Black Friday Series – Gunnar Optiks

If you’re an avid gamer you may have seen pro gamers wearing yellow tinted glasses while at tournaments.  Have you ever wondered what exactly those are and why they are wearing them?  They are most likely a pair of Gunnar Optiks.  These glasses are meant to ease the stress on your eyes from looking at a screen for extended periods of time.

I will admit that when I first heard about them I was very skeptical.  My number one concern was that they glasses would tint everything yellow and make my games look weird.  My other concern was dropping $70 – $100 on something that I couldn’t really test for myself.  The reviews online were useless since there are so many positive and negative reviews.  What finally changed my mind was simply for the fact that so many pro gamers swear by them.  Whether or not they are being paid to wear them, they are in fact wearing them and still able to perform at a professional level.

So how and what exactly do Gunnars do?

 

 

In a nutshell, the glasses filter out the harmful blue light that LCD, LED, and Fluorescent bulbs emit.  The glare combined with the unnatural light and close proximity to the screen, your eyes strain.  If that strain is going on for hours on hours, it could cause long lasting negative effects.  I’m sure that some of you get headaches after playing for a long time and this is why.

 

Gunnar Optiks
http://shop.gunnars.com/store/ProductImages/details/PHA-00101z_onyxz_l.jpg

 

As you can see, the Gunnars are extremely thin, almost to the point of feeling fragile.  I definitely wouldn’t recommend dropping them from a high position or giving them to your baby to play with.  That being said, it is nice that they are so lightweight and thin.  Headphones fit well over the glasses since they are so thin.  They also come with a fabric bag to store them in.

When I put them on for the first time I was pleasantly surprised that I actually felt my eyes relax.  What was also interesting is the fact that I actually got a headache after a few hours with them on.  I can only assume it’s because I was so used to the other way that changing it caused the headache.  That only happened the first couple times wearing them.  The other aspect that I wasn’t expecting is that it actually makes the screen look like it’s brighter.  I’m not sure what causes that but it’s actually pretty neat.  The yellow tint is there but it’s not as invasive as you might think.  If you’re a really hardcore videophile it would probably bother you but as a non-videophile, I don’t mind the slight tint.

 

Gunnars come in all kinds of styles and they are not all for Gamers.  They market the glasses to any “hardcore” computer user (programmers, designers, artists, gamers, even business workers).

I’m not positive that any retailer will be reducing prices on these for the Black Friday or Cyber Monday but they are definitely something to look out for.

Black Friday Series – 4K HDTVs

This will be my first post for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in an attempt to assist you in buying the right technology for you!

4k HDTV.  Sounds like a large number and obviously, when numbers are large it indicates better right?  So when going out or staying in this Black Friday and Cyber Monday you may be looking for a TV.  How do you differentiate between the 3 different HDTVs though?  720p vs 1080p vs 4k.  I will explain the difference in a simple way and then give you some options and what to look for come Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

From http://www.rtings.com/

If you look at the above picture, you can really see the difference in numbers.  Something very important to note is that the 4k TVs display at a 4096 x 2160 OR 3840 x 2160 resolution as compared to the 1080p that displays at 1920 x 1080.  You may also see 1080p referred to as 2k.  4k is designated Ultra High Definition or UHD and 1080p and 720p is designated as High Definition.

You might be asking yourself what the point of this post even is, it seems pretty obvious that the larger resolution would be better.  However, you need to look at the whole picture.  Look at the following graph:

From http://www.rtings.com

You can see that the quality of the image is not just based on the resolution but rather it is a fine equation between screen size, viewing distance, and resolution.  For a 1080p TV, a viewing distance of 6 feet is the optimal distance for a 45 inch TV.  To put this in perspective, think about how the picture would change if you sat right in front of the TV you have currently.  It would probably look a little grainy and blurry.  As you back away from the TV, certain things start to blend better.  4k TVs, since they have such a high resolution are better for larger screens: 50 inches and higher.  That isn’t to say you couldn’t use 4k on a smaller TV but you wouldn’t get the full benefit.

Looking purely at the stats, it becomes clear that if you have a 46 inch TV or lower, you will want to go with a 1080p resolution because it really wouldn’t benefit you as the viewer unless you were wanting to sit 5 inches away from the TV.

Another factor we need to look at is price.  The price for 4k TVs at this time is upwards of $5000 for a low end 50 inch 4k TV.  At that price, you could get a really nice 50 inch 1080p TV.

The final factor is the use of 4K in media.  Most Bluray and Most Games do not currently utilize 4k, nevermind normal cable television.  Even the next gen consoles do not support 4K (however, they potentially could in the future).

My verdict is that 4k TVs are not yet worth the money.  So little actually supports 4K right now that with the money you spend on a 4K TV, you could be purchasing a top of the line 1080p TV.  As an example:

LG 55″ 4K TruMotion 240hz LED-LCD HDTV 55LA9650 is going for $3499.99 vs the LG 55″ Class 1080p 60Hz SMART LED TV – 55LN5600 going for $699.99.  (Prices from Newegg.com as of the posting of this blog post)

So what TVs should you be looking for this coming Black Friday and Cyber Monday?  Not 4k HDTVs.  Even on sale, these gigantic HDTVs are going to be thousands of dollars and for normal folks it’s a large investment.  However, the following are some of my suggestions for 1080p TVs to look out for!

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16889354256 – Samsung 5500 46″ Class (45.9″ Diagonal size) 1080p 120Hz LED-LCD HDTV – UN46F5500AFXZA

For a person looking for more of a deal, take a look at Vizio.  In the past, Vizio TVs have been “cheap”, however, their current models are actually very good.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA25V0PM7426 – Vizio 47″ Class (46.96″ Diag.) 120Hz LED-LCD HDTV M3D470KDE

 

If you have any specific questions feel free to comment below or email contact@echtek.net

 

Playstation 4 vs Xbox One Controversy

Being that the big thing on the internet right now is the XBONE vs PS4 controversy, I figured I’d weigh in.

Something that is interesting to note is that I’ve read a ton of different blogs, gaming websites, etc… and all of them assume that people know certain things inherently.  A big term I see being thrown around is “Up-scaling” or “Up-converting”.  What exactly does that mean?

We’ll take Call of Duty Ghosts as the example here.  CoD: Ghosts runs 1080p natively on  the Playstation 4 but is up-scaled from 720p on the XBox One.  Essentially what that means is that the xbox video is being enlarged to reach the 1080p mark.  So think about the following analogy:  You have a picture and you enlarge it to post on your wall.  The more you enlarge it, the more distorted it becomes.  Essentially, when you upscale a video you are doing the same thing.  How good it ends up looking has a lot to do with the size of your TV.  On a 32” TV the difference wouldn’t be as noticeable as it would be on a 72” TV.

I would post a comparison video or pictures but the underlying truth is…  the difference is not going to be that noticeable.  I could get into the technical jargon which may prove that yes, looking purely at the numbers, there is a difference.  However, where the difference really matters is at the point where you are playing the game and at least for me, I can’t really tell the difference.

The other comparison going around and what the next gen console games are touting is the coveted 60 frames per second (FPS).  It can be argued that a game running at 30 FPS looks just as good as a game running at 60 FPS.  A really good example can be seen here:

Shown from that example, the 60 FPS does in fact look smoother.  Another example can be seen here:

The video example shows something interesting.  The difference is more noticeable when you slow down the video but at normal playing speed there is barely a noticeable difference.  Let’s go back to gaming though.  This example is taking from Sleeping Dogs:

Can you see a difference?  Now take a look at F1 2013 running at 30 FPS:

Can you see a difference?

The FPS argument is one that changes based on the person.  Some videophiles claim to be able to notice the difference more drastically than a non-videophile which is why you see so many arguments all over the internet regarding this topic.  As a typical gamer though, my purchasing of a console or game wouldn’t be changed solely based on the fact that a game was developed to use 30 FPS vs 60 FPS.

With all that being said I personally will still be purchasing both next gen consoles.  Something that gets overlooked is the fact that these consoles are just coming out and the optimization is not the best yet.  Being that both the XBox One and Playstation 4 are almost identical in specifications the question is why the huge difference?  It can be explained by the optimization process that currently exists.  The optimization processes may not be fully developed yet and as time goes on the games will look and perform better.  To give this a visual: http://kotaku.com/the-ps3-had-12-games-at-launch-heres-what-they-looked-513396910 .

So in the XBONE vs PS4 battle, I fall somewhere in the middle.  We’ll see how that changes once I get my hands on the two consoles and have some time to really dig into them.

 

It begins

Hello!

Welcome to echtek.net.  I hope that eventually this will become a treasure trove of information that people can use to make informed choices on buying technology and/or games and somewhere to search for a tweak or a fix to a common technology problem.

As an IT professional I see the same types of issues come in day in and day out and sometimes think to myself that “if only there was somewhere people could go if they had these kinds of issues”.  OR “I wish there was somewhere I could go to find out if a piece of technology was good or not without the underlying fear of buying based off of some crazy unrealistic review”.

 

So stay tuned and I look forward to sharing my knowledge and expertise with you!