Friday, August 22, 2014

Tomee SNES Retro Controller Review

I've been re-acquiring some old gaming consoles lately and it seems official SNES controllers are getting pretty expensive these days, commanding $15-20 at the time of this writing. I already had one official controller but wanted to get a second controller on the offhand chance anyone wanted to play a 2-player game. I wasn't too keen on paying the full price for an official one, so figured I'd try out the Tomee SNES controllers, which are super-cheap and readily available (i.e., no eBay; I got a 2-pack for ~$7 on Amazon).
To be clear: at a price of $3.50 each, these controllers are totally worth the money. They're functional and have a look and feel that's reminiscent of the official SNES controllers. I plugged them up and was able to play games just fine.

However, the plastic feels a bit flimsy and the d-pad is shaped a bit differently from the official Nintendo controller's (it's significantly fatter than the Nintendo version; Nintendo on top, Tomee below):
The four face buttons are also slightly different size and sit taller, though that's a pretty minor issue, IMO (Tomee on the left, official Nintendo on the right; the pic's blurry because my camera kept focusing on my hand instead of the controllers...):
The L/R buttons are significantly sharper-edged and clickier, though they rarely get used in games anyway, so it's also not a big deal. Perhaps more important is the fact that the Tomee controllers are thicker/fatter and don't taper the way Nintendo controllers do, which messes with the overall feel and ergonomics quite a bit (official Nintendo on the left, Tomee on the right):
The start/select buttons are much mushier than the official controller's and they're extremely prone to getting wedged under the controller face, which is more annoying than detrimental. Both of my d-pads also have an odd quirk whereby pressing down-left with a bit too much force will trigger all directions simultaneously. This can have some pretty hilarious results in games that weren't programmed to expect it, lol.

Overall, I think these controllers are a great value for someone who wants to do some casual playing or, in my case, just wants a second controller on-hand for the rare occasion that a friend/guest wants to throw down on some multiplayer action. If you're serious about your gaming, though, you'll want to have an official controller, which is more reliable, more comfortable and built to last.

If you're planning to use an SNES-to-USB adapter to use a real controller with an emulator, I suggest looking instead at the Buffalo Classic USB Gamepad, the price of which varies from around $12-20. This controller feels significantly more solid than the Tomee and actually feels extremely similar to a new official Nintendo SNES controller in weight and button-feel. Here's a (shitty) picture of mine next to one of the Tomees for comparison:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

HTC One M7 Purple Camera Problem

The camera is one of the main reasons I purchased an HTC One (M7), with its awesome low-light performance, so I was really bummed when my pictures started getting a weird purple tint around the edges. The problem got progressively worse, to the point that the camera was essentially unusable:
So, I did some digging online and, while my case is abnormally serious, the purple picture problem seems to be a common issue for HTC Ones that were manufactured early on in their product run (I preordered mine and got it right at launch). No one is exactly sure what causes the problem, but people suspect it's related to heat, either in the phone itself or specifically at the "ultrapixel" camera sensor. Either way, replacing the camera module supposedly fixes it, and there have been reports of individuals sending their phones in for other warranty issues and getting them back with newer camera modules, whether they reported purple pics or not.

In my case, I went down to the local Sprint affiliate and inquired about a camera replacement. The tech started an insurance report and found that 'camera takes purple pictures' was one of the pre-defined claims, so he was able to order a refurbished phone for me on the spot at no cost (not even an insurance deductible!). A couple days later, I received my new phone and its camera works as well as I remembered. I'll update this post if it starts showing the same issues.

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