Somone recently asked me what podcasts I listen to. After a few seconds of thought I estimated I listen to about 16 hours worth of podcasts per week. For my own documentation, or if you’re curious, here they are (there is no particular order):
My first impressions said a lot in the video review of the FangShi ShuangRen. It’s my hope that these post impressions say just as much. It’s a really good cube, stands as a testament along how far cubes have come in the last five or even three years. I cannot open this cube up and as a result it does not pop.
A Bit of History First
There have been cubes that do not pop in past, the name “DIY New Type A” comes to mind and I’d be very surprised if anyone reading this remembers it. The “new type A” couldn’t pop but was pretty atrocious. The edges had these planks on them, a bit like the Alpha V but longer. These planks were separate from the edge and would come off easily, and you had to assemble it yourself when you first get it. If you assembled it correctly and the planks stay in, the cube could not be popped, but one of those planks fall out and you could have a mess on your hands to take the edge out and repair it. Believe me, it was awful and I haven’t seen one since.
The Rest of the Review Now…
I can confidently say that the FangShi is nothing like that. The Fangshi works like a charm. The turning reminds me a lot of a ShengShou 4×4 or 5×5, very smooth, no catches. Corner cutting margins are not the same as you would get on a Dayan cube, but they’re still very acceptable. The one annoyance I have is the size actually, it’s just that much smaller that my fingers collide too much. I can still get good times despite this, but I have to make a small adjustment every time I start a session with it. There is also a 57mm version of the cube I would be interested in trying.
A comment on the video clearly explained how to take the cube apart. The insides are very complicated and it’s soon apparent that a lot more pieces make up this cube than you think. Pictured below are the edges, the corners, and a all three parts of a corner. I believe this is the first time I’ve used this phrase for a cube, but it is beautifully designed, truly built inside out.
Overall the cube makes you wonder how much better it can get than this, but we’ve all thought that at one point or another I’m sure. This would be a good cube for any level of cuber to get, and I imagine it would last them a long time. You can buy it at Lightake for $15 and shipping is free.
The PanShi is a combination of daring and lazy. On one hand they were trying to make some thing new and better. On the other hand you can see exactly how the designers just copied the ZhanChi CAD file and made a few small modifications. These modifications include wider “wings” on the edges, and a higher “lip.” Both do a really good job of keeping the pieces from popping, but at the expense of wide corner cutting margins and hence speed.
This doesn’t mean it’s a bad cube. I can certainly get sub-15 times on it, however not very consistently. (For context I consider myself to average a mid-14 with a ZhanChi). I’ve been trying to get better at blind solving and I think this is a really good cube for my practice. It’s hard to make accidental moves on it and the sides click in such a way that is very distinct. It gives the same kind of good feeling the clicks from a mechanical keyboard give, that is I get tactile and audible feedback from a turn.
I can see this being a really good cube for people still over 25-30 seconds. It encourages clean turning, and it doesn’t pop as frequently as a Rubik’s brand might. However in the end this is a prime example of the innovator’s dilemma, it just doesn’t stand up to its predecessors at all.
I said it twice in the video review: it’s just a ZhanChi. But when you hold it and play with it, it feels like so much more. I imagine it has something to do with our perception of small things being cute? The stickers are pretty decent actually. Historically DIY’sspecialty cubes from China have had really bad greens, yellows, and oranges.
It’s not a main cube, you’d be crazy to use this as a main cube. The ergonomics of it just don’t work either, my thumbs end up feeling tweaked after a short session with the cube. One thing I didn’t mention in the video review is how you physically have to push less, to be precise: the arc length your finger travels to turn a side is shorter.
If you’re looking for a good small cube, this is most likely your end all solution. The 42mm ZhanChi can be bought at Lightake.com for $8 and the ship anywhere in the world.
Remember this is all just for the flat version of the V-Cube 3. I got the V-Cube 3 and I was really hopeful for it. I really like the 2×2 and 5×5, also the times I’ve tried the 7×7 I was pleased. Unfortunately the 3×3 category was already take from them by Dayan and others. The 3×3 category is no market for any company to just throw in their take on a 3×3, however with the popularity of V-Cubes I don’t think they’ll suffer a loss from making this cube.
The cube is o.k. there are pros, but equal cons to its performance and design. It can actually be kind of fast, you just have to be careful with it, because if you’re too fast pops are almost inevitable. Cons are easier to pick out in this case. The cube’s problem primarily extends from how it’s built, again the robustness of the edges and corners does not help it be smooth. At least it’s adjustable (hey there’s a pro), but any more loose than what I have it at now and I think it would pop a lot more. However almost no cube’s design flaws are incurable, I think the robustness of the pieces hold great potential for cube-modding. Think about it, the pieces are perfect cubes which become so easy to modify a newbie could do it.
I mentioned in the review that it didn’t come lubricated, once I lubed it up with silicone spray, it wasn’t hat much faster. This could be due to the plastic or maybe I just didn’t put enough in. I suspect a combination of both.
Finally it seems I got the “wrong” version of the V-Cube 3 as far as speedcubing goes. It also comes in a pillowed version and an unassembled DIY version. Good reviews have been coming in for the DIY version however! I now regret my quick purchase of the cube the day it came out, I usually prefer DIY kits anyway. Seems like this time around the difference between the two was more crucual than expected.
I had this cube for a little more than a week now and I’ve truly given it my best, but the cube just isn’t working out. I can pull off some good averages, but nothing seems to stick. To start off I would simply like to maintain an reemphasize what I said at the end of the review: this cube is fast.
This in due to how it was tensioned, lubricated, and of course designed. I haven’t taken the cube apart but my curiosity is enough to pry these un-popable pieces apart and stare within. Every section of these edges is sculpted and perfected, there is no chance of them locking up or popping. The corners remind me of some tall awkward skinny animal or person. I have not come close to popping it nor does it seem it will ever pop! If you’ve taken apart the GuHong the edge may look familier, however it has a new anchor and some ridges where the innards meet the sticker face. A quick word about stickers too: I replaced the green orange and yellow (because DIY cubes always have the worst hues of those colors) with cubesmith stickers, and they fit just fine.
However there is an interested catch I found while experimenting more with tensioning the cube. Little to some tightening, and this cube locks up like nothing else. Little to some, what exactly does that measure as? For me it was about a quater turn! That’s not a huge margin of adjustment. This cube is too loose for me sometimes, but if I tighten it, it locks up which goes against one of the main reasons why I used it, it doesn’t pop and it doesn’t lock up.
Staying in Control
A loose cube has its down side, a bad regrip or grab can disastrously result in making the wrong move or sometimes just dropping the cube completely. I had problems with the former, this cube is so fast sometimes my fingers can cannot keep up. As I stumble around trying to get a good grip and angle I loose time, and these corrections compound surprisingly fast. My average average of 12’s with this cube was around 17, a full 2 seconds slower than what I can already accomplish with the GuHong. If I try to go my “normal” speed that I can control on the Alpha V and the GuHong I still end up going too fast and when the cross is done I just stare blankly at the cube, amazed that I can actually turn that fast, but distraught that I don’t know where any of the pieces are.
The ZhanChi demands a lot from the user, I think it takes a certain handle to use everything it has. It was frustrating praising a cube that is definitely good, but being unable to use it. This cube at least helped me see the potential in myself, I now know for certain that I am capable of sub-15 averages and even further 13.xx averages of 5, a time that can win small competitions. I keep the cubes I use on my desk so whenever I want to I can just do an average, unfortunately today I got so frustrated with myself and my times I decided it would be best to retire the ZhanChi to the shelf where I keep unused cubes. And now one cube that I’ll have to try again later, when I’m faster and a better cuber. Hopefully that will be soon.
Update: I’ve been using this cube now for about year, I’m sufficiently sub-16 sometimes sub-15. I only use the cube when I’m sufficiently warmed up.
Is this just another one of Rubik’s Inc.’s last breath, gimmicky, non-turning products like the Rubik’s 360 and the Revolution? Read on to find out. (Click on any of the pictures below for the full size. The blues, whites, and yellows didn’t come though on the camera so well I touched them up as best I could. The side that looks white in the picture below is actually very blue, it’s the LED’s I think.)
If anything tells us that we’re in the future it’s the Rubik’s Touchcube. If anything tells us that the future is imperfect, it’s the Rubik’s Touchcube. Most people will immediately say it’s multitouch, that’s not entirely true, it only supports one input at a time (monotouch?), rather than making a two finger swipe of R L’ the quicker way to do this is to swipe M. It’s not always responsive of course, I found you can make the same move R by tapping on the top right then the bottom right sticker/square, and a U by tapping the 3 o’clock edge sticker then the 6 o’clock one. OH GOD WHY DID THEY EVEN ADD THAT GESTURE?! Seriously now, I didn’t even realize I could do U without turning the cube to another side until I read the manual more closely. I would much rather see a gesture that swipes the first layer on one of the vertical sides. But meh.
That little diagonal line you see is a small ridge on the charger I actually never noticed before, huh. Anyway while charging it’s really mesmerizing, it just does random turns as far as I can tell. When its low on battery the whole cube flashes red accompanied with a series of tones. That red light on the charger also turns green when it’s at 100%. I don’t know exactly what the battery life is yet, it charges rather slowly though. The position from when you put it on the charger to when you take it off is saved though, so if you’re trying to invent some crazy algorithm and it runs out of batter the position will be saved.
I realized I never said anything about the size of the cube in my video review. The Touchcube is off is the above picture, it’s sandwiched between a V-Cube 5 and a Type A DIY. So it’s actually somewhat of a handful.
Once again THE VERDICT: if you have $50 and want a unique item in your collection that you’ll be sure to play around with every now and then it is fun. Then get it. Otherwise if you’re not really the collector type, or you’re very serious about cubes that actually turn then don’t get it, your call this is all just my opinion.
This is a little over due now, the video that probably made you want to go here was filmed maybe a week too late, like I said, I filmed over it. All the challenges and stuff I did last week prevented me from making the ones I really wanted to. So then here are my full thoughts on the V-Cube 5 (the black one mind you, not white… black).
The scructure, design, and turning clearly takes from the V-Cube 6, or rather the other way around. The whole internal mechanism is one large spherical structure allowing the pieces to smoothly rotate around them. The outer edges click a great deal for the amount they turn, I’ve seen a mod reversing this effect if necessary, apparently its the corners, but it doesn’t really bother me at this point I can still easily cut corners, without the fear of it exploding unlike the Eastsheen 5×5 and the Rubik’s 5×5. Matter how I turn it I really can’t get it to pop like a normal cube. As the picture below shows.
Needless to say, because it’s not popping it’s rather tight right now, I have only gotten a few sub-3 times with it in the past week. Despite this, the turning definitely makes up for this. Doing the centers and edges has never been so fun as I can cut the corners in a whole new dimension without it popping (again, as the picture shows). The stickers have the same qualities as the 6×6 they chip a little bit (as the picture here and the one below does) but at least they don’t peel like Rubik’s brand ones do.
The biggest con, and the most frustrating one yet that I’ve encountered is some weird oily stuff that was already in the cube, I have no idea what this is or how it got there. What I am certain though is that it’s not just because it’s black. I’ve gotten messages from people on YouTube asking me what to do about their excessively oily cube. So apparently I got it on a minor scale, but despite my cleaning efforts I can’t really get it out right now. I have an idea to run all the pieces but the core through my dishwasher, but not sure what effect that will have on the stickers. So if anyone knows anything about that then comment it below and I will be grateful.
So in conclusion: if you have big hands, you can’t get a good Rubik’s 5×5 to work out for you, and you are frustrated with the limiting turns on an Eastsheen. Then you should consider getting this if you’re going to pursue this puzzle more competitively. After I started to average <6 mins on the 6×6 and <1:30 mins on the 4×4 I really wanted to get my times between 2:30 or 2:00 at this point those times seem very far off but the V-cube seems to be a pick in the right direction, it just needs to be looser for me right now.
To finish I’d like to touch on something a little older. I’ve read a lot of comments on my original V-Cube 5-wrong-color video when I received the wrong product, saying that white is actually better? I cannot deny or confirm this, I don’t have a great amount of cubes or time to experiment this concept. I wanted black because I really like the classic look and I can recognize the contrast between the colors more easily. Sure I have some white cubes (a Minx of the Pyra and Mega variety, and a 6×6) and they work fine, but when it comes to the 2xx-5×5 I really can’t use anything but black effectively. I furthermore don’t see why a white cube would be faster, if you present some scientific evidence behind this I might believe you (like coefficients of friction and chemical reasons why white cubes are faster) and consider switching to white cubes.