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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Black & Decker ASI300 Air Station Inflator - Electric Air Compressor

This little inflator does the job.   It quickly pumped up my wheelbarrow tire.  The design could use work though.   Even though I purchased it due to it’s ability to be run from AC or DC, I’m not happy with their implementation.   It works fine but the cigarette lighter adapter gets in the way of the AC power cord.  The AC power cord is so short that it necessitates using an extension cord to be able to get close to anything you hope to inflate.   Lastly it should have a molded handle on the top.  They could have just extruded a little more plastic and given you a handy handle. 

There are two snap on attachments in a nook on the bottom of the unit.  That was smart design, they are handy but not in the way.   I guess it looks like something designed by a committee, some good ideas and some not so good.   I don’t like the plastic inflator valve.   That should be metal.  

As far as performance, it works fine.   I had a full blown compressor that I returned due to an immediate (when assembling) crimp in the air hose that prevented it from working correctly.   That had a metal inflation valve but the immediate failing of the hose negated the good thinking on the valve.  

This Black and Decker inflator works well, I am just surprised that a company like B&D would not provide a better design.  The price is reasonable ($45 at Amazon) but still for $45 I think including a handle, a longer AC cord and a metal valve would not inflate the price dramatically.

    Inflates lawnmower, bike, and vehicle tires, sports balls, and other items quickly and easily
    Space-saving, portable design
    EZ air dial for instant shut-off when correct air pressure has been reached
    Weighs 6.1 pounds; 2-year warranty
    Includes standard tire nozzle, needle inflator, and extension nozzle

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

Monday, July 29, 2013

Energizer LED Folding 360 Area Lantern with Light Fusion Technology

Approximately 7.5" h,5.5" w and 1.75" thick.

This is a nice, compact light that would work well in many scenarios.  I can see this being used along side the road while changing a tire in the rain.  It would more than adequately light a campsite for general use.  In the even of another hurricane Sandy, it would be ideal for emergency lighting.  It has a strong but defused light that gives good visibility.  My only complaint was that the instructions they included were practically illegible due to the miniscule font they used.  Their font made the 6 point font in the phone book look like it was 24 point.   I used a magnifying glass to read the instructions.   Other than that it is a nice light that will have many uses.   They include four batteries so it is read for use but it will take eight AA batteries for extended service.  That, too, is a nice feature.

From the manufacturer:
LED light panel extends up and allows for 360 degrees of area light.
Energizer LED lights with Light Fusion technology (each light sold individually)
Fold-in stand provides added stability.
Powerful & Portable

A compact light with a bright light output, the Energizer folding lantern is ideal for outdoor entertaining on a back deck or patio and feels right at home on family camping trips and weekend getaways.

Equipped with Light Fusion technology, the folding lantern's light panel features LEDs that never burn out or need replacing. The panel has several hundred tiny dots etched on it to evenly spread the light emitted by the LEDs, delivering vibrant, uniform illumination.

Water resistant and ready to lead the way, the Energizer LED folding lantern also features smart-dimming technology, which makes it possible to vary the brightness to suit your needs and prolong the battery life. Simply press and hold the power button to your desired brightness.
Versatile Features

360-degree area light: Translucent light panel provides 360 degrees of area light. The panel can pivot open to your selected angle, up to 180 degrees when upright.

Stand: a retractable stand on the back gives added stability to the folding lantern.

Flexibility of placement: a sturdy top handle allows for ease in carrying the folding lantern and can also be used to hang the lantern while working outdoors or camping.

Dimmable: press and hold the power button to dim the light to your own custom level; simply press once to receive max lumen output.

Sleek design: compact design closes flat for easy storage and safe transport.

Water resistant: can withstand whatever precipitation Mother Nature has in store, making it ideal for outdoor activities.
Powered by Energizer

The Energizer LED folding lantern conveniently runs on four or eight AA batteries (four Energizer Max AA alkaline batteries included), allowing you the option to run it on fewer batteries or achieve a longer run time of up to 100** hours with up to 300 lumens* with eight AA batteries.

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

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Seagate 600 SSD 240 GB SATA 6 Gb/s 2.5-Inch 7mm Z-Height Solid State Drive ST240HM000


Hopefully this won't be too critical but this drive came absolutely naked.  Not one word of documentation.  Now from what I've read Seagate is proposing this drive is a consumer packaged drive.   I have voice my criticism in the past about manufactures that sell components and package them as consumer products without providing adequate documentation or instruction on how to use them.  There was not one wit of documentation for this drive it arrived as a bare drive in a static envelope.

A simple bit of documentation on how to install and format the drive would have been enormously helpful. While I know how to do that but I'm not sure the average consumer wouldn't have to do a bit of research to be able to use the drive at all.  Once the drive was formatted it was recognized by my computer and I was able to access it and test it. 

In a totally unscientific manner, I transferred a 62.1mb file from my D drive to the SSD drive and to a normal mechanical Hitachi drive.  Both drives were hooked up via USB 2.0.  Transfer speed from D to SSD was 7.3 seconds.  Transfer speed from D to Hitachi was 5.0 seconds.   Then I transferred the same drive from the SSD drive to a third USB drive and it took 4.9 seconds while the same file transfer from the Hitachi to the third USB drive took 7.2 seconds.   My numbers did not change dramatically regardless of the repeated attempts.  The speed is impacted by the drives being USB rather that directly connected to the computer buss.   I’m not willing to tear open one of my boxes to test it with a direct connection.  If and when my laptop drive dies and I replace it with this drive I will update this review with my tests at that time. 

To reiterate, I set it up to be used as a USB external so the speed won't necessarily read as accurately as far as if it was installed internally in a computer. Not only are these drives more stable due to the solid state construction they're all so much faster than a mechanical drive because there are no moving parts.  With the increased use of cloud storage the small size of the SSD drive will not be as big a handicap is it used to be. As economy of scale ramps up no doubt they will also decrease in price from the current price of $189.00.

Over all its a nice little drive.

·    Upgrades existing laptops by replacing client 2.5-inch HDDs with fast, rugged client SSDs
·    Delivers nearly 4× faster boot times and more than 2× faster application load times when compared to typical laptop HDDs
·    Significantly reduces the amount of time end-users must wait before using their devices
·    No mechanical, moving parts helps ensure data stays safe even if laptop is dropped or bumped while operating
·    Supports SATA 6 Gb/s interface
·    The ultimate upgrade drive for road warriors, power users, executives and gamers?work and play faster

From the Manufacturer

The Ultimate Performance Upgrade for Your Laptop

The Seagate 600 SSD is the ultimate upgrade drive when you want to work and play faster. 'SSD' stands for solid state drive, which means there are no moving parts to slow you down. It's also more rugged than traditional hard drives, offering additional data protection if you bump or drop your laptop while operating.

High-Speed Bootups Get You Going Faster

Your laptop will boot up to 50% faster when you replace the hard drive with a Seagate 600 SSD. No more waiting to get to work, or to get into your game.

Keeps You Moving at Top Speed

Faster bootups are just the beginning. With the Seagate 600 SSD your laptop will also launch applications and access data up to 50% faster, so you'll enjoy superior responsiveness as you work or play.

Delivers More Rugged Data Protection

With no moving parts, the Seagate 600 SSD is more rugged and shock resistant than standard hard drives. If your laptop gets bumped or dropped while operating, there are no rotating platters or drive heads that could get damaged and compromise your data.

orks in Any Laptop

The Seagate 600 SSD installs and communicates with your laptop exactly like a standard hard drive. It supports the SATA 6Gb/s interface, and it's compatible with major operating systems and laptops. The Seagate 600 SSD is also the only 2.5-inch SSD available in both 7mm and 5mm z-heights for thin and ultra-thin laptops.

Gives You Space for Work or Play.

The Seagate 600 SSD comes in a full range of capacity points, from 120GB to 480GB, so you get plenty of storage for your documents, games, videos and more. 

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

Sunday, July 21, 2013

D-Link Wireless AC Smartbeam 1750 Mbps Home Cloud App-Enabled Dual-Band Gigabit Router (DIR-868L)

I’m on a run.  This Dlink Cloud Router installed quickly and easily.  If you follow my product
Note the included USB port for sharing data.
evaluations, I am highly critical of products that claim to be consumer products and truly demand a technician to install.   The detriment to these mis-labeled products is that the consumer ends up feeling like an idiot because they can’t get the product installed.  If a product is technical, label it as so.   Happily this product was simplicity in itself as far as installation is concerned.

It comes with a short multi-fold easy installation guide that surprisingly enough was truly an easy installation guide.   I hooked it directly to my laptop and configured it using Firefox.   Configuration was basically hitting the next button and agreeing to terms.  After it said it was configured I walked around with my phone and used the Wifi Analyzer AP to check the signal strength.   Dlink is accurate when the say it puts out a stronger signal.   In the same room as my Linksys it read -50dBm with the Linksys peaking at -65dBm.  Even more impressive was going downstairs the Dlink was reading -60dBm while the Linksys dropped to -80dBm.  

So the unit was easy to install and does seem to test out with a strong wireless signal.   The other features that define this as a “Cloud” router remain to be tested but my initial reaction is very positive. 
If reviewing a product, it may have been received free of charge. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Customer Service Comparison: Samsung=F; Gillette=A+

I recently opened an eight pack of Gillette Fusion razor blades. My first shave was miserable.  Changing blades I got the same result.  This led me to believe that I may have had a defective batch of blades.  I called the 800 number on the packaging.  No hold time, I got someone almost immediately.  He apologized for my problem and asked me a fair number of questions.  He then told me he would send me coupons to replace the blades at no charge to me.   He asked me to hold on to the blades and he would forward the information to his quality control people.   He said they might want the blades back and if so they would send me a prepaid envelope for return shipping.   I hung up the phone and was impressed with the ease in which my problem was handled.  Kudos to Gillette!

Samsung on the other hand needs to take a little direction from Gillette.  The business model is similar.  You take the engine, whether it is a laser printer or a razor and you provide it inexpensively.  Then you generate your profits on the consumables such as laser toner cartridges or razor blades.    My brother replaced a Samsung toner cartridge due to its toner being depleted.  He replaced it with a Samsung brand cartridge rather than a generic cartridge that was approximately half the cost of the brand name cartridge.  He always uses the brand name cartridge so he has a reputable warranty.   The new Samsung cartridge was defective.

Multiple chats and calls with Samsung customer service ensued.

After conflicting information from different agents, he received an email from corporate stating they did not approve replacement and they need more information.  

As of my writing this post, he has waited 18 days and he still has no replacement toner cartridge.

Samsung has successfully turned a loyal customer into an irate customer.  It would seem that Samsung could learn a great deal from Gillette.

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

Saturday, July 13, 2013

NETGEAR CDM31T Cable Modem

If you are like me, you are totally appalled at your monthly cable bill.  Owning your own cable modem can reduce your monthly expenditure.   I got this modem at no charge for the purposes of review which even makes it better.   Amazon has it at $72.53 at the time I am writing this review.   I replaced the Motorola cable modem that I was using with this NETGEAR.   If recollection serves me, Comcast wanted $8.00 a month for cable modem rental.   Estimating that I have used the Motorola cable modem for at least six years, I have saved approximately $500.00 by purchasing a cable modem rather than renting one from Comcast. 

The installation of the modem was simplicity personified.  It could not have been easier.   It took more time to untangle the power cord of the Motorola from the cable snarl that characterizes my computer setup.

NETGEAR cautions that it takes at least 15 minutes for the modem to show an Internet connection.  It actually took about 5 minutes.   Then I called Comcast and it took them approximately 30 minutes to register the MAC address and serial number of the modem with their system.  

At this point everything is working fine.   I will test a gigabit Ethernet switch with the modem but that is pretty much a no-brainer.  I will only update this if there is a problem with the gigabit speed.  

The modem seems modestly faster than my previous modem but I feel more comfortable having a current technology modem and will save the Motorola for backup in case of any failures. 

This modem works fine and is priced competitively. 

The NETGEAR High Speed Cable Modem provides a connection to high-speed cable Internet. It provides up to 150 Mbps download and upload speed for streaming HD videos, faster downloads, and high-speed online gaming.
The NETGEAR Difference – CDM31T
  • For high-speed cable Internet access
  • Works with major cable ISPs1
  • No monthly equipment charges
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Lab certified
  • Secure connection
  • Easy installation
1. Compatible with major Cable Internet Service Providerslike Time Warner, Comcast, Charter, Cable Vision, and others
Fast Cable Internet Access
  • Up to 150 Mbps download and upload speed for streaming HD videos, faster downloads, and high speed online gaming
  • Saves money over time—no monthly equipment charges required from your ISP
  • Gigabit Ethernet port—fastest wired speeds to connect your router or computer
  • Channel bonding of up to 160 Mbps downstream, up to 120 Mbps upstream
  • Supports the latest Internet communication protocol (IPv4 and IPv6) to expand network addressing capabilities
 High-performance – Up to 150 Mbps download and upload speed for streaming HD videos, faster downloads, and high-speed online gaming
Compatible – Compatible with major cable Internet service providers like Time Warner, Comcast, Charter, Cablevision, and others1
Cost-effective – Saves money over time. No monthly equipment charges required from your ISP
Gigabit Ethernet port – Fastest wired speeds to connect your router or computer
Simple – CD-less installation
Total Home Networking Solution

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Free Love Thug July 10-12, 2013 at Amazon

 FREE at Amazon -- Amazon only 
 this Wed-Fri (July 10 -12)

 See my Review

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Panasonic SC-HTB70 Sound Bar

My initial assessment of this unit was 3 stars but then the unit stopped working after three days.  I called Panasonic and they had me unplug the unit and replug it in and it started working again.  The tech told me it is a firmware issue that they are working on.  He had no time frame for the fix.  The current solution is to unplug and plug in each time it fails.  I frankly don't find that much of a solution and thus have downgraded the product to one star.  

This sound bar has more heft than the Phillips that I replaced.  The Phillips had a stand alone sub-woofer which did not produce any better base tones than this Panasonic.  

The setup was not difficult but that isn’t due to the documentation provided by Panasonic.  Their little “manual” jumped helter skelter from topic to topic.  

I did not like the fact that all commands beyond the obvious involve “hold this key for 4 seconds while simultaneously holding this key down” type of controls.   That is cumbersome at best.

The sound is adequate.  It is definitely better than the sound provided by my Toshiba 40” LCD TV but that is not a sterling recommendation as the sound from the Toshiba is just dreadful. 

I do not get a noticeable sub-woofer impact as I get on my surround sound system on a different unit.   The remote is tiny which seems to be normal with the sound bars.   Luckily the main unit does have some side buttons that allow manual use as the remote is so small it may get lost in the shuffle.

I am pleased that I was able to program the standard Comcast Remote to turn the sound bar off, on and change the volume.  You still need to have the Panasonic remote handy for changing source or sound type.  However it will be convenient to just leave it on standard and use a single remote. 

The IR pass through works fine but the manual said it would only work with Panasonic televisions.   You need the IR pass through because if you put any of the three styles of feet included with the sound bar on it, you block the TV remote sensor.  If you don’t use either of the non-flat feet, the sound bar sits with its LED light depicting modes facing the ceiling.  You will probably want to use the IR pass through.

My big beef with all of these people is why they don’t include the optical cable to hook up to the TV.  Optical audio cables are available at Amazon for under six bucks.  Come on vendors, include the cable or at least be up front and clearly state that an optical cable is needed for the best sound experience.  

Lastly they do include both wall brackets and three types of feet.  I would be happier with one less foot selection and an included optical audio cable.

To summarize, this is an adequate sound bar.   The Bluetooth connection will increase its value to many users.  

Panasonic SC-HTB70 home theater system
2.1ch 42” Matching Sound bar with Built-in Subwoofer
Detachable 2.1ch speaker system configuration, with built-in subwoofer, easily conforms to TV screens up to 42”.
Wireless Music Streaming with Bluetooth®
Stream music from your smart device.
Built-in Subwoofer with Dual Woofer Design
Powerful bass sound in a compact, flexible design.
2.1 Channel System
Clear Mode Dialog
Dialog Level Control
Optical Input
Anti-vibration Integrated Subwoofer
Dual Driver Subwoofer
Low Power Consumption
Energy Star® Qualified 120W
Hairline Finish
2-3/16 Slim Profile
Suitable for 42- to 50-inch TV
4-way Multi-Positional Speaker Layout
Auto Gain Control
IR Blaster
Wireless Music Streaming with
Bluetooth® Technology

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

Friday, July 5, 2013

Sceptre E195BV-SHD 19" 720p 60Hz Class LED (1.93" ultra-slim) HDTV

This little fellow was only $109.00 at Walmart.  It is a very nice TV with plenty of ports.  It has surprisingly good sound for a LED/LCD/Plasma TV.  Overall I have found most of the true flat screens to have abysmal sound.  This is surprisingly good.  It was easy to set up and has a nice picture.  I would recommend it to my friends.

This shiny black 19" Class Sceptre E195BV-SHD 720p LED HDTV doubles as a computer monitor and features a superior LED display quality with a fast response time and emits brighter and more robust colors, all while saving energy. Featuring a versatile slim and lightweight design perfect for entertainment anywhere in the home and on the go, this compact 60Hz Class 19" HDTV can easily be transferred from the kitchen to the bathroom, the office and back again. Energy Star certified and RoHS complied makes this HDTV very eco-friendly. This 1.93" ultra-slim Sceptre LED HDTV even provides dual HDMI ports and USB port for photo/audio enjoyment, which is a very uncommon characteristic for such a compact television.

Note: You must have a source of HD programming in order to take full advantage of the Sceptre E195BV-SHD 720p LED HDTV. Contact your local cable or satellite TV provider for details on how to upgrade.
Sceptre E195BV-SHD 19" 720p 60Hz Class LED HDTV:
  • 19" LED panel
    With a 1366 x 768 resolution
  • True 16:9 aspect ratio
    View your movies as the director intended on the 60Hz Class 19" HDTV
  • The 1.93" ultra-slim Sceptre LED HDTV features a built-in digital tuner
    Watch digital broadcasts, including HDTV programs where available
  • HDMI Inputs: 2
    Enjoy a superior HD experience with HDMI, the one cable audio/video solution
  • 18.5" screen measured diagonally from corner to corner

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

Monday, July 1, 2013

TV Wall Mount

VideoSecu Articulating Arm TV Wall Mount, Full Motion Tilt Swivel and Rotate for Most 15" 17" 19" 20" 22" 23" 24" 26" 27" LCD LED TV Monitor Flat Panel Screen with VESA 100, 75 ML12B CB5  $12.99 at Amazon.

First I am a trifle annoyed since the price dropped $2.00 this week.  I paid $14.99 which I thought was a good price.   The wall mount is quite sturdy.  They do insist you find a stud to mount it which frankly for a 19” is probably not necessary but for larger or heavier TVs or monitors may be necessary.  The quality is good.  The hinge nut actually gets in the way of using a socket set to drive the included lag screws into the stud.   The little wrench they give you is next useless due to the small size and thin grip.  Drill your pilot hole deep enough and you won’t have as much trouble as I did driving the lag screws.  The included screws were too deep for the VESA mount on my TV but a couple of washers allowed me to use them. Overall this is a very good value for the money.  Only the hinge nuts getting in the way keeps it from a five star review.  
·  Compatible with VESA (mounting hole pattern) 75x75(3"x3") or 100x100(4"x4")
·  High grade steel material offers loading capacity to 44lbs
·  Post-installation level adjustment allows the TV to perfectly level; Detachable VESA plate makes for quick installation
·  Adjustable +/-5 degree tilt, 180 degree swivel and 360 degree rotate; Retracts to 2.4"save space, extends up to 15" from the wall
·  Common hardware pack included in the package
·  Includes a small somewhat useless wrench

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