Syracuse is IMPOSSIBLE to travel to on time.

I am a student at Syracuse University.  I have traveled to and from the Syracuse Area multiple times.  There was the time I traveled there for my recruiting trip, yea…that didnt go well.  Was delayed 2 hours, then cancelled, then delayed again.

Well, I am heading back up today to get back to school so we can continue to train.  As I write this, I am informed that our flight has been delayed an hour.

If you EVER travel to Syracuse, make sure you give a 2 hour time buffer to when you “have to be there” and the realistic “when I will get there”.

There has yet to be a flight to Syracuse, that I have not been delayed.

The first couple of days with my Zune

Ive been able to play around with the zune the past two days, since getting it for Christmas.  I am liking it so far.  Have had no trouble updating it to firmware 1.2, like others may have had.

I also found, that I am able to get TV that I record via Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition, onto my Zune.  I recorded the content (AMerican Le Mans at Lime Rock).  I then cut out the commercials with DVREdit, to cut down on size.  I then used ATI’s “Avivo Video Converter” to convert it to the supported format, .wmv.

I wonder what format the Zune takes, as it had to convert it from WMV9 video format, to another format before it sync it.

All in all, the quality looks as good as it did on standard TV, and when I recorded it/watched it on Media center.

Oh, I got the universal electronic color, black, for my zune.  It goes with any outfit.  HA!

Happy Holidays Everyone

Happy Holidays every, especially Happy Christmas today for those who celebrate it.

2006 has been a great year for me, and for Microsoft’s New console.  2007 is shaping up to be even larger with releases like Forza Motorsports 2, GTR, many more, and the THE BIG TITLE Halo 3.

Ill be somewhat online/offline in the next 2-3 weeks, as I am traveling back to school to train, then Puerto Rico, and back to school.

Hope everyone has a Safe and Happy New year as well.

-Masta

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel : Reviewed

I was able to get my hands on Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 Accessory, the Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel.  Microsoft succeeds with this racing wheel, truly putting you in the drivers seat for racing on the Xbox 360.  For those dreaming of racing like Schumacher, but not being able to do so, here you go.

Inside of the Wheel’s box was the steering wheel itself, a sturdy piece of hardware that can be placed on your lap, or clamped to a table.  Outside of the steering wheel and the clamp, you also received the pedals, which communicated to the steering wheel via an RJ-11 cable.  I know, this makes it “wired”, but you hardly ever notice the cable.  Finally, you received a power supply.  The power supply is for the wheel’s Force Feedback feature.  I’ll explain more about that later.

Wheel

The Wheel and Pedals

The wheel made by Microsoft is one sturdy piece of hardware.  The pedals sport that same sturdiness, while still acting very similar to that of real pedals.  As you can see in the wheel pictured above, the top part of the wheel is composed of a black rubber-like material..  This rubber type material assures you, that you will not lose grip..  When you are taking a chicane at 180 miles per hour, you are not going to slip, and lose the grip off this wheel.  The wheel also features Formula 1 styled shifting with the paddle shifters.  Holding your hands in the “right” position for racing, the paddles are right there for easy gear shifting.

Wheel Buttons

The button layout on the Wireless Racing Wheel is very similar to that of previous Xbox racing wheels.  It sports the X,Y,A,B buttons on the right side of the wheel, as well as the D-pad on the left.  It also sports the same layout of the Guide button, with the back button on the left side and the start button on the right, as does every Xbox 360 Controller.

Pedals

The pedals, seen above, also feature that race look.  They feature a similar “no-slip” design much like the steering wheel.  Like a car, they are not overly easy to push down.  While it is nowhere near difficult to push down, the wheels do give slight resistance.  This enhances the feel that you are in a race car.  Both pedals feature a spring, that created this slight resistance.  My overall feeling about the pedals, are that they enhance the experience of racing.

Setup

Wireless Racing Wheel Setup Manual

The setup for the Wireless Racing wheel, is very easy.  Once you unpack everything, you connect the pedals to the Wheel via the RJ-11 cord, and the respective slots.  At this point, you can select to either plug it in with the power supply, or place batteries (either AA, or a rechargeable battery pack), into the side of the Wheel, to give it power.  You can now sync your steering wheel to the Xbox 360, in the same ways as you would a wireless controller.  Hold down the wireless synchronization button the the Wheel until the green light flashes, then go and press/hold the wireless sync button on the console.  The setup guide that comes with the Xbox 360 Wireless Racing wheel, illustrates just how easy it is to set up, arguable, one of the greatest console accessories.

The Wheel (No Force Feedback)

The Wireless Racing wheel can be used when not plugged in.  The only downfall to not being plugged in, is that you can not utilize the wheel’s Force feedback feature (more on that below).  The force feedback would be too large of a drain on the wheel’s battery life, and it would force you to switch batteries at too fast a rate.  If you want to just drive around and have fun, there is no issue with you going without force feedback.  If you want to just hop on TDU, and drive around Hawaii, the wheel without force feedback is not bad at all.

Force Feedback

The team did a great job designing the wheel and pedals.  The team also made it easier for everything to connect.  But, the crowning achievement of the Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel is the Force Feedback feature.  Force feedback can only enabled if you plug the Wireless Racing Wheel into the outlet.  The negative is that you add another wire, but the benefits far outweigh it.  Force feedback creating the illusion, through resistance in turning the wheel, that you are actually driving.  When you are on the throttle, or the break pedal, you will notice that is is harder to turn the wheel.  The opposite can be said when you are off the pedals.  Force feedback, is the true reason why this wheel has taken steps that no other wheel has.  With correct game support (developers can patch a game to include Racing Wheel support), there is no more of that unrealistic driving where you can easily flip the wheel from side to side.  No, when you are racing with force feedback, it is almost a workout trying to keep the car from spinning, and forcing it to turn while on the throttle.

 
 (If you are going to race hard, with force feedback, I recommend getting a table and using the clamp)

My Experience with the Wheel

I was able to play with the wheel for about two to three weeks before writing this review.  I wanted to give you an overview of the wheel, how it feels, how it is set up, and give an overview of THE feature that the wheel posses that sets it apart from everything else, force feedback.  I feel like I accomplished that with the first part of the review.  This part, is all about my individual experience with the wheel.

The wheel was unwrapped from the package in a matter of 15 minutes.  I quickly set it up.  I set the wheel on a table (no clamp, more on that later).  I hooked up the pedals, and found an outlet to plug it in.  I’ve heard a lot about the force feedback, and I wanted to have it from the start.  Following the directions, before I synced the wheel to my console, I placed the special edition PGR3 in, which contains the wheel drivers.  After doing such, I powered up the wheel, held the sync button and continued on to sync it to my console.  NOW, the racing was going to begin.

I decided, that, to get a good handle on the new controls, that I will start out with a car with good traction on a track that didn’t have overly sharp turns.  I decided to start with the Lotus GT1 on Las Vegas’ “Big Apple Loop” track.  The track features a fairly easy flow for turns.  The idea to start with a fast car with good grip, on an easy track was easily the best choice.  With the wheel, I had to relearn the controls.  Going from the joystick to the wheel, while not surprising, was a good amount more difficult.  I attribute it to the addition of force feedback, but this is a necessary re-learning process if I am ever going to get that more realistic race experience.

After about a half hour of racing, I set a new lap time on the Big Apple Loop track and was ready to move on.  I decided to progress down Las Vegas, which I consider to be the easiest tracks to learn, as I develop my wheel skills.  After getting used to most of the tracks, I moved on the Nurburgring’s Half F1 Circuit.  The Las Vegas tracks prepared me for most of what you see on a track, so the next logical step was the Half F1 Circuit.  Running with a fast car, with the in car view, and using the wheel really gives you that feeling that you are in the car.  You hear the engine roaring, and the tires squealing as you fly around the turns and down the straight.

I do recommend that you use the table clamp that comes with the Wireless Racing Wheel.  While it can be used on your lap, I found it difficult to keep the wheel in place as I raced with force feedback turned on.

The games to play with the wheel at this point are fairly limited.  As of right now, Bizarre’s Project Gotham Racing 3 (which you receive with the wheel), and EA’s Need for Speed: Carbon, are the only two games that support the support the wheel to the fullest extent (force feedback).  It has been announced that Atari’s M.O.O.R game, Test Drive Unlimited, is going to be patched in order for there to be full support of the racing wheel.

The highly anticipated game that will truly show you the power of the wheel, is Microsoft Game Studios’ (Turn 10) simulation racer, Forza Motorsports 2.  This game sets out to be the best sim available on the console, or even on any gaming platform, with its life like physics and damage engines.  The wheel was designed with Forza 2 in mind, so by no way will I be surprised if it works flawlessly, and to the best that it can.

A special thanks to Tony Hynes for helping out.  Thanks again Tony.  Everyone, have a happy holiday season, and a happy new year!  Sorry for the delay of this review.

Running smooth on Vista

Hey everyone,


 Got home for my shortened winter break yesterday.  When I came home, I received some Xbox 360 accessories (Thanks to Tony and everyone else involved!), and my new 1gb stick of RAM.  Been waiting to put more ram into this computer, and update to vista.  I was able to put it all together yesterday, and installed Office 2007.  And man, this baby is running fast and smooth.


I have my review on the Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel is that is near completion, just need to set up Windows Live Writer again, and pull the draft file off my external HDD.


Happy Holidays everyone!


-Masta

Mission Impossible 3 on the VMP (SD)

Mission Impossible 3, has hit the Xbox Live Video Marketplace, unfortunetly, only in SD at this time.

Canuck:

At 12:01am PST we made Mission Impossible: III on the video marketplace for rental.

The movie is available in SD only. We appreciate that this is a dissappointment for some and we are committed to getting as much HD content on the service as we can, as soon as we can. Thanks.

Having issues with the Xbox360 Wireless Headset?

While the issue affects a small amount, to my knowledge (I had a problem once, and nothing else), the Accessories team is aware of the issue.  They released a statement in regards to the issues with the headset:

We have received feedback from some customers that they have experienced issues while using the Xbox 360 Wireless Headset, including difficulty syncing the headset to the controller, reception interference and audio sensitivity when playing action-packed games like Gears of War. We are committed to providing the highest quality accessories for Xbox 360 and would like to assist in troubleshooting and resolving those issues, whether by replacing or repairing the units under warranty. We encourage anyone experiencing issues with the Wireless Headset to call 1-800-4-MY-XBOX.

 

Hopefully, this will not deter you from purchasing this amazing accessory, as I am truly in love wtih it.