TITLE: “Level Up”
AUTHORS: Gene Luen Yang & Thien Pham
PUBLISHER: Square Fish
PUBLICATION DATE: July 19, 2016 (First Ed. 2011)
When I first received my copy of Level Up from one of my awesome PR contacts, I was pretty excited to take a look at it. The general story description seemed like it would be a lot of fun and fanning through the pages showed me that I was in for a treat art-wise. However, it took me a couple of weeks to actually finally find time to sit down and give it a read, but while I initially thought that this book would take me at least a couple sittings to get through, I actually finished the entire story in about an hour’s time! Whether that’s simply because the 160 pages of this young adult graphic novel go by quickly or because the story really draws you in, well…I guess I’d say it’s basically a combination of the two?
Until my quest to find the perfect large-format 4K display to use as a huge PC monitor, I had no idea that Hisense existed let alone what they manufactured. When it came to TVs my mind usually went to Vizio, Sony, LG, Samsung, as well as other brands like Westinghouse, JVC, etc. In the computer monitor space, companies like LG and Dell have a good grip on the market with many gamers and enthusiasts gravitating to the multitude of Korean panels out there.
A little while back I took a chance with a Hisense H7 (2015 model) that was available from Walmart’s website at a pretty low price. However, problematically the H7 series had really bad input lag (upwards of 150-200ms even in Game Mode!), and while that would be acceptable for watching movies or TV it’s really pitiful for playing console games or using it as a computer display. On the other hand, it had pretty good color representation, even if at times the resolution felt a little “crushed.” However, in late-2015 the Chinese company purchased Sharp America, gaining access to the company’s assets, connections, and overall brand for the North and South American markets. The company also has a joint venture with Hitachi, so both of these factors may have contributed to the jump in quality between Hisense’s 2015 and 2016 lines of products.
Crucial has been very kind to me recently, having first sent me an MX200 solid state drive and now having sent me a RAM kit featuring their “Ballistix Elite” 2133 MHz DDR3 high-speed RAM. Of course, I was aware that there was a market for higher-end RAM, but when it comes to PC components the RAM isn’t usually one I think about first in terms of what to upgrade.
Recently, I was requested to write up a review and do a video review on Space Run Galaxy, a new strategy title from Focus Home Interactive. Having never played the 2014 title that this one is a sequel to, I was really curious to dive in and see what we could do here.
Personally, I think the video turned out really well and I gave the game a pretty fair look (as usual)!
Head on over to The Button Smashers and give my full review a read! The game is currently $16.99 USD on Steam.
Philips is a fairly well-known electronics company, but for the longest time I never paid attention to their presence in the retail TV and monitor space (though yes, I am aware that they have put out some fantastic PC monitors in recent years). However, Philips does make some really great products, and so after having enjoyed the M50-C1 but having to return it due to a damaged panel, and not being satisfied with the 50″ 4K Hisense TV, I came across a great deal on the Philips 49PFL7900 Smart Slim TV.
Philips has set an MSRP of $1,199 for this higher end display, but several merchandisers are selling it for between $458 and $600 USD.
Hisense is an electronics manufacturer that I really knew nothing about until recently. I’d seen their TVs advertised before, but like many I assumed that they were off-brand and not worth worrying too much about. Yet, some basic research returned the fact that Hisense is actually the owner of a large conglomerate that controls or has major investing shares in a smattering of other companies (such as Hitachi), yet if you never looked them up you’d never know this. At any rate, in my quest to find the perfect 4K large-format display for my main desktop PC, I decided to pick up their 50″ 50H7GB1 model and give it a try. After all, the M50-C1, which I really liked, had to be returned, and so this one was offered at a great price at Walmart.
This specific TV currently retails for $548 USD on Amazon, though some retailers offer it a fair amount lower than that.
For a little while now I’ve been on a quest to find what I felt was the perfect high-end PC display for the money. Until earlier this year, I’d been using a 29″ LG ultra-wide monitor, and admittedly I really loved the cinematic appeal that it had. With a 21:9 aspect ratio, the screen was 33% wider than a “normal” 16:9 display, which was great for gaming (and would be for watching movies as well). However, quite a few games weren’t ready for 21:9 and would either put black borders around the screen or stretch a 16:9 image to fit the panel, which is far less than desirable, and thus began my quest for a larger format 16:9 screen.
At first, I settled on a nice 32″ 1080p Vizio that featured a 120 Hz refresh rate and was pretty happy with it. For the money (around $220 USD) it offered a good screen size with pretty crisp clarity and a fast motion rate. It also had Clear Action 240, which would simulate a 240 Hz refresh with backlight strobing and the like, ultimately making images have far less motion blur. Yet, I just couldn’t shake the feeling of doing a bit more and going a bit beyond. I also liked the 32″ screen for gaming, but for daily PC use, 1080p, while decent, was a bit “soft” looking. As a smaller TV it would be fine, but sitting just a couple feet away from it made text a bit less clear than I’d like. So, I kept that in the back of my mind and pressed on, but a couple weeks ago I came across an amazing deal on a Vizio M50-C1 – a full 4K 120 Hz TV with smart features and a built in “PC Mode.”