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Buttkicker LFE Review

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Buttkicker LFE on mount
Buttkicker LFE on mount

One of the biggest advances in home theater technology came a ways back when Buttkicker started making devices that would emulate bass through furniture.  At first I thought, “how good could it be?” but I’m hear to tell you that the difference is night and day.  Buttkicker LFE’s are amazing for movies and video games.

Buttkicker LFE Installation

Installation is probably the hardest part of the whole thing.  Depending on how many you have, each one has a different wiring diagram to get the Ohm reading right for the amp.  They selling wiring kits and I think they’re probably worth the money for the most part.  I had part of a wiring kit in the used setup I bought, and it was definitely much easier than doing it via stripping wires.  The Buttkicker LFE is available through my Amazon affiliate link below:

ButtKicker BK-LFE Low Frequency Effects System

I had three to put on my chairs, and you can either mount them directly to the chairs or use the little floor mount that you put the chair on.  I bought the floor mounts because that’s a lot easier than mounting them to the chair and works really well.  It costs a little more but definitely worth it.  You can see them via my Amazon affiliate link below:

ButtKicker BK-CMAK Couch/Chair Mounting Accessory Kit

For an amp, some people try and get by with an older receiver but I think it makes a lot more sense to just buy the standard Buttkicker BKA-1000 amp they make.  If you use a receiver with the low Ohm values the Buttkicker LFE’s have, you stand a good chance of sending it into protection mode or not getting the full effect you desire.  Going with the one you know will work right is worth the money in this situation.

In order to drive the amp, you’ll need a signal from your receiver’s bass output for a subwoofer.  Depending on your setup, that may or may not be an easy thing to get to your Buttkicker BKA-1000 amp.  In mine, it was pretty easy, but if it isn’t they make a wireless kit to help solve that issue.  The wireless kit is pretty affordable and can solve that wiring problem for you.

Buttkicker LFE in Movies

Depending on the movie, you may or may not get a ton of effect from the Buttkicker, it totally depends on the bass track your film has.  It really shines during intense action films but can even add a lot to your standard comedy.  I have mine on all the time regardless of the movie, I wouldn’t want to watch a movie without it.  When you combine it with the rest of your parts of a home theater, it makes watching at home better than the theater.

Buttkicker LFE during Video Games

This is where I spend the majority of my time in my theater, playing video games.  Games like Call of Duty will really work the system to its fullest, it’s actually pretty amazing.  The immersion factor is off the charts.  I spend most of my time playing Overwatch currently, I’ve gotten really hooked on it again.  I used to use them a lot when playing Rocksmith, was fun to jam out when they were on.

With the official Buttkicker BKA-1000 amp you don’t have to turn it off and on every time, which is nice.  It senses when there is a bass signal and automatically turns on.  That makes it super nice to just turn it to a volume and leave it there indefinitely in sleep mode, and when I start playing it will start up again and go.  I usually never have to mess with the volume.

Bass without waking up the kids

One of the biggest things for me is that I can’t really use my sub when the kids are sleeping, it just shakes the whole house.  The Buttkicker system though can totally give me all that bass I want without waking them up, which is a huge win for me.  The only time I could see it interfering with their sleep is if they’re in the basement and your theater is above them.  Then maybe the shaking from the Buttkickers might vibrate their ceiling some?  I don’t know for sure because mine are in the basement.

Buttkicker LFE under chair
Buttkicker LFE under chair

It would also be really useful if you’re living in an apartment complex or somewhere else quiet where using a sub would get you into big trouble.  The Buttkickers can totally fix that issues for you.  I think some people even combine the Buttkicker LFE with headphones so they get all the tactile bass with zero noise.

Buttkicker  BKA-1000 amp
Buttkicker BKA-1000 amp

Conclusion

If you’re looking for bass that you can feel, there’s no better option that the Buttkicker LFE system.  I’ve had mine for years without a single issue.  Where can you buy it?  I think most people buy it off Amazon or Ebay, although occasionally you will get lucky and someone on craigslist will have it for sale (that’s how I got mine).  However, I haven’t seen Buttkicker’s on my craigslist for 5 years, so I think I just got extremely lucky.  🙂

Nintendo Switch Dock Review

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Nintendo Switch Dock Front
Nintendo Switch Dock Front

One of the great things about the switch is portability, in fact it’s probably the best thing.  The limiting factor with that though is that the dock isn’t portable at all, meaning that every time you move it you need to hook up the power and HDMI cable with it.  To make it easier, Nintendo started offering owners a second dock option.

Official Nintendo Switch Dock

If you’ve been reading the video game news at all, you’ve seen that third party docs have been bricking Nintendo Switch consoles.  Some of them have a design flaw which causes the Switch to have issues when charging or updating.  For this reason, I’d only recommend buying the official dock like I did.  I originally thought about saving some money, but it’s not worth the $50 savings if your console ends up bricked.

If you already own a switch, you’re already familiar with the official dock.  It’s basically the same thing, with the AC adapter and HDMI cable ready to plug it into your favorite TV.  There have been reports of the dock marking the screen in some cases, so I’d also recommend adding a screen protector if you haven’t already.  I added one to mine, I have a review here.

Nintendo Switch Dock back
Nintendo Switch Dock back

Cost

Yep, it’s the elephant in the room, the switch dock is ridiculously expensive for what it is at $90.  I don’t know why it’s priced so high, but it will probably come down in price over time as all console stuff does.  You can get it through my Amazon affiliate link here:

Official Nintendo Switch Dock

I don’t regret buying mine, it’s a lot nicer to play on my TV downstairs now that I’ve got a dock both upstairs and downstairs.  The price for convenience was a little high though.  While you’re at Amazon you might also check out some of the other docks to see if any of them have fixed the bricking issue, because if they’ve fixed that then you’d probably be better off saving the money and going with one of those.

For those of you who are looking to hook up your switch to a cell phone hotspot, I put up an article here as well:

Nintendo Switch on a Mobile Hotspot

Powertec Workbench Review

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Powertec Workbench
Powertec Workbench

If you have a game room, at some point you’re probably need to work out as well.  I’ve reserved a small corner in my basement exclusively for an elliptical machine, a treadmill, and a Powertec Workbench weight machine.  This review will cover my experience with the machine after using it for the past year.

Powertec Workbench Assembly

HEAVY.   I bought mine initially off craigslist on a whim, basically because I was looking for a weight machine I could use at home and this looked like a quality product.  When I went to pick it up, I was blown away at how good the quality was on it, it was way beyond anything else I’ve seen for home use.  It’s also available from Amazon through my affiliate link here:

Powertec Fitness Lever Gym Work Bench

Taking it apart and putting it in my minivan took a while.  It’s not hard to assemble or disassemble, but the pieces are heavy and sometimes awkward.  I think in total it weighs like 290 pounds, but with additional weight plates and other things I got with the purchase I probably loaded up 600 pounds into my minivan.

When I got it home, assembling it wasn’t too bad.  I put a rubber mat underneath it to protect the carpet, since it has so much weight I though it would probably mat down the carpet pretty good.

Powertec Workbench bottom
Powertec Workbench bottom

Initial Impressions

Once I got it assembled, it was time to try it out.  The were multiple reasons I liked the Powertec workbench over all the plate options on the market.  Those were:

  1. It used standard bar weights, so you could add way more weight to it than a standard pulley/plate system.  That to me is the biggest drawback of the pulley/plate things that are sold, if you are moderately strong you can never get enough weight for them.
  2. It had everything built in for a complete arms and legs workout.  Most pulley/plate home options are pretty limited with what you can do.  The Powertec had way more options than those.
  3. It’s big enough for a big person.  Some home machines are made for someone short or super skinny, this machine fit me really well (I’m 6’4″, 180 pounds).

Why would I want this over free weights?  The biggest thing for me is that I didn’t need a spotter.  I don’t have a lifting partner or anything, so being able to lift while having safety in place is priority #1 for me.  I’ve tried dumbbells but for me they’re just not great due to my lower back pain that flares up sometimes (dumbbells seem to aggravate my lower back for me, probably because of some kind of form deficiency on my part).

Powertec Workbench Top
Powertec Workbench Top

Space requirements

One downside of the Powertec Workbench is that it does take a decent amount of space.  Basically, you’re going to need at least 6′ by 8′ to fit it into your workout area.  I’ve fit it, a treadmill, and an elliptical all into a 12 by 12 room with plenty of room in front of the machines for a rubber mat.  The hardest part in this smaller area is adding and removing weights, it’s definitely more challenging than the pulley/plate system to add and remove weight.

I bought enough weights so I could leave them on the posts in between workouts so I didn’t have to move 45 pound plates in between the bench press and lat pull down bar.   When doing the pull downs from the upper pulley you have to make sure that you have enough clearance in the rear as the back swings out with the weights on it.

Powertec Workbench bench
Powertec Workbench bench

Storing Weights

The Powertec has two side posts in order to store weights on.  In theory that sounds good but in practice it could be better.  The main problem is that there are too many different weight sizes for 2 posts to be effective.  When you have 10’s, 25’s, 45’s, etc you end up removing and adding plates to the storage too often.  If there were 4 different posts instead of two it would be a lot handier.  In order to get around the problem, I bought this:

CAP Barbell 2 in. Plate Rack
CAP Barbell 2 in. Plate Rack

It’s available from my Amazon affiliate link here:

CAP Barbell 2 in. Plate Rack

It works really well for handling all the weights without having to throw them on the floor.  It’s made things a lot more organized in my workout area.  In fact I also bought a dumbbell organizer as well, this one:

Marcy 3-Tier Dumbbell Rack Multilevel Weight Storage Organizer for Home Gym
Marcy 3-Tier Dumbbell Rack Multilevel Weight Storage Organizer for Home Gym

I got it from Amazon.  It’s available through my affiliate link here:

Marcy 3-Tier Dumbbell Rack Multilevel Weight Storage Organizer for Home Gym

The combo of the two has made my area a lot better.

Accessories

The Powertec Workbench comes with a ton of accessories, way more than most people will actually use unless you’re a really serious weightlifter.  Things like ropes, smaller bars, etc will all need to be stored somewhere else unless you’re planning on using them all the time.  I’ve actually stored most of my accessories under my pinball machines since they do take a considerable amount of space.  Just something to consider when buying this, you’ll need a wall rack or closet space for all the extras probably.

Conclusion

I’ve loved the Powertec Workbench since I bought it a while back.  It’s the perfect weight machine for the person that maxes out the smaller pulley/plate machines and who works out by themselves.  I like turning on a good show on Netflix or Amazon Prime and then doing my lifting for the day.

Hopefully this review has helped you make a decision on this.  I bought mine used, but after having used it for a while I’d totally pay full price for the thing new.  I haven’t really seen anything else quite like it on the market, I’m not really sure why more places don’t make home machines that can hold a huge amount of weight.

 

Best Selling Pinball Machines of All Time

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Best Selling Pinball Machines Of All Time
Best Selling Pinball Machines Of All Time

Some of the answers in the upcoming list might surprise you.  If you’re thinking that surely Lord of the Rings or any game in the last 20 years produced a ton, you’d be wrong.  The best selling pinball machines of all time mostly come from a 20 year period from 1975 to 1995, where pinball saw a boom, a bust, another boom, and then another bust.  Boom periods are what drive lots of companies to start making games, and the bust periods are the ones that drive them out of business.

Best Selling Pinball Machines of All Time List

Without further adieu, here is the list:

  1. Addams Family (20,270 produced plus 1000 gold editions later on, 1992)
  2. Eight Ball (20,230 produced, 1977)
  3. Flash (19,505 produced, 1979)
  4. Playboy (18,250 produced, 1978)
  5. Firepower (17,410 produced, 1980)
  6. High Speed (17,080 produced, 1986)
  7. KISS (17,000 produced, 1979)
  8. Star Trek (16,842 produced, 1979)
  9. Mata Hari (16,260 produced, 1978)
  10. Capt. Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy (16,155 produced, 1976)
  11. Twilight Zone (15,235 produced, 1993)
  12. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (15,202 produced, 1991)

This is a list of all the games where production exceeded 15,000 machines.  For a long time, Eight Ball was the champ as far as games produced, until The Addams Family came along and knocked it off in the early 90’s boom.  You can see that the majority of these games came out in late 70’s when pinball converted from EM (games with moving scoring reels) to solid state (games with digital displays).  The digital displays (plus advent of giant arcades) drove pinball sales to numbers way beyond anything before for individual machines.

Only three games, Addams Family, Twilight Zone, and Terminator 2 are games that feature a more modern DMD display.  And no game made after Twilight Zone has made more than 15,000 and it’s not likely that will change anytime soon.

Additional Info

Hopefully this list has helped you out.  If you want more information on pinball machines, I would go to:

The Internet Pinball Machine Database

That place is a gold mine for information on individual machines.  One thing it doesn’t have is prices though, for that I would try my ebay affiliate here (since they don’t sell it on Amazon currently for some reason):

Mr Pinball Price Guide

That has a list of all the current prices for machines.  Now it doesn’t take into account condition, so that can influence the price quite a bit in some situations, but it’s a starting point.  It’s kind of like classic cars, a 65 mustang might be worth 10k in normal condition, 60k as a restomod, or $100 sitting rusting in the weeds.  Pinball machines are kind of the same way.

Best Home Theater Screens

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Silver Ticket Products STR-169120
Silver Ticket Products STR-169120

When building your home theater, one of the issues that comes up when finding a projector screen is “which one to buy”?  Or should I even buy a screen at all and just paint a wall instead?  I’ve done the painted wall, the painted canvas, and a store bought screen, so I’ve got a pretty good perspective on all of them.  I’ll try and give you a rundown of my opinion of the best home theater screens.

Painted Wall Home Theater Screen

If you have a smooth wall, this is the cheapest option you can do.  It basically requires a quart or two of white paint (usually Behr Ultra White) and then adding a velvet border around the screen.  In order to this though, you need three things:

  1. a very smooth wall
  2. a lot of time
  3. a saw and stapler so you can do the velvet border

Even after all this, it’s still probably going to cost you $100 in materials and 5 to 10 hours worth of time, so it’s not totally free.  If you want to go super cheap you can ignore the border but it won’t look very good.  10 years ago, I would have recommended this for sure.  At this point though, I think there are better options for slightly more money and a lot less time and effort.

Low cost Home Theater Fabric Screen

10 years ago, cheap fabric home theater screens were either portable ones on a stand or DIY ones where you bought several hundred dollars in material and made your own screen.  Luckily, there’s now a lot better option, and it’s what I have in my home theater as well.

That option is made by Silver Ticket Products and is sold on Amazon.  I bought this 4 years ago for my home theater.  The Amazon affiliate link is below:

Silver Ticket Products 120″ screen at Amazon

I had a painted wall before this, and this is WAY better than a painted wall.  For the money, it just crushes the painted wall option.  I don’t think I’d ever do a painted wall again with this available to buy.

Before this came out, almost all the screens were $500 to $1000, which made it very hard to justify when a wall costs $100 and gets 80% of the way there.  This though gets 100% of the way there and costs only marginally more than the painted wall.

High priced Home Theater Fabric Screens

Once you get over $500, you get into what I like to call high priced home theater screens.  Maybe to some people this isn’t high priced, for someone like me who’s always looking for a bargain, this isn’t my category.  Usually the players in this category are like Stewart, Da-Lite, Elite Screens, and some others.

One of the most popular ones is one from Elite Screens below via my Amazon affiliate link:

Elite Screens Cinegray 5d

It has a tons of high reviews, so they must be doing something right.  Myself personally, I’d rather save the money for something else, but if you think about it you usually keep the same screen forever while the projector changes out every so often, so maybe it makes sense to spend more on a screen up front?

Conclusion

I don’t think you can really go wrong with any of the options.  A lot of people start off with the painted wall, then go to the cheaper screen, and then to the more expensive one.  I personally don’t see myself going off the cheaper screen because of how much I like it, but maybe someday something will come out that will make me change my mind.

Hopefully this guide has been helpful, and good luck in your search for the best home theater screen for your home.