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Hardware

Garmin Venu 3

I’ve been using Garmin Vivoactive 4 for quite some time. But a couple of months ago, I discovered that Vivoactive 5 was released, so I thought I’d give it a try. It turns out, though, that Vivoactive is now the budget solution that lacks some features like a step counter, and the Venu 3 is instead the upgrade path from Vivoactive 4 moving forward.
Externally, Venu 3 looks very similar to Vivoactive 4. You really need to squint to see the differences: three buttons instead of two, and the bezel is now ridged. The screen is different, though. The technology has moved forward at least there, and now it’s always-on AMOLED. Much brighter and nicer for sure. Sound is back as well.
Which is funny, I had a Casio 20 years ago that had an alarm, but then I moved to Pebble and Pebble Time, which were silent, and to Vivoactive 4, which was silent as well. So it’s the first time in 20 years I hear a watch beep on my hand.

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*.BAK Hardware

WorkSharp Benchtop Knife Sharpener

It all started with a Facebook ad.
I had a Vulkanus pullthrough sharpener for at least 5 years. But then I saw an ad for a strange rolling knife sharpener called Tumbler, or something like that.
After a short investigation, I discovered that it’s a cheap Chinese knockoff of HORL knife sharpener: https://www.horl.com/gb/en/
And unlike Tumbler, HORL is actually considered a good sharpener. Then I started digging deeper. And turns out there isn’t as much choice among knife sharpeners, as one would expect. There’s unimaginatively named Chef’s Choice electric knife sharpener line, and then there’s WorkSharp, that produces both manual and electric sharpeners.
A lot of sharpening enthusiasts were swearing by the WorkSharp Field Sharpener. But since I didn’t need something too compact, I decided to get the benchtop version.
After sharpening half of my knifes, I can confirm, that it’s good, very good. Not something for people in a hurry.

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Hardware

Eureka Mignon Libra coffee grinder

Some more impressions.
The indirect grind control is indeed very nice. With Compak, you had to hold it with both hands to rotate. Here, you can do it with two fingers.
It is extremely precise once dialed. All my shots come out at exactly 35s.
That is, until you change the beans. And to be fair, I changed the beans 3 times, and everything was fine. But the beans from Back to Black just stopped the grinder dead, I had to remove them completely and start again.

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Hardware

Avermedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus GC513

Because I suffer from tunnel vision while playing games and generally have a bad memory, I like to record my gameplay. On PC, it’s usually easy: just use GeForce Experience. PS4 can capture 15 minutes of gameplay. Nintendo Switch captures 30 seconds. But older consoles, such as PS2, can’t capture video at all, and I noticed that I stopped playing them for that reason alone.
Now I already have a basic capture card that works surprisingly well. However, it requires OBS. This means that I can either have my console close to the PC or have a laptop close to the TV, which is a nuisance, to be honest.
So, I decided to get a “PC-free Capture Card” instead. Those are quite rare. Elgato 4K60 S+ is one, but it’s not produced anymore. I tried to get it on eBay but lost my bid.
Therefore, I decided to give Avermedia a try. They actually have two models with SD cards: the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus and the EZRecorder 330. The latter supports HDD drivers, which is nice, but doesn’t support OBS.
I feel now that I was lucky that I lost the bid, as LGP2 simply works. You put a microSD card in, connect ins and outs, press the big button, and it records stuff at 1080p and 60fps. Tested of Neo Geo + RetroTink 5X for now.


20 minutes of video results in a 3GB file.
Once you want to transfer the video, you can either eject the card, or alternatively, connect the entire device through USB and flip a switch to transfer mode.

Initially I didn’t want Avermedia because it looked very “gamery”, with all the red plastic. But seeing it in real-life, it’s actually okay.

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Hardware

HiFiMan Sundara

As I’ve proven many times, despite owning a bunch of high-end audio equipment, I don’t understand anything in music.
But there’s one test where open-backed headphones clearly superior to the closed ones:

Yes, it’s a crappy video. But when I watch it with Sundara on, I constantly turn my head over my shoulder to understand where the little girl came from. The presence they provide is sometimes scary.

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Hardware

HiFiMan Sundara

The irony of life. I wanted open-backed headphones for years now, since I tried Shure 1840 on. But I wasn’t buying them, because my PC was in the main room. But for the last 2 years, it’s in my bedroom. But I still didn’t buy them. Until now.
Basically everyone recommends Sundara. So I finally got them.
The pack is not just minimalistic, it’s dingy. Brown cardboard with some tape, just the headphones and cable inside.
Sennheiser is known to have proprietary double-side connections. HiFiMan just uses double 3.5mm jacks.
My Shure 1540 aren’t low-end by any means. But there’s just some benefits for open-backed headphones, I guess. Water in the background of “Bad Liar” is like someone actually left a tap in the kitchen open.

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Hardware

Samsung QN94A

Something I started noticing while playing Diablo 4 on my QN94A TV is that the colours are messed up when I enter a new location, but then they slowly fix themselves.
At first I thought it’s the dynamic contrast feature. But after some experimentation, it turned out to be the Local Dimming.
Luckily, the TV stores separate configurations for different inputs, so I just turned Local Dimming off for PS4.

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*.BAK Hardware

Headphone drivers economics

I didn’t expect it, but the dive into the economics behind picking the right headphone driver was fascinating.

The smaller companies don’t produce planar drivers because they’re hip. They produce them because those are cheaper to prototype, and cheaper to produce in small quantities.
The larger companies don’t produce dynamic drivers because History. They produce them because it’s cheaper at scale.

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Hardware

About Razer Kitsune

Razer Kitsune seems like a joke.

For years I was saying that it’s fine to play fightings on a keyboard. And now they started producing fighting keyboards 🤦‍♂️
Still, it’s an interesting one. Notice how “up” is under the thumb, as a spacebar would be on a keyboard, and “down” is for the middle finger. That’s so you could do QCB/QCF easier.

Would be nice to try it, but considering it’s 300$, and something like a Hori Mini costs 40$, I probably wouldn’t.

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Hardware

Hardware bug 🐞

Today I was suddenly bitten by a hardware bug, and decided to install two additional Noctua coolers I had stashed for a year or two on the sidepanel of my BeQuiet case

After all, it’s a full tower, should have plenty of space for that. Took me an hour, and ended in a failure.

First, I installed the coolers on the sidepanel where the motherboard is. But there’s clearly no space for them to fit. And when I tried to install them on the opposite side, first the cables to the motherboard make opening the case very precarious, and then I also discovered I have to move some of the HDD cages up to free that space, and maybe that will stretch the cables too much 🤦‍♂️

Also, since the panel is so heavy, it almost tore one of the fan power supplies out of the motherboard and bend it badly when the panel fell out.

So I ended up just opening the ventilation windows a bit, and returned everything else to where it was 🤷‍♂️

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Hardware

Kingston DataTraveler Max

Got a bit tired of my SanDisk flash drive drops writes to 0 after a couple of minutes, and got myself Kingston DataTraveler Max this time.

It’s huge, 3 times bigger than any other flash drive. But I hope that it means that there’s more cooling for the chips.

Writes are nowhere near 900MB/s, of course. Closer to 100MB/s, though, starting with 300MB/s, then dropping.

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Hardware

Garmin vivoactive 4

Garmin disappointed me with the fact they can’t connect to two phones simultaneously.
For me it’s important, because I have messengers on one phone, and work emails and Slack on the other. And I asked for a work phone so I wouldn’t need to mess with an Android work profile, which I knew wouldn’t allow me to receive both simultaneously.
What Garmin means by saying that you can connect two devices, is that you can pair both, then disable Bluetooth in the one you don’t want to sync at that time 🤡

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Hardware

iPhone SE

Was delighted to find out that iPhone SE supports wireless charging out of the box. Now I don’t need to mess with clunky Lightning cable, or whatever it’s called.

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Hardware

Razer Gigantus V2

Generally I like fabric and foam mouse mats. And for years I’ve been using Razer Goliathus mouse mat. But I decided it’s finally time to replace it. The problem is, though, that the fashion has moved on, and now all mouse mats are huge. My Goliathus was 26×21. The Gigantus Medium is 36×28. And the Pro Type mat is the same, just in different color, as far as I can understand. It’s twice the size I need.
I don’t want RGB, I don’t want a mat that covers my entire desk, I just want a small mouse mat. How hard can it be?!

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Hardware

Keychron Q0

Although I’m not sure I’m gonna try it, I think that Keychron Q0 may be a better solution than Razer OrbWeaver/Tartarus.

https://www.keychron.com/pages/keychron-q0-customizable-mechanical-number-pad

Tartarus has 4 rows of keys, while I think that 6 rows, as the regular keyboard, is the most comfortable.

Categories
Hardware History

Atari Jaguar – What Happened?

The most intersting bit in this video is that Atari Jaguar was marketed as a 64bit system, because it had 2 32bit processors.

32+32=64 🤦‍♂️

It also had a third CPU, Motorola 68000, same as Sega Genesis. Some developers didn’t care much about learning a new architecture, so the entire game was running on the CPU, which explains why many games on Jaguar looked like they were running on Genesis.

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Hardware

Neo Geo MVS

Some random notes:
You can have both English version of Metal Slug and red blood. Just need to enable blood using Soft DIP Switches. To access them, press B+C+D
161-in-1 cartridge is weird. There’s Shock Troopers 2, but not Shock Troopers 1. There’s Sengoku and Sengoku 3, but not Sengoku 2.
Aero Fighters 3 is buggy. Not sure if it’s the ROM that was put on the cartridge or the game itself, but sometimes both you and the enemies become invincible.

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Hardware

Music to my ears

For years I’ve beet trying to hear the difference between lossy and lossless audio using one of the ABX tests.
I thought that I can’t tell the difference because even the SoundBlaster AE-9 is not “professional” enough.
So I got USBPre 2 for a time. And guess what? I still don’t hear the difference 🤷‍♂️

Categories
Hardware

Fan noise

For two weeks I was bothered by my RTX 2070 fans starting and stopping.
At first I was blaming driver updates.
But then I ended up opening the case and noticing that just one of the three fans does that.
A little vacuuming helped. And I also bought a bottle of air duster though, just in case.

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*.BAK Hardware

Sage Precision Brewer

A couple of weeks ago we replaced our rather simple Russel Hobbs filter machine with a more sophisticated Sage Precision Brewer.

And boy, does it make a difference.
It doesn’t just pour boiling water, as some other brewers do. It controls water temperature using PID, like the higher-end espresso machines. The quality of coffee I get is comparable to filter coffee from Black Sheep. And it’s also easier to clean.

Potentially, it doesn’t even require paper filters. There’s a plastic basket that comes with it as well. But I got a stock of those paper filters during COVID, so I’m not sure if it’s worth to test the basket.

The downsides are that it’s huge. The tank is 1.7L, and it’s 1.7L of coffee. While we drink around 0.5L in the morning. So the pitcher always feels almost empty. I wish they had a smaller model for such cases.