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Pinzon Signature 190-Gram Cotton Velvet Flannel Sheet Set, Queen, Smokey Blue
Pinzon Signature 190-Gram Cotton Velvet Flannel Sheet Set, Queen, Smokey Blue
Price: $64.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, Long Lasting, December 20, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Excellent product. Good color, warm, soft, no pilling. We have used these seasonally for two years and they still look great.


Retreez Christmas Santa Claus Woven Microfiber Men's Tie - Green, Christmas Gift
Retreez Christmas Santa Claus Woven Microfiber Men's Tie - Green, Christmas Gift

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice for the Price, December 20, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Within the context of this being a $10 Tie with Santas on it, this is a very nice tie. Only a fabric expert could tell it is not silk. It is thickly padded and looks very high quality. Color is a good forest green. Width is slightly narrower than typical as is the current style.


Wii U Fit Meter
Wii U Fit Meter
Price: $19.51
59 used & new from $10.99

28 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One step forward two steps back, November 29, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Wii U Fit Meter (Accessory)
Unlike most, the Wii Fit stuck for me. Not so much as workout, but as a stress management tool that I could use quickly - done in 30 minutes. I find the stretching and balance to be nice compliments to "real" work-outs. As a result, I have used the Wii Fit at least weekly since it was introduced in 2009. Thus, this review is from the power user point of view.

I bought the Wii U at launch for this game. Wii Fit U was to be a launch title, but was nearly a year late. Now that I have used it for six weeks it is a pretty disappointing effort. It is tough to comment on everything, so I will keep it to the areas of interest to me.

Positives
Free to try
Ambitious effort
Inexpensive meter

Negatives
Slow
Minimal graphic improvement
Few new exercises
Lots of new features that are hard to reach, not very useful or fun

Slow, minimal graphic improvement. Given the Wii U's HDMI 1080 output, faster processor and the 3.5GB size of the game I was expecting a big improvement in graphics. However, it is merely a mild upgrade from Wii Fit +. On the Wii, I used a composite video cable into an AV receiver which upscaled the video to 1080. Wii Fit U graphics are slightly better than that set-up, but Yoga and Strength are barely noticeable. This game is one of Nintendo's all-time biggest sellers. Why couldn't they have invest some effort in making the graphics better than a PS2? More frustrating is the same 5-8 second delay when switching between games even when using My Routine. This is no longer a disc game - it is in SD memory - how can it be so slow? Why is this game more than a 200mb download?

Slow, Too Talky. This leads to my biggest disappointment with this game - it has gotten even more talky and hence slower. There are warning screens and explanation screens galore. Nintendo must think flicking the A button is exercise. Wii Fit + saw the addition of My Routine which sped up the workout. Unfortunately My Routine on the U ranks you and talks at you twice after every exercise (Wii Fit + does not). So pick up the gamepad, and flick A three times and wait. My 16 exercise 30 minute Wii Fit + work out is now 37 minutes according to the Wii U but actually takes 41 minutes. That is 37% more time for the exact same workout. Worse the trainer says the exact same thing as they have said since the game came out in 2009. On a positive note, you can now change the number of repetitions for most exercises. You can also add any exercise, a big improvement from the + where you could only use Yoga and Strength.

Few new exercises. There is no new Yoga or Strength. There are only a couple new exercises and they are letdowns. Most are extended demos for the gamepad, and the rest require a wiimote with motionplus. There is a new Dance section - that requires two wiimotes with motion plus even for one player.

Little to no improvement in game/fitness logic. Given they had four years you would think they would address some of the obvious issues with the game. For example, games which monitor movement with the wiimote, such as Run and Boxing, remain is very inaccurate. You might think they could adjust the BMI charts so that someone with 16% body fat would not be told they are "Obese" (which is 25%+) at every use. But they have not. In several hours of use I found lots of new bugs - crashes, audio drops, etc..

Other features hard to reach. There are lots of new features such as personal trainer but they are just the same exercises organized around goals. There are also various exercise and body tracking features. However, the graphs are hard to decipher. You reach them via the horribly inaccurate touchscreen and they load slowly after several explanatory screens. Tip - tap the X controller once and then a second time up and now you can scroll through the screens quickly with the X button using left and right and use the A button to select.

As for the meter, for $25, it is reasonably well made. It is hard plastic and looks like it will last 6-12 months. Open the package, remove the battery barrier and it is tracking. In Wii Fit, load the meter screen and push and hold the middle button while pointing the meter at the front of the gamepad and it syncs in a few seconds. Your calorie burn is automatically put into the system. After sync the grayscale monitor on the meter shows your Mii's face, temperature of the meter, steps, and time of day. Sort of fun. Perhaps there is more - there is zero documentation on the meter - you need to figure it out yourself. Unfortunately the pedometer aspect of the meter seems wildly inaccurate. It claims I walk 3.5 miles a day even on days when I walk less than one mile.

Note that the game is a free download till end of 2013, but it is a 30 day trial. You can continue using the game after the trial by buying the meter, so pretty good deal right? Well, only the user with the meter can continue using the game. So if you have other users, they need to buy their own meter to continue using the game. There is a guest mode, but their history and body data is not imported and exercises scores are not saved.

So often life is about performing against expectations. The original Wii Fit was a triumph in 2009 creating a new category of personalized fitness gaming. Four years later and running on an allegedly next generation game system you would expect much, much more. Overall Wii Fit U is just like the Wii U. Trying to do too many things, late, bloated, buggy, slow. It is another missed opportunity from a company that has lost its way.

Update 12/31/13
The meter died on 12/26. I am not going to search around for a battery to figure it out if it is the battery or the meter as the meter has zero value to me beyond activating the game. As the meter only lasted 2 months, I am knocking the review down from 3 stars to 2 stars.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 31, 2014 7:31 AM PDT


Arctic P311 Stereo Bluetooth Headset built-in Mic for Smart Phone
Arctic P311 Stereo Bluetooth Headset built-in Mic for Smart Phone
Offered by Platinum Micro, Inc.
Price: $29.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Love Them, April 1, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have tried several Bluetooth headsets. They typically get put back in the box to gather dust or thrown away when they break after the second or third use. Not so these Arctics.

Pros
Stay on your head firmly, but do not chafe and I have a big head
Excellent sound
Subtle styling with low profile
Cheap enough that you do not need to baby them
Nice storage box
Battery lasts for several hours
Included USB charging cable

Cons
None yet


Patriot 16GB Supersonic Xpress Series Cap-less USB 3.0 Flash Drive - PSF16GXPUSB
Patriot 16GB Supersonic Xpress Series Cap-less USB 3.0 Flash Drive - PSF16GXPUSB
Price: $17.98
44 used & new from $14.36

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Latest Batch are Slow, April 1, 2013
I video my kids high school Basketball and Lacrosse games and use these drives to provide the videos files to the coaches immediately after the game. The coaches lose them frequently so I buy several at at time. I have always gotten get 20+ MB write speeds. The latest three I bought (in February) get less than 10 MB transfer speed. As the games are 6-8GB, this creates a lot of waiting around. I contacting Patriot Support twice and got form letter responses. So I will be looking for another brand.


Haier HL37XLE2 37-Inch LED HDTV, Black
Haier HL37XLE2 37-Inch LED HDTV, Black

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good TV, Not As Nice as the Pictures, May 19, 2011
Haier manufactures for Samsung and I believe this is a Samsung "C" Series LED re-faced and with a reduced software feature set (no DLNA). The back panel layout, the base, the inputs and TOC-style LED are identical. I believe this is one of the reasons you can scour the web and never find an image of the back.

If you have 36" of width and want to maximize your screen size, your choices are few. I bought this direct via the Amazon merchant and save quite a bit off the above aggressive price. That is important because you can get much better TVs, such as the Samsung D6400 40" or the Panasonic E3 37", but they cost much more. I believe the Haeir has better picture quality than other branded choices (such as the non-IPS LG 5300 or LG 3500), but not nearly as good as the Samsung or the Panasonic. Of course the Samsung 6400 is more than 2.5x the cost. The Panasonic is over 50% more and it is 3.5" wide at the bottom (the specs are wrong) making a flush mount impossible. Those products do include internet apps, but that is of no interest as I would rather have that functionality built into the blu-ray.

I will preface the below by mentioning that my living room system is a Samsung PN58C7000 and the audio runs through HDMI to a high end 7.1 system. That is as good as it gets and ruins you for other TVs.

The Good

Decent picture quality. Surprisingly action sports look great. I was expecting lag and artifacting as it is 60hz. I watched an NBA playoff game and a NHL hockey game with no problems. To be clear, it is nowhere near my C7000 Plasma, but for an edge LED quite good.

Lots of inputs

No Heat - much better than my plasma which is important in smaller rooms.

Rear panel has excellent build quality. No concerns on wall mounting.

The Bad

Style wise this TV is not nearly as nice looking as the picture would lead you to believe. The image above looks like a Samsung 6300 - a thin plastic bezel with a glass covering. Unfortunately the TV looks more like an LG - all cheap black plastic. The bottom edge has a .75" radius curve which is doctored in the picture by showing the blue LED. That LED does not shine through (or turn off except when the TV is on). The frame is very darkly tinted high gloss plastic. Overall pretty misleading and disappointing. Oddly the base does have the "6300" style.

Edge lighting. It is noticeable on the edges in dark scenes. Further, colors and images of people are a bit off. Not soap opera effect. They are over lit and look a bit computer generated. Note I feel this way about all edge LEDs. I will continue to play with the video settings, which are abundant.

Audio - like most flat panels the audio is AM radio quality. Audio out is 3.5mm headphone or TOSLINK and the volume of these outputs is not controlled by the remote. This means that if you use an amp or powered speaker you will need another remote (as typically comes with a sound bar) to control the volume.

Grading on the curve adjusted for the price, this is a 5 star product. I feel deceived by the picture so I am going with four.


Actiontec 300 Mbps Wireless-N DSL Modem Router (GT784WN)
Actiontec 300 Mbps Wireless-N DSL Modem Router (GT784WN)
Price: $68.99
64 used & new from $44.49

75 of 92 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Sorry State of Wireless N Routers with DSL Modems - Updated with a Recommendation, May 3, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After my 2Wire failed, I bought a NetGear DGN3500. It will not hold a wifi connection and crashed daily. I got sick of rebooting (and yes I have the latest .28 firmware). I bought the Actiontec. It does not cut it either. Open to suggestions on a decent product.

Pros
Fast boot, DSL sync, and connection (almost no latency).
Excellent wifi range.

Cons
Fails on downloads. The DSL connection is dropped on any download over 10mb. File Downloads, iPhone updates, Netflix streaming all fail.
Parental controls do not work. If you set up sites to be blocked, all web traffic for all users will be blocked a few hours later. The controls are worthless anyway. You can block a web site for all users. Or you can turn off a service (e.g. web, IM, etc.) for a specific user. The typical use case of "no Hulu on the teenager's PC after 7pm" is thus not supported.
No online support resources. Support consists of a quick start guide and a FAQ for all Actiontec routers. No user manual. No support page at Action. No community site (besides Amazon). You are on your own.
AT&T auto set up does not work. You will need to do it manually and you will need to dig out your network password (not your AT&T password) from the AT&T support site.

I have brought all of the above to the attention of Actiontec support. I get polite emails back, but no resolution. Hoping for a firmware upgrade soon or it is going back. My 2 star review is grading on the pathetic curve that is Wireless N DSL Modem Routers

UPDATE June 20, 2011. I installed the .1 firmware upgrade and experienced hourly crashes (loss of internet service, modem stays connected). I then installed the .2 update. It has fixed the DSL connection drop over 10mb issue, but I now experience daily crashes. My wife and kids have learned to power cycle the modem until I have time to find a new modem.

Update December 22, 2011 - Obviously I dumped the ActionTec. I went back to the Netgear now upgraded with the then new .30 firmware. Not any better. I read every review about the category but could not find a recommended product. So, I rolled the dice on a new router - the ZyXel P-660HN-51. ZyXel primarily sells to ISPs and businesses. While I could not find a review, my assumption was that ISPs would not buy 100k of these things unless they worked.
http://www.amazon.com/P-660HN-51-Wireless-Broadband-Router-802-11n/dp/B0051SHXPQ

I have used the ZyXel for two months and I am very pleased. However, if you are looking for router with a 15 minute wizard based set-up, the P- 660HN-51 is NOT for you. Set-up requires writing rules (via a GUI) to set up the DSL modem. If you understood this review, you will be fine, but figure on 1 hour+ for set-up.

Pros
Excellent range and speed - similar to the ActionTec.
Comes with a well written 100+ page manual (and ZyXel is a Chinese company).
Email support, while slow and rude, is competent.
Attractive design and sturdy case with a minimum of flashing lights.
Ability to block sites on a per computer basis at specified times (e.g. no Hulu for the daughter's PC after 7pm on school nights).
Decent GUI to reach deep feature set.
Stable - has not crashed in two months of use.

Cons
Set-up requires understanding of DSL and networking.
Fussy with Android devices, but works eventually.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2013 11:21 PM PST


EA Sports Active - Nintendo Wii
EA Sports Active - Nintendo Wii
Offered by Leslie422
Price: $20.01
43 used & new from $4.99

15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a More Cardio Wii Fit, Rather a Disaster of a Product, July 16, 2009
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am very enthusiastic about this category of product. I have used the Wii Fit at least weekly for over a year. The Wii Fit is great fun and is a superb stress management system, but is a poor cardio workout. So when I read reviews of EA Active as a more cardio Wii Fit, I bought it.

I have used Active almost daily for over a month and it is a very disappointing product. Active has many, many problems but the biggest is that Active does not deal with data coming from the nunchuk and wiimote effectively. For example, if you run at a constant pace, every few seconds you will get alternating instructions such as "too slow" and "perfect" as the Active is not interpreting the data properly. This also creates a frequent lag between your actions and the result on the screen. This becomes very annoying in the timing games (tennis, baseball, etc.). Instead of "just working," like Wii Sports Tennis, you change the timing your swing to adjust for the lag. Active has you exaggerate your actions during the exercises (e.g. "point the numchuk at the ground at the conclusion of the exercise") to compensate. As a result you need to concentrate on complying with these exaggerated actions to complete the exercise. And no matter how hard to concentrate you will never always get it right, resulting in Active nagging you and wasting your time. So while you should be getting in a positive frame of mind with an exercise product, with Active you end up getting frustrated with the poor product quality. Not fun.

There are many, many other shortcomings, but I will mention a few. The workouts are geared towards women. Like most men, I need cardio and abdominal/core work. You will not get much of either with Active. Workouts emphasize toning arms and legs, typically not an issue for men. What passes for cardio is high impact jumping. You will jump over 100 times a workout. So unless you are under 25 and/or a runner be prepared for sore knees. If you dig deep you can find one low impact (and even lower cardio) workout and the ability to customize workouts. However, it takes several minutes to set up a customized workout and it does not save them. So no cardio either.

There are plenty of other shortcomings - a really lame Me creator, Sega Genesis era graphics, balance board integration an afterthought - but you get the idea. On the positive side, Active has helped my wife get some exercise while the kids are home for the summer. In addition, the 30 day challenge provides some structure for those who are not self motivated. Our three kids, who love anything Wii, tried Active a couple times and dumped it.

We own Fifa 09 for the Wii. EA knows how to make games for the Wii. I am not sure what happened with the is product, but save your money, it is a disaster.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 21, 2009 11:32 AM PDT


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