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Steve RSS Feed (Massachusetts, USA)
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Monster Octagon Over-Ear Headphones - Black Matte
Monster Octagon Over-Ear Headphones - Black Matte
Price: $214.79
6 used & new from $214.79

5.0 out of 5 stars These comfortable headphones deliver excellent sound, May 22, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These comfortable headphones deliver excellent sound. In fact, when I connected them to my iphone and turned them up all the way, they made pretty good speakers! (They sound way better than the phone's speakers). I can only turn them up a third of the way while wearing them before the music gets too loud for me. When I turn the sound way down, the music is still clear. The bass is excellent, and the overall sound quality is fantastic. These are not noise-cancelling headphones, but they do a good job of blocking out most sound, while allowing you to hear if you have to. People close to you will also be able to hear your music through the headphones unless it is super quiet.

The headphones are adjustable and comfortable. I have a pretty abnormally large head and my ears are big, and often headphones don't fit me well. Not the case with these, they're well-padded and quite comfortable for me to wear. The only potential downside here is that they are are a bit bulky and fairly heavy compared to other headphones I've had, but not enough for this to be a problem for me. Just be aware they're not the kind of headphones that you put on to go for a run and exercise, they're for when you don't mind sacrificing some mobility for excellent sound.

They come with two connectors. One has a control on it the cord to stop or start a song on a mobile device or tablet -- very useful! The other is much longer with a coil to help prevent tangles. The headphones also come with a nice, simple carrying bag.

Overall, I'm impressed with this product. They're not cheap, but they deliver a high-end experience. Highly recommended if you're looking for a high quality set of speakers and don't mind something a little bulky.


OCZ Storage Solutions Vector 180 Series 240GB 2.5-Inch SATA III SSD with Toshiba A19nm NAND VTR180-25SAT3-240G
OCZ Storage Solutions Vector 180 Series 240GB 2.5-Inch SATA III SSD with Toshiba A19nm NAND VTR180-25SAT3-240G
Price: $139.99
8 used & new from $139.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The installation was very quick and easy, it took me around 10-15 minutes to swap ..., May 16, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My wife has an older Macbook Pro from 2011 and it has been running slowly lately. Over the weekend I replaced her hard drive with this SSD and the performance has improved dramatically. Upgrading to an SSD is one of the biggest bang for the buck computer performance improvements, and the different is very noticible. The installation was very quick and easy, it took me around 10-15 minutes to swap out the drives (and a lot of that time was just tracking down the right screwdrivers).

The drive itself seems well made and solid, especially given how thin it is. Note that this product does come with a 3.5" adapter if you're installing it into a desktop, but I was replacing a laptop drive so I didn't use it.

Everything about this drive has been great so far, highly recommended.


Delta Faucet 9178T-AR-DST Leland, Single Handle Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Touch2O, Arctic Stainless
Delta Faucet 9178T-AR-DST Leland, Single Handle Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet with Touch2O, Arctic Stainless
Price: $349.13
4 used & new from $346.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The brushed stainless steel construction is beautiful, the product looks great and whole setup feels ..., May 10, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My house was built in the late 70s, and the kitchen faucet had definitely not been updated since then. I spent a few hours today installing this Delta faucet, and it is definitely a huge step up over the 70s special we were running with before! The brushed stainless steel construction is beautiful, the product looks great and whole setup feels high-quality and solid. The short story of this review is that if you like the looks of this faucet, then you'll probably love it. Read on for some more details.

A lot of the reviews here mention having plumbers install it for them, but I decided to install mine myself. I'm not great at home improvements, but I do have some experience. Not a total rookie, but far FAR from being a master. If you're a homeowner with a little skill, then you should be able to handle this project.

This installation took me a little over two hours to finish, but the majority of that time was spent trying to get the old faucet OUT. This was definitely the hardest part of the process, but after some WD-40 and a little elbow grease I had the old faucet out and ready to replace. The install of the new Delta faucet had a lot of steps, but was very straightforward. Connecting the sink to the hot and cold water was easy enough, but after that there are still a decent number of steps left. There's a battery pack to install, and some wires to run - but none of these steps are really complicated or difficult, just more stuff to do. Pretty easy. After this install, I spent too much time being paranoid and trying to verify that there weren't any leaks - but everything was good to go and the faucet was working properly.

The performance of the faucet is fantastic. The headisn't stainless steel (it's plastic), but it works great. The magnet holds it securely in place, and it switches easily between the different spray modes. Note that this faucet doesn't have a separate "hose" (it's built into the main faucet), so if you had an existing spot in your sink for one like me, then you can use that space for a soap dispenser instead. Unfortunately this doesn't come with the faucet, so you'll have to buy one separately.

Initially I thought installing a battery pack into my kitchen sink was a little silly, but the Touch2O technology is actually pretty cool. I'm always cooking, and the idea of being able to turn on the faucet without dirtying up the handle due to the raw meat or dough on my hands sounds great to me. I've tested this feature out a bunch, and it works great. There is also a small LED on the front of the faucet that indicates if the water is hot or cold. Honestly I'm not sure what I would use this for, but it's pretty cool.


Kid-O Water Tower Set Toy
Kid-O Water Tower Set Toy
Price: $17.99
3 used & new from $17.99

3.0 out of 5 stars but I thought it would be fun to show him the water wheel and sieve and ..., May 10, 2015
This review is from: Kid-O Water Tower Set Toy (Toy)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was excited to try this toy during bath time with our baby. He's not old enough to use it himself, but I thought it would be fun to show him the water wheel and sieve and funnel.

Unfortunately, the water wheel doesn't work very well. I tried pour water over it fast and slow, to the side and in the middle, and I got it to spin a few times, but mostly the water just spilled off to the sides. Too bad because our baby loves watching things spin!

I'm giving this three stars because the toy is very well-made, and I like how any combination of the three pieces fits over the base. The sieve was a big hit! The baby loved trying to catch the water falling through. I think this toy would be a lot of fun at the beach, too.


Callaway 2015 Warbird Golf Balls, White
Callaway 2015 Warbird Golf Balls, White
Price: $17.99
9 used & new from $12.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My overall short chipping game and putting was a bit worse than I usually do, May 5, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm a beginner golfer and have used these balls for a round of 18. I got off to an incredible start with the warbirds. The very first hole I played with them was my personal first birdie on a par 4. Unfortunately this magic didn't last for the rest of the round and my game quickly came back down to Earth - but it was definitely not the fault of these warbirds. They seem lively, I was definitely driving the ball a bit farther than I usually do. My overall short chipping game and putting was a bit worse than I usually do, but honestly I'm not sure if the balls are to blame here. I'm looking forward to using the rest of the box, and I'd definitely buy another dozen in the future. I'll report back with more information when I get a bit more experience.


Calvin Klein ETERNITY AQUA Eau de Parfum, 1 fl. oz.
Calvin Klein ETERNITY AQUA Eau de Parfum, 1 fl. oz.
Price: $45.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A subtle scent reminiscent of water, April 23, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This perfume has a subtle scent that reminded me of water at first. The scent is mostly floral with hints of fruitiness, and it lasts for several hours before fading. My wife has been using it, and we both thing it smells very nice. It's a great product for someone who doesn't like especially strong perfumes. It doesn't smell up an entire room as soon as you spray it. The scent is just strong enough to notice, but not overwhelming or obvious.

One downside is the price. It's a lot to pay for a very small bottle of perfume. My wife has other perfumes in the $30-40 range that she likes very much - but the scents are heavier and don't last as long, so even though this one is expensive you are getting a solid product for the price.


Alienware 13 ANW13-8636SLV 13-Inch Gaming Laptop
Alienware 13 ANW13-8636SLV 13-Inch Gaming Laptop
Price: $1,499.99
26 used & new from $1,365.23

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want a 13" laptop capable of running the latest games then it's a great option. It's not cheap, April 20, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The bottom line for this laptop is that it's powerful beast in a very small package. If you want a 13" laptop capable of running the latest games then it's a great option. It's not cheap, but contains some high quality components.

Read on for a lot more detail:

OVERALL CONSTRUCTION/BUILD

My first impression on picking up this laptop is how light it is for a gaming laptop. Sure it's only 13", but I was expecting it to be feel more dense than it does at just around 4.5 pounds. The overall quality of the case is high. I would say that it's not quite as nice as the machined aluminum of a Macbook Pro, but it is light years ahead of some of the cheap plastic-feel laptops I have tried out. It definitely feels 'high quality' in your hands.

The design features a glowing blue alien logo on the outside of the screen with a few glowing blue lines on a dark grey background. If you're looking for a "professional" looking laptop then this is probably not it, but considering it's branded with an alien theme - it's a lot more subtle than it could be. Personally I like the design.

SCREEN This display on this laptop is a gorgeous 3200x1800 screen, and it looks awesome. The Amazon listing says the resolution is 2560x1440 pixels, but this is definitely incorrect - the one I got runs at 3200x1800 out of the box. The screen is bright and clear, and everyting I've tried out has looked great on it. I'm not personally a big fan of touch screens on laptops, but I tried it out for a while and everything I messed around with worked well. One reason I don't like touchscreens much is that I hate putting blemishes on my beautiful screen from oils off of my fingers, but I have to admit that even after using the touchscreen for a while there isn't really any noticible smudging at all. One minor annoyance with the touchscreen is that flicking away a bit of dust on the screen ends up opening up menus or moving my cursor. Not a knock on this specific product at all, just a personal preference.

One thing to note is that with the 3200x1800 resolution on a 13" screen, this laptop scales up content through Windows settings by default. Through "Display" -> "Make text and other items larger or smaller" the default setting puts the scale up all the way. Most programs handle this scaling well, but it's possible that you will run into one that doesn't (like thie "Alienware Product Registration" that pops up, the text is microscopic). This isn't a knock on the laptop, just the reality of running such a high resolution on a smaller screen.

KEYBOARD
The keyboard is surprisingly comfortable considering they had to cram it into a 13 inch laptop. The keys feel nice to the touch, and the space is used well. I'm especially happy to see that they found room for page up, page down, home, end, and delete keys. I use these keys often while programming, and I'm glad they're here. So far I've accidentally hit the page up/down keys a little too often, but I just need to get used to the keyboard. The palm rests are smooth and comfortable.

There are also lots of customizable keyboard backlight options if that's your thing.

TRACKPAD
The trackpad on this machine is not very good, it's the biggest negative in my experience with this product. It works alright I guess, but it's not anywhere near as smooth as the one on my Macbook Pro. Given that this is a only 13" laptop, the trackpad is a good size and fairly comfortable to use - but the texture of the pad is a little rougher than I'd like and this leads to scrolling that's just not completely smooth - the cursor tends to jump and skip a bit as you move it across the screen. Right-clicking is also a little finicky, sometimes I end up left-clicking when I intend to right-click. Gestures work fairly well with one major exception:

After setup I installed Chrome and started browsing around the web. The gesture behavior was extremely buggy in Chrome. It almost seemed completely random. Sometimes it would scroll correctly, sometimes it would snap the page to the top or bottom, it would often draw strange rectangles everywhere as I gestured. This behavior did NOT happen in Internet Explorer or Firefox, just Chrome. I tried to resolve it through driver updates but didn't have any luck. After research, it looks like the problem is with Chromium specifically, but I haven't been able to figure out a workaround. Here are two threads that have information on the topic:

https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/chrome/BdaUw9boNSU
https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=463350

As a result, I'm not able to use Chrome at all, which is a definite bummer because Chrome is my usual browser of choice. I've been using Firefox and the scrolling works very well, but I'm disappointed I can't use Chrome.

SPEAKERS
When I turned the volume all the way up on this laptop, I was honestly shocked at how loud these speakers are. It is MUCH louder than my 17" Macbook Pro. The quality is decent, it doesn't compare to a nice Sonos speaker or anything - but it's excellent for a 13" laptop. Not much bass, but boy are they loud.

GAMES
If you're buying this computer then it's highly likely that you're a gamer. I've tried it out on a bunch of different games, I'll talk about them here. The framerates are GENERAL ideas of the fps I was getting, obviously these fluctuate a lot during gameplay. I used MSI Afterburner to get the numbers.

Far Cry 4

I loaded up Far Cry 4 and it crashed immediately after launching! Bummer! I spent a while on this until I found a random forum post that said that MSI Afterburner causes Far Cry 4 to crash, and sure enough they were correct. Unfortunately that means that I don't have actual fps time data for Far Cry 4. I can tell you that it autodetected 1920x1080 on High, and this was running fairly well - but I scaled it back to Medium and the gameplay was a lot smoother. I'll stick with medium.

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas autodetected 1280x720 on High quality, and it ran at a solid 60 fps. I scaled it up to 1920x1080 at Ultra quality and it ran between 40-60 fps.

Civilization V

Civilization V is a good example of what I mentioned earlier in the review: Some applications just aren't built to run at such high resolutions. Civ V autodetected 3200x1800 and the main menu was all weird, centered in between big black emptiness in the middle of the screen (Some people talkig about it here: http://steamcommunity.com/app/8930/discussions/0/864980734944032303/). The actual game worked ok though, but only ran at about 12 fps. I scaled the resolution down to 1920x1080 and it went up to about 20-22 fps. Frame rate isn't as important in an RTS as in an FPS, but there you go.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

The Witcher 2 autodetected 3200x1800 at Low quality and ran at about 20 fps. I scaled it down to 1920x1080 and the framerate jumped to 35-50. I upped the quality from low to high and ended up with 22-32 frames per second. I'll also note that The Witcher 2 consistently crashed for me whenver I exited it, not sure why.

BENCHMARKS
If you're into benchmarks, I ran a few with this machine right out of the box. I didn't try to optimize these scores at all, they are just what I got with the vanilla machine:

3DMark
Sky Diver 1.0: 9209
Fire Strike 1.1: 3352

I also timed reboot, and it was just around 10 seconds. Very fast.

BATTERY

It's hard to give information about battery life because tasks vary so wildly, but I just had a battery charge last a little over 4 hours through some web browsing, video watching, and programming.

CONCLUSION

I decided to go with 5 stars for this laptop because I think for the correct customer it's an awesome product. I would have given it 4.5 stars if I could due to the lower-quality trackpad discussed above, but I don't feel it's worth taking off a full star for. I've put a lot of information in this review, and I hope it's enough to help you figure out if this is the right laptop for you. If there are any specific questions then leave them in the comments below and I will do my best to respond. I'll also be updating the review in the future as I use the laptop more and more. Best of luck making your decision!


Firefly Hollow
Firefly Hollow
by Alison McGhee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.68

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like the classic "Wind in the Willows" or Kate DiCamillo's ..., April 16, 2015
This review is from: Firefly Hollow (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you like the classic "Wind in the Willows" or Kate DiCamillo's "Because of Winn Dixie", you'll like this book. The animal characters are as delightful and entertaining as Frog and Toad, but the tone is more modern and the adventures as heartfelt as the search for the dog in Because of Winn Dixie.

The story is about three characters: a firefly who wants to fly to the moon, a cricket who wants to play baseball, and a human boy, Peter, who misses his best friend. As they befriend and learn to trust each other, they help each other find what they're all looking for -- despite the fact that Peter's family thinks his bug friends are imaginary, and crickets and fireflies are taught that humans are dangerous.

This story is appropriate for boys or girls of any age, and includes 15 full color plates of art as well as small black and white illustrations interspersed with the text. It would be a great choice for a child who starts reading early, and needs a longer or higher-level text beyond the level of early readers. I look forward to reading it with my son.


DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable, Perfect Shower, Baby or Birthday Gift for Toddler 32x32" Hooded Towel for Infant to Toddler - Monster
DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable, Perfect Shower, Baby or Birthday Gift for Toddler 32x32" Hooded Towel for Infant to Toddler - Monster
Price: $18.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This towel is an adorable gift for a baby or toddler, April 15, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This towel is an adorable gift for a baby or toddler. We received several infant towels as gifts, but our baby was growing out of them. This towel is a larger size that fits a baby in 9-month clothes perfectly, with some extra room to spare. The part that covers the head is plenty large to grow into, also.

The colors are bright and true to the photo. We haven't washed it yet so not sure how it will hold up. The fabric isn't super high quality -- but soft enough for baby's skin. I'm very happy with this product overall!


New Chapter Perfect Postnatal Multivitamin Tablet, 48 Count
New Chapter Perfect Postnatal Multivitamin Tablet, 48 Count
Price: $17.39
8 used & new from $17.37

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars My wife is breastfeeding our 4-month-old son now, and ..., April 5, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My wife is breastfeeding our 4-month-old son now, and thought she'd give these vitamins a try instead of the prenatal vitamin she'd been taking. We didn't realize until we got them that they suggest taking a pill 3x each day. It's hard enough to remember to take them twice a day. She definitely prefers the convenience of her one-a-day prenatal vitamins (CVS generic brand). Plus, it's a lot more economical - these tablets work out to $23 for only 16 days worth of pills.

She hasn't had any side effects from this vitamin - no nausea, even when taken on an empty stomach.

Here are how some of the key ingredients compare vs. the one-a-day prenatal (if you take this 3x a day)

NewChapter
-----------------
100% Vitamin C - half the amount as generic
500% Vitamin D3 - not included in generic
235% Thiamin - 2x as much as generic
250% Riboflavin - 3x as much as generic
400% Vitamin B6 - 4x as much as generic
50% Folic acid - half as much as generic
500% Vitamin B12 - 5x as much as generic
50% Iron - 1/3 as much as generic
67% Zinc - about 1/2 as much as generic

Calcium & Vitamin A - about the same

Extra stuff only in the NewChapter vitamin:
Vitamin K, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Molybdenum, plus Kelp powder, Herbal blend, Black Cumin, and Turmeric

Our OB suggests taking a prenatal vitamin while breastfeeding, so there doesn't seem to be any medical reason to switch to a postnatal, though some of the amounts are quite different. We also don't buy into the organic and non-GMO attributes of the NewChapter brand, which some people might find important. We're planning to go back to the generic brand once she's done with these.


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