Quadcopter fun (and tragedy): Ares QX 130

Ares QX 130

This weekend my girlfriend got me an Ares Ethos QX 130 quadcopter for my birthday. I started flying RC helicopters a little while ago and have enjoyed it, however lately my helicopter had been flying poorly (it has a vibration to it that messes with the video but also seems to cause erratic flying).

Ares QX 130 quadcopter

We headed out to the park and I immediately had a blast flying the QX 130 quadcopter. It was incredibly easy to control and zipped around quick and with style. The video it took was also pretty neat, especially from some pretty impressive heights.

The first two flights went quite well, however I soon learned that the QX 130 can fly incredibly high and has more range than I imagined. During the third flight the quadcopter flew higher than it had previously (which I at first thought was cool) and before long it was just a speck in the sky. I figured it was probably best to lower the altitude, however at this point I lost sight of the quadcopter in the sun. When I found it again it was much further away than I anticipated and I tried to bring it back toward me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell which direction the quadcopter was facing and I couldn’t bring it any closer to me. At this point I panicked and shut off the throttle but also lost sight of it again.

Long story short, I dropped the quadcopter to the ground outside of the park and somewhere past the road, however I couldn’t see where it landed as the road was up an hill. I spent a few hours walking around the thick brush trying to find it and couldn’t locate it. We ended up deciding it was lost for good and headed home (as it was 95 degrees out). Luckily after a few hours I was able to convince Vanessa to come back out to the park with me and we ended up finding the QX 130 much further away than I had anticipated.

Ares QX 130 quadcopter

I’m glad we were able to find the quadcopter, however one of the motors is now broken (probably because I kept trying to run up the throttle while looking for it). At least I got some pretty neat video out of the ordeal, which you can check out below. I’m going to order a new motor and hopefully get the quadcopter back in the air this weekend (if I can figure out how to change it).

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Bogus Basin: Jan. 2, 2015

We headed up to Bogus Basin for the first time of the season on Friday for some night skiing. The sunset was beautiful, the snow was awesome and we had a great time!

I love the view from atop the Showcase chair, especially at nightfall. Showcase is my favorite run, and that’s pretty much all we skied Friday night. I brought up my GoPro and took some fun videos as well. Nothing fancy, just enjoying the snow and the mountain. Enjoy!

My first hour with Forza Horizon 2 (Xbox One)

Forza Horizon 2 Day One edition

It’s been quite awhile since two must buy games released on the same day, but the stars have aligned today in a sense with both Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Forza Horizon 2 seeing release. I had been quite excited for both these games and from my early impressions, neither has disappointed.

I absolutely love the Forza series, nothing comes close in the racing game genre. I never really enjoyed other ‘street’ or off the closed track racing games until the first Forza Horizon came around. Forza Horizon took everything great about the Forza series (authentic looking, sounding and handling cars, and all around great racing) and brought it off the track and it was a blast. I loved all of the different challenges in the world and the online multiplayer was amazing.

Forza Horizon 2 takes influence from Forza 5 and Forza Horizon and brings it to a new open world that’s absolutely stunning from what little I’ve seen of it so far.

First of all it’s worth noting that Drivatars return in Forza Horizon 2. I saw a lot of my friend’s drivatars in the first few races I did (they also show up in the open world) and since I only knew one other person to be playing Forza Horizon 2 so far it seems that they’re pulling Drivatars from Forza 5 and bringing them over to Forza Horizon 2 which is nice as it populates the world¬†and gives you something more than just AI to race against.

Some other new additions to Forza Horizon include more realistic rain and cross country (off road) racing. The rain effects in Horizon 2 are pretty neat, especially while driving with the inside the car view (which honestly is the only view you should be using in Forza games!). You’ll even see your windshield wipers at work which is a neat little addition. Cross country races have you cutting through deep patches of grass and other plant life, navigating between trees (some of which are destructible) and other obstacles in between sections of asphalt or dirt road. It’s crazy looking out from within your car because you’ll find it hard to see anything and it’s an absolute thrill attempting to navigate between obstacles and other cars while trying to make your way to the front of the pack.

I have yet to try out any of the online features, but I’m excited to give them a try tomorrow. If they’re anything like the original Horizon I’m sure they’ll pack hours of fun.

Lastly, one of my favorite features from Forza Horizon is still around in Horizon 2. Everytime you level up you’ll get a chance to ‘spin the wheel’ where you can be rewarded with varying amounts of credits (including some large amounts) or even a brand new car! It’s a fun and addicting feature that’ll keep you racing toward that next driver level.

 

Sony Streaming Player

Last week I picked up a Sony Streaming Player (the n200) for $79.99 at the Bx (you can find it cheaper on the internet). 

The box is pretty small and lightweight but it can do so much. When you turn it on (after initial setup) you’re greeted with a clean and simple menu with a variety of content providers available including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Crackle, Vudu and Pandora radio (there are many more but these are the ones I use). I previously used my Xbox as a media player and it worked, but one problem I had is that if I wanted to go from Netflix to Hulu it was time consuming to switch apps. The Sony streaming player loads pretty quickly and if you leave it in standby mode it powers on quite quickly as well.

The video quality is great (via HDMI) and I haven’t had any hiccups at all. Nothing ever gets blurry or slows down to load (this probably depends on your internet connection, but when I use Netflix on my Xbox at times it seems to be loading and will go blurry. It doesn’t do this on the Sony player).

Since purchasing this box I’ve discovered Vudu which was a service I hadn’t previously used. It allows you to rent and purchase movies, just like Amazon’s store, however Vudu claims to have the most HD options of any service and so far this seems true. It also has an HDX option which is even closer to blu ray quality than standard HD (and in some cases HDX and HD are the same price, so it’s really up to how much bandwidth you want to use). HDX looks awesome, I’m not a huge video or audio buff so I can’t really tell the difference between HDX and blu ray.

What’s also cool about Vudu is that it has some movies from independent studios available to rent BEFORE the movies are even in theaters (for example I rented Take This Waltz which hits theaters later this month for about $11 in HD for a 48 hour rental. The movie stars Seth Rogen and was very good, one of my favorite movies of the year already). It also has some movies that are currently in theaters (again usually from independent studios).

You can buy movies and stream them at any time which I enjoy. I’ll probably make a separate post about it, but I hate physical media, I’m in love with digital and cloud storage media.

In the end I’m very happy with my purchase. Sure my Xbox could already do most of what the Sony player does, but I find the Sony streaming player to be faster and more convenient.