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. I do not collect information on my readers. If cookies or other tracking stuff is used on my blogs it is due to BLOGGER not ME. Apparently the European Union's new rules state I need to inform you if cookies are being use. If they are it isn't byu me, consider yourself INFORMED.
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!



Please check out my other blogs
Pick of the Literate 
or Azure Dwarf’s Horde
or visit my web site

Friday, December 27, 2013

XBOOM Mini Portable Capsule Speaker with Rechargeable Battery and Enhanced Bass+ Resonator - Green

 I preface this with the fact that I was given this product to provide a product review.  I'm sure if you have read my reviews you have noted that I don't hesitate to do a one star review when a product deserves it regardless of whether I paid full price or not.  Conversely if a product deserves a 5-star review, I must give it the appropriate score regardless of whether I received it for free or not.  

Admittedly I was a bit skeptical when I saw how tiny this speaker was even before I compressed it to it's even smaller travel size.  It puts out some darn good sound for something that is smaller than a racket ball.  (or for you foodies, a clementine.)

I tested it on an Android tablet, a Kindle Fire and a Galaxy S4 phone.   It performed superbly on each.   In fact I didn't realize how bad the sound output was before it was enhanced.   I know on all three devices that headphones are really the only realistic method of playing them unless you are hooked up via bluetooth to a bluetooth enabled soundbar or via hdmi on a TV or sound system. 

The color of this particular unit is to my untrained eye, chartreuse or as in the 1969 Javeline, Big Bad Green.   I have a soft spot for vivid colors and this nailed it.  It comes with a carry case, a charging cable and a 32" 3.5mm M/M stereo cable for connecting to your devices.  It also has a 4" built in 3.5mm cable with male jack for plugging into your phone or other device if you don't want to use the longer cord. 

It charges through USB and there is a separate Y cable that allows you to charge the speaker while you use it.   They claim a charge will last 12 plus hours but I have yet to have 12 contiguous hours free to test that part. 

My only complaint is the instructions are printed on a font appropriate for a magnifying glass.  Bump up your font for those of us who aren't 15 years old. 

Overall this is pretty impressive tech for $16.99 at Amazon.

 From the vendor:

Enhanced Bass+ Expansion System (BES) enables Full-bodied, 360-degree superb sound - 40mm Driver 3-Watt Output.

Ultra-portable compact size with long-lasting embedded rechargeable battery provides 12+ hours of continuous playback from one single charge. Free splash-proof carrying travel pouch for easy storage and enhanced portability.

Modular "Buddy-Plug" Design: Integrated stowaway 3.5mm stereo audio jack plug and socket connects multiple XBOOM Mini Portable Capsule speakers together for maximum sound.

Universal Compatibility: All iPods, iPhones, iPads, Samsung Galaxy phones, Android phones, MP3 players, CD players, PC and laptops, and More.

Rated Best MP3 Mini Portable Capsule Speaker of the Year.

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Char-Broil 2-Burner Custom Grill Cover

This cover fits my Char-Broil Infrared 2-burner grill like it was made for it.  LOL  Since it was made for it, I guess I would be somewhat disappointed if it didn't fit.  You do have to drop the side tables to get the cover on the grill.  It has a nice heavy feel to it and the velcro latches provide an easy installation.  This is the first grill cover I have ever had so it remains to be seen if it will add any life to my grill.   It was $19.98 at Amazon and $30.00 elsewhere so it was a good deal for the money at Amazon.   Considering a plastic tarp is over $12.00 and is not fitted, this seemed pretty smart for the price.   

From the vendor:                  
        Custom designed to be a perfect fit for Char-Broil's TRU-Infrared 2-burner gas grills
·     Rugged heavy-duty vinyl cover repels water, snow, wind, and assorted debris to keep your grill safe and dry
·      Internal polyester-base liner protects grill exterior from scratches
·      Convenient side closure straps securely fasten the cover around your grill
·     Easily wipes clean with a damp cloth; measures 31.75"L x 25.75"D x 41.5"H

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Boom Boom Balloon by Spin Master Games

 It's not too late to run out and get this inexpensive yet fun game.  The kids really enjoy popping the balloon.   The game recommends using a balloon pump but blowing them up works just fine.  Also they only recommend their own balloons.  It works just fine with good balloons, not the cheap ones because they break too easily.  

 If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gateway DX4860-UR28

Gateway DX Series Intel Core i5 8GB DDR3 1TB HDD Capacity Desktop PC Windows 8 64-bit DX4860-UR28(DT.GE0AA.004)

I was a bit concerned about buying a Gateway.  I have been using computers long enough to have seen the brand erosion of the Gateway years ago.   I found that Acer had purchased Gateway and this machine in particular was rated as a best buy in several of the computer magazines.  

The size is a bit daunting.  I have gotten away from the monster towers of yesteryear but this is still substantially larger than the Aspire it replaces it.   I am a Swiss Army knife kind of guy and I do a lot of different things on my computer so I wanted a desktop rather than another laptop.   This machine has good solid middle of the road specifications.  It's performance has been good and it has expansion capabilities.

When I have gotten everything working the way I want, I plan on cloning the hard drive and adding an SSD drive to improve the overall performance.   Supposedly the front accessible bay has a cage but I couldn't find it on the Gateway site.   I do miss having a button on the DVD drive to open and close it.   The mouse is a bit cheesy and the keyboard is nothing to write home about.   I do like the alt-f4 command that lets you close those darn Windows 8.1 open screens.  
Gateway did a nice job on providing many USB ports and some are actually conveniently located on the top and front.   In addition they top of the tower has a "tray" where you can plug in USB devices for charging.   A totally useless but none the less cool lighted logo rounds out a very solid, reasonably priced desktop. 

General Spec

DX Series
Student/Home office
Form Factor
Micro Tower
Intel Core i5-3330 3.0GHz
Processor Main Features
64 bit Quad-Core Processor
Cache Per Processor
6MB L3 Cache
8GB DDR3 1600
Hard Drive
Optical Drive 1
16X DVD+-R/RW SuperMulti Drive
Intel HD Graphics 2500
Gigabit Ethernet
Power Supply
Operating System
Windows 8 64-bit


Intel H67


CPU Type
Intel Core i5
CPU Speed
L3 Cache Per CPU
CPU Socket Type
LGA 1155
CPU Main Features
64 bit Quad-Core Processor 
Max Turbo Frequency 3.2 GHz


Intel HD Graphics 2500
Graphics Interface
Integrated video


Memory Capacity
Memory Speed
DDR3 1600
Memory Spec
4GB x 2
Memory Slot (Total)
Memory Slot (Available)
Maximum Memory Supported

Hard Drive

HDD Capacity
HDD Interface

Optical Drive

Optical Drive Type
DVD Super Multi
Optical Drive Spec
16X DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti Drive


Audio Features
High-Definition Audio with 5.1-channel Surround Sound Support


LAN Speed
802.11a/b/g/n Wireless LAN
Bluetooth 4.0+HS

Front Panel Ports

Front USB
2 x USB 2.0 (Front)
2 x USB 2.0 (Top)
Front Audio Ports
1 x Headphone Jack
1 x Microphone Jack
Card Reader
Digital Media Card Reader - Secure Digital (SD) Card

Back Panel Ports

Video Ports
Rear USB
2 x USB 3.0
6 x USB 2.0
1 port
Rear Audio Ports
3 ports


PCI Slots (Available/Total)
(2/3) PCI-E x1 
(1/1) PCI-E x16

Physical Spec

15.82" x 14.92" x 7.09"
23 lbs.

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

TOSHIBA Satellite C55-A5246NR Good Bang for Buck

TOSHIBA Satellite C55-A5246NR Intel Core i3 3120M(2.50GHz) 4GB Memory 750GB HDD 15.6" Notebook Windows 8

So far so good!  The size of the screen and it's clarity is good.  The i3 seems robust enough to serve my needs.   It seems to have good quality assembly and does not appear to get to hot.   I do run a dual fan laptop stand under it though.   Heat is a killer regardless of how cool they feel to the touch.

I did not spend the money to get the touch screen on the laptop.   So far I have no regrets on that.   I do the bulk of my work on the desktop and do not fool with the cutesy charms and aps screen.   I do wish it came with bluetooth. 

The touch pad is ok but I still prefer a mouse.   My Gateway allows me to close unwanted screens with alt-f4 which apparently is a Gateway feature because that does not work on the Toshiba.  I am still working my way through the keyboard commands on Windows 8.1.   I will be happy when I figure out how to close the darn open screens.

Overall for the money this is a nice little laptop.  

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

ViewSonic TD2420 Black 23.6" Optical Multi-Touch Monitor Not So Hot

ViewSonic TD2420 Black 23.6" Optical Multi-Touch Monitor 200 cd/m2 1000:1 Built-in Speakers
The monitor is fine for viewing.  The touch experience leaves much to be desired.  I read one review that told how to recalibrate the touch.   I found how to do it and saw no change in performance.  It is dreadful from side touches.  Touch seems to work fin in the center of the spring but at the edges swiping just is abysmal.

The speakers have been problamatic as well.  The SRS premium sound if evoked, silences all the sound.  Frankly I was going to return it due to it's inability to work well with Windows 8.1 but the $50 New Egg restocking fee dissuaded me.   By the time I paid for the shipping to me, the restocking fee and the shipping back to them, I would have wasted $75.00.   So I can only hope the warranty works better than the features.  As a plain old monitor with no touch and no sound, it works fine but the "extended" features aren't so hot!

From the Vendor Key Features:
24” (23.6” viewable) touch-enabled LED monitor with Dual Optical Touch and Windows 7 / 8 compatibility             provides excellent touch control experience
1920x1080 Full HD resolution supports image-intensive commercial applications, as well as image, gaming,            and video applications for home entertainment
7H scratch-resistant surface hardness helps ensure consistent, high-quality touch
Stereo speakers with SRS Premium Sound for crystal-clear sound performance
HDMI, DVI and VGA inputs for flexible connectivity to multiple media sources
ENERGY STAR and EPEAT Silver-certified for up to 50%* energy savings with LED backlight
VESA-mountable design allows flexible mounting and display options
Backed by Viewsonic's 3-year limited warranty, highest grade panel and industry-leading pixel performance policy
If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Seagate Central 2 TB Shared Storage Ethernet External Hard Drive (STCG2000100) Dreadful Software!

One year later, this is really a dodgy product.  It gets lost, it loses connection and the software is dreadful.  I just spent over four hours trying to get it re-set up after it lost connection.   It is frankly a huge waste of time.  I do not recommend it. 

This is a NAS (network attached storage) drive.  It is a very good concept, particularly for a small business or a home with multiple users having a variety of devices.  I had some issues getting it to be seen by my computer.  I could not get it recognized plugged into a switch.  I had to plug it into the switch incorporated into my router.  It popped right up then.  Oh, Seagate spring for a brighter light to tell when your drive is working.  It is a pinpoint of light under a black screen that blinks or is solid green, amber and red and darn near impossible to see.  Not a big thing but kind of annoying. 

Quick setup was a breeze after it was direct connected.  Software had to be done online and was not terribly intuitive.   I did download the aps for my phone and tablets.  They worked but again not very intuitive.   It took some puzzling out to get it done.  Once it was done it was interesting to send a file from my phone to the drive and pick it up with my tablet.   I have a flash drive that does the same thing wirelessly  (albeit much, much less capacity)but I can use this from anywhere I can get the Internet.

It will take some time to get all things working smoothly. I have set up the back up and have not seen the results of that yet.  Overall I am pleased.  The YouTube video on the menu helped a great deal but the narrator when too fast.   This is one of those review items that will remain in use and not thrown in the closet.  At $129.00 on Amazon, it is a very good bang for the buck.

From the vendor:

You can't enjoy what you can't find when your digital life is spread across multiple computers, hard drives and flash drives. With Seagate Central shared storage, it's simple to back up all your files, documents and media to one location on your network, and enjoy the convenience of a shared digital library that is compatible with both Macs and PCs. Access your music, movies and docs from computers, game consoles, Smart TVs and other connected devices throughout the home. If you own a Samsung Smart TV or Blu-ray Disc player with Smart Hub (2012 model or later), you can take advantage of the Seagate Media app to enjoy easy content browsing with your remote control. Enjoy your content where you want, when you want. After downloading the free Seagate Media app, you can view your content by type, size, even compatibility, regardless if it is a PDF, Word doc, music, photo or movie file. The Seagate Media app offers a full screen view that allows for quick and easy selection as well as a visually rich experience that is available for Android and Apple platforms as well as Amazon Kindle. You can even offload or back up your photos and personal videos from the Seagate Media app. Upload and download any of your files from most Web browsers-from anywhere-with the Central Remote Access Service. System Requirements: Router with an available Ethernet port (Wi-Fi router required for wireless file access and backup), Internet connection for activation and Internet file sharing, Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3.x, Chrome 4.x, Safari 3, or later Web browser, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP or Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later operating system. Remote Access App Requirements Android Smartphone and Tablet (Android 2.2, Adobe AIR) Apps Available: Seagate Media, iTunes App Store, Android Market, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, Samsung Smart Hub. Inside the Box: Seagate Central shared storage, Quick start guide, Ethernet cable, 2-year limited warranty, Power supply.

Day Two, the bloom is off the rose.
The software is klutzy.  The Dashboard on the desktop is laggy and unresponsive to clicks.  The backup software claims to be configured but won't start, says job is pending.  The remote access allows you to upload three files at a time.  The option to add more files to upload does not function.  After the three files are uploaded, you can add three more.  That is tedious at best and ludicrous at worse.  You can't upload a folder, only a file.  I got an email telling me support can be done through phone, email, facebook or chat.  I clicked on the link and there is no option for chat.  I left a message on Facebook, waiting for a response.  The link took me to a page that asked for a login.  I registered the product yesterday, I have the password in front of me.  The site did not recognize email address or user name.  So far the drive seems fine, the software buggy and the support remains to be seen.  I'll be back with an update.

Day 3
I got a response on Facebook 2 hours later. The "fix" they suggested did not work.  I uninstalled the software. I disconnected the drive, I rebooted the computer, I reconnected the drive, I downloaded the software again and reinstalled the dashboard. when I click on the icon placed on my desktop by the software installation I got "This action is only valid for products that are currently installed." So that didn't work. Seagate's Dashboard software for the desktop does not work.  I did use 2nd Copy, a third party backup software that I am fond of and it worked just fine with the drive so the drive isn't useless.  The Remote access doesn't allow me to see anything but the "public" folders, there may be a work around and I will be back to post that if I find it.  Also if I can get the Dashboard problem solved I will be back to post that as well.  So far it seems like a good idea with decent hardware and the drawback of klutzy software.

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

KRUD KUTTER CR32/6 Carpet Cleaner/Stain Remover, 32-Ounce by Krud Kutter

Rug 1
Price:   $12.83  at Amazon
This was a more involved review than some.  I had no carpet spots so  I created some.   I got to carpet scraps of different types and stained them.  One carpet type is similar to a Berber  and has lots of deep kind of holes.  The other type was a smoother, sheared type.   I took blackberry jelly and smeared it on both scraps.   I gave it 30 minutes to set and then I sprayed each carpet scrap.   See rug 1

Rug 2
The stain on the smoother carpet was practically eradicated on the first spraying.  I followed the instructions to not soak but to spray thoroughly.   I then rubbed it and patted it with a scrap of terry cloth and then  wiped it with  a damp terry cloth.   The Berber carpet did not fare as well on the first spray.   See Rug 2

Rug Final
I used the spray again  and on the smooth carpet the stain is gone.   The only problem is that it was a pretty soiled scrap and there is now a lighter, dirt free area where the stain used to be.   The Berber carpet came out very well on the second spray.  See Rug 3 and Rug Final for close up.
Rug 4

On the heavily soiled smoother carpet, there was a long time (years) spot of indeterminate source.  I sprayed it and it came out beautifully.  See spot at top, middle of mauve rug on Rug 1 and missing spot on Rug 4.   

Overall this spray seems to work better than any other spot cleaner I have used.   I, admittedly, never rubbed blackberry jelly into a carpet before so I am quite impressed with the results.  

Details from Vendor:
Penetrates deep into the carpet fibers
Works on dirt, grease, odors and stains
Leaves no sticky residue
Safe for all carpet types, including nylon and other synthetic carpets, as well as stain resistant carpets
Special polymers repel dirt and stains so next time its easier to clean

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Good Sense Cetirizine Antihistamine HCL Tablets, 10 mg

Zyrtec is the brand name of this drug.  This is a generic.  I have used a generic Zyrtec for several years with good success.  This drug is effective for general allergy relief.  This specific brand is not as inexpensive as other generics found on Amazon.  However it is available in smaller sizes than some of the other generics so it provides you with a less expensive means of trying the drug to see how effective it is with your specific allergies. 

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, November 18, 2013

TYLT Band - Green - Flat Silicone Dual-charging Micro USB Car Charger

This is a pretty nifty device.  Apropos to nothing, I love the color.  It allows me to find it easily in the morass that is my console box.   It also has the ability to allow me to charge both my tablet and my phone simultaneously.   The automobile manufactures claim to be in touch with modern needs but a single power port and a single usb charging port doesn’t begin to handle the phones, tablets and accessories we all carry.  This company seems to be more in touch with what we need.  This is a handy item and works well.

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Belkin 7-Outlet Commercial Surge Protector with 6-Foot Cord

This is an adequate surge suppressor.  I have purchased and used a wealth of Belkin equipment over the years and it has always held up quite well.  The specifications meet most peoples needs.  As far as performance after a week I have noticed nothing amiss nor have I noticed any protection but you usually don't.   I am a bit surprised that there are no outlets on the edge or sideways to allow the ubiquitous oversized power converters from cell phones, etc.   At $17.99 list it isn't going to break the bank but it seems dated in it's design.  It is a good basic surge suppressor and knowing Belkin the warranty is probably going to be upheld if needed.  

From the vendor:
750-joule energy rating provides maximum protection of all your sensitive electronic devices
7 surge-protected outlets supply complete, 3-line AC protection
Filters EMI/RFI noise up to 43 dB reduction
Maximum Spike Current: 102,000A (H-N: 39000A, H-G: 39000A, N-G: 24000A)
Lifetime Product Warranty and Connected Equipment Warranty

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Coast DX350 Double Lock Folding Knife 3.5-Inch Blade

I’m not a knife collector.  To me a knife is a tool.  Although it does occur to me that I do have a couple of collectible knives so maybe I am a collector.  Hmm, who knew?  I got the Smith & Wesson CH0016 Bullseye Folding Linerlock last September and it has been a work horse.  It was about a third of the price of this knife and I find it easier to open one handed than this knife.  With that said, this still seems like a nice quality knife.  The double lock feature makes sense for a hard working knife.  I’m quite fond of my fingers.  The deeply textured handle provides a secure grip.  I do find one handed opening on this somewhat problematic.  Perhaps I have a wimpy thumb.   The clip is placed very near the top which allows the knife to be positioned deeper in the pocket.  I like that feature, the S&W knife’s clip allows entirely too much sticking out and thus it tends to catch on things.  Overall, a good quality blade with solid features. 

·  7Cr17 stainless steel blade

·  G10 handle on stainless steel frame

·  3.5 in. blade; 8.25in. overall

·  5.0 oz. weight

·  Deep-carry, 3-position pocket clip

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Toro 51609 Ultra 12 amp Variable-Speed (up to 235) Electric Blower/Vacuum with Metal Impeller

Tis the season for leaf clean up.  I was blowing my leaves into piles and then shredding them.   The shredding is the part that really lights my fire due to the 16x1 compression ratio.   I can get the enormous pile of leaves down to four 50 gallon trash cans and I don't need to bag.   I was thinking to myself how amazing my Toro blower was and how long it has given me good service.  Arrgghh!  I should have realized that was the kiss of death as moments later it died.  Dead, gone to the other side, non-functional!

After a suitable moment of silence I left is sit for the afternoon in hope that it had overheated or "something".   Well after testing on multiple outlets in the futile hope that it was the extension cord or outlet, I concluded it was truly dead.

I researched blowers.  My boys have gas powered ones that they love.  Alas the infernal combustion engine and I have a bad history.  Every time I have gotten a gas powered tool, it has died over what ever season it spent in disuse.   Adding Stabil, draining the tank, etc, none of my hand held gasoline tools got through a season without taking it in for service.   My Toro Blower on the other hand continued to blow (in a good way) year after year.  

I discovered that Toro still makes my blower!  It is red not black but I can live with the color change.   The only upgrade I can see is the metal impeller which is a smart upgrade when that is what does your shredding.   My only beef is that none of the parts or accessories from my old one will fit on the new one.   The new one made short work of the balance of my leaves and looks to be as good or better than it's deceased forbearer.  

When throwing the box away from the original blower I found the UPS shipping date on the box.  November 7, 2001 was the date.   That means that I got just slightly over twelve (count them 12)  years of service for a $70.00 tool with moving parts.  Kudos to Toro for usability and durability.

From the vendor:
Toro Ultra 3-in-1 blower, vacuum, and leaf shredder makes completing yard work fun and easy
Move a substantial volume of leaves and debris with ease with air speeds up to 235 mph and air volume up to 390 cfm
Variable speed motor for better control; rugged metal impeller creates a fine mulch
Quick-Release Latch lets you convert your blower into a vacuum in seconds without tools
Comes with power unit, blower tubes, vacuum tubes, and vacuum bag; 2-year warranty

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

K'NEX Nintendo Mario Kart 7 Mario Pullback Glider Kart

I am more familiar with the bristle block type of K’NEX.   This toy is more Lego like than what I would consider the traditional K’NEX.   The instructions are clear.  The parts are well made.  The little pull back motor seems durable.  I don’t see a problem with a normal five year old assembling this toy.   I can’t see a seven or eight year old being interested in assembly as I suspect they would find it too easy.   It does include a super leaf which I had to Google to see what the heck that is.  It is a power-up item that doesn’t seem to have any function except hype.   List price is $16.99, $14.99 at Amazon and value wise I think $9.99 would be more realistic.  In all fairness though, it is price substantially better than similar Lego kits.  

From the vendor:
·  Build Mario? in his Glider Kart from Mario? Kart 7
·  Pull back motorized action!
·  27 pieces, including super leaf item
·  Re-usable ramp package
·  Recommended for builders ages 6+

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Battroborg 3-in-1 Battle Arena Disappointing

This toy appears to be the updated version of the old battle bots.   If you have seen the Toy Story movie, you will recall them.   This seems like a good idea however the execution is very weak.  The descriptions say there is an instruction sheet, there were NO instruction sheets nor were the visuals on the box much help.  It was easy to figure out where the eight batteries were to be installed.  The robots need to be charged by connecting them to the remote which holds the batteries.  They claim a 20 minute quick charge for 20 minutes of play.   They did charge in 20 minutes.  Play is a different matter.  I am guessing there is a color code that tells you something based on the changing color led that is on each robot.   Since there were no instructions I have no idea what the led color changes mean.  The one robot stopped working and had to be turned off and then back on to get it to work again.  I don’t know if that is what happens when it takes too many hits to the head or if it is defective.  

After going to the web site things became clearer.   The color codes and battle modes were explained as well as the reset mode.  While the web site is fine and explains all the things that were inexplicable prior to visiting the web site, I don’t feel requiring Internet access to use a toy is a good idea.   The toy should have an instruction sheet and visiting a web site to watch videos on how to use it seems overly complex.   I think the age range of 6 to 15 years is a stretch.  It is going to be too complex for the bottom of the age range and too boring for the top.   My overall impression is that the toy needs to be simplified, there needs to be better quality control to insure there is an instruction sheet in each box and there should be a docking station or wall charger.   I know my grandkids would be frustrated with a 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off toy.  Of course that assumes that it would capture their interest and I think that might be an overly optimistic assumption. 

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Friday, October 25, 2013

GreenWorks G-MAX 40V 16-inch DigiPro Brushless Chainsaw

Not being a chain saw aficionado, I will probably offend those of you who use a chain saw daily.   I use a chain saw infrequently.  Normally no more often than twice a year unless we have had stormy weather and if it is really stormy and I lose six trees simultaneously (3 years ago) then I call my tree guy.  

I do not use a chain saw on a ladder. If I can’t have two feet on the ground I don’t use it.  Now that I have established my credentials, I like this little saw.   It is very well made.  It is replacing an equally small electric chain saw.   I don’t intend to fell forests with it, but when the occasional tree does come down, this appears that it will be able to handle it.  With that said, I am not planning on cutting down one of my trees to merely test it.   It came with very good instructions, a charger and a battery.  

I called the 800 number to verify that there truly is a human being answering the phone and fielding questions.  I asked if I needed to buy expensive bar and chain lubricant and I was assured a good quality, NEW not used, 10w-30 would work just fine.  

For some reason it runs even quieter than my electric chain saw.  It has a nice tension knob that should be a feature on my electric chain saw but isn’t.  Screw driver and two wrenches were needed to change the tension on my old saw.  This has a handy dandy little knob to adjust the tension.

Overall without felling a tree, it cuts better than the old electric chain saw (perhaps the brand new chain could be a factor there), it is quieter and much more user friendly. (the tension knob)   In addition, I was able to get technical support immediately and she was friendly and informative.   As far as I am concerned good customer service should weigh heavily on any purchasing decision.  

This appears it will give me good service and with a lithium battery, it should give me good life.  The battery and charger are warranted for two years and the saw is warranted for four.   That is hard to beat.

4/2/14 UPDATED
After returning from Florida, I had a lot of limbs down, some 10" in diameter.  It has been five months since I tested the chain saw.  I figured I would have to charge the battery but I popped it into the saw and the green light came on so off I went.   I cut for approximately 45 minutes with no hassles whatsoever.  The battery held a charge for five months in the ice cold garage.   That is pretty darn impressive. 

From the Vendor:

Includes 40-volt 4Ah battery plus charger

  • Brushless motor technology offers longer motor life
  • Up to 30 percent more torque, and up to 70 percent less vibration
  • Long-lasting G-MAX 40-volt lithium-ion battery system
  • Cuts up to one cord of wood per charge
  • Interchangeable battery platform offers a complete lawn care solution -- one battery for 10 tools
  • No hazardous fumes or smell while working
  • Less heat exhaustion with lower heat emission during cutting for a better cutting experience
  • Low maintenance, no need to mix oil and gas
If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tech Armor Samsung Galaxy S4 Screen Protectors

 Tech Armor Samsung Galaxy S4 SIV Premium High Definition (HD) Clear Screen Protectors with Lifetime Replacement Warranty [3-Pack] - Retail Packaging

This looks like it will do the trick for screen protection.  After reading the reviews on Gorilla Glass 3, I am pretty sure the screen protector isn’t needed but for $6.95, it’s cheap insurance.  The adhesive was less adhering that I expected.  I thoroughly cleaned the screen as per the instructions but one corner really is resisting its natural role of sticking to the job.   Still it is a 3 pack for $6.95 so it still is a good value and if the corner refuses to stay down, I have two spares.  

From the vendor: 

  • High Definition Transparency Film that ensures maximum resolution for your Galaxy S4
  • TruTouch Sensitivity for a natural feel that provides flawless touch screen accuracy
  • Protects your Samsung AMOLED Display from unwanted scratches
  • Repels dust and will reduce signs of daily wear
  • Made from the highest quality Japanese PET Film with 100% Bubble-Free Adhesives for easy installation and no residue when removed
 If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Vantec NexStar TX 2.5-Inch SATA to USB 2.0 External Hard Drive Enclosure

 This enclosure worked as advertised.  It was easy to install the drive and the instructions were very simple.  I think the documentation could be a little more extensive.  I had to go to the web site support section to find out why there was a USB Y cable.  The Y cable is needed if you find your hard drive is not performing properly on a single USB connection.   The Y cable has one thick and one thin leg.  The thick leg is your traditional data/power USB cable.  The thin leg is for additional power only.   You only need to use it if you find your drive is not behaving properly.   That is a bit more subjective than I prefer but since my drive behaved perfectly, I won’t be worrying about it. 

The price of this was $9.99 at Amazon.  The quality is fine and it does just what I expected. 

From the vendor:
·  Aluminum Casing Cools Down Your Hard Drive
·  Easily Add Storage to Any System with USB
·  Hot-Swappable:  Plug & Play Without Rebooting
·  Supports SATA I and II

If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Broan 355BR 1200 CFM Roof Mount Powered Attic Ventilator, Brown PVC Dome

This was purchased as a direct replacement of the same model fan installed at least 10 years ago.  The previous model gave very good service and as mentioned did so for at least 10 years.   The Broan tech I spoke to suggested buying the entire fan assembly as opposed to just buying the replacement fan as the entire assembly would be cheaper than just the replacement part.   I did so.  I removed the motor, thermostat switch and fan from the assembly.  I then installed it in the old ventilator.  It fit perfectly and works well.  My only complaint was the ground screw in the thermostat switch was not sized correctly or the hole wasn’t punched large enough.   Using a socket wrench I was actually deforming the metal encasement of the thermostat switch trying to drive the grounding screw.  I drilled out the hole a bit to try and it still did not want to drive and I was unwilling to drill the hole any larger.  I replaced the screw with another sheet metal screw and it worked fine.   So overall, the fan works well, the thermostat turns the fan on and hopefully will last as long as the first model did.   BTW I researched the recommended temperature setting and the suggested setting for the fan was between 100 degrees and 110 degrees.  I had the old one set at 90 degrees which explains why it ran so often.  That also suggests I might have gotten even more life out of it had I set the thermostat correctly.   

From the vendor:

  • 4.3 Amps 1200 CFM for up to 1715 square feet of attic space
  • Precision balanced 14-Inch metal blade for maximum air flow and minimum sound level with PVC plastic dome provides ultraviolet protection and superior durability
  • 23 gage metal flashing - allows for nailing and hot tar application and mesh bird screen
  • Built-in adjustable thermostat - for automatic operation at your chosen temperature level and thermally protected and permanently lubricated motor
  • Mounts easily between rafters - installation template included
If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.
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