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The Last of Us 2 Honest Review- A Dark, Harrowing, and Terrifying Sequel

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The Last of Us 2

Ever since the Playstation 5 reveal event happened just recently, people seem to be excited about the games that are going to be released along with it. However, let’s take a step back to talk about a game that will be released in June.

This article will be an honest review of The Last of Us 2.

Story

The Last of Us 2 is the sequel to the highly-acclaimed game released a few years ago. It revolves around Ellie, who is now 19 years old and is set to a dark path that is filled with serious consequences.

It is a survival-horror, third-person shooter where every choice you make will have a profound impact on both the player and the game.

Let me just remind you that if you are queasy, this one is definitely not for you. It is not only terrifying but it is certainly harrowing to the extent that I had to take long pauses just to collect myself to play the game again.

Anyway, The Last of Us 2 is set in an established settlement in Wyoming. For things that I will not spoil in this article, Ellie chose to go to Seattle and as you can probably tell, things will get a lot darker as the game progresses. You could say that Ellie is on a path of vengeance.

There are three factions that you need to be wary about. The first is the infected which consists of both zombies and actual monsters. The next two factions consist of humans with different ideologies.

WLF is a military organization and the enemies in this faction can carry high-powered guns along with dogs that can track your scent quickly and easily. The other faction is known as the Seraphins which is a religious group that has a different worldview than the previously-mentioned group.

Both of the said factions will fight over whatever limited resources are lying around. Ellie just has bad luck because she is caught in the middle.

Gameplay

The Last of Us 2 Review

As mentioned earlier, The Last of Us 2 is a survival-horror, third-person shooter and while you can definitely whip out your guns and shoot at the bad guys, you can also use a more stealthy approach to killing your enemies as well.

Keep in mind that unlike any other games in this genre, every kill that you make will result in serious consequences. How serious, you ask?

Let’s say that you saw a member of the WLF that wants to attack you since he/she is not familiar with you. If you chose to stick a knife to their throats, you will find out later when you are strolling around that this particular person is missing and his/her friends and family are looking for them.

That level of ingenuity makes this game appealing to a certain extent, but what makes this difficult to recommend to everyone is that it is just presented in the most violent way.

As is customary for survival horror games set in a post-apocalyptic era, your choice of weapons ranges from knives to rifle-class artillery. But, you can also find modified weapons such as barbed baseball bats, shivs, and a whole lot more.

If you go the stealthy approach and stick someone with a knife, they might tell you that they do not want to die as they have a child waiting for them to come home.

It’s events like those that make this a harrowing game to play and you can probably understand why I needed to stop a couple of times just to get myself to play it again.

Ellie has a love interest and she is the perfect complement to her headstrong personality.

Design

Let’s get out of the gameplay for a second and talk about the game’s design. All I can say is that despite this being set in a post-apocalyptic America, the environments are really impeccable. This will be even more so when the Playstation 5 version launches sometime next year.

I also love not only the character design but also their personalities as well. You can really tell that Naughty Dog took their time with this one as every little detail is polished to the tee.

The Last of Us 2 PS5 Review

Verdict

Do I recommend The Last of Us 2? Well, yes and no. If you are a person that wants to find out how Ellie’s story will unfold and you are not at all disturbed by actions that a normal person would regret doing, then, by all means, I will recommend it.

The game is not fun to play at all. It has this serious tone that might scar you psychologically after playing the entire thing. However, I do love the fact that the level design, as well as the characters, are well thought out and are really polished.

Without spoiling anything, the game doesn’t have a good ending, at least, when compared to other titles in this genre.

In conclusion, I would say that The Last of Us 2 is a dark, harrowing, and a terrifying sequel.

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Amazon Luna- Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s Cloud Gaming Service

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Amazon Luna

It seems that cloud gaming is the future as a lot of companies are pooling their resources just to make things happen.

Amazon Luna is Amazon’s foray into cloud gaming and it is going to be available soon. Read further to find out more information about this new experience.

Channel-based Platform

Amazon Luna Platform

Google has paved the way for cloud gaming to come to the fore with the release of the Stadia not too long ago. Although it was mired with a lot of different issues, it seems that the company has found a way to make things work.

Amazon also wants in on the action and although there are some similarities with Luna and Stadia, there are also some stark differences as well.

Before I begin, I just want to explain the concept of cloud gaming. Basically, instead of downloading games to your gaming PC or whatever platform you choose to install them, you will just stream those games using data centers that are scattered all over the world.

It should go without saying that you need to have a fast internet connection to make this happen and so that you will not experience high latency (which was a huge problem when Stadia launched).

That being said, the premise of Google Stadia is that you need to either purchase an individual game so that you can play it at any time (forever) or you could subscribe to the monthly plan and play the games that are on offer every month (and continue to play them so long as you’re subscribed).

With Amazon Luna, you will be presented with different channels that you can subscribe to. Each of these channels has different games on offer which makes this quite appealing for game developers to show their mettle.

Right now, the platform is still in beta and there are only two channels available at the moment- Amazon’s own Luna Plus and the Ubisoft Channel. The latter will have 50 games that you can play right away and more Ubisoft games will be added in the future.

Keep in mind that this channel-based system makes it so that developers can price their services accordingly. It remains to be seen how much Ubisoft will charge individual users, so stay tuned for that.

1080p and 4K Gaming

Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna will support both 1080p and 4K resolutions. Of course, the latter would be more taxing and you will need a fast internet connection to be able to enjoy high-fidelity gaming. I suggest that you get a WiFi 6 router and a compatible device to make the most out of your experience.

Cross-Platform Support

Amazon Luna Cross-Platform

Unlike Stadia, Amazon Luna is more flexible in that it supports a lot of different devices. Not only can you play on your PC, but you can also choose to play it using your iOS devices, Android phones, and you can even utilize the company’s own FireTV devices as well.

Now, there has been this entire debacle about Apple’s 30% cut on every app in its App store but the good news is that Amazon can circumvent that.

You see, when you are going to play on your iOS devices, the application will actually be a PWA or a Progressive Web App. Basically, the game that you want to play will run in a contained web browser instead of it being an actual application that you install in your device. This bypasses the whole 30% cut issue which is a good thing.

NVIDIA Hardware Use

According to a recent Steam survey, the vast majority of PC users are all using NVIDIA graphics cards. This is a good thing for Amazon Luna because it means that it can support a lot more people.

That is because the company’s cloud gaming service will use NVIDIA GPUs instead of AMD cards (which Stadia uses for graphics processing).

Supposing that Amazon Luna will be more popular than any other cloud gaming service out there, NVIDIA will enjoy huge profits as a result.

Can Be Streamed to Popular Sites

Amazon Luna Controller

Twitch is arguably the most popular streaming platform today and Amazon is looking to forge a partnership with the said service to allow you to stream your games to the popular website.

The said platform is widely used as a means of generating revenue- something that is quite popular today due to the recent pandemic.

This move also makes it appealing as well as more and more content creators can use Amazon Luna to reach a broader audience.

New Controller with Alexa Support

Amazon Luna Controller 2

Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna also requires you to get a special controller. The good thing is that the control will have a microphone so that you can use Alexa for specific voice commands.

What’s interesting about the Luna’s controller is that it is completely connected to the Cloud, which means that you do not have to pair it with the specific device you are going to use to play games online.

According to Amazon’s website, it should have a grippy texture and will feature low-friction thumbsticks that provide maximum performance across the board. By using the controller’s microphone, you can actually tell Alexa to fire up the specific game that you want to play, so long as it is inside the channel that you’ve subscribed to.

Conclusion

Amazon Luna is quite enticing, at least, on paper. It is shaping up to be a better cloud gaming service compared to its competitors but the service is still in beta, so there are more things that need ironing out before its official release.

Right now, there are only two channels that are available and Ubisoft hasn’t imposed its pricing yet. The Amazon Luna channel is priced at $6.99

If you are interested in getting in on the action, you can be an early beta tester by subscribing to the service.

Amazon Luna will be out sometime in October.

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Acer Nitro XV340CK Review- A Greatly Competitive Ultrawide Gaming Monitor Under $500

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Acer Nitro XV340CK Review

Ultrawide monitors used to be a niche display in that the only people who work on productivity tasks and creative workloads usually buy them.

Fortunately, the display technology has evolved and gamers, too, can enjoy a much wider screen.

Today, I am going to review the Acer Nitro XV340CK which is a 34-inch ultrawide gaming monitor that is priced competitively. 

Design

Even though this is marketed as a gaming monitor, the Acer Nitro XV340CK actually doesn’t look like it. It looks simple and I love the aesthetics, especially if you want to place this in your office.

The only thing that might make you think that this is a gaming display is that red accent that you can find on the base of the monitor but that’s about it.

Anyway, let’s start with the stand. Aside from the aforementioned red accent, the stand provides good ergonomics.

It gives you the ability to swivel the monitor a complete 360 degrees, you can tilt it to 35 degrees back and you can adjust the height up to 5.9 inches. Because this is an ultrawide monitor, you cannot put this thing in portrait mode.

I love the fact that this monitor has slim bezels. At only 0.4 inches, you can place another monitor right beside it and it wouldn’t really take a lot of screen real estate at all.

The overall build quality is good. Despite the fact that it doesn’t feel premium, at least when compared to the best gaming monitors out there, it still feels sturdy nevertheless.

For the ports, you get two Displayport 1.4 ports, two HDMI 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. Due to the wealth of ports on offer, you can use this for your PC or your game console.

The only thing that might be cumbersome for some users is that the OSD controls are situated at the back of the monitor- particularly on the bottom right side. The buttons are also a bit smaller than usual, so you may have a hard time pressing the right ones.

Display

Acer Nitro XV340CK Review 2020

The Acer Nitro XV340CK has a 34-inch IPS display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440 and an aspect ratio of 21:9. It is the same as other ultrawide gaming monitors that you can find on the market so there is no problem with that.

You do have the option to enable the picture-in-picture mode so that you can divide the display in two if you wish to fire up two different programs at the same time. This is why it is not only a handy gaming monitor, but it can also be used for office work as well.

Its contrast and brightness leave much to be desired. With a native contrast ratio of 1048:1 and peak SDR brightness of only 247 nits, it is not the best display when it comes to these things.

However, its redeeming quality is that its colors are accurate. After calibration, I got 95% sRGB, 82% AdobeRGB, and 81% DCI-P3. It is relatively color accurate and it would have been nice for creative workloads, but its peak brightness just falls short of making it an ideal display for such use-cases.

It is also worth noting that if you are in a well-lit room that the brightness could be a huge issue. The good thing is that the display’s matte finish can help reduce glare significantly, though you will still find that it is not bright enough in some situations.

I am surprised by the fact that there is literally no color bleed on the Acer Nitro XV340CK. This is unheard of, especially since ultrawide monitors are notorious for this.

Performance

Sure, its peak brightness and contrast could have improved, but gamers are not especially focused on those things. If anything, it is the performance of the display that usually takes the cake and I am happy to report that you won’t be disappointed with the Nitro XV340CK.

Normally, with IPS panels, they tend to not have a good response time, but that is actually not the case here. At just 5.3ms, it is definitely one of the best out there even when compared to other, more premium models.

How about input lag? This is a speed monitor and as expected, input lag is minimal. At just 4.2ms, I am really blown away by the performance of this thing. Every keypress on your gaming keyboard will register almost immediately and that is really great from a competitive standpoint.

It is also worth noting that its 144Hz refresh rate is ideal, especially since most gamers are clamoring for high refresh rate displays anyway.

This is a FreeSync gaming monitor and you can enable this variable refresh rate feature in both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.

To get a hold of the said features, it is important for you to know that you should use the DisplayPort cable that is included in the box. There is also an included HDMI cable if you want to use this display for your Xbox or Playstation consoles.

Acer Nitro XV340CK

Verdict

With all of those things being said, if I were to ask you how much this thing costs, what will be your guess? If you’ve guessed around $700, you’re wrong.

The Acer Nitro XV340CK is priced at just $450! At that price, you are getting a relatively color-accurate monitor, a really fast display with minimal input lag, and a vast number of ports that you can use for your PC or game consoles.

Sure, its contrast and peak brightness could have been improved, but if you are talking about raw gaming performance, the Acer Nitro XV340CK blows other ultrawide gaming monitors out of the way.

Just make sure that you have a nice gaming PC for this thing to work nicely. Other than that, I highly recommend the Acer Nitro XV340CK for its price and performance.

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HyperX Cloud Stinger S- A Comfortable 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset

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HyperX Cloud Stinger S Review

As an audiophile, I’ve always loved HyperX’s gaming audio solution. They are inexpensive and for the price, you are actually getting sound quality that you normally would only hear from expensive products.

In today’s article, I am going to review the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. This is a budget offering that aims to improve upon the original Cloud Stinger with the inclusion of a 7.1 surround sound option.

Do I recommend this headset? Find out later on in the article.

Design

The HyperX Cloud Stinger S is actually quite similar to the original version. It has the same pleather ear cups that envelope your ears quite nicely and the clamping force of the headset itself is actually quite okay.

I’ve been receiving reports that there are some people that have problems with the tightness or, shall I say, how loose this thing can be. But that will probably be a result of the size of your head and not the actual product itself. For me, the fit was okay, but your mileage may vary.

Although this thing is predominantly made in plastic, the overall build quality is good, though I would advise you not to throw this headset when you lose a round in a MOBA game or first-person shooter.

There is a microphone on this headset and just like the original, it is not removable. It would have been nice if you could remove it when you are not using it because even if you fold the microphone (which also acts as a way of muting it), you will still see it which can be annoying at times.

This thing is quite simple and all you have for the controls is the volume slider that is located on the right ear cup. 

While other HyperX gaming headsets come with a carrying pouch, I am sad to say that the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t have one.

All you get in the box aside from the headset is a USB dongle that is attached to a relatively long cable and some documentation. And, since you use this thing completely wired, it can also be used in your Playstation or other game consoles as well.

The 3.5mm analog cable should be inserted in the USB dongle if you wish to use its 7.1 surround sound implementation, but if you are just going to watch movies or play non-competitive games, I suggest that you do not use it.

Audio Quality

HyperX Cloud Stinger S Review 2020

There are two modes that you can utilize if you are going to use the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. You can use its 3.5mm headphone jack and enjoy stereo sound or you could insert that into the included USB dongle and use the 7.1 surround sound feature.

Keep in mind that if you are going to use the 7.1 output that it is only supported on the PC since you will need the NGENUITY software to enable it.

That being said, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S’ sound signature leans more toward being bright and with a little emphasis on the bass. This seems to be the preference of the majority of gamers since lower frequencies can make those in-game sounds pop-out more.

I also love the mid frequencies as it is quite balanced as well. I’ve had no problems listening to in-game dialog and when I am using the microphone, it just works really well.

Although the high frequencies are okay, I would say that it is the weakest of the bunch, though not so much as to diminish the overall sound quality. You will still hear the sibilance of the cymbals and lead guitars, but it is not as pronounced as the lower and mid frequencies.

As for the 7.1 surround sound, you should enable it in the companion software and it is only available when you are on the PC.

Anyway, its surround sound is okay but I say this because it is a budget gaming headset. If you compare it to the more premium ones, this is subpar at best. Still, you could enable it in your favorite games but I will advise against it if you are just listening to music or watching movies.

Despite a relatively good clamping force, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t do so well in terms of sound isolation. People around me can still hear what I was listening to, so this might not be ideal if you are playing at night and there are people sleeping.

Microphone Quality

HyperX Cloud Stinger S

There is usually this notion that budget headsets have horrible microphones but not the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. In fact, I would go on to say that it has one of the better ones on the market.

Instead of sounding tinny, the microphone quality of the Cloud Stinger S is full-bodied and my teammates can hear every word I said without any problems.

The volume of the microphone is also quite good as well. Normally, with budget offerings, you tend to sound a bit ‘too far’ but that is not the case here.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the microphone. The only thing that I do not like is that the flippable microphone may impede your vision sometimes, but I think that you can adjust to this.

Verdict

For a budget headset, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is definitely one of the better sounding ones. I also love the fact that the microphone’s quality is top-notch and it can even go head-to-head against its more premium counterparts.

I am just a bit disappointed that you do not get a carrying pouch with this one because other HyperX gaming headsets have them. But, this is a minor inconvenience.

I did not feel the need to talk about the NGENUITY software mainly because it is pretty barebones and all you can do with it is to enable the 7.1 surround sound, adjust the volume and microphone, and that’s about it. There is no equalizer present which is quite odd.

Still, for what it is giving you, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is highly recommended. This thing costs $60.

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The Last of Us 2 Honest Review- A Dark, Harrowing, and Terrifying Sequel

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The Last of Us 2

Ever since the Playstation 5 reveal event happened just recently, people seem to be excited about the games that are going to be released along with it. However, let’s take a step back to talk about a game that will be released in June.

This article will be an honest review of The Last of Us 2.

Story

The Last of Us 2 is the sequel to the highly-acclaimed game released a few years ago. It revolves around Ellie, who is now 19 years old and is set to a dark path that is filled with serious consequences.

It is a survival-horror, third-person shooter where every choice you make will have a profound impact on both the player and the game.

Let me just remind you that if you are queasy, this one is definitely not for you. It is not only terrifying but it is certainly harrowing to the extent that I had to take long pauses just to collect myself to play the game again.

Anyway, The Last of Us 2 is set in an established settlement in Wyoming. For things that I will not spoil in this article, Ellie chose to go to Seattle and as you can probably tell, things will get a lot darker as the game progresses. You could say that Ellie is on a path of vengeance.

There are three factions that you need to be wary about. The first is the infected which consists of both zombies and actual monsters. The next two factions consist of humans with different ideologies.

WLF is a military organization and the enemies in this faction can carry high-powered guns along with dogs that can track your scent quickly and easily. The other faction is known as the Seraphins which is a religious group that has a different worldview than the previously-mentioned group.

Both of the said factions will fight over whatever limited resources are lying around. Ellie just has bad luck because she is caught in the middle.

Gameplay

The Last of Us 2 Review

As mentioned earlier, The Last of Us 2 is a survival-horror, third-person shooter and while you can definitely whip out your guns and shoot at the bad guys, you can also use a more stealthy approach to killing your enemies as well.

Keep in mind that unlike any other games in this genre, every kill that you make will result in serious consequences. How serious, you ask?

Let’s say that you saw a member of the WLF that wants to attack you since he/she is not familiar with you. If you chose to stick a knife to their throats, you will find out later when you are strolling around that this particular person is missing and his/her friends and family are looking for them.

That level of ingenuity makes this game appealing to a certain extent, but what makes this difficult to recommend to everyone is that it is just presented in the most violent way.

As is customary for survival horror games set in a post-apocalyptic era, your choice of weapons ranges from knives to rifle-class artillery. But, you can also find modified weapons such as barbed baseball bats, shivs, and a whole lot more.

If you go the stealthy approach and stick someone with a knife, they might tell you that they do not want to die as they have a child waiting for them to come home.

It’s events like those that make this a harrowing game to play and you can probably understand why I needed to stop a couple of times just to get myself to play it again.

Ellie has a love interest and she is the perfect complement to her headstrong personality.

Design

Let’s get out of the gameplay for a second and talk about the game’s design. All I can say is that despite this being set in a post-apocalyptic America, the environments are really impeccable. This will be even more so when the Playstation 5 version launches sometime next year.

I also love not only the character design but also their personalities as well. You can really tell that Naughty Dog took their time with this one as every little detail is polished to the tee.

The Last of Us 2 PS5 Review

Verdict

Do I recommend The Last of Us 2? Well, yes and no. If you are a person that wants to find out how Ellie’s story will unfold and you are not at all disturbed by actions that a normal person would regret doing, then, by all means, I will recommend it.

The game is not fun to play at all. It has this serious tone that might scar you psychologically after playing the entire thing. However, I do love the fact that the level design, as well as the characters, are well thought out and are really polished.

Without spoiling anything, the game doesn’t have a good ending, at least, when compared to other titles in this genre.

In conclusion, I would say that The Last of Us 2 is a dark, harrowing, and a terrifying sequel.

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Amazon Luna- Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s Cloud Gaming Service

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Amazon Luna

It seems that cloud gaming is the future as a lot of companies are pooling their resources just to make things happen.

Amazon Luna is Amazon’s foray into cloud gaming and it is going to be available soon. Read further to find out more information about this new experience.

Channel-based Platform

Amazon Luna Platform

Google has paved the way for cloud gaming to come to the fore with the release of the Stadia not too long ago. Although it was mired with a lot of different issues, it seems that the company has found a way to make things work.

Amazon also wants in on the action and although there are some similarities with Luna and Stadia, there are also some stark differences as well.

Before I begin, I just want to explain the concept of cloud gaming. Basically, instead of downloading games to your gaming PC or whatever platform you choose to install them, you will just stream those games using data centers that are scattered all over the world.

It should go without saying that you need to have a fast internet connection to make this happen and so that you will not experience high latency (which was a huge problem when Stadia launched).

That being said, the premise of Google Stadia is that you need to either purchase an individual game so that you can play it at any time (forever) or you could subscribe to the monthly plan and play the games that are on offer every month (and continue to play them so long as you’re subscribed).

With Amazon Luna, you will be presented with different channels that you can subscribe to. Each of these channels has different games on offer which makes this quite appealing for game developers to show their mettle.

Right now, the platform is still in beta and there are only two channels available at the moment- Amazon’s own Luna Plus and the Ubisoft Channel. The latter will have 50 games that you can play right away and more Ubisoft games will be added in the future.

Keep in mind that this channel-based system makes it so that developers can price their services accordingly. It remains to be seen how much Ubisoft will charge individual users, so stay tuned for that.

1080p and 4K Gaming

Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna will support both 1080p and 4K resolutions. Of course, the latter would be more taxing and you will need a fast internet connection to be able to enjoy high-fidelity gaming. I suggest that you get a WiFi 6 router and a compatible device to make the most out of your experience.

Cross-Platform Support

Amazon Luna Cross-Platform

Unlike Stadia, Amazon Luna is more flexible in that it supports a lot of different devices. Not only can you play on your PC, but you can also choose to play it using your iOS devices, Android phones, and you can even utilize the company’s own FireTV devices as well.

Now, there has been this entire debacle about Apple’s 30% cut on every app in its App store but the good news is that Amazon can circumvent that.

You see, when you are going to play on your iOS devices, the application will actually be a PWA or a Progressive Web App. Basically, the game that you want to play will run in a contained web browser instead of it being an actual application that you install in your device. This bypasses the whole 30% cut issue which is a good thing.

NVIDIA Hardware Use

According to a recent Steam survey, the vast majority of PC users are all using NVIDIA graphics cards. This is a good thing for Amazon Luna because it means that it can support a lot more people.

That is because the company’s cloud gaming service will use NVIDIA GPUs instead of AMD cards (which Stadia uses for graphics processing).

Supposing that Amazon Luna will be more popular than any other cloud gaming service out there, NVIDIA will enjoy huge profits as a result.

Can Be Streamed to Popular Sites

Amazon Luna Controller

Twitch is arguably the most popular streaming platform today and Amazon is looking to forge a partnership with the said service to allow you to stream your games to the popular website.

The said platform is widely used as a means of generating revenue- something that is quite popular today due to the recent pandemic.

This move also makes it appealing as well as more and more content creators can use Amazon Luna to reach a broader audience.

New Controller with Alexa Support

Amazon Luna Controller 2

Just like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna also requires you to get a special controller. The good thing is that the control will have a microphone so that you can use Alexa for specific voice commands.

What’s interesting about the Luna’s controller is that it is completely connected to the Cloud, which means that you do not have to pair it with the specific device you are going to use to play games online.

According to Amazon’s website, it should have a grippy texture and will feature low-friction thumbsticks that provide maximum performance across the board. By using the controller’s microphone, you can actually tell Alexa to fire up the specific game that you want to play, so long as it is inside the channel that you’ve subscribed to.

Conclusion

Amazon Luna is quite enticing, at least, on paper. It is shaping up to be a better cloud gaming service compared to its competitors but the service is still in beta, so there are more things that need ironing out before its official release.

Right now, there are only two channels that are available and Ubisoft hasn’t imposed its pricing yet. The Amazon Luna channel is priced at $6.99

If you are interested in getting in on the action, you can be an early beta tester by subscribing to the service.

Amazon Luna will be out sometime in October.

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Acer Nitro XV340CK Review- A Greatly Competitive Ultrawide Gaming Monitor Under $500

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Acer Nitro XV340CK Review

Ultrawide monitors used to be a niche display in that the only people who work on productivity tasks and creative workloads usually buy them.

Fortunately, the display technology has evolved and gamers, too, can enjoy a much wider screen.

Today, I am going to review the Acer Nitro XV340CK which is a 34-inch ultrawide gaming monitor that is priced competitively. 

Design

Even though this is marketed as a gaming monitor, the Acer Nitro XV340CK actually doesn’t look like it. It looks simple and I love the aesthetics, especially if you want to place this in your office.

The only thing that might make you think that this is a gaming display is that red accent that you can find on the base of the monitor but that’s about it.

Anyway, let’s start with the stand. Aside from the aforementioned red accent, the stand provides good ergonomics.

It gives you the ability to swivel the monitor a complete 360 degrees, you can tilt it to 35 degrees back and you can adjust the height up to 5.9 inches. Because this is an ultrawide monitor, you cannot put this thing in portrait mode.

I love the fact that this monitor has slim bezels. At only 0.4 inches, you can place another monitor right beside it and it wouldn’t really take a lot of screen real estate at all.

The overall build quality is good. Despite the fact that it doesn’t feel premium, at least when compared to the best gaming monitors out there, it still feels sturdy nevertheless.

For the ports, you get two Displayport 1.4 ports, two HDMI 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. Due to the wealth of ports on offer, you can use this for your PC or your game console.

The only thing that might be cumbersome for some users is that the OSD controls are situated at the back of the monitor- particularly on the bottom right side. The buttons are also a bit smaller than usual, so you may have a hard time pressing the right ones.

Display

Acer Nitro XV340CK Review 2020

The Acer Nitro XV340CK has a 34-inch IPS display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440 and an aspect ratio of 21:9. It is the same as other ultrawide gaming monitors that you can find on the market so there is no problem with that.

You do have the option to enable the picture-in-picture mode so that you can divide the display in two if you wish to fire up two different programs at the same time. This is why it is not only a handy gaming monitor, but it can also be used for office work as well.

Its contrast and brightness leave much to be desired. With a native contrast ratio of 1048:1 and peak SDR brightness of only 247 nits, it is not the best display when it comes to these things.

However, its redeeming quality is that its colors are accurate. After calibration, I got 95% sRGB, 82% AdobeRGB, and 81% DCI-P3. It is relatively color accurate and it would have been nice for creative workloads, but its peak brightness just falls short of making it an ideal display for such use-cases.

It is also worth noting that if you are in a well-lit room that the brightness could be a huge issue. The good thing is that the display’s matte finish can help reduce glare significantly, though you will still find that it is not bright enough in some situations.

I am surprised by the fact that there is literally no color bleed on the Acer Nitro XV340CK. This is unheard of, especially since ultrawide monitors are notorious for this.

Performance

Sure, its peak brightness and contrast could have improved, but gamers are not especially focused on those things. If anything, it is the performance of the display that usually takes the cake and I am happy to report that you won’t be disappointed with the Nitro XV340CK.

Normally, with IPS panels, they tend to not have a good response time, but that is actually not the case here. At just 5.3ms, it is definitely one of the best out there even when compared to other, more premium models.

How about input lag? This is a speed monitor and as expected, input lag is minimal. At just 4.2ms, I am really blown away by the performance of this thing. Every keypress on your gaming keyboard will register almost immediately and that is really great from a competitive standpoint.

It is also worth noting that its 144Hz refresh rate is ideal, especially since most gamers are clamoring for high refresh rate displays anyway.

This is a FreeSync gaming monitor and you can enable this variable refresh rate feature in both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.

To get a hold of the said features, it is important for you to know that you should use the DisplayPort cable that is included in the box. There is also an included HDMI cable if you want to use this display for your Xbox or Playstation consoles.

Acer Nitro XV340CK

Verdict

With all of those things being said, if I were to ask you how much this thing costs, what will be your guess? If you’ve guessed around $700, you’re wrong.

The Acer Nitro XV340CK is priced at just $450! At that price, you are getting a relatively color-accurate monitor, a really fast display with minimal input lag, and a vast number of ports that you can use for your PC or game consoles.

Sure, its contrast and peak brightness could have been improved, but if you are talking about raw gaming performance, the Acer Nitro XV340CK blows other ultrawide gaming monitors out of the way.

Just make sure that you have a nice gaming PC for this thing to work nicely. Other than that, I highly recommend the Acer Nitro XV340CK for its price and performance.

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HyperX Cloud Stinger S- A Comfortable 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset

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HyperX Cloud Stinger S Review

As an audiophile, I’ve always loved HyperX’s gaming audio solution. They are inexpensive and for the price, you are actually getting sound quality that you normally would only hear from expensive products.

In today’s article, I am going to review the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. This is a budget offering that aims to improve upon the original Cloud Stinger with the inclusion of a 7.1 surround sound option.

Do I recommend this headset? Find out later on in the article.

Design

The HyperX Cloud Stinger S is actually quite similar to the original version. It has the same pleather ear cups that envelope your ears quite nicely and the clamping force of the headset itself is actually quite okay.

I’ve been receiving reports that there are some people that have problems with the tightness or, shall I say, how loose this thing can be. But that will probably be a result of the size of your head and not the actual product itself. For me, the fit was okay, but your mileage may vary.

Although this thing is predominantly made in plastic, the overall build quality is good, though I would advise you not to throw this headset when you lose a round in a MOBA game or first-person shooter.

There is a microphone on this headset and just like the original, it is not removable. It would have been nice if you could remove it when you are not using it because even if you fold the microphone (which also acts as a way of muting it), you will still see it which can be annoying at times.

This thing is quite simple and all you have for the controls is the volume slider that is located on the right ear cup. 

While other HyperX gaming headsets come with a carrying pouch, I am sad to say that the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t have one.

All you get in the box aside from the headset is a USB dongle that is attached to a relatively long cable and some documentation. And, since you use this thing completely wired, it can also be used in your Playstation or other game consoles as well.

The 3.5mm analog cable should be inserted in the USB dongle if you wish to use its 7.1 surround sound implementation, but if you are just going to watch movies or play non-competitive games, I suggest that you do not use it.

Audio Quality

HyperX Cloud Stinger S Review 2020

There are two modes that you can utilize if you are going to use the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. You can use its 3.5mm headphone jack and enjoy stereo sound or you could insert that into the included USB dongle and use the 7.1 surround sound feature.

Keep in mind that if you are going to use the 7.1 output that it is only supported on the PC since you will need the NGENUITY software to enable it.

That being said, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S’ sound signature leans more toward being bright and with a little emphasis on the bass. This seems to be the preference of the majority of gamers since lower frequencies can make those in-game sounds pop-out more.

I also love the mid frequencies as it is quite balanced as well. I’ve had no problems listening to in-game dialog and when I am using the microphone, it just works really well.

Although the high frequencies are okay, I would say that it is the weakest of the bunch, though not so much as to diminish the overall sound quality. You will still hear the sibilance of the cymbals and lead guitars, but it is not as pronounced as the lower and mid frequencies.

As for the 7.1 surround sound, you should enable it in the companion software and it is only available when you are on the PC.

Anyway, its surround sound is okay but I say this because it is a budget gaming headset. If you compare it to the more premium ones, this is subpar at best. Still, you could enable it in your favorite games but I will advise against it if you are just listening to music or watching movies.

Despite a relatively good clamping force, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t do so well in terms of sound isolation. People around me can still hear what I was listening to, so this might not be ideal if you are playing at night and there are people sleeping.

Microphone Quality

HyperX Cloud Stinger S

There is usually this notion that budget headsets have horrible microphones but not the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. In fact, I would go on to say that it has one of the better ones on the market.

Instead of sounding tinny, the microphone quality of the Cloud Stinger S is full-bodied and my teammates can hear every word I said without any problems.

The volume of the microphone is also quite good as well. Normally, with budget offerings, you tend to sound a bit ‘too far’ but that is not the case here.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the microphone. The only thing that I do not like is that the flippable microphone may impede your vision sometimes, but I think that you can adjust to this.

Verdict

For a budget headset, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is definitely one of the better sounding ones. I also love the fact that the microphone’s quality is top-notch and it can even go head-to-head against its more premium counterparts.

I am just a bit disappointed that you do not get a carrying pouch with this one because other HyperX gaming headsets have them. But, this is a minor inconvenience.

I did not feel the need to talk about the NGENUITY software mainly because it is pretty barebones and all you can do with it is to enable the 7.1 surround sound, adjust the volume and microphone, and that’s about it. There is no equalizer present which is quite odd.

Still, for what it is giving you, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is highly recommended. This thing costs $60.

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