Quick Review: X-Plane 11 (Should You Buy It?)

Cessna 172SP X-plane 11 over Arcata, CA

This post is a quick review of my experience using X-Plane 11.

X-plane 11 is an advanced flight simulator by Laminar Research which utilizes modern 64-bit architecture found in today’s computers along with the latest GPU’s and CPU’s.    I will list the pros and cons I found in using the X-Plane 11 Demo and ultimately purchasing the complete X-plane 11 simulator on Steam.

This quick review represents my experience after running X-plane 11 on an older computer.

My Computer Specs: CPU- AMD Phenom II 945 Quad Core, MEMORY- 8 gb ram, GPU- GTX  750ti OC 4gb memory, HARD DRIVES- Two 500 gb, One 250 gb


Pros/What I do like

User Interface (UI): 

Pleasing to the eyes.  The UI in X-plane 11 has been given a complete and welcome overhaul from past versions of the sim. Old and new users will find the settings easier to navigate and understand. Whether configuring a joystick, flight yoke or tweaking the sim’s graphics, the simple sliders, added search function and visuals make configuring X-plane 11 to your liking fun and intelligent.  I personally enjoy the new layout and views for displaying aircraft, airports, weather and the visual representations of various flight yokes and joysticks simply wonderful.


Impressive. The lighting in X-plane 11 is amazing and in my opinion, more realistic than ever.  I have been using X-plane 10 global the past few years and after first running the X-Plane 11 Demo, I immediately noticed a vast daylight improvement over the previous version of the sim.  The sun is more dynamic and bright, with better rendered shadows as one would expect on a bright sunny day.  At night, HDR lighting adds more realistic vibrant lights on cars, buildings, aircraft and runways.  (Need a good graphics card for this at least 4 gb of ram)


Good. Aside from ATC audio, general environment and aircraft sounds are quite realistic and pleasing.  Audio for default X-plane 11 aircraft is generally acceptable.  I have found aircraft audio mostly depends on the aircraft you fly and the original quality whether payware or free.  (As expected payware aircraft tend to be more realistic both visually and audio-wise)


Clouds appear to be softer and whiter in X-plane 11 but my FPS did take at least a 10 point frame rate drop when flying in heavier fog/cloud layers.  Clear skies it is.

Frame-rates (FPS):  

I have been pleasantly surprised by the improvement in frame-rates in X-plane 11 over X-plane 10.  (Settings for my machine are 4x anti-aliasing, HDR High,  Shadows on,  Scenery Options Medium -Low,  Reflections off. ) My system is quite old but even with my older processor and the GTX 750 ti 4gb I was able to hover around 30fps when flying in my hometown  (KEKA, KACV)*.   At these settings within the Demo Area I was able to get around 22-23 fps, clear day and even better FPS at night. )


Overall the default textures for terrain, buildings, road-networks, airports etc. are fantastic in X-plane 11.  Days (and nights) are more realistic  than ever in X-plane 11 with the new haze (particle system?)  that has been added to the atmosphere.   As mentioned before, HDR lighting makes street lights, runways, and aircraft lighting look real.  Yes I enjoy lights. With a decent graphics card (the more memory the better)  visual settings and lights will look great in your sim.  The trains/traffic have even been updated in X-plane 11 too!

Addons and Tweaking

If you like tweaking,  modding and using addons you will love X-plane 11 because adding custom content is a breeze in X-plane11.

Note for new users:  Some default airports in X-plane 11 will not include buildings but updated airports which include buildings, hangers and terminals are being added to X-plane via updates.  Find out about the airport gateway hereBuild/improve airports with World Editor (WED)

Cons/What I don’t like


User Interface (UI): 

While completely enjoy and welcome to new easier to navigate and appealing layout of the UI, I still find myself wishing I could control certain settings.  For example I would like to be able to disable birds, deer and boats. I see no options to disable those.  And if fire and balloons still exist within the game (haven’t seen them yet in X-plane 11) a disable option for those too.  I would also like to be able to control the number of cars on the road separate from the number of buildings.  For me this for cosmetic and a realistic stand-point.  (My town has many roads, but very few cars.)


ATC in X-plane 11 make work more realistically than in it did in previous versions of X-plane but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t tried it yet.  I find the synthesized voice that is used completely unbearable to listen to.   Some default aircraft such as the helicopter produces some wonky rotor sounds which sound more mechanical than realistic.  Screeching tires sounds are better but still exist in the default Cessna 172 which I don’t like.

Steering/ Controls: 

It might be just me, but I find the steering/rudder controls of the default Cessna 172 and helicopter erratic and difficult to control on take-off.  New users may have some difficulty at first.


While generally clouds and fog in X-plane 11 are good we know they could be improved visually in terms of their shape, definition and overall appearance.  Thunderheads and storm clouds should appear like tall menacing thunderheads (cumulus cloud) rather than layers of stratus.   Contrails in X-plane 11 need fixing (see my comments in graphics section below).


Of course the visuals can always be improved and I know the X-plane developers are working hard on so many awesome aspects and improvements for X-plane 11, including realistic clouds and autogen.  However, aside from unrealistic ATC audio, two areas that really distract my flying is the terrible rendition of airline contrails when viewed at a distance and the deer/birds.  Right now X-plane 11 is showing black/grey contrails which are hardly realistic.  The first time I saw it I thought the plane was on fire.  I will be looking forward to new longer and actual white aircraft contrails (as seen in FSX) which would improve the visuals greatly in X-plane 11.  Being able to disable unrealistic looking deer and birds on the runway would be fantastic.  Thank you Laminar Research.


Final Verdict/Should You Buy X-plane 11?

If you love flight sims such as FSX, than yes of course you should buy X-plane 11.  X-plane 11 runs better and the atmospheric visuals are impressive.  In addition, the improved UI  and the realistic lighting is enough to give this simulator an emphatic positive recommendation from me.  However, I also recommend first trying out the Demo for X-plane 11 before you spend the money on the full version (either on Steam or via X-plane.com).   With the demo version you will be able to see how well (or poorly) the sim runs on your particular machine while you experience the new user interface, flight controls, included aircraft and weather and lighting systems this great flight simulator provides.

Final note:  X-plane 11 is always being updated and improved.  Users can opt in or out of beta’s releases of the simulator if that is something that interests you.


*KEKA/KACV –  as of this posting these default airports did not feature airport buildings/hangers but I did add custom created content in my game.


Disclaimer:  The opinions and information expressed in this review are my own and are based on my own experience only.  These views or opinions are not intended to represent Laminar Research nor any of the developers of X-plane 11 in any way.


X-plane 11 Official website

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X-plane 11 on Steam

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Images are my in-game screenshots from default X-plane 11.05






Review: Sharper Image Virtual Reality Viewer for Smartphones

Sharper Image Virtual Reality Headset Model no. 1003469

Without a focus ring or any ability to focus, apps and images are blurry when using the Sharper Image VR viewer (Model no. 1003469).

I purchased this particular viewer on sale for $20 (suggested retail $50).  So at this price point a lower quality product is expected.  Lower cost in this case means the product is made of plastic materials and the product is made in China.  This VR viewer features a cushion around lenses and fits all sizes and model of smartphones whether you have an Android or iOS phone.  The biggest trouble is the lack of a focus ring.  Without the ability to focus images, this product in my view, is virtually useless.

For this product I give it 1 STAR (out of 5)


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More options removed: Apple Takes Away Option for Touch ID on iPhone X


Why would Apple take away the option for Touch ID on the iPhone X when Touch ID was working quite well before? In fact, I think it’s a mistake on their part.  It’s great when a company decides to enhance their products by making them better.  But it’s completely unacceptable when a company (Apple in this case) decides to remove proven features from their product in order to promote another idea.  (This practice is common in gaming and it stinks for the consumer.  Think SimCity 2013 or the Sims 3 to Sims 4. )

So why did Apple choose to replace touch ID with face ID? They might have many  excuses including “Face ID is the future of technology” but we know their reasoning really boils down to one main goal:  Control.

Less Options More Control

Apple, like Google and Microsoft want control over us the consumer.  These big mega technology companies want to control our lives and do I dare say, create our lives.  If a company can control our media, content and the devices we use, it’s fair game in their view for how they implement them into our lives.  Doubt this?  Ever noticed how they control the default news sources we see on our devices?  (Yes, left leaning news sources are the norm on Microsoft, Google and Apple.)

Hey Apple, What Happened to Consumer First?

Of course if control weren’t their top priority we would see them keep great ideas from the past intact (no matter their age) but most importantly they would put the consumer first, always give us options and stop cramming their views down our throat.

Apple could have implemented touch ID into their new iPhone X.  But since they want to control and shape how people use their device they removed it completely.  In the case of whether or not Apple decides on bringing back touch ID to their new iPhones, I will be watching to see how consumer friendly they choose to be.

What do you think? Should Touch ID be incorporated along side Face id into the new iPhone X?  Do you think Apple will bring back Touch ID?

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Who is Equisolar, Inc. anyways? Shady Sales Tactics Put Up Giant Red Flag


The company Equisolar, Inc. sent a salesperson to my door the other day claiming I had made an appointment at 2:00 pm for a consultation…,er sales pitch to install solar panels on my home.  The trouble is, there was no actual appointment made nor was there any discussion about it. In fact I hadn’t even heard of this company before.  My wife told me they had repeatedly left recorded messages on her phone but no appointment had been set by her either.

The friendly salesman gave me a company flyer which also included the company address.  Now Equisolar, Inc. claims to be located in southern CA (specifically Encino).  Okay.  I live in the north part of the state (nearly 1000 miles away).  No big deal you say? except one company rep on the phone told my wife they were local.  Local to who? Southern Cal?  The nice salesman also inexplicably had some of my personal information which according to my wife she had not provided either.  Could Equisolar be another aggressive telemarketing company?

I decided to do a little internet exploration on Equisolar, Inc.  The Better Business Bureau shows the company in good standing. But that isn’t entirely reliable since the BBB is paid by the businesses to appear on their site. Can we all say “conflict of interest”?  But I digress.  More online investigation shows a smattering of positive and negative reviews for Equisolar.  On some sites like the BBB and Facebook—mostly negative.  Now it’s true positive reviews are great for any company and it’s those positive reviews a company would hope to receive in order to positively represent and reflect their business practices.  But as a potential customer I want to be sure I am dealing with a reliable, honest and trustworthy company.  That is why it’s not only positive reviews I’m  interested in. So when I found multiple claims about the company not returning phone calls, treating customers unfairly, or that a salesman arrived to meet for an appointment that was never approved……….I think it’s only natural to become wary.

So let us briefly recap what we’ve learned.  A salesman from Equisolar holding my personal information and address arrives to my home unannounced. He claims to have an appointment with my wife and I for a consultation.  Online company complaints mention poor customer service, phones going unanswered, robo-like calls and incomplete installations with a few highly suspicious positive reviews thrown in the mix.

Now, I will probably never know if Equisolar provides a great service and can be completely trusted or not because as far as I’m concerned their initial sales tactics are not only a huge shady turn-off but they also displayed a giant red flag with the words, “RUN AWAY FROM THIS COMPANY AS FAST AS YOU CAN”.

Have personal experience with Equisolar?  Feel free to comment below.

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