4K HDR. Is it worth the investment?

I recently purchased a 4K 10bit HDR Monitor, the Acer ET430K, and without a doubt it’s lovely in 4K. But this week saw a much needed update to VideoLan (VLC), it now finally supports 4K and 8K hardware playback, something severely lacking, and it also supports HDR too.

When I bought the monitor I also dropped £50 on a new BDXL drive (Asus BW-16D1HT), this will let me rip UHD movies to my WD EX4100 and play them back anywhere. I was initially surprised by the file size, they’re big, but only twice the size of a bluray at 1080p, yet they contain  four times the resolution, 10 bit colour (instead of 8 bit) and for the most part improved audio with more channels and higher resolution.

So I went to my local CEX and bought some UHD movies, The Hateful Eight, The Martian, Logan, and Alien Covenant, and after watching them initially in 4K SDR or 8bit colour I was a little unimpressed, but I was using MPC-HC to play them back, MPC-HC has hardware playback but no support for HDR, and at the time VLC didn’t. My initial misgivings were found-less, once VLC 3.0 launched I immediately saw the difference that HDR gives. I will say that 4K is very nice, but to be honest, it’s the difference with HDR that you’ll immediately notice. And all I can say is WOW. It’s HDR that will sell more TV’s and monitors than 4K alone.

Here are some screenshots from these films, sadly you really won’t be able to enjoy them as they are… you’ll need a 4K HDR screen.

What is HDR? Basically HDR (High Dynamic Range) means richer colours, more contrast and brightness this gives a scene better definition without losing details like increasing brightness and contrast will. It’s one thing that’s hard to quantify, but once you’ve seen it you’ll know it.

So does 4K 10bit HDR make a real difference… OH HELL YES it does. Be warned though, there are many 4K 8bit HDR screens out there, and they use software to push this to 10bit, they are severely lacking, they cannot and never will render 10bit properly. So be warned… don’t be duped into buying an 8bit screen, insist on HDMI 2.0 (this meets the bandwidth requirements of 4K HDR @ 50hz) and you should be ok, though always check with the internet before buying.

So is it worth the investment? For gaming on the PS4 and PC, yes it’s worth the entry fee alone. As for movies? HELL YES.

Another thing to consider, if you don’t use the TV’s built-in tuner or smart services then why bother with a TV, get a monitor instead. Monitors don’t have this stuff and as a result you should get a better image from it than a similar priced TV.

Save Wizard MAX PS4 Review

Save Wizard MAX PS4 Review

After several comments yesterday telling me I had my original review wrong, here I am trying to put right that wrong.

I was initially reviewing savewizard.com (AVOID unless you you only have access to US games on PSN). For me, it promised much and delivered nothing. And yesterday I was issued a refund at last.

Absolutely avoid: https://shop.xploder.net/xploder-ps4-edition nothing good will come of it.

At least I could now buy and try Save Wizard MAX for the PS4, this promised a lot, being able to cheat by hacking save games is no mean feat, once you edit a save game the data changes and there’s something like a fingerprint system that checks to ensure you don’t cheat. Edit the data and this fingerprint changes too, and the game will not load.

Save Wizard MAX is able to over come this limitation, how I’m not sure… maybe it’s voodoo, maybe it’s Gandalf the Gray. Who knows? I heard a rumor years ago that it’s something to do with cross save with the PS Vita, and seeing as the Vita was hacked, so was the signing of save games.

Either way it doesn’t really matter, what matters is that this is just like the old school cheat disks/cartridges that used to popular with the likes of SNES, Megadrive, PS1 and PS2. You can manually edit codes to achieve a cheat (tricky but doable), or you can just browse and download one already made. They currently have 655 games in their database and a total of 46,748 cheats for those games. Not too shabby eh?

Checkout this screenshot from The Last of Us Remastered I took today:

YES I have nearly 10,000 of everything!

Granted it only works from a save game, so there’s a little to and fro copying to a USB drive, use the editor on the PC, copy it back… but if you can’t wait 2-3 minutes for the whole process, then there’s no helping you no matter what.

 

So a big thank you to Kitsune and ss4gogeta069 for putting me right… eventually. SS4gogeta069, had you been polite and informative right off the bat then there wouldn’t be a need to fall out. I’m man enough to know when I am wrong, and even admit to it, calling me a tool got you nowhere. That said, I’m sorry if I came over as a bit of a dick yesterday, I initially thought you were being antagonistic, while in reality you were trying to put me right.

Are we all friends again? Hope so – Fist Bump… Don’t leave me hanging 🙂

So yes, this one works with every region except Japan, and it works very well too. I’d highly recommend this if you need a little help like I did. TLOU is bloody hard and this made it much easier to get the Survivor+ trophies.

AND DON'T DO LIKE I DID and get domains confused. You need https://savewizard.net

Save Wizard for PS4 Review

Not to be confused with Save Wizard MAX (<— This one actually works.) for the PS4

Caveat Emptor.

I recently purchased the PS4 Save Wizard, I just wanted a little help with The Last of Us getting the platinum trophy. So I downloaded, installed, and purchased the Save Wizard in good faith that it’ll work.

It wont, it only works with US games and refuses to do anything with any other region.

So I tried to contact them via their website contact form several times, every time you submit a form it just refreshes the page, so I filed a dispute with Paypal, and left it for 72 hours… no response, I escalated the dispute and found my key for the save wizard was cancelled and they still failed to respond to paypal. However in 1 week I will be issued an automatic refund.

It’s still pisses me off that I now have no refund and software that doesn’t work as advertised.

Caveat Emptor – Buyer beware.

It’s a shame too, the PS3 version has a work around that the PS4 version doesn’t have.

So my advice is to stay clear of it. https://www.savewizard.com/ if you have anything other than a US PSN account and games, and https://shop.xploder.net/xploder-ps4-edition avoid too. The Xploder uses user generated save games.

https://www.savewizard.net  makes use of actual cheats. These work on all regions EXCEPT Japan.

 

ACER ET430 Monitor Review

I had to wait a while for this to come back into stock at Currys.co.uk, I’d had my eye on it for a while, it’s just a little outside my budget of £500, but the delay gave me an extra few weeks to save the extra £50.00

Now I’ve finally got it, I have to say I’m impressed, its 4K and supports 10bit HDR, 43 inches corner to diagonal corner, it supports HDMI 2.0 and Display Port normal and mini.

Initially I could not get my PS4 Pro to display in anything other than 1080P, after some time messing around with safe mode and nothing working, I started to unplug the PSVR and Elgato HD 60, and there lay the problem, the ELGATO HD 60 will only pass-through 1080P, so I stripped out the HD 60 and left the PSVR connected and boom! Everything worked fine, 2160P full RGB and HDR 🙂

I fired up The Last Of Us remaster and it’s utterly stunning, the resolution upscale and the HDR inclusion just made it look stunning. But I also noticed another thing, if you play TLOU for any amount of time, your team GLOW when they walk out of sight, this means you can see where your team is. On my previous monitor, an LG ultrawide monitor, there was some ghosting from the glow, not on this bad boy though. I will miss the ultrawide, they’re awesome for PC gaming and movies. Movies don’t have the black bars and the extra width give you an edge in almost any game that supports 2560 x 1080, which is most modern games.

Did I have to get a 4K panel? Not really, it doesn’t complete me, but having a 4K capable Mac, PC and PS4 Pro and not having a 4K screen… it’s a waste, it’s like employing a cleaner to do the dirty work, but in another life they were a world renowned network admin. But that’s what this panel does, it restores the balance, and seeing what 4K HDR looks like… it’s like going from VHS to 1080P.

Specs:

Response 5ms

2 x HDMI 2.0

2 x display port

1 x mini display port

43 Inches

4K and 10bit HDR

Contrast: 100,000,000:1

Brightness: 350 cd/m²

Screen type: IPS

There is a minor downside though, who ever thought that having the ports underneath the back of the screen is a numpty. Getting access to them has meant taking the panel down, connecting/disconnecting and putting it back. It’s all a bit of a farce. Still, once you’ve finished you should be good for quite some time.

Overall I’m seriously impressed, it’s a beautiful screen, 4K looks amazing, HDR also looks nothing short of stunning, and considering there’s no TV tuner, no catch-up TV or anything like that, you can see why this monitor is probably a better purchase than a TV of the same price. You’ll get more bang and less stuff you don’t need.

AWESOME Screen, if you’re in the market for a monitor. It even sounds OK too. Not as good as dedicated speakers… but seriously, not too bad either.

Nice one Acer.

DOOM on the PC running a 6600K (watercooled) and a GTX 1070

Destiny 2 on the PC running a 6600K (watercooled) and a GTX 1070

PS4 4K Games and HDR

 

Game 4K? HDR? Extra Features
Agents of Mayhem No Yes Better textures, better shadows. Up to 60 frames per second.
Assassin’s Creed Origins Yes No  
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Yes No  
Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection Yes No  
Battlefield 1 No No Increased resolution. Better shadow and terrain detail.
 Battlezone (VR)  No  No PlayStation VR: Increased resolution, dynamic lighting, and reflections.
 Bound  Yes  No PlayStation VR: Double the pixels and extra effects.
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition Yes No  
Call of Duty: Black Ops III Yes No  
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Yes No  
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered Yes No  
Call of Duty: WWII No No 1620p
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy No No 1440p resolution.
Dark Souls 3 No No “Increased Framerate”
Days Gone
 Yes  Yes  
Death Stranding  Yes  Yes  
Destiny 2 Yes No  
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Yes Yes  
Dirt 4 No No Better lighting and shadows, better anti-aliasing.
Dishonored 2 No No Higher 1440p resolution, but not 4K.
 DriveClub VR (VR) No No  
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special Edition Yes No Temporal antialiasing on 1080p displays.
Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited Yes No Increased fidelity with 1080p displays.
F1 2017 Yes Yes Better image quality on 1080p displays.
Fallout 4 No No Native 1440p visuals, enhanced draw distance
 Farpoint
(VR)
 No  No  PlayStation VR: Crisper visuals.
FIFA 18 Yes Yes  
Final Fantasy XV  Yes  Yes  High frame rate option for 1080p displays.
Firewatch No No UI renders at 4K. Better detail distance and shadows on 1080p displays.
For Honor Yes No  
Get Even Yes No  
 Gran Turismo Sport  Yes  Yes  
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice No No 60 frames per second and increased resolution options.
 Helldivers  Yes  No  
Hitman  No  Available on 1/31/17  Higher 1440p resolution. UI renders at native 4K. Better textures, lighting, antialiasing, and higher overall resolution.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
 Yes  Yes  Better image quality on 1080p displays.
Infamous: Second Son Yes Yes  Smoother visuals on 1080p displays.
Infamous: First Light Yes Yes  Smoother visuals on 1080p displays.
Injustice 2 No No 1440p, better texture quality.
Killing Floor 2 Yes No Increased textures. Dynamic shadows are crisper. Higher frame rate on 1080p displays.
Knack 2 No No Options for either 1800p visuals or higher framerate.
L.A. Noire Yes No  
Lawbreakers No No 1440p, smoother framerate.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm Yes No  
 Mantis Burn Racing  Yes  No  Crisper resolution for 1080p displays.
Madden NFL 18 Yes Yes Will run at higher framerate (60+ fps) in 1080p.
Mafia III No No 1440p resolution, improved framerate.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
 Yes Yes  
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Yes No  
 NBA 2K18  Yes  Yes  
 Neon Chrome  Yes  No  
 Nioh  Yes  No  Antialiasing enhancement and frame rate boost options on 1080p displays.
Paragon No No 1080p and 60 frames per second
 PlayStation VR Worlds (VR)  No  No  
Prey No No Better visual quality, less texture pop-in.
Project Cars 2 No No Dynamic resolution, smoother framerate.
Pyre Yes No 60 frames per second.
 Ratchet & Clank  No  Yes  Higher resolution on 4K displays. More antialiasing. Crisper image on 1080p displays.
 Resident Evil 7: Biohazard  Yes  Yes  
Rez Infinite  Yes  No  Higher resolution when using PlayStation VR.
 Ride 2  Yes  No  
RIGS Mechanized Combat League (VR)  No  No  
Rise of the Tomb Raider Yes No Increased detail in 1080p. “High frame rate” mode in 1080p.
 Robinson: The Journey (VR)  No  No  Higher resolution, longer view distances, improved textures, and lighting.
 Rocket League  Yes  No Runs at 60 frames per second in 4K, “in all arenas.”
 Smite  Yes  No  
Sniper Elite 4 No No Faster loading times, better lighting, better framerate.
Spider-man Yes Yes  
Star Wars: Battlefront II No No 60 frames per second.
Tekken 7 No No Better textures, smoother framerate.
The Evil Within 2 No No Unlocked framerate, 1260p resolution.
The Last Guardian  Yes  Yes  
The Last of Us: Left Behind Yes Yes  More detailed terrain, buildings, and foliage. Higher quality shadows. 1800p 60 frames per second option.
The Last of Us: Remastered Yes Yes  More detailed terrain, buildings, and foliage. Higher quality shadows. 1800p 60 frames per second option.
 The Playroom VR (VR)  No  No  Increased resolution.
The Surge Yes Yes Option for 60 frames per second mode.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Yes Yes Better texture filter and ambient occlusion.
The Witness
Yes Yes  Increased anti-aliasing quality.
 Thumper  Yes  No  Better anti-aliasing.
Titanfall 2  No  No  Increased resolution and better shadows.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands No No Appears to be 1440p.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Yes Yes  More detailed terrain, buildings, and foliage. 1080p multiplayer resolution. Crisper graphics on 1080p displays.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy Yes Yes 60 frames per second.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood (VR)  No  No  
 Viking Squad  Yes  No  
Watch Dogs 2 No No 1080p resolution, not 4K.
 Wheels of Aurelia  Yes  No  
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus No No 1440p resolution.
World of Tanks  Yes  Yes  Smoother frame rates.
WWE 2K18 No No 60 frames per second.

Not specified

God of War Steep
Hustle Kings Super Stardust Ultra
Knack XCOM 2

 

Dino Frontier PSVR Review

Welcome to Dino Frontier, it’s a tabletop management similator with cowboys and dinosaurs… What’s not to like? Nothing, it’s utterly brilliant at what it does, and it does everything marvellously.

It’s a shame that it needs to be in VR, it could work without it, and thus open up even more of the market, but VR does enhance the whole experience to another level completely.

So gameplay. You are the mayor of a small western town and it’s you’re job to look after the settlers, make them chop down trees for lumber, which helps you build new building, they also need to scavange for food, to keep their little bellies full. At the start you’ll be micro-managing everyone, but as you progress you’ll train dinosaurs to help out. Along the way you’ll also play a little tower defence game while you’r settlers will be digging for stone and gold. All these resources you’ll need as you get deeper into the game, upgrading is part of the process and you’ll be doing a lot of it.

The controls I found to be a little fiddly at first, but that was my problem and not an issue with the game, once I had my headset and wands in frame of the camera I could and did play for hours with barely a single problem.

There is a lot of detail here, and if you don’t zoom in you’ll likely miss most of it, to me this is where the richness of the game lies, it’s just watching you’re little peeps going about their daily business, as they chop down trees, scavange food, attack and are attacked by dinosaurs, turn trees into usable planks, and train at fighting, strategy and weights, all to get to the final mission.

In the tower defence game you’re settlers are attacked by The Bandit King! while your peeps are mining for gold and stone, at the start you’ll need to rush and get as much stone as you can to upgrade the defences and place settlers in them to defend the outpost, this can be a bit slow and frustrating at first, but once you get the hang of it and get the defences ready it’ll get a lot easier. You will need to upgrade the Wagon station to take more settlers, more settlers make for easier defending which makes for more stone and gold, which means more upgrades and so on.

Once you’ve hit a peak and can have no more dino’s and settlers, then it’s time to take on the Bandit King in his own lair. This is the end game and while you will win if you’ve trained everyone and all the dino’s to the max, you can continue going back and forth between the gold mine and your town. Once you’ve done that, you’ll probably want to finish and collect all the trophies, and to be honest it’s an easy game to 100%.

A couple of weeks later I came back to the game and started from scratch, finished everything, and came back again for this review, to make a video I played for what felt like 30 minutes, but what was in fact 3½ hours! Not bad for a game where I’m on my third play through.

From start to finish the campaign is a little short, roughly 3-4 hours, but it’s so enjoyable I’ve played it through 2 more times and I’m still loving it. This is the only thing that lets it down, it could have been a little longer, but it’s so damned enjoyable I really didn’t mind.

 

Dino Frontier is pure gold from start to finish.

10/10

 

http://www.uberent.com/dinofrontier/

2018 The best year ever for gaming?

There’s a shed load of new style survival games coming this year, not the usual find, craft, survive type games. More like The Last of Us but massively improved and updated.

First one: Death Stranding

Based on this video, I’m putting this on the top of my list right now.

 

 

And of course: The Last of Us 2

This needs no introduction at all, after all I’ve put in hundreds of hours in the single player and even more in the multiplayer. How much have you played it?

Lastly Days Gone

2018 is shaping up to be an awesome year for survival games.

Western Digital EX4100 Cloud Server Review

I recently sold my desktop PC, but before I did I needed a place to store my 2x4TB HDD’s and 2x2TB HDD’s. I had a huge amount of data on them and I did NOT want to lose it all.

So I purchased this cloud server with the intention of

  1. having a network share available anywhere in the world
  2. having somewhere to put my drives

I’d looked at various cloud servers for a couple of years and even considered building a PC with the intention of just being a file server, but to be honest at £330 it was a good price, considering I’d seen much more expensive systems, ranging from £400-£900, they were overkill, and this just fit my budget and needs perfectly.

 

First up, when you get the device you need to install the drives, but before you do BE WARNED… all the data is lost as this uses Linux file systems and cannot read and write NTFS, so the drives are formatted before it can use them. So backup first. I started messing with the web interface.

I like the GUI, it’s clean and simple, everything is tabulated and well laid out, home shows the above screen, users will let you add/remove/modify users and their access to various drives and folders, shares lets you control what is available and to whom, apps will let you install remote cloud service providers such as Amazon S3, Elephant drive, Dropbox and what files and folders get synced to these providers, cloud access is for setting up phones and tablets and what they can have access too, backups will let you create backup profiles for remote servers (FTP to this site and download the files) backup files internally to a drive, or backup to a USB drive (USB 3). Storage is where you setup a drive for the first time and settings is where you configure things like time and date, server name energy saving and time machine backups (OS X).

I’ve had this box of tricks now for a couple of weeks and I’m impressed, I have access to my Mac Mini, another desktop PC, my iPhone and iPad all without any fuss or pain… it just worked straight away with no problems.

I’m pleasantly surprised with the number of apps available for installation too, there’s WordPress, PHPbb, anti-virus, DVBlink for capturing TV to the cloud server, Joomla, Plex media server and more. While things like WordPress could be cool for personal use, for a small company or team it’s a great way to read up and projects and development. Same with PHPbb, only PHPbb is a little more interactive. You also have e-mule (does anyone actually use it anymore?) and even a torrent client for downloading straight to an internal drive.

Media streaming. While it does have the option to add Plex media server, it’s not something you’ll want to use, the internal CPU is very underpowered for transcoding video, it’ll try to do it, but more often than not it’ll fail. But if you just want to use plex for music or audiobooks, then it’ll play that all day long.

Around the back you have 2 x 1 Gbit ethernet ports that will link to create a 2 gbit port or allow synchronous read write from different sources at the same time, in other words, it shouldn’t choke with data traffic across a network, though if you have a large team all accessing at the same time, then it’ll be the drives slowing down and not the network. But to be honest, it’s absolutely fine for personal use, it’ll never be an issue. You also have the option of adding 2 x USB drives for either backup purposes or just increasing space, the front USB will also do the same.

 

Overall my impressions of the hardware is excellent, it’s well put together, it’s clean and simple, it’s low noise, it’s constantly self monitoring and goes into power saving mode when not in use. I just like it, for me to be able to stash 4 hard drives and then share the data to any user and device I allow and do it seamlessly is just incredible.

My sincere apologies

I am sorry for the complete removal of all my videos from youtube and for the complete deletion of the website.

My reasons are simple, I suffer from depression and SAD – Seasonal affective disorder. I have done for 20 years now, and while I do take anti-depressants (mirtazapine) it seems my dosage wasn’t high enough (it was 30mg now it’s maxxed out at 45mg. The dosage was increased and I’m balanced out again.

Suffering from depression can be bad and challenging enough, but couple that with SAD over the winter months and I get clinically and dangerously depressed.

All I can do is apologise for anyone who followed the blog and my videos, I was in really bad shape at the time. I had planned to publish a blog post entitled depression and suicide, but even I found it too bleak and even a little daunting, so I held off. Maybe I should have posted it…?

Anyway, I’ve restored the blog back to it’s rightful place, I can not do the same for the videos’, so I’ll just have to make new ones eventually.

Sorry again,

Darron

Cycling tips

These are all good points, be seen, use lights and hi-vis clothing, ride sensibly etc… but the fact that so many riders don’t give a shit about other road users shows why cyclists are hated.

My advice, never ever pass a HGV on the left, I have a class one licence and I’ve seen it so many times and nearly hit a few riders myself, the left hand side is called “The Blind Side” for a damn good reason, you can’t see shit in a car, bus and expecially a HGV… so don’t do it unless you want to die.

Lastly, ride a bike like you drive a car, don’t filter or filter as little as possible, don’t ride on the pavement, don’t be selfish, and you should be around for many more years.