organization run by someone getting paid way more than I could ever hope to. Bah Humbug ;-P

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        i hear ya.

          • shaq_mobile
          • 7 years ago

          yeah its hard to balance something like this, but considering they only really move 91 million around… I think $559,000 is pretty generous. supposedly, world vision moves over a billion dollars and the president only makes $380,000. they do score lower on this “scale” though…

          I guess some perspective is nice. the company i work in, the president makes $1.8 million a year (up 600% over 9 years) and the company budget is just under a billion. the ceo of the largest site (roughly $400 million budget) makes ~$400,000.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            Hey, let me guess, no one else’s pay has gone up 600% over the last 9 years??

        • indeego
        • 7 years ago

        90 Million dollars revenue. That is why. Can you find me someone in charge of that much money and an organization that gets paid significantly less?

        When you manage massive amounts of cash/allocation, you want someone at the top competent that understands how to manage it properly. If you paid someone half that and they screwed up a decision that cost them tens of millions, your “savings” is [b<]many[/b<] times wasted. CEO's making this much have a history of managing large amounts of people, money, technology, or all of the above and more. They don't just get paid that amount because shareholders/Directors think it would be cute. 90%+ is a "good" program rate, 95%+ is better. For charities look for the lowest administrative overhead you can first, then look for what you want to contribute to.

      • brookespl091
      • 7 years ago
      • BIF
      • 7 years ago

      I was actually paying attention in the 80s when the United Way was engaged in their dirty practices and shady dealings with employers.

      I witnessed all manner of unfair treatment of employees during the annual United Way campaigns, and one time, my manager even sat down in somebody’s office with the sign-up card, saying he (the employee) was the last holdout for the much vaunted “100% participation”, and because of that he HAD to donate or could lose his chances for promotion. Or maybe even be terminated.

      For the most part, my recent employers do not engage in strong-arm tactics like this anymore, but I still don’t trust ’em. I will NEVER donate directly to the United Way ever again, not even after 25 years!

      I’d rather do something personally to help somebody in need, and just skip the middleman, thank you very much.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    I humbly suggest most people ignore the OCZ suggestion and go with a Samsung instead. Especially since the firmware issues the 840 Pro had were all the result of pre-release firmwares…

    Friends don’t let friends OCZ.

      • brucethemoose
      • 7 years ago

      This isn’t a sandforce drive. Their recent marvel based SSDs seem about as reliable as anything else out there. With the premium they’re charging, the Vector may very well be their attempt to improve their brand image with a premium product. Or Indilinx could be the next Sandforce… but only time will tell.

      The 840 Pro is overpriced, the 840 is TLC, and 830s are going out of stock. Unfortunately, the Vector is overpriced too, so we should point friends to Corsair or Plextor SSDs.

        • Firestarter
        • 7 years ago

        that OCZ got bitten by the Sandforce bugs is just as much their fault as that of Sandforce. I haven’t heard any reason to think that they put more Q&A time into their new drives

          • HisDivineOrder
          • 7 years ago

          They gave it a new name and they send printed materials now instead of handwritten ones with review drives. Clearly, they are REFORMED!

          And OCZ’s bad rep comes from Indilinx drive failures as much as from Sandforce. How quickly people forget…

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<] to think that they put more [Questions & Answers] time into their new drives[/quote<] uhwha?

      • yogibbear
      • 7 years ago

      I wish TR were able to DO more post-release follow-up articles on things they review that typically have driver updates on release or in the couple of weeks after…. especially when the article shows something that wasn’t expected….. Samsung 840…. AMD 7950 vs. 660ti etc.

    • superjawes
    • 7 years ago

    For you nerds who like Sherlock and Star Trek, Benedict Cumberbatch is the sequel coming out next year. 😀

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    Oooh.. you have one of them fancy-pants smokers! (I’m jealous)
    I have one of the cheapy smokers with the cylindrical body made in china from steel so cheap that it warps whenever you dissasemble the smoker… but it still makes some delicious food and now I’ve go the smoker bug.

    One of these days I’ll get one of those fancy smokers for my ribs & brisket…. drool….

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    Cyril didn’t even mention the best part of the Photoshop-adjusted image: the geometry got fixed. The mild fisheye is gone. The building in the center isn’t pudgy anymore and the rest of everything else got bent back into shape.

      • Cyril
      • 7 years ago

      Totally did. 😉
      [quote<]Add some lens correction, and the result looks like this[/quote<]

        • flip-mode
        • 7 years ago

        I spent several minutes admiring your work. Those skills I don’t have.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        OK I don’t know who’s minusing you, but I guess I just didn’t realize what lens correction was.

    • nanoflower
    • 7 years ago

    It was clear “Sherlock” was going to be good as soon as I knew who was behind it. With the work that Steven Moffat did on “Doctor Who” and “Jekyll” it would be very unlikely for it not to be worth watching. If you liked “Sherlock” give “Jekyll” a try. The unfortunate thing is looks like the next season of “Sherlock” may not be out until another full year has passed.

      • OmarCCX
      • 7 years ago

      Which is why I thank the god of bittorrents every day.

    • A_Pickle
    • 7 years ago

    Do a follow-up on the performance of that solar charger whenever you take it out. I, as I am fond of saying on the internet, still use a Palm Treo Pro WM6.1 smartphone as my pocket computer. I like it, it works well and gives me great functionality. One of the things it does [i<]exceptionally[/i<] well at, with an application called GPS Sport Tracker, is offline mapping and path tracing. My phone lacks a compass of the newer Android phones, but I dream of seeing GPS Sport Tracker ported to Android and leveraging more local sensor data (compass, barometer, humidity/temp detector someday?). Anyways, I bought a [url=http://www.amazon.com/Solio-Classic-Solar-Hybrid-Charger/dp/B002YED9JO/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1354924154&sr=8-4&keywords=solio+classic<]Solio Classic[/url<] solar charger (it got good reviews! I DID EVERYTHING RIGHT!) and I've been... well, pretty disappointed. It charges my phone veeeeerrrrrrrryyyyyyy slllllooooooooooooowwwwwwlllllyyyy. Most of the time, I really just get "less fast discharging" on my phone. This leads me suspect that my phone may be at fault (corroborated by the fact that my friend's HTC Droid Eris [i<]could[/i<], in fact, be charged by my solar panel). It's an older phone, probably consumes more power, and never had a terribly astonishing battery life to begin with (though, I upgraded to it from an HTC Apache, which was horrible battery-wise). I think I'd like to plug the [url=http://www.amazon.com/PowerFilm-AA-Battery-Solar-Charger/dp/B001RMF7P8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354924111&sr=8-1&keywords=powerfilm+eneloop+solar<]PowerFilm AA USB Charger[/url<] -- It looks to me like it has a larger overall panel area, and it stores power in Sanyo Eneloop AA rechargeable batteries. It fits well within any techie's paradigm, if they're using Sanyo Eneloop batteries to power some of their devices (Eneloops are awesome rechargeables). PowerFilm is a pretty sweet company, they provided the photovoltaic panels that provided power to the JAXA probe [i<]Ikaros[/i<], which was a wildly successful proof-of-concept for solar sail propulsion (the probe went to Venus entirely on sun power).

    • jjj
    • 7 years ago

    About that solar charger, a friend recently bought the Powermonkey extreme [url<]https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome/arrivingsoon/000382/[/url<] it's 180$ on Amazon, costs and weights a bit more but it does have a much larger battery and a few other advantages (might also be able to charge straight from the panel but can't say that for sure).

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      PowerMoneky? What is that, like a mashup of Terminator Skynet machine takeover and Planet of the Apes?

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 7 years ago

        Actually, they took a monkey they’d been experimenting on and hooked his nipples and genitals up to a car battery.

        Wild shenanigans arose, ensued, were overcome.

    • cynan
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]...or if Amazon let me import the thing from its U.S. website—I would buy the Paperwhite in a heartbeat.[/quote<] So what's wrong with the new Kobo Glo? OK, sure, the Amazon ecosystem can't be beat, but other than that, the Kobo Glo is no slouch if you're Canadian. Here's why: 1)The Glo has the same 1024x758 (~212 ppi) new e-ink higher res display as the Paperwhite (all other 6" E-readers so far are 800x600) 2) The Glo has a 1 GHz Freescale CPU, while the Paperwhite has an 800 MHz version (according to Wikipedia) 3) BETTER lighting than the Kindle Paperwhite. Both the Paperwhite and the Glo have a similar edge-lit illumination feature, but by all reports I've seen, the Glo's light coverage is more consistently even than that of the Paperwhite. 4) The Glo supports epub, the Paperwhite does not. The older Kobos used to also support Mobi, but epub support should still provide much added flexibility if you want to get ebooks from anywhere other than Amazon. So yes, Amazon's ecosystem kicks but. And if the only place you ever want to get ebooks is through Amazon, the Paperwhite is obviously the preferred choice. But ifyou don't consider Amazon the be-all and end-all for ebook sourcing, than the kobo Glo has a lot to offer. Especially north of the border where the Paperwhite is not sold.

    • codedivine
    • 7 years ago

    My 2cents on a gift idea: Portable battery charger (also called external battery) for phones.

    • rogue426
    • 7 years ago

    I have the Corsair mouse, very nice mouse indeed.

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      I know the M90 gets a bad rap for the software, but can anyone compare it to the M60? Yes, the M90 has more buttons and is a different shape, but are their any tangible reasons (other than the software) why the M60 seems to be vastly preferred over the M90?

      BTW, the [url=http://ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=64132&vpn=CH-9000001-NA%2FCH-9000005-NA&manufacture=Corsair&promoid=1306<]M60[/url<] and [url=http://ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=64133&vpn=CH-9000002-NA%2FCH-9000006-NA&manufacture=Corsair&promoid=1306<]M90[/url<] are both on sale at NCIX this week for those north of the boder..

        • Damage
        • 7 years ago

        The M60 has buttons for:

        -Right click
        -Left click
        -Middle click/scroll
        -Forward
        -Back
        -Sniper mode
        -DPI up
        -DPI down

        And most of ’em can be reprogrammed. They usually don’t get in the way and are all potentially useful.

        To me, adding more buttons beyond that subtracts value.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          Is the scroll wheel a freewheel or notched?

            • Damage
            • 7 years ago

            Notched. I like its action.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 7 years ago

            Hmm, nice. I can’t use freewheel mice effectively for gaming. However, about 4-5 years ago there was a deal on MX518 from Amazon for something like $15 net each after rebate, quantity limit 2. I got 2. Suffice to say I still have a NIB MX518 sitting in my closet so I’m probably set on mice for years.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            love my MX518, I wish I’d seen such a deal.

            • shaq_mobile
            • 7 years ago

            im still rocking an original mx500. what a beast!

            • Chrispy_
            • 7 years ago

            Another stupid question: Is the scrollwheel easy to click down (middle mouse button)?

            My [i<]almost-perfect[/i<] G9x has the worst middle-click I've ever encountered, rendering one of the most convenient buttons on a mouse totally unusable.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      FYI’s, Corsair has a promotion for 50% off a Corsair mouse when you buy a keyboard: [url<]http://www.corsair.com/us/promo?___store=us[/url<]

      • OmarCCX
      • 7 years ago

      How is it in terms of comfort? That’s what’s really holding me back from getting it.

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t want anything for Christmas… Maybe a kick up the bum or a couple of bags of coal…

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      OR TO VOTE [url<]https://www.facebook.com/Rogers/app_103139599851953[/url<] vote josh p! [url<]https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=85163[/url<]

        • cynan
        • 7 years ago

        Lol. You should have linked to the TR forum post: You may have just caused a bunch of more casual TR readers to vote for the Grand Prix trip! Ahhhh!

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          nooooooooooooooooooooooo

      • brute
      • 7 years ago

      kicking bums hardly seems like the christmas spirit

      unless theyre hasslin u for some change. then it’s just santa’s way of saying they get nothing

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      Or if you’re feeling extra festive, coal up the bum FTW!

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    I can’t believe none of you mentioned tim hortons gift cards. that seems to be all anyone gives in canada anymore. WHO EVEN LIKES THEIR COFFEE!!?!?!?!!?

      • brute
      • 7 years ago

      why are you even talking about canada bro

      it’s not even a country.

      maple leaf? you belong on my pancakes, not on a map.

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        that’s fair.

          • brute
          • 7 years ago

          im american

          that word aint even in my dictionary. fair? where are the rides and 12″ hot dogs

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            [url<]http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fair?s=t[/url<] that should help you out! sorry, i didn't realize you were american, or I would have linked that to begin with! i know you guys have a tough time with education!

            • superjawes
            • 7 years ago

            Alternatively, fair can be defined as Rush being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      Gift card. Most disappointing (and pointless) ‘gift’ ever:

      [i<]"Hi, I didn't know what to get you, so I went to this particular vendor on your behalf so that I could turn this $50 bill (that you can spend anywhere on anything) into a crappy piece of card that is only worth $50 to [b<]these specific people[/b<] who have a limited selection of goods. Don't worry, they probably won't go out of business, and they may impose a time limit on how long this card is valid for, somewhere in the small print. But don't worry: They do at least sell the $50 item you desire, even if it's marked-up to $65, because you only have to pay $15 for it!"[/i<] "Uh, I can find it for as little as $45 with a $10 rebate online. Thanks for making me waste an hour of my time on shopping, spending $10 on gas and generally being lame. Your "gift is in fact the equivalent of paying me $10/hour to buy my own gift for myself with my own money" [list<][*<]Buy a normal greetings card. [/*<][*<]Insert $50. [/*<][*<]Write personalised message suggesting that perhaps they could buy [i<]this[/i<] with it, but really it's a gift, they can do whatever the hell they want with it.[/*<][/list<] EndOfDiscussion.

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 7 years ago

        No doubt, gift cards are stupid. But “most disappointing” or “most pointless” gift ever?

        I’m not so sure. Think of that poor guy who got a Compaq computer for Christmas in yesteryear. I’m pretty sure those were “disappointing” and “pointless.” Probably up there in the high end of disappointing and pointless, too.

        Perhaps the guy who got WoW or Diablo 3 who has no internet connection?

        Lest we forget, there’s always the “Jelly of the Month” Club, too.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 7 years ago

        Nothing says love like hard currency. That’s what I tell my uhh…’clients’ at least.

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        i think they’re lame too. put some thought into it. that’s what gifts are for! my birthday is coming up (on the 23rd) i’ll be 28. my wife always puts a lot of thought into getting me great gifts. it’s one thing i’m blessed with (though she refuses to purchase anything that might be electrical, no computer anything)

        • humannn
        • 7 years ago

        I hope you’d agree that ingratitude is even more disappointing and pointless. And that a card with nothing in it still has value.

        • BIF
        • 7 years ago

        In the US, there used to be a chain called “Bennigan’s”. A pub with good food, Irish/American fare.

        In summer 2008, I took a lady friend there for an incredibly good steak dinner and this desert called “Death by Choclolate”. We had a great time and the food was nicely prepared. We had leftovers to take home, and I had a great steak-and-egg breakfast the next morning.

        Five days later, they were closed. Signs on the doors. Done. Gone. No more fabulous steak dinners. [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bennigans<]Wikipedia says[/url<] that the closing only affected the 150 corporate locations, but many more have since closed. As of August, only 31 franchise locations remained open in the US. I heard that Bennigan's was selling gift cards right up to the day before they locked the doors. The only gift cards I will buy is for something that I know the person buys anyway and/or will use right away. For everything else, I give cash or a Visa gift card because that can be spent anywhere.

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