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11 Awesome Game Room Gifts for 2017

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    11 game room gift ideas
    Anki Overdrive, one of the 11 items on the list

    Looking for something for that special someone or maybe your kids?  I’ve put together a list of 11 Awesome Game Room Gifts for 2017 to help you with your holiday shopping this year.  As a full disclosure, I own quite a few of these items myself and am an Amazon affiliate, which means that I get a small percentage if you buy anything based upon my recommendations (and it doesn’t cost you anything extra, it just goes to help pay for the hosting and expenses of this website).  I would only recommend things I truly believe in and know about, I only want to help people.

    These aren’t in any particular order, just 11 things I’d recommend.

    #1  Nintendo Switch

    Nintendo came out with a great system with the Switch, in the first 9 months it’s had a ton of good games including ARMS, Mario Odyssey, and Legend of Zelda:  Breathe of the Wild.  The main thing it features is portability, it’s the first console that you’re able to pick up and take it with you.  The drawback is that it’s not as powerful as the Xbox One or PS4 and 3rd party game support is somewhat weak.  You can buy it here:

    Nintendo Switch with Red/Blue Joycons

    #2  Xbox One S

    The Xbox One S is the best value proposition among the current consoles.  Featuring a 4k Blu ray player, it can save you $100 having to buy that alongside your gaming console.  Xbox Live is the best online network for game consoles in my opinion, and the console has great 3rd party support.  It does not have as many games as the PS4 though, especially games from Japan like Persona 5.  Racing games and first person shooters are generally two of the Xbox’s strengths.

    Xbox One S

    #3  Playstation 4

    The Playstation 4 is the best selling console of this generation.  It also has the most games, though almost all major 3rd party releases are on both the Xbox and PS4.  I don’t think you could go wrong with either the Xbox One S or Playstation 4, probably the biggest deciding factor is what your friends are playing with.  If they’re all on Playstation 4 it would probably be better to go that way, and if they’re all on Xbox then it’s probably better to go that way.  Or do like me and get both.

    Playstation 4

    #3  Xbox One X

    The Xbox One X just released this December and is the first console to bring true 4k gaming to the TV.  The PS4 pro kind of did this last year but wasn’t quite powerful enough to do it.  Probably the biggest advantage to the Xbox One X is the increase you get from existing games, games that ran poorly before may get a huge boost in performance.  I’ve noticed a decrease in game loading times and framerates that are a lot more stable than before.  The biggest drawback is the $499 price tag, so I wouldn’t advise buying one unless you have a fairly sizable 4k TV.

    Xbox One X

    #4  Super Chexx Pro

    The brand new release from ICE, after 40 years of numeric displays Super CHEXX was updated to have an LCD screen, new sound, and new lighting, all for only $200 more than it was before.  Since they rarely change their games, you can be reasonably sure that if you buy one now it will probably be the same 10 years from now.

    Super Chexx Pro

    #5  Tornado Classic Foosball

    The Tornado Classic Foosball is one of the best foosball tables you can buy right now.  While maybe not the best bang for your buck table, Tornado is the standard by which all other foosball tables are judged.  There’s also a sport model here but I’d recommend going with the classic because of the counterbalanced men, without them the guys will constantly fall back over and be in your way in 1 v 1 battles.  I owned a Tornado Whirlwind which didn’t have the counterbalanced men and I regretted it, the one I have now has the counterbalanced men and it’s much better.

    Tornado Classic Foosball

    #6  Anki Overdrive

    My kids got this for Christmas last year, it’s essentially the slot car track everyone loved as a kid updated to run with ipads, iphones, and other tablet devices for controls.  It works pretty well but you have to keep it very clean.  They always mention cleaning the track and the tires, but I found that cleaning the sensor underneath the car made more of a difference than anything else.  When that sensor is dirty, the cars would not work very well at all.

    Anki Overdrive

    #7 Epson 5040ub projector

    I got this early last year as an upgrade over my Viewsonic 8100.  At first I wasn’t sure if the upgrade was worth it, but as time has gone on I’ve become more and more a fan of the projector.  The best thing it does in my opinion is have really good contrast in comparison to my Viewsonic.  On my Viewsonic, in the dark scenes everything was kind of grey and lighted.  Not so on the Epson, a significant improvement.  It’s one drawback is that its HDR and 4k output are limited righted now, but considering this is half the price of the only projector that currently does that (a $5k Sony one) this projector is a great bang for the buck.

    Epson 5040ub projector

    #8  Viper 800 Dart Board

    If you have little kids, this is something you should probably pass on unless you want a lot of holes in your wall.  If that isn’t an issue, then this could be a very economical addition to your game room, one of the cheapest things on this list plus will last for years.  It’s one of those things that never goes out of style.

    Viper 800 Dart Board

    #9  Crosley Jukebox

    Big, expensive, and super cool are words I would use to describe the Crosley Jukebox.  Our course, in today’s world of $700 Sonos speakers, maybe spending over $1k for a Jukebox isn’t such a bad deal.  I would recommend getting the stand underneath as well, otherwise it will probably be too short.

    Crosley Jukebox

    #10  Paragon Popcorn popper

    No home theater would be complete with a popcorn popper, and Paragon makes some of the best ones.  I have a 4 oz model that I bought 5 years and it’s been great.  Probably the only downside is that it does take a little effort if you want to keep it super clean, but I never really bothered to keep it sparkling.  Some people might recommend the 6oz, but with a family of 4, 4 oz was perfect.  If I ever needed more, it was easy to just cook another batch.

    Paragon Popcorn popper

    #11  TCL 55″ TV

    What?  A TCL TV?  Yes, it sounds weird, but somehow TCL has came out of nowhere and produced a TV that has an outstanding picture and great features.  Featuring a roku built in and some of the best response time for a TV (important for gaming), it’s a great value.   The 55″ has been a #1 pick by video gamers this year.  I know a lot of people won’t buy anything that doesn’t have a big brand name, but 1000 4.5 star reviews on Amazon can’t be that far off.

    TCL 55″ TV

    Hope this 11 awesome game room gifts for 2017 guide has been helpful to you.  If you have any questions, please email me as I own or have used almost all of these items.

    Black Friday Deals at Amazon

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      For those of you who haven’t seen all the deals, I thought I would share some of the best Amazon deals I’ve seen.  As a full disclosure, I am an Amazon affiliate, so any purchases you make will support this website while costing you nothing.  I do appreciate any shopping you may do though.  🙂  I made a ton of purchases yesterday on video games, I think I bought Assassin’s Creed Origins, Shadow of War, Forza 7, and a few others (a lot of the games are out of stock currently but may go back in stock at times).  Below are mostly video game items, sorry I don’t really know how good the deals are on non video game items, lol.

      The rest of the deals can be found here:

      Amazon Black Friday deals

      Best Buy, Walmart, and Target also have some great deals so be sure to check them out too.

      Xbox One Game Sharing

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      One thing you may not have heard of is Xbox One Game Sharing, or I think the technical name is Xbox game share.  In any case, basically it’s the process by which you and a friend can share digital games without you both having to purchase them.  For example, if I bought Star Wars Battlefront II digitally and my friend and I were game sharing, then he would automatically get the game for free.  Pretty sweet, eh?

      How to setup Xbox One Game Share

      So the next question is, how do you set it up?  It’s actually a pretty easy process which involves setting your home console to the other person’s Xbox.  I’ll go through the process step by step below.

      First, go onto your friend’s Xbox One and go to the settings menu, see the screenshot below.

      Xbox One Settings Menu
      Xbox One Settings Menu

      After you go into settings, you’ll want to go ‘Personalization’ and then select My Home Xbox, see the screenshot below.

      Xbox One Personalization Screen
      Xbox One Personalization Screen

      You’ll have the option to make your friend’s xbox one your home xbox by selecting “Make this my home Xbox”.  After this, your friend will now have access to any digital game you buy plus also having Xbox Live for free as a result.  This does not work for disc based games by the way, only digital downloaded games.

      Xbox One Home Xbox Setting Screen
      Xbox One Home Xbox Setting Screen

      You’ll now want to complete the process the other way, with your friend signing into your xbox one and then making your xbox his home xbox (yes, a little confusing).  Then you’ll have access to all of his digital games as well.

      Besides setting up this with friends, this also works great for families.  I use this at home between my xbox’s to share games like Overwatch, Star Wars Battlefront, Halo Wars 2, and many others.  This saves me a lot of money not having to buy two copies of everything.  The only drawback is that most of the time, there are a lot better sales on physical disc games than the digital download games, so you’ll end up spending a little extra sometimes as a result.

      Hopefully this Xbox One Game Sharing article has helped you save some money and frustration.  If you have any questions, please contact me.

       

       

      Using Nintendo Switch on a mobile hotspot

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      Nintendo Switch Home Screen
      Nintendo Switch Home Screen

      Since the Nintendo Switch is a portable system, one of the things you might want to do is hook the Switch up to the internet so you can play some Splatoon 2 or Mario Kart 8 Deluxe online.  Luckily it’s not too hard of a process to hook up your switch to your cell phone mobile hotspot.  This article will detail exactly how to use your Nintendo Switch on a mobile hotspot.

      The first thing you need to do is turn on your iPhone’s mobile hotspot.  You do this by going to Settings then Personal hotspot and turning it on by sliding the slider right.  It will look like the screen below:

      iPhone Hotspot Picture
      Turning on your iPhone Hotspot so the Nintendo Switch can connect

      Once this is setup, you’ll need to go onto your Nintendo Switch and find your hotspot network.  You’ll do this by going to Settings:

      Nintendo Switch Main Screen
      Nintendo Switch Main Screen

      then Internet:

      Nintendo switch System Settings
      Nintendo switch System Settings

      then Internet Settings:

      Nintendo Switch Network Settings
      Nintendo Switch Network Settings

      and then find your network (which is Aaron’s hotspot in this case):

      Nintendo Switch Network Selection screen
      Nintendo Switch Network Selection screen

      Once you select this, the Switch will try to connect to the network.  I have noticed that occasionally this is a little flakey at times, I think the Switch for some reason has some occasional wifi issues.  If it has troubles, I recommend turning your hotspot off and on again, that’s helped me in the past.  When you finish it should look like this if it works:

      Nintendo Switch Connected to cell phone hotspot
      Nintendo Switch Connected to cell phone hotspot

      Once it’s hooked up, you should be able to go play your favorite internet games without too many issues.  You may experience greater lag than normal but it should be pretty playable still.  Something to take note of is that this will only currently work for Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint networks, it won’t work on AT&T due to their restrictive NAT.  If you have AT&T, you don’t really have any good options unfortunately.  I do know that people have been campaigning AT&T to make their NAT less restrictive so the Switch can connect online.  Nintendo could also fix their network to work with more restrictive NAT’s but that seems unlikely considering they had this issue with the Wii U as well and never fixed it.

      I made a video of the whole process below, hopefully that helps every out.  I know for kids and parents that aren’t used to using a hotspot it can be kind of a difficult process initially.

      Xbox One X First Impressions

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      If you read a post of mine from a couple days ago involving the Epson 5040ub and the Xbox One X issues, I was really debating on whether to even keep my Xbox One X or take it back to Best Buy for a refund.  I was eventually persuaded to keep it after listening to a podcast where they talked about how smooth some of the games were now and how much faster they loaded.  I made a video of my unboxing in the title and then my Xbox One X first impressions and setup below.

      The first game I loaded up was Pillars of Eternity.  I know, not the first title you think of when you think cutting edge, but I’ve been playing it a ton over the past month or so and I wanted to see how much smoother it would play with the extra horsepower.  It was definitely a lot smoother than it was previously and it seemed to load faster as well, but that second part could just be in my head.  The smoothness you could see when you turned on fast walking mode, instead of being a jerky motion the characters were a lot smoother overall.

      NBA2k18 was next.  It required a 5 gig patch for the Xbox One X, which isn’t very big compared to some of the others I’ve seen.  Playing the game, it definitely loaded faster it seemed and was smoother on the court, but not a huge difference overall.  I don’t think this would be a game you’d buy this exclusively for unfortunately, but maybe I need to do some more A/B testing.

      Most of the other games I have don’t take advantage of the Xbox One X 4k enhancement and power unfortunately.  I have Forza Horizon 3 but it isn’t supposed to have the enhancements done until January at the earliest, so can’t really use that as a gauge.  Next week on the Black Friday sales though I’m planning on picking up:

      • South Park The Fractured But Whole
      • Shadow of War
      • Call of Duty WWII
      • Assassin’s Creed Origins

      I think all of them except South Park take advantage of the extra One X processing power so hopefully I’ll have some more video to post showing the differences between the two.  I’m really looking forward to Assassin’s Creed Origins, it looks like they’ve really done a nice job with it.  With those games I’ll have quite a bit of 4k content to check out and compare.

      One of the things not mentioned that much is that Dolby Atmos is supported on the Xbox One X (and I believe S) now but not the original Xbox One.  I have a Denon X4300H I bought this spring that supports Atmos and an Axiom Speaker setup that I bought a few years ago.  In order to get that working with the Xbox One X, you have to download the Dolby app and then select the newly enabled Atmos sound setting.  The app is a pretty small download and doesn’t take much time at all to setup, maybe like 5 minutes tops.  It comes with some cool demos as well.

      The best demo I’ve ran so far on what the Xbox One X can do is the Insects demo from Microsoft which shows off 4k, HDR, and Atmos.  Some of it appears to a little over the top, like some 1080p/4k stuff where things suddenly become crystal clear in 4k (when it didn’t appear like there should be a reason for the 1080p display to be as blurry as it was).  So while it was cool, I’m not sure if it was 100% believable.  Made a video toggling between 4k and 1080p below, hopefully it will show you the differences between 1080p and 4k as far as details goes.

      One thing I should mention is that initial I did have some connection issues with my Denon X4300H, the Xbox One X, and my workout TV being driven off output port 2 on the Denon.  I don’t know if something in the HDMI chain was causing issues but initially I couldn’t get a picture on the workout TV.  Today though it’s working fine, so hopefully it was just a one time deal.  Just wanted to mention it just in case someone else is doing a similar setup and runs into connectivity issues.  Ironically my original Xbox One worked fine that whole time yesterday when I was having Xbox One X issues.

      Here are some still pictures showing the differences between 4k and 1080p:

      Xbox One X Insects 4k disabled
      Xbox One X Insects 4k disabled
      Xbox One X Insects Demo 4k Enabled
      Xbox One X Insects 4k enabled

      Probably a lot harder to see on a smaller screen, but especially around the eyes you can notice the difference in detail.

      If you decide that you want an Xbox One X, you can always order it through my affiliate link here:

      Xbox One X from Amazon

      As of this writing they were temporarily sold out but I think stock has been showing up randomly, you’ll have to check a few times before you’ll actually find one to order I’m guessing.  I’ll update my Xbox One X first impressions here in the next couple days with some additional games hopefully.