Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New Challengers: Toshiba 40E220U 40″ LCD HDTV and Blue Snowball Microphone

New Challengers: Toshiba 40E220U 40″ LCD HDTV and Blue Snowball Microphone:

Today has been a banner day for the House of Major! I have beaten the Black Friday shoppers in scoring a very nice piece of tech while the other was just purchased because I was tired of hearing how terrible I sounded on The MajorTrain Show.  Of course I’m talking about my new Toshiba LCD HDTV and Blue Snowball Microphone, respectively.

Toshiba 40″ LCD HDTV


Now, as you seen in previous posts, I own a couple of 1080p monitors that I use for work and play in my office. However, when it came to “family” entertainment and my Xbox 360 gaming, I had been using a Visio 32″ LCD HDTV.  It was the first TV purchase that I had made and had bought it refurbished from CompUSA.  The TV was great, but I had run into several issues with it and my TimeWarner cable box.  While I’m one to ignore issues and live with them (I still own my Xbox 360), my fiance wasn’t having it.  She wanted the TV replaced with either  a new one or her old 15″ CRT standard definition TV (preferably the CRT).
Luckily, Best Buy was having a Black Friday sale that offered the Toshiba 40E220U for an amazing price of $179.  Well, as we aren’t completely balling yet, we figured this was as good a time as any to purchase a new TV.  You know? Its quite funny that I only make questionable purchases like this around this time (my 250 GB Xbox 360 was purchased around this time for $200).
The original plan was for me to go to Best Buy and purchase this TV once it became available at midnight on Friday.  But, then, luck struck me in the form of a CompUSA email at 1:30am this morning while I was finishing up work.  The email mentioned that I could get the same TV at the same price and not have to be in line at Best Buy while sane people were sleeping. So, I figured I’d just go there.
I had it all planned out.  The website stated that the store wouldn’t open until 10:00am.  So, I leave the house at 9:00am, go get some breakfast to eat in my car as I wait for the store to open, and be the first one in when the doors open. I figured this would be the easiest plan as no one would have been awoke at 1:30am to get the email I would be the only one around to buy it. Boy was I wrong.
As I arrived at the store, I noticed that people were coming in and out around 9:30am.  This was weird as the sign even stated that the store doesn’t open until 10:00am. So, I got out of my car and walked in.  Noticing that people were shopping, I began to dart around the store, searching every group of discounted TVs to find my treasure.  I then gave up as I wasn’t able to find it on my own.
I asked a salesman where I can find it and opened the email on my phone to show him the TV.  He states he sold out of the 5 TVs they had in stock HOURS ago and told me I should have gotten their earlier as they opened early for the sale.  I wasted our time in pleading my case, saying that the website didn’t mention this and that I followed directions (cheaters!)
Realizing that I was beaten at my own game, I called my fiance to see if she wanted to buy another TV which would have been a little more expensive.  During the phone groveling, I was walking around the store trying to find another potential mark and happened to spot the what I would like to consider the Hail Mary play.  In front of me sit the very TV I was looking for, only it was the display model.
I quickly sought out another salesman who I figured wouldn’t put up much of a fight if I tried to push.  I caught the attention of one and stated I wanted the TV if they had it in stock.  He told me the same thing the other said.  So I asked him could I buy the one on display.  He leaves and comes back and says that I can.  Now I’m not sure how long it had been since they had sold out of the TVs in the box, but I started to wonder why no one else seemed to try this.  Were there only 5 people who wanted the TV? Did anyone ever care to check and see if the TV was set up on display with the other TVs.  I decided to stop questioning it and just get out of the store before CompUSA changed their mind.


Upon bringing the TV into the house, it was easy to set up.  It was easily heavier than my 32″ Visio, but that should be obvious.  This TV only has two HDMI ports which is just fine for me as only my cable box and Xbox 360 are down there and both utilize HDMI.  This would have been a real bummer if I hadn’t moved my PS3 upstairs. In all honesty, I may not have even considered the TV in the first place if I had more than two HDMI cable devices that needed to use that TV.

When I was in the store, the size didn’t look all that big, and compared to other HDTVs in other households, 40″ may not be the biggest and brightest, but coming from 32″ and 720p, there was a noticeable difference when watching cable TV and Netflix on the Xbox 360.  The biggest let down for me was when I started to actually play video games.  Games that run at 1080p didn’t really look all that great (except Mass Effect).  NCAA ’13 was the absolute worse and thought that I had made the worse decision.  After going deeper into the game, though, I realized that it may had just been the title screen that looked terrible as it did get a little better.
I haven’t had time to see if the cable box issues are still present with this TV, but if you’re curious, I guess I could let you know.

Blue Snowball Microphone


This purchase was actually a long time coming since I had started podcasting.  I can’t remember when or why I bought them, but I had purchased a headset from RadioShack.  I used the headset for a lot of things over the years like podcasting, Skype calls, work related calls with a VOIP app.  The sad thing was, they hurt my ears…A LOT!  I then purchased a gaming headset, the Triton AX 180.  While those were comfortable for my ears, pain-wise, it didn’t really help heat-wise as it makes my ears nice and sweating after a gaming or podcast session with them on.
While dealing with the lesser of two evils, I find that the podcasts that I were hosting sounded particularly bad with the headset I was using.  It wasn’t that it couldn’t be fixed but it was extremely hard to fix as I probably wasn’t using it for its intended purposes, gaming on a Windows PC.  After listening to the latest episode of The MajorTrain Show, I knew it was time for a change. And, so, I made it…


With the few hours that I have spent with the Snowball, I have absolutely fallen in love with it!  On Amazon, it’s considered a piece of musical equipment, and I most definitely understand why. It can be used on both USB 1.1 and 2.0, but obviously to get the best quality, use it on 2.0.  I was able to record myself on Audacity and can here my voice and only my voice (except for when I moved in my chair and it creaked (yes, I know I’m fat! lol). If you only have USB 1.1 (which wouldn’t make since unless you’re like me and have a USB 1.1 hub), there will be a lot of noise, but if you know how to use Audacity (or any audio editing software), you can remove it and be just fine.  There are three settings on the back of the device that are used for different things. One is for single podcasting or single voice work. The second is for live performances. The third is for conference calls and interviews.  The third one will come in handy for The MajorTrain Show as it will allow my fiance and I to record in the same room without any elaborate set up.

Physically, it is amazing.  I opted for the black model as it tends to go with every other piece of technology that I own.  The weight is fantastic.  I was surprised at how heavy it weighed, but I believe if things have a bit of girth to it, I can trust it a little more.  It makes me feel as if the build quality is a lot better than others.  The stand that comes packed in is small, but in a good way.  Is all you really need to keep the Snowball in the air and doesn’t really get in the way of anything.

Whew! That was a lot to go through, but we all made it to the end.  Please, leave any comments of anything you are looking forward for Black Friday.  Heck, maybe you can write down some dream items on your Christmas list and compare with others.

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