Hardware upgrades and spring cleaning…

I finally joined the ranks of computer users that enjoy the quite and speed of a Solid State Drive.  I found a pre-black Friday sale at Fry’s a couple of weeks ago and picked up a 120Ggb SSD, and I gotta say I love it.  One of the best side effects is that the 7200rpm 1TB drive I had in the computer is now entirely given over to storage of my digital painting projects and media collection!

My only regret is not holding out just a little longer and seeing if I could get a larger drive, apparently I own to many Steam games.  But I can say this, if you are on the fence, get off the fence!  a SSD is worth the investment.  With prices slowly creeping down, and just a few more hours of Cyber Week sales, now is the time!

Plus, we all need that excuse to go through our files, and delete the stuff we don’t use anymore!  😀



Our group has had a few Minecraft servers, at this point almost everyone of us has run a server, made up our own rules, and got together to craft some awesome structures.  Its been a few months though, and for whatever reason we have the bug again, so we set about using world painter to make a “starting area” and then letting Minecraft generate the surrounding chunks.

This was pretty cool, but it was only part of the plan, the next step was to make the spawn area look finished, and to do this we decided on a Roman style, a temple, some big homes and villagers wandering about.

Here is a few screenshots of the buildings I have made so far!

Night shot


Quick view o f the temple and the beginnings of the Villas and Farms


Another angle


Super high angle night shot!

Did some reflection pools, a bit of a wall and an open air theater!

More to come as we decide on and add more buildings!




Review: STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl

Who says the only games I review should be in Alpha or Beta?!?!?  Well technically,  statistics say I have a better probability of reaching a wider audience, but I say “MEH!”.

To Kick off reviewing older games, I want to take a look at what is probably one of my all time Favorite games.  STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl.

Thankfully this is not entirely from left field as Shane Van Dyke, one of the minds behind Paranormal Activity, helped write Chernobyl Diaries, coming out later this year… (I included the trailer at the bottom of this review.)

STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl was released in 2007 by THQ and GSC World Publishing.  A good quick overview of the game is Skyrim Meets Modern Warfare 3.  No Icons yet, but I give this one: 5/5 bullets!

Basically you are a dude, no name, no memory, just some scars, a PDA and no idea what the hell you are doing in the Zone, let alone what bacon might taste like.  The story revolves around the idea that you need to find whoever stranded you in the slightly, to massively irradiated wastes surrounding the Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine.  Now time for some revealing background information!

The name sake of the game is a 1979 Russian film, here is the Trailer:


The major theme of both the movie and the game is that if you can get into the center of “the Zone” you will find a device that grants wishes.  The movie, which was released before the 1986 Nuclear Disaster, takes place in a “Zone” where the normal laws of physics are not always the boss.

In the case of the game STALKER, “the Zone” refers to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone around the nuclear power plant, in Chernobyl.  The center of the Zone, just happens to be located somewhere inside the irradiated plant.  And now for the games trailer:


Enough about the story, I don’t want to spoil it for you, let’s talk about how the game works.  Much like any modern RPG game, you wake up, get a quest, complete the quest, find out more about the story, and unlock more quests.  There isn’t a “leveling” system to the game, but you do get ranked against all the other STALKERS in the persistent AI world, and the more “experienced” you get the better money you earn and the better equipment you have access too.

They just threw away that pesky “experience point and level bar” thing that makes a nice GUI cluttered.  And then quickly tossed out the rest of the idea of leveling, and gave you cooler guns the deeper you get!

Also like most open-world style RPGS, you can go pretty much anywhere within each “Zone” anytime you like, as long as you make sure to pick your way around the hazards the maps have to offer.  When you reach the edge of the “Zone” you either move to the next one, die as radiation melts all your important bits at once, or run into barbed wire.

You also contend with a complex inventory system, which shows what armor you are wearing, your primary weapon and side arm, and all that random crap you have felt the need to shove into your back-pack.  Everything in the game has weight though, so at about the time you have 500 rounds of ammo, a shotgun, 9 handguns, and 47 health kits, you can’t move, but you make an awesome target!

The AI is good, for 2007, as far as the “Smart” enemies are concerned.  90% of the game you spend in conflict with one of the Zones major factions, so you are battling other STALKERS, the Military, Bandits, or other rival factions as you strive to remember what you had for breakfast.  Flanking and cover are important as just a few hits will kill you, and a major hit causes you to bleed to death slowly, unless you get some first aid.  The enemy use tactic to flank and trap you, and sometime you can walk right into an ambush.

But two can play that game, if you start shooting a guy, duck behind some bushes, and creep to the far side of the camp, the altered bad guys are still firing at your last known position.  Trust me, this type of flanking is needed early in the game… when all you have is a sausage, a sawed-off shotgun that hold only two shells, and a pistol that Lenin threw away when he was 5.

As for the rest of the enemies?  Well zombies are stupid, you can train them into natural world hazards, and the other mutants that are scattered around the world are pretty much re-skinned “attack dogs” who mindlessly attack you until you or they die.

Their are a few higher tiered mutants.  One of which is a telepathic nightmare man, that uses the powers of your video card to convince you that you are in the 60s and having a really bad LSD trip, until you remind him that guns don’t kill people, you do.  But seeing as how the pharmacy in the Zone is out of hangover meds, you get the “morning after” feeling of a Roger Waters designed flash bang for a few second.   Then their is the Vampire Mutant..

You know your standard Cthulhu stand-in, that can turn invisible, run WAY faster than you can, and eat your face off with his magical and tender RAZOR FACE TENTACLES!  But still mutants are mutants, and pretty much straight line at you until you are dead, although they do a good job avoiding the natural hazards of the world.

So by this time the Elephant in the Room has grown two heads(That’s a radiation joke…).  I keep mentioning these “world hazards” and here is the quick run-down: OMGWTFRADIATION has taken the laws of Physics and smashed them around Tony Starks living room because lets face it, they are “puny gods”.

Scattered around all the maps are hazards from your common “my eyes are bleeding” pockets of gamma radiation, to other fun things like geysers of radioactive flame, dust devils that can tear your arms off, and well I won’t “spoil” the surprise…  (In this case the “surprise” is any number of things that melt your face)

However their is a Golden Lining on those radioactive shit-storms… Each Anomaly, this is the cute little word used in game to describe these near invisible instagib traps, produce artifacts.  These artifacts can be used to boost your in game abilities, or if you are like me and like your character resembling a shambling Sherman Tank, you can just sell them all to buy more guns.

For a game released in 2007 the graphics are pretty damn good, the grass moves in the wind, the sun sets and rises, you even get some cool God Beams during twilight, and assuming your computer can handle it the shadows move naturally.  The skins are interesting, and the guns look damn good, for beat-up casts offs in a post-apocalyptic setting.

The RPG elements of the game ends with quest giving, and weapon/armor upgrading, the rest of the game is pure FPS.  Balancing your weapons for each fire-fight becomes old quick, and you really learn what style you play best fast.

Sniping is almost non-existent in the game, sure you might snipe 2-3 guys, but then the other 30 are all over you, cause guess what?  They have the same shitty, beat-up guns you do, and hey you can’t remember what you had for breakfast so Marine Sniper School is out of the question.  It is refreshing that the game manages to balance all its weapons without having a some ungodly sniper weapon that ends each fight before it starts.

The world is persistent, factions fight, territory lines change, and mutants wipe out whole towns even if you aren’t around to see it.  Which sometimes means your quest is just gone, but there is always another mission!  I have played through the first game a couple dozen times, and never have I completed everything.

So whats the TL:DR?  Skyrim with Guns.  One last movie trailer…


Liked the review?  Want to see more?  Be sure to mention it all in the comments!  Also be sure to check out STALKER: Clear Sky and STALKER: Call of Pripyat.


Vera, yes it’s a Firefly reference…

Jayne: Six men came to kill me one time. And the best of ’em carried this. It’s a Callahan full-bore auto-lock. Customized trigger, double cartridge thorough gauge. It is my very favorite gun.
[he holds the gun out to Mal]
Mal: [exclaims in Chinese] You offering me a trade?
Jayne: A trade? Hell, it’s theft. This the best gun made by man. It has *extreme* sentimental value. It’s miles more worthy ‘n what you got!
Mal: What I got? She has a name.
Jayne: So does this. I call it Vera.
Mal: Well, my days of not takin’ ya seriously are certainly comin’ to a middle.

In case you are a little lost, and honestly you should be at this point.  I named my new, well kinda new, paintball gun Vera.  Several months back I finally scraped enough cash together, and with a generous donation from the misses, and ordered a Rap4 T68 Gen 7.

And of course being a giant geek, I named her Vera… 🙂

USMC Training case, for storage, pretty awesome hard-shell case.

Vera on her nice and comfy cushions.


Views, got a few plans to do some GoPro Footage in my next game…

There she is all laid out and ready to rock.  I have a few upgrades in mind, more images as I upgrade her 🙂



Terran it Up, A reboot.

So 2-3 years ago I got a phone call from Peter, the other half of Digital Raven, and he asked “Hey mind being a Marine in a Star Craft Short Film?”.  Star Craft 2 was weeks away from release, and I had the Beta, so no sooner than he asked did I show up ready to be a badass.

This event, a day of filming in City7’s Assistant Director‘s garage, started to get the ball rolling on what would become Digital Raven.  As announced in one of our more recent Video Blogs we have decided to return to our roots and tackle a reboot.


As Peter mentions in the above video they were working on the very tight schedule for the contest.  Our pre-production schedule this time is a bit longer!  So we will be able to address a lot of our past issues, and deliver our vision in away that long time Star Craft fans will appreciate.

As we head into the realm of Science Fiction, we will be spending a lot more time on props and costuming, more so than we did with City7.  As the props designer, among other things :), one of my first jobs is to figure out what we need to be looking at in order to bring the world of Star Craft to life.

Just like a building, a good prop needs some  design and direction before you can even get into developing a physical version you can hold.  Arguably the biggest prop in the Star Craft Universe is the C-14 Impaler gauss rifle.  Everyone knows what it looks like, and who doesn’t want to have one of these just hanging around?

We aren’t looking at getting actors into full power suits though, as we are looking to keep the feel of the original Terran it Up! short film, here is where the design and planning stage comes in.  We have to make a smaller rifle…

In the original film, our Marines joke about how “budget cuts” from the federation have left them unarmored and under-gunned, so no powersuits and full rifles.  This is not a new concept to the Star Craft Universe.  Ghosts are an awesome example of a “light armored” unit, as well as way back in the Star Craft 1 days there was a cut scene that showed a group of marines, and a dude that was a marine, but not in a suit!


A bit of a blast from the past!  I mean those graphics were AWESOME!!! (Back in the day). Anyway, one of my first challenges is to take the C-14 Impaler, and get it to fit into the hands of someone who isn’t in-cased in 9 feet of power-armor.

Pretty steep order right?  Well not really… the great thing about Science Fiction, is normally it has some basis in fact.

C-14 Impaler, Star Craft

Let’s first look at this awesome painting of a Gauss Rifle.  I will use this image as a point of reference as I move forward, a lot of the tool markings, manufacturing standards, and design elements will need to carry over into my design in order to keep continuity in the Star Craft Universe.  Its a bit like how the: AK-47, Scorpion and Dragonov sniper rifle all share many features helping them be identified as Cold War-Era Russian Weapons.

Now the aim here is to make a smaller weapon.  With this in mind I went to existing weapons in order to collect some ideas, so we end up with a new unique prop weapon, that could still thematically fit in with the Star Craft Universe.  Here are two images of Sub-machine guns I found that I want to use to shape this design.






With these things in mind I can start to work on the thumbnail design, and finally full color design for the prop we shall use in our movie.  Be sure to follow my blog to keep tabs on both City7 and our Terran It Up Reboot.   More soon!


Camera Envy…

A friend, and fellow artist  Nathaniel Daught  has also dipped into the world of short films.  Although instead of plague drive, mind munching, undead fiends, he has gone with witty geeky comedy and PUPPETS!  OBEY VIC is a silly look at a lot of the things we geeks in our later 20s find fun and amusing.  (oh and Castlevania: SOTN makes an appearance!)

Now to the Envy bit… it was shot with an iPhone 4s!  I mean I can’t even get a good picture of my dog sleeping, in good lighting, with a steady cam rig on my Droid.  Seriously these guys shot the cool little episode on an iPhone!!!  and Every still image picture I take with my Droid looks like I am skydiving past the subject!

Anyway.. Camera Envy.. Morale of the story?  Check out OBEY VIC 🙂


My trip to the Old Republic

This weekend I was lucky enough to try out Bioware‘s newest proposed waste of life and time: Star Wars The Old Republic.  Before I get to deep into this rant of sorts, as I fear that is where this review will end up, I have a few things to say about Star Wars, Bioware, Lucas, and story telling.

When a True Reboot for Star Wars comes out, not just some hacked up “remastered” “3D-Added” the bad guy shoots first bullshit, but a true reboot.  I hope someone slap Lucas with a wet fish, gags him, locks him in a closet and then hands the reins over to Bioware.  I was raised on Star Wars, grew up in a world where it was the ultimate movie, and then I turned 17, A Phantom Menace came out, and my world crumbled.  Well I still have Hope, Empire and Return… but.

Let’s face it, as awesome as Light-sabers, Wookies, Han Solo, Blaster fights, and droids can be, the story as a whole is not some amazing literary work of art.  Lucas’ triumph was in the world he created and the doors he opened up into the wider world of SFX.

Bioware on the other hand, they are me, but someone gave them a budget, Lucas gave them the rights, and then they found awesome story writers.  Out of all my most memorable Star Wars moments, I would say half come from Bioware video games.  So please Hollywood hear me on this one, let Bioware Reboot the series, and if you need proof, go watch a few trailers.

Anyone onto the game… I have done a few beta test in my life, but this has to be the weirdest I have personally been part of.  I was given a weekend to test it out in, and it was kinda bad weekend, Holiday Weekends are not a time when I have a lot of “free” time to play a video game, let alone get invested in an MMO.  Also as a Freelance Artist and a nine to fiver, it is hard to say “okay I can give up a weekend…”.

However I made time, I picked the Sith Empire, and as a fan of “nothing beats a good blaster at your side..” I rolled up a bounty hunter.  Let’s get into the meat and potatoes of the game.

Character Creation.  It pretty cool, based on the Faction and Class you pick you get a choice range of races, and each race has a few steps to diversify your look even more.  Weight/Height, Scars, Piercings, Accessories, the normal with a Star Wars twist.  It is not a far ranging as say APB Reloaded, or City of Heroes, nor is it as fixed as World of Warcraft.

Quests:  This is a huge thing for me, I hated WoWs Quests 90% of the time.  Some dude asks you to go collect 5 wolf pelts, and even though you are a HERO WHO IS TRAINED in a specialty, you get to the field and your “sword/ax/rifle/magic” turns into a nuke which destroys any chance you had at ever SKINNING THE F*CKING ANIMAL!  Or some jackass ask you to go on an EPIC QUEST to get a BOOK off the table HE IS STANDING IN FRONT OF!

Well I am happy to report that SW:ToR doesn’t do that annoying shit, well as far as I could tell.  It is the rest of the standard junk though: “Go here, kill this dude.”  “Go out a kill 8 of these.”  However there is a twist, class specific story driven quests.  As a bounty hunter I had to go take care of some of the Hutt that controlled the starting areas pesty enemies, but in order to do that I had to go into special instances that where only for me and my group.  Pretty cool little twist, and if you go back?  Dude is dead and gone, or locked up, or run off, whatever you decided to do with him.

The quest system gave me a feeling that I changed the game world, which is cool and a major plus.

Character Interactions:  Two words.  VOICE ACTING!  I am so glad the future is here and I don’t have to read some ass-hat of an NPCS life story, just to get to the part where he asks if I can go get him a box of nails at Home Depot.(Yeah I kinda hate MMO quests.)  Voice Acting also does succeed in bringing another level of immersion to the experience, one that I liked.

Items/Gear:  As Shit Different Game.  Bunch of useless items that you can sell for money,  off set by a 2% chance you might get something way better than you have, or any of the vendor’s sell.  My main issues here?

1) If the NPCs in town are carrying around armloads of advanced military hardware, and don’t care that I have a blaster strapped to my side, I want the black market contact I can buy their guns from.

2) The gear the vendors in town sell SHOULD BE BETTER, than the shit you start the game with!  I know the point, it encourages me to go fight for better stuff, but I am gonna do that anyway!  Give the vendors the good shit and then make it stupid expensive!

3)Useless junk, never seems useless.  If my character truly reflected myself, my abilities, and my aptitude(or stupid curiosity) for creating and crafting, I could take all the “sellable only” crap I got during a quest and build and f*cking star port!  Crafting needs to be fixed in MMOs..

Leveling Up: Eh, fight some dudes, get a some sparkles, get better stats to fight stronger dudes that LOOK THE SAME.  Rinse/Repeat.  Look I like it in some games, I really do.  The sense of accomplishment, unlocking new content, seeing new things, finding new enemies!  It’s exciting!  But an MMO is designed to keep you interested for weeks and months worth of play time, not the 6-8 hours of a standard video game.

That means you get to fight the same guy, with a different gun, or different colored name, ABOUT 500 TIMES!  This is not fun.

Graphics:  If this is the first generation of next generation MMOs Graphically Speaking, it fails.  Sure there are more polys, sure there is more lighting effects, sure the GUI is crisper, but it looks like WoW with a Star Wars twist.  The Animations are a bit better too, and the facial stuff is cool, but it doesn’t look like BF3, it looks like WoW.

Overall:  7/10.  To be fair it is still in Beta, and it was fun, I might even be tempted to buy it and play.  But first impressions?  Its World of Warcraft.  Whatever love and joy I had for MMOs has been killed by WoW, or maybe I have just grown up enough to realize that I don’t have hours a day to commit to a new MMO.  Because lets face it, any time I would spend playing ST:ToR, would be time I could have spent playing MINECRAFT 🙂


Diablo 3, First Impressions

Diablo 3 Title Screen

So this weekend I sat down and made it a goal to play through the Diablo 3 beta.  The game is amazing, beautiful, and all I had hoped for.  Diablo and Diablo 2 have always been huge favorites in my classic games collection.  During my high school years I must have racked up hundreds of hours in Diablo alone.  So maybe it comes as no surprise that I like this title so much.

I decide to go ahead and run about the 3 levels of the beta as a Demon Hunter.  I set out with my hand crossbow and a good dose of arrogance.  From what I played the graphics are amazing, water, mist, smoke, ruble, fire… everything is done to the level we have all come to expect from Blizzard.  The Character animations are also pretty damn cool, and the voice acting is a nice touch.  Not only do all of the characters talk now, which is pretty sick, but as you discover new enemies you get a cool little voice clip from one of the game setting’s scribes!

Demon HunterHowever don’t come to this game expecting something ground breaking and new.  Sure all sorts of things are new, dungeon generation, character classes, skills, but for the most part it is still the Diablo I loved as a kid.  Hack, Slash and Smash through the enemy, random barrels, coffins and floor tiles to get EXP and loot!

You still have your basic Diablo II style random dungeons that don’t have to do with the Quest, but are cool distractions.  There is still a huge surface world to explore, and lots of critters to track down and kill.

One improvement I really liked, other than the new class and new skills, was that as you get new armor, your avatar changes!  This of course also goes for weapons, which Diablo II also featured.  There is nothing cooler than upgrading to a new chest armor piece, and getting a new bad-ass red cloak!

This is a title I am looking forward to wasting hours on when it is finally released!



The Choice is Android, and it keeps getting better…

Sidekick, AIMI have to admit it, I have used pretty mush every style of Smartphone.  I started life with a Sidekick and although I am not sure it can really be classified as a Smartphone, it did have AIM

From there I moved through the ranks of Palm Devices, at least one Blackberry and finally to the Droid.  Now I am a huge Android fan, and as I have mentioned before this probably has to do with two huge factors.  1)Mac’s piss me off, I can’t get them to do what I want, when I want, stably enough to even try to find out if the are “better” now.  2)I like to build things, from Apps, to Programs, to Web-development, to my own computers..

However I need to come clean… When I founded Ravenhorde Studios with a buddy in 2007, we began life with a Palm Centro, and when it was available moved to the first generation iPhone.  Now it has been a few years and Ravenhorde Studios is no more, but a lot of the consulting I did then I still do.  A need I have always had is to be able to view PDFs on the fly, and a want I have always had is the ability to create or modify documents that I may be working with.

Autodesk, autodesk sketchbook, iphoneI do a lot of work in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks and up until now I have mainly relied on the AutoDesk Sketchbook app on both my phone and tablet for doing work on the go so my client at least has an idea of what I am working towards.  It also allows me an amazing platform to plan out future art projects or even do entire paintings when stuck on an airplane, train, or car ride(where I am not the driver!).

However I have always wanted to have photoshop at my fingertips.  Well it seems my wait is over!  A buddy messaged me a Gizmodo link that I just had to check out, it seems the Photoshop Touch is not only in the works, but ti will come out for Android platform devices first!  Not only that it is to come with a host of other products!  Finally the software I have been looking for!

A quick trip over to the Adobe site lets you look over what the have to offer.  Solutions for artists, photographers, and designers alike!


Acer Iconica A500, and why I choose it..

Since the release of the iPad, Tablets have become a major contender in the minds of gadget geeks.  Sure plenty of Tablets existed before the iPad, but who wanted one of those touchscreen inventory machines?  Actually I kinda did..

About 12 years ago (and possibly longer) I began a love affair with the Wacom tablets and I began down the long dark road of becoming a digital artist.  Ever since I have looked for hacks, DIYs and tweaks that could be applied to any touchscreen surfaces in order to make them into mobile sketch-pads.  The most recent hack I ran was DSColor which, after a few parts were ordered, could turn your DS into a mobile version of Painter..Basically.

Tablets however opened my eyes to a whole new set of possibilities, and as I have grown in my professional life as well a little machine capable of doing a bit of “real work” was something I started to look into as well.  I am not a huge Apple fan as I am a gear head and hardware guy.  I have built or modified every computer I have ever owned, starting about 15 years ago.  Combine this with the fact that I send a good portion of my professional life providing IT support and writing code… Apple has never really been a good choice, in my mind.

So even thought the iPad got me excited and opened my eyes to a whole realm of new possibilities, I had little interest in ever getting one.  In fact the first Tablet I truly drooled over was the Norton Adam Ink, but they are IMPOSSIBLE to get, so I began to look at the wider market.

My Wants in a Tablet:  Something to view PDFs on in Full color, Web-access, Something I could write code on, Something I could watch Youtube/Netflix with, decent battery life, good camera, and of course lots of ports.

One of the main things I knew I was going to end up using my Tablet for (other than art/work) was paper and pencil RPGs, so 10.1″ full color screen to view PDFs on was a must.  I also knew that I wanted to build a portfolio on the Tablet to showcase my work at future interviews.  Next I decide to stick with the Droid OS, first off I am familiar with it on my phone, and second I had played with a few windows Tablets already and they were pretty bad as well.

I must have spent about 6 months look at other Tablets mostly online, although I did play with a few.  As I narrowed what I was looking for I decided to stay with names I new and trusted.  There are a lot of Android Tablets out there that are made by companies I don’t know well enough to say I trust.  Another big decider was money, if I was going to drop 600 + dollars on a new portable machine, why not just spend a bit more and get a laptop?

After all the searching, reading reviews and playing with the hardware I narrowed my choices down to two:  The Acer Iconica A500 and the Asus Transformer.  Both machines are pretty slick, nice slim, not to heavy and run just about a fast as the other.  What sold me on the Iconica was the expansion ports.. I mean this device is stacked!  Micro HDMI, Micro USB, Standard USB, and Micro SD card port.

The Transformer was nice too, but I needed to drop another 150 or so to get a docking station in order to use it.. not my cup of tea, at that point I might as well buy a Galaxy Tab.  Other factors that led to my purchase were weight, I actually like that the Iconica is a bit heavier, it feels nice and solid.  Of course the aluminum back is awesome!  and I just really like the slick styling of the tablet.

Also the Price tag was hard to beat, I picked it up on Amazon for just under 340, and being a Prime member I got free 3 day shipping.

Well it has been about a month and I am still a huge fan of this tablet.  The screen is awesome for watching movies, the speakers are not that bad, Honeycomb is awesome and responsive, and Autodesk is a kick ass app.  I am really surprised at how much control I have when I use my Iconica as a sketchpad.  The battery life is pretty good, I can go about 3 days of normal use before I need to charge it up again.  My only grumble was Netflix…

I am not sure how or why, but apparently Netflix only works with “Some” Android devices, and of course seeing how those of us that use Android devices are not a measurable chunk of the market.. (Danger Sarcasm alert.) ..it doesn’t make sense to fix it.  Anyway someone did and it took just a few minutes, Google, and some research to fix my Netflix issue!

I would highly recommend the Acer Iconica A500 to anyone in the market to pick up a tablet.  But even more importantly get out there and play with a few before you buy!  Hit up Frys, BestBuy, Costco, wherever and get your hands on one feel the weight and just mess with it for a few minutes!  This is what really helped me when it came time to buy!