On Cheap Hardware and Misbehaving Monitors

tl;dr: Cheap stuff can malfunction in unusual ways

I have a history of buying cheap hardware out of necessity. This has not changed in more than ten years. I wish it was different; but scrimping and saving and buying cheaper, off-brand is the only way I can afford to do things. That said, I am lucky be able to afford what I can afford, it is definitely more than some who are less fortunate.

I have a triple monitor setup, which some might call an unnecessary luxury; but with my eyesight being what it is more real estate means being better able to both fit a reasonable amount of things on the screens at a reasonable visibility.

Each of the three displays is 27″ and capable of a resolution of 2560×1440 at 60Hz. They are all also ‘cheap’ (relatively speaking) Korean knock-off imports- brands such as PCBANK, Crossover and DGM- the last of which I have at least come across before, in the form of the cheap TFT monitors referred to in the post linked at the start. At least they have a track record!

The third thing that these monitors three have in common is a tendency to malfunction; each in different ways. Taking them in the order of purchase, which dates from about five or six years ago to less than six months ago:

  1. PCBANK – The only one I bought new. Makes an audible noise when displaying white or mostly white (eg a a mostly text web page, such as Wikipedia). Also occasionally displays a distorted image for half a second before coming to its senses.
  2. DGM – intermittently blanked itself under Windows
  3. Crossover – If turned off or doing into standby, won’t turn back on for 5-20 minutes. Possibly a backlight issue. As a bonus, it was bought second hand and came with its integrated plastic monitor stand removed; the only way I could see to reattach it would be to separate the plastic casing, which I got halfway to doing before I figured I would purchase the monitor mount[s] I had been intending to for years

In addition, the transformer for the PCBANK or DGM monitor developed a fault which made my speakers screech like a banshee requiring me to take the highly-technical step of moving the transformer further away. Then it started buzzing itself, and needed replaced.

Those transformers are beasts, incidentally- 24V 5A or 120W.

These faults range from irritating to intolerable, but I reckon that if I had three monitors from reputable manufacturers at a commensurate price, I wouldn’t have the same issue with malfunctions.

Irritation: Xbox 360 Games on PC

Everyone’s heard a great many things about Kane and Lynch, and it sounds great on paper: by the makers of Hitman; squad-based action shooter; co-op mode; innovative multiplayer mode. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite like that.

First of all is the annoying Live! screens:

Kane and Lynch Profile

If I wanted an Xbox experience, I’d play it on the Xbox. Points off for making me feel like I’m not playing a PC game.

Second is the fact that, contrary to expectations, the PC mode doesn’t have a co-op mode. Well it might, if you can hook up two 360 controllers to your PC. If this is possible, you might be able to play co-op mode.

Third is that you need a Live! account to play all the game modes – 2 are for gold members only. I don’t like the Live! integration in this game; it’s cumbersome and unclear.

Fourth is the crashes, reported by a number of people. To date I have had 5 crashes, which is better than some other people, but still pretty bad.

Fifth, though it doesn’t really affect me, is 64 bit compatibility. Apparently the launcher for the game is 16 bit, which means Kenny can’t play the game. If turns out to be a widespread issue, it’s going to look bad for everyone involved (IO, Eidos and Microsoft). The “Games for Windows” certification is meant to ensure the game runs on 32 and 64 bit versions of XP and Vista.

Update: Turns out it wasn’t a widespread issue. See Kenny’s comment below. Of course it still crashes like feck, so my “Games for Windows” comments still counts.

Of course, if the game hadn’t been just a rushed Xbox 360 port (or indeed recompile), these problems may not have happened.