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.
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