FTC Disclosure

Life is complicated enough without getting into hotwater with federal agencies so: TAKE NOTE Many things I review I got at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Consider this as informing you that ALL things I review may have been gotten at no charge. Realistically about 60% but in order to keep things above board just assume that I got the stuff free. Words like, “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad” or even just “ad” are clear ways to disclose that you’re being paid to share information and links so BE AWARE that some of what I write can be described as an AD by the government. BTW I will NEVER say a product is great, super or even acceptable if it isn't whether I got it free or NOT!

Amazon

Sunday, August 29, 2010

AOC 2436Vw Wide Screen 24" Monitor

My Acer 17” LCD died recently so I moved my 19” Hyndui monitor to it’s spot and added a 24” AOC 2436Vw . The 16x9 ratio takes a little getting used to. I found the total lack of a manual surprising. It wasn’t to be found on the CD that came with the monitor either. I couldn’t find it on their website but a quick email to tech support and I received a pdf of a manual that details what all of the myriad on screen controls do.


The onscreen software that is supposed to do what the hardware button does seems to be incompatible with Windows 7. It loaded but it won’t do a darn thing.

The specs on the monitor don’t give you the warranty. Apparently I am one of the sole surviving consumers that wants to know what the warranty is before I purchase a product. I had to email AOC tech support to find out the warranty. It was not listed on the AOC site under the monitor’s specifications either.

Buy.com site had Q&A on the monitor. One of the answers said that the monitor came with cables. It does, a USB cable and a VGA cable. I wanted the HDMI/DVI cable. I’ve ordered it from Amazon. My local Staples didn’t carry it and since Staples cables are grotesquely overpriced anyway, I decided Amazon was the best move.

I’m quite satisfied with the quality of the monitor. The mysterious warranty is for three years and it is way beyond me why they don’t want people to know that.

I would suggest to AOC that they add a manual to the promo DVD they include with the monitor. They already have added the cost of the DVD so why not drop a pdf of the manual on the same disc? Both cables would be nice but since I saw lots of people complaining online that the monitor they got had no cables, I guess I should be glad this came with a cable.

Hulu looks incredible on the monitor and it is nice to have two full sheets up sided by side, big enough for me to be able to see. (bifocals bite!)

This is a nice monitor and I hope it gives me as many years as the ACER did.

Specs:

The 2436Vw comes with and DVI-D input with HDCP for maximum content delivery. It boasts a 5ms response time to eliminate drag, and amazing 60,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio and a USB pass-thru connector for convenient access to a USB connection. The 2436Vw also comes with Touch Key sensitive controls and Glossy Bezel & Shellfish Texture for a stylish, user-friendly display.

Features

DVI with Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz)
USB 2.0 pass-thru connector
60,000:1 High Contract Ratio
16.7 Million Color
Touch Key sensitive controls
Shell Texture Design: The symmetrical perfection of rear cover and base that resembles Natural shell texture
Glossy finished cabinet

Tech Specs
Cabinet Color: Piano-black Glossy Finish
Panel: TFT Active Matrix LCD
24" Class Widescreen, 16:9 Aspect Ratio
23.6" Viewable Image Size, Diagonal
Pixel Pitch: 0.272 x 0.272mm
Display Area: 521.3mm x 293.2mm
Brightness: 300 cd/m2 (typ)
Contrast Ratio: 60,000:1 (dynamic)
Response Time: 5ms (typical)
Viewing Angle: Horizontal: 170 Degrees (CR>10); Vertical: 160 Degrees (CR>10)
Scanning Frequency: Horizontal: 30K~80KHz; Vertical: 55~75 Hz
Pixel Frequency: 148.5MHz
Maximum Resolution: 1920x1080x60Hz
Recommended Resolution: 1920x1080@60Hz
Supported Resolutions: 640x480@60/67/72/75Hz, 800x600@56/60/72/75Hz, 1024x768@60/70/72/75Hz, 1280x1024@60/75Hz, 1440x900@60/75Hz, 1680x1050@60Hz, 1920x1080@60Hz
Color: 16.7M
Signal Input: Analog: 0.7Vp-p(standard), 75 OHM, Positive
Digital Input: DVI-D with HDCP*
Connectors: Analog RGB Signal: 15-pin D-sub Male; Digital Signal: 24-pin DVI-D
Power Source: Universal 100~240VAC, 50/60Hz
Power Consumption: 49Watts ( Max. )
Plug & Play: DDC/2B, DDC/CI
EPA ENERGY STAR®: Yes
User Control: Menu, Up, Down, Power
OSD Languages: 15 Languages including English, French and Spanish
Regulations: cULus, FCC, CE, TUV/S, ROHS, Certified for Windows Vista Logo, EPEAT Gold
Other Features: Touch Sensitive Controls, USB Pass-thru, User Friendly Graphical OSD Menu, VESA 100mm Wall Mount Compliant**, Kensington Security Slot, includes AOC proprietory i-Menu software OSD
Dimensions (WxHxD mm) Monitor: 582.1x425.5x65.9
Dimensions (WxHxD inches) Monitor: 22.9x16.8x2.6
Weight: 12.1 lbs (5.5 kgs) Net; 15.4 lbs (7.0 kgs) Gross

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bookeen Cybook Opus eBook Reader - CYBPE10W

I haven’t seen it so this is not a review. This is just a heads up that another eBook reader has dropped below $100.00. At just $79.99 at Amazon and Buy.com this is an aggressively priced reader. I still like the Augen I reviewed better due to it’s ability to do other things and still act as a darn good eBook reader. However as a strictly dedicated eBook reader this looks pretty good.

If you have one or have reviewed it, please comment here and leave a link for your review.   Amazon had several reviews on it that ranged from 1 star to 5 stars.  Amazon also has skinw for the unit that allow you to "gussie" it up to your personal taste.  You  may have to call on price though, this appears to be a dramatic price drop from $144.00 and I've gotten inconsistent results on price using the Amazon link.  

From the Buy.com site:
Features:
With the Cybook Opus, you can access more than 200,000 digital contemporary books from hundreds of publisher sources like Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, Harlequin…. These digital books are in AdobeTM secured format (EPUB or PDF), the available catalogue grows very quickly and gain several hundreds titles per month.

Cybook Opus can also read free classical books in HTML, PDF, EPUB or TXT

Cybook supports all these document formats directly and without any conversion. To transfer your documents to the Cybook, you just need to connect your Cybook with your USB cable and copy your data in the Cybook memory. You can also use a microSD card and copy your data in it.

Tech Specs:
Black & White 4 levels grey-scale
Daylight readable
E-Ink screen 5 (3 x 4 - 76mm x 101mm)
G-sensor for motion detection
Keys - On/Off; Reset; 5-way navigation; Menu button; Back button; Page forward/page backward
Memory - RAM - 32 MB; Storage (NAND) - 1 GB / MicroSD slot for expanded storage
Micro SD slot for adding optional MicroSD  cards for expanded storage capabilities / Mini USB slave
OS - Linux 2.6 / Adobe ePUB/PDF Reader / Multi-format reader includes HTML, TXT, JPG, GIF, PNG
Portrait and landscape mode
Rechargeable and replaceable Internal Battery LI-Polymer (1000mAh), 8 000 page flips
2 weeks battery life average per full charge
Resolution 600 x 800 - 200 dpi
Samsung ARM, 400 MHz processor

The box of the Cybook Opus contains everything you need to get started! - Cybook Opus eBook reading device with rechargeable battery; USB cable; Quick start guide; Black polyurethane-leather protection sleeve
Unit Dimensions - Height 151 mm - 6 x Length 108 mm - 4.2 x Width 10mm - 0.4; Weight 150 g - 5.3 oz

This was not a paid blog.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

To Fish or Not To Fish?

That isn’t a philosophic posture it is a way of life for those folks in the Gulf of Mexico that have had their livelihood dramatically impacted. Doesn’t matter if you like or hate fish, doesn’t matter if you grew up eating fish every Friday, it doesn’t matter if you fish for fun, what matters is that there are a bunch of small businesses who have been knocked on their heels through no fault of their own.

On Aug. 25, the Citizen Effect has slated a national day of action to help raise funds for educational programs designed to help fishing families impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast. Citizen Effect, together with several support partners and volunteers, is organizing several online and local event fundraising efforts across the U.S.


What You Can Do To Help.

1. Attend Or Host Local Events Around the United States.
With the help of local chapters of the Social Media Club, members are volunteering to organize New Orleans-themed events with live jazz, blues, or Zydeco music along with speakers who will talk about the environmental consequences in the Gulf. Event hosts are asked to suggest a $10 donation as a cover charge, which will be donated to directly benefit fishing families.


2. Donate Direct To Citizen Effect CitizenGulf.
Citizen Effect has created a donation page, with a goal to raise at least $10,000 by Aug. 25. These funds, which will also be donated to Catholic Charities of New Orleans to help fund educational programs and provide hope for the future, will directly touch more than 10,000 lives.

3. Vote For Gulf Coast Solutions On Pepsi Refresh.
Currently, the Pepsi Refresh Project is committing an additional $1.3 million toward ideas that specifically benefit the Gulf Coast. These ideas will be open for voting on Aug. 2. Votes will be tallied through Aug. 31. Please vote for the Gulf Coast Benefit.

4. Write A Post Or Tweet About The Event.
Another way to help generate awareness for this event or the dozens of local events taking place across the country is to write a post, share a tweet, and tell your friends. Together, we can help fishing families that have lost businesses that have been around for generations find new opportunities through education, good will, and support.

Together, the written word and commitment can help these people salvage their life.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Droid Case/Skin Bargain



One of the positive things I found in my disturbing Droid Incredible experience was a very inexpensive cover for the Droid. For the down and dirty price of $1.25 plus $2.98 shipping I got a great cover.

I have been buying these for my phones for years. The provide a cushion for the times when you do drop the darn phone. I have seen phones literally seem to disintegrate when dropped. The back flies off, the batter pops out and even screens crack from an innocuous slip of the finger. This case won’t necessarily prevent that from happening but it may.

This is not a paid blog. I just like the price and the product.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

SquareTrade Warranties Revisted

I have bought a couple of SquareTrade Warranties over the years and have never needed to use them. SquareTrade is a third party warranty company that will sell you an extended warranty for practically any electronic item. They generally are dramatically cheaper than the third party warranties sold by the store where you bought the electronic item. As an example, an extended warranty on my Acer Notebook was over $200.00 from Acer and it was $39.00 from SquareTrade.

Having a modicum of expertise, when my DVD drive stopped working in my notebook, I did basic trouble shooting to no avail. I then went to Acer technical support and after trying all their ideas, I still had a non-working DVD drive.

I did a little web research and discovered that the model drive in my laptop was not held in good regard. There were many complaints about the drive across a wide spectrum of notebook manufactures who had used the Matshita DVD RAM UJ-850S. I initially tried to find a replacement drive with plans to just replace it myself. I couldn’t find a drive that was recommended as a replacement drive so I decided to use my SquareTrade Warranty.

My initial impression was that SquareTrade was trying to rip me off. Their rep said I had never sent in my proof of purchase. I have notes that say I did but I faxed over the proof of purchase again and again and again. After faxing it over five times, I got a tech on the phone who gave me her specific fax number and she put the proof of purchase in the system. Then one of their techs and I emailed back and forth for several days with them telling me to try all of the fixes that I had already tried. Finally a tech said that I would need to send it in for repair but the system still didn’t show my proof of purchase. I referred him to the tech who had taken care of that aspect and he confirmed that she had put it in the system. It was there but not showing up on screen. I never did find out why that occurred.

I received a prepaid label and shipping box from Blue Raven to send back the computer. I shipped the computer on a Thursday and got it back on a Monday. I was totally impressed. The paperwork showed they had installed a new drive and they sent all the test results back with the notebook. For some unknown reason they saw fit to reinstall my operating system. This, of course, wiped out all of the programs I had installed. Since I keep my data on a different sub-directory, I did not lose any data. It was highly annoying to have to reinstall all my programs though.

My euphoria over prompt service was short lived. I tested the DVD drive and it would not play a movie, install any software or read any discs. I called Blue Raven and left a message and then I sent an email. After several more emails and no response, I called SquareTrade. They said to keep trying Blue Raven. Finally I got Charlie, the very helpful SquareTrade rep who contacted the Blue Raven rep who said he had never gotten my emails or voice mail. Blue Raven sent another prepaid label and I again sent in my machine. After about 10 days I got it back and this time it works.

The entire process took over a month. With the exception of the proof of purchase mystery and the “I never got the emails or voice mail”, I felt that everyone I worked with was trying to solve my problem. No one was ever rude or dismissive. I ended up with a repaired notebook DVD drive. I did have to reinstall all my programs but that isn’t uncommon whenever you send your computer out. I guess because I was in the computer service business and it was a very, very rare occasion where we lost all our clients programs and if we did, we reinstalled them, I found that reinstall very annoying.

Was the warranty worth the money? I guess since I wanted to maintain portability of the notebook. An external USB drive would have sufficed and if I had to pay for the repair would have been substantially cheaper and easier than installing a new internal drive.

The time factor was pretty dismal but SquareTrade, eventually, came through. I will probably buy an extended warranty from them again and hopefully I will not need to use it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Motorola T505 ROKR Bluetooth In Car Speaker Phone with Digital FM Transmitter

This is an adequate product. I purchased it specifically to be able to use the car speakers to enhance audibility of calls. That aspect works intermittently. It allows you to play the music from your phone through your car stereo system. That works well. Too bad that is a feature I could care less about.

The speaker in the unit is fairly good so it does work. It just doesn't work for the reason I purchased it. Since the company has a "all sales are final" policy I decided it would be too much trouble to return it. It is not Amazon direct but a 3rd party vendor.

Due to the "all sales are final" policy and the inability of the unit to consistently use the car speakers for phone calls, I do NOT recommend the product or the vendor.

BTW it is most definitely my fault for not checking the return policy before I purchased the unit. The vendor clearly stated their policy. I screwed up.

I would advise checking return policies prior to making any Amazon purchase.

This same item was $139.00 at Staples when I got it at Amazon for $65.00, incidentally it did NOT work with my short lived Droid Incredible.   It works fine with my LG Dare.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Virtually Indestructible Mouse and Keyboard



I am quoting the manufacturer and this is not an endorsement since I haven’t tried one. Being a technut I am prone to seeing things techie and going, ooh! This line of keyboards and mice rate an OOH!

Kids and in my case grandkids have a tendency to be a bit more destructive of computer peripherals than the normal user. Although I am sure gamers of all ages are probably the top of the destructive user food chain.
From the Grandtec website:
  1. The Virtually Indestructible Mouse is a silicone-based optical mouse which features a unique combination of durability and comfort.
  2. The silicone-based material is impervious to most anything including water, coffee and cleaning solutions.
Medical
•Disinfect with either self-drying aerosols or cleanse with ammonia- or bleach-based medical grade disinfectants.
•A study conducted by the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii found that nearly 25 percent of the keyboards sampled harbored bacteria that is responsible for 95% of all hospital-acquired illnesses.

The keyboard I show is the glowing one which is ideal for using when you are computing in the dark. Rumor has it that I am always in the dark so it would be a no brainer for me. Incidentally I paid serious bucks for a glowing keyboard a few years back for a major butt kicking game system for my grandson and Wow, have prices come down.

Check these out if you have little folks or careless big folks using your computer. They might save you some grief and aggravation.

This is not a paid blog.








Friday, August 6, 2010

Hitachi 1TB Hard Drive and Rosewill USB 2.0 Docking Station Deal

By the time you read this, the deal will be over. Why, Oh Why am I writing this drivel then? 'Cause I love rubbing it in? No, I write it because New Egg periodically has combo deals that are too good to pass up.

I wanted a new USB hard drive for backup purposes. I found a good deal on Buy.com and was going to pur

chase it. However being the consummate shopper that I am (sounds so much more refined than cheap), I looked around and lo and behold, I found this terrific combo deal at New Egg. I got the
Rosewill RX-DU101 2.5" & 3.5" USB 2.0 Docking Station
Item #: N82E16817182221

And
the HITACHI Deskstar HD31000 IDK/7K (0S00163) 1TB 7200 RPM
SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
Item #: N82E16822145287

In addition there was a $10.00 rebate from Hitachi. Since a whopping 68% of rebates are never claimed, I hesitate to mention the rebate but rest assured I am one of the 32% who ALWAYS submits my rebates.

Bottom line, $59.99 for a 1TB hard drive and docking station is a darn good deal. I did notice some complaints about the Hitachi drive not being useable out of the box and if you are not familiar with the fact that hard drives do NOT normally come preformatted you may want to google how to do it.

The dock installed and works like a charm and the drive formatted and works great. I recommend that before you click buy it may behoove you to sneak over to New Egg and see if there are any combo deals going on the product you want. It provided me with a better solution for my needs at less money than I expected to spend.

This is not a paid blog.




Monday, August 2, 2010

Disappointing Results with EASEUS Todo Backup

I downloaded EASEUS Todo Backup to my Windows 7 desktop. It was free and Free always attracts my attention. It set up easily and looked good. Documentation said it supported Windows 7. I got it to clone my hard drive to a 300gb Seagate External USB drive. It appeared to be fine.

I decided in the event the desktop hard drive failed, I wanted to be able to just pop the external drive in for the replacement. In order to do that, I had to find a drive with the same interface that the desktop supports.

Once I got my new drive I tried to clone the desktop drive to it. After multiple failures of the software to complete the cloning process I gave up. I had a lot of trouble getting the first clone done and this set of attempts just turned me off of the software.

I am not a tech. I am a reasonably knowledgeable user. If I have to tweak software to get it to work, hold it’s hand and whisper in it’s ear to get the job done, I DON’T WANT IT. I want something I can recommend that works easily from the get go.

If on this blog I say, Whoa! This product kicks butt, I have to believe it kicks butt. Plus if I recommend it, even though I am no longer in the business, I better be able to stand behind what I said. I have had days where two of the 3 guys I play golf with have brought written notes so they can ask me computer questions at lunch after golf. I don’t want to write a recommendation on anything that I have to end up providing support just so I don’t look like an even bigger idiot. Idiocy is assumed when ever you post an opinion on line for the world to criticize. I read some of the vitriolic forum comments criticizing unsuspecting folks who have posted personal experiences of products. I’m not hypersensitive but who wants to be flayed for a personal opinion.

So for those of you who have had wonderful experiences with EASEUS, good for you!
I didn’t.

BTW if you like Acronis, I do too!  Trouble is it STILL isn't working with Windows 7 as of my writing this.

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