Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Racing Wheel for Your Console or PC

163830155If you like to play racing games on your console or PC, you’re probably familiar with the limitations that come with trying to drive with your gamepad or keyboard and mouse. The fact is, you just can’t simulate the feel of driving a car unless you have a racing wheel. However, not all racing wheels are the same, and if you don’t do your research, you can end up spending a lot of money for features you don’t need or a wheel that just doesn’t feel quite right.

Wheel Size

One of the main considerations in mimicking the feel of a real steering wheel is size. The ideal choice might be a wheel with the exact same specifications as the wheel used on a racing car or other real-world vehicle. Unfortunately, a wheel of this size would simply cost too much for most consumers. For this reason, game accessory manufacturers typically downsize their wheels. As a rule, the closer to life-size, the better the quality of the wheel. However, the best quality may come at a premium price.

Wheel Rotation

When you drive a car or truck, the number of steering wheel rotations it takes to make turns or change directions has a crucial impact on the handling characteristics of the vehicle. Racing wheel manufacturers in the game accessory industry try to approximate this handling to one degree or another. A cheap wheel may have only a small amount of rotation, and therefore won’t do a very good job of mimicking real driving. A moderately priced wheel may rotate roughly 270 degrees, which is better, but still nowhere the turning radius of an actual car steering wheel. The most expensive racing wheels rotate as much as 1080 degrees (three full turns).

Force Feedback and Vibration

When you drive a vehicle, you constantly get information on road conditions from the jolts, bump and other sensations that travel the from the tires, through the chassis and into the steering column and steering wheel. Racing wheel manufacturers can mimic these sensation through the use of well-timed vibration and something called force feedback, which makes your wheel respond as it would when you drive over an actual surface. Not all wheels have vibration or force feedback. Moderately priced wheels typically have pretty basic internal motors designed to recreate these sensations, while the most expensive wheels usually feature complex vibration and force feedback systems.

Tailor Your Experience

Depending on your budget and how much reality you desire from your driving games, any one of a number of popular racing wheels may fit the bill. If you’re a real enthusiast, you may even decide to combine a top-quality wheel with add-on pedals and an add-on gearbox. It’s important to note that many wheels will only work on one type of gaming platform.

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How to Pick the Right First-Person Shooter That Fits You

522114137First-person shooters are a popular option for video game fans around the world. However, not all entries in this category are the same, and if you don’t what to look for, you can easily end up spending money for a game you won’t actually enjoy. Here are a few important criteria you can use to pick the right type of first-person shooter for your gaming pleasure.

Single-Player Games Vs. Multiplayer Games

Some first-person shooters focus exclusively on a single-player mode that lets you follow a set storyline while interacting with various non-player characters (NPCs) in the game world. Other shooters focus exclusively on multiplayer gameplay involving other live, human participants. In addition, some games feature both single-player and multiplayer modes. If your main interest is taking part in a coherent story, you may prefer a single-player first-person shooter. However, if you want to focus on interacting or competing with other human players, multiplayer games likely provide a better fit.

Shoot-‘Em-Up Vs. Strategy

A first-person shooter may place an emphasis on livewire action and bold, or even reckless, gameplay. On the other hand, a shooter may instead place a premium on your ability to think carefully, plot a successful strategy and follow that strategy on the way to your goal. If you prefer a mad dash to glory, you’ll probably prefer a shoot-‘em-up scenario. If bringing a good plan to life is more your thing, you’ll probably enjoy a more strategy-heavy title.

Wish Fulfillment Vs. Realism

In many first-person shooters, reality is left by the wayside as you blast your way to victory. However, some games place a firm emphasis on realism, and may go so far as to accurately model the performance of the guns you use and make death from a single enemy bullet a real possibility. If you like to blow off steam while playing video games, you may have no interest in obeying the rules of physics or everyday mortality. On the other hand, if you prefer to put yourself in the shoes of real-world combatants, the presence of realistic details may be a major selling point.

Steep and Shallow Learning Curves

Some first-person shooters feature elaborate control schemes or other elements that make it difficult to dive right in and immediately feel comfortable. However, some shooters have very basic rules and let you blast away from the very beginning with little or no instruction. Your level of patience and the amount of time you have available for gaming will help determine which of these approaches you like the best.

Keep these factors in mind when selecting a first-person shooter. It’s also important to note that intangible factors like personal taste may play an important role in your selection process.

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Introducing the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller

xbox-elite-controllerSome would accuse Microsoft of being a bit obsessive about their Xbox gaming technology. Their constant attempts to improve the Xbox experience for players must be maddening to stuck-in-the-mud types who prefer things that stay the same forever.

This obsessiveness—and it’s annoyingly spectacular results—were on display once again in October, when Microsoft released its new Xbox Elite Wireless Controller for Xbox One systems and PCs running on Windows 7 through 10.

Designers relied on detailed feedback from expert players to create a superior performance-class game controller that delivers an unprecedented level of customized comfort and precision. The new Xbox Elite Wireless Controller offers maximized user-friendly versatility in action, and with special enhancement from apps available on Xbox One and Windows 10 it can be reconfigured to fit the needs and desires of even the most eclectically-minded gamer.

Highlights and Features

The Elite Wireless Controllers most outstanding features include:

  • The capacity to switch between multiple thumbsticks and D-pads to achieve sharper control and a more comfortable fit, based on individual need.
  • A choice between traditional D-pads for more precise control or faceted D-pads that allow for quicker and smoother combination moves.
  • Interchangeable paddles that allow for greater finger control while eliminating the need to take the thumb off the thumbstick when aiming, shooting or jumping.
  • A flip switch that lets the player change from hair trigger lock for rapid-fire shooting to full-range trigger motion for more accurate targeting.
  • A choice of 14 distinctive input arrangements for paddles, D-pads, thumbsticks, buttons and triggers.
  • An opportunity to set up multiple controller profiles and save customized settings for each specific game.
  • An ability to download and save two profiles to a controller simultaneously, while other profiles are stored in the cloud for future use.
  • Rubberized diamond grips that stabilize hand control and give the controller a more solid feel.
  • Access to special apps that allow gamers to customize the controller down to the nth degree, for the ultimate in personalized playing experience.

Build it and They Will Buy

The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller is state-of-the-art but also state-of-mind, meaning you can modify and configure this controller to harmonize with your personal preferences right down to the smallest detail.

The Elite comes with a set of four paddles, three pairs of thumbsticks and a set of two D-pads, in addition to the ultra-flexible software that lets the user create a limitless number of highly specific player profiles.

In its short time on the market the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller is already selling like hotcakes, which is entirely appropriate given the red-hot gaming experience it delivers. Once again Microsoft’s obsessiveness is the Xbox fan’s gain.

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How to Clean Your Smart Phone

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Have you cleaned your smart phone lately? Our phones are one of the dirtiest things that we touch on a daily basis, sometimes carrying more germs than a toilet seat! Fortunately, smart phones are pretty easy to clean—so start cleaning.

Before Cleaning Your Phone

  1. Turn your phone off.
  2. Remove your phone from its case (if you use one).
  3. Remove the battery from your phone (if you have the ability to do so).
  4. Remove your screen protector (unless your screen has major cracks, in which case, leave it on).
  5. Gather appropriate cleaning supplies.

Cleaning Supplies

Regular household cleaners are too harsh for your smart phone. Do not use window cleaners, solvents, ammonia, aerosol sprays or other abrasive chemicals as they can stain your phone and destroy its finished surface.

To protect your phone and achieve optimum cleanliness, use the following supplies:

  • Lint-free microfiber cloth—your phone may have come with its own microfiber cloth but if not you can easily find one at a pharmacy or eyeglass store.
  • Cotton swabs—Q-tip brand cotton swabs or wood-shafted cotton swabs will provide more strength than generic cotton swabs.
  • Distilled water—distilled water does not contain the harsh chemicals found in tap water and will not leave a film on your device.
  • Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol

Cleaning Your Phone

If your phone has a keyboard or keypad, clean this area with a cotton swab dipped in diluted rubbing alcohol. Make sure you rub gently and avoid getting rubbing alcohol inside the phone or underneath the keyboard.

Next, clean the remaining plastic surfaces. Use the same method here, cleaning the areas with a cotton swab dipped in diluted rubbing alcohol and using light pressure to avoid damaging the phone’s surface. Using too much pressure can remove the coating or finish on these surfaces.

If your phone has any metal trim, clean these areas using a cotton swab dipped in distilled water.

If you are able to remove the battery from your phone, you’ll want to clean out any dust that may have gathered underneath the battery cover. Clean these areas with a dry cotton swab. If necessary, use a very small amount of distilled water and dry immediately.

Clean your camera lens and flash using a cotton swab lightly dampened with distilled water and dry immediately.

Next, clean your phone screen with a slightly damp lint-free microfiber cloth, using light pressure and single up-and-down strokes. Avoid circular strokes, as they can easily cause scratches. Be particularly careful if your screen is cracked.

Once your phone is completely dry, replace the battery and cover (if applicable).

Next, you’ll want to clean your phone case, inside and out. Most phone cases can be cleaned with cotton swabs and diluted rubbing alcohol. Allow the case to dry completely before attaching to the phone.

Now, take a deep breath and enjoy your germ-free phone. Remember to follow us for all your nerdy, technical needs.

The Best Gaming Chairs Of 2016

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It is not uncommon to start playing on a whim and end up spending hours in front of the screen. If you are going to take gaming seriously, then you might as well be comfortable while doing it. Get a gaming chair that is specifically designed to enhance the experience while minimizing soreness. Here are a few of the notable gaming chairs in the market today:

Cohesion XP 2.1

If you have a small room, then you need to find a sleek chair that you can add to it without making the space feel cramped. The Cohesion XP fits the bill as this piece of furniture espouses a minimalist aesthetic to provide users with all the essentials while cutting out the fats. Owners get a cushioned seat with a backrest that can fold in half for easy storage when it isn’t needed. You can simply store it under your bed or keep it on a corner so you can freely move around at other times of the day. There is a decent speaker system embedded in the chair with enough volume for immersive game play.

Ace Bayou 4.1 Pro Series X-Rocker Pedestal

For those with larger rooms and thicker wallets, there’s the Ace Bayou Pro Series X-Rocker. It can accommodate individuals with bigger builds unlike the Cohesion XP which is geared towards children and early teens. This full-sized chair has a pedestal base allowing users to swivel for freedom of movement. There are also armrests to prevent soreness and a highly cushioned seat with excellent lumbar support. The 4.1 channel speakers provide outstanding audio with vibration control to make users feel that they are part of the action.

Openwheeler Advanced Racing Seat

This one is a specialized gaming chair for people who love racing simulations. The design is reminiscent of real racing seats including the reclined position with foot rest and gear shift mount. You might almost be tempted to buckle up for safety before starting a game. It comes in different colors and is highly adjustable to fit a wide range of heights.

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The Best Free Piano Software For Computers And Keyboards

532630523We tested a number of different pieces of free piano software to see which ones were the best. If you want to practice the piano on your computer, then these programs are perfect for you. Some people might want to be able to hook up a MIDI keyboard to their computer and play the piano. Others might want to practice through their existing text keyboard. Most of these pieces of software support both types of input.

Electronic Piano

We liked Electronic Piano the best out of the pieces of software we tried. It comes with 13 different chord options along with the ability to emulate the sounds of over 127 different musical instruments. The software is certainly a lot more realistic than many of the other options out there.

A73 Piano Station

A73 Piano Station is a good piece of free piano software if you have no previous experience with music. It can actually be used to teach the instrument. Playing piano with the keyboard is much different than using a real piano, but many of the basics are still the same.

DigiPiano

DigiPiano is probably the most lightweight application available today. It’s very useful for musicians who want to use their computer to practice the piano.

FreePiano

FreePiano is a good choice for those who want to export their recordings. We were able to make recordings and then export them for use in other pieces of software. One of us brought a MIDI keyboard in for a test, and we were able to use it to play music through FreePiano.

MidiPiano

MidiPiano was the best piece of free piano software we tested when it came to being able to load up a piece of preexisting music. We could load a MIDI file into the software, edit it with the mouse or keyboard and then export it as a finished piece of music. The software supports editing music by way of a piano scroll.

Don’t let flashy graphics trick you into downloading something that you don’t need. Simple programs like Electronic Piano and DigiPiano are perfectly fine if you’re looking for a serious piece of music software. Pay more attention to compatibility and features, and pay less to aesthetics.

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The Best Computer Monitors For Gaming 2016

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Gamers know how much the quality of their gear can affect their performance. Those who strive to be the best need to assemble the most advanced computer system possible. They should start by looking at the current crop of computer gaming monitors. Here are the most outstanding ones in the market today:

Asus ROG Swift PG278Q

This 27-inch monitor uses a TN panel with 2560×1440 display resolution for incredible details. It has an impressive 1ms response time that prevents blurred images when playing fast-paced games. This model is equipped to handle 3D which is a nifty feature. Its ergonomic design lets users adjust the panel for optimum viewing comfort. Some may not be thrilled with the singular video input port and good but not stellar viewing angle but it more than makes up for these with superb overall performance.

Eizo Foris FG2421

This will not be a familiar brand to most people but Eizo is a well-respected name in the field of medical imaging. Now the company has dipped its toes in the gaming scene and the impact has been immediate. The Foris FG2421 has turned heads with outstanding specifications. What seems to be a pretty standard monitor from the outside holds an exciting set of features inside. It has a 23.5-inch full HD display on a VA panel that provides wide viewing angles, superb contrast, and good response times. The medical background is apparent with the eye fatigue reduction system put in place by Eizo engineers. Color, however, could be improved.

Philips 272G5DYEB

This 27-inch full HD monitor with TN panel utilizes nVidia’s G-Sync technology to deliver a buttery smooth gaming experience on an exceptionally bright screen. There will be no worries about common problems like motion stutter and tearing when the action revs up. Gamers will never miss a beat so they can make all of the crucial split second decisions with clarity whenever they are needed. Response and refresh rates are also top notch. If there are any weaknesses about this model, perhaps it would be the resolution which could have been bumped up considering the size of the screen.

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The Best Gaming Mouse Options For 2016

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You might want to consider a few different factors if you’re shopping around for a new PC gaming mouse. The type of games that you play and the type of computer that you use will likely influence what kind of mouse you want. We tested a whole mess of them, and we’re ready to share some of our favorites.

Mad Catz R.A.T. 9

If you’re willing to shell out the big bucks, then we Network Nerds recommend the Mad Catz R.A.T. 9 for gaming. You can’t get any better than a mouse with a precision aim mode designed to slow down movements when you play an FPS game. It comes with three different pinkie grips, multiple profile settings, interchangeable batteries and a hefty price tag. It’s still the best around if you’re serious about being competitive in online FPS games.

Corsair Vengeance M65

The Corsair Vengeance M65 is probably the mouse that came the closest to R.A.T. in terms of what it offered for FPS players. We found that the sniper mode slows down the DPI measurement and lets players aim more accurately. It’s pretty large, and some players might not like the feel of it. Those with big hands will love it.

Razer DeathAdder

If you’re looking for something to play real-time strategy or simulation games with, then you might want to look at the Razer DeathAdder. It has some extra buttons that could be mapped to different units on the virtual battlefield. It also has some of the fastest response times of any mouse we tested. Razer also makes sure to optimize their equipment for use with Apple Macintosh computers.

E-3Lue Cobra Type-M

The E-3Lue Cobra Type-M is far less expensive than either of these, and a few of our Network Nerds liked the fact that it had forward and backward browsing buttons on the side. These are great for playing adventure games that tend to include a healthy amount of text, but we found that you could also map them to other commands for certain types of games. It’s probably the best option for gamers who are on a budget.

R.A.T.

The R.A.T. is certainly the clear standout, but some gamers might not want to shell out that much money for a PC gaming mouse. Shop around and you might be able to find some better deals.

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Common Signs Your Computer Has A Virus

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Computer viruses have evolved from simple scripts that mostly annoyed PC users by popping up repetitive messages on-screen to complex and highly advanced programs that exploit the power of machine learning and AI to steal specific information surreptitiously from web users. With that in mind, here are some of the common signs your computer has a virus:

Declining PC Performance

One of the most common signs of PC viral infection is decline in performance. This means tasks that your PC would complete quickly in the past now take much longer. For instance, a PDF document that takes longer than usual to open could be an indication of virus infection. Decline in performance could be due to a virus reproducing multiple files and clogging your PC’s hard disk.

Extra Files

Picking up from the description above, you may notice sudden and inexplicable changes in your PC’s hard disk space. For example, you may have 200 GB of free space and then the following day find you only have 50 GB of free space available. This means there are files occupying 150 GB of hard disk space that seem to have appeared out of nowhere.

Hardware Problems

Besides software problems, PC viruses can cause hardware issues. You have likely heard of people complaining that the CD trays of their PCs pop open without users explicitly initiating such action. In the same vein, PC viruses can cause problems with your PC’s keyboard, mouse, printer, and webcam. Unusual noises emanating from your hard disk while PC is on could be related to virus infection as well.

PC Crashing

If your PC crashes while in the middle of surfing the web, writing documents, or checking mail, a malicious virus may be the culprit. In addition, your PC may behave abnormally after restarting. For example, it could restart, flicker and shutdown after a few seconds and then restart. In this case, it is wise to consult an IT expert.

Computer viruses can wreak havoc by stealing personal information like credit card details. To avoid such an outcome, consult an IT expert if your PC exhibits signs like crashing repeatedly, performance decline, hardware problems, and extra files that clog disk space.

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What Makes Bad Video Games?

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Video games regularly surpass the rest of the entertainment industry in terms of profits. The modern game is a huge departure from its early predecessors, full of strong writing, tight controls and breathtaking graphics. That does not, however, mean that all of the games produced today are actually good. There are a stunning number of bad video games made every year – and understanding why these games are made can help you to understand what to avoid.

While somewhat rarer than in the past, the first set of awful video games definitely falls under the banner of the cash grab. All it takes is a shoddy game engine, a licensed character and a few months of development for a studio to make a game that takes all of the joy out of playing your favorite characters. You don’t have to look much further than X-Men: Destiny or the much-reviled Superman 64 to see examples of games that were clearly made to cash in on name appeal alone.

On the other end of the spectrum are games that simply ignored the needs of gamers.  These games might have wonderful art direction and a compelling score, but they’re missing something.  Take a look at a game like The Amazing Spider-man 2 – it’s got all of the bells and whistles, but a hollow world, sub-par controls and a general lack of effort made the sequel far less fun than its predecessor.

There are even games that just didn’t get the love that they required. Some games are held to incredibly tight release schedules, and the resulting products just don’t stand up. Take a look at the buggy release of Battlefield 4 to understand why a game needs enough time in development – no one likes a broken game, even when it eventually gets fixed.

For the most part, bad games from developers not putting enough care into the making of the game. This might come from horrible timetables, a lack of money, or a lack of necessity, but games that are made without a craftsman’s eye tend to turn out poorly.

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