Picking out the best 27” WQHD (2560 x 1440) monitor for you

So you have decided to take the plunge into the more-than-HD realm, but you haven’t decided which WQHD 27” monitor will fit your work/play style best? You’ve come to the right place!

After researching, here are the very best (only?) options available under $600, with pros and cons for each. All are either IPS or PLS, with viewing angles at 178 degrees vertical and horizontal. In addition, you typically will get a great 8-bit+2-bit frame-rate-control (FRC, used to simulate more colors), 10-bits total color, monitor, with spectacular color reproduction. Not worth it to buy a TN monitor with poor viewing angles at this screen size, and even 24” IPS monitors these days are running e-IPS with 6-bit color + 2 bits of FRC.

Key trade-offs between all the monitors below? Price (of course), stand features and quality, warranty support and length, reliability, and to some extent, color reproduction (which these all do reasonably well).

HP ZR2740w 27″ LED LCD Monitor

hp_zr2740w
A few years old (released in 2011), but this is an oldie-but-a-goodie, considering it can be had as low as $349 refurbished or used, and around $449 new.

Pros: Great 3 year warranty when bought new, from a great company, HP. No OSD (on screen display) which improves response time. Great stand with lots of adjustability, tilt, swivel etc…

Cons: Older IPS technology, lack of controls beyond brightness, only two inputs (displayport and dual-link DVI).  Might be stuck around 60hz. Reliability issues with the power supply, partially offset by the higher quality warranty.

ASUS PB278Q 27-Inch WQHD LED-lit PLS Monitor

asus_pb278q

The Asus is a spectacular newer monitor, utilizing PLS, the Samsung-version of LG’s IPS, with of course all of the great viewing angles of IPS. Lots of inputs including HDMI 1.4 (1.4 is needed to drive 2560×1440), DisplayPort and dual-link DVI. A bit pricier at roughly $549 new, $500 used.

Pros: Great stand, great warranty from a well-known company. Warranty starts when the monitor was originally bought (if you buy used, or from a “Like New” Amazon Warehouse Deal). Less ghosting than the HP ZR2740w above due to newer technology and “overdrive” capabilities (settings from 0-100, I hear 40 is best).

Cons: Pricier, but not overly so like some of the $600+ 27” WQHD monitors available.  Might be stuck around 60hz, uses PWM at 240hz, so may see some visible flicker at lower brightness levels.

Dell U2713HM-IPS-LED CVN85 27-Inch Screen LED-lit Monitor
dell_u2713hm

The pseudo-standard, Dell’s newest IPS 27” ultrasharp is a great choice as well, with an LG IPS screen, and a spectacular warranty via Dell, known for its monitors and great warranty support. Clocking in at nearly $600 is a bit of a tougher pill to swallow however.

Pros: Great stand as well, great warranty from a well-known company.

Cons: On the pricier end for 27” IPS WQHD monitors. Might be stuck around 60hz.

QNIX QX2710 LED Evolution II PLS Monitor

qnix_qx2710_evolution_ii

The QNIX is a Korean monitor, imported into the US via various resellers for your consumption (they sell around $225 in Korea apparently), with a PLS Samsung A “minus” screen.  Similar to screens used in the Apple Cinema Displays, which use A+ grade screens, but at a slightly lower grade. The big plus here is the ability to overclock to at least 96hz, maybe even 120hz. For gamers, that’s a huge win.

Pros: Ability to overclock from 60hz to 90+hz. A bargain at $379 for “pixel perfect” (1 or less dead pixels, not near the center of the screen) or cheaper if you want to take a gamble. External power supply, which can be good if that’s the part that goes bad (easy to replace vs. replacing the whole monitor).

Cons: Only dual-link DVI. Awful cheap stand. Warranty support is questionable at best. Hopefully it arrives in one piece from Korea, without extra customs required (yikes!). Reliability can be questionable, but overall not too bad, and better than the HP above.

Nixeus WQHD 27-Inch H-IPS Ultra High Resolution 2560×1440 Monitor NX-VUE27

nixeus_nx_vue27

The Nixeus is similar to the Korean WQHD monitors, but made by a company here in the US, and carries a 1 year warranty to match. The stand is in-between in quality, with tilt, pivot and height adjustment, although a cheaper feel than a monitor like the Dell 27”.

Pros: Cheaper than a Dell 27”, decent stand, US company with a 1 year warranty. Uses an external power supply like the QNIX above, so replacement is easy if it goes bad. Wide range of inputs vs. the QNIX (could be a Con if you’re interested in lower response times).

Cons: Some reliability issues, but better than the HP above. Stand is better than nothing, but worse than the Dell or HP stand.

Auria EQ276WN from Microcenter (if available in your city)

Similar to the Nixeus, but a worse stand, and you need to have a Microcenter nearby to pick one up. Replacement for the EQ276W, don’t let the higher-than-2560×1440 resolution confuse you, this is a 2560×1440 monitor with weirdness to get a higher, non-native resolution. Why they did this is beyond me, sounds like a weird marketing idea.

Pros: Good price ($399), local pickup can be easy for exchanges or if you need it today (vs. a monitor from Korea that would need to be returned to… Korea!).

Cons: Stand is bad, no-name brand, probably should get an extended warranty to get coverage >1 year.

That gives you a few very enticing choices to look at in the WQHD arena, with prices from $300 at the cheapest with the QNIX coming from Korea, to $600 for a well-known brand like Dell. Let me be clear — these monitors are insanely nice when you see them in person, so you really can’t go wrong with any one of them. There are some reliability issues almost across the board, but for a big monitor taking in up to 100+ watts of power (and subsequent heat) in some cases, reliability issues should be somewhat expected. Luckily there are several options to choose from, so hopefully you’ll find a good 27” WQHD monitor to fit all of your needs.

What’s the best easy and cheap way to get a cab or taxi?

I travel via taxi often for work, and getting to the Boston airport is a burden at times, especially early (4am or 5am) in the morning. Luckily I have a few options for the airport, such as the subway or a taxi.

My current favorite though, is UberX from Uber — in particular, the ride is around $25 to the airport (a bargain, in my opinion). And the best part is there’s no calling involved (who uses the phone anymore?) — I tap my location and request a driver in a couple of steps on my phone (android for me, but iOS devices work well too).

Some caveats — with UberX many times the drivers are new, and need some guidance for directions since they’re in a new neighborhood (or ask them to plug it in their GPS). So some direction is needed to help the driver out. Uber Black is much higher quality (all are limo drivers), although much more expensive — around 2x more in my experience (and out of my budget).

Also, to help with a cheaper first ride, here’s an uber promo/coupon code for free $20 when signing up with Uber (promo code: uberfree20ride ). Check it out!

What’s the best cheap and simple lapdesk for my laptop?

For a long time I didn’t use a lapdesk, since hey, why not just use a pillow? But after owning a simple and cheap lapdesk for a while, I can say that at the least, the one I own is great. I use mine on the couch, in the bedroom, and oddly enough use it for food too, so it’s not just for laptops.

I looked at a few lapdesks, and the one below is my favorite, in part because it is simple: thin, cheap, the side part retracts easily and is secure, and it also stores easily since it is thin.

Logitech N315 portable lapdesk and cooling pad

logitech n315 white lapdesk

The one above is in silver/white, but I own the one below:

logitech n315 black lapdesk
The texture is a bit hard to describe, but it’s the rubbery texture seen on a few electronics that is pretty grippy, here’s a close up:
logitech n315 lapdesk close up

The plain black and grey version works great. The grippy-ness holds my laptop well, and keeps me shielded from the extra heat, without having a noisy fan, not bad, not bad at all.

Here are the many other styles of the Logitech N315 lapdesks as well, if the basic black or white are not your favorite.

Chocolate Chip (Vegan) Muffin In A Mug Recipe

After seeing an awesome recipe for a blueberry muffin in a mug, I made a few changes both for what I had in the pantry, and for my dairy-free/lactose-intolerant self (ended up vegan too). The muffin was indeed, tasty and delicious.

Also lighter fare (a good thing) than the chocolate cake in a mug I have made several times in the past, but which seems to feel pretty heavy in my stomach. The mug muffin was nice and light.

muffin-in-a-mugYum.

 On to the recipe…

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup flour (I used 50% whole wheat, 50% white flour)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (brown sugar was used in the original recipe)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder (personally, I just tapped a bit in the mug)
  • 1/8 tsp salt (also just a few taps into the mug)
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut (palm) oil (other oils would also work)
  • 2 Tbsp almond milk (soy or regular milk would probably be just fine)
  • 1-2 Tbsp [vegan] chocolate chips (mmm…)
  • 1-2 drops of vanilla [optional]
  • Microwave and mug of course

Directions

  • Mix together dry ingredients in a microwave safe mug.
  • Add in the coconut oil (or other oil presumably would work fine), and mix by hand (I tried with a spoon and it’s unfortunately just a bit too sticky).
  • Stir in the almond milk and vanilla
  • Dump in the chocolate chips (or your selected muffin favorite) and mix together
  • Microwave on high for 90 seconds.

Heads up! The muffin was decidedly small for me — mine was only around an inch tall, even after rising in the microwave. Adjust the recipe and timing as needed for your appetite, and enjoy!

Where can I get my caffeine fix when I don’t drink coffee?

Caffeine. The legal drug of choice for many in the US and others throughout the world. Difficult to avoid when you need to stay up late or wake up early. Nonetheless, many of us consume it, but not all prefer the traditional choice of coffee to get an AM kick. What other caffeine choices are available?

hershey's cocoa powderContains caffeine (8.4mg per 1Tbsp). Yum.

List of caffeine sources for non-coffee-ists, and their caffeine content:

For reference, coffee has 95-200mg of caffeine per 8oz.

Also, caffeine is impossible to spell (“i before e, except after c, or as in -eigh as in neighbor and weigh” — or in caffeine, because… yeah). Two f’s, e before i, and an e on the end. What?

Simple and Easy Korean BBQ (bul gogi) on the Grill

See this post on BuzzFeed too!

Korean BBQ such as bul gogi (bul go gi, bulgogi etc…) is a super easy sweet and salty marinade that anyone can do, and it tastes ridiculously good. My family favorite recipe is below, so please indulge and let me know what you think in the comments!

Bul-gogi Recipe

2 lbs round roast (beef), sliced very thin (sandwich meat thin, around 1/16th – 1/8th an inch), have the meat guy/gal do this for you. Better beef works as well. Asian markets often have beef pre-sliced, which will make it a bit easier.
5 cloves of garlic (big cloves)
1/2 large sweet onion, or 1 small sweet onion [optional]
1/2 cup Coca-Cola
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon sesame oil [optional]
A dash of salt — the soy sauce is already salty, so not a required ingredient.

Directions:

Ready a container that will fit your beef and some extra liquid from the marinade. I typically will use a Pyrex container, since glass does not hold on to smells like plastic. A gallon (or two) ziplock bag will work too, just make sure to stand it up in the fridge so it doesn’t spill everywhere.

Chop up onion and garlic (no need for perfect chopping, it’s just for the marinade!). Mix in Coca-Cola, soy sauce, brown sugar, pepper, sesame oil and salt. Place your sliced up beef in the marinade, and place in fridge overnight, or for several hours (all day at the least — 12+ hours preferable).

Grill meat for a short period, it does not take long to grill the thinly sliced beef. Broiling will also work. Personally, I prefer a nice char on at least part of the meat since that char just tastes so good.

Serve alone (meat is meat!), or with white or brown rice and some Korean seaweed (dried, salted and oiled seaweed) and enjoy. I typically will buy a jar of kimchi to serve as a side, along with some in-season fruit to balance all that greasy (tasty) meat, but that is of course all up to you.

The best high quality, single ingredient dog chew

Our dog loves a great chew treat, and it helps to keep his teeth clean too. We have tried a number of chew-treats, but two single-ingredient chews are our favorites: dried sweet potato and bully sticks.

  • Dried sweet potato chews. Loaded with lots of great vitamins to keep your dog healthy. Sweet potato has vitamins C, D and iron and is great for humans too.
  • Bully Sticks. These last a bit longer than sweet potato chews, and don’t have as much sugar as sweet potato chews to keep your dogs teeth healthy too. Odor-free versions are of course nice and might save your nose and a slightly increased cost.

Related links:

  • BestBullySticks.com is our go-to place for cheap bully sticks. Look for the odor-free versions as well as the “free shipping” mixed-packs to save some extra cash.
  • DIY Sweet Potato Dog Chews recipe from Food.com is a great and super-simple way to make customized chews for your pup, and hey, if you make them yourself you can try a taste as well! On top of that, making them yourself helps to make sure you know what goes into your pets diet — organic sweet potato chews can keep not-so-great pesticides out of your dog’s body.

Top 5 picks for fantasy football draft advice

The NFL preseason starts soon and along with that your fantasy football draft will be starting soon! To win however, you might need more than just luck on your side, especially in the age of big data and endless analysis by experts on the web and TV. With that in mind, here are our top picks for where to find the best fantasy football draft advice:

  1. FantasyPros.com is the go to source for finding the consensus rankings of the largest number of experts (close to 100) on the web. They also have a great draft simulator so that you don’t make a big mistake on draft day.
  2. numberFire.com has some powerful math behind the scenes and a great interface to give you in-depth quantitative analysis of players to draft, when to draft them and why it matters to you.
  3. FFToolbox.com was #1 in NFL fantasy football draft accuracy in 2012 according to FantasyPros, and would be a great place to double-check when making your picks this year.  (and if you’re curious, check out the entire list of 2012 draft accuracy rankings here)
  4. The /r/FantasyFootball subreddit is a great forum for voicing your opinion and hearing what others think about players to draft, who not to draft, and how you can win in your league.
  5. ESPN.com is an excellent and necessary source to keep up-to-date on the latest news including injuries and rookies that will play a factor in your fantasy league.

What are your favorite sites for fantasy football advice? Any tips you would like to share on how you’re going to win your league this year? Either way, we will have a few updates on fantasy football throughout the season to keep your game in check.

What’s the best dog bed under $100?

We searched for a great dog bed for our pup and tried several dog bed as well that either, 1) didn’t last or, 2) were not comfortable enough for our aging cockapoo. However, we finally found a bed with ridiculously good reviews, and decided to just go for it even though it was a bit of a splurge.

dog bed

Check it out here: Comfy Couch Pet Bed, although we’ve also found it at SkyMall (yes, that gadget-ey magazine you see inflight). It really is the best pet bed we have owned (feel free to check out the 1,899 reviews and counting at Frontgate for further proof), and the spectacular construction certainly helps in why it’s such a great pet bed.

Lest you think I am overselling this bed, the bone pillow that it comes with “for free” is basically useless, although it is well constructed (not sure why it’s even included).

Where can I buy cheap but good quality undershirts?

A good quality white, grey or other color undershirt is a wardrobe necessity, and often very overpriced at brick and mortar retailers. Luckily bulk retailers are available on the web to aid in your undershirt needs. My favorite is CheapesTees.com (whom I have no affiliation with other than being a frequent customer).

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when ordering undershirts:

  • Component materials. Is it cotton? Polyester? A 50/50 cotton/polyester blend? Look at your current favorite shirts (undershirts and otherwise) for a helpful guide for what you might prefer, as ordering in bulk means that you will have quite a few of a single shirt.
  • Quantity. Given a bulk order you might not expect to need a large quantity now, but undershirts often wear out faster than other shirts, so it may be worth ordering a larger quantity for future use.
  • Brand and product type. A 100% cotton shirt from company X might not be like a 100% cotton shirt from company Y. For example, the heavyweight versions by Hanes (Beefy-T) and Gildan are thicker cotton and may wear longer than thinner shirts.
  • Tagged or tagless. Michael Jordan of course prefers tagless, but not all shirts come in tagless versions.

Also, if you order from CheapesTees through August 9th, 2013, you can use promotion/coupon code WB520 to get an extra 20% off.

Related links: