Review: Logitech GT Racing Wheel

Posted by Mark

Last weekend Blink sent me a Logitech racing wheel to review for the blog. It was perfect timing since Nat was out of the country which meant I was home alone with Geo, my PS3 and a copy of Gran Turismo 5. The first racing wheel I ever owned was the Coleco racing wheel which I got back in the mid 80’s (and which I still have today). It came with a gas pedal and a copy of the back then amazing racing game called Turbo. Of course that was back in the mid 80’s and things have come a long way since then.

The first thing I noticed about the Logitech wheel is that it was heavy and that’s a good thing. The weight gives it a solid feel which I wasn’t expecting since the GT wheel is the younger brother of the more expensive Logitech G27 wheel. This is why I was expecting the GT wheel to feel a bit flimsy but it wasn’t at all. The racing wheel comes with a gear stick attached to the wheel and a separate gas and brake pedal with a rubber base to stop it from slipping. The force feedback is just amazing, it reminded me of the days when I used to spend all my money at the arcades playing Daytona with my friends. The force feedback is pretty powerful and I actually have to use a lot of force and fight with the wheel sometimes which again makes this steering wheel feel like it’s worth a lot more.

I tried the steering wheel on a bunch of games including MotorStorm, Formula1, Dirt2 and Gran Turismo. The steering wheel worked great in everything except Gran Turismo. I just couldn’t control my car properly and kept slamming into walls and spinning out. Not sure if it was the settings somewhere or the fact I was still not used to the steering wheel but I just couldn’t drive my car properly. I’m sure it was something from my side since this wheel is actually the official wheel of Gran Turismo which means it should work really well with it. On the other hand the wheel worked great in Formula1 and extremely well in the Baja races in Dirt2. As some points it felt like I was back in the arcade playing Sega Rally which is what I liked the best about the steering wheel. It’s an arcade wheel at home.

Another issue I faced was with the placement of the wheel. At first I tried to use the wheel on my laps (see picture above) but it didn’t work and was actually a bit painful. I then bolted it down to my coffee table but found it too low to be comfortable. Finally I ended up sitting on the floor with the wheel mounted on my coffee table and it felt like I was sitting in an F1 car which worked for me. If you have the space I would recommend you get something like [This]. Overall I liked the wheel a lot and thought it was really well built. If you can’t afford the Logitech G27 or don’t want to pay that much for a wheel then you can get this from Blink for just KD35. I give it a 4 out of 5.

Now if you’re interested in this wheel then you’re gonna like this since I’m going to give one away. If you want to win this Logitech GT racing wheel I just reviewed all you need to do is send me a picture of your PS3 setup. The person with the saddest looking setup will win the wheel. Make sure you have 248AM written somewhere in the shot (so I know you took the picture) and send your pictures to gtwheel@248am.com. Send all pictures by Saturday 9PM the latest.


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Review: BeyerDynamic DT770 600 Ohm

Posted by Mark

Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always had a thing for headphones. I’m not sure why but I had everything from the dorky large headphones that had a built in radio to the cool waterproof Sony’s which didn’t turn out to be that waterproof (as a kid it’s easy to mistake splash proof for waterproof). I guess I liked the immersion headphones offer and this hasn’t changed as I’ve grown older. I currently own the Bang & Olufsen A8, Shure E2, Sure SE210, Sennheiser PX100, Sennheiser PXC250, AKG K81 DJ, UE Super.fi 5 Pro, a UE Triple.Fi 10 Pro and my latest acquisition which this post revolves around, the BeyerDynamic DT770. I never think I have enough headphones and I always find a reason to get another one, I’m just obsessed…



If you don’t want to get bored you can skip this whole paragraph.
Before I decided on which BeyerDynamic model I wanted I had to choose between closed or open air type headphones. Closed usually offer better sound isolation so that the people around you don’t hear what you’re listening to while with open air the sound leaks out and could annoy people around you. There are other advantages and disadvantages to each but since I was planning to listen to these headphones in the living room in front of my computer where Nat would be watching tv, I went with the DT770 model which is closed. If you prefer open air then you would need to check out the DT880 and DT990 models. Now that I had that sorted I had to choose which DT770 model I wanted, Amazon had 5 different models, the DT770 32 Ohm, 80 Ohm, 250 Ohm, 600 Ohm and the M. Even though all 5 headphones are the same model, they all had different sound signatures but after a lot of research I finally decided on the 600 Ohm since they supposedly were the best sounding of the group but with a big disadvantage to the rest which is they needed to be powered by a separate headphone amplifier. The 32 Ohm and 80 Ohm could be powered by the iPod directly (but could benefit from a small portable headphone amp like the FiiO E5 or a home made CMoy). The 250 Ohm require a headphone amp but can be powered by some portable headphone amps as well. The M version is for drummers while the 600 Ohm requires an external powered amp to drive. So I had to research headphone amps and once I got into that I found out I could get even better sound by bypassing my computer internal audio car by using an external DAC (digital-to-analog converter). To cut it short I ended up getting the FiiO E7 DAC and the FiiO E9 amp. The amp had enough power to drive the my headphones while the E7 acted as a DAC when connected to the E9 but could also be used as a portable headphone amp with 20+ hour of battery life when used by itself although it wouldn’t be able to power the DT770 by itself.

I listen to a variety of music ranging from downbeat like Kruder & Dorfmeiser, A Guy Called Gerald, Tosca, Dzihan and Kamien and anything from the K7 label, 90’s alternative bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Blind Melon, Radiohead, NIN, Tool etc.. to electronic music like Paul Oakenfold, Tiesto, Matt Darey, Underworld and Booka Shade. After having the headphones for a few weeks now I have to say I really like them a lot but slightly disappointed with them at the same time. Firstly the good stuff. These are the most immersive headphones I’ve ever had. They’re extremely comfortable since the ear cups are soft and the material nice to the touch. They also fit around my ears instead of pressing onto them which makes them less painful when listening to them for a long time. Once I have them on I don’t really notice them anymore, I could leave them on for hours without feeling any discomfort whatsoever. The build quality is amazing, they’re made in Germany and a lot of metal is used in the construction so they feel like they could last a lifetime and they should seeing how much they cost. The sound is also extremely well balanced, for example I love the Beats by Dre headphones but their bass dominates everything else and the music can end up sounding muddy. With the DT770 they’re perfectly balanced, a bit too perfect actually since sometimes I wish they did pump out more bass specially when listening to some electronic music. But that’s just on rare occasions, majority of the time they blast music wonderfully and I actually re-ripped some of my CD’s at higher bit-rates so I could truly appreciate these headphones.

But, like I just said, I wish sometimes the lows did dominate but I guess that gives me an excuse to also pick up a pair of Beats for when I’m in the mood to pretend I’m at a club. The second negative is the fact it doesn’t isolate as much as I was hoping they would. When I have the volume pretty high up the way I like it, everybody in the room could hear what I’m playing and if the TV is playing loud I could also hear it. I guess the solution to that would be to listen to music with my in-hear headphones but they aren’t anywhere as comfortable as the DT770’s.

Overall though these are pretty good headphones, the best I’ve owned and completely destroys everything I have except for maybe the UE triple.fi which I should review soon. Price wise they’re not that expensive but if you’re getting the 600 Ohm version then it adds up since you would need to purchase an external Amp to run them. I paid $244 for the DT770, $99 for the FiiO E7 and $130 for the FiiO E9. You could skip the E7 or just skip both the E7 and E9 and get the 32 or 80 Ohm DT770. The final score is a highly recommended 4 out of 5.

Amazon Links:
BeyerDynamic DT770 600 Ohm
FiiO E7 DAC
FiiO E9 Amp
FiiO L3 (iPod cable)


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Sawah Lebanese Restaurant

Posted by Mark

Sawah has been open for around a year now but I only finally managed to pass by this past weekend. When I want to have Lebanese I usually have Leila but since I’m practically having Leila everyday I decided to try something new. Sawah is located in the Avenues right next to Napket and the place doesn’t look like your average Lebanese restaurant which is what always grabbed my attention.

I ordered tabbouleh and taouk and both dishes turned out pretty good with the tabbouleh being the best of the two. Actually their tabbouleh is currently in a tie with the tabbouleh at Al Mayas as my favorite in Kuwait. What I mostly liked about the place though is the look and feel. As I mentioned earlier Sawah doesn’t look like an average Lebanese restaurant, from the furniture to the cutlery, they have their own unique look.

The only negative thing I would say based on my short experience is that I thought the price of the taouk dish at KD4.250 was a bit on the expensive side for just two skewers and a bit of french fires. Other than that though the food was good, the service very friendly and the design of the place very interesting. I would definitely go back.


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Ruby’s

Posted by Mark

Last week Nat had dinner with some of her friends at a new restaurant that just opened up in Kuwait City called Ruby’s. She had a good experience and suggested that we pass by for lunch yesterday.

From outside the place doesn’t look like much since the shops and buildings next to it are pretty old but once you walk into Ruby’s it’s a completely different atmosphere. The place is pretty spacious and has a very cozy look and feel to it. We sat down in a comfy corner and the waitress brought us the menu. The first thing that impressed me was with how minimal their menu was. They have only 3 salads, 3 panini’s, 3 pastas and 3 burgers which I thought was very brave. Restaurants here seem to get the impression you need to have a million items on your menu but you really don’t since it’s about the quality not quantity.

Nat ordered the Mango Pumpkin Chicken Salad while I ordered the Bronte Burger on my first visit and the Chicken and Mango Chutney Panini on my second (had lunch there yesterday and today). Nat really loved her salad and I thought my burger which had a sweet chili sauce was really well made. It was delicious and on my second visit I was really tempted to order it again but decided to try something else and I am glad I did. As much as I thought their burger was amazing the Chicken and Mango Chutney Panini was even better. The Mango Chutney was sweet and gave the panini amazing flavor, I really loved it. I also ordered their chocolate dessert on my second visit and although it was good, I would prefer the Chocolate Fondant at Life with Cacao or the Chocolate Pudding at Slider Station instead.

Their prices are very decent. Their menu ranges from KD2.250 for their cheapest Salad up to KD3.750 for their Shrimp in Linguine which is their most expensive dish.

Ruby’s has been open I think for around 2 weeks only. They still don’t have a sign outside and they will be installing their Knet machine hopefully this week according to the waitress. I’ve drawn a map to the location which you can view [Here]. The service is great, the place is cozy and the food is amazing. I highly recommend the place.

Update: Currently (as of December 29, 2010) they open from 3PM to 11PM. According to the employees there within the next 10 days they will start opening from 11AM to 11PM. Their phone number is 22496526,


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Kensington Expert Optical Trackball

Posted by Mark

I’ve been using a trackball for nearly 6 years now. I used to use a regular mouse before but due to the amount of hours I sit in front of a computer my wrists started to hurt a lot and so I decided to do something about it. I ended up purchasing the Kensington Orbit Optical Mouse back in 2004 which I’ve posted about on this blog before and given it high marks. From day one my wrist issues got fixed and I became a big fan of trackballs. I’ve purchased 3 Orbit trackballs over the years, they never broke down just started looking old and so I would swap them out. But, I’ve always had my eye on the Orbit’s bigger, beefier and more expensive older brother, the Kensington Expert trackball which is pictured above.

While in New York a few months back I got to try the Expert trackball and decided I definitely wanted it. The Expert trackball has 4 buttons, a huge ass ball, a scroll ring and a comfy detachable wrist support. It looks good, I love using it and it makes my old smaller Orbit trackball look like a child’s toy.

I really don’t have anything negative to say about it. You can program the 4 buttons to do a variety of things and the way I’ve set them up, the left two buttons are a left click while the right two buttons are a right click. I’ve then set it up so that while in Firefox if I click the two top buttons or the two bottom buttons together at the same time then it flip between my open tabs. Pretty useful. The problem though is the way I use the trackball I actually only use the bottom left and the top right buttons since these are the two buttons that are under my fingers while using the trackball. I find it uncomfortable to use the other two buttons without changing my hand position so I don’t use them that much. The scroll ring is great and I love flicking it quickly when I want to scroll down a page in a hurry.

Price wise the Kensington Expert Trackball cost’s $79 which isn’t cheap considering it’s younger brother the Orbit costs around $22. But I have to say it’s worth the extra cash since you get what you pay for. For anyone with wrist problems I highly recommend trackballs… any trackballs not just the two I’ve used. They really make a difference.

Kensington Orbit Trackball on Amazon
Kensington Expert Trackball on Amazon


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Burger Review: Casper & Gambini’s

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
Another Lebanese place I passed by to try their burgers was Casper & Gambini’s. I had heard their burgers were good so I decided to try them out. I went to the Avenues branch on Saturday and it was empty except for another couple sitting behind us. The location was small but cozy and tucked away from all the weekend traffic. I found two kinds of burgers on their menu, I decided to order the one with the thick 200grams patty and I asked for it to be done medium.

When the burger arrived I noticed something strange. Instead of one 200gram patty there were two thinner patties stacked on top of one another. I guess they had run out of 200gram patties and decided to replace them with two 100gram patties? I tried to take my first bite and had problems. The burger buns were very dry and with the two patties stacked on top of another the burger was too high for me to bite into. After squeezing the burger hard I managed to take a bite. It was super dry. The burger was cooked well done and the patties tasted like the Khazan frozen ones (no offense to the Khazan burgers). Actually the burger taste reminded me of the burgers I used to order at the beach in Lebanon as a kid. The burgers were usually terrible but because you’ve been swimming and running around all day, by the time it’s lunch anything you eat at the beaches canteen ends up being delicious. Only problem in this case is I’m not 12, and this isn’t a beach canteen.

The final score is a 1.5 out of 5 and that’s mostly because the taste reminded me of my childhood.

For a list of Casper & Gambini’s locations click [Here]
The cost of the Gambini Burger was KD4.350

Here are the burger places I’ve reviewed so far:
Applebee’s
Bredz
Burger Boutique
Eighty 6 Bistro
Fauchon
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Gaucho Gril
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Johnny Rockets
Let’s Burger
Munch
Napket
Nino
Papa John’s Burgers
Prime & Toast
Ruby Tuesday
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
Smoke House
The Burger Hub
The Butcher Shop
The Little Oven
The Meat Co.
Wimpy


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Burger Review: Let’s Burger

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
I personally think the food in Lebanon is a mixture of good and bad. We obviously do good Lebanese food, we also make some of the best pizza’s, we’ve got some really great crepes and most importantly we have the world’s best beer (Almaza FTW!). One thing we strangely don’t have is good burgers. For some reason no one has cracked a good burger in Lebanon. I’ve been recommended so many places and every time I try a burger there I am left disappointed. Let’s Burger is a Lebanese burger creation which I was hoping would break this cycle.

The first thing I noticed when I opened the menu is they had mayonnaise listed under the “5 Elements for a perfect burger”. That’s when I knew things weren’t going to end well. Mayonnaise??? I continued flipping through their menu and decided to go with the stuffed cheese burger. I wasn’t asked how I wanted the burger done.

A short time later my burger arrived and I quickly took my first bite. Two things grabbed my attention. The first thing is, I liked the beef patty with the stuffed cheese inside. Because the cheese was all soft and gooey it made the beef patty very juicy. The second thing that grabbed my attention is the bun, it was cold and cracking. That meant the bun wasn’t fresh and was refrigerated. Cold bread + hot beef patty = Doesn’t work. Their sauce also wasn’t anything to write home about since although the description in the menu said grainy mustard mayo sauce, what I tasted was mostly just plain mayo.

For the final score I’m giving it a 2.5 out of 5. The patty was fine but they need to fix the bun issue, it shouldn’t be too hard to get fresh buns every morning delivered. They also really need to cut down on the mayo, not only is it not an important element in a good burger… it shouldn’t be on a burger in the first place. Period.

Let’s Burger is located at 360 Mall.
The cost of the Stuffed Cheeseburger was KD3.450

Here are the burger places I’ve reviewed so far:
Applebee’s
Bredz
Burger Boutique
Eighty 6 Bistro
Fauchon
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Gaucho Gril
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Johnny Rockets
Munch
Napket
Nino
Papa John’s Burgers
Prime & Toast
Ruby Tuesday
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
Smoke House
The Burger Hub
The Butcher Shop
The Little Oven
The Meat Co.
Wimpy


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Burger Review: Fauchon

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
Fauchon isn’t one of those places that pops into mind when thinking about burgers but since a few people had recommended them I decided to give it a shot.

I passed by Fauchon at 360 Mall this weekend and ordered their Le Beef Burger a La Fauchon with classic fries on the side. According to the menu the patty is a prime US beef patty and comes with shredded cheddar cheese topped with their special dressing in their home made bun. The burger arrived and looked ok presentation wise except for the fact the whole thing looked kinda flat. When I first picked up the burger I noticed a problem and that was the bun was starting to fall apart. I hadn’t even taken my first bite so I realized that was going to be an issue. From that moment on I had to handle the burger very delicately at the risk of having the whole bun fall apart in my hand. After taking a few bites I realized two more things. First their special dressing tasted like a mix of cocktail sauce and salad dressing which doesn’t really belong on a burger. The second thing I realized is their beef patty might be the exact same ones I get from Sultan Center. Not a good thing since I’m not a fan of my home made burgers. The burger is pretty big and filling which is always a plus.

The final score for this burger is a 3 out of 5. One thing about this burger that I liked the most was the french fries that came on the side. They’re what I call hotel fries which is what I call fries that taste like ones you get from room service at hotels with a little portion of Heinz ketchup on the side. Price wise the burger cost KD4.450 which is fair for the fact it’s a burger at Fauchon although personally I don’t think it’s worth it since the burger wasn’t that great.

Fauchon is located at 360 Mall.
The cost of Le Beef Burger a La Fauchon was KD4.450

Here are the burger places I’ve reviewed so far:
Applebee’s
Bredz
Burger Boutique
Eighty 6 Bistro
Fauchon
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Gaucho Gril
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Johnny Rockets
Munch
Napket
Nino
Papa John’s Burgers
Prime & Toast
Ruby Tuesday
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
Smoke House
The Burger Hub
The Butcher Shop
The Little Oven
The Meat Co.
Wimpy


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Burger Review: Eighty 6 Bistro

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
I’ve been looking forward to trying the Eighty 6 Bistro burger for ages but I passed by a few months ago and didn’t have a reservation and got turned away. After that I figured it would be a hassle to pass by and never did until this past weekend. I passed by on Friday for lunch and to my surprise the place was empty. Like literally there was no table occupied. I thought that was strange but didn’t mind it since it meant I didn’t have to wait for a table to free up.

I sat down in one of the booths and started flipping through the menu. I was about to order their classic cheeseburger when I spotted something called the Bistro Burger. I asked the waiter what it was and he explained to me the burger came with lettuce, tomato, cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms. He also said the patty what thicker than the classic cheeseburger and that was all I needed to hear. I ordered the Bistro Burger without the lettuce and tomato.

When the burger arrived the presentation looked good. It came on a long plate with a small pot filled with a few onion rings on one side, a small cup of fries on the other end and the juicy burger in between the two. I took a bite and noticed something, the caramelized onions were just overpowering the burger. I spent the rest of meal wishing I had ordered the burger with just the cheese. The bun was nice and soft, the onion rings and french fries although have no effect on this review were pretty bland.

Honestly, for a place that was empty during lunch time on a Friday at the most popular mall in Kuwait I was expecting the worst but I am glad that the burger turned out to be good. I decided to give it a 3.5 out of 5 and “might” have given it a 4 if I had ordered it with just the cheese. The cost of the burger is KD4.5 which is actually on the high side but I guess the fact that it comes with a side of onion rings and fries makes up for it. As I’ve mentioned before the price of the burger has no effect on the review or the final score.

Eighty 6 Bistro is located in the Avenues.
The cost of the Bistro Burger was KD4.500
For reservations call 22597961

Here are the burger places I’ve reviewed so far:
Applebee’s
Bredz
Burger Boutique
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Gaucho Gril
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Johnny Rockets
Munch
Napket
Nino
Papa John’s Burgers
Prime & Toast
Ruby Tuesday
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
Smoke House
The Burger Hub
The Butcher Shop
The Little Oven
The Meat Co.
Wimpy


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Burger Review: Nino

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
Since I can have burgers as part of my diet, the burger challenge is back on. My diet says no cheese but once a week I will break it and order my burger with cheese since I am already sacrificing. This weekend I was at Slider Station and I didn’t have the chocolate pudding. Anyone who has had the chocolate pudding there would know how difficult it is to resist but I did it. That was on Saturday, Friday I passed by Nino. I wasn’t planning on trying their burger out but since everything else they had including the grilled stuff had butter in them I decided to go with the burger (salad on the side instead of fries).

I went with the Con Formaggio Burger which is their cheese burger. There is no egg in it even though it looks like it in the picture above, that’s just white and yellow cheese. No one asked me how I wanted my burger done.

I got my burger a short while later and noticed 3 slices of tomatoes under the meat patty which I quickly proceeded to remove since tomatoes sog up the bun. That’s when I also realized they had chopped cabbage lettuce underneath the tomato mixed with mayonnaise dressing. I quickly proceeded to remove those as well since they shouldn’t be in a gourmet burger. I don’t mind them in a cheap Lebanese style burger that also contains french fries over the thin frozen patty, but on a burger like this, it just feels out of place.

I put my ketchup and took my first bite. The bun is pretty good, soft and tasty. The patty on the other hand was dry. The burger was slightly messy to eat since even though I removed the tomato and mayo lettuce right away it wasn’t fast enough since the bottom bun got soggy. I struggled to come up with a score for it but in the end decided on a 3. I was going to go with a 2.5 but the bun was really good. I guess they’re lucky I’m on a low carb diet and crave bread more than burgers right now (I have dreams of the chocolate bread at The Meat Co.). The price of the burger was reasonable costing KD2.950 but even though I don’t think I would have it again.

Nino is located on the Gulf Road and Avenues.
The cost of the Con Formaggio Burger was KD2.950

Here are the burger places I’ve reviewed so far:
Applebee’s
Bredz
Burger Boutique
Eighty 6 Bistro
Fauchon
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Gaucho Gril
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Johnny Rockets
Munch
Napket
Nino
Papa John’s Burgers
Prime & Toast
Ruby Tuesday
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
Smoke House
The Burger Hub
The Butcher Shop
The Little Oven
The Meat Co.
Wimpy


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