I arrived at the LanOC office around 1:00 AM or so Friday morning to join Chad, Debo, and Wes in an informal review of what would be the next few days, better known as LanOC v15.0. We quickly decided, influenced largely by late-night appetites, that it was a discussion better had over food. Van Wert is not known for its nightlife, so we started out East (the way I had just came) in search of food. We found ourselves at a Denny’s off of US 30, conversing with the third shift waitress about how Debo reminded her of her daughter (they both hate everything). With full stomachs, a game plan, and most importantly a new nickname for Debo (Shelby), we returned home before the sun came up to catch a few hours of sleep.

All the way back before LanOC V14 when I was tossing around ideas for our next event we tossed around the idea of putting together a PC to give away at V15. This quickly tuned into a discussion about how to give it away. I decided early on that I wanted make sure that everyone would have a chance to win it. Well today is the day, I can officially announce our PC giveaway for LanOC V15 and more importantly I would like to announce our collaboration with Child's Play to raise money for Parkview Hospital in neighboring Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

As some of you know we use a few projectors at our LAN events. In between events I have been known to setup a projector in the office to watch a movie, watch eSport streams, and even play a few games. The problem I have in the office is our textured walls don’t exactly give the best picture. Because of that and because we would like more flexibility for setting up at our events I have been on the lookout for a projector screen for a while now. My requirements were something that is portable, so it can be taken to our events no matter their location, easy/quick to setup, and of course, I would like it to give the best picture possible in different environments.  I came across a company called Elite Screens that manufactures a wide selection of screens and found the ezCinema Plus Series that fit our requirements and even didn’t break the bank. Today I’m going to take a look at the ezCinema Plus in its largest size (100 inches) and see how well it performs.

Although PC maintenance is always important, especially with the higher end PCs that we run to play today’s games, it is especially important come summer time. Not only are we in the middle of the LAN season but also most importantly with temperatures getting warmer outside the possibility of you overheating your PC becomes more likely. Because of that, I wanted to post up a reminder to everyone to take a little time and do a little PC maintenance. To go with that I decided to put together a small write-up on a few things you should work on when doing your maintenance.

Although my wife would most likely argue against this, we as gamers don’t always spend all of our time at our PCs. The market for console gaming is huge and DXRacer recognized that and has jumped into the market with chair designed specifically for it. Their new TV Lounge Chair shares a few features with their office chairs but the overall design is drastically different and focused specifically on living room gaming. I took the opportunity to bust out the PlayStation again and put in a little game time in the living room.

I’ve spoken about it in a few previous reviews but it’s really important to remember that there are a few things beyond your PC itself that will really improve your gaming experience. A few of the obvious examples are your keyboard and mouse but there are others that you might not even consider. A perfect example of something that most people skimp on is their chair. The ironic thing is that your chair is used more than any other product at your desk. As someone who spends both their work and recreational time in front of a PC, a high quality chair is even more important. I have been using the same “racing” style office chair for nearly 10 years now, after being repaired multiple times the chair has seen better days. When I came across the chairs from a company called DXRacer they fit the bill perfectly. Let’s see if their M-Series Gaming Chair can keep me gaming for the next 10 years.

External enclosures have always been useful in turning veteran hard drives from old machines back into useful storage mediums but lately they have been making a comeback with more and more focus being placed on mobility and flexibility. Today we take a look at a new form of external enclosure with performance on its mind. The Blizzard series external enclosure from Icy Dock promises to give use the mobility we desire with not swap and plug-n-play functionality with the ability to keep our drives icy cool during operation.

A week ago at the time of this writing, we were within hours of LanOC v14.0 coming to end, though things certainly showed no signs of winding down. We were right in the middle of two tournaments with plenty of spectators watching over shoulders, attendees and staff alike roaming the floor to take a final look at the case show-off entries, and our network gear receiving no reprieve from the remainder of over 130 gamers in their title of choice. Before we revisit the final wrap-up of the event, let’s start back at the beginning of LanOC v14.0, which truly started the day before.

The past year has been full of up and downs like every year. Here at LanOC we have been chugging away like always. In the past year we hosted two awesome LAN parties, revamped the entire website, and survived two big launches from Intel, a launch from AMD on the CPU side, and big launches from both AMD and Nvidia on the video card side. Last year when I did my recap we had published 116 reviews for the year. For 2013 we bumped it up to an impressive 158 reviews thanks to a helpful staff and great companies. To start the New Year, I wanted to revisit the products that I gave my personal seal of approval on with the Editor’s Choice award to see if they are still my personal picks.

Recently we have done a few reviews on the emerging wireless AC technology but up until now those reviews have been limited to routers which merely allow access. Today we take a look at what may be one of the fastest ways to utilize your new wireless AC connection.  The USB-AC56 from Asus is a dual-band network adapter meant to allow you to tap into the 5GHz band and only requires the use of a single USB3 connection. Will the AC56 prove to be your quickest solution to the fastest wireless speeds available or will it be better to search for other options? We’ll find out.

The home network is one of the most consistently neglected things in modern computing, usually relegated to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” category even by most enthusiasts. However, it is also a market with constantly evolving technologies just like everything else and in the current landscape of always online games and every phone and gadget starving for wireless data why wouldn’t you want a network you can rely on? Earlier we reviewed My Net AC1300 from Western Digital and today we are back to put the ASUS RT-AC56U through the same paces. Is wireless AC technology all it’s cracked up to be? We will soon find out.

It’s been a few days now and not only have I set all of the PCs around the house back up, I also took the time to do detail cleaning around my desk. Even after a few days I feel little tired, an impromptu nap that went until 3pm yesterday helped some but it’s going to be a little while before I’m back to normal. All of it means we had another successful LAN. Of course the work doesn’t stop on Sunday for me, but before I get too far into it I wanted to post up a little bit of a roundup. Read on to hear more about it.

When it comes to enthusiasts we put a lot of thought into the parts we put in our PC, but don’t often think about what connects us to the internet. Most people will grab any old router from a brick and mortar store that suits their needs. I feel that more information should be acquired, especially for something that is only purchased once in a blue moon. Will the router suit my needs? Will it suit my needs long term?  Will it continue to hold up as the technology improves? All of these questions and more will be considered while looking at the Western Digital My Net AC 1300.

titleAs a necessary evil, gadget batteries, require charging from time to time and in this era where gadgets now dominate our everyday life it has become difficult to even find room to even plug them all in. For the most part longer battery life and charging stations have been the answer, but thanks to Newer Technologies there is a much easier solution to this problem and it is as simple as changing the wall outlet you plug everything into already. Follow me as I take a look at the do it yourselfers’ solution to the charging problem, the Power2U AC/USB wall outlet.

titleIn the modern age, where smart phones are king, and people are constantly on the move, computers are getting smaller and smaller and everything is stored digitally. What happened though when you want to back up files from a tablet or mobile device and you don’t have a computer around to use. Well Plextor thinks they might have the answer. They have sent us a PlexEasy, a product that is used for the backup, burning, and sharing of most forms of digital media, all without the use of a computer. Join me as we explore the use of this unique device to find out if it is indeed the answer to our data transfer problems.

titleThis past weekend 125 of you joined us for another great LanOC event and the rest of you probably wish you had. If you don't wish you had then you are wrong, just plain wrong.

titleOver the last few years, streaming media has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment to many people around the globe. Many customers out there are trying to find new ways of cutting the costs of the tired standards and physical media. Consumers now have a growing number of devices to help with their streaming media demand that they can place right into their living rooms. Today we are going to look at the WD TV Live from Western Digital and see how it can extend your local network files and content from the Internet directly to your HDTV.

 

titleWhen I reviewed the Aver Media Game Capture HD late last year there were a couple of things I felt were missing. The first was the ability to record HDMI gameplay footage, and the second was the ability to stream any gameplay. Roxio has sent us one of their new capture boxes. The Game Capture HD Pro claims to offer many of the same features of the Aver Media card with the added bonus of being able to do HDMI gameplay and live stream all of your gameplay footage with the click of a button. Let’s take a look at the box and compare its features to that of the other.

title2We here at LanOC love to go to LAN parties for obvious reasons. The LAN staff especially like to make it out to other LAN events so that they can kick their feet up and just enjoy fragging, friends, and fun rather than spending the entire weekend working to bring a great event to the attendees. This weekend a group of us made our way out to Fort Wayne Indiana to the Indiana Tech college campus for the very first FortLan event. With great excitement we hooked up our PCs in preparation for the 27 hour long frag fest that was to follow.

titleOne of the reason’s Mini ITX builds have been slowly becoming more popular is their portability. Packing up your rig and carrying it into a LAN is much easier when you have a nice handle to hang onto. We recently took a look at the Silverstone FT03, although I found it to be a perfect case for LAN use, I also felt it was hard to carry. Because of that Silverstone sent over their Sugo Pack for us to check out with the FT03. With extra carrying space and a way to carry your small form factor case around the Sugo Pack could be a great way to get your gear to the next LAN, let’s find out if it’s as great as it looks.

 

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