The NES Classic Is Fun But Flawed Machine

Thanks to Nintendo re-releasing the NES Classic mini-console, the Shmees were able to get our hands on one, and we have been having a lot of fun with it.  The thirty games on the console contain most of the classics you would want, and the emulation does a great job of upscaling the games for modern TVs, so everything looks the way you remember.  Instead of some stretched out blurred nightmare.  The menu is simple, and now you can save any game on the console, which is nice.

However, not everything is perfect.  The cord for the controller that comes with the NES Classic is waaaay too short, so you will have to get an extension or invest in a wireless controller.  Plus it only comes with one of them, but the biggest issue is that there is no way to add games to the system.  If you were hoping to play Ninja Turtles or Metal Gear, you are out of luck, unless you hack the little box.  The included games are the only thirty games the NES Classic will ever play.

It is baffling in the era of the internet that there isn’t a game store for this machine.  Sure, Nintendo is already making a ton of money off of the NES Classic, but think how much more it could make selling branded SD cards for storage and extra games for $10 a pop.  They would be rolling in dough.  This is even truer for the SNES Classic that only has twenty-one games, and none of them is Chrono Trigger (NOT EVEN ONE!).

For $60 the NES Classic is a good deal, and a ton of fun to play with.  Even if the nostalgia for some of the games does tend to wear off.  It is just a shame they couldn’t make a controller cable more than four feet long, and have a way for us to add more games to complete our NES era collection.

Sharp USA Is Not The Brand It Used To Be! Shmee Reviews The Sharp 55P8000U!

I saw a deal on Dell that was too good to be true.  A Sharp 55″ 4K HDR TV with full array local dimming (Model: 55P8000U) for $500 and a $200 Dell gift card.  Sharp used to be a brand that was listed among the top electronics brands.  Its four color LCD screens delivered amazing contrast, and in the HDR era it is technology worth revisiting, so I figured I had to give it a shot.  It turns out it was not a shot worth taking.  In 2015 Sharp sold its North American branding to Hisense, a budget Chinese brand, but in 2017 Sharp, now owned by Foxconn, sued Hisense for the rights to its brand back because Hisense was selling “Shoddy TVs”.  They were right, the Sharp 55P8000U has some positives, but it isn’t worth $500.

Let’s get the positives out of the way first, the 4K picture is sharp, and you can get good color out of it after some calibration.  The HDR does look great in some instances.  It can be stunning if it is something you have never seen before.  The lighting just jumps out at you in games like Forza 7 and The Witcher 3, but things get sketchy from there.

The sharp picture of the Sharp 55P8000U degrades rapidly from an angle.  Meaning you always have to look at the TV from straight on.  The local dimming feature is slow (local dimming dims the LED backlight to increase black levels in dark scenes), so you can see the dark areas getting dimmed and undimmed.  Which is distracting.  The HDR encoding can be glitchy, if you are playing a game or watching a movie that takes place in a mid-dark place or time, like dusk or dawn, and then there is another intermittent light source like a candle, the screen kind of flashes between color pallets.  From gray to dark, and then back again.  This happened nonstop in The Witcher 3.  Lastly, the TV passthrough does Dolby Digital 5.1 which is great, but no matter what, I could not get the lip-sync to line up, so I had to bypass it and hook my Xbox One X straight up to my sound-bar.  Which is fine until I want to hook up something else to my TV.  The TV also has HDMI Audio Return Channel, but its lip-sync is worse than the passthrough, and it is only stereo.

If you just need a TV for a den, or something you don’t want to worry about the kids breaking, the Sharp 55P8000U could be good for that.  Provided that you turn off all the TV’s advanced features, and you get it for under $300 on Black Friday or Prime Day or something.  The 4K picture was good, and the HDR in non-demanding titles was pretty good.  It is just hard to recommend when there are a lot of TVs now in the $350 to $500 price range that provide the same or better experience.  Heck, TCL is owning that market right now, so even with the $200 gift card, I sent back the Sharp 55P8000U.  Maybe in 2020 when Sharp gets its name back they will be worth trying again.

Microsoft Just Bought GitHub For Some Reason…

It must be nice having tons of money to throw around.  Microsoft just made its first major purchase of Satya Nadella era, GitHub.  You know, that site where all the open-source nerds host all their projects.  For free.  Well it turns out that Microsoft is hosting a bunch of their stuff there too since they closed down CodePlex in 2017.  I mean sure, it is a cool site, so I can kind of see the appeal, but they bought it for $7.5 Billion!  That is like buying a nice little bungalow by the beach for a couple of tons of gold bullion.  A slight overspend there.

Here is the thing, while there is a massive amount of data on GitHub, Git is an open-source version control system, and there is nothing, I mean nothing stopping people from making a new GitHub-esque site somewhere else.  Not to mention GitHub was only bringing in about $140 Million a year in revenue, so it will add next to nothing to Microsoft’s already massive bottom line.  This is nothing more than a vanity purchase.  Microsoft wanted to prove that they are down with open-source, so they bought where it is all stored (for the time being).

I just don’t understand it.  Hosting a bunch of projects on GitHub already sent the message Microsoft was trying to make, and if it is a code ownership thing, Microsoft could have made their own Git site in the blink of an eye, but so can all those aforementioned open-source nerds, so now it is just a count down until GitHub becomes an empty wasteland as the multitude of anti-Microsoft code jockeys leave to self made geekier pastures.

Shmee Tries Out A Logitech G433!

I recently got a Thrustmaster Ghost Recon Wildlands Y-350x from Xbox’s own Major Nelson, and for the most part I really like it.  It gives a good representation of 7.1 surround sound, and it fits on my large melon head.  The problem is that it doesn’t have inline controls, or a USB dongle, so to use it with my PC I need to loop it through an Xbox One controller.  While that doesn’t sound like a big deal, it is annoying to have it getting knocked around while playing games, or just using it with my PC in general, so to alleviate this issue, I picked up a refurbished red Logitech G433, and it is so much better.

The sound is crystal clear, even if a little muted, and the mic is a hundred times better.  Not to mention the cloth material it is covered with is just more comfortable to wear, and it is flexible enough to fit snuggly on my three-year-old’s head and mine while still being comfortable for both of us.  My issues so far are that it doesn’t have an Xbox One dongle, so it can only do surround on the PC (I guess I will still have to keep using my Y-350x), and the bass doesn’t quite hit hard enough for me.  What can I say, I like my bass.

Considering it is a basic simulated 7.1 surround sound headset, it is probably a little pricy at its suggested retail price.  Especially considering once you get over $100 mark there are a lot of options out there, but if you get one refurbished like I did for almost half the cost? Then it is probably one of the better cheap options out there.  I love Logitech’s gear, so I am probably a little biased, but I am very glad that I picked up this headset for my PC, and I like it so much that I might just put up with it being stereo only on my Xbox as well.

Fixing Microsoft’s Mistake With Solder!

Microsoft recently stopped making Kinects.  Since it was never a loved product, this decision made total sense.  Why keep making something no one is buying.  However, they also stopped making the Kinect Adapter for the Xbox One S and X.  This was a dumb decision.  The Xbox One X just came out, and a lot of the people buying an Xbox One X are upgrading from the original Xbox One, meaning they have a Kinect.  A Kinect that they are going to want to hook up to their new console.

I mean if you go and look on eBay the Kinect Adapter for Xbox One S and X is going for well over $100.  That is insane for what amounts to be a power adapter and a USB cable.  However, you will also notice there are ads for modding your Kinect for around $50.  Well I figured if someone can do it for $50, I can do it for cheaper, and I did.  All I had to do was watch a couple of YouTube videos.  The one below was the most useful:

If you have the tools, you can make your Kinect work with you new Xbox or PC for less then $20, and if you need to buy the tools, you have probably still spent less than $40.  Better yet, if you click through to the YouTube page of the video above he has links to Amazon for the stuff to get this mod working in the video description.  It took me a couple of times to get the solder on right, and the mic on my Kinect is a little finicky now, but hey, I can play Dance Central again and tell Cortana to turn on and off my Xbox. Which I couldn’t do before, and I wasn’t willing to pay $300 to make happen.

Listen, obviously doing all this voids warranties, and you are damaging a power cord, so I can’t actually recommend that you do this.  However, I did it, and It is working great.  The shot on the top of the page is a shot of my success.  Plus it was a lot of fun to pretend that I am some sort of electrical engineer.  So to Microsoft who screwed over all their fans, I guess it is up to us to fix your problem with a little solder.

P.S. I am also going to include a link to site that has a better shot of what the soldering should look like when you are done, here.